menu

Insider: The Last Two Inventions

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

Welcome back, readers! I've been doing a lot more macro-level stuff recently, and I felt it was time to jump back down to the micro level (i.e. single card) speculation discussion. What prompted me, you might ask?

paradox-engine planar-bridge

These two Inventions flipped the switch on that part of my brain that loves Commander brewing. Wow. These last two were clearly designed for Commander players (though one could argue that Paradox Engine could see competitive play) and if you can't tell I'm very excited. It's important to keep in mind that in Commander, things being legendary is actually a benefit almost all the time, whereas in normal competitive play it is a downside. In Commander, you see, we have cards that specifically effect legendary permanents.

Paradox Engine

This (to me) is the more exciting of these two Inventions, primarily because I can honestly see it being extremely broken. Some might look at it and say, "Well, it doesn't untap my lands," and move on. I would simply remind these folks that in Magic's 23-year history we have a lot of cards that produce mana that aren't lands. Now it is important to note that while this card is legendary, it isn't a creature and thus can't be your commander. Thus, you won't have "constant" access to this ability like you would if it were on a creature. That being said, there are no shortage of good commanders that would play well with it.


Captain Sisay has always been a powerful commander that you tend to build around, rather than say just a "good stuff" general, and while her ability is extremely powerful, the fact that it's typically limited to once per turn and puts the card into your hand has kept it in check.

Now Rofellos, Llanowar Emmisary is completely banned, but both Selvala, Explorer Returned and Selvala, Heart of the Wilds are in Sisay's colors and generate mana. The reason this is important is that with a multiple-mana producer and Sisay, you could potentially tutor up your whole deck with Paradox Engine. I think Selvala, HotW is the better option because it's more likely to generate larger amounts of mana, and you could potentially ramp up mana by getting bigger and bigger creatures and generating more and more mana with Selvala (as each time you cast the card you tutored up you would untap both Sisay and Selvala). You could do the same with Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro; you'd just need to have a few more shamans out in order to cast your bigger stuff.

This general idea isn't just limited to Selvala or Sachi, though (I only picked them because they are also legendary so they can be tutored up with Sisay). If you made the deck more "elf" themed, then you have Priest of Titania and Elvish Archdruid to generate large amounts of mana. However, you'd have to draw or tutor them up some other way.


Arcum is the other obvious route to take. He can also tutor up Paradox Engine[card], but he puts it directly into play. Decks built around him tend to play a lot of artifact mana, which is the other way to gain lots of mana abusing [card]Paradox Engine.

However, one still needs to create artifact creatures to sacrifice for Arcum's ability and to get cards in hand (to keep casting to trigger Paradox Engine). Creating creatures is actually pretty easy. Two great options that are currently pretty cheap are Myr Turbine and Summoning Station, both of which only require tapping to activate (thus with Arcum out) you could tutor up as many artifacts as you have spells in hand/mana to cast. You could use Temple Bell or Otherworld Atlas to draw out your deck.

Earlier I mentioned how the last piece of this puzzle would be your mana-generating artifacts (since Paradox Engine would untap those as well). Because Arcum decks are mono-blue, one doesn't need a ton of different color-producing mana rocks. A few that generate colorless and a few that generate blue are likely all that are required.


Now one challenge is that most mana rocks tend to be in the common and uncommon category, which means that unless they are extremely old they have a relatively low price ceiling. Two of my favorites for this style of deck happen to fall into the "old" category. Basalt Monolith and Grim Monolith are two extremely powerful mana rocks which were both tempered with a "does not untap in your untap step" clause and instead require mana to untap. However, when you have a way to untap them for free, they can just generate silly amounts of mana with no downside.

Grim is already pushing $45 (and it's on the Reserved List), so the buy-in is quite high, though I wouldn't be surprised if it gets a bump if we see a lot of players jumping onto the Arcum Dagsson train. However, Basalt Monolith can be picked up for between $0.5 and $1.50 with relative ease. It has been reprinted since it's ABUR days (Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Revised) but both those printings were in Commander product (2013 and 2015) and in each case was only included in one deck (Evasive Maneuvers and Wade Into Battle).

