Commander Focus — Kykar, Wind's Fury

(Kykar, Wind's Fury | Art by G-host Lee)

The True Grand Master of Soulfire

Greetings, dear reader. I was briefly caught in one of Teferi, Time Raveler’s time loops, but I have returned at last to bring you a new Commander Focus, the series that breaks down a commander into its constituent parts to find the tools needed to maximize their potential.

The commander we'll examine today is a huge favorite from Core Set 2020Kykar, Wind's Fury.

Kykar, Wind's Fury is a Bird Wizard whose magic is so attuned to the spirit world that each pull of an aether strand yanks a ghost out of its eternal wanderings and into Kykar's servitude. Then each soul can be instantly consumed at Kykar's whim, converting the spark of life into thermal energy to fuel some bloodless blood magic. But hey, Kykar's in Jeskai colors, so that must mean Kykar is on the good team, right? Red, white, and blue, by definition, imply “no cahoots” with the ongoing systematic conspiracy of necromantic atrocities, your honor. When Meren of Clan Nel Toth sacrifices creatures, it's heartless, but when Kykar does it, it's soulfire. Peachy keen.

Let's see what Kykar's abilities imply:

3/3 Flying

Not terrible stats for a casting cost of 1URW. It's unlikely to win with commander damage without a lot of help.

Whenever you cast a noncreature spell,

This deck should not have many creatures in it, if any. Seriously. Go deep. Bird or Wizard or Spirit tribal using non-token creature cards might be entertaining, but these are not the optimal paths. Only include creatures if they help move the deck’s strategy forward.

create a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying.

Free creature tokens for doing what we were already doing is highly convenient, and there are many ways to take advantage of a flying army.

Sacrifice a Spirit: Add {R}.

The token creatures (or nontoken Spirits if we add any) can become red mana whenever Kykar wants.

Noncreature Spells

Kykar's first ability triggers off of noncreature spells, so let's start by looking at the ones that can provide maximum power to our Jeskai Birdman. As a reminder, “noncreature spells” covers a lot of categories, not just instants and sorceries.


A possible win condition for Kykar is a Storm build where we cast lots of spells in a single turn, using the Spirit tokens Kykar creates to fuel his next spell, then winning with a payoff card such as an Aetherflux Reservoir or, in infinite loop situations, a Grapeshot or Brain Freeze.

One method of creating a Storm engine is to use artifacts with a converted mana cost of zero. Many of these generate mana or draw a card, are more financially expensive than most cards, and tend to be popular at tables that tend to be more competitive. If you were speculating what the term "Cheerios" means in a Commander context, imagine tearing the top right corner off of these artifact cards and putting the shreds in a bowl of milk. You will see a bunch of "0"s floating in the cold breakfast soup. Cheerios!

Luckily, here at EDHREC, there's a Cheerios theme page that showcases cards typically seen in Cheerios decks, as well as enough deck data for you to make a Kykar-specific Cheerios page.

Mana-making artifacts are still useful to Kykar in the late game since each one makes another flying body. Signets, Talismans (Talismen?), Fellwar Stone, all your favorite mana rocks are welcome, as long as they have a low enough CMC that you can cast them without worrying about what else you can cast.


One way to add creatures to a deck that wants noncreature spells is to add Vehicles. They aren't creatures, but they can be if you have other creatures to Crew them. Every time Kykar casts a Vehicle, which is not a creature at the time of casting, it comes with a free 1/1 Spirit token to help pilot it, so if you have a Depala, Pilot Exemplar deck and want to add blue to give it a modest air force, Kykar gives you that exact option. If you really want to play Mizzium Tank in Commander, this is probably the deck to do it.

Here's a Vehicle theme page and a Kykar Vehicle page as well.

Equipment Voltron

Speaking of adding blue to a Boros legend, Akiri, Line-Slinger might deserve another look in the context of Equipment shenanigans. It has been a while. If you prefer a wider well-equipped army, fans of Jor-Kadeen, the Prevailer or Nahiri, the Lithomancer might want to consider what blue could add to their strategy under Kykar's guidance.

In addition to the standard selection of swords and such, Kykar can look for Equipment that cares about the number of creatures you have. Remember that your Spirits can become red mana when needed. An attack with three Spirits and Kykar could suddenly turn into an attack with one Spirit and Kykar wielding an Embercleave. Depending on how much Kykar's power is already boosted at the time, that might add up to a very dead opponent.

If you prefer a wider, well-equipped army, fans of Jor-Kadeen, the Prevailer or Nahiri, the Lithomancer might want to consider what blue could add to their strategy under Kykar's guidance.

Of course, no article on a token-making general would be complete without mentioning Skullclamp. Kykar's Spirits have just one toughness, making them prime clamp targets. We'll say more on token themes later, though. We still have lots of other noncreature types to cover.

