I really love what Studio X of Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has been doing with red in recent years when it comes to Commander. Red’s big superpower is dishing out damage very efficiently, and while that works great in competitive duel formats where people start the game with twenty life, that really doesn’t translate well in a multiplayer format like Commander where you have multiple opponents who start the game with 40 life. Imodane, the Pyrohammer is clearly designed to address the problem!
Red has a lot of ways to deal damage to individual creatures and is pretty good at killing all but the most sizeable of creatures, but tossing away your cards in a one-for-one exchange with creatures can leave you without much gas in the tank. Imodane addresses that problem by translating each of those pinpoint damage spells into damage for each of your opponents. A Lightning Bolt that pops off a potent commander and also dishes three damage to each opponent is going to feel like a great use of one red mana.
Let’s dive in!
Fire Prophecy and Volcanic Spit are sweet for smoothing out your hand; if you have too many lands, you can put one on the bottom of your library and draw a card, and if you are short of lands, you can put an expensive spell on the bottom of your library and draw closer to another land. I like the flexibility of Abrade, which can kill a problematic artifact early on, but later on, when Imodane is stalking the battlefield, it can deal three damage to all of your opponents.
Impact Resonance has a chance to steal victory out of nowhere if an opponent has some massive creature like Lord of Extinction that’s terrorizing the battlefield. If Lord of Extinction deals combat damage, you can use Impact Resonance to hit a creature – maybe Lord of Extinction itself – for X damage, where X is equal to the number of cards in all graveyards, and oh, by the way, Imodane will also deal that damage to each of your opponents. Now that is bringing the heat!
Shivan Meteor is so over the top with damage that you’d almost never run it in Commander unless you really need to deal with the various flavors of Ghalta (a 12/12 Dinosaur), but in this deck it’s a powerhouse card, capable of blasting over 25% of your opponents’ life totals.
Hammer of Bogardan is another flavor consideration, with Ron Spencer’s art really showing off that flaming hammer!
These damage doublers (and in two cases, damage triplers) do a lot of heavy lifting in this deck; first, the damage dealt to a creature will be doubled, and then the damage that Imodane deals will also be doubled.
It blows my mind that there are not one but two enchantments now that triple the damage your deck dishes out, with Fiery Emancipation and City on Fire. If you’ve got room for only one, make sure you choose City on Fire for that sweet flaming hammer in Jake Murray’s art!
Instant or Sorcery Matters
Imodane doesn’t do anything if you’re not casting instant or sorcery spells, so any Imodane deck is going to have a significant number of them. As a consequence, we might want to pepper in more cards that care about it, especially cards like Frantic Firebolt and Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor that can dish out damage to a creature. I also think Arcane Bombardment is pretty close to a must-include, since it can quickly snowball and lead to a huge, fiery turn with tons of damage getting slung around. I also really like Pyromancer’s Goggles as both a mana ramp artifact and a way to copy your direct damage spells.
Since Imodane herself is what dishes damage to your opponents, giving her lifelink can give your life total a huge boost over time. Shadowspear is the most efficient for this and has the added benefit of stripping away hexproof and indestructible from your opponents’ creatures for just one mana and opening them up to dying to your burn spells. But it’s also quite expensive to pick up if you don’t already have one, so Basilisk Collar and Loxodon Warhammer provide cheaper options. Once you’ve got plenty of mana, Witch’s Clinic makes a nice option, as does Resurrection Orb, which can double as protection for your commander from destroy effects.
A mono-red deck is naturally going to be playing a bunch of basic Mountain cards, so we might want to include some cards that care about that. Spitting Earth and Seismic Strike are perfect, since they both deal damage to a creature equal to the number of Mountains you control and scale up the longer the game goes and the more Mountains you have. Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle doesn’t exactly synergize with your basic strategy, but later in the game, once you control at least five other Mountains, each one you play will let you deal three damage to any target, which can help combine with a damage spell to kill off a larger creature or simply dish out the last three damage to take out an opponent.
There are other cards that are more powerful in mono-color decks you might want to include, with War Room being an excellent one—card draw attached to a land is an excellent mana sink to help ensure you get the most from your mana each turn. Commander’s Plate can help protect Imodane from many of the most popular pinpoint removal spells and will often let you rumble past blockers.
I wrote a recent article regarding the new cards from the Eldrazi Unbound Commander deck released this year that offers up some powerful colorless mana cards you can easily unlock in monocolor decks, and while none of them really push forward our gameplan of dealing damage to creatures, some of the spells can plug some strategic holes the deck might have, so check it out if you haven’t already.
More than other Commander decks, this one will burn through cards at a pretty good clip, so you’ll want to play ways to refill the hand like Magus of the Wheel and Reforge the Soul. Wheel of Misfortune will (usually) refill your hand, while also potentially dealing damage to an opponent along the way, and every little bit of damage helps.
Coveted Jewel should do good work here since you have ways of destroying blockers and clearing the way for stealing the Jewel back when someone takes it from you. I like the “hot potato” aspect of the card here, and I think encouraging attacking and combat damage helps push our overall gameplan.
I like Valakut Awakening in this deck as a land drop early in the game, but later on, if you need to dig for better cards, you can sift away less useful cards to draw.
Brash Taunter and Stuffy Doll are awesome here, giving you a target for big damage spells that will piggyback off Imodane’s damage dealing; imagine smashing Brash Taunter with Shivan Meteor, dealing thirteen damage to each opponent, and then another thirteen damage to an opponent from Brash Taunter’s ability.
Neheb, the Eternal is bonkers in this deck; for one mana during your precombat main phase, cast Lightning Bolt on a creature, deal three to each opponent, and Neheb will give you a whopping nine red mana on at the beginning of your postcombat main phase. Radiant Performer also does silly things by targeting a burn spell.
Fall of Cair Andros will likely amass Orcs quite a bit in this deck and could very well be worth a slot. Imodane won’t do anything with Fall’s activated ability, but you could use it to deal seven damage to your own Brash Taunter, or just clear away a big blocker or cut down a threatening attacker.
I like Birgi, God of Storytelling here, since it can give you extra mana when you cast Imodane and hopefully let you cast a burn spell so that you can get immediate value from Imodane’s ability.
Give Creatures to Opponents
It occurred to me that sometimes you might not have a good target for your burn spells with Imodane on the battlefield, so you might consider running a couple of ways to give an opponent creatures you can then target with burn, like Akroan Horse or Goblin Spymaster.
Imodane is a Human Knight, so I went looking for cards available to mono-red that might care about the creature types, but I didn’t really find anything other than Butcher’s Cleaver, which is strictly worse than Loxodon Warhammer. If you want a virtual second copy of Loxodon Warhammer, however, the Cleaver is certainly a budget lifelink option for Imodane.
What cards do you think will be awesome with Imodane, the Pyrohammer that I overlooked? How many burn spells do you think would be a good amount for this deck?
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And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy.
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