Isochron scepter and dramatic reversal are broken

Commander Deck Help forum

Posted on Sept. 13, 2020, 8:12 p.m. by Monomanamaniac

I just recently assembled this 2 card combo Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter and I basically didn't realize how over powered broken garbage this combo is. Essentially if you can make 3 or more mana, you have infinite mana. This is especially broken in my Kykar, Wind's Fury deck because with the commander in play you also get to make infinite 1/1 spirits. Combine that with Impact Tremors and you win on the spot. Combine that with Whirlwind of Thought and you can draw your whole deck. Even without kykar you can play Aetherflux Reservoir and gain infinite life and deal infinite damage. Anyways, I know I'm pretty late to the isocron scepter party bus, but I just pulled the combo off in a casual game against my wife and thought, wow this is next level shit right here, and wanted to put it out there for everyone to consider.

If anyone has any spicy interactions I might not know about if like to hear about it

enpc says... #2

There's a reason it's one of the best infinite mana combos in the game as it leverages the fact that you're already ramping (and is so damn cheap to play). Part of the reason cards like Mana Vault are so good with it, since they go mana positivie in a single rock.

Circu, Dimir Lobotomist really loves it though as you can combo off without the requirement to go mana positive (since you're actually casting a blue spell each time). He makes a great win confition in the command zone.

September 13, 2020 8:55 p.m.

DeinoStinkus says... #3

Yes it's amazing.

September 13, 2020 9:01 p.m.

Also, this is why you should always pay attention to 2 CMC blue common instants from Kaladesh: you never know when they will combo well with other cards...

September 13, 2020 9:32 p.m.

Massacar says... #5

I have heard it nicknamed "Dramatic Scepter." It's a great combo, I run it in my Jhoira and Kefnet decks.

September 13, 2020 9:55 p.m.

Monomanamaniac says... #6

enpc infinite mill is pretty spicy. DeinoStinkus I knew it was good, but the fact that it counts as casting a spell is stupid Omniscience_is_life this is why blue is the strongest color in magic Massacar I've ran it in a few virtual lists but I underestimated the sheer power of it till I played it in paper.

September 13, 2020 10:44 p.m.

enpc says... #7

Monomanamaniac: Unfortunately because you are casting spells, it does mean that dramatic scepter is suseptible to both ability hate but also storm hate, which has gotten me a few times before. But in a vacuum, it's one of the more compact combos.

I think the thing which makes it so strong is that it's such a low cost to entry on the combo - you only need 4 mana available to play and activate scepter which is super low. I used to run Tooth and Nail for Deadeye Navigator / Palinchron (with a bit of Rune-Scarred Demon enabling) in a Damia, Sage of Stone list which was good, but you always had to generate so much mana to so you could combo out with counterspell backup. With Scepter, a Mana Vault or Grim Monolith basically pays for the combo by itself and makes you mana positive.

The other thing I like with the combo is that there are replaceable pieces for it. I run the combo in my Thrasios, Triton Hero deck (alsongside Tymna) and I have Sigil Tracer who with Thrasios lets you copy Reversal on the stack. You can also use Nivix Guildmage or Izzet Guildmage in this role. But I was even toying with hte idea of using Isochron Scepter + Vitalize + Karn, Silver Golem as a janky combo in Selvala, Explorer Returned. I know it's not a great combo but it shows how you can adapt it so easily.

September 13, 2020 11:17 p.m.

"Just combine these four cards in a highlander format and you win on the spot." Hmmm, doesn't sound like a problem to me.

September 14, 2020 3:01 a.m.

Spatialdebris says... #9

another option though slightly more mana intensive is Elite Arcanist

September 14, 2020 3:10 a.m.

enpc says... #10

ClockworkSwordfish: I mean it is more mana intensive and you need at least 7 lands (which isn't hard if you're running land ramp) but Tooth and Nail was considered the 1 card combo for a long time since it tutored up all and assembled all of your win conditions. And in a removal light and/or counterspell light meta, it was a pretty rude way to win.

