What If? - How A Change To Hybrid Mana Would Impact cEDH

Jake FitzSimons • August 1, 2022

Deathrite Shaman by Steve Argyle

Hark, dear reader! I'm not advocating for a change to the hybrid mana rules in Commander! This isn't part of my Revising The Rules series where I try to put forth an argument for tweaking the basic rules of the format. This is no more than a hypothetical and an attempt at excising a question that's been rattling around in my head for a few years. I'm interested in the implications, not the justifications.

So rather than try to nail down sufficient wording that would cover all edge cases and satisfy nitpickers, I'm asking you take a leap of faith and imagine a world where for some reason it's now possible to run Sundering Growth in a mono-white deck or Cold-Eyed Selkie in a Dimir deck. In that world, what would the cEDH meta look like?

Ashiok, Dream Render

Ashiok, Dream Render saw a little cEDH play in the months after War of the Spark was released, but fell off fairly quickly. Narset, Parter of Veils was always the more popular sibling, but even her stock has been falling of late. Planeswalkers just aren't that easy to protect.

Having said all that, Ashiok is an effective stax tool for shutting down graveyards and tutors of any kind for as long as they stick around. Ashiok (along with Shadow of Doubt) would become mono-blue's only real way to interact with tutors. Black decks are already covered in this department with access to the almighty Opposition Agent, but a stax heavy list might be interested in Ashiok for redundancy's sake.

Deathrite Shaman

Coincidentally the card most likely to have an effect on the meta if hybrid rules changed is already the most played hybrid card according to the cEDH staples list. However, Deathrite is more than a hybrid card, it's a hybrid card that has activated abilities that require two distinct colors of mana. Presuming a change that allowed for hybrid costs to count as either color for the sake of deckbuilding purposes, DRS would still be relegated to Golgari+ decks. 

In the case of a far less restrictive approach to color identity (again, not something I'm advocating for) Deathrite would go from its current status as an all time staple to utterly ubiquitous. It's hard to think of a deck with green or a deck with black that wouldn't want it. Nevermind the two activated abilities and the chance to eat through graveyards, the ability to produce mana alone is worth the price of admission. 

Green decks aren't exactly crying out for more mana dorks given the plethora they already, but I can't see them saying no to another one. As for black decks, the closest thing black has to a dork is Blood Pet, and while they serve different roles as mana sources, the raw power on Deathrite Shaman is much higher.


Could Dovescape see play in mono white stax lists? At six mana, I'm inclined to think no, but it does make for an awfully difficult  lock. Short of Boseiju or an Outland Liberator-esque effect, there aren't many answers to a resolved Dovescape. Pair it with Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and you should have the game in the bag. My gut tells me this is way too slow, but Dovescape seems to be a pet card for a lot of players and I knew someone would mention it if I forgot about it.

Dryad Militant

Non-human creatures with stax effects that can turn themselves sideways are precisely what the good doctor Winota, Joiner of Forces ordered. For the same reason, I could see a non-green Tymna the Weaver deck being interested in the Dryad if the build was right. Turning off Underworld Breach combos and proactively hurting graveyard development is not bad for a one drop, although it's worth noting none of the established stax decks with access to Dryad Militant are currently running it. 

Fiend Artisan

Fiend Artisan never quite lived up to the initial hype, but it's more than playable and has a home in everything from Golgari to five colour decks that revolve around creatures. If hybrid rules changed, Fiend Artisan see play in non-black green decks, but it's the black decks without green that would get a real boost.

Providing enough fodder, the Artisan could find its way into Rakdos or Dimir, where it could bring a Dockside Extortionist or Thassa's Oracle into play. I can't see Orzhov decks being able to do much with it, but then again it wasn't until Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward that Orzhov could do much of anything.

Guttural Response

A narrow counterspell among narrow counterspells Guttural Response can't hold a candle to the blasts or the veils, but I think it would find a home regardless. Non-blue decks are always low on ways to interact on the stack and despite Guttural Response's flaws, mono-green and mono-red lists may well be happy to have yet another response to countermagic.

Judge's Familiar

A running theme with cards on this list is borderline playability on account of existing cards filling similar roles. Judge's Familiar doesn't look like much and having a Mana Tithe can't really compare to a genuine counterspell, but Mausoleum Wanderer, a nearly identical card has seen play in cEDH. The little spirit that could (or couldn't, if it ends up countering a spell) used to be a staple in Yuriko decks, and while it was abandoned to make room for all the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty goodies, it still hovers on the edges of playability.

Meanwhile, Edric, Spymaster of Trest still runs the Wanderer and I can only imagine they'd be happy to have a second copy. A particularly reactive Tymna deck looking to maximise their interaction could also be interested in Judge's Familiar, but many of the best Tymna lists already contain blue and don't run the familiar, so it would have to be a Mardu or Abzan list.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Lurrus, scourge of constructed Magic on an inter-format scale and the only card banned in Vintage for being too powerful, is not much of a force in cEDH. It's a vital tool in certain Razaketh combo lines, but it's far from the terror that it made itself everywhere else. A change to the hybrid identity wouldn't change that, though it could open up interesting possibilities both as a companion and in the 99.

