Aetherspouts is a very interesting Blue card in Magic the Gathering’s Magic 2015 Core Set. It was an extremely strong Limited card if you were playing Blue at all, thanks to being a powerful game-swinging removal spell at instant speed. Aetherspouts even saw some Standard sideboard play for awhile before the Innistrad block rotated from Standard in late 2015.
While five mana seems like a lot for an instant, with a casting cost of three generic mana and two Blue mana (3UU), it’s a clearly a better version of Aetherize. For reference, Aetherize is an Instant from Gatecrash for 3U that returns all attacking creatures to their owner’s hand. But, Aetherspouts is a somewhat better card because it returns attacking creatures to the deck for only one more mana. That’s much more devastating for an opponent to deal with if it’s a lot of creatures that are being returned.
Aetherspouts creates even more havoc for your opponent by forcing them to decide which creatures go on top and which creatures go on the bottom of the deck. So, instead of simply giving your opponent their creatures back to their hand, you deprive them of all those creatures for the time being. Since your opponent will have to draw them again, they have to choose whether they want to draw those creatures sooner or later.
Plus, any token creatures are simply gone forever, making Aetherspouts particularly nasty against token-heavy aggro decks. Also, even if an opponent’s creatures have protection from blue, hex proof, or shroud, Aetherspouts doesn’t target. So, as long as a creature declared an attack, it’s going back to the deck.
In Standard, Aetherspouts did see some sideboard play as the perfect counter to ultra-aggressive decks common to Standard at that time. Five mana was just too much for Modern, though, and much more efficient removal exists in that format. Even the newer format Pioneer didn’t really have room for a five-mana removal spell that didn’t destroy or exile those creatures. So, since rotating out of Standard, Aetherspouts hasn’t been seen competitively.
However, in Commander, Aetherspouts has become a staple in many Blue decks. With the release of Zaffai, Thunder Conductor in Commander 2021, Aetherspouts finally found its best home in EDH. Zaffai’s ability to create a 4/4 creature token any time you cast an instant or sorcery spell with mana value 5 or more made Aetherspouts pretty much an auto-include. While not a staple in any other EDH deck, Aetherspouts is still seen in over 24,000 deck lists on EDHREC.
Interestingly enough, the more basic Aetherize is actually more than twice as popular Commander. This may be because forcing creatures back to their owner’s hand instead of the deck is quick and dirty. Also, while Aetherspouts is potentially a way to screw up your opponent’s draws, it can be more advantageous to make your opponent end up with too many cards in hand (since the maximum you can usually have at any one time is seven), and force them to pick and choose.
Which instant spell do you prefer: Aetherize or Aetherspouts?
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