Commander Staples – Clever Impersonator

Greetings Commander enthusiasts! Today I’m covering all the cards. What? All of them? All right, all right, just the non-land permanents. Don’t believe me? Well there’s a cool blue Staple that begs to differ. Sure it’s always the same when it’s in your hand or your deck or your binder, but once it’s in play, it’s anything and everything else.

Clever Impersonator should be pretty obvious when it comes to usage. Pick the best thing in play and copy it. The only real dilemma should be in choosing exactly what you think that is. There will frequently be several great options. Do you grab a Sol Ring for a burst of quick mana? A Rhystic Study to draw more cards? Any of the Ulamogs, Avengers of Zendikars and various gods kicking around? That stupid Planeswalker (you know the one)? Save it for something even better than all that? Well, the beauty of the card is that you get to choose, and repeated use will definitely help you develop your ability to assess cards, threats and game states! What a clever bonus.

Even though Clever Impersonator enters the battlefield and chooses a permanent, it still gets any Enters-The-Battlefield (ETB) effects on that permanent. That includes things like loyalty counters on Planeswalkers, which it gets the same way as the Walkers do. It doesn’t get however many are currently on the Walker. As cool as it can be to copy an opposing Planeswalker, their emblems are not considered permanents and can’t be copied. Too bad, but you can’t have everything. Just most of it.

One of the non-obvious things that makes Clever Impersonator so special is a word that you won’t find in the text box. That word is ‘target.’ That’s right, this copy effect doesn’t target, so you can Impersonate your opponents’ stuff with hexproof, shroud and even protection from blue. Or your own. Double Helix Pinnacle for the DNA double win! All you need is 200 mana! Drop that sagacious genetics reference while your opponents just drop.

You can do some sneaky-smart things with Clever Impersonator, too. Copying a token creature makes a non-token copy of a token. If you have a unique token and an effect that only affects non-token creatures, you can make it happen. While you can do this with any Clone effect, why not pick up extra points for being Clever about it? You can also choose no target for your Impersonator, making it a 0/0, giving you a death trigger if need be.

One thing to keep in mind if you want to play with Clever Impersonator is the Legend Rule. Also directly related, and worth catching up on, are State-Based Actions. I’m speaking directly to what happens when you copy your own Legendary card. The long and the short of it is that you can’t copy your legend and do anything with the doubles before the Legend rule kicks in and one must be sacrificed. No deft little activation in between. You do still get the ETB effects, and the death trigger, which will likely happen first as it’s added to the stack after the ETB. It’s also important to note that you can’t copy something ETBing at the same time as your Clever Impersonator. And if you copy something with a CMC of X, X will be 0, so maybe pass on cleverly copying Hydras.

Clever Impersonator made its debut in the heavily opened set (fetchlands!) Khans of Tarkir. Initially it snuck under the radar, before slowly growing in value as more and more Commander players discovered it. It had a peak near $10, but a recent reprint in Commander 19 brought everything back to earth to a nice and manageable $2-4. It is also likely to be reprinted in future Commander, supplementary and even Core sets. Considering it’s all flavours, a reprint in a set like the Return to Tarkir or even on another Plane wouldn’t be out of character for Clever Impersonator. That’s a good thing. This is a card all casual players should have in their collection, and it should stay affordable. If you can’t say no to bling, foils are in the $10 range or more. If this card is only reprinted in Commander sets going forward, demand and value for those foils will go up. Personally, I think this the kind of card you could build a Secret Lair around, as the art could easily be interpreted any number of ways.

In summation, Clever Impersonator is one the smartest things you can cast for 4 mana. Blue is a colour most known for machinations of the mind, and playing this card will really show off how yours works. Copying the best non-land permanent available or the best in context is almost always worth doing, and Clever Impersonator is simply the best in the game for doing that. With a low price tag and a near-unlimited ceiling, Clever Impersonator will make you feel smart when you see it in your hand or envision it in your ingenious strategy! Thanks for reading!

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