How They Brew It - Science Fiction Double Feature

Michael Celani • May 24, 2021

Orvar, the All-Form by Chase Stone

Captain's Log -- Stardate 867.5309

This will be my final log. The USS Screwed's energy supplies are dwindling. We begged the Space Plutocracy for aid, but they won't respond because we failed to acknowledge their planet. We are stuck in the middle of the Greek Letter Zone, and nobody is coming to save us.

The psychic time-traveling vortex bees will arrive ten minutes ago. The crew is sending out one last desperate raid, but we all know they've built up a resistance to the spray. Soon, we will become part of their mind hives. If you're listening to this right now, don't make the same mistakes we did. We pushed science too far, and now it's pushing back.

Attack of the Clones

Greetings, cadets! Welcome to Sun City College. My name is Michael Celani, and when I hail captains of other starships I use really big chunks of ice. As new recruits for the Universal Protection Squad, your mission is to explore the cosmos, keep peace in the galaxy, and foil nefarious schemes. For example, I'm busting a smuggling ring around Saturn right now! The Galactic Ergatocracy sent a small fleet to destroy their band of fighters and supply convoys, and we'll be arriving in thirty minutes. Let me tell you, ruining packages is what UPS is all about.

Now some of you may be wondering how I could be throwing my life away on a harrowing mission and fighting smugglers at the same time. That's right: cloning! Most officers have at least five clones at any one time, and even privates appear in sets of two. Let's get started with Orvar, the All-Form, whose ability makes clones whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell that targets at least one of your own permanents in a dedicated Orvar EDH deck.

Unidentified Flying Orvar

As you learned in grade school, cloning is a four-step process involving beryllium bronze gamma quantum-shift capacitors. You start by infusing a polymer crystal core with uncharged ions, which forces the rubber/glass alloy to conduct electricity in the form of magnetic waves. Then, run a firmware nmap trace scan on your computer to reveal quantum weaknesses in the generated cloud-flare firewall. Target them with Elmer's gluons to let the capacitors drain, reversing the weak nuclear force. Finally, cast one of the spells below targeting a permanent you control when Orvar's on the field to create a copy of it. It's just common sense.

  • Avoid dangerous dogfights and get some cheap copies with a quick Dive Down to the planet's surface.
  • Not even the finest organic suspension ever devised can cure a case of Gigadrowse.
    • Archmage Emeritus draws a bit more power out of the replicated copies you hoist at enemy blockers.
    • Make sure your twin-to-be is targeted with the original spell: Orvar's ability only works when you cast, not copy.
  • Play Mind Games with your opponents by keeping mana up for this buyback instant during their turns.
  • It won't do anything on its own, but Thermal Flux cycles itself for your trouble.
    • If you're looking to draw your deck, note that your Archaeomancer and Scholar of the Ages Orvar tokens can't retrieve any spells still on the stack when the clone ability resolves. You'll be able to get previously cast spells without any problems, though, so try combining these with Snap!
  • Finally, retrace your steps and clone pesky permanents over and over again with Glamerdye.

Time Paradox

Captain's Log -- Stardate 777.9311

Though it seems like a miracle, the USS Screwed is still sailing the stars. By boiling the time juice gland recovered from a fallen psychic time-traveling vortex bee, chief engineer John S. Goodenough created a gas that enveloped the ship and transported us into the far past. We're looking towards old horizons, which is to say we're staying put because all of our families don't exist yet.

Of course, duplicating creatures and land isn't enough, and those instants and sorceries are so generic for Orvar they might as well have the Great Value brand logo plastered all over them. To be successful in space, you have to be daring. We're going to do the one thing your parents said you should never do: clone time travel.

Paradox Haze is an enchantment that grants you an additional upkeep at the start of your turn. By making multiple copies of Paradox Haze, we create multiple upkeep steps. Sphinx of the Second Sun works on a similar principle. When you have all the time in the world, anything becomes possible!

