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The Aspect of Life


When looking through Golgari commanders this week, I had this wonderful idea. Iname as One may not be the ideal commander since its first ability won’t trigger from the command zone, but Iname wasn’t always one. Back in Champions of Kamigawa, the legendary Spirit was two.

Iname, Death Aspect
Iname, Life Aspect

I would write about each as a separate commander, but the decks would play so well together that shuffling them together into an unwieldy B/G deck would play just fine. Last week, I wrote about The Aspect of Death, and everything was going smoothly. There was only one problem. The Life Aspect didn’t excite me.

I mean, sure, you can Regrowth a lot of guys, but Creeping Renaissance doesn’t have many cool, unexplored synergies; it just leads to repetitive gameplay. Nevertheless, I settled down to search through ways to sacrifice and discard creatures within the green color identity.

Bringing Your Work to Life

Well, everyone, it turns out Mark Rosewater is right: Restrictions do breed creativity. If you haven’t thought of a way to build an interesting Iname, Life Aspect deck . . . have you considered mono-green storm?

"The Cycle of Life"

  • Commander (0)

Okay, it’s not quite storm, but not because it couldn’t be. Iname needs to die in order to trigger, but unlike, say, Keiga, the Tide Star, it then exiles itself so you can both benefit from the trigger and put the card back in the command zone. I don’t want my opponents sitting around for ten minutes while I go off, but if your friends don’t mind, you could pack in more cheap Spirits and play Concordant Crossroads along with these fine kill conditions:

Kami of the Hunt
Scaled Hulk

Hunting Pack
Coat of Arms

I’m content just to draw cards:

Primordial Sage
Soul of the Harvest

Pretty much any deck with the ability to draw a lot of cards and produce a lot of mana is going to be powerful in Commander, but normally, mono-green decks are a little bit lacking in the card-draw department. I end up playing Soul of the Harvest and Primordial Sage in most of my green decks anyway, but with Iname, they’ll often be drawing fifteen cards apiece instead of the usual three or four.

On the off chance that you aren’t going off, the deck is still filled with a bunch of big attackers that recur one another when they die, but that’s not a pot you’re likely to be stuck in. I can dream up plenty of scenarios in which you cast twenty spells from an empty hand, but instead, I’ll let the gameplay speak for itself.

The Game of Life

Clustering around our virtual table each of us unveiled our commanders.

Iname, Life Aspect
Asmira, Holy Avenger
Reaper King
Dromar, the Banisher

Reaper King won the die roll, and we were off to the races. After three of us dropped basic lands, Asmira pulled into a definitive lead with Horizon Canopy, Mox Diamond, and Mind Stone. Nobody else made a play except for my lone Loam Dweller before Asmira played a second land and entered the fray for herself. Playing innocuous commanders served Dromar and me well when Asmira discovered her Angelic Destiny but went after Reaper King even though he’d missed his third land drop, Dromar had played a Coalition Relic, and I’d brought in Altar of Dementia.

Reaper King cast both Abundant Growth and Elvish Pioneer in an effort to work his mana out, and then Dromar established himself as a threat by dropping a Golgari Thug and Body Snatcher, pitching a deadly beastie.

Trench Gorger

I used Sylvan Scrying to find Gaea's Cradle, but Asmira, Holy Avenger nonetheless went straight for Reaper King, knocking him down to 28 life before laying down Sword of Light and Shadow.

Reaper King continued his mana development with Farseek but had nothing to impact the board, while Dromar suspiciously passed his turn despite having enough mana to bring in his draconic commander. I contented myself to grow Gaea's Cradle by casting Lifespinner. Asmira’s turn rolled back around, and she swung at the Scarecrow again, but she didn’t equip Sword of Light and Shadow and proceeded not to cast any spells. Weird!

Reaper King finally had enough, and he entered the battlefield along with a Heap Doll that ate Asmira for breakfast. Dromar cast Rune-Scarred Demon, I brought down Arashi, the Sky Asunder (making Lifespinner active), and Asmira cast Sigil of the Empty Throne. Reaper King played a Centaur Healer and then decided to get back at Asmira, attacking her for 6 damage. And then Dromar decided that playtime was over.

Avacyn, Angel of Hope

I brought out Iname, and Asmira played Bramble Elemental, but Reaper King immediately let loose a Shell Skulkin to kill the Elemental and attacked Asmira down to 26. Talk about a Vendetta! At this point, both Dromar and I came to the conclusion that we’d do best to let them fight it out, so Rune-Scarred Demon took a bite out of my face . . . or it would have, had it not secretly been a Ninja in disguise!

Silent-Blade Oni

I grudgingly showed Dromar my hand:

Jugan, the Rising Star
Genesis Wave
Regal Force
Mana Reflection

The sneaky Demon predictably snagged my 6-mana enchantment, and I was left with a dismantled game plan. Only one solution for it: Time to Genesis Wave for a measly 7.

Tranquil Thicket

Patron of the Orochi
Cloud Key
Thousand-legged Kami
Bounteous Kirin

Normally, hitting two cards too big to cast would be a disappointment, but given that I could bring them back at will with Iname, things didn’t seem so bad.

Asmira decided that my board and Reaper King’s had to go, and she cast Austere Command hitting all creatures. I responded by sacrificing my three smallest Spirits with Lifespinner to find Myojin of Life's Web and then milling myself for seventeen by sacrificing the rest to Altar of Dementia before finally regrowing eight Spirits by sacrificing Iname.

Unfortunately, Avacyn kept Dromar’s army safe from harm, but I was at 34 life, and Dromar only had 17 power on the board; barring True Conviction, I should have been fine.

Magister Sphinx

. . . or not. Being an obvious threat isn’t always the best idea, but then again, given one more turn, I would have done some pretty crazy stuff.

Casting and activating Myojin of Life's Web would give me a full board along with Regal Force, and given that the upcoming twelve cards contained Glimpse of Nature and I still would have had Gaea's Cradle untapped . . . Well, if you want to find out how that would’ve ended, you’ll have to play the deck for yourself.

Coming Full Circle

While things didn’t quite work out this time, Iname is certainly capable of making exciting plays. Building this deck has made me more excited about Commander brewing than I’ve been in a while, so I’d definitely recommend trying it out, but on top of that, I’d recommend setting some restrictions on yourself when deck-building. Who knows what sort of brilliant solutions you’ll think up?

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