When, Whenever, At

Bennie gushes about the possibilities of Strionic Resonator in Commander and recommends you start picking up copies of it sooner rather than later!

I keep picking up copies of Strionic Resonator. I think I’ve got around seven or eight copies now. Why? Well, I’m pretty sure I’m going to put a copy in nearly every Commander deck I’ve got, and I’m not entirely sure I won’t end up giving a copy or two a try in Standard or Modern. Regardless, though, this card is a Commander all-star and is still cheap enough that I’m gathering as many as I can get my mitts on. If you’re a fan of Commander and are not trading for or buying copies for your decks, you need to get cracking!

Before I get into the sweet stuff you can do with this card, let me take a moment and talk about cost. I am incredibly happy this card only costs two mana. I could have easily seen Wizards price this at three mana with a one-mana activation cost, and while I still would have jumped all over the card, it would have made things a bit awkward for some decks. See, three mana is problematic in Commander because there are so many fantastic Commander cards at that converted mana cost that you inevitably have to leave great cards on the bench if you pay attention at all to your mana curve.

Because great cards that cost three mana are so bountiful, good two-mana cards are at a premium since you ideally want more at that cost than three mana for your mana curve. I’m pretty sure Strionic Resonator will be one of the first two-mana cards you reach for when building your Commander decks.

I also think this card is awesome as a self-teaching tool to help players think about triggered abilities, which are a pretty important part of the game. How cool that they put this in a core set to get newer players thinking a little deeper about the game!

Alright, so let’s take a look at this bad boy I’ve been raving about. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s what the card says:

Strionic Resonator  2


Card Text: 2, Tap: Copy target triggered ability you control. You may choose new targets for the copy. (A triggered ability uses the words "when," "whenever," or "at.")

Here are the notes on Strionic Resonator from the Magic 2014 FAQ:

  • Strionic Resonator targets a triggered ability that has triggered and is on the stack.
  • The source of the copy is the same as the source of the original ability.
  • If the triggered ability is modal (that is, if it says "Choose one —" or similar), the mode is copied and can’t be changed.
  • If the triggered ability divides damage or distributes counters among a number of targets (for example, the ability of Bogardan Hellkite), the division and number of targets can’t be changed. If you choose new targets, you must choose the same number of targets.
  • Any choices made when the triggered ability resolves won’t have been made yet when it’s copied. Any such choices will be made separately when the copy resolves. If the triggered ability asks you to pay a cost (for example, as the extort ability from the Return to Ravnica block does), you pay that cost for the copy.
  • If a triggered ability is linked to a second ability, copies of that triggered ability are also linked to that second ability. If the second ability refers to "the exiled card," it refers to all cards exiled by the triggered ability and the copy. For example, if Exclusion Ritual’s enters-the-battlefield ability is copied and two nonland permanents are exiled, players can’t cast spells with the same name as either exiled card.
  • In some cases involving linked abilities, an ability requires information about "the exiled card." When this happens, the ability gets multiple answers. If these answers are being used to determine the value of a variable, the sum is used. For example, if Elite Arcanist’s enters-the-battlefield ability is copied, two cards are exiled. The value of X in the activation cost of Elite Arcanist’s other ability is the sum of the two cards’ converted mana costs. As the ability resolves, you create copies of both cards and can cast none, one, or both of the copies in any order.

Now, when I first conceived of this article, I thought it might be fun to really go in-depth into all the cool stuff you can do with Strionic Resonator in Commander. I knew it would be a lot of work, but I figured it would make a great read.

Then I started doing research, trying to comb through all potential Magic cards with triggered abilities you could play, and quickly realized that I could probably write about it for weeks and weeks and still leave a lot of uncovered terrain. Would "My Strionic Resonator: Part 12" assure my immortal enshrinement into the halls of Magic writing greatness, or would it be drive the last of my loyal readers screaming from StarCityGames.com forever? It didn’t take much imagination to evoke a mighty frown upon my editor’s face [Editor’s Note: =( ], and I decided I needed a way to frame this article into something much more manageable.

I know—the format is Commander, so I could limit the scope to just legends that have triggered abilities. Perfect!

