Remove Useless Power

Force of Will, Deflecting Swat, Mox Opal, Cavern of Souls. These are just a few of the most potent and sought after staple cards for Commander.

What do these all have in common with the exception of price and popularity? Give up?

They are all specialised cards

What do I mean by that? Well, these spells are indeed extremely powerful but you have to fulfil certain conditions for them to work. Not every deck wants these cards for this reason.

Let us examine these cards and identify why we would not want to use them.

Example 1 — Force of Will

Let’s use Force of Will as an example, one of the most known and sought after counterspells in all of Magic.

Force of Will is typically well known as a ‘free’ counterspell, where the player does not need mana to cast it. This is indeed powerful, but where the fault lies is the alternate cost.

By exiling a blue card and paying 1 life, you can cast Force of Will without paying its mana cost.

This is where the fault in the card lies and why you would not want to play it in every deck. Let us take another look and see if you can see the fault of the card.

By EXILING A BLUE CARD and paying 1 life, you can cast Force of Will without paying its mana cost.

The fault in the card is that we are required to exile a blue card from our hand in order to cast it for free. If we are playing a deck with many colours or one that has little focus on blue, this card will usually just be a 5-mana counterspell, actually worst than the original Counterspell.

Example 2 — Deflecting Swat

Another powerful spell that can be cast for free, Deflecting Swat allows its caster to change the target of a spell or ability to one of their choices, usually used as a way to redirect removal, steal spells, or even counter counterspells.

What is the fault of this card? Well, its fault lies in its ability to be cast for free.

If you CONTROL A COMMANDER, you may cast this spell without paying its mana cost.

Controlling a commander may not seem like an issue, but what if you cannot cast your commander? What if you only ever cast your commander when you are about to win? Commanders like Inalla, Archmage Ritualist and The Ur-Dragon are usually used while in the commander zone for their eminence ability and usually are never cast as they are too much mana.

Example 3 — Mox Opal

When you hear of Mox Opal, you may think of the original Moxen, powerful artifacts that can be cast for no mana and tap for 1 of 5 colours. Mox Opal is a lot more powerful in that it can tap to make any colour of mana.

This sounds like all upside and no downside. The fault in the card is one that players skim over quite a bit:

Metalcraft — Activate only if you control three or more artifacts.

A small and simple condition that many players forget about. This means you should only be using this in decks with a heavy artifact count, close to at least 20.

This way of building is to help use the card, but in doing so you may be ignoring what your deck is trying to do. Changing a large section of your deck’s structure to accommodate a single card is not usually recommended.

Some commanders don’t even use artifacts and in fact use strategies to stop them, such as Sythis, Harvest’s Hand and Light-Paws, Emperor’s Voice.

Example 4 — Cavern of Souls

A land that makes your creatures uncounterable? Pretty incredible. Cavern of Souls is quite a sought after card by commander players, as getting one of your cards countered is one of great pain. Players like to use it to give their commanders the ability to not be countered.

There are some faults with the card that may tell you it is not for your deck.

As Cavern of Souls enters the battlefield, CHOOSE A CREATURE TYPE.

TAP: Add one colourless mana.

TAP: Add ONE MANA OF ANY COLOUR. Spend this mana only to cast a CREATURE SPELL OF THE CHOSEN TYPE, and that spell CAN’T BE COUNTERED.

As we can see, to use the land, we have to choose a creature type that we want to make coloured mana for. Once we do that, it can only make coloured mana and provide counter-protection of the chosen creature type. The rest of the time, it will only tap for colourless mana.

This means that if your commander is not a creature, this land does not help. It also means that if our deck is not heavily focused on the chosen creature type, the card will usually be worst than a basic land. Commanders such as Volo, Guide to Monsters and Teferi, Temporal Archmage cannot make proper use of Cavern of Souls.

This land is best used in tribal decks, where there is a heavy surplus of creatures that share a creature type.


The purpose of this article is to have you engage in critical thinking when building your decks. Not every powerful card should be put into every deck you create.

Sometimes they are difficult to justify slotting them into your deck. There may be other cards that do a better job.

Sometimes, you may be adding false power.

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