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Saheeli's Ironworks (KCI) [Primer]

Commander / EDH Primer UR (Izzet)




Many Magic the Gathering players ask the question: How do I build a well-appointed artifact commander deck? I personally think that artifact decks are strong and this attempt should prove it. The basic idea comes from an Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind -deck. As much as I loved the card draw as much I question the wheel-effects in this strategy. When I decided to build a new deck I chose to stay in the same Izzet color pair. The new Saheeli, the Gifted is in my opinion a promising commander card, with many possible interactions and combinations.

In the upcoming description I take a short look on different strategies. In summery it may be said that this deck is an artifact deck. I'm not going into deep for anything else like the Eldrazi theme with Kozilek, Butcher of Truth or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger nor is this deck a guidance for competitive EDH. There are indeed very strong cards available, but for reasons considering budget, personal favour and playability I’m going to choose wisely the usage of every card. However, you’ll find some upgrade suggestions in the designated category. My (yet) not existing Thaumatic Compass  has shown me the way to the Krark-Clan Ironworks -Combo.

The KCI-deck was played very successfully in Modern until the main card got banned in January 2019. I wondered if it‘s possible to do anything like that in the EDH-format. It is obvious that KCI is not the most fun-to-play-against-deck, but so is any Stax-/ Control-strategy. The importance of knowing how this deck works is very high. In case of running a complex combination the player of this deck has to handle fast and should also be able to explain any combo very well for quick understanding. If this is not trained, then the EDH game could be very boring for any other player and the playing time would definitely put off.

Another main thing to be aware is the power level. This deck is not at the highest possible power nor is this a weak one. I personally think it’s a 7.5 of 10, with updates possible to get it to 8.5 of 10. Saheeli, the Gifted is listed as a Tier 3 deck and I share this assessment. In one of the following categories I’m going to present my personal suggestions to upgrade or downgrade this deck. On this point I have to say, that it is very important to know your power level well for having the most fun. Communication is key with other players so everyone’s deck has about the same power.

I personally wish you the best experience on this site, reading the description, getting new ideas for this commander and playing this deck. If you have any suggestions, questions or anything else you want to say I am very open to your opinion. Please write it in the comment section, they are very welcome and will be gratefully received. I’m also thankful for your recognition:

“People of Kaladesh! Whether you hail from distant fields or green belt towns or from our great city centers – this is your time! The Kaladesh Inventors‘ Fair invites you, our best and brightest, to share your ingenuity with the world. As an official entrant you may fuel your creativity with unrestricted Aether access. Demonstrate that you can channel the Aether into whole new creations. Showcase your ideas, your inventions, your genius. In this time, when anything is buildable you can invent your tomorrow – today!“

Illus.: Ryan Pancoast

Saheeli Rai is a brilliant inventor from the plane of Kaladesh. Specialized in creating artifact creatures her creations are famous for their form and function. On her home plane, she is regarded as one of the brightest inventors of her age. Enjoying competition, she's wholly supportive of the efforts of other inventors, happy to share advice, a kind word, or an encouraging smile. She thrills at the prospect of innovation, with the love for facing other inventors in tournaments. (mtg.gamepedia)

Her character does perfectly fit in the blue and red color pair. While the blue mana is known for intellect, omniscience and technology, the red mana pushes in for emotion, action and freedom. The connection between this two colors is their full-hearted and passionate search for something new. The thirst for knowledge is based on curiosity, creativity and pure progress. The Izzet League on the plane of Ravnica represents the blue/red guild, their members are seeking for the unknown and not primary for might at all costs. And so it‘s nearly the same on Kaladesh. The mana energy floats into creations, always inventing and discovering something with their own hands. Saheeli Rai is one of them and her character shows additional all signs of a very warm-hearted and reliable human being. With the ingenuity of a gifted she is constantly working on a special project.

Making the artwork of this card: Show

Let’s take a closer look to the main character’s card. Saheeli, the Gifted is a Planeswalker-card with casting costs and comes into play with 4 loyalty counters. When she enters the battlefield there are already some artifacts on the board, in best case some mana rocks. So it‘s possible to play her on turn 2-4 and create immediately a Servo token to protect her. Don’t leave her without any other creature alone on the battlefield. Like every planeswalker card she does shine when she has no fear of attackings against her. Moving on to her abilities we see the following:

   +1    Create a 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature token.

   +1    The next spell you cast this turn costs less to cast for each artifact you control as you cast it.

   -7    For each artifact you control, create a token that's a copy of it. Those tokens gain haste. Exile those tokens at the beginning of the next end step.

    Saheeli, the Gifted can be your commander.


Okay, the last sentence on the card is the reason why I’m sitting here typing the description for this deck, but this ability is very important to mention at least. There are 2 abilities which + 1 her loyalty counter and one ultimate effect for -7. In my opinion this card does perfectly represent Saheeli. She can create some artefact tokens without special features as well as develop and invent something great. All 3 abilities are useable features, but they won’t win you the game on their own. It’s more like a supporting act who helps the deck to be brilliant. Like other EDH decks this one doesn’t rely fully on the commander, but it’s always useful to have her on the board. In translating her text into understanding the card I prefer this:

   +1    Create a weak, but useful token to protect the commander. Gives you an additional artifact on the battlefield.

   +1    Exciting. Big Mana Rock. Affinity ability. It’s possible to play a card with high mana costs very early. Helps to build a steady game presence. You need many artifacts on the battlefield to get more mana out of this ability. No additional effects.

