By the time you’re reading this, my Commander 2017 product will have reached me, which means I’ll be deep in my laboratory (also known as a messy office) flipping through cards and mumbling incoherently to myself. Right now (in real time) though, I’m stuck just looking at these cards on the interwebs, so naturally I decided to build a deck anyway.
I’ve always been a sucker for the Onslaught tribes, so Wizards were an easy sell for me. After a little waffling, I settled on a Commander:
As I mentioned in my social media review of Commander 2017 (which you probably saw if you follow @ChannelFireball on Twitter), Inalla is great at amplifying the effects of Wizards with enters-the-battlefield triggers and tap abilities. She is unfortunately lacking in synergy with most other legendary Wizards, though, which is too bad for the likes of Arcanis and Venser. I chose Inalla partly because I think she might shine a light on some cards that don’t show up in many Commander decks, and because I believe she can stray quite far from the preconstructed deck’s contents despite being the intended headliner. The fact that her best ability is accessible even when she’s in the command zone is downright terrifying.
I should mention that there are some busted things you can do with Inalla, Faces of the Past, Intruder Alarm, and the like. I’ve chosen not to do those things this time around, but if you’re into some more competitive Commander, you might want to look into that. Putting Inalla into play and then nuking the table by tapping 5-10 Wizards a few times over isn’t out of the question.
Let’s start by talking about the new cards that I think will feature strongly in Inalla decks!
This is a straightforward card with obvious synergy with Inalla: pay 5B, resurrect 2 Wizards, then pay 2 more and double up on them. If you come from the school of value, this card will put a smile on your face in this deck.
A giant Wizard with a super-giant effect! Doubling up on the Colossus itself doesn’t do much besides give you another bounce effect—the value you’ll get here comes from the other Wizards you’ve played previously and will play in the future. This card will put a target on your head and might actually end up being not fun, so it’s worth monitoring on both of those axes. That being said, in the late game, bouncing someone’s board will either save you or kill them, so that is likely to be fine.
There’s almost no chance I build a tribal deck without this card from now on. My version of this deck packs a full 29 Wizards—a step up from the 22 in the preconstructed deck, which means that the Horn will give me an additional card about 30% of the time. That’s not incredible, and I think other tribal decks will likely outstrip that rate, but the discount is so powerful in this deck that I can’t ignore it. After all, it effectively pays the costs for your Inalla triggers as long as it’s around. (Don’t worry, you have Urza’s Incubator too.)
This card is just straight-up ridiculous—it even synergizes with the Inalla trigger. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always viewed “1: Draw a card” as a pretty good deal—Mind’s Eye is a card I play on purpose, after all. If someone has an open board or you have Wizards to throw away, you can even get more triggers by attacking. Disgusting, honestly.
It’s Plague Wind. Plague Wind for 5BB, which is a lot less than 7BB. Okay, a couple of things might get regenerated, which wouldn’t happen on Plague Wind’s watch, but still, dang.
Is anyone who loves Tribal decks not excited about this card? I’d welcome a foil version of this card—perhaps a judge promo? Seriously though, all the scrying will be well worth the price of admission.
So now that I’m past the new cards, let’s talk about some of my more familiar selections by category, starting with Wizards with strong enters-the-battlefield triggers!
Cards—you need them. You need them enough to play Merchant of Secrets—blue’s a somewhat depressing answer to Elvish Visionary. 3U for a draw 2 is below Divination rates, but you can’t tap Divination with Azami or bounce it with Riptide Laboratory. Once you live in a universe where Merchant of Secrets is playable, the rest of these cards look busted by comparison. Trophy Mage can fetch up something as innocuous as a mana rock like Commander’s Sphere or something on the order of Cloudstone Curio. It also searches up your Ashnod’s Altar, which is surprisingly effective when you have all these tokens that just show up to die.
You’re not as deep on instants and sorceries as a Kess deck would be, but these are still important. The ability to reuse hate cards like Rakdos Charm or Vandalblast becomes more important when you have less room for redundant effects, and Ghostly Flicker is just begging to be cast a few times over. Cast Archaeomancer, trigger Inalla and the return trigger (with the return trigger on top), resolve the return trigger on your Ghostly Flicker, respond to the Inalla trigger with Ghostly Flicker on Archaeomancer and something else… you get the idea.
There’s always somebody at the table with 10 nonbasics in play. They are probably going to combo off next turn. Don’t let them.
I wanted to throw a little disruption into the mix, and these cards were on my radar. The one I really want to talk about is Vedalken Plotter. Too often I see people lacking methods to deal with utility lands. Destroying them is good, but stealing them can be even better. Trade an Island for a Maze of Ith!
Beyond this selection, you have a few sweet Wizards with tap abilities I’m going to discuss quickly:
Mercurial Chemister and Riptide Director let you get what’s yours in terms of cards, and Beguiler of Wills allows you to get what isn’t yours. With all of these Wizards to duplicate, Beguiler of Wills gets a lot better, especially when you get a copy with haste. After all, it’s a risky investment as a 5-mana 1/1, but it looks a lot better as a 6-mana 1/1 with “when this enters the battlefield, steal something” attached to it.
The siren song of these cards was too strong. Azami draws too many cards, and Patron Wizard lets you be selective about which spells you allow to resolve while reducing the number of actions opponents are willing to take per turn. Remember to tap your Wizards one at a time to see how much your opponents are willing to pay—don’t fire off 3 in a row and act like it’s Mana Leak. Your opponent might let you counter their spell with just one activation, letting you save other Wizards for future turns in the cycle.
Finally, I want to talk about a few utility cards—Wizards and non-Wizards—before ending with the deck list.
Marchesa lets you swing out at the player with the highest life total knowing that, if Marchesa sticks around, you’ll be seeing anything that dies again very soon. Even if you can’t safely attack for some reason, with Sage of Fables in play at the same time, your Wizards get a lot stickier. When they come back, you get more Inalla triggers. Yowza. Sage of Fables is pretty decent by itself as well, giving you more cards.
With all of this talk about card drawing, I’d be a fool not to throw this madman into the mix. There is a significant chance for this deck to run out of cards despite what I believe is a lack of infinite combos (although I have the sinking feeling I’m missing something) and with that in mind, I see nothing wrong with turning that into a strength.
More triggers! More! Flameshadow Conjuring is just Inalla part 2 that requires red mana. Both the Curio and the Closet give you more Wizard value, with the Curio being more costly to use in exchange for being more explosive.
Okay, it doesn’t have much synergy with the rest of the deck, but come on. It’s Cruel Ultimatum, and I couldn’t resist.
Okay, I’m all talked out. Here’s the deck list you’ve been waiting for.
Commander: Inalla, Archmage Ritualist
That’s it for this time around! See you next time as I continue building decks with the newest and most exciting commanders Magic has to offer. At least, they will be until Ixalan comes out and everything is Pirates and Dinosaurs!