And yet even then the number of legends that work well with Strionic Resonator is massive. Just observe this list, sorted by cost and then alphabetically (mostly): 

Kami of the Crescent Moon; Skullbriar, the Walking Grave; Sygg, River Cutthroat; Animar, Soul of Elements; Edric, Spymaster of Trest; Geist of Saint Traft; Glissa, the Traitor; Kemba, Kha Regent; Maga, Traitor to Mortals; Maralen of the Mornsong; Pianna, Nomad Captain; Rayne, Academy Chancellor; Reki, the History of Kamigawa; Rhys the Exiled; Teysa, Orzhov Scion; Thada Adel, Acquisitor; Toshiro Umezawa; Tuktuk the Explorer; Vendilion Clique; Zo-Zu the Punisher; Ashling, the Extinguisher; Asmira, Holy Avenger; Braids, Cabal Minion; Braids, Conjurer Adept; Ruhan of the Fomori; Circu, Dimir Lobotomist; Fumiko the Lowblood; Ghost Council of Orzhova; Kaalia of the Vast; Kaho, Minamo Historian; Lu Xun, Scholar General; Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker; Mirri the Cursed; Marton Stromgald; Rafiq of the Many; Savra, Queen of the Golgari; Sidar Jabari; Tajic, Blade of the Legion; Talrand, Sky Summoner; Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice; Venser, Shaper Savant; Wort, Boggart Auntie; Zedruu the Greathearted; Zur the Enchanter; Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran; Anowon, the Ruin Sage; Baru, Fist of Krosa; Child of Alara; Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder; Gerrard Capashen; Grimgrin, Corpse-Born; He Who Hungers; Higure, the Still Wind; Isperia the Inscrutable; Karn, Silver Golem; Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs; Kiyomaro, First to Stand; Kresh the Bloodbraided; Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker; Momir Vig, Simic Visionary; Nath of the Gilt-Leaf; Ob Nixilis, the Fallen; Obzedat, Ghost Council; Purraj of Urborg; Riku of Two Reflections; Sapling of Colfenor; Seizan, Perverter of Truth; Sen Triplets; Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper; Sol’kanar the Swamp King; Stonebrow, Krosan Hero; Aurelia, the Warleader; Bruna, Light of Alabaster; Crosis, the Purger; Darien, King of Kjeldor; Darigaaz, the Igniter; Dromar, the Banisher; Gabriel Angelfire; Godo, Bandit Warlord; Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni; Intet, the Dreamer; Isperia, Supreme Judge; Jedit Ojanen of Efrava; Jugan, the Rising Star; Keiga, the Tide Star; Kokusho, the Evening Star; Krond the Dawn-Clad; Melek, Izzet Paragon; Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis; Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius; Numot, the Devastator; Oros, the Avenger; Patron of the Akki; Prime Speaker Zegana; Rakdos the Defiler; Rith, the Awakener; Ruric Thar, the Unbowed; Ryusei, the Falling Star; Sakiko, Mother of Summer; Seshiro the Anointed; Sharuum the Hegemon; Teneb, the Harvester; Treva, the Renewer; Vela the Night-Clad; Verdeloth the Ancient; Vorosh, the Hunter; Wort, the Raidmother; Wrexial, the Risen Deep; Yosei, the Morning Star; Bladewing the Risen; Borborygmos; Garza Zol, Plague Queen; Hazezon Tamar; Kaervek the Merciless; Lim-Dul the Necromancer; Sheoldred, Whispering One; Thraximundar; Borborygmos Enraged; Maelstrom Wanderer; Reya Dawnbringer; Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur; Kozilek, Butcher of Truth; Reaper King; Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre; Iname As One

Yes, I went through the card database searching for all legal commanders that have the words "when," "whenever," or "at" in their text box, and there are a ton of them! This list isn’t even all of them; I culled some that have less than impressive triggered abilities (Bushido for instance). The point of this list, though, is if you’re playing any of these as your commander, you need to have a really, really good reason why you’re not playing Strionic Resonator in your 99, and even then you’re probably wrong.

Here are just a few of the thoughts I had as I compiled this list:

Deal combat damage with Thada Adel, Acquisitor, her ability triggers, and you copy it—get your opponent’s Sol Ring and use it to cast the other artifact you stole . . . which of course is their Strionic Resonator!

Maralen of the Mornsong has always struck me as a commander too risky to play, but the idea of being able to double the trigger for yourself makes it much more enticing! Similar thoughts when playing Kami of the Crescent Moon and Seizan, Perverter of Truth.

