Meet The Nalaars!

Don’t let Chandra steal all the spotlight! Bennie Smith provides a place for the rest of the Nalaar household to show off at your next Commander session!

#GPAtlanta October 7-9!

“To invent is to rebel.” Pia Nalaar

What’s neat about the Kaladesh storyline is that it’s driven by a sense of family. Chandra hears Jace talking with a planeswalker from her home plane while they are hanging out in Ravnica, and impulsively decides to go to Kaladesh. The last time she was there she was just a kid, and her parents died trying to protect her. That’s when her spark ignited and she planeswalked away. Then she finds out that her mother, Pia Nalaar, actually did not die and in fact Pia thought Chandra had died, along with her husband and Chandra’s father, Kiran Nalaar. The emotional reunion was cut short by Pia’s capture at the hands of the Consulate, the people responsible for killing Kiran. In what we’ve read so far, Chandra’s been busy trying to track down and rescue Pia.

The card Pia Nalaar is a pretty simple design, riffing on the card Pia and Kiran Nalaar from Magic Origins. While I don’t think building a Commander deck maximizing her abilities is going to be high on the power scale compared to many other legendary creatures – though I think she’s better than she looks at first glance — I do think she makes a compelling choice to build around in terms of flavor. There aren’t too many legends in Magic where motherhood is a prominent part of her identity, much less being the mother of one of the main characters in Magic’s storyline! Our Pia Nalaar deck would certainly include many cards featuring Chandra or Chandra’s spirit, reflecting how proud Pia would be of her daughter now that she knows she’s alive and no doubt wants to hear all about her adventures.

That said, in the years since the death of her husband and (she thought) her daughter, Pia has blazed an impressive path for herself as the leader of a fairly large resistance movement on Kaladesh. She’s an impressive Artificer in her own right, so our Pia Nalaar deck should reflect that side of her as well. Hopefully we can strike a good balance between being the mother of one of the Gatewatch and being her own kick-butt self.

“At last, the infamous Pia Nalaar.” — Tezzeret

Pia Nalaar

First we’ve got Pia Nalaar, Artificer! Ashnod’s Transmogrant and Liquimetal Coating can make her an artifact creature so she can take advantage of her own Firebreathing ability. Inventor’s Goggles are a slam-dunk inclusion for Pia, and a fair number of other Artificers are in the deck as well. Illusionist’s Bracers is stretching the theme a little bit, but I figured she’d view it as a cool artifact to collect that happens to double up her abilities.

Spark of Creativity and Welding Sparks sport some rocking Pia Nalaar quotes.

And then there’s Pia and Kiran Nalaar. When they were young, in love, and life was good. What a good-looking couple. Sniff. Someone hand me a hanky…

“Show them. Show them how hot your fire can burn.” Liliana Vess


Here we’ve got baby Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh before tragedy strikes and ignites her spark. We’ve also got the numerous other iterations of Chandra, and there have been quite a few! I figured we should play with a bunch of them so we can pretty much have a version of Chandra out there with Pia fairly often. I didn’t include Chandra, Pyrogenius because I didn’t want to cast that version and then draw a good version that I wouldn’t want to play. Maybe that’s a little harsh on Chandra, Pyrogenius. Should I include it for completion’s sake?

A lot of the Chandra planeswalker cards have “instant or sorcery”-matters abilities, so I’ll be running a fair number of those in the deck, and in keeping with the spirit of Chandra, most of them will be dishing out damage!

Chandra also has a lot of named spells that play nicely with the cards we’ll be wanting to play. With all the planeswalker versions of Chandra, Oath of Chandra is likely to trigger for us a couple of times in the game. For flavor text goodness, I’m including Foundry of the Consuls, Circle of Flame, Flames of the Firebrand, Ravaging Blaze, and Fall of the Titans. Check out the flavor text on Fall of the Titans—can you imagine Pia Nalaar hearing about her daughter’s role in that story? Wow!

Ghirapur is a beacon of inspiration, attracting the most brilliant minds on Kaladesh.

Home (Kaladesh)

There’s no place like home, and the Nalaars call Kaladesh home. Ghirapur Aether Grid does some cool things with the artifacts we’re wanting to play, and then we’ve got three Artificers who provide us with some nice artifact synergies. Quicksmith Genius can help keep the gas flowing if we keep drawing too many lands that we’d rather trade off for spells.

Thopter Engineer is so close to Pia Nalaar, I’d say maybe she was Pia’s apprentice? Or her best bud? Classmates?

“I hope to meet Jaya Ballard someday. I think we’d get along.” Chandra Nalaar

Sorceries and Instants Matter

Young Pyromancer and a lot of the Chandra cards play nicely with instants and sorceries, so I’ve included some with buyback to help insure we can do that over and over. Haze of Rage plays beautifully with all the token creatures Young Pyromancer generates, no? Pyromancer’s Goggles loves copying our instants and sorceries too, and Pyromancer’s Gauntlet makes all our burn spells (and Chandra planeswalker abilities) burn all that much hotter! Dragon’s Claw and Staff of the Flame Magus give us some incidental life along the way, which might be useful, since our opponents aren’t likely taking getting burned sitting down.

“They say Head Judge Tezzeret will be reviewing every invention at the Fair. I made sure to build something that will stand out.” Jehvani, Vahadar artificer

Artifacts Matter

Pia is an Artificer, so we want a fair number of artifacts along with cards that care about artifacts. A lot of those are also Artificers – Goblin Welder; Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer; Reckless Fireweaver; and Feldon of the Third Path. I guess Feldon doesn’t really care about artifacts, but he makes artifact creatures which play well with what we’ve got going on here. He’s particularly fun with Goblin Welder shenanigans. Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient is a bit of a sore thumb here on Kaladesh, but I figure if Tezzeret can show up for his own nefarious purposes, then Kurkesh can come here and pal around with Pia doing cool things with Liquimetal Coating.

Journeyer’s Kite and Scroll Rack make a great combination that allows a pretty good churn through your cards.

Skullclamp is particularly good in this deck, since we should have no problem generating random 1/1 Thopters that can easily be cashed in for two cards.

And since we’re on the topic of Liquimetal Coating… how about Hellkite Tyrant for fun?

“The fires of invention burn in all of us. I fight for the freedom to unleash those flames.”Pia Nalaar

Burn Baby Burn

Some people just want to see the world burn, and Chandra has certainly held that attitude once or twice in her life. I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently who loves Commander and he insisted Lightning Bolt was perfectly fine for Commander. I was a little dubious, but you know what? If any deck is going to rock a Lightning Bolt, this is it. I also wanted to pepper in some burn that had the potential to dish out a lot of damage, like Impact Resonance and Sudden Impact or Runeflare Trap. Wild Ricochet and Radiate have the potential of doing some cool things too.

And if there was ever a card that embodies Chandra’s outlook on life, I think Inferno would be that card!

Okay, wow—there are a lot of different things going on, but I think it pulled together not half badly! This is Pia Nalaar’s life and life is sometimes messy. It would be pretty easy to make a Pia Nalaar deck quite similar to Commander decks built around Feldon of the Third Path or Daretti, Scrap Savant, but I think this one satisfies on the flavor level quite nicely. Here’s what I’ve got:

Pia Nalaar
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 10-07-2016
Magic Card Back

You know, it occurs to me that if Pia Nalaar ever gets rescued and lives happily ever after, she ought to get some other Artificer moms, make some funky and weird musical instruments, and go on tour as The Mothers of Invention.

So how would you go about building a deck around Pia Nalaar? Are there any great cards I missed? Any super-flavorful additions that I should have in here?

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)

#GPAtlanta October 7-9!