Archetune-Up - Welcome to Tornado Alley
(Inniaz, the Gale Force | Art by Livia Prima)
As Fickle as the Winds
Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!
In last week's article about Neyith of the Dire Hunt, I mentioned that I believed she was one of the most interesting legendary creatures from Jumpstart. Naturally, this week, I bring you an article about the other legend that had caught my attention: Inniaz, the Gale Force.
Inniaz combines flying tribal with a flavor of Group Hug, reminiscent of Zedruu, the Greathearted, albeit more pointed and directly detrimental. Instead of only donating our trinkets to players, Inniaz also gets to takes them away! She is a repeatable, more powerful Switcheroo that can shift nonland permanents across the table as long as you can keep up the pressure with a squadron of flyers each turn. I cannot overstate how powerful this ability is, or how awful it is to sit on an Inniaz player's right-hand side due to this.
Does EDHREC's average list have what it takes to snatch up permanents and scatter them along the fields of battle? Let's find out!
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Much like last week's average list for Neyith, I'm impressed with Inniaz's. For a brand-new commander with under 100 decks to her name, the deck is surprisingly solid. That said, though, I think that there are some ways to improve it, mainly in terms capitalizing on all of our flying friends. With that in mind, let's see what the Azorius Flying Theme has for Inniaz to steal!
Listen to Me, and I Shall Grant You Wishes Three
For this deck, I added eight cards. Four push the flying theme by producing creatures that fly, and the other four help support both Inniaz and our feathered cadre a bit more indirectly.
Inniaz only triggers when we attack with three or more creatures with flying, so let's make sure that we have enough flyers! Both Depose//Deploy and Spectral Procession do an admirable job of producing them, and both fit great into this deck.
Inniaz doesn't care how big the flyers are, she just cares that they fly. For this, dorky little 1/1s are perfect, especially since they're great fodder to trade away to an unlucky opponent once we have an abundance of them! The average list already had ways to create tokens at instant speed like Benevolent Offering, Midnight Haunting, and Moorland Haunt, so I thought Depose//Deploy would be right at home. As long as Inniaz herself is attacking, we only need two other creatures with flying to trigger her ability. As such, the ability to make flyers at the end of opponents' turns gives them pseudo-haste, which is perfect to catch opponents off guard and steal their best permanents!
Conversely, Spectral Procession provides three bodies for three mana (if you have the white mana available to cast it). This card immediately gives Inniaz the exact number of bodies she needs to start shifting permanents around the board, meaning that you can begin to steal things as soon as you play her since she won't have to attack! The issue here is that using sorceries, like Spectral Procession, telegraphs your gameplan quite loudly. Your flyers will have to survive an entire round at the table to do their work on the subsequent turn, which can be a big ask at times. While I did not include them, if there was ever an argument to play Vedalken Orrery or Leyline of Anticipation in a deck, giving your creatures pseudo-haste to steal permanents from your opponents may be the best one that I've seen, so they may be worth a consideration.
While the most plentiful token-makers in this theme produce lowly 1/1s, we do have access to a token-maker who can produce feathered friends that are a bit larger: Wingmate Roc. The Roc will nearly always provide a second body for us since we're piloting a deck that always wants to attack. Wingmate Roc helps in a lot of different ways: it gives us two flying bodies to help trigger Inniaz's ability, gives us two sizable flying creatures in the air for defense, if need be, and it'll also gain us quite a bit of life each time it attacks. While gaining life isn't the most important ability for this deck, we aren't making any friends with this list, so any additional buffer to stave off aggression is highly appreciated.
Since this deck has a tendency to go a bit wide, I thought that anthems were great as a way to increase our creatures' damage output. This is why Steel-Plume Marshal joins the likes of Empyrean Eagle, Thunderclap Wyvern, and Gravitational Shift here. Marshal giving +2/+2 to all of our flyers when it attacks is a great pump, especially since having an anthem like this on a flyer is exactly what this deck is in the market for. That being said, though, I think that there is an argument to be made for Dictate of Heliod over Steel-Plume Marshal. Dictate can be played as a combat trick or a way to catch opponents unprepared, and will always give a bonus, while Marshal's pump is conditional and only on your turn. I opted to add Marshal to this list, since I valued the flying body to trigger Inniaz, but don't be afraid to go with Dictate instead if it's more your style.
Our Second Wind
Enough about flying creatures, how does this theme look to support and take advantage of them? The cards in this section show us what tricks Azorius has up its sleeve for their iconic archetype.
