There are some legendary creatures out there that are just impossible to build around. How could you build a deck around Brothers Yamazaki or Hazduhr the
Abbot? Where would you even start?
I began building a series of articles doing just that.
I started with the difficult Mannichi, the Fevered Dream
. From there I moved to legendary creatures that aren’t exactly on anyone’s Who’s Who List of Useful Commanders.
I solicited feedback on potential commanders for future Impossible Commander projects. Most of the ones I’ve run since were put on my radar by you!
Today we have an unusual challenge. After I wrote my first article, I began to jot down all of the fun impossible commander suggestions you gave. Dean
Williams suggested Iname As One.
Iname As One. Let that sink in a bit.
Our good combined Iname has quite a few issues. First, it costs twelve mana to play the first time. Iname comes down so late that you have to accept that
some games, you might not be able to cast your commander at all. Are you willing to embrace that? And remember, each time you have Iname head back
to the great Command Zone in the sky, it costs another two mana to bring it back out. That’s going to get prohibitively expensive really quickly.
So, if you commit to Iname, it’s a huge mana commitment. Iname as One is the most expensive (legal) commander for EDH (Emrakul is banned). So what do you
get for your dozen mana?
Firstly, you get am 8/8 creature. Wait, is that it? No trample, no flying, no lifelink, no other combat abilities? Nope! But you do get a pair of triggers:
one when it arrives and one when it dies.
Now, the arrival trigger only works if it is played from your hand. You probably don’t need me to tell you that the Command Zone doesn’t count as your
hand. So unless you bounce Iname back to your hand and play it, you won’t get the trigger. That means you would have to pay twelve mana for Iname, find a
way to self bounce in black/green, and then pay another twelve mana in order to get its trigger. All it would do is search your library for a single spirit
creature and drop it into play on your side. While that’s not bad, for twelve mana, you might as well play Tooth and Nail with entwine, save yourself three
mana, and get two creatures for your trouble, and neither are required to be of a certain tribe.
So what about this death trigger it has? Well, if it dies, you can instead exile it and grab a spirit from your graveyard and drop it onto the battlefield.
That’s not bad either. Again, it feels a bit pricey in mana, but you do get the death trigger. From Gatherer’s rulings over at Wizards of the Coast’s own
In a Commander game, you may send Iname to the Command Zone instead of exiling it during the resolution of its ability. If you do, its ability still
works. Iname’s ability only requires that you attempted to exile it, not that it actually gets to the exile zone.
So you do get the death trigger over and over again. Iname has that going for it. But yeah, not much elsewhere.
So let’s build a more flavorful Iname deck, and see where it can take us!
- 1 Kodama of the South Tree
- 1 Lifespinner
- 1 Kyoki, Sanity's Eclipse
- 1 Harbinger of Spring
- 1 Forked-Branch Garami
- 1 Will-o'-the-Wisp
- 1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
- 1 Hermit Druid
- 1 Thief of Hope
- 1 Kuro, Pitlord
- 1 Kodama of the North Tree
- 1 Iname, Life Aspect
- 1 Iname, Death Aspect
- 1 He Who Hungers
- 1 Hana Kami
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Graveborn Muse
- 1 Krovikan Horror
- 1 Spirit of the Night
- 1 Avenging Druid
- 1 Arashi, the Sky Asunder
- 1 Elder Pine of Jukai
- 1 Haru-Onna
- 1 Iname as One
- 1 Kagemaro, First to Suffer
- 1 Bloodghast
- 1 Adaptive Automaton
- 1 Satyr Wayfinder
- 1 Soul of New Phyrexia
- 1 Sickening Shoal
- 1 Horobi's Whisper
- 1 Baku Altar
- 1 Urza's Incubator
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Whirlwind
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Wear Away
- 1 Swallowing Plague
- 1 Soulless Revival
- 1 Rend Flesh
- 1 Long-Forgotten Gohei
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Kodama's Might
- 1 Honden of Life's Web
- 1 Buried Alive
- 1 Patriarch's Bidding
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Phyrexian Arena
- 1 Explosive Vegetation
- 1 Tranquil Grove
- 1 Belbe's Portal
- 1 Death Denied
- 1 Door of Destinies
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Jarad's Orders
- 1 Tempt with Immortality
- 1 Peregrination
- 1 Nissa's Expedition
- 1 Obelisk of Urd
- 1 Bitter Revelation
And there you are! What I did was push the spirit flavor of Iname to the max, and then Iname is a placeholder to give us a Golgari-fueled leader who can
still come out of the beyond and drop some size before heading back and raising another to take its place.
In order to do that, we need mana, and lots of it. I don’t like mana rocks for this deck as much as I do for others, since they have a tendency to die to
sweeping removal sooner or later. This usually happens long before you can get Iname online. So I’m running just Sol Ring to get us set up, and then
Darksteel Ingot because it will survive that mass removal. Instead we are fueling a ton of land acceleration for your Iname-serving spirits. Lots of land
fetching is here to help you out. No worries there, right?