September 14, 2020 3:31 a.m.

SteelSentry says... #11

Protean Hulk got worse with the banning of Flash, but it's still a fine "one card combo" in non cEDH environments. One of the go tos of you are in at least Bant is to tutor up Cephalid Illusionist, Nomads en-Kor and Thassa's Oracle, targeting the fish with your nomads ~30 times in response to the Oracle trigger, where nothing short of a Stifle can stop you from winning on the spot.

September 14, 2020 5:38 a.m.

enpc says... #12

SteelSentry: I wouldn't really call Protean Hulk a one card combo. You need to play hulk and then have a way to kill it. The reason that TaN pulled so much ire for so long was that all you needed was TaN. Please don't get me wrong, protean hulk is gross and we are all mcuh better off for Flash's banning, but I would say that Flash Hulk fits more into the "comapct combo" category that dramatic scepter does rather than the "one card combo" that TaN is.

September 14, 2020 10:07 a.m.

jaymc1130 says... #13

It's worth noting, enpc, that neither Dramatic Scepter or Flash Hulk combos are actually all that compact in terms of total card slot investments. This is a common misconception in edh. Flash Hulk combo itself is 2 cards, but those 2 cards alone don't do anything. The most card investment compact possible Flash Hulk combo line still requires a minimum of Flash, Hulk, Nomads, Cephalid, and Thassa's Oracle. 5 card combo win lines are not exactly what can be called "compact". The exact same effect can be reached with 2 cards total in Thassa's Oracle and Demonic Consultation, a massively more compact line of play in terms of card slot investments that is essentially an identical line of play for a mere 1 total mana more.

Dramatic Scepter, like wise, is not a "2 card combo". At a minimum it is a 4 card combo that requires Scepter, Reversal, a 2 mana producing dork or rock, and some form of outlet (in this circumstance any card with the Storm mechanic) and most often a 6 card combo that requires Scepter, Reversal, 3 mana rocks/dorks, and Thrasios as the outlet.

Each of these 3 combos are inordinately powerful in terms of their ability to provide game winning lines of play in edh, for certain. The main distinction between most powerful combos in edh isn't how relatively powerful a combo is, but how efficient it is in total. How many total cards are required for the line, how much total mana investment is required for the line, how much total time in turns is required for the line, how reliably can the components of the line be found, and how many effective pieces of disruption can prevent the line from functioning to win the game? These considerations are very rarely ever given a complete evaluation and this can lead to mistakes in deck building as well as play patterns in game.

It's important to recognize that a combo is a powerful line of play in edh, but it's equally important to consider the specific nuances involved in those lines of play to properly evaluate a particular game state or combo engine and devise a plan of response to it, both in game and in deck building technique.

September 15, 2020 6:45 a.m.

enpc I would certainly think of dramatic scepter as a compact combo. Any good edh decI not in green is running a ton of mana rocks anyways, so unless you're tutoring up the combo it's very compact. I haven't gotten to run the combo enough to run into any counter hate or ability hate, but it does exist lol, that's why I don't rely on it, it's just a happy thing that if it Congress together, I win virtually on the spot

jaymc1130 I will agree that protean hulk needs a pretty big package to go with it, but I have to disagree on dramatic scepter. You don't "have" to build around it, it needs mana rocks that you'd likely play anyways, and at least for me it needs pay offs that I'm running because they're good in the deck on their own. Besides that I don't even run any traditional storm cards, the only one I do run is Aetherflux Reservoir, which goes infinite with the combo, but I could win a dozen different ways with the combo. I kinda feel like if infinite spells, infinite mana, and infinite triggers doesn't win you the game on the spot, you've built your deck wrong.

