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Top Ten Classic Commander Instants/Sorceries You've Forgotten About


Hello awesome people! This is the second in a List of Former Classics in Commander that used to get heavy play years ago, but that has died down, which still have value in some places. Last week I looked my Top Ten Creatures and unlike my normal list with three Honorable Mentions, I had two more for a total of 15 cards, and we'll do the same today as well with instants and sorceries. Next week will be noncreature permanents. Just like last week, I double checked this 15 with EDHREC.com to make sure that they are not just underplayed at my kitchen table, but elsewhere too.

Ready for my list?

Honorable Mention #1 (#15 Overall). Congregate


Ah yes...the famous common from Urza's block. This awesome four-cost instant is very strong. It gains target player life equal to double the total amount of dorks out there. That scales up with more and more foes, so it's better in multiplayer than in normal play. We played this loads since it was much better than a mere Fog effect since the life you gained was often much more than the damage you'd take. Also note that this targets anyone, so you can use it to keep an ally or a soon-to-be one and play nice politics with. It's very strong in life gain and metagames with going wide brews like Aggro and Tokens that can easily make a ton of life for any deck's archetype that shares White. This thing is in just 3502 decks over at EDHREC.com, even though life gain alone is the second-biggest archetype after artifacts and then many brews could also use this. Get ready for the next card...

Honorable Mention #2 (#14 Overall). False Cure

False Cure

...and check out the combo! This rare two-drop instant costs double Black and everyone who would gain life this turn instead loses it (you as well). Nasty! As more players are there to gain life in multiplayer, you can hurt them all. This is a game winner targeting someone who cast Congregate or from your deck. This also forces life loss for everything from lifelink dorks to minor life gain effects on Cloudblazer. This can kill someone in a life gain deck, and this is a strong tool against life gain decks at your kitchen table. I love this on an Isochron Scepter since you can reuse it multiple times. The False Cure and Congregate combo are why my first Commander deck an Oros, the Avenger deck ran both colors so I could run them both. There aren't even 1000 on EDHREC.com but this is a great tool in the right metagame.

Honorable Mention #3 (#13 Overall). Spite // Malice

Spite // Malice

After the first split cards were printed, this was the most seen one. It's the best from Invasion for kitchen table play. The Spite can counter any nondork, a Negate. The Malice can destroy any non-Black dork without regeneration, it's a Doom Blade. Together, they can answer anything other than a Black dork or a land, but that's not really in the Dimir wheelhouse anyway. You know how good Negate is at the Commander table countering so many things. You know how heavily used Doom Blade is at the kitchen table as well. Getting both in one card is awesome, but it's here in my Honorable Mention section since it costs four mana.

Honorable Mention #4 (#12 Overall). Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder

This sorcery X-spell was printed as a common in Tempest. It still makes me wonder why people play Fireball, which can be split but costs loads more mana than this. This is very simple. You can deal up to X damage to any number of targets. Put 5 into it? You can deal 5 to one; 2 and 2 and 1 to three; 1 each to five; 4 to one and 1 to another. It's very flexible, and since its mass produced as a common, is pretty cheap on the secondary market as well. It's just a quarter or the cheapest near mint version here at CoolStuffInc.com.

Now, sure, it's two to start over other Blaze effects, but it's flexibility it worth it. It's clearly good in any removal suite at the kitchen table since multiplayer is more likely to have multiple targets to clear out and get card advantage from. I also love it with Red's damage adders, doublers and in one case a tripler like Fiery Emancipation or with the legendary Torbran, Thane of Red Fell that increases damage dealt in the Command Zone. I also like this in X spell matters brews like Rosheen Meanderer. And yet it's only in 3,103 decks over at EDHERC.com.

Honorable Mention #5 (#11 Overall) Order // Chaos

Order // Chaos

After this block, Order // Chaos quickly became a staple and increased as more cards were printed in the next few blocks.

Why? Order! At the time, there were two regularly played problems at the multiplayer table which created two very different methods of attack. I called them the two Foundational Enemies of Magic and we needed a card that could answer both. What were those enemies? Akroma, Angel of Vengeance was the first. 6/6 with flying, protection from both Red and Black, vigilance, trample and haste. Nasty! The indestructible Darksteel Colossus was the second, and that card's iconic run was well known. Both had built-in protection.

So, in order to answer you need a Blue, White, or Green exiling or tucking effect. Enter Order, which exiles, is White, and it just has to be attacking, which these two did in spades. It was very strong for the metagame alongside Swords to Plowshares and Wing Shards after building up a storm count and Vengeful Dreams.

