Too-Specific Top 10 - Wing Shards Storm

(Gandalf of the Secret Fire | Art by Matt Stewart)

How Many Spells Have You Cast, Again?

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 Heliod, the Radiant Dawn is the only double-sided card that can let you cast your sorceries at flash speed?)

I don't know why or how, but there are new cards from The Lord of the Rings, and among these new ones that are labeled as from the same set as the Commander precons we previously got (despite coming out several months later), is our sixth Gandalf.

So yeah, I know we've already done one of these, but why not go for another round with the first three-color Gandalf?

It's not just the three-colors that's got my creative juices flowing, however: It's also that single word that doesn't fit on an ability that says it wants you to cast things during opponent's turns: Sorcery. Which got me thinking... Why not try and use this guy to play Storm, Wing Shards style?

Like almost everyone that lived through the Standard environments of the early 2000s, I'm a huge fan of Wing Shards. This simple removal spell was an absolute beating from limited all the way into constructed, and always made you feel smart and your opponent feel stupid when you had it. For those that haven't experienced that dichotomy, Wing Shards isn't like most Storm spells where you're casting your own spells over and over to get your Storm count up. Instead, it punishes opponents for greedily casting spells before combat, making a copy for each of them to have them sacrifice all their attackers.

So my question is: Can we do the same, in general? Can we play Opponent Storm? Well, let's find out!

Top 10 Sorcery Flash Enablers in Jeskai

If you're looking to cast spells at instant speed, there's a card that can do so for just about every card type now.

As we'll see, sorceries are no exception. The question is, which are seeing the most play?

Before we get into that however, we need to set up some exceptions for the cards we're not talking about.

First off, with our commander not being an enabler himself, we're going to want other effects that can permanently allow us to cast our Empty the Warrens as a combat trick. With that in mind, while we may include a couple of the various enablers that allow us to do this once, for the most part we're going to want stuff that sticks around and does so indefinitely.

Then there's the corner cases that we kind of need to get out of the way, as they're a bit too niche for our purposes.

Could all of these creatures technically let you cast a strange amalgamation of colorless, legendary, or Tribal sorceries? Yes, absolutely. Do we care about any of that, for our purposes of wanting to catch the player who just laid down three mana rocks with a timely Temporal Fissure? Nope!

Criteria: Jeskai Cards which allow you to play any spell, without restriction, at instant speed, or that allow you to cast sorceries specifically at instant speed. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

10. Najal, the Storm Runner

(Helms 1734 Decks, Rank #95; 3624 Inclusions, 4% of 83388 Decks)

There's almost no question that for the purposes of pursuing the strategy of casting huge, sorcery-speed Storm spells at the end of opponent's turns, a commander like Najal, the Storm Runner would probably be a better option than Gandalf of the Secret Fire. Having your flash enabler available to you at all times is probably the way to go. With that said, in the 99, Najal being five mana (with a ton of pips) and having an expensive copy ability that only works during your turn makes this particular flash-enabler a little less than impressive with the game plan we've come up with for Gandalf of the Secret Fire.

9. Hypersonic Dragon

(6546 Inclusions, 4% of 173627 Decks)

It's a little easier on the pips, but with five mana being five mana, we should be similarly unimpressed with Hypersonic Dragon, right?

Well, maybe? There is Dragonstorm to consider, however.

If you're going to build a deck where your first step is to dump in every Storm spell that's ever been printed, you'd be forgiven for taking out Dragonstorm when you start first cuts. Nine mana is a lot, and you're supposed to be casting spells ahead of it, after all.

But what if you're just trying to get your opponents to do the Storm work for you, and casting Dragonstorm during their turn? Well, in that case it sounds like you don't need Hypersonic Dragon, as you're already casting sorceries at instant speed, but you're not going to turn up your nose at it either, are you?

In short, Hypersonic Dragon isn't perfect for either the game plan of flash-enabling as early as possible or fetching it up with Dragonstorm. But it is mediocre for both plans, which makes it perfect?

8. Gandalf, Friend of the Shire

(Helms 253 Decks, Rank #556; 8181 Inclusions, 2% of 327420 Decks)

To be clear, we don't care about the last paragraph of text on Gandalf, Friend of the Shire. Him being four mana, however, and castable at flash speed? Those are both compelling reasons to have some Gandalf in our Gandalf.

Xhibit meme template that says "Yo dawg I heard you like Gandalfs"

7. Heliod, the Radiant Dawn

(Helms 1813 Decks, Rank #86; 6641 Inclusions, 7% of 94898 Decks)

By comparison, Heliod, the Radiant Dawn costing four and then another (at least) three before you get to do the thing doesn't feel great, nor do we even care about its EtB. Its flipped ability, however, feels amazing. So, the question becomes; is spending seven mana over two turns to turn this on at sorcery speed worth it? I think yes, actually. We're already being too picky about these abilities, and with both the cost reduction and the larger ability of being able to cast any spell at flash speed, the extra cost seems worth it.