Imo, I don't actively try to assemble this combo as a way to win, it's in my deck because individually the cards are Good enough to work on their own, I feel good if I drastic reversal by itself and untap my rocks for a quick boost, and I feel good if I get isochron scepter down with a draw or counterspell on it, so they're both desired cards that if I get them together will most games result in an instant win

September 15, 2020 10:24 a.m.

jaymc1130 says... #15

Monomanamaniac These are good points to consider about cards like Scepter and Reversal, they are independently useful and, as a combo, do rely on a density of cards players are already going to be running. In addition both are 2 cmc which makes both halves tutorable with a card like Muddle the Mixture. There's no denying this is ultimately a very efficient combo engine when all aspects are considered, and it's why the combo is a staple mainstay of the format even if it's not as card compact as some other combos.

September 15, 2020 11:43 a.m.

jaymc1130 I'm honestly going to have to invest in Muddle the Mixture that's some affordable tech right there lol. As is, my play group frowns on infinite combos, but allows this one for me because I don't run a way to tutor for it, and when it happens I'm doing big things, like creating a million 1/1 spirits and killing with Impact Tremors, or casting it a million times to Aetherflux Reservoir everyone to death, or drawing my while deck with Whirlwind of Thought, Jeskai Ascendancy, Chromatic Orrery, or Idol of Oblivion and winning with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, or drawing out Approach of the Second Sun twice, or if I'm feeling particularly cheesy I'll make a million mana and draw the game with Earthquake. I just love how unlike most infinite combos it lets me win the game in a bunch of crazy ways and I love the fact that the cards are amazing on their own, if my group asks me not to use the infinite combo I'll just slap a counterspell on that bad boy and get real mean lol

September 15, 2020 12:14 p.m.

enpc says... #17

Got beaten to the comment. The joys of not being in NA :P

jaymc1130: While I agree that that combos like Flash + Protean Hulk are not compact in terms of card slots, they are compact in terms of deployment. And while they can consume up to 5 cards (Protean Hulk, Flash, Nomads en-Kor, Cephalid Illusionist, Thassa's Oracle), they only need 2 mana to work. So the trade-off is slots vs compact deploying of said combo.

Infinite mana combos on the other hand are a lot harder to judge from a "number of cards" point of view. While yes, you do need mana rocks to make Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter work, your deck is already running mana rocks/dorks (and will be optimised for this knid of ramp). It's kind of like saying that Palinchron + Deadeye Navigator needs at least 3 lands to work, making it a 5 card combo. While that's technically true, the lands are a given under most circumstances as they're already in the deck. And with the Dramatic Scepter combo, you're not going to prioritise running a bunch of land ramp as that would be counter intuitive. You're going to lean more heavily into rocks/dorks, so each of those slots is pulling double duty. And while you require more of a boardstate (which is the trade-off comapred to things like Flash), your combo only takes up 2 card slots.

It's also worth mentioning that infinite mana does not equal winning the game, however with a commander like Thrasios, Triton Hero or Kenrith, the Returned King, once you have infinite mana, you also have access to your whole deck. And again, you can run cards which are dedicated win conditions, or you cna leverage other cards which do double duty (like Swan Song) to create a win condition.

Monomanamaniac: I would absolutely agree that Dramatic Scepter is a compact combo (I don't think I said otherwise). It's not as compact as some combos (see jaymc1130's example of Thassa's Oracle + Demonic Consultation) however the beauty of this, and most infinite mana combos, is that they act as a stepping stone to your next combo, but often times give you the best amount of redundancy for the least input. Because you can break your combo down into two parts 1) make mana, 2) spend mana, you can easily slot in replacements for each part without requiring ehter mana intensive or much clunkier solutions. For example, Bloom Tender, Faeburrow Elder, Freed from the Real and Pemmin's Aura can be used together to generate infinite mana. But either creature works with either enchantment, providing reduncancy. Oracle + Consultation on the other hand iether works with Laboratory Maniac or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries however the former needs an additional card draw and the latter is much more mana intensive.

September 15, 2020 7:46 p.m.

TallKanz211 says... #18

scepter of silence

September 16, 2020 12:22 p.m.

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