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Nov 13 2013 11:00am
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Commander Johnny-Boosh Vol IV: December means Flicker

Greetings and Excelsior loyal and new readers! Welcome to Commander Johnny-Boosh, Numero Quatro! Today's article focuses on an up and coming Legend from the Commander 2013 set. Commander 2013 has already hit store shelves in the world of Paper Magic, but I have to salivate in anticipation of its release online until December 20th: just in time to grab a copy of Evasive Maneuvers from the MTGO client's store and promptly have to celebrate the winter holidays and yearn for Magic Online from afar, comforted solely by lactose-free yet Kraken rum spiked eggnog.

Commander 2013 has 51 new cards, but I am the most pumped about:

Roon of the Hidden Realm


Here is a brief tutorial on flicker. Flickering, also known as Blinking in some Magic circles, is when you Exile a creature or permanent from the game and then return it to the field under it's owner's control-- either instantaneously, or at the end of the turn. Here are some Magic cards to further expound by example:

Ghostly FlickerVoyager StaffMomentary BlinkGalepowder Mage

Sometimes, Flickering can be kind of sneaky, and may be deceptively disguised on a card-- but these cards are still quintessentially Flicker effect cards. Here's some examples:

Cold StorageSafe Haven

Close Cousins of Flicker:

First off, Flickering's primary purpose is to exploit triggers. It's secondary purpose might be to save a creature for a Lightning Bolt or something, but let's all tell it straight and say we all love seeing a Myr Battlesphere and a Conjurer's Closet on our side of the battlefield. I really feel that there are not nearly enough Flicker choices for a deck based around such exploitation-- and when that's the case, we ring the supper bell and call the relatives.

Note: I don't have all these cards in the deck below; these are just examples.

Now then.

Why am I so pumped about Roon? Because he is the Commander that's been built as if WOTC knows what I've been longing for. See, I am a huge, huge, huge, huge (did I mention huge?) fan of Flickering. How big a fan of Flickering am I? Behold this article of yore, extolling Flicker effects' virtues. It is one of my favorite bits of synergy. I love to exploit "Enters the Battlefield" or "leaves the battlefield" triggers, and to get the full array of Flicker-effects, one must employ both White (Momentary Blink/Cloudshift) and Blue (Ghostly Flicker/Turn to Mist). Yet, some of the most fun I've had with Flickering, is flickering Green stuff (Eternal Witness/Avenger of Zendikar/etc). Until Roon, there was no viable WGU legend out there that's suited for taking the helm of a Flicker-deck in Commander, and so I only incorporated a smattering of Flicker effects, here and there, in Commander decks. But in December? In December I know exactly what I'm going to build.

December means Flicker
Flickering is Fun-damental
1 Flickerwisp
1 Galepowder Mage
1 Glimmerpoint Stag
1 Mistmeadow Witch
1 Vedalken Plotter
1 Twilight Shepherd
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Hornet Queen
1 Man-o'-War
1 Healer of the Pride
1 Trostani, Selesnya's Voice
1 Eternal Witness
1 Acidic Slime
1 Reveillark
1 Duplicant
1 Progenitor mimic
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Sun Titan
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Gilded Drake
1 Mulldrifter
1 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 Brutalizer Exarch
1 Karmic Guide
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Lavinia of the Tenth
1 Mangara of Corondor
Restoration angel 
1 Peregrine Drake
1 Angel of Finality
Deadeye Navigator 
1 Champion of Lambholt
33 cards

