Too-Specific Top 10 - (Technically) Overcosted

(Hidetsugu and Kairi | Art by Chris Rahn)

The Best Kind of Overcosted

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Coastal Breach is the only four-mana blue board wipe that technically costs seven?)

March of the Machine brings us what is surprisingly the first Brainstorm you can play in the command zone, but I'd be lying if I said that's why anyone was excited about them. No, it's the pair's second ability to both cast instants and sorceries for free and also drain opponents for the mana value of said instants and sorceries. It is a bit of a hoop to jump through, given that it's attached to a death trigger, but that's nothing we haven't tackled before, right?

Instead, the real hurdle for most people looking to play Hidetsugu and Kairi is going to be convincing folks that they're not playing that H&K deck. An even bigger problem? There are two of those H&K decks:

The first deck that people are going to assume you're playing as soon as they see this commander is the high-powered version. Not only are you already in the colors to win with Demonic Consultation and Thassa's Oracle, but H&K also turns any of the one-mana tutors that put a card on top of your library, like Mystical Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, or Imperial Seal, into an automatic win with Enter the Infinite by allowing you to draw your entire deck and - you guessed it - win with Thassa's Oracle. There's been some talk of this even seeing play at Competitive EDH tables, although I doubt it'll be anywhere near a Tier One deck. As for your average table, the relative ease of having a "one-card" combo with your commander will mean that this will out-power most any meta that isn't rife with all of the fast mana and interaction, so maybe steer clear of the tutors if that's not what you're going for.

Which leaves the other thing that tables will be expecting you to do with this commander that incentivizes expensive spells: take extra turns.

Expropriate is enough of a problem already at nine mana, but when you're ripping it off the top to play it for free and deal someone nine damage, it's pretty much game over. In similar fashion, it wouldn't be too hard to set up a Nexus of Fate loop as your win condition with a Brainstorm as a commander.

I'm aware that those are a lot of "target that guy off the table" pitfalls to avoid, but I still think it's worth it. Why? Because Hidetsugu and Kairi look to be one of the most fun casual commanders I've seen in a long, long time. How so? Why, with cards that technically cost a lot, of course!

Top 10 (Technically) Expensive Dimir Spells

So, what's the main problem with playing a bunch of expensive spells you'll eventually get to cast for free? In the meantime, you're going to be a drawing a ton of expensive spells that you can't do anything with! What if we can find a whole bunch of spells that cost a ton per the rules, but in actuality are playable with just a handful of mana?

Criteria: Dimir instants and sorceries not resulting in an extra turn with mana value seven or greater that can be cast for less or have an ability that either reduces the cost or can activate an effect for a lesser cost than the mana value of the card. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

10. Discovery // Dispersal

(4,972 Inclusions, 1% of 616,874 Decks)

Because of the strange nature of split cards, Discovery // Dispersal clocks in at a hefty seven mana, but can easily be cast in the early turns to cantrip and fill your graveyard or in the medium turns to set up a catastrophic H&K trigger. The Dispersal half of the card is significantly more underwhelming, but especially if you're doing it for free, there are worse things than bouncing each opponent's most expensive permanent and having them possibly discard it even before you consider the life loss.

9. Connive // Concoct

(5,048 Inclusions, 1% of 616,874 Decks)

Despite the nine mana value, Connive // Concoct is significantly less exciting from a Hidetsugu and Kairi perspective than Discovery // Dispersal. Neither half can be cast early, and neither half feels like a slam dunk. Don't get me wrong, you could get some decent pulls from Dispersal's Surveil-3-then-recur-to-the-battlefield ability, but in a deck that could easily be casting Rise of the Dark Realms or Necromantic Selection in the late game, it just doesn't feel impactful enough.

8. Reality Heist

(5,321 Inclusions, 1% of 944,699 Decks)

Similarly, there will probably be a version of H&K that goes heavy into artifacts, but even in that version I would imagine we're going to be talking more about Treasures and Thopters than a ton of artifacts that are just straight misses when it comes to H&K's death trigger. Don't get me wrong, Reality Heist is a cool card for the mono-blue artifact decks, but it's just a clean miss here.

7. Commandeer

(6,041 Inclusions, 1% of 1,191,759 Decks)

Commandeer feels incredibly risky in a two-color deck, but that doesn't mean we should be dismissing it out of hand. After all, with a Brainstorm in the command zone, alongside an above-average amount of expensive spells that will inevitably get stuck in our hand, it's fairly likely that we'll find an early- or mid-game situation where this thing is a slam dunk. And if not, it's yet another expensive card that we can put on top to Control Magic someone's commander and hit them for seven simultaneously.

6. Into the Story

(9,268 Inclusions, 1% of 1,191,759 Decks)

I never like to rely on opponents, but four mana for four cards is a pretty great rate, and the likelihood that someone in the mid-game will have stacked their graveyard is pretty high. If not, then we can always just stack our library with this on top, which is kind of the whole point, isn't it?

