History, Restapled - More Doctor Who Picks

07 Nov
by Steve Heisler

What, The Flux?

Welcome back for another History, Restapled, a Commander-focused column that attempts to validate a newer card’s status as a staple by looking at how cards that are similar, synergistic, or competing have fared in the past financially.

Who’s ready for some dinosaurs? Not me! It was only a week or two ago that the Universes Beyond: Doctor Who Commander precons dropped, and I’m still sussing out which cheap pickups will have a big effect on the format and which surprisingly pricy cards seem confusing and, frankly, pretty bad (Everybody Lives!). 

With The Lost Caverns of Ixalan around the corner, it made sense to call out a few more Doctor Who cards before we collectively forget about its existence. Dinosaurs have a way of doing that, though we can’t blame Doctor Who’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and Displaced Dinosaurs for getting in on the fun.

Reverse the Polarity

Modal cards are fantastic in Commander, and this one offers two strong options that scale with the game (and one option that’s decent, but quite situational). Countering a spell for three mana is awful, and a spell that reads, “: Creatures can’t be blocked this turn” is borderline unplayable. Together, however, they provide a level of utility that can be game-breaking. The ability to counter all spells holds the potential for a blowout. And note the other line reads that creatures can’t be blocked, not specifically your creatures, meaning a tapped-out alpha strike by an opponent against another opponent might kill two birds with one stone. As a bonus, the card can also switch the power and toughness of all creatures until end of turn, an ability that ranges in helpfulness from 0% to maybe a few zero-power creatures dying.

At $2, Reverse the Polarity is a steal. It’s cheaper than a bunch of other modal counterspells like Cryptic Command ($7) and Archmage's Charm ($4), though pricier than Mystic Confluence ($0.50). The unblockable clause is a rare one for a blue card - often, blue creatures can make themselves unblockable, but not others - with the closest being Archetype of Imagination ($1) and Sun Quan, Lord of Wu ($6, but only recently).

Reverse the Polarity isn’t going to beat out Force of Will, Mana Drain, or Force of Negation anytime soon, but I consider it one of the better budget counterspells available, as it’s cheaper than Arcane Denial, almost the same price as Counterspell, and provides proactive value in what’s normally a reactive color. It’s not going to end up in many multi-color decks, but between this, Cyber Conversion, and Flesh Duplicate, mono-blue is enjoying a windfall of BBC-inspired card designs.

STATUS: Mono-blue budget staple

Reverse the Polarity
Reverse the Polarity (Extended Art)

The Flux

When I wrote about Brazen Cannonade last April, the card was at $3, pricier than the other once-a-turn exile engines but with a far higher ceiling. Little has changed since then, including the limited options available (Visions of Phyrexia, Valakut Exploration, and Outpost Siege, to name a few), but The Flux is now the second best of the bunch, and even then only by a hair. The card is cheap ($1.50), elegantly designed, and covers enough ground that I could see it in an assortment of mono-red decks, not just those focusing on casting from exile.

The biggest issue with these cards is that they don’t do anything when they enter the battlefield. Not so with The Flux. Four damage is a meaningful enough amount to kill a threat, but then it sticks around for four Outpost Siege activations, which is plenty considering you’re lucky to get two or three activations off an actual Outpost Siege before it’s removed or the game ends.

The Flux retains value in the late game, and if you happen to get it on the board early, you’re rewarded with a decent amount of mana to forgive the lack of a fifth impulse draw. Anecdotally, I’ve also found that Sagas feel less threatening to players, as they have a finite, unambiguous shelf life, and can be easily overlooked.

STATUS: Mono-red staple in lower power games

Everything Comes to Dust

This addition to the already stellar white removal suite has the strength of Farewell ($7), the flexibility of Harsh Mercy ($0.50), and the cost reduction of Hour of Reckoning ($0.50), all for the low price of $1.50. The “creature type” clause is fairly easy to game in a go-wide strategy, as most of white’s tokens are Soldiers with no other creature type, so using Convoke with even a single one can save the majority of your board while leaving your opponents’ boards in shambles. Sure, one of those opponents might have a few Soldiers lying around, or whichever type of other creature you use for Convoke, but other than, say, Human, the odds are it will just be one opponent who shares your creature selection. 

Everyone’s losing their artifacts and enchantments, too, so it’s not like making a creature type concession to an opponent is going to render the card obsolete, or anything.

Everything Comes to Dust feels like a card that could fit outside the Doctor Who universe, so this may not be the last we see of it; but when the spell catches on, the price it’s at now might be the lowest it hits for a while.

STATUS: White removal staple

Everything Comes to Dust
Everything Comes to Dust (Extended Art)

Dino Might

Tune in two weeks from now for some thoughts on Lost Caverns of Ixalan, once we see the full set and the prices begin settling on something remotely resembling their launch price. 

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Steve Heisler
Steve Heisler

Steve Heisler is a writer and pop culture journalist covering comedy, games, television, film and the tech industry. His work has been published in Rolling Stone, GQ, Variety, The AV Club, Fast Company and the Chicago Sun-Times. He began collecting Magic cards during Fourth Edition and plays Commander and Modern primarily. He also enjoys tennis, the Dark Souls family of video games and supporting live comedy. He lives in Chicago with his cat, Rosie.


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