Clone Wars: Wizards!

Bennie Smith kept his Arcane Wizardry deck from Commander 2017 intact for quite a while, but it’s time for him to rebuild! Watch him get to work bringing out the best in Her Eminence, Inalla, Archmage Ritualist!

Arcane Wizardry was one of the Commander 2017 decks I kept intact for quite a while, pulling it out when other people wanted to play one of those decks unmodified or if I just wanted to play something lower-powered than my usual decks. The deck had a bit of a split personality; sometimes it would play out as I imagine it was designed to, where I played out Wizards with some cool ability and I would pay an extra mana for Inalla’s eminence ability to Clone it to squeeze extra value. Sea Gate Oracle; Bloodline Necromancer; Merchant of Secrets.

Then there were times where I drew Mairsil, the Pretender. Arcanis the Omnipotent. Marchesa, the Black Rose. It made me realize there were many Wizards in the deck that I really did not want to use Inalla’s eminence ability with, which led to some awkward games where Inalla just really did not do much. And when you are playing against Arahbo, Roar of the World or Edgar Markov, you do not want your eminence to be the one that is slacking.

So recently I decided to do a major overhaul and build a Commander deck from the ground up around Inalla, Archmage Ritualist. Let us break down what Inalla offers us.

Eminence — Whenever another nontoken Wizard enters the battlefield under your control, if Inalla, Archmage Ritualist is in the command zone or on the battlefield, you may pay 1. If you do, create a token that’s a copy of that Wizard. The token gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step.

At first blush, this looks to be weaker than the eminence abilities of Arahbo and Edgar—after all, neither requires mana to use. Inalla demands a one-mana tax to use, which will lead to lines of play where you are either slowed down playing your creatures or you will not be able to use the eminence. But let us look a little closer. Arahbo’s eminence requires a Cat be on the battlefield to get the benefit, and the ability is just a power and toughness booster, which is fine, but there are plenty of ways to minimize that impact. And Edgar is just giving you a 1/1 Vampire with no abilities. Sure, there are ways to make use of those 1/1 Vampires, but individually a 1/1 is not all that high-impact.

Inalla gives you a Clone of a Wizard when it enters the battlefield, and the token gets haste. Depending on what it is copying, that can be a pretty big deal, even though it exiles at the end of the turn. That is a powerful effect and so it makes sense that you need to pay mana for it. If we load up with Wizards that have enters-the-battlefield abilities or can be sacrificed for profit, we can really rack up value!

Tap five untapped Wizards you control: Target player loses 7 life.

This is an ability that I do not recall using much at all when playing the precon version of the deck. The deck does not really play “wide” with Wizards, since you are playing extra mana for the eminence to get an extra creature that is only temporary. Still, it is a decent late-game threat that can win games after everyone has been brawling and tearing down life totals. Also, I think there is a Wizard in Ixalan that might help this ability become more relevant…

Okay, let us get brewing!

Wizards with Benefits

Okay, so the first order of business is to stuff this deck with Wizards worth copying with Inalla’s eminence. Many of these are already in Arcane Wizardry, but we can add even more.

Remember when I mentioned Inalla’s life loss ability? Dire Fleet Ravager from Ixalan is a Wizard with a scary enters-the-battlefield ability. I will be honest: I am a little scared to play this card, since losing a third of your own life when it enters the battlefield and then making a copy that nails a third of your remaining life is going to hurt. Say you are at 30; you lose ten life and then you lose seven more, ending up at thirteen. But this is applying to everyone, and I have become a fan of cards in Commander that can break down game stalls and accelerate the end-game. Our Wizard deck is mostly going to be about grinding value, so being able to shift gears and taking out large chunks of our opponent’s life totals seems worth a slot.

Arcane Wizardry already has Corpse Augur, Sea Gate Oracle, and Merchant of Secrets for some card draw power, but I have added Alchemist’s Apprentice, Drownyard Explorers, and Disciple of Bolas for more value. Wizards with exploit like Silumgar Sorcerer and Profaner of the Dead seem like good additions to the deck, providing some “spell” power attached to a creature and an easy way to use those tokens created with eminence. Aether Adept and Sedraxis Alchemist are great ways to break up creatures that have been turned into giant Voltron threats with +1/+1 counters or Auras.

