“I kinda want to make mono-blue Inalla.”

This sentence popped up towards the end of a conversation I was having with friends about the new commander spoilers. One of my former roommates had been trying to decide how he wanted to build a deck around Inalla, Archmage Ritualist, mostly going back and forth between trying to find legitimate win conditions for Wizard tribal and trying to piece together an artifact toolbox deck around the cornerstones of copied Trinket, Trophy, and Treasure Mages.

We got more than halfway through the conversation before he mentioned he didn’t even really want black and red in certain builds of the deck, being more interested in abusing value from Inalla’s copy ability than utilizing her burn for seven ability. We didn’t ever settle on a decklist, but it did get me thinking. Since the eminence commanders have a huge effect even when you don’t cast them, it’s possible to make a deck around them dropping some number of the possible colors. It might be a bit gimmicky, but let’s go through all the eminence commanders and talk about the options.

Arahbo, Roar of the World

Let’s start with the one with the least reason to trim down the colors. Arahbo, Roar of the World’s eminence ability is extraordinarily powerful, but mono-white cats already have several relevant commanders and mono-green doesn’t have enough depth to justify a full deck. Even if there was, Jedit Ojaren of Efevra would probably be the better choice.

The Ur-Dragon

This option really intrigues me. Last time I spoke about how The Ur-Dragon gives a dragon deck access to a frighteningly aggressive curve, and Dragons as a tribe are so heavily slanted towards red that there’s potential for a terrifying aggressive deck. The main problem with that plan is that The Ur-Dragon’s body and attack trigger are so powerful that leaving him in the command zone is a pretty harsh downside. It might be possible to play a deck heavily skewed towards red and still cast him reliably off mana rocks and a fetch/shock/dual land base, or maybe stick with straight Red/Green for the maindeck and include Chromatic Lantern and Prismatic Omen to get your commander out.

Edgar Markov

Edgar Markov is the easiest commander to see why you’d want to ditch a color for, as there’s only nine even partially white vampires in existence, and they’re mechanically all over the place. For that matter about half of them count as draft fodder. Red/Black is most likely a much stronger aggressive deck, and anyone who’s played with Lys Alana Huntmaster knows exactly how strong Edgar’s eminence ability is. The main problem with this is that is that you’re competing against Olivia Voldaren as the commander, and I don’t think Edgar’s quite that strong if you aren’t planning to cast him. He is currently the best choice to lead a mono-red vampire deck, and we’re only a few good creatures away from that being a serious option.

[Editor’s note: Ixalan spoilers leaked yesterday which might be relevant to this discussion. You can read our coverage here.]

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist is the commander that inspired this discussion to start with. Inalla is the most tempting eminence commander to try cutting one or more colors from, as the vast majority of her power comes from her copy ability. As a five mana 4/5 with no combat abilities she isn’t really a relevant presence on the battlefield, and her ability to tap five wizards to dome an opponent for seven can be replaced with any other win condition, especially since a blue-based wizard deck should be able to dig towards whatever cards they want over the course of a game. I think that mono-blue, blue-black, and blue-red all have very strong options here, and Inalla gives each version of the deck an absurd amount of value by doubling up on enters the battlefield triggers. The biggest issue with a deck like this is actually the same problem that a full Grixis Inalla deck runs into, as wizards as a tribe want to function more as a supporting frame for another subset of cards (artifacts, spells, etc) than as game-ending threats themselves. Because of that, finding the correct balance for any given deck is much harder than with most tribes.

Honorable Mention—Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is a few years old at this point and he doesn’t technically have eminence, but it’s pretty obvious that the Giant Soldier inspired the mechanic. So let’s talk about Oloro. I’ve played against quite a few Oloro decks over the years, and honestly it’s very rare to actually see him cast. Even when it does happen he’s kinda just there, and rarely does more than draw one or two cards before getting wrathed away or chump blocking. By contrast, gaining two life a turn most often has a massive impact on games. Usually he’s there to pad the life total of an Esper control deck, but if we’re interested in building around his lifegain trigger blue becomes a bit superfluous. Black and especially white have all sorts of lifegain matters cards, and leaning heavily into that theme add a ton of value to black’s willingness to use life as a resource. On the other hand Blue has no mechanical connection to the ability—it just appreciates the fact that he stalls for a few turns worth of time for minimal effort. At the helm of a dedicated Orzhov deck Oloro can really shine.

If you want one of your decks to be featured in a future column, send the list to [email protected], along with a brief description of what problems your deck is having, what budget you have to work with and any other factors you want me to consider.

Levi Byrne has been with the game since Worldwake and has a rabid love for fantasy writing that goes back decades. Despite some forays into Legacy he plays Commander almost exclusively, and has a love for the crazy plays and huge games that make Magic what it is. He was the go-to advisor of his playgroup on deck construction for more than five years before joining Dear Azami.

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