Spitballin’ Twisted Image

I have been getting a fair amount of negative feedback around my inclusion of a particular card in recent deck lists. Such feedback ranges from “does nothing” to “pretty bad” to the more open minded “it will never be ‘dead’ but you really want to be doing something else with your mana” variety.

Per the title of this blog post, that card is none other than Twisted Image:

Twisted Image

To be clear, I don’t know that I would play Twisted Image (at least not main deck) in a polychromatic Blue deck. That is, if I were U/R, U/W, &c. As playing with another color typically brings with it a greater variety of options, I would probably find something better to do with a slot.

However my explorations so far in the Snapcaster Mage format are all straight Blue, and when you are only one color your card choices are necessarily more restrictive. That isn’t to say they are “bad” so much as to say that if you have one color instead of two colors, you have more-or-less only half the available number of cards for a given Standard.

Now in a Mono-Blue deck we have an additional consideration, which is that we can play the Comer-Xerox strategy, which means we can cut two lands for every 1-2 mana cantrip in our deck. Along with Gitaxian Probe and Ponder, Twisted Image would help us shave some lands (not something I would necessarily be comfortable doing in a two-color deck, though the success of low land count / two-color Pyromancer Ascension decks in Standard and elsewhere is something to consider).

Aside: Why Would We Want to Cut Lands?

Interesting question!

Some very good players (e.g. Erik Lauer or Jon Finkel) want to do nothing but play lands… Err… counter spells and play lands, that is.

The answer is simple: Cutting lands allows us to play more spells.

Um… (you ask); don’t we just replace those lands with 1-2 mana cantrips?

While the short answer is “yes”, it is actually a great deal more complicated than that. When we play a Comer-Xerox strategy, we can fill otherwise un-used mana holes (i.e. we play a cantrip on turn one instead of playing nothing). In addition, we have more long run flexibility. You know when some players topdeck another land and extend the hand? That is less likely to happen for a Comer-Xerox / cantrip deck.

Per Alan’s original doctrine: We use the cantrips early to draw lands, and late to draw spells.

End aside.

I would humbly make the following argument based on the actual performance of other decks in the Top 8 of the most recent Star City Games Open event…

There were between the two Tempered Steel decks in the elimination rounds eight Signal Pests and three Spellskites (any of those 0/x creatures can be considered “problematic” in the wrong spot). Respectfully, Twisted Image against these artifact creatures can be considered “a motherloving blowout.”

Additionally you have the entirety of Todd Anderson’s Illusions deck (16+ “Phantasmal” creatures), plus a smattering of Phantasmal Images in decks like Solar Flare (as many as two copies in some lists). In the case of fighting a Phantasmal creature, we move from motherloving blowout to “merely” “better than Swords to Plowshares” zone; that is, trading one mana for, say, a 5/5 flyer (pretty comparable to the return that once inspired me to declare Skred “the best card in Standard”).

Once you leave the Top 8 you can start talking about Birds of Paradise in Birthing Pod, the Birds of Paradise in Michael Pozsgay’s deck, more Birds in the G/W Humans, more Spellskites, and of course Tree of Redemption (nice four mana, there). In addition, Twisted Image can play semi-Time Walk against the card Kessig Wolf Run… It doesn’t completely undo the attack, but it can really take the teeth out of the mana investment (while drawing up an extra card).

Is Twisted Image always a blowout?

No one is saying that is the case… But for a one-color deck, I think that it is more than good enough to consider main deck, as a four-of, et cetera.

(That’s how I think about it, anyway.)


A twisted image of a completely different kind:

Bruce sketch, etc.

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#1 MTGBattlefield on 10.06.11 at 3:07 pm

Spitballin’ Twisted Image…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#2 What Did WE Say About Delver of Secrets? — Five With Flores on 04.08.12 at 1:51 pm

[…] Twisted Image […]

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