Commander Spotlight: Cloud Cover

In any major conflict, there are innumerable moments where the entire outcome of the engagement can change based on something seemingly inconsequential. From a split-second change in decision, to accidental meetings, to a simple change in the weather, history is littered with examples where something tiny ends up changing a much larger course of action. Despite their impact on the outcome, however, these are factors that are largely unpredictable and can’t be controlled, no matter how much contingency you strive for. Even if you attempt to anticipate every conceivable possibility, unless you’re working in a closed system with no outside influences, guaranteeing the outcome you desire on the terms you desire will never be 100% possible. If randomness is present in any form, you must learn to live with, and adapt to, that fact.

That all being said, this truth doesn’t mean that every battlefield skirmish or long term calculation turns entirely by the whim of chaos. While randomness is impossible to avoid entirely, there are plenty of actions that can be taken to reduce the odds. From better planning, to having backup options, to using foresight and educated guesses to predict what your enemy will do, many battles are won not only by superior tactics and numbers but by the winning side giving themselves the best possible chances at not falling prey to sheer unpredictability.

Essentially, the more prepared you are, the better off you are.

One of the best ways to accomplish this are maintaining resources. Many military campaigns throughout history were lost not because the armies were decimated by battle, but because the supply lines those armies needed to function were irreparably disrupted. Whether it was lack of food, reinforcements, or other provisions needed to function properly, losing too many resources can be just as devastating to your chances at success as having an entire division of troops wiped out.

In Magic, resources are represented twofold: our mana base of lands, artifacts, and the like, which are desperately needed to implement all your other cards, and the very cards themselves. Fewer cards in your hand generally means you have fewer options and means of adapting to your current situation on the board. This is generally why discard is not aggressively costed (anymore) and why card draw is often seen as one of the most advantageous mechanics in the game. In longer games like Commander, no one wants to be relegated to topdecking, as it significantly curtails your ability to be competitive and deal with situations at any given moment. In Magic, more cards means more options, and the longer a game goes, the more important this aspect is. Just ask a Red mage.

It’s also why loads of EDH players are fairly judicious about single purpose Instants and Sorceries, and why many are down right fearful of using Auras altogether. These cards are easy to burn through, and if you don’t have a means of replenishing them, your efficacy at adapting to changing battlefield conditions plummets the longer a game progresses.

Thus, the better you are at keeping your resources protected, the better off you are in a prolonged fight.

The two best colors to help you do this are, of course, White and Blue, as both of them have a heavy defensive streak to them. So it should come as no surprise that when you put the two together, you’ll get something like this week’s card pick.

Today we have: Cloud Cover

Name: Cloud Cover

Edition: Planeshift

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Permanent Bounce

Highlights: Cloud Cover is one of many cards seen during the Invasion block that dealt specifically with bouncing cards back to its owner’s hand. Although many of them typically revolved around individual creatures, usually signifying the often tempestuous magic occurring on the plane during this time in Dominaria’s history, Cloud Cover differed in that it provided access to that flavor with something a bit more defensive.

Cloud Cover is the type of card that was probably designed with a more omni-style play but in practice was best used in Limited to practically eliminate spot removal as an option, and in multiplayer, where its more long-term effects can be better capitalized.

For four mana Cloud Cover is an enchantment that protects other enchantments. And creatures. And artifacts. And lands. It states that whenever a permanent of yours is targeted by a spell or an ability of an opponent, you may return that permanent to your hand rather than be destroyed, exiled, or otherwise removed. While this doesn’t prevent your opponent from successfully removing the targeted permanent from the battlefield temporarily, having it it go back to your hand versus pretty much anywhere else is highly advantageous as it allows you to get it back out at a later point with relative ease. Moreover, because it’s an optional effect, you can choose in those corner cases whether letting it die may actually be more advantageous.

In all, Cloud Cover effectively turns most targeted spells and abilities into bounce cards, which can make for a pretty big deterrent for your opponent. For one, the abundance of enter-the-battlefield triggers now makes repeated bounce possibly even more dangerous to them than simply leaving the creature on the battlefield. Second, unless they’re going to use that temporary removal to make an attack, they’re not going to waste those valuable cards of theirs unless it’s absolutely necessary.

The main drawback to Cloud Cover is that, unfortunately, like a lot of shield cards, it cannot protect itself. Therefore, between its inability to self-protect and how much it bolster’s your defenses makes itself an easy target for removal. Moreover, it doesn’t protect you from board wipes. But these are minor in comparison to the rest of its benefits.

Indeed, unless your opponent is able to break up your Cloud Cover, just by merely being on the battlefield, it does a splendid job at protecting you force’s resources while diminishing the efficacy of those of your opponent. And that disparity may just give you that extra certainty you need to help you win the war.

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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