I leaned towards lower-mana-cost Wizards because ideally you’ll want to be paying an extra mana for Inalla’s eminence each time you cast one, so you’re already going to be a turn behind on curve.

Wizards Matter

Since Inalla’s eminence triggers on Wizards, we will be playing a bunch of Wizards anyway, so it makes sense to bring in tribal cards. Kindred Discovery is a Commander 2017 card that was not included in Arcane Wizardry but seems perfect for our Inalla deck and I am super-stoked to have it! Not only does it make each Wizard card and copy into a cantrip, but since the eminence ability gives the copy haste, you get both triggers from Kindred Discovery.

The mana discount provided by Stonybrook Banneret or Herald’s Horn is awesome because it effectively pays the extra mana for Inalla’s Eminence.

I love Bloodline Necromancer in this deck, since it brings back Wizards and with enough mana can rebuild an empty battlefield state in a jiffy.

Docent of Perfection is a flavor home run that fits near-perfectly in a Wizard tribal deck, though it does encourage you to include a fair number of instant or sorcery cards in your deck. Now, if you know me, you know it is entirely in character for me to build a Wizard deck that is stuffed to the gills with tribal cards and not a single, solitary instant or sorcery, but I love Docent of Perfection so much that I want to make sure I can transform it regularly.

Other Wizards

While searching for Wizards for consideration I ran across Siren Stormtamer. Without flash it’s not usually going to be something useful to copy with Inalla’s eminence, but the card is just so strong in Commander (and it’s the right creature type) that I think it deserves a slot.

Wizard Mentor seems like a nifty Wizard way to bring other Wizards back to your hand so you can get another round of eminence copying.

Reuse Those Wizards!

Speaking of Wizard Mentor, there are bunches of other cards we can add to the deck that will let us reuse Inalla’s eminence. Riptide Laboratory brings them back to our hand, Conjurer’s Closet blinks them, and Panharmonicon squeezes out extra triggered abilities. Phyrexian Reclamation is always welcome in a black creature deck, but I really like the sweet utility of Soul Manipulation and Kolaghan’s Command to bring back dead Wizards for another go-around.


You can blame these on Docent of Perfection! To be fair, it would certainly seem odd not to have a fair number of counterspells in a Wizard deck on flavor grounds. While I am not the biggest fan of counterspells around, I cannot lie—I am so looking forward to countering a big splashy spell with Spell Swindle and getting tons of Treasures!


Grixis is good at removal, so let us make sure to include plenty of it here. I think the one-for-one removal is particularly good for this deck; since Inalla lets you grind out value in other ways, you can afford to burn off pinpoint removal to handle individual threats and still have plenty of gas.

I added Tsabo’s Decree, a card that I think gains a lot of cachet in the current metagame since tribal has been pushed so hard with Commander 2017 and Ixalan. It is a little more “fair” than Kindred Dominance and instant speed can be quite handy.

Good Stuff

I will round the deck out with some “good stuff” inclusions. Skullclamp goes into just about anything anyway but seems particularly good for exchanging our small Wizard copies for two cards. Inalla’s eminence is mana-hungry, so we will naturally want Sol Ring, Fellwar Stone, and Mind Stone.

Supplant Form is a fun card I would like to try out in this deck. While it is obviously great for bouncing and copying the table’s biggest threat, I think it could also do some heavy lifting in this deck bouncing and copying your own Wizards, especially if you have a bunch of mana. Imagine targeting Dire Fleet Ravager with this and having an extra mana for eminence—assuming you’ve already hit everyone’s life total for a third and a third, this would be another third and third, and potentially another third and third when you untap and cast Dire Fleet Ravager again.

And finally, one of the first rules of blue decks in Commander: do not leave home without your Time Stop. It will save your bacon sometimes when nothing else could!

Here is the full list including the lands:

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 11-21-2017
Magic Card Back

Wow, doesn’t this look like a lot of fun? Making copies of creatures with sweet abilities is one of my all-time favorite things to do in Magic and this one does it better than just about anything I have seen. What do you think? How would you do things differently? Is there any must-have that I overlooked?

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visionary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Konda, Lord of Eiganjo ( The Indestructibles)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius ( new player-friendly)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Progenitus (

Fist of Suns and Bringers


Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)

Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)