This week, we’re rounding second base and coming toward home with the 8×8 with Wydwen series.
For those who might not’ve caught the series’s first parts, we’re building a Commander deck helmed by Wydwen, the Biting Gale, using the 8×8 Theory as our guide. And the next two effects we’re adding are two of my favorites: stealing stuff and bouncing stuff.
Playing with my opponents’ cards is one of my favorite Commander strategies. However, I had to work to find eight instant-speed (and semi-efficient) ways to steal my opponents’ things. Below is the list I came up with, as well as one honorable mention that released after I’d made my list.
- Aethersnatch. Aethersnatch isn’t terribly efficient, but it makes up for it by being able to steal ANYTHING. A creature, an enchantment, an instant, a sorcery, a planeswalker! Anything your opponents cast can be yours for the (incredibly high) price of six mana. Thankfully, our deck will leave its mana untapped most every turn, so leaving six mana up for Aethersnatch won’t look more suspicious than usual.
- Desertion. What Aethersnatch does, Desertion does … slightly worse? However, Desertion costs only five mana, which seems like a bargain in comparison. At the very least, Desertion still counters everything.
- Domineering Will. I’ve had one of these bad boys sitting in my card box for the longest time, waiting for its moment to shine. That moment is now. I want to use Domineering Will to steal an opposing Commander and sink the final points of Commander damage into another, unsuspecting opponent. To turn one opponent’s creatures into surprise blockers for another’s. I imagine this card is not incredibly good, but will be hysterical.
- Reins of Power. Reins of Power does much the same thing as Domineering Will, though is likely even better in our mostly creature-less deck. We get to steal all an opponent’s creatures for a turn, at the low, low price of giving them … a Notion Thief, I guess? Oh, speaking of which –
- Notion Thief. Most Commander players love drawing extra cards. I love drawing extra cards as well. Notion Thief will help me draw EVEN MORE cards while denying my opponents the chance to partake.
- Memory Plunder. I dig Memory Plunder’s art, card frame, and mana cost so much that I would’ve found a way to put it in this deck nearly no matter what it did. The fact it’s on theme and can steal an opponent’s board wipe, card draw spell, tutor, etc. is just gravy.
- Supplant Form. While not strictly stealing an opponent’s creature, Supplant Form does force it off the board and give you a copy. That’s almost stealing, right? No? Well if you think this inclusion is a stretch, you’re going to get really mad about the last one.
- Stunt Double. Okay, okay: So Stunt Double doesn’t actually steal anything at all. You got me. I’d argue that a) cloning a good creature is kind of like stealing it, and b) finding eight instant-speed “steal spells” is hard!
Honorable Mention: Thrilling Encore. Thrilling Encore is a recent “steal stuff” spell from Battlebond, and it is very good at what it does. However, what it does seems very situational. I don’t like hoping that others will set up my spells, and I can imagine many scenarios where Thrilling Encore sits in hand, dead, through an entire game.
Above, I mentioned that finding eight, good instant-speed “steal spells” was a bit hard. Finding good bounce spells, however, was a bit easier.
Bounce spells are a double-edged sword in Commander, the format where most every creature comes with a good enters-the-battlefield ability. However, there are times where you can’t kill what’s threatening you (looking at you, Avacyn, Angel of Hope), and the good ‘ol bounce-counter double play is the only way Blue-Black can handle certain permanents (like enchantments) after they resolve. So bounce spells should pull their weight in Wydwen, even though they’re not always fantastic in Commander.
- Aetherspouts. I’ve always considered Aetherspouts underrated, and now’s my chance to prove it. While Aetherspouts handles only attacking creatures, the fact it bounces those creatures to the top of an opponent’s deck, rather than back to their hand, should buy extra time in some scenarios and allow me to mill those creatures away in others.
- Evacuation. Evacuation is the classic mass-bounce spell, clearing the battlefield of all creatures: Yours and your opponents’. While this sets opponents up to replay their value-generating enters-the-battlefield creatures, it also buys a whole lot of time and handles boards that cards like Damnation cannot.
- Cyclonic Rift. If Evacuation is the classic mass-bounce spell, Cyclonic Rift is its grown-up older brother. There’s a reason Cyclonic Rift remains $17 or so dollars even after a reprinting, and it’s not because Modern Mono-Blue Tron sometimes plays it. It’s because Cylonic Rift is the best mass-bounce spell that’s ever been printed, clearing your opponents’ boards while leaving yours intact.
- Into the Roil. In this series’s first part, I talked about making sure to include efficient answers for opponents’ threats, not just expensive haymakers. Into the Roil is a super-efficient bounce spell that upgrades to a draw-and-bounce spell in the late game.
- Repulse. Repulse is nearly as efficient as Into the Roil, though a bit narrower in what it targets. Also, Aaron Boyd BROUGHT IT on Repulse’s art; I own both the original printing and a later one. I’m still deciding which one showcases Boyd’s colors best.
- Far//Away. I’m a known sucker for Return to Ravnica block’s Fuse cards, and Far//Away is actually good! I’ve harped on flexibility throughout this series, and Far//Away’s different modes, as well as its ability to affect different targets, make it surprisingly effective.
- Capsize. If you’ve never been Capsize-locked out of a game of Magic, I can tell you: It sucks. It sucks real hard. I would like to inflict this suffering on others. This is the type of player I am (sometimes).
- Venser, Shaper Savant. Finally, I’ll bow out with a bounce spell that bounces not only permanents, but spells as well. Venser’s either a Remand or an Into the Roil, with a creature attached rather than card draw. That’ll let me re-buy him later in the game, using the other bounce spells listed above!
And there we go; Wydwen’s ready to steal my opponents’ stuff when possible and bounce it when not. Did I miss your favorite thieving spell? Do you think I shouldn’t bother bouncing things in Commander? Let me know in the comments below!
In the series’s next part, we’ll focus on tutors, recursion, and win conditions, before getting into really wacky territory.