A long, long time ago – eons really – I used to have a Red / Black that I was proud of. It wasn’t terribly fast, but given that my domain in the vast majority of my nearly two decades of playing has been multiplayer casual, it’s not like I generally deal with turn 5 kill decks. Nevertheless, this deck was slow even for my standards, yet it still remained one of my favorite decks for quite some time. For what it lacked in speed, it made up for in potency.
The whole idea was based around wiping the board constantly and then rummaging people’s graveyards for fun things to reanimate. Often, direct damage and spot removal cards took care of an opponent’s troublesome creatures that could make me lose my head on a permanent basis. However, as anyone familiar with Red can attest, you only have so many tools in the toolbox. Spells are always a precious commodity, and this is doubly true when you’re constantly having to choose between doing damage to your opponent or their creatures. (For a Red mage, ‘both‘ is the ideal answer, really.) Therefore, in multiplayer it’s necessary to have a balanced approach. Continually picking off creatures is fun, but eventually you’ll run into a creature that laughs at your Lightning Bolt because it has Protection, Shroud, Hexproof, or Indestructible. Likewise, if you completely gun for the player themselves, you run into the very real risk of being overrun by creatures. My very first deck was a Red deck, and I still recall in my formative years games where, in my attempt to burninate someone quickly, I fell to a swarm of rival goblins.
Or…well, you get the idea. I died a lot.
When I made the Red / Black sweeper deck, then, I knew that small, fast creatures would be an issue with this freight truck concept. It needed time, and since what direct damage I had was a commodity, I needed a way to buy myself time. I wanted to find a way to nullify tiny creature advantage without having to continually Pestilence myself to do it. I desired something that just made a 1/1 die.
And, as it turned out, a card from that era just happened to exist.
Today we have: Aether Flash
Name: Aether Flash
Edition: Weatherlight / Sixth Edition / Seventh Edition
Focus: Damage Dealing
Highlights: Aether Flash is a favorable card for people who like their games of Magic to last more than 10-15 minutes. When used effectively, it can take most aggressive swarm strategies out of the equation. Sure, eventually larger creatures will overcome the shock of coming into existence, but ideally it’ll buy you the time you need.
In Commander, the same logic applies. You don’t generally see many aggressive weenie deck attempts in a format that prefers much more build-up, but it solves the Commander-equivalent version of that: massive token armies. So, unless someone manages to get multiple lords in play for when they’re spitting out oodles of elves, birds, spirits, or soldiers, Aether Flash will help keep them in check.
Granted, Aether Flash does have some limitations, especially now in an era of creature design where so many have ‘Enter the Battlefield’ triggers. Aether Flash will not prevent those from happening, nor does it affect any creature that’s already out. Thus, drawing this may not be as useful in late game. However, getting it out early helps guarantee that you will have a late game presence. Essentially, it helps Red leverage its resources into the later stages – often an issue for this color in multiplayer settings. Hopefully by then, you’ll have a Fire Servant-fueled explode-a-thon ready.
How well it will be received completely depends on the other players. Some folks may find it advantageous to keep the enchantment around, while it may draw the ire of others towards you; be careful around Commander decks utilizing token strategies. Aether Flash doesn’t discriminate in its damage, but for someone who is relying on quantity of creatures over quality, don’t expect a warm reception for it.
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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