It got played as Order 90% of the time, but then you had the occasional game win with Chaos. In multiplayer you can have Player A attack Player B and then not be able to block to kill even with a capable untapped defense. This is a very strong card. Even today it's pretty good for Aggro or Tokens builds in the removal section of a Boros deck that goes wide. I also like this in Commander decks with leaders that have either combat attack triggers or combat damage triggers since you can attack with the first without losing your leader with Chaos or getting the combat damage trigger with the latter and then it can serve as a backup removal card too. It's not even in a thousand decks!

#10. Reap and Sow

Reap and Sow

Yet another formerly iconic common that costs four mana. This sorcery is four, ramp any land (untapped and ready to be used) or destroy a land. Stone Rain and a better Rampant Growth that fetches any land, not just basics, and able to be used now. From destroying Volrath's Stronghold and Cabal Coffers to getting your own, this is pretty strong! And then you can entwine and do both for two more mana. Nasty. And in the color of ramp, you are likely to have it, so you can reliably get two for one. Love this for things like Command Tower that make all of your mana or key lands that drive your deck like Urza's Saga. Nice for twice!

#9. Into the Core

Into the Core

This will exile two targets instead of one. Exiling answers anything, and you can target things like Skullclamp, Lightning Greaves and so on when they are tapped. It's better in multiplayer with multiple targets and strong at everything else as well. It scales up in multiplayer since you have more options to target. Note that you do have to do this with two targets not just one, it's not an "up two" option. You can send your other target at your Treasure or something if there aren't anything else to care about!

#8. Fire // Ice

Fire // Ice

Hitting roughly halfway through my list is our final split card. This thing was heavily played and was so good it made Vintage decklists. This is just played in 2243 decks over at EDHREC.com. Both abilities are very strong. At instant speed you can either tap anything, even a land, at instant speed and draw a card, or then you can deal two damage split across up to two targets, so it's a powerful instant speed removal or tempo trick and can draw a card to replace itself. Do the land tapping in their upkeep and prevent them from tapping that land for mana in their main phase and then lock them from doing something powerful on their main step with sorcery speed things or the card they draw. It's powerfully good at the kitchen table, cheap, fast and very flexible! Good split card!

#7. All Suns' Dawn AND Restock

All Suns' Dawn

These five-cost sorceries will Regrowth multiple cards from your graveyard. The former one will do so for each color, so that could be as high as 5 in a five-color brew. It's an obvious powerhouse in five color decks, which are very common at the kitchen table but yet it's just in 2267 decks. Why? It should be in more decks since a 5 for 1 is pretty good in any format. It's also strong as a 4 for 1 in four color brews or even a 3 for 1 in the commonly played 3 colors. It's very strong.

The latter is a rare downshift to uncommon, another five cost that's a double Regrowth for five mana as well. But it's just in 1175 decks. Why? People are pulling ETB dorks for sorcery and instant versions like Ravenous Chupacabra for Murder and Eternal Witness for Regrowth, so why not the latter in two color decks and the former in three or more?

#6. Grab the Reins

Grab the Reins

Our final card before the Top Five, another uncommon, and the last entwine card is this fun instant in Red. It has two options.

The first is an instant speed Act of Treason. This is normally a sorcery at 3, so you are getting an instant at four. You can use it when you are attacked to grab a blocker and then block and keep from taking damage and, ideally to kill both the stolen blocker and attacker. That's a two for one. You can also just use it like an Act of Treason on your turn to kill someone or push around something out of nowhere.

I love this when my foe has a game winner like Blightsteel Colossus or a fat Lord of Extinction. Then you can use this as a Fling, sacrifice one of your dorks to deal its power in damage to any target. It's used when someone has cast a targeted or mass removal spell which will kill something of yours, or to finish off a wounded opponent, and, again, work with the Colossus. Then you can entwine for three and steal and Fling, ideally what you stole. Or you can attack with what you stole and Fling something bigger, or block, and get two for one, and then Fling something else to kill another dork so three for two. Nasty card and very flexible!

Top Five Time! Hitting it is ...

  • 3 Commons
  • 2 Rares
  • 1 Uncommon
  • 3 Blue
  • 2 White
  • 1 Blue and Green

#5. Aether Mutation

Aether Mutation

Let's knock off both the gold card and the uncommon and the last Green card now. This five-mana sorcery will bounce a creature. Nice. Then it will make that creature's mana cost in Saprolings of the 1/1 persuasion. That's a game winner in bounce form. You can easily bounce a 5 or 6-drop to make tokens to swing and then smash. Or you can just block the attackers a few times and get multiple Fogs from it in addition to the tempo. Or use it to save your planeswalker buddies. It's very strong in defense, or offense, based on the need of the table.

