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Cryptic Commander: An Insidious Beginning


*Editor’s Note: Cryptic Commander was originally written as content for Gathering Magic’s Tumblr, meant to open up topics of discussion and interact with members of the community. I am bringing the backlog here to our main site to bring the discussion to you and to fill in when content runs a little sparse due to unforeseen circumstances, as sometimes happens. I hope you enjoy something a little more short form and topic driven, and would love to hear your feedback on Cryptic Commander! Give us a shoutout on Twitter @GatheringMagic and let us know what you think!*

Counterspells. That’s right, we’re getting this party started with counterspells. Welcome to Cryptic Commander, where I (Robert) open up a discussion about cards in concepts in Commander. Today’s topic is, in fact, counterspells. Well . . . one specific counterspell and the many interesting things it can do.

Insidious Will

There it is. Insidious Will. It feels a bit weird to not start this series off with the card that gave it its name sake, Cryptic Command, but Insidious Will is a pretty close analog for the purposes of this discussion. Also, Insidious Will isn’t a $20+ card. So, what exactly am I talking about? Flexibility. Insidious Will is a grade A example of card flexibility, and that is the concept that I want to talk about today. We’ll go in depth on counterspells many times in the future of this series due to their divisive nature in Commander, but today we’re going to talk about card flexibility.

So what makes Insidious Will so special compared to other counterspells? Two words: Choose one.

Those two words change Insidious Will from a bad Dismiss to a swiss army knife I want in every blue deck I make. One of the things I value very highly in Commander is flexibility. There are a lot of Magic cards, and there are only 60+ slots in your commander deck. The more effects you can cram into a single card, the better. Playing flexible spells is a good way to fit effects into your deck you wouldn’t normally want to spend a slot on, or to fit more of those effects in without sacrificing other effects. Insidious Will’s modal nature means it is essentially three cards in one: Counterspell, Redirect, and Twincast.


Unlike Cryptic Command, you don’t get to pick more than one mode, but the flexibility this offers you when it sits in your hand just feels so powerful. You can hold it up as a counterspell to make sure your plans go off without a hitch. You can use it to save your creature from a removal spell, taking out a creature or permanent that is more troublesome to you. You can even jump in on the Cruel Ultimatum beat downs, copying the spell and shooting it at the original caster to come out on top and take revenge for a targeted ally. The sheer number of situations in which this spell will be useful is staggering and I feel so good whenever I can pass the turn with four mana up and Insidious Will in my hand.

Flexibility is powerful in Commander, a format in which being prepared for anything pays massive dividends. It’s the difference between playing Swords to Plowshares and Utter End. Sure, you pay more for Utter End, but the ability to target Planeswalkers, Enchantments, and Artifacts in addition to any creature makes the card useful in so many more situations. Having your spells be able to do multiple things means they’re almost never dead in your hand, as well. So Insidious Will sits high on my list of cards to include once the core of a deck has been established. Three effects in one card is one hell of a thing.

So, how do you feel about Insidious Will? Auto-included in every Blue deck or forever relegated to the maybe-board? Do you try to include flexible cards in your Commander decks? Keep the discussion going, and I’ll see you next time for another Cryptic Commander!

Thanks for reading!

Robert Burrows

Managing Editor for Gathering Magic

@ironmanphoenix on Twitter

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