Flying is an aggressive keyword that's all about evasion, so why not capitalize that? The deck is already running Bident of Thassa and Reconnaissance Mission due to how they synergize with our evasive friends, so it stands to reason that the deck would also benefit from Dovin, Grand Arbiter and the progenitor of this effect, Coastal Piracy.
I really like Dovin, Grand Arbiter in decks like these. I look at him as a delayed Coastal Piracy that trades immediate card draw for much better card selection after a turn or two. Another great thing about Dovin is that he also provides flyers and some extra life as a nice secondary option when necessary, giving us an extra body Inniaz can utilize, if necessary. With a deck like this one, it won't be too hard to consistently get Dovin to his ultimate. Considering that the deck is built around going wide with tons of flyers, I think he's well worth the inclusion and is an interesting 'walker that never gets to see play.
Coastal Piracy, like its other two enchantment descendants, provides fantastic and immediate value the turn it comes down. Much like Inniaz, we can play this on a board with multiple flyers out and immediately reap the rewards. Piracy won't provide card selection like Dovin, but it can give a critical mass of cards outright. These effects are some of my absolute favorites, so I'm always looking for a place to put them, and luckily, they're perfect here!
There have been parallels drawn to Inniaz as a redless Zedruu, the Greathearted, and, while some may disagree, I think that there is some merit to it at face value. There were two cards that were on the original list that Zedruu and Inniaz both like quite a bit: Nine Lives and Illusions of Grandeur. While I did end up taking both cards out, as we aren't dedicated to gifting our opponents permanents, I think that there are two cards that can both support our deck and also flirt with the idea of trading cards away.
Detention Sphere and other Oblivion Ring effects are perfect for Inniaz. Not only do they help get rid of problematic permanents, but they are great donation fodder to trade to people with Inniaz's ability. For only three mana, we can answer nearly anything on the board, and then exchange it for the best permanent an opponent controls? Sign me up! That is a win-win-win in my book!
Many decks can take advantage of Pendant of Prosperity, but I think Inniaz does it the best. The strategy here is to always donate Pendant to the opponent to your right, and then snag it back with Inniaz, giving us a cheap, repeatable card draw engine! Thanks to the way Pendant is worded, for only two mana, we'll be the benefactor of its entire ability, drawing us two cards and potentially putting two lands into play! Pendant of Prosperity in our deck is a quick way to make Simic players jealous while also allowing us to pull ahead quite quickly thanks to the massive card and land advantage. Eat your heart out, Uro!
I Wished to Win Games, But Not the Friends to Play Them With
Before I start wrapping up, I do want to highlight one last thing. While I solely used EDHREC to write this article, I wanted to present two amazing Reddit threads about Inniaz that the user, Rageforger, posted on /rEDH. Rageforger took it upon themselves to construct a massive 12,000 word dissertation between two different posts, and I was blown away by how deep they went. There is an incredible amount of thought and care put into these threads, and they hold a lot of valuable information, especially if you're looking to pursue Inniaz as your next commander, so make sure you check both threads out. Cheers, Rageforger, great work!
I have to say, I am impressed with all of the hybrid legends from Jumpstart. I think that hiding hybrid costs in the text box of legendary creatures is a great way to give cards a more expansive color identity, much like how the Khans from Fate Reforged were designed.
While this is the first time that we've seen these hybrid costs only add a single color to a Commander, I think all five of their designs were spot on. From Neyith, of the Dire Hunt, to Sethron, Hurloon General, and Emiel, the Blessed to Kels, Fight Fixer, all five of these legends bring something new or interesting to their color combinations, which isn't something you see too often. It is even more rare when an entire cycle sticks the landing, so kudos to WotC for them!
To focus back on Inniaz specifically, though, I think that she gives Azorius a bit more depth in its Flying theme, which was surprisingly lacking. Up until now, the most-built flying commander in Azorius was Isperia, the Inscrutable at 113 decks. Isperia is neat, but she involves a lot of set-up for a somewhat meager payoff, as I discussed back in November. By comparison, Inniaz is incredibly strong, and to show that, she already has nearly 80 decks to her name, and she's only been out for two weeks! Inniaz gives power and a breath of fresh air to the often stale and musty colors of Azorius. She gives flying decks a new commander to fly their banner under, and she's a fantastic payoff for this strategy.
If you’d like to reach me, I’m active on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.
Archetune-Up Inniaz Flyers
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