As a companion, the only real options are Oswald Fiddlebender and Thrasios, Triton Hero & Akiri, Line-Slinger decks. It would take a total reshaping of the list to make room for Lurrus and I'm not sure the juice will prove worth the squeeze, but there's potential there to be sure.

Within the 99, it's easier to see. Oswald is again the first deck that springs to mind given his penchant for sacrificing and filling the bin, but decks like Teshar and Koll, white decks that want to manipulate artifacts and the graveyard are all possible homes for Lurrus.

Lutri, the Spellchaser

Ha, just kidding. A total abolition of color identity still wouldn't see the little Otter go free, because it isn't hybrid mana that's holding him back, it's the fact we no longer have a "banned as commander" list. We should. Anyway, even if we could run Lutri in the 99 or as a commander, we wouldn't. Contrary to what some believe, Lutri will not go infinite with either of Heat Shimmer or Twinflame and doesn't represent a second copy of Dualcaster Mage. This is because Lutri specifically states "if you cast it."


Krark, the Thumbless eat your heart out. If you know your coin flips, you'll know Gitaxian Probe and Jeska's Will quickly become one card wincons in Krark and Sakashima decks. That's because anything mana neutral (or positive) that replaces itself is ripe for copying and replaying. With a card like Manamorphose, it doesn't take long to assemble a game-winning (if non-deterministic) combo.

Manamorphose even has the advantage of washing red mana into blue, a common sticking point on the turn the Krark player goes for it. A "free" card like this could also find its way into Birgi or Rionya as another way to get the appropriate triggers while remaining card neutral, but it's just a minor boost compared to the absolute powerhouse it would be in Krark decks.

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

The ability to make a slew of artifacts as you execute your main gameplan is perfect for Urza, Lord High Artificer. Back in the day, Sai, Master Thopterist was borderline playable in the non Polymorph variants so a planeswalker that gives you a servo when you cast any noncreature, not just an artifact seems like a fast way to accelerate out of control. Being a planeswalker, it would even be an option in the Hullbreaker Horror focused decks. For the same reasons, Daretti, Scrap Savant could get a lot of mileage out of so much free scrap metal.

The -2 is less inspiring, but possibly relevant for Magda, Brazen Outlaw lists. For those uninitiated, Magda combos off with Clock of Omens and any dwarf that's also an artifact. While Saheeli is no cheaper than existing options like Adaptive Automaton or Proteus Machine, her passive artifact generation could easily prove worthwhile.

Vexing Shusher

This is one I'm really confident we'd see shoot up in popularity. Giving a deck like Godo or Yisan to not only reliably protect what they put on the stack but participate in the table's attempts to stop another player from winning seems like a winning combo. Vexing Shusher is a rare sight at the cEDH table these days, but less due to a lack of power and more on account of Gruul being an unpopular option and anything with a wider identity than Gruul having far better options for protecting their spells. Not so mono green and mono red, which would make the best use of our favorite goblin... librarian? Is that what I'm looking at in the art?

Wild Cantor

An unassuming card, but possibly viable in this hypothetical for the same reasons Blood Pet has seen play. One mana now for one mana later isn't much to phone home about, but one drop creature are always welcome in Tymna the Weaver lists. Mad farm has historically played Blood Pet, so it stands to reason they'd run a similar card. In fact, Mild Cantor might be more appropriate.

Zirda, the Dawnwaker

Like Lurrus, the challenge of making Zirda into a companion is probably much too difficult to be viable. But giving sans red or sans white decks another way to go infinite with Basalt Monolith or Grim Monolith? That sounds right up Thrasios' alley. Or fjord, or inlet, or wherever a triton hero is most likely to hang out. This is already possible when the mermaid is paired with Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder, but allowing it in Thrasios + Tymna decks could see a new dawn as far as access to Monolith combos goes.

Guess Work

Really, this is just a stab in the dark. It's hard to know what sort of combos and interactions would suddenly become possible with a hybrid rule change because nobody has put much real time or effort into brewing new decks under such conditions. This isn't like no banlist cEDH where people have actually played and studied the format.

I think it's safe to say the impact on cEDH would be negligible. Low color decks starved for staples and looking to branch into unique effects outside their current reach would receive a small boost, but the majority of the meta would barely notice. At the point you're in three colors, you already have access to more than half the cards ever printed in the history of the game, so the introduction of just a few more is unlikely to make a difference. It's rare that one of those three colors can't sure up the weaknesses of the other two.

Or am I overlooking some incredible interaction? Do you have a brew that can't take off without a certain hybrid card? If you think I've missed something, click here and you can see every Commander legal hybrid card. Let me know in the comments!

With special thanks to Joking101 and Squirrelmob for their insight and input. 

Jake FitzSimons is a writer from Sydney and a Magic fiend. He's either the johnniest spike or the spikiest johnny, nobody is sure which. When he isn’t brewing or playing cEDH, he can be found writing, playing piano, and doting on his little cat.