Hidden EDH Gems – The Best Bounce Spells This Side of Cyclonic Rift

Corbin Hosler • February 18, 2021

Whelming Wave by Slawomir Maniak

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Enough gushing. I know why you’re here – you’re looking for some EDH cards you might want to play in your decks! Let’s get right to it.

Hidden Gems – The Best Bounce Spells (not named Cyclonic Rift)

The response I got to this tweet blew me away, and today I want to highlight some of my favorite from the bunch. We all know that Cyclonic Rift is the best Commander bounce spell ever printed (and dominates the data), but are there other spells like Cyclonic Rift that we should be looking at? Whether you’re looking for a budget replacement or just looking to add more ways to clear the board, it turns out there are a ton of options beyond the Rift, many of which I had either completely forgotten about or didn’t even know existed!

This definitely represents some of the most common answers. Aetherize and Aetherspouts are top-notch defensive answers, and I have to admit I don’t play the pair as often as I should in my blue decks that want to play defensively (I have a Blue Moon-esque Keranos, God of Storms build that definitely needs Aetherize), and you can widen the net a little bit with Evacuation. Inundate is a bit expensive at six mana, but it offers very few other bounce spells do: control. Bounce all of your creatures at instant speed but keep my army of Docent of Perfection tokens around? That’s hard to beat.

Wash Out is one I didn’t even realize existed. The sorcery speed is a huge drawback, of course, but for that tradeoff you get that ever-so-sweet control of the effect, and at a discount. And in a world of Leyline of Anticipation and Vedalken Orrery, who knows what can happen?

Kederekt Leviathan is quite the beating… er, chonker, I mean (forgive a poor paper boomer)… and I love it because of how unique it is. Crush of Tentacles is an underappreciated card that can bring along a body, but here’s a similar effect that doesn’t require you to jump through any hoops! Get the Leviathan into play any way you want, reanimation included, and you’ll get the bounce. Heck, all you have to do is incidentally mill the Leviathan into your graveyard to get a shot at it later, and Heliod forbid you ever combine it with Ghostly Flickers or Deadeye Navigator.

Capsize is in an interesting spot. Back in the halcyon early days of EDH, this was one of the most-feared win conditions in the format. Players would assemble infinite mana one way or another, and then Capsize everyone out of the game. Barring that, the format was slow enough you could cast Capsize and buy it back with a straight face. Obviously that’s not quite the case now, but Capsize will always be a reliable way to end the game with enough mana.

I vaguely remember losing to Flood of Tears in the few drafts I did of Magic 2020 on Arena, but promptly forgot it existed. Well, it does, and it’s actually a heck of a lot better than you might think! Like a few of the cards above, it again offers you a chance for asymmetry. That’s essentially a requirement for an expensive sorcery bounce spell, but I think Flood of Tears fits the bill. If you’re bouncing all nonland permanents at six mana, odds are you’re going to have some stuff of your own to return, and Flood of Tears guarantees that you’ll begin the reset board with the best card in play. Another budget option I like quite a bit is Leadership Vacuum, which doesn’t scale up to the entire table but is essentially a cycling removal spell for commanders, an extremely rare effect.

Talk about a card I didn’t even remember existing. BDM has crushed me with his legendary Momir Vig EDH deck more than once, so you’d think I’d have seen this one coming. Profaner of the Dead has a weird-looking ability (not to mention some messed-up art), but exploiting creatures in Commander isn’t a large cost to pay, and can actually be a good thing (Kels, Fight Fixer comes to mind). In exchange, you get selective, one-sided bounce. Return all of your opponents’ creatures and alpha strike!

An interesting twist on No Mercy, Dissipation Field may be a little weaker than some of the other options here because the rest of the table will see it coming, but it’s certainly a strong deep cut that also synergizing in any type of enchantment deck. I have a pillow-forty Oloro, Ageless Ascetic brew (yes, like every other Oloro deck you’ve ever seen), and I run Replenish. That has me giving Dissipation Field another look.

The drawback on Engulf the Shore is pretty obvious, but if you can meet the Island requirement to run Engulf it immediately becomes a bomb. It’s Aetherize cost, but doesn’t come with any “must be attacking” clause. At such a discount it becomes very easy to hold up Engulf the Shore as well as any other interaction you might need, and it’s an absolute bomb in the right deck. The same goes for Whelming Wave, which is a pretty odd card that can come together when the deckbuilding stars align.

Another favorite that I discovered in this search is the one bounce spell you should never play. Not only should you never cast it, you should never put in your deck. Your friends won’t like you afterward, but because I know those things are actually appealing to some of you (and I admit I love a good troll card in a friendly Commander game), look at this.

I’m not sure if this is more or less rage-inducing than Armageddon, but hey, do what you gotta do. Even if that’s a Sunder. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Finally, I want to highlight a cool one that breaks outside of blue!

I’ve played a ton of Eldrazi Displacer across various formats, and I’ve seen its power in Commander. Usually that means going infinite in some fashion, but I love this suggestion because while it’s not a traditional bounce spell, it can pull off the same effect a lot of the time. Someone trying to win with Chandra’s Ignition? Displacer is as good as any bounce spell at that point. Sure, you’ll have to leave open mana, but that just means your opponents won’t know if you’re gonna displace their creatures or Engulf them! And if you are looking for bounce in other colors, consider something like Stingscourger, which gives red decks an effect typically lacking.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so what did I miss? This was my first full-fledged Magic article in a couple years, and I have to say it felt good to get back in the driver’s seat. Feel free to add to my list; any hidden Bounce tech you’ve been enjoying?

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler