– Iconic Masters
December 13, 2017
Commander [EDH]: 4.17
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Cryptic Command is part of a famous cycle from Lorwyn; all five made it into Iconic Masters, but the blue one is often held to be the most powerful. Its mana cost is a lot less restrictive than it used to be in this age of fetchlands (which I’ve always believed are the real cause of the problems resulting from easy mana in Modern, not the shocklands), and for some reason they decided that it should be the only member of the cycle that was an instant. When you combine that with the fact that almost any combination of its abilities can steal a turn from an opponent and can be used either offensively or defensively, you have a card whose versatility is entirely unmatched.
Well, except perhaps by the card we’re reviewing on Friday . . .
Cryptic Command is in my top 20 favorite cards of all time. This should come as no surprise since I play a lot of blue, my first set was Lorwyn, and this card is pretty much universally considered amazing. Both of the late Wayne England’s pieces are great (we’ll get more into that on Friday) but I really love the Iconic Masters art.
The Command cycle is like a magic swiss army knife. Although I find myself using the Counter and draw abilities the most, the bounce and tap abilities have won me games. In single player the tap ability is mostly used for stopping a painful attack, but in multiplayer it can completely decimate a player’s defenses, allowing the more offensive decks to get a swing in. I’m not going to spend too much time going on and on about bounce plays, but I will mention bouncing your own Snap Caster can create fun set ups.
Drawbacks? The mana cost is pretty restrictive, but still very fair. It will be hard to cast in Limited. This card belongs in specific decks, but oh man does it shine in them.
While Cryptic Command often telegraphs itself, thanks to being a four-mana spell with a heavy color requirement, it’s hard to care with as flexible as it is. It’s a counterspell…and a bounce spell…and a potent combat trick…and a cantrip. You only get two of the four modes, but it’s honestly not an awful deal to take one of the first three modes and then draw a card on top of it.
Cryptic Command has long been a staple of Modern control decks because of its flexibility and the tempo advantage you get off of it. Conveniently, those are the decks this card slots into, since it asks for three blue mana to cast it. That makes this card hard to splash, but the raw power of it more than compensates for the deck-building constraints.
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