Commander Spotlight(ish): Twisted Image

Welcome back to week seven of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. It has been 93 days since my last summoning, which now makes it officially 3 months since friends and I have sat down at the same table, pulled out our hulking, quirky EDH decks, and convinced ourselves that we’d get through four games in a single night.

We never do. But like a case of recurring collective amnesia, we always think we can pull it off. It just doesn’t happen.

Normally in say, a six hour session, we’ll get in two, maybe three games in that time span. The only time a fourth has ever occurred is if one of them ends so abruptly and quick that it almost didn’t count. Such a move is particularly rare for us, though, since like most multiplayer veterans, we’ve all found ourselves on the receiving end of being knocked out of a game early and having to sit around for an exhaustive amount of time waiting for everyone else to finish. Plus, wielding such janky EDH decks where it’s repeatedly possible to blow everyone out of the water in the first 7-10 rounds just isn’t all that fun – as we have to occasionally remind some of our less frequent associates.

Point is, that style of Commander is not for us. That’s just taking a tournament mindset and ratcheting the deck up to 100 cards. And for us, that’s a hard pass.

I have to admit though that at this point in time, I’d even consider risking those kind of outcomes if it meant hanging out with people in person again in a competitive-yet-casual atmosphere. The pacing of life these last few months has been anything but pleasant. It’s chaotic, unpredictable, completely disruptive, and in far, far too many cases, absolutely wrenching. From health related losses, to economic hardships, to the heavy-handed response to people protesting so that fellow citizens can live their lives the way so many of us take for granted – not to mention raising an infant during it all – it’s an exhausting time. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. We’ll get through this; I know we will. And I genuinely believe as a society we will be stronger in the long run, having finally dealt with some of the underlying causes of these issues that we’ve conveniently swept under the rug for far too long. In the meantime, however, it would be nice to enjoy a game. Gaming with friends has always been my way of de-stressing from matters of the day. To not have that outlet, especially now, adds just another thorn to the briar patch.

As a result, in continuing with my COVID edition pieces, I’ve lately been selecting cards to feature that have some kind of personal connection to me, and I’m sharing them in a concise, low-key manner. These are cards that I’ve wanted to put into an EDH deck, but at least to this point I have been unable to do so for one reason or another.

This week is a little different, however, in that its usage more…aspirational?

See, everyone has cards that they want to put in a deck because of their evident usefulness. Potent creatures. Big spells. Utility planeswalkers. Cards that make total sense in the deck because they serve an obvious purpose. Then there are cards and mechanics you have certain soft spots for that you’d like to use if either a) they were worthwhile enough and / or, b) you could make a coherent case that it wouldn’t be a wasted slot.

For me, one of my several soft spots is cards that flip power and toughness. The mechanic was more common in the earlier days of the game, but every now and then, just when I think Wizards has abandoned the idea, a new one gets printed (with the most recent Twisted Reflection in Modern Horizons, and conveniently being a riff on this week’s card pick.) I’ve always enjoyed the concept immensely, as it can have a big impact under the right conditions. But unless you build heavily around the concept, one-offs generally don’t get a ton of attention outside of drafts.

So this week, I’m putting out a card I want to recommend. But I may need to be convinced a little. I’ll make my brief case, but I may need some further encouragement via online discussion. Prove to me I’m not deluding myself.

Today we have: Twisted Image

Name: Twisted Image

Edition: Scars of Mirrodin

Rarity: Uncommon

Focus: Creature Manipulation

Highlights: Cards that switch a creature’s power and toughness generally come in two flavors. The first are creatures where the ability is baked in – meaning that it has some means of swapping its own stats. Some of these creatures can be fun to toy around with in wonky ways, but many aren’t. The second are spell-based, such as Twisted Image, which swaps the stats on a target creature until end of turn. It’s a transitory effect, so timing on such cards is essential. But given that Blue rarely gets straight-up removal, it has the potential to be a viable removal alternative to simply bouncing the creature back to their hand.

For two mana, Twisted Image allows you to swap a creature’s power and toughness until end of turn. Though the underlying timing of the rules architecture in making that happen can get a little confusing sometimes, the concept is incredibly straightforward. A 1/10 creature suddenly becomes a 10/1, and a 6/7 creature becomes a 7/6.┬áThat’s it. That’s the whole thing.

Twisted Image has the added incentive, however, in being a cantrip: you also get to draw a card upon casting it, ensuring that in the worst case scenarios, you can effectively pay two to cycle it away.

Yet, as with most such cards, the intent is to time its usage for the maximum effect, such as suddenly having a larger creature to attack or block with, keeping your creature alive in combat (or ensuring that both die in the process), or preventing some kind of gigantic creature from stomping someone to death.

The biggest caveat to these cards, however, is a rather notable one: it does little for creatures with mirrored stats. A 6/6 creature has little to worry about, and there are quite a few of them that run around Commander battlefields. So it is certainly not a cure-all option.

So. The question becomes: is it useful enough? That’s what I need some convincing on. Is a single-use power/toughness swapping card in Commander is worth my time? Let me know!

You can discuss this article over on our social media!