I think my favorite clan leader is still Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest. The potential for Prowess and handing out Double Strike really makes me want to make a crazy spellslinging deck around him. Because Double Strike is awesome. The feeling of dealing out a flurry of blows, doubling the effectiveness of a creature, and possibly multiplying any damage triggers. I’ve been looking at small cantripping spells. They don’t have to do much, they just need to trigger prowess and the double strike ability and draw a card (or two) so I can keep triggering whenever I want.
And then I realized something. Even after decades of playing, I had misunderstood how triggered abilities work exactly. I was playing Duels of the Planeswalkers and noticed something odd: Whenever an ability triggered that required a target, I had to choose a target, even if I didn’t intend to pay the ‘may’ part of the ability. Generally, that’s not very useful, but the game also had a deck with a lot of Illusions, like Phantasmal Bear, which will get sacrificed if something ever targets them. Even if I didn’t pay for the ability. Or, how it is written in the comprehensive rules:
603.5. Some triggered abilities’ effects are optional (they contain “may,” as in “At the beginning of your upkeep, you may draw a card”). These abilities go on the stack when they trigger, regardless of whether their controller intends to exercise the ability’s option or not. The choice is made when the ability resolves. Likewise, triggered abilities that have an effect “unless” something is true or a player chooses to do something will go on the stack normally; the “unless” part of the ability is dealt with when the ability resolves.
So, even if I do not plan to pay the to give something Double Strike, I still can remove that Phantasmal Dragon with Shu Yun. If only if these creatures where more common at the commander table, right? The Jeskai leader would be like a machine gun assassin. Fortunately, M2014 has the perfect solution to make sure opponents has plenty of fragile Illusions.
At Dismiss into Dream is a hefty investment. But the payoff can’t be denied. Not only does it turn the head monk into a viscious murder machine, it completely hoses almost any type of ‘Voltron’ style decks. Equipment becomes useless. Auras become deadly. And since Shu Yun also triggers off mana artifacts being played and all the draw from the cantrips meaning you rarely will miss a land drop getting to the 7 mana in Commander quickly isn’t really that far-fetched. I bet explaining rule 603.5 will raise some eyebrows though, as it feels somewhat counter-intuitive. You’d probably need to print it out, so you can show how that Brainstorm kills a dude for just while drawing you some cards and that Counterspell doubles as targetted creature removal.