Commander Spotlight: Torrent of Souls

Researching can be hard, even if that research is for cards in a game that you use to entertain yourself during your free time. Research is time consuming and can take you down many different avenues of information that you hadn’t even initially considered. It takes equal doses of fortitude and critical thinking to discern whether those tangential information paths are pertinent to your original goal or not. If you’ve ever browsed Wikipedia for thing and two hours later you’re still there reading an article on the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, you’ll have experienced this scenario first hand. Unsurprisingly, research, even for the most basic and trivial things, can be down right frustrating to many people…which is why many people simply don’t. (But that’s another story.)

Of course, all of this is also predicated on the idea that you even know what you’re looking for in the first place.

To put a more Magic spin on this often confusing task, look no further than deck building. When you want to create a Magic deck, there’s essentially three approaches. The first is to sift through all the physical cards you own and use whatever pool of cards you have to build a deck – or at least the core of one. This works great for players who want to throw something together quickly or don’t have a large collection of cards. The second approach is to simply look up successful deck lists of other players and copy them; this is better known as ‘NetDecking’ and it’s an annoying practice that players should avoid doing. (Again, another topic for another day.) The third, and often most common approach for enfranchised Magic players, is to start building a deck around a concept and use search engines like Gatherer or for cards that may help accentuate whatever it is their deck is trying to do. Building an insect deck? Look up all insect creatures. Curious how many multicolor artifacts there are? Easy enough to find out.

When you start getting into more specific search requests, however, that’s when the research part kicks in. Because thanks to 25 years of card template changes and the quirkiness of the English language, you may not always be guaranteed to get the results you want. This is doubly true when keywords are involved, because there are plenty of card effects that are identical to keywords in every way but aren’t keyworded to that end. Or they’re just slightly different enough to not warrant being keyworded, even if they serve the same purpose 90% of the time.

For instance, if you’re searching for abilities that grant Lifelink, you won’t find Armadillo Cloak. Or if you go looking for Hexproof, you won’t find Shielding Plax.

Searches can get even more challenging the more you dive into your criteria. Under normal queries, for example, looking for Blue / White cards, won’t reveal Dismantling Blow, because it’s a White card with a Blue kicker cost. Looking for flicker effects? That gets really tricky depending on whether you care about them returning immediately, at the end of turn, or when a specific condition is met. And do you also consider Phasing as part of that family? Because it’s pretty similar but not identical.

And did you know that when it comes to creature recursion, there’s a distinct difference between “putting’ a creature on the battlefield versus “returning” one?

So, yes, finding cards can be tricky.

Which is one reason why people love hybrid cards during their searching. Not only do they count as both individual colors as well as the multiple colors combined, they avoid a lot of the normal trappings when trying to find certain attributes.

To that end, let’s keep this week’s card simple and go with one of those.

Today we have: Torrent of Souls

Name: Torrent of Souls

Edition: Shadowmoor / Archenemy / Sorin vs. Tibalt / Eternal Masters / Modern Masters 2017

Rarity: Uncommon

Focus: Creature Reanimation / Creature Buffing

Highlights: Torrent of Souls is part of a cycle of cards found throughout Magic but especially strong in the Shadowmoor / Eventide miniblock. These are hybrid cards that are easily splashable into different colored decks and have different effects based on the mana colors used to cast it. In the case of Torrent of Souls, this Red / Black pairing allows you to create insult and injury at the same time by bringing one of your own creatures back and then immediately smacking someone with it.

Reanimation spells have been around since the very beginning of Magic, most come with their own limitations. Some cards like Animate Dead require the Aura to stay on the creature for it to live. Others like Shallow Grave allow you to return a creature at instant speed – and give it haste – but for one turn only, which started an entire subgenre of temporary reanimation spells in its own right. If you spend at least one Black mana casting this five mana spell, Torrent of Souls follows in that same path by letting you bring back any creature to the battlefield from your graveyard, essentially making it a marginally more expensive Zombify.

The tradeoff for that additional mana, however, is Red’s contribution to the spell. In this case, if Red mana is spent to cast it, all of your creatures – not just the one you might have brought back – get +2/+0 and haste for the turn. This alone could make for some potent combat damage with the right sized or volume of creatures on the battlefield, but admittedly the card’s one drawback is that you’re probably unlikely to spend five mana just for a temporary +2 power boon to your creatures. With both effects going off together, though, Torrent of Souls proves well worth the investment by letting you swing with whatever big scary monstrosity you decide to bring back (or use its activated ability instead if the right situation calls for it).

Torrent of Souls, like many of these mana-based modular spells, can be far more handy than they look, especially in EDH games where you usually have the time to need such a card, the mana to cast it, and enough viable targets during the middle to late stages of the game to make it worth including.

Indeed, to that end you shouldn’t need to search around too hard to find out that this combination of effects in a single card is well worth consideration in many Red / Black decks.

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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