Planar Bridge

This is a Planar Portal on steroids. Sure, you can only tutor up permanents, so you can't loop Beacon of Tomorrows) for infinite turns – but you get to put those permanents into play, not just into your hand. That's huge.


Unlike Paradox Engine, I don't see this card revitalizing or renewing interest in specific commanders. However, what it does offer is a lot of potential with a whole groups of cards that often don't make the cut.

Of course, I'm talking about "you win the game" cards. The problem with almost all of them (excluding Laboratory Maniac) is that they paint a big old bullseye on your head the turn before they would win the game (since most trigger during your upkeep). About half of them also require some number of counters on them to trigger the "you win the game" aspect. In that case, Planar Bridge is unlikely to help out a lot, as the game states in which you can both cheat said win condition up and put all necessary counters on said win condition are likely few and far between. However, there are a few cards in which you only need to meet a specific requirement during your upkeep to trigger an automatic win. These are:

All of these options can be triggered with a deck meant to do so, however, a few are typically easier then most. My favorite picks on this list are;


Making tokens is pretty easy in Commander, and there are some cards that could make the full 20 you need (assuming you have enough mana) by themselves. This is also the only mono-green option, and most would argue that green is the most powerful color in Commander. This is also a great card to tutor up when a board state locks into a stalemate because it forces opponents to act. However, in this instance, the idea would be to let the board get into a stalemate (with you eventually having 20 or more creatures), and tutoring up your win condition at the end of the opponents turn, winning in your upkeep (barring opponents having enchantment destruction and/or killing enough of your creatures for it not to trigger).


This card was a solid $9 to $10 card from April 2013 to October 2015 (when it was spoiled as a reprint in BFZ). I couldn't keep them in my trade binder for that stretch of time.

Thanks to both a reprinting and a rarity downgrade one can now get copies for under $0.5 (which I'd say is criminally under-priced, but I'm still not 100 percent sure how much impact the "Expedition effect" will have on BFZ rares). However, it's important to keep in mind that this guy is legal in Standard with Planar Bridge, so a deck designed to gain a bunch of life (perhaps with something like Aetherflux Reservoir) could have an additional win condition. (Though given you could likely just kill the opponent with said Aetherflux Reservoir, it seems superfluous.)

This is definitely the option with the lowest buy-in on the list that I think has some real potential. The fact that you could literally do nothing in a Commander game and win the game with this card makes it pretty nuts to tutor up.


This is the original "if you have X life at the beginning of your upkeep, you win the game" cards and is currently sitting at $6 or so. The beauty of this card (and Felidar Sovereign) is that because of the Commander format's starting life total of 40, most of your work is already done for you. Unlike Felidar Sovereign, though, you actually have to gain additional life from your starting total to actually win the game with this card. However, we all know that in a singleton format having similar cards adds redundancy, which is something you often want in a game of high variance (like Commander).


Besides being an amazing fighting game that causes me to reminisce about my childhood, this is an actual MTG card that doesn't get a lot of love in Commander.

The primary problem is that unlike the ones above, it requires a significant setup to trigger; specifically, 20 creatures cards in your graveyard, which without using cards to specifically mill yourself (in one way or another) means you're only likely to trigger it later in the game.

Typically, Commander combo kills/wins are best when they can be done quickly, which is why this one is last on my list and the one I'm least confident in. The buy-in is low, yes, but the setup is high, so the potential for gains is much lower. This is more of a card I'd simply pull out of any bulk rares I might have and see if something causes it to spike (as there are a few cards that would likely help trigger this one quickly – Traumatize and or Morality Shift come to mind), but now we're at a three-card combo, which is significantly worse in a singleton format than a two-card combo.

Conclusion

To be honest, I wasn't all that excited about Aether Revolt as a set until I saw these two cards spoiled. It's not that I don't think the set has some interesting mechanics, it's just that I don't tend to play a ton of Standard and few new cards end up making it in eternal formats.

But the two Inventions discussed today have caused me to do a 180, and now I can't wait until January 20th. I see so much potential in both these cards that I have no doubt that something will spike because of them.

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.


Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.