Although you often get public discourse to the contrary, not everyone’s optimal deck is highly simplistic and cutthroat at all times. Not everyone wants to min-max their deck’s mana curve and perfect repeatable behaviors. Likewise, not everyone fits into the “Timmy” style players like those we talked about last week who instead focus on constructing decks jammed full of big and splashy cards merely because they can.
Of course, these are hardly the only pillars of Magic gamers. Among the other player factions there exists the combo players – those who attempt to pull off some crazy card combination solely for the reward of accomplishing their task. Have you ever found yourself doing some crossword or sodoku puzzle purely for the challenge of it? That’s this group. Winning is still important to them, but the way you win is often just as important. Luckily, this game has no shortage of wonky card options to accomplish this. In fact, now and then Wizards will print a card with no immediate power potential solely to give these card tinkerers something to puzzle out.
Commander games are no different. If anything, the added deck size and single-copy availability of cards can be even more appealing to those pondering various combos and deck synergy. Not because of the increased difficulty EDH puts on these things necessarily, but rather, it’s the amplified reward for when you actually pull it off. Since the odds of multi-card combos in EDH being successful drops compared even to normal casual games, when you do manage to assemble your doom cannon the payoff is that much sweeter.
That said, when it comes to showcasing worthwhile Commander choices, combo and synergy cards are woefully underrepresented. Part of it is because they often aren’t very flashy or inherently powerful by themselves, and although they can be quite useful, they may need some extra help reaching their full potential. Therefore, this week’s pick out aims to help balance that out somewhat.
Today we have: Crackleburr
Focus: Damage Dealing / Creature Bounce
Highlights: Crackleburr is one of the 16 cards from Shadowmoor & Eventide with the much maligned untap symbol. It was not super well received by many in the Magic community due to it being easily confused with the normal tap symbol, but for some, particularly those who enjoyed its inherent combo potential, cards such as Crackleburr are just puzzles looking to be unlocked.
In the case of Crackleburr, the trick is finding out how best to turn its surface-level vulnerabilities to your advantage. Of those, two particular obstacles stand out – aside from the fact that the card is unable to do anything by itself. Granted, that alone can make many pass on such cards, but in the right deck such issues can be overcome.
The first issue is that it’s vulnerable. Crackleburr is a highly affordable three mana creature (and hybrid mana at that), but its fragile 2/2 frame puts it squarely in the utility creature camp over one where you’ll be doing much attacking or blocking. Solving this could be as easy as holding on to it until you can make use of it, however, instead of casting it as quickly as possible.
The second and more important challenge is that to make the most use of both of Crackleburr’s abilities, you need reliable access to a number of both Red and Blue creatures. Crackleburr sports both direct damage and creature bouncing, which is fitting for a Blue / Red card. However, being able to ply one activation off against the other for maximum effect means you’ll need creatures to commit to it. Although both colors are capable of creating tokens and sport cheap creatures though, there’s not a ton of overlap between their creature focuses. It will be up to you to figure out the best approach to ensure you have the necessary creatures to set Crackeburr off repeatedly. While it is possible to simply focus on one ability over the other and still be effective (usually the tap ability), but in Commander games with limited card slots, only using half of it may seem like a wasted opportunity.
Ultimately, utilizing this strange elemental will be up to your creative deckbuilding skills and propensity for finding a card’s hidden potential. But for those who relish the idea of doing so, this should fit their prerogative. Crackleburr isn’t a powerhouse or a flashy three-drop. Rather, it’s precisely the kind of unseen EDH card that can be highly effective with the right ammunition. All you have to do is step up to the challenge of figuring out how to do so.
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