I’ve been playing Magic for a very long time. It was one of the first analog games beyond your standard children’s fare that really caught my attention. I was drawn in by the innovative idea of customized deckbuilding, the fantasy-laden flavor, and above all, the fact that I was able to play with my older siblings and their friends despite being like 8 years younger than most of them. If nothing else, it taught me that gaming was for anyone if you’re willing to be open about it.
Over time I found more and more schoolmates who played and continued to foster an interest in Magic long after the fad with the older crowd had waned. Still, I never forget those early, rough-and-tumble multiplayer games with family and friends, where Serra Angel was a problem (unless you had a Shivan Dragon or Lord of the Pit), Pestilence often just ended games, Force of Nature was the powerhouse creature, and Throne of Bone was one of the most entertaining card names to say out loud.
Most of those old school cards don’t hold up compared to the power level of modern multiplayer-friendly options, but every now and then one I come across a card that was just as useful back then as it could be in EDH today.
Which brings us to this week’s pick, where dare I say, the memories have come flooding back.
Today we have: Flood
Edition: The Dark / Fourth Edition / Fifth Edition
Focus: Board Control
Highlights: In the olden days, Flood was a common enchantment for monoblue decks to run, especially in multiplayer. While Magic has had cards that allow you tap an opponent’s creature since Alpha, Flood stood out because of one small but pivotal difference from its contemporaries: you can use it more than once a round. Yes, unlike similar cards of the time such as Icy Manipulator or Master Decoy, Flood was the epitome of tap-down board control – something Blue does better than anyone else.
Flood’s cheap cost and cheap activation – provided you have the right mana available – ensures that it’s a viable card on the board at any stage of the game. For just two blue mana, this enchantment provides the means of selectively negating threats on the board, especially when determining what can attack or block. Moreover, a common tactic even during that era is to also preemptively tap an opponent’s creature with an activated ability (such as during their upkeep step), forcing them into choosing whether to activate it under less ideal timing or to let it become tapped without using it.
The ability to pick and choose which creature to tap also serves well for table politics, both in that you’re able to help or hinder other players, especially in combat situations, and the fact that its individual targeting mitigates it from being seen as a power threat more often than not. That is, unlike mass tap-down cards, which can draw more threat from the table than you may want – so much so that it can even occasionally backfire – Flood is an elegant and simple solution when wanting to make small adjustments rather than sweeping ones.
Flood’s main limitation is the color-specific requirements to its continued use; at two Blue mana per use, it makes it a hard card to splash and stay efficient. In addition, aside from your standard issues of Hexproof and Shroud, Flood also comes with the restriction that it can’t target flying creatures. You know, since they can sort of just fly over the water…
Still, if you’re going to be focusing on heavy Blue in a Commander setting, this old stalwart common continues to be of use even today. Veteran players can attest that facing an opponent with Flood and mana at the ready was often quite vexing, and it has graced many tables in its time. It disappeared for many years, but luckily, its usefulness can once again be levied in the era of EDH.
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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Do you have a particular Commander card to suggest for us to shine a future Spotlight on? You can send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org