Isochron Scepter

Today on Synergy Chamber, we’re headed back in time to Mirrodin block. Those were the days when spells were super-powerful and artifacts could do anything. It didn’t make for great competitive play, but it did give us a lot of weird combo toys to play with! Isochron Scepter is one such toy.

What’s in there? Who knows?

At the very least, Isochron Scepter gives us a copy of the instant we choose every turn. There are a ton of powerful instants that cost two or less mana, so that’s a pretty good value! How would you like a Path to Exile every turn, or Counterspell? What about Brainstorm!? Maybe you’d like to tutor up the perfect creature every turn with Eladamri’s Call? Using the scepter fairly is certainly useful, but that’s not what we’re here to do.

Surprise, motherf*****

The most popular use for Isochron Scpeter is to exile Dramatic Reversal with it. If we control at least two non-land mana sources, this allows us to infinitely untap all our nonland permanents. Using this setup, Gilded Lotus gives us infinite mana, Prodigal Sorcerer kills our opponent(s) one damage at a time, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind draws infinite cards and does infinite damage… anything with a mana-free tap ability becomes infinite. It’s a great way to win, but I want to do something less efficient. It’s more fun for me that way.

If we imprint Gideon’s Sacrifice onto the Scepter, it gives us safety from one big damage source every turn, attack or otherwise. Sure, we have to put the damage somewhere else, but it’s easy to get expendable creatures. Just point the damage at your choice of easily-made token(s) and you’re good to go. With a Dross Scorpion in play, every Servo or Thopter we point Gideon’s Sacrifice at will untap our scepter for another use. If we control a Spitemare or a Boros Reckoner, we can turn any damage back to an opponent. Gideon’s Sacrifice redirects damage that would be dealt to permanents you control, so if someone casts Anger of the Gods (or better yet Blasphemous Act) we can save all our creatures except the one we “sacrifice.” Stuffy Doll won’t die when we point damage at it, and it will hurt an opponent while we’re at it! Vigor turns Gideon’s Sacrifice into a pump spell equal to the damage prevented. What I’m trying to say is, there are a lot of neat uses for Gideon’s Sacrifice!

With Shadow of the Grave imprinted on our scepter, we can use our whole hand as a resource every turn, whether cycling them, discarding to cards like Faithless Looting or pitching them to creatures like Psychatog. If we have a Vizier of Tumbling Sands, we can cycle it to untap Isochron Scepter, cast Shadow of the Grave again, and get the Vizier back to repeat the process.

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Now there are two of them!

The ability to cast Brought Back each turn is worth the imprint by itself, but having it on the scepter lends itself to being broken as well. Ashnod’s Altar provides the mana for activation, Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite provide the untap, and any other creature takes us to infinity! Just sacrifice the Deceiver Exarch and the other creature to the altar, activate Isochron Scepter to bring them back, then untap the scepter with Deceiver Exarch‘s ability. We net 2 colorless mana from this loop, plus whatever happens when the second creature dies/enters. Some great candidates are: Inferno Titan (to throw infinite damage at your opponents), Sun Titan (to bring back all the cheap permanents in your graveyard), Solemn Simulacrum, Wurmcoil Engine, Elenda, the Dusk Rose… The possibilities are endless! Use your imagination.

Manamorphose turns our Isochron Scepter into a mana-fixing artifact that draws a card for free! Add a Paradox Engine to the mix (not in Commander of course) and suddenly we’re drawing as many cards as we want. This has essentially the same effect as imprinting Dramatic Reversal on the scepter, only my version adds card draw to the party. Who doesn’t like drawing cards? Communists, probably.

I Could Go On…

…But I won’t. We’d be here for hours, eventually I would be talking about combos that have NOTHING to do with Isochron Scepter at all, it would be a real mess. I hope this article gave you some ideas for a deck of your own, or inspired you to stick one of these combos in a deck you already play! Isochron Scepter is a card that’s so versatile, as long as you’re playing instants it will probably do good work for you. Happy brewing! Tune in next time, when I put One With Nothing under my scepter and… Was I saying something? I can’t seem to remember…

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