So wait. Can you use Cipher from your hand without paying its mana cost onto a creature? Or do you have to cast the spell, then use the cipher ability?
You have to actually cast the spell. The reminder text for cipher begins with "then", and is intended to be read as a continuation of the spell's rules text; there isn't an option not to use the cipher ability.
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DCI Rules Advisor
(Temporarily on hiatus from playing, but still a rules advisor.)
I'm so shocked that the U based mechanic turned out to be the most powerful.
Shocked I tell you.
A 4 mana windfall with upside? Really? Windfall's restricted in Vintage and banned in Legacy, and already incredibly good in EDH.
Once again, I get the feeling that people like Maro are completely clueless when it comes to gauging power level. This is an inherently powerful design that can't simply be checked by an easy mana cost fix.
Wow, that might be the worst artwork I've ever seen.
You haven't seen that many, then. Lucky you.
Cipher feels like an aura with a Comes onto the Battlefield effect, and there is hardly any difference between the two. I guess the main upside of Cipher is that it can be cast without a target, though I don't remember thinking "Man, I wish I had a creature to enchant with Galvanic Arc and deal those three points of damage!" that often.
The effect itself seems powerful, though I'm probably not skilled enough to use it correctly. Especially when you can use it each turn.
I wish my 4/4s with haste and first strike that acted as Goblin Warchiefs were better and didn't die to instants and overshadowed all other 4 drops in the format. And that they had evasion too, and some way to dodge wrath effects.