Other Spells
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Bant Charm
1 Momentary Blink
1 Sol Ring
1 Unsummon
1 Liberate
1 Otherworldly Journey
1 Conjurer's Closet
1 Worldly Tutor
1 Proteus Staff
1 Turn to Mist
1 Cloudshift
1 Ghostly Flicker
1 Flickerform
1 Flicker
1 Aethermage's Touch
1 Erratic Portal
1 Strionic Resonator
1 Reclaim
1 Noxious Revival
1 Isochron Scepter
1 Into the Roil
1 Tithe
1 Praetor's Counsel
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Oblation
1 Spin into Myth
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Voyager Staff
1 Venser, the Sojourner
30 cards
1 Khalni Garden
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Homeward Path
1 Krosan Verge
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Breeding Pool
1 Command Tower
1 Opal Palace
1 Temple of Mystery
1 Vesuva
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Phyrexia's Core
1 Tolaria West
1 Halimar Depths
1 Temple Garden
1 Maze of Ith
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 City of Brass
5 Island
5 Forest
5 Plains
36 cards

Roon of the Hidden Realm
1 cards


Let's take a moment, collectively, to pour one out for Primeval Titan, currently banned in Commander. For a deck that utilizes tons of Magic's tricks to exploit Enters the Battlefield triggers, and has green, it is a poetic shame that we can't use the Magic creature with the greatest EtB trigger.

Here's my other regrets:

  1. I could not find a way to include Angel of Serenity, which is upsetting. It met its fate at the chopping block because it's CMC is too high (also including 3 White symbols in a tricolor deck), and because even though you can do some really fun Johnny combos with it, its overall usefulness was exceeded by other cards. For the purposes of information distribution and my love of Johnny fun, let me explain why you may want to include it and take something else out. "If Angel of Serenity leaves the battlefield before its enters-the-battlefield ability has resolved, its leaves-the-battlefield ability will trigger and do nothing. Then the enters-the-battlefield ability will resolve and exile the targeted creatures and/or creature cards indefinitely." This means you can cast the Angel, choose three creatures to exile, and then cast Liberate at Instant speed so those creatures are exiled indefinitely. The other way this is Johnny awesome, is that you can choose three of your own creatures/creatures in your graveyard, and after the Angel's EtB trigger resolves, you can Flicker it so as to recur those cards to cast them again.
  2. Some of the Flicker spells I normally employ actually didn't fit in this deck. The inclusion of Isochron Scepter, and it's potential combos, plus some of these have relative high costs to activate and/or cast. I'd feel remiss not mentioning them here. Cold Storage, Sudden Disappearance, Ghostway, Nephalia Smuggler, Planar Guide, Tawnos's Coffin, and Safe Haven. In all Fairness, Safe Haven is too conditional, and doesn't tap for mana so I never really use it, ever.
  3. Sylvan Primordial & Terastodon didn't make the cut; too CMC expensive.
  4. I didn't have any room for any of the Swords, and I didn't have any room in this deck to include any Shroud/Hexproof granting equipment. Luckily Roon isn't the only way to Flicker and the deck isn't conditional on his presence on the battlefield, unlike a Varolz or Zedruu deck.
  5. Pull from Eternity is always fun. You can attack with a Galepowder Mage, temp-exile an opponent's creature and then cast this to hose it. Didn't make the cut.
  6. Defense of the Heart, Lurking Predators, Staff of Nin, Pattern of Rebirth, Green Sun's Zenith, Tooth and Nail, and Summoning Trap didn't make the cut.
  7. Aura Shards didn't make it in-- but, it can be annoying to deal with if it's the only enchantment/artifact on the board. 
  8. Sylvan Library almost went in instead of Sol Ring, but that's just silly. Hard pick though.
  9. Angelic Chorus and the Soul sisters couldn't fit in here, but to make up for it I kept Healer of the Pride and Trostani in the deck.
  10. Cathars' Crusade & Juniper Order Ranger - Both of these can really shine in a flicker deck, but since this deck is so focused on repeated blink and its cousins, I decided there just wasn't room.
  11. Birthing Pod, while certainly a way to abuse EtB triggers and a distant cousin of flicker, required sacrifice of creatures-- and that doesn't mesh with the theme of keeping useful EtB creatures alive to flicker the heck out of them.
  12. My final regret is that I could not find a way to sneak in the EtB Flickerable that is perhaps the most ridiculous--yet it's my most favorite ridiculous card to Flicker:
Rasputin Dreamweaver

