Commander Spotlight: Diabolic Revelation

Much of the fun of singleton formats like Commander is in seeking out cards that suit the format well, as not all cards are created equal. Magic R&D spends a lot of time trying to provide a wide variety of cards for different players and different styles. It’s like trying to get the right mix of ingredients for a recipe: they have to create powerful tournament cards for Standard or Modern, mix in potent cards for drafting, and throw in a dash for casual play. They try to strike a balance of cards for aggro-hungry Spikes, combo-loving Johnnies, and experience-seeking Timmies. (If you are unfamiliar with these terms, I suggest giving this article a read.)

With rare exception, most cards resonate with some group…somewhere. A thought lost on many is that not all cards are created for the same audience, and just because it doesn’t resonate with you doesn’t mean the card is bad. Few tournament players would touch a Terastodon, for example, but for Timmies or those in multiplayer games, it’s hardly a poor choice. Similarly, few Johnnies or casual players get excited over Thoughtseize, but for Spikes or someone drafting, it’s a fantastic card.

It’s almost a guarantee at some point in the last year cards came out that really resonated with your preferences. Sure, we all wish they’d make way more for our style than for the other guy’s, but that isn’t going to happen. Nor is it actually as good of an idea in the long run as it sounds. Over the years the game has shored up card support across the entire spectrum of the player base, including multiplayer. In the last couple years, this now also has started to include Commander-focused cards. So let’s look at a rather obvious one.

Today we have: Diabolic Revelation

Diabolic Revelation

Name: Diabolic Revelation

Edition: Magic 2013

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Card Tutoring

Highlights: When Diabolic Revelation was revealed for M13, the overwhelming response was that it was unplayable garbage.

Well, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. As Walking The Plane’s Nathan Holt once blithely pointed out, Commander card interests often run contrary to what the vocal competitive player base prefers. This card was no different. Diabolic Revelation would never see the light of day inside a tournament hall, and it made for a mediocre draft card.

But it was making a statement, taking Black’s slot for card tutoring in a core set that year. Diabolic Tutor until that point had been in every core set since 8th Edition (and returned in M14). This card, among others in M13, was a gift to the rising tide of EDH players, and it went appreciated.

Even if their voices weren’t as vocal.

Diabolic Revelation is a straightforward card, allowing you to tutor for whatever tools or weapons you need. It’s not every efficient at lower costs, but the more mana spent on it means ever increasing advantages. Just look at the breakdown curve:

  • At six mana (1 card) you have an expensive tutor, though still viable if you are desperate.
  • At seven mana (2 cards) you’re already on a better curve than two Diabolics.
  • At eight mana (3 cards) it’s a cast two Diabolics, get one free deal!
  • At nine mana (4 cards) you’re replenishing your hand with ideal cards.
  • At ten mana (5 cards) you’ve now approached Demonic Tutor efficiency, and you’re probably setting yourself up for a game-ending move.
  • Anything above 5 cards is probably unnecessary and is just being greedy. Luckily, Black loves being greedy!

Any kind of tutoring in Commander is powerful, and no color does it better than Black. It has no restrictions on the card fetched and it isn’t revealed, keeping your choices shrouded in mystery. However, unless the tutoring is two fold, wherein you’re removing something of mine for your own (i.e. Frenzied Tilling), tutoring often doesn’t draw much attention your way. Diabolic Revelation at higher numbers can raise an eyebrow, but if you’re going to tutor for a whole new hand of cards, chances are you’re going to be able to address such concerns should someone get a bit jumpy.

Diabolic Revelation rewards players who are looking for mid-to-late game antics, rather than early game aggression. The card can still let you tutor at the lower end, putting it on par with cards like Demonic Collusion and Increasing Ambition (which also see play even at their costs), but it really shines with a higher mana base to invest with. You know, like the Commander format. Where we love unplayable garbage.

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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