Sunforger, Isochron Scepter

Did you know there's a Sunforger theme page, along with the associated commander-specific Sunforger theme pages?

Including Sunforger and/or Isochron Scepter is a strong consideration for a deck that wants to cast spells as often as Kykar. Sunforger isn't just for Equipment-based decks, after all. As Vision demonstrated to Thor in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, there can be more than one entity who is worthy of wielding the mighty hammer.

Vision is worthy, but doesn't want it. Is your Kykar deck a Vision or a Thor?

On the other hand, Loki really did enjoy using that magical staff in the first Avengers movie, and it is canonically named The Scepter. So maybe your deck is a Loki, and runs Isochron Scepter. Or maybe your deck is a Vision after all if you happen to be running a Mind Stone.

This analogy is really falling apart, isn't it?

Anyway, if you do want to include either Sunforger or Isochron Scepter, count your applicable color-appropriate and/or CMC-bounded instants to make sure you have a sufficient number of instants and sorceries to make them worth it. Speaking of which...

Instants and Sorceries

Another method of increasing your Storm count is to use cantrips, a term for spells with low CMC that draw a card to replace themselves. Many of these aren't very good as standalone effects in EDH, but since they’re cheap and provide another card to cast, they can be very useful when your goal is to cast a lot of spells. This tactic is used by commanders such as Mizzix of the Izmagnus, Zada, Hedron Grinder, and Feather, the Redeemed, among others.

Expect to get some in-game pushback, since the table will often be sitting there watching you play solitaire for a few minutes fiddling with your deck before you pass the turn without winning because you didn't draw into the Storm payoff cards this time.

If you're interested in finding cantrips for Kykar, you can do so at this Scryfall search link:

(o:draw o:card) commander:WUR cmc<2 -t:creature -t:planeswalker -t:land

Or, if you want to click fewer times and press fewer buttons, here's a Cantrip theme page and another specifically for Kykar.

If you aren't using cantrips or some other rapid card draw, eventually you'll run out of cards to cast. Tricks like Cascade, Cipher, Rebound, and Retrace can all be useful when you want to cast some spells but are temporarily out of cards in hand.


If your Kykar's win condition relies on a flying token swarm, then Saheeli, Sublime Artificer can help with some free supplementary Servos. Playing tons of planeswalkers gives you Spirit tokens to help block in combat to protect their loyalty. You could even apply a blue Proliferate strategy to all the Gatewatch good guys and gals, including Ajani, Chandra, Jace, and more. Dovin Baan is in the right colors for the "good" team, right? No?


Jeskai has a lot of great enchantments. Many commander decks that create lots of creatures tend to enjoy using "anthems". These grant a stat bonus to all of your creatures, so the more creatures you have, the better each anthem is. The combination of blue and white is also known for "pillowfort" cards that make it difficult to attack and/or damage their controller.

Some enchantments are quite popular among generals that produce token creatures, like Impact Tremors and Mana Echoes. Mana Echoes in a Kykar artifact deck goes nuts. The mana you make from each Spirit entering the battlefield can help you accidentally cast everything in your hand. Then you can sacrifice a Spirit or two for red mana and refill with a Reforge the Soul, cast everything in the next hand, wheel again with a Wheel of Fortune, cast that hand too, then kill everyone with a Comet Storm. Oops. See how many times Mana Echoes lets you cast Haze of Rage before combat.

Spirit Tokens

Kykar, Wind's Fury has a lot of viable build paths that arise from the focus on noncreature spells, but let's shift our attention to another detail in Kykar's kit: the tokens themselves. Do we view these 1/1 flying Spirits as combatants, or do we view them as a pile of instant-speed mana, like a Treasure? Probably a bit of each depending on the situation, but let's take a look at both.

(PS: There's a Kykar Token theme page)

Tokens as Combatants

There are a few quality cards used by other popular commanders that make swarms of 1/1 tokens. To start, there's the Krenko, Mob Boss package that includes things like Shared Animosity, Coat of Arms, and Breath of Fury.

Another set of quality cards can be borrowed from The Locust God (or Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer if you prefer), who also makes a 1/1 token swarm. Throne of the God-Pharaoh, Coastal Piracy, Bident of Thassa, and Storm the Vault all reward a more aggressive strategy. Again, see the anthems theme pages if you plan on using lots of these tokens in combat. The flying theme pages also have their own specialized anthems such as Favorable Winds and Gravitational Shift.

Tokens as Instant Red Mana

In the context of a more competitive Storm archetype, each Spirit is just a blocker until it becomes a one-red-mana discount on a future spell. However, in a slower, casual context, there are still effective ways to spend a bunch of red mana at instant speed.

For instance, firebreathing (paying red mana to pump up a creature's power, so named for the card Firebreathing). This power-pumping Voltron tactic tends to go well with things like double strike, power doubling, and/or extra combat steps. The key text to search for would be "{R}" for red mana, a colon (":") for activated ability, and "/+" for some kind of creature stat gain.