Dream weaver I've just closed my eyes again
Climbed aboard the dream weaver train
Driver take away my worries of today
And leave tomorrow behind

Ooh dream weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
Ooh dream weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light

Also: Some sort of Web designer / HTML / Adobe joke


Flickering & Cousins of Flickering


Roon of the Hidden Realm - repeated flicker.
Mistmeadow Witch - Even more repeatable flicker fun.
Galepowder Mage - Attacking = flicker.
Glimmerpoint Stag - You can flicker this flicker vessel for added flickering.
Flickerwisp - See the above tongue-tying.
Restoration Angel - Again.
Deadeye Navigator - Repeatable flicker for one creature. Yearns to be paired with Peregrine Drake for an abusive combo that will make a lot of folks concede.
Man-o'-War - Bouncing is what Tiggers do best. Waitaminute!, this ain't no tigger. Well apparently bouncing is what jellyfish do best. Bounce is flicker's cousin, but this creature can be flickered itself to repeatedly bounce an opponent's creature, making them quite irate.
Phyrexian Metamorph - Copy something! Copy its EtB trigger. Flicker it to copy something else!
Progenitor Mimic - Ditto-pants; plus it makes more versions of itself in token form, for more EtB fun. Kinda reminds me of:


Momentary Blink - Yum, my favorite.
Liberate - Also good.
Otherworldly Journey - The counter really winds up being pointless.
Turn to Mist - Another yay.
Ghostly Flicker - allows you to pick a land or artifact as well. Plus double fun. If you chose to flicker Eternal Witness as one of your choices you can chose to bring back the Ghostly Flicker each time to make an abusive flicker combo.
Flicker - the grand poohba of original blinking.
Flickerform - repeatable.
Cloudshift - cheapest, also doesn't wait til end of turn, like Momentary Blink.
Erratic Portal - 1 mana to bounce something back to hand for another EtB abuse.
Conjurer's Closet - Free, repeatable flicker.
Voyager Staff - Specifically in this deck over other cards so it can interact with both Enlightened Tutor and Sun Titan.
Venser, the Sojourner - yum yum yum yum, my favorite planeswalker simply because he was built with flicker abilities.
Proteus Staff - underrated way of abusing EtB triggers.
Unsummon - Bounce = Flicker Cousin. Can be imprinted.
Into the Roil - Bounce = Flicker Cousin. Can be imprinted. Funny thing here, when you imprint, and pay two to cast, you can then chose to pay kicker for 2 as well. If you have 4 mana and this imprinted, every turn you get a bounce and a card-draw.
Aethermage's Touch - Roundabout fun that abuses EtB triggers.
Strionic Resonator - Instead of copying permanents, why not copy the trigger????

Isochron Scepter Options:

Blink + Relatives:



Land Search:

Enters-the-Battlefield Triggers


First off, some of the creatures above, like Glimmerpoint Stag and Man-o'-War for example, can be flickered or bounced as well. You may find it useful to Conjurer's Closet a Flickerwisp just to target a Ravnica-common-bounce-land just to be a jerk or whatnot.

Duplicant - Creature hoser. Commander staple.
Vedalken Plotter - sometimes your opponent has a kickbutt land, and you want to deal with it, but it would be so much cooler to have it on your side instead of in your opponent's graveyard. Sometimes you wanna trade your City of Brass for his Command Tower. Sometimes you want to activate Thawing Glaciers, trade it for your opponent's Maze of Ith, and then your glaciers goes back to your hand. You netted an extra land, your opponent lost one. Blink the plotter next time your glaciers are back in play and untapped. Pretty heinous.
Twilight Shepherd - Recursion.
Hornet Queen - 1/1 flying deathtouch tokens? I has 'em.
Farhaven Elf - Mana ramp.
Eternal Witness - Recursion of the highest caliber.
Acidic Slime - Destructo fun.
Reveillark - Recursion.
Progenitor Mimic - Copycat.
Phyrexian Metamorph - Copying fun for artifacts and creatures.
Sun Titan - Recursion.
Avenger of Zendikar - Lots of ever-growing plant tokens? I has 'em.
Woodfall Primus - Destructo fun.
Gilded Drake - Stealy hilarity! Pop him out, steal something, give him away. Blink it. Steal again, hilarious.
Mulldrifter - Card draw.
Prime Speaker Zegana - Card Draw.
Brutalizer Exarch - Creature tutor or hosing fun.
Karmic Guide - Recursion.
Solemn Simulacrum - Mana Ramp.
Lavinia of the Tenth - Shutdown fun.
Peregrine Drake - Pair with Deadeye Navigator, bounce or blink to get some extra land capabilities in a turn.
Angel of Finality - Hose them graveyards.