Sen Triplets is a card I’ve always thought is interesting but probably a little bit awkward and not at all friendly, but if you’re going to play it, you might as well copy the trigger and choose two opponents to play out of their hand, right?

Isperia the Inscrutable—copy the combat damage trigger, and if you miss on the first resolution, you won’t miss on the second one!

As if Momir Vig, Simic Visionary needed any help to be more broken, but copying the blue creature spell trigger has to be good times.

Hands up if you’ve already got a bunch of creatures with comes-into-play abilities in your Riku of Two Reflections deck. Strionic Resonator goes right in, either copying the creature’s ability or copying Riku’s ability.

Hands up if you’ve got a bunch of sweet instants or sorceries in your Riku of Two Reflections deck that you already love copying. Okay, so you won’t be able to do quite as many fun things with those spells as you can with the creatures mentioned above, but you can still have fun copying Riku’s ability to get two copies of those spells!

Bruna, Light of Alabaster—if you’ve got ways to sacrifice enchantments / Auras for profit, double your fun! Paging Mr. Auratog . . .

Strionic Resonator puts the "dare" in Darien, King of Kjeldor. Go ahead punk—hit me!

It makes me sad I don’t see Godo, Bandit Warlord getting played more often in Commander. This six-drop 3/3 saw competitive tournament play even before all the new Swords and Batterskull saw play! If you have an extra two mana when you cast it, activate Strionic Resonator and go fetch up two pieces of Equipment. But hang on—you don’t have to actually cast Godo for his ability to trigger. He could come back into play from, say, a Nim Deathmantle or a Cauldron of Souls, press the button on the Resonator, and go get the final two Kaldra pieces you needed to assemble your Avatar.

But wait—we’re not done with Godo! When he attacks, you get another trigger giving you another attack phase, so why not copy it and get another attack phase? Sure, you’ll need some way to untap your attackers so they can attack again, but I may or may not have written a whole article about a deck that did that very thing (Cat Breath of the Infinite).

Oh wait—I wrote another one too (Riding with Ruhan).

Much like Maralen of the Mornsong, Rakdos the Defiler has always been rather risky to play outside of Kaalia of the Vast, but if you get to copy the second triggered ability when he attacks, that’s gotta make a Demon grin from horn to horn!

All of the Invasion and Planar Chaos legendary Dragons have some nice triggered abilities, but I think Rith, the Awakener in particular is sweet because the first resolution of the triggered ability makes the second one even better assuming you’re going to choose green as your color.

If you have a few noncreature spells in your Ruric Thar, the Unbowed deck, the Resonator sure is a scary one! Alright Mr. Combo—do you really wanna play that noncreature spell while I’ve got two mana up?

The higher cost Eldrazi play particularly nice with Strionic Resonator. Say you cast Kozilek, Butcher of Truth—you can copy the "when you cast" trigger to draw eight cards, and then when it attacks you can copy of the Annihilator trigger to demand eight permanents sacrificed. Oh boy!

I could obviously go on and on, but for sanity’s sake I’ll go ahead and stop right here. There was a pretty sweet article on Strionic Resonator over on the mothership—Resonant Frequency—so if you haven’t read it already, go check it out. I’m definitely curious to hear what Commander staples you’ve had a chance to "resonate" for spectacular results already. Anyone used it with Hideaway lands yet? Hit me up in the comments below!

Before I go, I want to make sure all Commander fans know that Richmond Comix is having another one of their awesome Commander tournaments at 1 PM on Saturday, August 10th—tomorrow! They’re going back to basics with no limitations other than the standard rules for Commander, so anything goes! They’ve got some sweet prizes lined up—Chinese Vedalken Orrery; promo foil Reya Dawnbringer; Jace Beleren; judge foil Command Tower; Ali from Cairo; Berserk; Sliver Queen; and Foil Damnation—and there are still two sweet MJ Scott legendary Dragon Spirit alters to give away as Bennie Smith Spirit of EDH Haymaker Awards.

If you’re in the area, make sure to come by and join us on our Hero’s Journeys! Entry is $10. I’ve got two different decks primed and ready to go—just not sure which one I’m going to play—and I’ve got a sweet one for my roommate Chuck to play. I’m hoping to bring two of the prize cards back home to Casa de Smith. Hope to see you there!

Take care,


Facebook = Bennie Smith, Writer
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