Commander Spotlight: Soul Foundry

Welcome back to week twenty-one of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. It has been an arduous 191 days since my last summoning, which at this point feels like a poorly written movie that never ends yet long ago strayed from any sense of plot or enjoyment. 2020 is many, many things, and that includes being one endless prolonged period of social stagnation.

It’s unfortunate, and a little ironic in a way, that all of us are currently undergoing a collective series of events that have a direct impact on almost everyone involved to some degree, and the one thing we cannot do about it is physically come together to commiserate over our circumstances. Few events have the capacity to influence the everyday actions of so many people, on such a massive scope, for such a lengthy period of time. They almost always are historic watershed moments, and for better or worse, we presently are smack in the middle of one. Even with the advent of modern telecommunications and streaming technologies that allow us to interact from safe distances, nothing replaces the sensation of being around other human beings. Try as we might to overcome our own instincts, we are social mammals, and most of us crave being around other people to some degree – especially in times of great celebration or great turmoil.

So, yes, I know it’s silly to lament the fact that our game nights, and Magic-related game nights in particular have now been on hiatus for closing in on 6 months, especially given the multitude of absolutely bonkers stuff going on right now, but if there were ever a time it’d be nice to sit around a table with friends and process it collectively, now would be it. Which is precisely what we are all being asked not to do. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

But we do what we must. And so, until both our environment and our own hangups around socializing ease up a bit, this series continues to exist in a bit of a holding pattern. As such, just as has been the case over these many months, this week we continue to highlight cards that I’ve personally wanted to put into an EDH deck but haven’t for one reason or another, rather than via my normal card curation approach.

Today we have: Soul Foundry

Name: Soul Foundry

Edition: Mirrodin / Commander 2019

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Creature Copying

Highlights: When Mirrodin first introduced the idea of Imprint and the recurring ability to cast copies of a spell over and over again, nearly all of the original 9 Imprint cards saw regular use in some form. Isochron Scepter and Chrome Mox were by far the most common among competitive decks though, as they played into the typical desire for card advantage and up-temp play. On the casual side, however, it was Soul Foundry that made the most waves with its creature cloning potential.

Soul Foundry is one of those cards that has made my EDH shortlist more times than I can count, but it ultimately has had the misfortune of getting cut when finalizing the last deck slots. While I have used it it before in a casual multiplayer Green / White archer deck (back when archers were slightly harder to come by), it has yet to make the leap into a Commander setting on my part. Part of that is that because of the card, but mostly it’s just finding the right circumstances to best use it.

And that is the trick to this card.

Outwardly, Soul Foundry is an incredibly versatile Artifact that can find a home in many decks with relative ease. However, it does have one particular caveat that you have to be comfortable embracing to truly unlock its potential.

Soul Foundry begins by paying four mana to cast it. Then, like all Imprint cards, when it enters the battlefield you must exile a second card to “imprint” on it – in this case exiling a creature card from your hand. This sets up Soul Foundry’s linked activated ability, which states that by tapping and paying X mana, with X equal to the converted cost of the creature, you get to put a copy of that creature into play.

On the positive side, Soul Foundry allows you to really capitalize on creating clones of the same creature over and over again each round. This is especially the case for decks that don’t have access to Blue mana, where it can be especially advantageous to wield a surprise clone effect in colors your opponents may be unprepared for.

At the same time, there is also no shortage of viable creature options to use it with, from simple utility or specialized creatures all the way through powerhouse creations that could benefit from having additional copies thereof. Plus, because it’s paid for with generic mana, there is the potential to smooth out paying for creatures with extensive specific colored mana requirements (which can sometimes be quite handy in multicolored decks).

The aforementioned caveat, however, and the card’s main downside to all of this inherent potential, is a two-pronged liability that paints itself (like all Imprint cards) as a nearly irresistible target for removal. Two birds, one stone, and all that.

The first is that in order to ensure that you get at least one successful use out of it, most players are not going to want to drop Soul Foundry until they can immediately activate it at least once, meaning that whichever creature you opt to copy will cost X+4 mana that first time you use it. Second, and similarly, is that under ideal circumstances you will want to get more than one activation to really justify the card’s usage. Which means that you either need to find ways to protect the Foundry, throttle the threat of the creature being copied, or simply hope that it can survive removal for at least a round or two. In any case, it’s admittedly unlikely it’ll see an extensive lifespan in most Commander games, but even just 2-4 activations makes it a worthwhile investment.

Which is why, despite it not quite making one of my own Commander decks yet, there’s no reason why it couldn’t find a home in one of yours.

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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