Commander Spotlight: Cauldron Haze

Welcome back to week seventeen of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. It has been a truly baffling and endless 163 days since my last summoning, underscoring on so many levels the depths to which this quagmire that we all find ourselves in continues to drag on. At this rate 2020 is akin to a lumbering ooze: mindless, amorphous, and slinking along with no real desire to get out of our way or go anywhere fast.

From seeing the months-long parade of sufferings, to the sheer unpredictability and instability of so many facets that intersect everyday life, this entire ordeal has been disorienting at best and depressing at worst. And I, like most, would really, really like it to be over as soon as possible. Both for the big picture issues like, say, the health of our fellow citizens and the stability of the social fabric as a whole, and for the more mundane things, like, oh, playing some games with friends.

It would be nice to sling some cardboard with people again. Although the Magic juggernaut (the figurative one) continues to chug along with its set releases and general content rollout almost as if nothing else is happening out in the world right now, the inability to play in person has a way of tamping down enthusiasm among much of its player base. Will that eventually rebound? Most assuredly. Right now though, to pretend that much of the community isn’t focused on other things – whether by choice or circumstance – is a bit silly. So I won’t.

While I have myself taken the last few weeks to cover the release of Core Set 2021 as it pertains to Commander, and to celebrate an article milestone here at the CR, the series still isn’t operating at a pre-pandemic focus. Which is why, just as has been the case over the last few months, this week we continue the process of highlighting cards that I’ve personally wanted to put into an EDH deck but haven’t had the opportunity to yet for one reason or another, rather than via my normal card curation approach.

As it happens, in the case of this week’s pick, it got really close.

Today we have: Cauldron Haze

Name: Cauldron Haze

Edition: Eventide

Rarity: Uncommon

Focus: Creature Recursion

Highlights: When it comes to getting a creature back onto the battlefield from places beyond, Magic doesn’t have one single approach. The idea of returning a creature to play – or preventing it from leaving in the first place – is wide-ranging. The spells and abilities that enable such tactics vary not just from color to color but from set to set and even across different eras of the game. Target prevention options such as Shroud, Hexproof, and Protection aside, the game has wide latitude for you to choose from when it comes to keeping your beloved creature around. From Regeneration to Indestructibility, to flicker and bounce effects, to creature cloning as to have spare copies to dispense with, few permanents come with as many baked-in means of thwarting its destruction as creatures.

Then, of course, there is the most direct route itself of simply returning a deceased creature to the battlefield. Indeed, because of how much it ties into its identity, traditionally most presume creature recursion to be solely owned by Black’s slice of the color pie. Yet White too has had a hand in returning creatures (albeit more restrictive and less frequently printed) for just as long. Hence why there are more than a few Black/White hybrid cards floating around that deal with resurrecting creatures in some way.

Few recursion cards are as cost effective or timely, however, as Cauldron Haze.

For starters, Cauldron Haze costs a paltry two mana, making it among the cheapest reanimation spells around – and definitely the cheapest when it comes to doing so for more than two creatures. The card states that, upon resolution, any number of target creatures gain Persist for the turn, allowing them to return to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter on it, which by and large isn’t that terrible of a cost to quickly be brought back to the fray.

Moreover, Cauldron Haze provides this effect at Instant speed, allowing you to respond in real time to a massive board wipe – be it the result of a tough combat or someone attempting to clear the board. Most recursion cards operate at Sorcery speed or only let the creature only stick around for the turn, limiting your ability to rebuild your army quickly. By being able to call this up in response (perhaps even if you were the one causing the wipe), this card can potentially nullify someone’s efforts at a minimal cost to you.

Perhaps the most notable thing with this card though is what happens when you combine these two strengths together. That is, while there are a couple spells out there that can return creatures to the battlefield en masse, they either only return them for you, or they return them for everyone. Cauldon Haze, by the nature of its targeting aspect, lets you get granular in deciding which creatures live again and which stay dead. You could, for instance, stick with just keeping your own board intact and let everything else, well, wither away. Or you could be more political, which incredibly advantageous in its own right. Maybe revive everyone’s creatures except the person who caused the wipe? Or everyone’s except the person who had the most dangerous board at that time? Or perhaps you get super granular and arbitrarily decide which creatures stay and go purely because you can. With Cauldron Haze, all of this is possible. For just two mana.

It is because of this that I initially wanted Cauldron Haze in my Alesha, Who Smiles at Death deck, as was chronicled at the time. However, it was one of many cards that were painfully cut as the deck coalesced and was trimmed down to its final 100 cards. It may not have made it that time around, but I have little worry that it will make a Commander deck of mine one day. Perhaps it will end up in your own much sooner.

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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