Scryfall: o:{R} o:":" o:"/+" commander:WUR -t:creature -t:planeswalker

Fiery Mantle and Ghitu Firebreathing get special mention because they can come back to your hand to be cast again. This makes them more resilient than most Auras, and provides a way to make more Spirits when you're out of cards in hand.

Other Permanents that Instantly Eat Red Mana

How about some other activated abilities that use red mana? Shivan Harvest is a nice rattlesnake enchantment that tells your opponents that wiping the Spirits off of your board will cost them a few of their favorite nonbasic lands.

Remember, the mana that Kykar squeezes out of the Spirits can be used as generic mana too. There are plenty of fine EDH staple-adjacent artifacts with generic mana activation costs, such as Mimic Vat, Mindslaver, and Mirage Mirror, and that's just under the letters “Mi”. Pick two other starting letters and you might find some more!

If you want to find more abilities to sink red Spirit mana into, here's another Scryfall search for you:

o:{R} o:":" -o:"/+" -o:"add " commander:WUR -t:creature -t:planeswalker

Let's Build a Deck

Alright, so we've examined Kykar's many qualities and picked them apart. Now we have to actually pick a focus for our Commander Focus. What other lessons can we use to build a Kykar deck?

Basic Lands

Real talk here. Dual lands are expensive. The ones I do have are already in decks, and I don't feel like getting more of them. If I'm building new decks these days, the commander has to give me a good reason to use nonbasic lands. Kykar, Wind's Fury is a three-color deck, so it's three dual lands (per cycle) to cover each color pair. In four or five colors, the number of pairs rises alarmingly.

Which is cheaper: Back to Basics or three dual lands? Blood Moon or three dual lands? Ruination and Price of Progress and Shivan Harvest or three dual lands? In three-color (or fewer) decks, you seriously don't need dual lands to have a playable deck. For the price of your opponent's single original dual land, you can build at least three decks from the ground up.

And then after you beat them with this deck, then you can beat them with three other decks.

Negative Space

Something to keep in mind when evaluating a commander is the negative design space, where your opponents are taking advantage of game mechanics to which your commander is immune or apathetic; this includes hate cards that attempt to neuter the mechanics that mesh well with whichever commander you’re building.

As we've seen, Kykar does a lot of things, but what things does Kykar specifically not do?

Graveyard interactions, for one. Kykar doesn't even need to Flashback all too often. Removing everyone else's graveyards, however, might be a prudent step to prevent them from going haywire with necromancy. Plus, a lot of graveyard removal cards are noncreature spells that actually trigger Kykar and give us a Spirit token.

Kykar also doesn't specifically care about enter-the-battlefield triggers. In a deck with very few creatures, Torpor Orb could fit well, disrupting all those Yarok, the Desecrated decks and utility creatures like Hushwing Gryff and Hushbringer, which can even partake in any flying buffs you happen to use.

Instant Polymorph

Finally, let's linger on a fun trick for Kykar, the one I've chosen to guide my personal build for the deck. Some spells and effects let you transform one of your creatures in play into the next creature card in your deck. Some of these effects can transform more than one creature at a time, and some of those can do it at instant speed. If the deck contains only a meager handful of powerful creatures, then these effects reliably put a small group of your preferred creature powerhouses on the board around the time of your opponent's end step. Then, on your turn, they won't have summoning sickness, so they can attack immediately. All you need is one Spirit token, and voila! You now have a Kozilek, Butcher of Truth.

Behold the Polymorph theme page, and the Kykar-specific version.

Divergent Transformations will get two creatures, while Synthetic Destiny will trade all your creatures on the board (plus one, since it's a noncreature spell and Kykar makes a Spirit before the spell resolves). Shifting Shadow transforms the enchanted creature every turn, also granting haste to its new form. Note that if you enchant an indestructible creature with this enchantment, you'll get to keep the original and still go digging for a new friend. Finally, honorable mentions go to Reweave, which only swaps one thing, but can swap any permanent type.

Whichever Polymorph targets you choose to put into the deck is entirely up to you. If you have never successfully melded Brisela, Voice of Nightmares, then a two-Angel deck is one way to guarantee it. If you are playing a Storm build, maybe the sudden appearance of both Purphoros, God of the Forge and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell would speed things up. Personally, I like to play EDH as "Elder-azi Highlander", especially when using wheels for card draw. Whichever is your preference grab a small fistful (probably between two and four) of your favorite creatures and swap them in to make your own personalized surprise parties.


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Nate is a game developer, programmer, and writer from San Francisco. He is a co-host of the Commander Time! podcast, a former co-host of the Commanderin’ MTG Podcast, and does occasional programming with EDHREC's database making piles of theme pages. Nate can be found @commandtime and/or @misterplorg, and as a frequent guest streamer at MTG Lexicon.