6. Elsha of the Infinite

(11060 Inclusions, 9% of 121779 Decks)

And if cost reductions at seven mana are worth it, then card draw at five mana is, too. Elsha of the Infinite has remained one of the premiere Jeskai commanders since it was originally printed in Commander 2019, and looking at her package of synergies it's not hard to see why. Prowess to make her huge, flash to do so during combat, and top-deck manipulation mixed with card advantage, all in one package. To put it succinctly, Elsha was always on the list. To put it in a more long-winded fashion, Elsha should probably actually be our commander, as her card advantage engine is probably just better than Gandalf's is. Is it as much fun, though?

5. Tidal Barracuda

(11878 Inclusions, 4% of 327420 Decks)

Tidal Barracuda doesn't know where it wants to live. Printed into a Precon Cycling deck, adopted by the Group Hug strategy, and having the text of Grand Abolisher on it, Tidal Barracuda can't decide if it's fun for the whole table or a protection spell for your combo deck. Well, given that we're a Storm deck... why not both?

4. Wizards of Thay

(20106 Inclusions, 6% of 327420 Decks)

Another four mana version of a flash-enabler that also makes it cheaper for us to cast instants and sorceries has gotta be the best thing we're gonna find, right? Even if the main game plan is to cast stuff at the end of our opponents' turns, there's still going to be turns where we're getting the second go-round from Gandalf of the Secret Fire's Suspend-ability, which means we're going to also have ample opportunity to be Storm-ing off during our own turn. With sorceries able to be cast at instant speed, though, a combat step where all our stuff costs three less seems like an opportune time!

3. Teferi, Time Raveler

(23242 Inclusions, 7% of 327420 Decks)

Hold on, Wizards of Thay. If I'm not mistaken, three mana is less than four mana. Throw in some removal and card draw stacked onto a single ability, and it's no wonder that 3feri has been making waves in more or less every format since it was printed. Now this has gotta be the best of this effect we can find, right?

2. Vedalken Orrery

(24325 Inclusions, 7% of 327420 Decks)

So far, so good! Josh Lee Kwai's love aside, Vedalken Orrery is only good when you're not playing blue, as it's riddled with the other flash-enablers we've seen further up this list. Now, if you do need specifically all spells at flash speed, then yeah, you can probably include this if you need to go three to four deep on the effect. If not, then this is probably best left in your non-blue decks.

1. Leyline of Anticipation

(Helms 2177 Decks, Rank #63; 26255 Inclusions, 15% of 172410 Decks)

In regard to Teferi, Time Raveler and our various four-mana options, I do believe that three mana is better than four mana, and no mana is better than three mana. Granted, that's only if you end up with Leyline of Anticipation in your opening hand, but throw in the bonus of being able to play more than just your sorceries at instant speed, and it's safe to say that if we only needed one of this effect, it would be Leyline of Anticipation. Thankfully that's not the case, but still, we're not not gonna play it!

Honorable Mentions

I'm fairly well known for some harebrained schemes in Commander, but this one may take the cake. Still, if you were harboring any thoughts of this deck idea being a good one, banish them now.

Wing Shards Storm

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Sorceries (22)
Instants (20)
Enchantments (2)
Creatures (19)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (34)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
View this decklist on Archidekt

With four Dragons, 13 Storm spells, and arguably 11 rituals, there's no doubt that this deck can pack a punch if it lives long enough. It does suffer a lot when Gandalf and a flash-enabler aren't on the battlefield, which is a high bar, but if you can manage it you're gonna have a good time. If not, you can still play as a bad Storm deck during your own turn, which ain't nothin'!

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?

And finally, what do you think of the idea of playing a Storm deck off of your opponent's spells? Or are you brewing Gandalf of the Secret Fire in a different fashion?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table my friend Steve is setting up while I watch. Gonna totally punk him once he gets all those legs upright, I tell you what.

Read more:

The Over/Under - Predicting the Popularity of Lord of the Rings Commanders

Too-Specific Top 10 - Weenie Storm

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.

EDHREC Code of Conduct

Your opinions are welcome. We love hearing what you think about Magic! We ask that you are always respectful when commenting. Please keep in mind how your comments could be interpreted by others. Personal attacks on our writers or other commenters will not be tolerated. Your comments may be removed if your language could be interpreted as aggressive or disrespectful. You may also be banned from writing further comments.