Flicker, Flickerwisp, Venser, the Sojourner, Ghostly Flicker, Glimmerpoint Stag -- all allow you to pick a permanent that's not just a creature,

Spine of Ish Sah - Pair it with Phyrexia's Core as well, or use one of the other ones to hose more permanents.
Halimar Depths - Top-3-back-in-any-order repeats.
Khalni Garden - Plant token repeats.
Temple of Mystery - Scry repeats.
Thawing Glaciers - You could always, if you wanted, activate the glaciers then target them with Venser's activation; yeah they come back into play tapped, but they don't bounce back to your hand.

Mangara of Corondor



If Mangara of Corondor leaves the battlefield before the ability resolves, the targeted permanent will still be exiled.

This means:

You can activate Mangara, then flicker, bounce, proteus staff it, etc, and keep abusing it. Activate, Momentary Blink, profit.

Even Pete Jahn wrote about this trick.

Batman's Utility Belt

Sol Ring, Tithe - Mana ramping. Tithe allows you to imprint it on your scepter, and search for your basic plains, your shock-duals that contain the type plains, and your Mistveil Plains.
Spin into Myth, Bant Charm - put opposing commanders, or opposing pesky creatures, on the bottom of your opponent's library.
Noxious Revival, Reclaim, Praetor's Counsel - Recursion; the first two can be imprinted on Isochron.
Worldly Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Enlightened Tutor - In a combo heavy theme deck that relies on a mechanic that can be found on creatures, instants, sorceries, enchantments and artifacts-- in absence of black, I turn to these stalwart tutor staples that can also be applied, generously, to the Isochron Scepter, for repeated tutoring.

champion of lambholt The one creature, that doesn't provide a flicker-effect, that you simply do not want to flicker. You want Champy Von Lamby to stay on your battlefield at all times. When you are blinking the ever-loving crap out of your creatures, the champion here keeps growing and growing, and growing. Eventually, your champion is going to be 15/15 or something crazy, and then unless your opponent has a field of 16/16 elves or something, they are not blocking any of your creatures.


Two other things you can abuse with flickering effects are Morph, and Theros' own Monstrous. You can put a morph creature face-down for 3, then cast a Cloudshift on it, and get a beefy creature out on the field, like an Akroma, Angel of Fury; this doesn't fit in with the EtB theme, so I didn't include any examples of this. Want to abuse Monstrous, get more than one use out of it? Flicker it after you make it Monstrous once, so you can remonsterize it. Hythonia the Cruel? Destroy all non-gorgons repeatedly.

There was a lot more I wanted to squeeze in this deck, but couldn't. Some of that? Batman's Utility Belt stuffs. Seems I couldn't get as much standard tech in here as I'd like, but the stuff you get to pull off with EtB triggers will make up for it. Instead of Path to Exile, you have a Mangara you can abuse. Instead of (Krosan's Grip), blink an Acidic Slime.

Flicker has been, and always will be, one of my favorite mechanics that doesn't have it's own ability word like Chroma or Indestructible or Landfall. I was excited to see how much they shoved this ability into blue in addition to white, in Innistrad, and I look forward to blinking my opponent's face off when Roon hits online.

