In case you've never heard of it, the Reserved List is a list of 571 Magic: The Gathering cards that Wizards of the Coast has said they will not reprint again. Cards found on the Reserved List are from old sets in MTG's history. Many of them are quite rare, especially in Near Mint condition.
In 2020, a renewed interest in playable Reserved List cards caused prices to skyrocket. Some players began buying multiple copies of Reserved List cards as speculative investments. Other players sold cards in their collections to buy Reserved List cards. A year later, many Reserved List cards have doubled and tripled in price. What options do players have today other than paying hundreds of dollars for a Volcanic Island, Power Artifact, or Survival of the Fittest?
Thankfully, for a handful of playable Reserved List cards there are alternative cards with similar abilities. Some of the substitute card choices are practically reprints of their Reserved List counterparts!
WotC has pushed the boundaries over the years by printing functional reprints of playable Reserved List cards. One such reprint that blurred the lines of WotC's Reserved List reprint policy is Reverberate.
At first glance, you might think Reverberate has the same text as Fork, a Reserved List card. The first and last group of words on Reverberate and Fork mean the same thing. The only key difference is that Reverberate makes an exact copy of the targeted spell. In contrast, Fork makes a red-colored copy of the targeted spell. Does changing the color of a copied spell ever matter?
There are rare scenarios where a card may have protection from red or the ability to protect something from red spells. Akroma, Angel of Wrath, is an example of a creature that could benefit from a player running Fork over Reverberate. Most of the time, running a copy of Fork or Reverberate will have the same effect.
Fork and Reverberate offer inexpensive protection from counterspells. They can also copy powerful spells like Expropriate or Tooth and Nail. Plus, a few commanders are interested in copying spells like Kalamax, the Stormsire, and Melek, Izzet Paragon. Fork and Reverberate fit well in decks featuring either of these commanders.
One other Fork clone to mention is Twincast.
This card is the blue version of Reverberate. Like Reverberate, it's functionally identical to Fork 99% of the time.
Whether you play Legacy or Commander, you have likely heard of Gaea's Cradle. It is hard to deny the power of Gaea's Cradle in green creature decks, particularly in Elves. Approaching close to $800, this legendary land commands a premium price on the secondary market. Obtaining a Near Mint copy of Gaea's Cradle is out of reach for many MTG players.
Fortunately, another card exists with similar abilities to Gaea's Cradle at a fraction of the price. Seeing play in over 20,000 decks according to EDHREC, Growing Rites of Itlimoc might just be the next best card to Gaea's Cradle.
There are several differences between Gaea's Cradle and Growing Rites of Itlimoc. The main differentiating factor is that Growing Rites of Itlimoc is a double-sided card. The front side is a legendary enchantment. For three mana, Growing Rites of Itlimoc lets a player find a creature card from among the top four cards of their library. At the beginning of your end step, Growing Rites of Itlimoc checks for four or more creatures under your control. If the condition is met, it transforms into a legendary land called Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun.
Interestingly, Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun is even more potent than Gaea's Cradle. The transformed land can tap for one green mana even if no creatures are in play under your control. Its second ability offers the same mana acceleration as Gaea's Cradle.
Rhys the Redeemed"
"Lathril, Blade of the Elves
There is no denying that it takes a bit of setup to get Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun on your battlefield. Also, Growing Rites of Itlimoc does not come into play initially as a land. However, the payoff is powerful, and Growing Rites of Itlimoc helps you find one of the four required creatures. At 3% of Gaea's Cradle price, it is hard to argue against running Growing Rites of Itlimoc with your favorite Elf commander. Rhys the Redeemed, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, or even Lathril, Blade of the Elves, would welcome Growing Rites of Itlimoc in their 99.
One of the most expensive Commander-legal cards is Timetwister. It is the only card among the Power Nine legal in EDH. Featured in just over 6,000 decks on EDHREC, Timetwister sees a fair amount of play for a card worth thousands of dollars.
Timetwister is an excellent inclusion in Commander decks featuring Xyris, the Writhing Storm, The Locust God, Nekusar, the Mindrazer, and Brallin, Skyshark Rider with Shabraz, the Skyshark. But at $4,500 a pop, few players will ever own a copy. Fortunately, if all you want is a similar effect to Timetwister, you have a few card options.
Day's Undoing does everything Timetwister can do at three mana with one small catch. When Day's Undoing resolves on the controlling player's turn, Day's Undoing is exiled, and their turn immediately ends. However, casting Day's Undoing on an opponent's turn will have the same effect as Timetwister, including going to the graveyard. Using Leyline of Anticipation, Quicken, or Teferi, Time Raveler will eliminate Day's Undoing drawback.
Another card to consider is Echo of Eons. It is a six-mana Timetwister with a discounted flashback mana cost. Casting Echo of Eons from the graveyard makes it identical to Timetwister. There are ways to get Echo of Eons into the graveyard beyond casting it for six mana. Blue has multiple creatures with abilities that allow a player to draw a card, then discard a card. Playing a blue and red commander opens up other discard options. Tormenting Voice, Cathartic Reunion, or Faithless Looting can put Echo of Eons into the graveyard. Creatures like Merchant of the Vale and Rummaging Goblin may serve as a discard outlet.
While these Reserved List substitutes may not be identical to Gaea's Cradle or Timetwister, they can achieve the same results. If the only reason you want a Reserved List card is for its in-game effect, save your money. Chances are high you can find something similar for a fraction of the cost.