Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hidden Strings

Sometimes a card that once was written off as little more than chaff turns out to be quite good in the right deck.

As it turns out, I believe Hidden Strings is just such a card. About a month ago now, Chris Baker blogged about several decks that he was considering playing and/or recommending for the ongoing Standard Pauper Gauntlet. One such deck he entitled Crouching Cipher Hidden Strings. Fast-forward several weeks, and player rbernardinello won MPDC 24.07 with this exact decklist. And that's where I first saw it. I was intrigued by the inclusion of Hidden Strings, and decided to build the deck and see what it could do.

It didn't take me long to discover just how powerful Hidden Strings is in that decklist.

At first blush, I didn't see a lot of value in this card. Sure, it had an interesting effect, but ultimately didn't seem to produce enough value to be worth a card. On its initial casting, you could use it to tap down an opponent's creature, untap one of your own attackers to give it pseudo-Vigilance, untap two of your lands to generate extra mana, or even tap down your opponent's mana sources. But its Cipher effect was much less useful, since it didn't do anything until after combat was already over for your turn.

The release of Theros changed all of that. As it turns out, the ability to target multiple targets with one effect pairs up perfectly with the Heroic mechanic. In fact, you don't even have to actually tap or untap the creature in question; merely targeting it is enough. Similarly, with the release of Born of the Gods, Hidden Strings allows you to potentially tap or untap a creature with the Inspired mechanic.

A study of the existing card pool reveals 16 potential creatures with either mechanic; but of those, the greatest concentration is in White and Green. With White Weenie already showing great success in the format, splashing Blue for Hidden Strings and a few other support cards seemed the best way to support this synergy.

Yesterday, it seemed several players were experimenting with this card in various colors, although I did not see anyone playing Chris Baker's original list other than myself. Despite the fact that Hidden Strings didn't show up at all in the Top 8, I believe this card has the potential to be a significant role player in the weeks ahead, especially if Journey to Nyx brings into the cardpool a few more decent Heroic or Inspired creatures. We shall see.

1 comment:

  1. While I couldn't make it work consistently yet, I've been playing with the idea of using Cipher cards in an Izzet deck. They play nicely with Goblin Electromancer, Madcap Skills and Aqueous Form. If a first strike creature deals damage, Cipher is triggered before Nivix Cyclops does damage, pumping him a little more. And the Two-Headed Cerberus triggers each Cipher card twice in the same round!

    I see them being using also in a Simic or Mono Blue deck, but I think the best usage is really Hidden Strings in a WU Heroic deck.