As always, thanks from the bottom of my heart for your continued reading and support.


adam_the_mentat -
atomicboosh - MTGO client


Extra ideas for Roon by Clawbeast at Thu, 11/14/2013 - 10:27
Clawbeast's picture

I have a Roon deck of my own and we share a lot of the same ideas. I focused upon the fact that, although Roon can trigger Leaves-the-Battlefield effect at instant speed, ETB effects will only occur at the end of turn. Some of your alternative flicker effects return instantly but your creature base needs to reflect the limitations of your commander – no Draining Whelk or similar creatures.

Some observations & comparisons :

I'm pleased to see that you too found Gilded Drake. It is awesome in a Roon deck! Twilight Shepherd is also great, with persist being great in combination with Flicker effects.

I don't consider 7 mana too much if the creature is superb. Indeed, you use Hornet Queen but I prefer certain other cards which you mentioned - Angel of Serenity and Diluvian Primordial. 4 1/1 deathtouch flyers is nice but not in the same league as casting multiple spells from opponents’ graveyards or exiling 3 creatures.

Woodfall Primus is ok at 8 mana but you could also consider Bane of Progress – my Roon deck plays fewer artifacts than yours so this works very well for me.

Nephalia Smuggler – unlike Mistmeadow Witch, the targeted creature returns to play immediately. Despite deck design being impacted by Roon’s clumsier timing, there are still plenty of situations where this is important.

Crystal Shard is a useful alternative to Erratic Portal.

At only 1 extra mana, I find Ghostway to be much better than Flicker or Liberate.

My version uses more early drops. Wall of Blossoms, Wall of Omens, Aven Riftwatcher, Coiling Oracle and Kitchen Finks all make my version.

Seedborn Muse/Prophet of Kruphix & Murkfiend Liege all make my deck. The abiilty to use Roon’s ability multiple times is awesome and exactly what this deck wants.

I avoided echo creatures, as they still have to pay echo costs, and found Deadwood Treefolk considerably better than Karmic Guide.

Great comments! I don't use by Adam_the_Mentat at Thu, 11/14/2013 - 13:03
Adam_the_Mentat's picture

Great comments!

I don't use ghost way because it flickers them all; tokens included which means hornet tokens an progenitor mimic tokens; I thus opted not to include it or sudden disappearance or planar guide.

Karmic guide vs deadwood treefolk; karmic has power two; deadwood doesn't. Karmic can be combined with reveillark-- hence my reasoning

My major regret now actually is not including thragtusk.
Most of my inclusions don't really require instant flicker as opposed to return at end of turn flicker; so
Mistmeadow, being repeatable, seems better than the smuggler.

Thanks for the comments!

Yeah - I forgot to mention by Clawbeast at Fri, 11/15/2013 - 06:12
Clawbeast's picture

Yeah - I forgot to mention Thragtusk. The first search I did when building my Roon deck was for creatures with both ETB effects AND leaves-play effects and Thragtusk jumps out immediately, alongside Deadwood Treefolk and Aven Riftwatcher.

I certainly prefer Mistmeadow to Smuggler but find Smuggler's superior timing very useful quite regularly. For example, exiling a creature at instant speed with Duplicant or stealing a creature at instant speed with Gilded Drake. I guess Smuggler would be on my Watch List, though, so it is a borderline call.

Ghostway is a nonbo with Progenitor Mimic but combos with pretty much every other creature in the deck, so I am happy with it. Ghostway with 3 or more creatures on the battlefield feels like a bit casting Cruel Ultimatum for 2W at instant speed.

I take your point about Karmic Guide working with Reveillark to form a recursive loop. If you haven't yet drawn Reveillark, do you generally choose not to pay the echo cost on the Guide and let it die, or do you use Roon or other flicker effects to reset it?

all depends on mana resources by Adam_the_Mentat at Fri, 11/15/2013 - 14:48
Adam_the_Mentat's picture

all depends on mana resources and game state; but i generally let it die or cast blink instantly to use it at least twice