Hazed and Confused

Now that you're upkeeping with the Joneses, what can we do to keep the galaxy safe and absolutely pulverize any opposition to the New Betelgeuse Empire? I'm glad you asked, me. Class, meet my fourth clone. His name is Pasquali Fontina, he loves gambling, and he'll be holding office hours after this lecture if you need help.

  • Watch your opponents' hopes vanish before your eyes when a Chronozoa enters the fray.
    • It would usually take three turns for the mitosis neurosis to set in, but with enough extra upkeep, you'll find them splitting far faster than anyone can handle!
  • In a similar vein, don't pass up Reality Strobe and Inspiring Refrain.
    • They're generally too slow for most decks, but when time is on your side they become resilient recurring nightmares that draw cards, copy permanents, and trigger Archmage Emeritus.
  • Coercive Portal becomes extra coercive when you're committing election fraud and voting multiple times. How many cards are your enemies willing to give you before they crack?
  • For a more direct approach, try Staff of Nin to ping down problem pests and keep your hand stocked.
  • Consider copying Paradox Haze onto an opponent when you've got Tidal Force. Untap multiple lands on their turn and hold up mana for cards like Glamerdye!
  • Protect and pump Orvar with Ring of Evos Isle. Using Rogue's Passage to attack for lethal with a beefy Giant Tentacle Army Bringer[1] is a good backup plan if your other win conditions get exiled.
  • Speaking of ridiculous creature types, Orvar's Changling ability means that Call to the Kindred can put any creature onto the battlefield for free.
    • Once you've got a strong creature you like, keep the copies coming with Followed Footsteps.
  • Tamiyo's Journal and Venser's Journal are great reads when you've got the time to peruse them.
  • Lastly, I'd like to highlight Shrine of Piercing Vision. This card's secretly insane and not enough people are playing it. You can clone it multiple times and have each upkeep and blue spell you cast dig deeper into your library, and it's only two mana!

[1]. I also considered Beeble Mutant Ninja Turtle, Citizen Serf Peasant Pest, and Orb Ox Oyster Ouphe.

Time Served

There's a few special payoffs for time travel that are worth highlighting on their own.

Both Darksteel Reactor and Mechanized Production outright win you the game once you've got enough upkeeps, but they'll draw a lot of hate. Be judicious about when you play them and have counterspells at the ready to protect those pieces. Eternal Dominion is even tougher to pull off, but there's nothing more satisfying than murdering a person with their own deck.

Ticking Time Bomb

Captain's Log -- Stardate 555.5555

The time police have arrested the captain for breaking the temporal speed limit of one second per second. As acting captain, my first order of business will be to time travel to the moment the captain was arrested and prevent his incarceration. Since this would cause a temporal paradox, I will also load a message onto the past ship's computer with instructions on where and when to time travel, and have it play at this exact moment. This is the third time something like this has happened, and I do not want to know what happened last time that forced us to assassinate President Coolidge.

Thanks to our laissez-faire approach to the fourth dimension, you're almost ready to graduate. There's just one lesson I've got left to give you, and it will blow your mind. That lesson is cloning time travel with time travel.

Clockspinning is one of the best duplication spells for Orvar, particularly in this deck. Not only does its colorless-only buyback cost mean you can easily go infinite with Memory Crystal and High Tide, it also is one of the best spells to manipulate counters with. Make infinite mana and then pop off Darksteel Reactor in a single turn, or bounce all of your opponents' permanents by shuffling time counters on Reality Strobe. The many tutor effects in the deck should make finding the pieces to the puzzle easier than figuring out my work's IT password was hunter2.

The Final Countdown

Now that you're fully fledged members of the Universal Protection Squad, it's up to you to keep reality safe from those that would do it harm. Stay strong, stay vigilant, and remember, if a clone of you dies in combat, that's an acceptable loss. Thank you for your service, and I'll see you again out there on the battlefield.

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.