5. Commit // Memory

(24,194 Inclusions, 2% of 1,191,759 Decks)

There was a time when I thought I was a bit more unique in my love affair for this technically ten-mana card, but the numbers bear it out: Commit // Memory is officially a band everyone knows about now, even if you saw them in concert before they made it big. Four mana for a counterspell is not a great rate, especially when it doesn't actually get rid of the card. That's not the way to think about Commit, though. With the option to hit either a spell on the stack or any nonland permanent on the battlefield, it's the epitome of flexibility even before you consider the fact that it becomes a Timetwister in the graveyard (which can also make the offending card a bit harder to find). Throw in the fact that you could use this to protect one of your huge spells from being countered as well, just to cast it again later, and there's every reason that this technically huge spell should be seeing play in just about every non-competitive version of Hidetsugu and Kairi.

4. Decree of Pain

(30,684 Inclusions, 2% of 1,243,107 Decks)

Seeing Decree of Pain on a Top 10 list makes me feel like I've returned to my glory days of initially finding EDH in 2010, but if there's a place that the slipper still fits, it's here. In the hand, Decree of Pain is an instant-speed partial board wipe that's only downfall is that it doesn't kill H&K. It does, however, make up for this by drawing you a card while it kills all of the mana dorks, utility creatures, and tokens on the table. The full cast of the card wrecks the entire table, though, and draws you a full grip while it's at it. Just keep in mind that this is kind of a non-bo if you did actually cast it without a death trigger, however, as you will draw the cards before H&K's death trigger resolves, wrecking any top-of-the-library shenanigans you had planned.

3. Sea Gate Restoration

(72,113 Inclusions, 6% of 1,191,759 Decks)

There may not be a better spot that's been invented for Sea Gate Restoration yet. Being a seven-mana spell that gives you an advantage for the rest of the game along with a likely significant amount of card draw already makes you want to consider this thing on just its front half, but then also having the ability to have it come down as an untapped land when you don't have the mana or the death trigger setup just puts it way over the top. Combine that with a bounce land, and you've got some really cool possibilities.

2. Dig Through Time

(81,591 Inclusions, 7% of 1,191,759 Decks)

Delve may not be quite the slam-dunk it appears to be in H&K, despite being in the best self-mill colors. With a deck that's going to be heavy on expensive spells, it's going to be a bit more difficult to fill the graveyard than it usually is. With that said, Dig Through Time (and its #1 cousin) are more than worth doing some light alteration to the decklist to get online. This explosive deck already wants to be playing every ritual it can get its hands on, along with a bunch of sacrifice outlets, so adding in every fetch land you can get your hands on is a small price to pay to be using these amazing card-draw tools. One less inclined to militantly stick to a deckbuilding rule might even be tempted by a Temporal Trespass....

1. Treasure Cruise

(82,647 Inclusions, 7% of 1,191,759 Decks)

No matter the version of the deck you're constructing, the likelihood that you're including Treasure Cruise is high. The closest you can get to having an Ancestral Recall in your deck since Brainstorm itself, Treasure Cruise's 82,000 inclusions are well deserved. Add on the gravy of getting to cast it for even cheaper with a death trigger alongside a very relevant eight-point life loss, and you were always going to be making the minor adjustments you needed to to get this spell in the deck.

Honorable Mentions

First off, as is pretty much always the case when situating a top ten around a commander, I did make a list!

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At first I thought I was going to have to play some more typical sacrifice outlets to keep things going, but I fairly quickly found that with as much card draw as you can manage with your commander and your typical Costly Plunder effects, it's not really necessary. What you do have to watch out for, however, is your sequencing, as it's all too easy to stack the top of your deck and then draw the cards before you actually play them off of your death trigger. Just keep in mind that when it comes to copies of your commander, you control which trigger happens first, the Brainstorm or the death trigger, because your copy that dies to the legend rule does so immediately due to state-based actions, making both triggers appear on the stack simultaneously.

Enough about my deck, though. I can hear you degenerates from here.

There are only three extra turn spells that can be played for less than their original cost, but if you are so inclined to be the H&K player that's going to be targeted right off the table (as you probably will be anyhow), then you'd be hard-pressed not to include all of them to help out. Temporal Mastery is about as good as it gets when you have a Brainstorm for a commander, Alrund's Epiphany gives you some extra tokens to feed your prevalent sacrifice outlets along with an extra turn that you can put on layaway, and Temporal Trespass will be happy to clear out your graveyard to extend your shenanigans in the mid-game.

Along with all of the technically expensive stuff, you're probably also gonna want some actually high-impact spells. So, with that in mind:

Top 10 (Not Technically) Expensive Dimir Spells

  1. In Garruk's Wake
  2. Rise of the Dark Realms
  3. Army of the Damned
  4. Expropriate
  5. Clone Legion
  6. Mnemonic Deluge
  7. Aminatou's Augury
  8. Time Stretch
  9. Enter the Infinite
  10. Beacon of Tomorrows

Hey, look! More expensive extra turn spells! Don't worry, you sly dog, no one will see them coming (and they definitely won't ask you about them before the game).

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.

What Do You Think?

Finally, what is your favorite technically expensive spell? Are you brewing Hidetsugu and Kairi, and if so, are you doing it casually or competitively? Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table that technically costs a couple grand, we just got it off the street in the rich neighborhood!

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.

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