It's only played in 1121 decks on EDHREC.com but I think it works very well in any Simic deck, especially ramp where you can cast this earlier than turn 5. It's very strong anywhere, but it has enhanced value in decks that care about tokens, Saprolings, or bounce brews.

#4. Reins of Power

Reins of Power

Now let's knock off one of the most powerful, iconic, and game changing instants ever printed for multiplayer. This four-cost instant untaps your stuff, and your target's opponent's things, and then swaps them for the turn. One way to abuse this is to cast it when you attacked by one player, and then swap your stuff with a now untapped stuff from a third player, and then block and trade a lot of stuff in a favorable way.

Another way to use this if you have no creatures and no one else has anything to block and you are attacked to steal with the attacker, which removes them from combat, so it's a fancy Blue Fog to keep you alive.

A third way to use this is on your precombat phase to swap your nothing stuff with a foe and then attack them for now unblockable stuff and win the game. A political aspect works, you can attack the Archenemy in an us against them game and then on Player A's turn swap your stuff with their nothing and then they can attack with your stuff again. Anything here works well, either proactively on your turn or reactively on your foe's. It's still run in 1% of Blue decks, hence it hitting here at the 4 spot, but it's still underplayed. Nasty!

#3. Orim's Thunder AND Dismantling Blow

Orim's Thunder
Dismantling Blow

Let's knock out this common duo. They are in 2109 and 1508 decks respectively over at EDHREC.com, pretty small. Each was heavily played at the kitchen table and are from the same set. Each costs three to start, one more than Disenchant. The first one has a Red kicker, for a total of four, and then deals damage to any target dork equal to the destroyed card's mana cost. So if you destory a Mind's Eye, you are dealing 5 damage to a dork, probably enough to kill it.

Many people run 3-cost versions that add something like Krosan Grip, or four costs that destroy two things like the previous hitting Into the Core exiling two artifacts or Crush Contrband to answer an artifact and enchantment for four mana in one card. So the Thunder has the same cost after getting kicked, and anwers two, one of which is a creature. The Blow kicks for three and then draws two, so it's a 3:1 for one card when kicked, or just a 1:1 removal spell otherwise. You'll always kick it if you have the mana, and adding a card flow card into your removal suite is very strong here. It's worth running. Both commons from the same block were heavily played for years, but have fallen out of favor. Why? No clue!

#2. Desertion


This is our second-highest scoring card and our highest-charting rare. This five-cost instant can counter anything. Was it an artifact or creature? You control it! It steals artifacts and dorks like Mind's Eye and Skullclamp or Mulldrifter and Consecrated Sphinx a go go. Esper Sentinel? Grave Titan? Ravenous Chupacabra? Staff of Nin? Mindslaver? You can get all of them, and unlike other steal counters you do not need to cast it, so you cannot be countered back. You can counter anything in a pinch, but you won't steal it unless it's those two types. That's pretty strong, and it used to be played everywhere and cost a lot of money. Now it's just registered in 7192 decks, around 1% of Blue decks. Enjoy it!

#1. Capsize!


Let's finish things off with the best buyback card ever printed, even better than Forbid. For three mana you can bounce anything, just one more than Boomerang. Then you can spend three mana to buyback, so for six mana you could get a free bounce each turn and then not lose a card, card advantage and tempo in one. I run this in my Commander Cube still and it started there. But this is only run in 2% of Blue decks, still not nearly as iconic as it once was. It's powerful in any Blue deck that wants to cast powerful things at the end of a foe's turn, then untap, draw, and pass. It's also very strong in certain brews:

  • Simic Ramp - One of the most common color archetypes. This has the mana for buying it back multiple times a turn.
  • Dimir Ramp - Combining the ramp of Black with Cabal Coffers and Urborg with this, this archetype can also afford the cost of the buyback a few times.
  • Izzet and Jeskai Spellslinger - This very popular archetype runs a bunch of Instants and Sorceries and then triggers win cons like Guttersnipe and Monastery Mentor. Then you can cast this, buy it back, and get repeatable triggers of your stuff repeatably. Nasty combo.
  • Azorius and Bant and Esper Tempo - These three control variants all add in White and Blue. Here you can use the tempo and buyback of Capsize with powerful other tempo related cards like Hate Bears and effects in Blue like Esper Sentinel and Rhystic Study. Both Bant and Esper are valuable since they add in Green and Black ramp options.
  • Any Blue Control - Like I mentioned before, any Draw-Go brew can tap out for this.

Nice power, right? Can you see why this is my top card? I hope so as well!

What did you think of these 15 slots? Anything I missed or that you forgot about? Just let me know!

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