Magic: The Gathering’s new standard set Wilds of Eldraine has finally hit the tabletop after a long break between releases for MTG’s default format. Among Wilds of Eldraine’s cards there's also a ton of support for the ever-popular Commander format in the latest set, from the fantastic Enchanting Tales’ take on classic enchantments to brand new staples for the format that are sure to shake up deck-building plans everywhere.
As with every new Magic: The Gathering release, Commander players will be scouring the legendary creatures in the set for the best commanders to bring to the table. Wilds of Eldraine certainly doesn’t disappoint, with a roster of new dual-coloured leaders that seem purpose-made for building a Commander deck (Eriette, of the Charmed Apple being a personal favourite of mine) and even a new colourless commander that focuses on the now very powerful food token.
Already pegged as one of the most powerful of the lot, the mono-Red, burn-focused commander Imodane, the Pyrohammer has been tickling my fancy recently. With a penchant for direct damage spell-slinging, Imodane is a 4/4 legendary creature for two colourless and two Red mana that reads: “Whenever an instant or sorcery spell you control that targets only a single creature deals damage to that creature, Imodane deals that much damage to each opponent.”
Due to a tricksy rules interaction with how Imodane’s damage is dished out, it’s actually far more busted than you might think.
Even as it stands, that’s a pretty good bit of value in most spell-slinger decks. It’ll give you extra damage for your burn spells by not only forking them between all your opponents, but also allow (or should I say force) you to potentially take down one of the opponent’s creatures as well. That means that your standard Lightning Bolt, one of MTG’s classic spells, will cost you one Red mana to deal three damage to a target creature and every opponent as well. You can see why she’s already a popular choice for those looking to do direct damage.
But there’s a very important rules interaction with how Imodane deals damage that you need to be aware of. Not only to make sure you’re playing her correctly, but also to truly understand just how much damage Imodane can dish out in a standard game of Commander.
A staple in a lot of Red Commander decks, and made more accessible via Enchanting Tales, damage multipliers are no-brainers for those looking to eke out as much value from their spells as possible. The most classic and iconic of those is Fiery Emancipation, a three-colourless and three-Red mana enchantment that triples all damage from sources you control (now available with beautiful new Torbran-themed art in Wilds of Eldraine).
It’s an obvious inclusion in Imodane decks, allowing her to massively ramp up her damage-dealing each turn. But due to that tricksy rules interaction with how Imodane’s damage is dished out, it’s actually far more busted than you might think. When casting your classic Lightning Bolt on a creature, Fiery Emancipation will trigger and triple that damage from three to nine. Then, Imodane will see that damage and her effect will trigger, dealing a separate instance of nine damage to each opponent’s face.
Because the damage Imodane deals to each opponent is separate from the original burn spell you cast, it means that your already tripled damage will also trigger Fiery Emancipation and be tripled again. Each opponent will then take a whopping 27 direct damage. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Bear in mind that you only actually spent one red mana for your Lightning Bolt, too. If you already got your damage multiplier on the board on a previous turn and have all your lands untapped with a handful of burn spells, you can win the game in one horrible fell swoop. It’s also a lot harder to counter three separate cheap cantrip spells than it is to counter one big, costly spell.
Imodane is a powerful commander who can likely win a game on her own with some damage doublers and a handful of cheap burn spells.
As you can see, Imodane is a powerful commander who can likely win a game on her own with some damage doublers and a handful of cheap burn spells. But if you want to really see the potential firepower she can unleash on your enemies, here’s an absolutely ridiculous combo that just screams Magic: The Gathering.
On the board you’ll need Imodane, the Pyrohammer; a few other creatures; a damage multiplier like Fiery Emancipation; and Zada, Hedron Grinder. It’s a fair number of elements, but not beyond the realm of possibility a few turns into the game.
Zada is a three-colourless and one-Red mana legendary creature that reads: “Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell that targets only Zada, Hedron Grinder, copy that spell for each other creature you control that the spell could target. Each copy targets a different one of those creatures.” Are you getting it yet?
Target Zada with a single target burn spell like Lightning Bolt. Zada will make a new copy for every other creature you control. Let’s say there are four others on the board, for a total of five Lightning Bolts. Each of those Lightning Bolts individually goes through the same rigamarole we listed before. Because Imodane doesn’t care if you cast or copy the spells she sees, that means every single opponent is about to take five loads of 27 damage directly to their face - for a total of 135 damage each. I think that might end the game.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sold. If you want to give Imodane a go for yourself, here’s a Historic Brawl decklist I knocked up on MTG Arena last night that’s been performing pretty well.
- 1 Imodane, the Pyrohammer (WOE) 137
- 1 Lightning Strike (DMU) 137
- 39 Mountain (WOE) 274
- 1 Gimli, Counter of Kills (LTR) 129
- 1 Fiery Inscription (LTR) 126
- 1 Fiery Emancipation (M21) 143
- 1 Urabrask (MOM) 169
- 1 Virtue of Courage (WOE) 157
- 1 Lightning Bolt (STA) 42
- 1 Demon Bolt (KHM) 129
- 1 Shock (STA) 44
- 1 Abrade (VOW) 139
- 1 Erebor Flamesmith (LTR) 122
- 1 Fire Prophecy (IKO) 116
- 1 Flame Channeler (MID) 141
- 1 Volcanic Spite (MOM) 170
- 1 Bonecrusher Giant (ELD) 115
- 1 Fall of Cair Andros (LTR) 124
- 1 Improvised Weaponry (AFR) 150
- 1 Professional Face-Breaker (SNC) 116
- 1 Koth, Fire of Resistance (ONE) 138
- 1 Solphim, Mayhem Dominus (ONE) 150
- 1 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell (ELD) 147
- 1 Chandra, Hope's Beacon (MOM) 134
- 1 Crackle with Power (STX) 95
- 1 City on Fire (MOM) 135
- 1 Volcanic Geyser (M21) 171
- 1 Meteor Swarm (AFR) 155
- 1 Sword of Once and Future (MOM) 265
- 1 Sword of Forge and Frontier (ONE) 244
- 1 Arcane Signet (ANB) 117
- 1 Coldsteel Heart (CSP) 136
- 1 Ornithopter of Paradise (MH2) 232
- 1 Heraldic Banner (ELD) 222
- 1 Phial of Galadriel (LTR) 248
- 1 Caged Sun (BRR) 9
- 1 Birgi, God of Storytelling (KHM) 123
- 1 Storm-Kiln Artist (STX) 115
- 1 Wandering Archaic (STX) 6
- 1 Wrenn's Resolve (MOM) 173
- 1 Beamtown Beatstick (MOM) 131
- 1 Shadowspear (THB) 236
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots (BRR) 58
- 1 Hearth Elemental (WOE) 136
- 1 Electrostatic Field (GRN) 97
- 1 Young Pyromancer (JMP) 372
- 1 Guttersnipe (M19) 145
- 1 Fiery Impulse (ORI) 145
- 1 Flame Spill (IKO) 117
- 1 Stoke the Flames (MOM) 166
- 1 Shatter the Source (MOM) 164
- 1 Volcanic Salvo (M21) 172
- 1 Reckless Impulse (VOW) 174
- 1 Grotag Night-Runner (ZNR) 143
- 1 Nahiri's Warcrafting (MOM) 155
- 1 Tectonic Giant (THB) 158
- 1 Blazing Crescendo (ONE) 123
- 1 Experimental Synthesizer (NEO) 138
- 1 Faithless Looting (STA) 38
- 1 Big Score (SNC) 102
- 1 Frantic Firebolt (WOE) 130
- 1 Zada, Hedron Grinder (MUL) 90