Commander Inspiration: How to Copy Everything

Mikeal Basile
September 19, 2022
“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection--thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.

Are you a Gruul die-hard? Do you hate control decks? Have you won every game of Magic by attacking and attacking only? Well, this article is not about doing that, so please continue to read. I am here today to inspire you to use copy effects and perhaps even consider running, building, or experimenting with a spell-centric deck. This does not mean that you eschew all creatures. You will still be playing creatures outside your essential Commander, yet you can definitely decide to go full spell slinger—it’s entirely up to you. The joy of using copy effects lies in the ability for you to join in on the fun other players are having. You get to match your opponent’s spell for spell, unless you copy their spells twice. Oh, and unless you steal, redirect, and possibly copy the spell while doing either of those as well. Now, before we get too in depth I’d like to forewarn you on a few items. Namely, if your group doesn’t play any targeted removal or targeted spells, then you might want to avoid playing these types of effects. Likewise, if no one plays any spell combos, then you’ll probably want to avoid this style of setup as well. However, if your group is running spell kill combos, then you may want to build a dedicated copy deck rather than just incorporating the best pieces from the ones I’m about to discuss.

Prosperity (C13)

To further expound on the power of the copy effect I just want to clarify a simple ruling surrounding copied spells. They go onto the spell stack after the original spell. That sounds like the copy happens after, but Magic is structured so that the spells stacking up at sorcery and instant speeds get resolved in reverse order: first in-last out. This means that if you cast your first instant, then it gets copied, the copy actually resolves first. This doesn’t sound all that important as they are both the same spell. You’re right if it’s a Wrath of God or Fog. Resolution order makes a tremendous difference on cards such as Exsanguinate, Torment of Hailfire, Crackle with Power, Fireball, and Prosperity. Suddenly, your copy of Torment of Hailfire resolves first, and likely ends up leaving you the winner, rather than the person that just utilized their Cabal Coffers and Lake of the Dead to Torment for X=35. After all, nothing is more epic than stealing away someone else’s epic victory!

Twincast (M10)

The basic copy spells usually occur in both Red and Blue. Blue and Green have a few ways to double up on spells, but those tend to target permanents and token generating spells, rather than the traditional Fork effects. We want to copy spells—Sorceries and Instants. For this, Fork is a great card to run. Sure, it’s on the reserved list, but it’s seriously cheap for such a powerful effect. You can pick a beat-up copy usually for half price of the current value. I may have just recently done that myself, because who doesn’t want to Fork their Fork? This style of play involves you being willing to wait for the big turn, like a storm combo player, or perhaps waiting for your opponent’s big turns. Fork allows you to tag along with your opponent’s fun. Remember that your copy will resolve first, so when you decide to copy a spell that might destroy a creature and net you a card you can destroy the creature they attempted to target and fizzle their spell while still accomplishing the same game goals. Blue has a functional Fork in Twincast, and then some nastier versions in both Narset’s Reversal and Psychic Rebuttal. Refuse // Cooperate is also a nice pair of little spells that can expand your access to copying abilities.


Whackier Copy Effects

Bonus Round allows us to give the fun to everyone. This can be a powerful tool for the sake of creating political alliances. If you allow someone with a ton of mana to double up their spells, then perhaps they can help you take out the biggest threat at the table. Meanwhile, perhaps you have another spell handy to ensure that you can copy their shenanigans as well…twice over. Chef’s Kiss brings some true chaos to the copying and is always worth playing, as we all love hearing the ridiculous outcomes that arise from this sort of play. Generally this doesn’t end up in putting egg on your face, but usually winds up sufficiently reminding us that chaos is truly unpredictable.


Sorcery Speed Copiers

Some copy effects are best or only played at sorcery speed. These are proactive copy effects that generally allow you to combo or pop off on your own turn. Increasing Vengeance and Flawless Forgery fit this bill rather nicely. However, having a few nasty spells of your own to utilize is also a great and powerful tool to have at your disposal. Cards with great cost to effect ratios are ideal here as they help leave you with enough mana to pull off some ridiculous copy effects. Additionally, you definitely should consider running some ritual effects to play your ridiculous game ending spells like Crackle with Power and Fanning the Flames. Powerful sorceries like these can be leveraged as instants if you happen to mold your deck around cards like Najal, the Storm Runner, Wizards of Thay, and Hypersonic Dragon. With these tools you can choose to be a reactive player at all times.


Creature Copiers


While Djinn Illuminatus is a ton of mana to cast, it rightly gives us access to phenomenal cosmic copy powers. Using this to replicate any of your double Fork effects is grossly powerful. Likewise, you can use a couple of ritual effects to really crank out a ton of mana and then cast a truly explosive spell—perhaps it even allows you to Crackle with Power multiple times. One of my favorite and most ridiculous ways to copy someone’s spell is by transforming Mischievous Quanar. Everyone just assumes it is the annoying redirecting morph creature or even a counterspell, so when you suddenly copy a spell they didn’t aim at you or at your creature everyone is shocked to see you benefitting from your new spell that only cost you six mana (three to play the morph and three to flip it over). Meanwhile, you can double up your doubles with Errant, Street Artist. This is something you really only use in a dedicated spell copying deck. It really is only good in a deck where you are consistently copying spells but, my oh my, is it powerful to get extra copies time and again for a mere two mana. This creature tends to be a lightning rod for removal. However, since you’re spell-slinging, then you should probably have a few counterspells in that deck of yours as well. If you’re considering potential commanders, then you should really strongly look at both Kalamax, the Stormsire and Melek, Izzet Paragon. They’re oldies, at least at this point, but still goodies. They both allow you to get a lot more mileage out of your copy effects and in turn allow you to create some crazy reversals in the current board states.


Non-Copy Effects

Redirect (M13)

Gale's Redirection (CLB)

When you’re playing a copy deck, then it pays to deny people spells as well. If you can counter or steal away other people’s spells when they either aren’t worth copying (think Austere Command) then you can really exert some serious control over the outcome of every Commander game to sit down to play. Cards like Desertion, Deflection, Redirect, and Gale’s Redirection are fantastic spells to include in your stack of 99 focused copy effects. Additionally, using Isochron Scepter in a deck with Fork and Twincast is living the dream…and you should always be trying to live the dream in decks as silly as these. One of my favorite whacky non-copy effects to round a deck out is Ertai’s Meddling. It has recently found its way onto “the list”, so finding copies is a legitimate possibility in your packs of Dominaria United. Also, when you deny someone one of their fun spells, you can always copy it later on using a nasty Flawless Forgery.


Final Considerations

If you’re on the fence about making this deck or not, then I highly recommend you start building one. It can be extremely rewarding to build a deck around a loose theme like copying spells or copying and deflecting. Building a chaotic sub-theme into the deck can also help to bring about its own personality. This is the type of deck that you can build a shell rather quickly, and then allow it to build and build over time. The initial pieces of the deck are rather inexpensive, and then you can build out and up depending on your budget. This isn’t some wheel deck that requires you to drop hundreds on hard to find reserved list oddities. This is the type of deck you can build on a budget and bling out on a slightly larger budget. It is good fun, and it allows you to customize it to your liking. The real joy of playing decks like these is that you get to play your opponents favorite spells. You get to try out your friends’ decks and in turn get doubly inspired. I hope this article has inspired you to look for inspiration in your opponents’ decks. So, in response, may the copy effects and the cards be ever in your favor!