And the great thing is that you aren’t trying to break the game in half with your ramp deck. A lot of ramp strategies in Commander are built around
dropping Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Blightsteel Colossus, Avenger of Zendikar, or Avacyn, Angel of Hope. Nope, that’s not you! You aren’t even running Body
of Jukai or Thousand-legged Kami. It’s just all about Iname as One. Shoot, if someone thinks your ramping is dangerous, hand them your deck! Do they see
Staff of Domination? No? Just a bunch of tribal enablers, mana making, arcane spells, and spirits. It’s the perfect example of a “fair” ramp deck.
Let’s begin with the arcane spells. We can use these to trigger various creatures (and the Baku Altar as well) that do something when you play either that
arcane spell or a spirit dork. Might as well do the arcane thing, right? So you can add in a Naturalize (Wear Away), creature removal (Rend Flesh, Horobi’s
Whisper, Swallowing Plague, Sickening Shoal), a key ramp spell (Kodama’s Reach), some graveyard recursion (Death Denied, Soulless Revival), and a random
Kodama’s Might. That’s a flexible suite of spells that give you a lot of options, as well as some fun splicing potential.
Now, since Iname as One has some graveyard recursion built in, let’s explore that space. It also dovetails with the soulshift that a lot of spirits have,
so let’s find ways to get critters into that yard. I began by looking at a vital trio of cheap green creatures that will accelerate your lands while also
getting the goods into your graveyard – Satyr Wayfinder, Hermit Druid, and Avenging Druid. They work well at playing multiple roles in this deck. (See
also: Bitter Revelation, Jarad’s Orders, Buried Alive.)
We have our marching orders from Iname, so let’s fill out the deck with enough spirits to make things work. We can start with creatures that have a
powerful board presence, such as Kokusho, Kodama of the North Tree, and Kuro. But you know what? Let’s toss in all of those awesome spirits that will
enhance our synergy.
For example, take Kagemaro, First to Suffer. You can sacrifice it to sweep a bunch of smaller stuff right off the table. Plus, it can have some size to it
– it fits nicely, since you can sacrifice it and then bring it right on back. Similarly, take Arashi, the Sky Asunder. You can channel it to sweep the sky,
and it heads to your ‘yard to get pulled back out. Or you can just play it as a 5/5 for five mana that’ll tap and Blaze a flyer. Either way, it fits.
There are a lot of spirits that play this game nicely. He Who Hungers can sacrifice a spirit to Coercion someone, and it has soulshift for when it dies.
Meanwhile, Krovikan Horror can self-recur and brings another sacrifice outlet to the battlefield. (Check out Bloodghast as well while we are on a
We have strong early plays, like Elder Pine of Jukai and my favorite one-drop spirit of all time, Hana Kami. If you didn’t play during Champions Block,
hopefully Modern Masters gave you a new appreciation for how strong Hana Kami can be. In a deck like this one, every creature that has soulshift can bring
back that Hana Kami, and then you can swap it for your best dead arcane spell. It’s downright sexy. (Speaking of one-drop spirits that are awesome, check
The Elder Pine leads me to some useful spiritcraft triggers. Kodama of the South Tree will pump your whole team in a mini-Overrun style. Feel free to toss
in Thief of Hope and other friends. You could add in Kami of the Waning Moon or the Kirin if you wanted (Infernal Kirin, Bounteous Kirin).
Next up are some solid spirits that really aren’t in the other categories but are useful anyway. Yes, it’s an expensive 2/1 for five mana, but Harbinger of
Spring has protection from pretty much any creature out there. So it can block any creature or swing through virtually any defense. Plus it has soulshift,
so when it dies, you can get another dork from it. Forked-Branch Garami has the awesome double soulshift, so it’s a fun bit of card advantage.
Toss in Lifespinner to sac some spirits to fetch up a big one and drop it. (Might I suggest either Kuro, Pitlord or Spirit of the Night, based on your
board position?) From Kyoki to Graveborn Muse, there’s a lot here to recommend.
There aren’t a lot of traditional spirit lords out there. They usually do more clever things that merely pump the team. So let’s add in cards that pump the
team! Long-Forgotten Gohei is the only one we can run, so let’s make some lords with Adaptive Automaton and Obelisk of Urd. You can reduce the cost of
everyone’s spirits with Urza’s Incubator and drop yours with Belbe’s Portal.
Next up are a few adjuncts that I felt the deck could use, such as a quick indestructible trick (from Soul of New Phyrexia), some spirit making (Honden of
Life’s Web, Baku Altar), and a few cards that do important things (Bojuka Bog fights graveyards, Volrath’s Stronghold adds to your recursion, more
sacrifice outlets, etc).
I hope that you enjoyed our flavorful deck. Why not give Iname and its ilk a lot of love the next time you are building that Commander deck? What are some
other cards you’d like to consider?
Appendix – Here are some other possibilities that came close to making the cut: