100 Points for Gryffindor: Powering up Wizards

Greetings, my fellow Commander lovers. Now that the brand new feel of your Commander 2017 decks has settled in, it’s time to discuss some upgrades to your precons. Out with the bad and boring—in with the excellent and exciting! Let’s get to it!

“You’re a Wizard, Inalla.”

You may have guessed by now that today’s article will be breaking down the Arcane Wizardry preconstructed Commander 2017 deck. Although there are three new generals included in this precon, today I will only be breaking down one, Inalla, Archmage Ritualist. In the future, I will be happy to discuss Kess, who is also deserving of her very own article. But first, let’s check out the one who wasn’t accepted into the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year.

Boy, is that a great ability with Griselbrand. Wait… what do you mean Griselbrand is banned in EDH? Well, rightfully so I guess, but that’s a bummer. Mairsil has plenty of potentially sweet combos with cards like Aetherling, Arcanis the Omnipotent, and Tree of Perdition, but it’s not my favorite of the Commanders from this precon simply because of how powerful the other two options are. There is so much to explore with Mairsil, and I’d be pretending if I said I’d never revisit this general.

Arcane Wizardry

The Wizard tribal precon is my favorite of the 4 Commander 2017 decks because of its interesting generals and because, well, blue. What’s so wrong with that?

This article is full of suggestions to enhance your deck, and the suboptimal cards to cut to pave the way. If a card is out of your budget, no worries—simply move on to another suggestion.

Inalla is a powerful general with the ability to generate token value the likes of which would make even green and white jealous. The catch is that the tokens leave at the end of the turn. Not an issue—it just means that you will have to take advantage of enters-the-battlefield triggers to get around that drawback. Oh yeah, and that amazing copying ability is an eminence ability. That means that you get to churn out value and fun even when Inalla isn’t on the battlefield. You’ll be showing your opponent the (Dumble)door before they know it.

Because of the copying ability, it shouldn’t be too common to have an Inalla deck run out of gas. As a result, you should focus on having a healthy amount of mana producers and rocks to make sure you hit land drops and can play a long game. Wizard synergy is a must, but you must still find a balance between creatures and spells to take advantage of all that both have to offer. Because Inalla’s “7 life loss” ability targets only a single opponent, it’s fair to assume that you should aim for a long game with this general.


Wanderwine Prophets

This article would be rubbish without at least mentioning the Prophets. As soon as Inalla was spoiled, the hive mind of Magic players saw the powerful, game-ending interaction with this innocuous Lorwyn Merfolk. Have you wondered why this bulk rare commands a $10+ price tag nowadays? You can thank Inalla for that, and this card is valuable to this deck. If you could make just one upgrade to your Wizard precon from all of Magic, this would be my suggestion. So how does it work? I’ll break it down below, but feel free to skip this part if you are already familiar with the combo. Caution—it’s a long one.

What you need:

  • Inalla in the command zone or battlefield
  • Cast (or cheat into play) Wanderwine Prophets with 3 additional permanent mana sources available.
  • An opponent at the table that has no creatures available to block, ensuring a connecting hit with the Prophets.

The steps:

  • Wanderwine Prophets enters the battlefield, place the champion trigger first and Inalla’s trigger second on the stack so that Inalla’s trigger resolves first. (The cost is 1 mana to make copy.)
  • You now have 2 Wanderwine Prophets: the original and a token. The new Wanderwine Prophets token now places another “champion a Merfolk” trigger on the stack. There is still the original champion trigger on the stack as well.
  • Since the new token’s champion trigger will resolve first, you do so exiling your original Wanderwine Prophets. Now you only have a token left in play with the original champion’s trigger still waiting to resolve.
  • Since “champion a Merfolk” is a “may” ability (or the card is sacrificed) you simply choose not to champion anything with the original Prophet’s champion trigger. The stack is now empty.
  • You attack the vulnerable player with the hasty Wanderwine Prophets token.
  • Now a new trigger goes on the stack: “Whenever Wanderwine Prophets deals combat damage to a player, you may sacrifice a Merfolk. If you do, take an extra turn after this one.” You will sacrifice the token to itself at this time to take an extra turn once this turn is over.
  • Once you sacrifice your token, your original Prophets returns to the battlefield which, yep, triggers Inalla and another “champion a Merfolk.”
  • Similar to the earlier steps, you pay the 1 mana for Inalla’s trigger, which makes a new token copy, exiling the original to the token’s champion trigger and letting the original’s trigger fizzle.
  • Now you end your turn (your next turn is about to begin). This triggers the Inalla token to be exiled.
  • The token leaving the battlefield returns your original Wanderwine Prophets to the battlefield which, once again, will trigger Inalla and a “champion a Merfolk.” (The cost is 1 mana to make copy.)
  • Same as before—you exile the original to the token and let the original champion’s trigger fizzle, since you have already passed the point where “end of turn” effects are checking whether the new token will survive until your next turn, which is about to begin.
  • On your new (extra) turn, attack with your token and let the fun being anew. Repeat the earlier steps.
  • Profit. Prophet? You get the idea.

All right, are you still with me? This combo still makes my Hed-Wig. Needless to say, some people prefer not to include infinite combos in their decks and that is perfectly fine. But for those who want to build an optimized Inalla deck, Wanderwine Prophets is wanderful.

Dualcaster Mage

I’m surprised Dualcaster Mage wasn’t included in the precon, but it is a slam dunk. Being as cheap as a few gumballs sure helps its case. Having a sweet spell to copy with the Mage’s enters-the-battlefield trigger automatically means that there will be something for his copy to create as well. I can see this card being hilarious and chaotic in an Inalla deck, so cheers to that.

Docent of Perfection

If your Inalla deck has a decent number of instants and sorceries to flip the Docent, it can be a potent add. There aren’t many cards that pump Wizards that are worthy of inclusion, but creating a few extra bodies here and there makes for decent value. Do note that Docent of Perfection itself isn’t a Wizard.

Venser, Shaper Savant

Trinket Mage and Trophy MageVenser has a stellar enters-the-battlefield trigger that even gets around uncounterable spells. There will always be a target for the token, even if there isn’t a second spell on the stack to bounce. His reprint in Modern Masters 2017 dropped his price by around 70%, so sign me up.

Stonybrook Banneret

By reducing the cost of your Wizards, this card virtually pays for Inalla’s tax by herself. Though a great addition, if your deck has less of a tribal and creature-dense focus (as many Inalla decks can have) you should still opt to play Signets or mana rocks in this slot.

Trinket Mage and Trophy Mage

These cards already have great enters-the-battlefield triggers, but historically it’s been difficult to take advantage of their bodies. Inalla can make use of them by offering you twice the value with multiple tutoring. Fetching up a Sol Ring and a Mana Crypt or a Sword of Feast and Famine and a Coalition Relic sounds like a great way to hog(warts) all the value.

Vedalken Aethermage

This is mostly a creature tutor that costs 3 and is uncounterable. Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor may be better, but those spells can’t bounce a Sliver Queen to their owner’s hand, can they? Didn’t think so.

AEther Adept

This is a strong tempo play that actually makes the cut with Inalla’s trigger. Spells like this wouldn’t without a way to abuse them.


We all have that friend with the $2,000 mana base. Dual lands, fetches, shocks, filterlands, Gaea’s Cradle—you name it. Show them their hubris when they suddenly lose a huge chunk of their life total from this card. This Wizard works nicely with Inalla’s “take 7” ability since the damage can add up quickly. Combined with its unearth ability, you can realistically trigger Anathemancer at least 4 times with ease. Add an Aether Adept in there for extra fun, returning your Anathemancer for added pain and torture. Oh the times you’ll have.

Disciple of Bolas

I haven’t discussed too many ways to utilize the temporary tokens created by Inalla. Here is a great one, for as long as you have the mana, Disciple will always give you card advantage. If you have a Volrath’s Stronghold to return him for more, well, you see where this is going…

Sage of Fables

A fun card in Lorwyn Limited, the Sage makes an excellent addition to any Wizard tribal deck, especially one making expendable tokens. The Sage is a great way to make use of extra mana and it is hard to flood out too hard with the card on the battlefield. She even replaces herself when she gives her token a counter to remove!

Patron Wizard

I got diamonds on my neck—got Patron in my cup.

What? You thought I was gonna make a lame Patronus joke?

Patron Wizard is super annoying and if you enjoy counterspells, this guy is right up your alley. His threat of activation makes it hard for players to play into him, no one wants to be the person who got their spell countered while everyone else gets to resolve theirs after. Playing against Patron Wizards is similar to playing against Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. Somebody has to take a bullet for the team.

Voidmage Prodigy

Luckily, unlike Patron Wizard, Kai Budde himself has been printed a few more times. While in high demand, this card is still less than $5, so now would be a great time to acquire one. Though mana-intensive, in the late game, Voidmage Prodigy really shines. He can provide valuable protection for your powerful spells to resolve by throwing a stream of Wizards, courtesy of your general, at whatever comes their way. As a morph, it can also be used to trick people into thinking it’s a Willbender. Either way, it’s bad news for your opponents.

Snapecaster Mage

No, no! Not “Snape”caster Mage—Snapcaster Mage!

I can’t recommend a blue Wizards EDH deck without recommending Snapcaster Mage. It just isn’t in my personality. Getting a second Snapcaster Mage for double the fun is what dreams are made of.

Sigil Tracer

If you or the table you play at have a high density of instant and sorceries to copy, Sigil Tracer does provide a solid reward for your high Wizard count. Ah, the days when this card was just $0.25.

Riptide Director

Not as efficient or powerful as Azami, Lady of Scrolls, but the Director is still a solid inclusion if you have a high creature count. That Inalla’s copy has haste is a huge boon for the card as well.

Information Dealer

An often overlooked little common from another Wizards tribal set, Onslaught. This card is the real deal in a deck with a high number of shuffle effects, preferably fetchlands. In an ironic twist, if you have the cash to splurge on the full 9 fetches for this deck, here is a 25 cent common to throw right in.

Beguiler of Wills

I have always loved Beguiler of Wills since it was released in my early days of playing MTG in Innistrad block. Having a copy of this card with haste usually means that you will have a Control Magic effect right away and for turns to come.

Kindred Discovery

Kindred Discovery works well in this deck because it will trigger twice off of every Wizard you play, thanks to Inalla.


Panharmonicon works well in this deck because it will trigger twice off of every Wizard you play thanks to Inalla.

Urza’s Incubator

Urza’s Incubator works well in this deck… whoa sorry about that—I seem to have been caught in Beguiler of Wills’ trance. Since many of your Wizards have intense mana requirements, the Incubator can help mitigate that. The fewer colorless symbols in the mana costs of your creatures, the less you should want this card. Cards like Worn Powerstone, Thran Dynamo, Gilded Lotus, and Coalition Relic are often better.

Riptide Laboratory

Though you may have already missed the boat on picking up a cheap one of these, this card still comes with a glowing recommendation from me. From bouncing your powerful Wizards for more fun with Inalla’s triggered ability to simply saving them from a wrath effect, the Lab does it all. Counting as a land slot means that it comes at a relatively low opportunity cost as well.


Nivix Guildmage

This card is serviceable, but mana intensive. He has little use with Inalla’s abilities, either. There are better mana sinks like Sage of Fables or Riptide Director.

Portal Mage

Sorta cute, kinda fun—certainly meh. Combat finagling isn’t really much of a strategy and not what I want to throw into my deck.

Serendib Sorcerer

A fine inclusion in the precon, the Sorcerer is great for newer players to play with and against as it does interesting things and combos well with EDH’s large card pool. That’s where this card’s praise ends because it is neither powerful, nor synergistic enough to warrant a spot in upgraded Inalla lists.

Magus of the Abyss

Not a great card to have in play when you are trying to build up a board. I like building up my board with Inalla decks since it makes use of her activated ability and does broken things with Azami, Lady of Scrolls and Riptide Director. Combo-oriented Inalla decks could make use of this type of card, but are probably better off with the actual Abyss card from Legends. That’s what I am going to start calling that card now—“actual Abyss.”

Mairsil, the Pretender

Look Mairsil, nothing personal, but I don’t really want to play with you in my decks. I’m sure you will make a fine general for someone out there, but move aside for now. Inalla and Kess don’t have time for you.

Comet Storm

I have no clue how many times Comet Storm has been reprinted over the years, and I am certainly not giving it the courtesy of looking it up. The card is mediocre and this deck has far better mana sinks.

Rakdos Charm

I have always liked the flexibility of Rakdos Charm, but I have always been unimpressed with its low power level. Not really a needed card here.

Polymorphist’s Jest

I need to get a Lulu alter for this card. Many a truths are said in jest, but the truth is that this has low impact and only situational utility. Ribbit.

Silumgar’s Command

This card costs way too much mana for effects that are way too narrow and it would make this article way too long if I had to break down why almost every 5-mana counterspell is way too bad.

Cauldron Dance

I only like this card in Type 4, a format where spells all cost 0 mana. I like it when it’s free, but this is a terrible way to spend 6 mana.


I target the description of my previous card for this card.

Necromantic Selection

You don’t want too many wrath effects in a deck that wants to build up a nice board. You can pick Damnation or Toxic Deluge—just don’t make this card your selection.

Clone Legion

Clone Legion is about as useful as one of these.

Mirror of the Forebears

I don’t like how this card requires other non-legendary targets under your control to be somewhat reasonable. I would prefer if this mirror just made four bears.


I’ll see myself out now.

Unstable Obelisk

Unstable Obelisk has about as good a chance of making my EDH decks as a nonland card from Unstable does of winning a Pro Tour.

Nevinyrral’s Disk

Not a bad inclusion in Mairsil decks. I think this card has a huge risk when you have only one opponent, let alone when there are 3+ opponents. It’s a cool political card, but otherwise I think the Disk is overused.

Curse of Opulence, Curse of Verbosity, and Curse of Disturbance

If you’ve read my previous precon upgrade articles, you’ll know how I feel about these Curses. I think, without exception, that these cards are traps and will make most EDH decks worse with their inclusion. They all require specific situations to be worth the card in your deck, make awkward political choices in-game, and are bad topdecks. Cut these kinds of cards, and I doubt you’ll miss them.

Shifting Shadow

Shifting Shadow really reminds me of that one card you keep opening in your booster packs over and over again that is worth like 15 cents and useless everywhere. While I am glad that I will never have the displeasure of opening one in a booster pack, that doesn’t save this card from being unwieldy and unreliable. Don’t be fooled by its good interaction with Inalla’s trigger—that’s the point of the rest of your deck.

Mystifying Maze

Mystifying Maze is overplayed in EDH. Even in more casual or more budget-friendly builds, only adding colorless is a huge drawback for minimal effect. There are a plethora of creatures you don’t want to allow to re-trigger with this land as well. If you need a utility land, stick with Riptide Laboratory or Desolate Lighthouse.

Well, the train is pulling up here at platform 9¾, so that’s all for today. What changes have you made to your Arcane Wizardry decks? Feel free to leave your own suggestions and I will be happy to respond in the comments. Thanks so much for reading and until next time, may your plays never be haggard.


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