Tutors are great. They often scale with how powerful the overall pod is, and with how tight the pieces in your deck tend to be. The more combos and silver bullets you play, the more noticeable things get. They’re also number 33 on the list of things casual commander players will debate about if…

Oh…wait…wrong topic.

They aren’t the end all, be all, however. There are certainly diminishing returns, and there are issues with redundancy, as well as the upfront cost of casting them in the first place. You’re effectively telling your deck you’re willing to spend upwards of a turn to selectively dictate the pace of a later turn. This can have big implications. For example, sometimes you may not have the time to cast any tutor due to pressure, politics (in EDH), mana troubles or management, or lack of good options. Additionally, there’s no guarantee the cards you may want to tutor for will still be effective on the turn you want to play them. There have been plenty of games in my time where I tutored for something, only to have it become obsolete down the line because I couldn’t play the card the turn I wanted it to due to a tempo swing, or something of a similar vein.

Having and casting a tutor does not mean you will get the desired outcome. 

Speaking of lack of good options. How often have you played a game where no matter what you would tutor for, you would simply not have an answer to whatever is going on on the board? The other, less oft discussed consequence for having a tutor is the deckbuilding restriction. The more tutors you play, the less actual cards you get to play. The less cards you get to play, the more dead air you wind up with when you need answers to situations that matter. One big example of this is the early days of EDH. Everyone and their mother would cram as many tutors as they possibly could in their decks, and very often, games would have so much air in them that things would become an almost exaggerated version of Battlecruiser Magic. Nothing else mattered, it was just fluff until someone found the first tutor until their most impactful spell.

Things aren’t nearly as bad nowadays, even in the EDH sphere, but there are still some tutors I believe could be played more, and won’t give you a side eye by the casual commander community:

  1. Traverse the Ulvenwald: A simple and easy tutor for fixing your mana early, while getting a game-winning threat later on. Delirium is hilariously easy to get in EDH, and any creature-based deck should have this in high priority, especially decks like Birthing Pod   
  2. Mausoleum Secrets: I’ve been working a lot on Anje Falkenrath, and this card ended up making my list. It’s rather narrow, but when a key card of yours is Black and cheap, then this card is genuinely one of the best tutors available.
  3. Crop Rotation: You know, we all know about this card, but do we really know about this card? I think utility lands are vastly underrated, even though I think less lands should be played in EDH decks as a whole. Crop Rotation gives you silver bullets in a slot that’s extremely hard to interact with, while also functioning as a pseudo ramp spell if you need it to, by way of getting one of the Sol-lands ([mtg_cardAncient Tomb[/mtg_card]). Very much worth it when you’re trying to both ramp and keep your opponents honest.

I’m a very big fan of tutors, but even I have limits to how many I could play. How many do you think you can get away with in your EDH decks?

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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