   -7    Enter- and/or Leave-the-battlefield effects profit from her ultimate. Don’t let her die just for this ability except it’s unavoidable for strategic reasons. Not game winning.


This commander card has many ways to build around. The best way to play this commander is to understand the basic ideas behind it. „Tokens“, „Affinity“ and „Copy“ are the 3 main words to describe Saheeli. Those are the lanterns lightening the way of playing this deck. All abilities are summarized as artifact effects and this shows any player who plays Saheeli, the Gifted the right direction for building an EDH deck with her.

  1. Dross Scorpion + Pentavus + Thran Dynamo
  2. Krark-Clan Ironworks + Myr Battlesphere + Nim Deathmantle
  3. Krark-Clan Ironworks + Nim Deathmantle + Pentavus
    • Mana combinations 2-3: same effects with Ashnod's Altar
    • Mana combinations 2-3: create infinite tokens
    • Mana combinations 2-3: draw your library with additional Skullclamp

Illus.: Alex Horley-Orlandelli
  1. Krark-Clan Ironworks + Myr Retriever + Scrap Trawler
    • Graveyard: Chromatic Star and Junk Diver or Workshop Assistant
      • +2 Sacrifice Myr Retriever, return Chromatic Star and Junk Diver to your hand
        -4 Play Chromatic Star and Junk Diver
        +2 Sacrifice Chromatic Star, draw a card
        +2 Sacrifice Junk Diver, return Chromatic Star and Myr Retriever to your hand
        -3 Play Chromatic Star and Myr Retriever
        +2 Sacrifice Chromatic Star, draw a card
        = Total: +1 Mana and 2 card draws per loop
    • Does also work with other artifacts with mana costs 1 in the graveyard, but no card draw
    • If Pyrite Spellbomb is in the loop with Chromatic Star , then infinite damage to every opponent
      • +r Sacrifice Chromatic Star for that card’s ability
        -r Sacrifice Pyrite Spellbomb, 2 damage
        Return to hand with Myr Retriever and Junk Diver or Workshop Assistant
    • No worry for drawing you infinite: Get Codex Shredder , Aether Spellbomb , Pyrite Spellbomb or any other artifact with mana costs 1 (or 2) that doesn’t have a card draw ability.

  2. Etherium Sculptor + Krark-Clan Ironworks + Scrap Trawler
    • Battlefield addition: Myr Retriever or Junk Diver or Workshop Assistant
    • Graveyard: Chromatic Star and Myr Retriever or Junk Diver or Workshop Assistant
    • 1 recursion card is on the battlefield the other in the graveyard
      • +2 Sacrifice Workshop Assistant return Chromatic Star and Junk Diver to your hand
        -2 Play Chromatic Star, and Junk Diver
        +2 Sacrifice Chromatic Star, draw a card
        +2 Sacrifice Junk Diver, return Chromatic Star and Workshop Assistant to your hand
        -2 Play Chromatic Star and Workshop Assistant
        +2 Sacrifice Chromatic Star, draw a card
        = Total: +4 Mana and 2 card draws per loop
    • Does work also with Chief Engineer instead of Etherium Sculptor on the battlefield
    • Does also work with other artifacts with mana costs 1 or 2 in the graveyard, other card draws possible ( Ichor Wellspring )
    • No worry for drawing you infinite: Codex Shredder , Aether Spellbomb , Pyrite Spellbomb or many other artifacts with mana costs 1 (or 2) don’t have a card draw ability.

  3. There are more possibilities to get a combination with Krark-Clan Ironworks, but those are the main ideas behind this card.

Illus.: Daarken
  • Basalt Monolith : There are some untap cards in this deck for supporting this card
  • Chief Engineer : So many artifact spells can played earlier
  • Etherium Sculptor : Improve the KCI combo mechanic
  • Everflowing Chalice : Buster. Can be charged in the early game as well as in the middle- and endgame
  • Fellwar Stone : Another mana rock, can easily be replaced with Prismatic Lens
  • Gilded Lotus : Gives the deck colored mana
  • Izzet Signet : Signets are commander staples. Cheap artifact that gives colored mana.
  • Mana Vault : Famous for quick colorless mana
  • Mind Stone : Another cheap mana card
  • Sol Ring : No additional words needed
  • Storm the Vault  : Can easy turn into a Land with Tolarian Academy abilities
  • Thought Vessel : Mana and additional improvement for hand cards
  • Thran Dynamo : 3 mana for 4? Take it
  • Wayfarer's Bauble : This tiny artifact does indeed some work. Turns into a Land when needed
  • Consecrated Sphinx : Constant card draw. Generates some hate against it
  • Fabricate : Search for the needed card
  • Ghirapur Orrery : It is possible to play all your cards very early, because of the decks very active game plan. This one helps a lot to draw some cards. Stops top decking
  • Goblin Engineer : Brings the combo pieces together
  • Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain : Play a card. Draw a card. Repeat
  • Memory Jar : Fill the empty hand with cards
  • Reshape : Sometimes it is good to sacrifice an artifact (like Spine of Ish Sah ). Tutor
  • Rhystic Study : Sometimes annoying, other times big card draw
  • Saheeli's Directive : Genesis Wave for artifacts. Does work well with the commander
  • Sensei's Divining Top : Hard to destroy. Card selection
  • Skullclamp : Many tokens generate many cards to draw
  • Stroke of Genius : Very good card draw effect on an instant
  • Time Spiral : Love this card, untaps your lands
  • Wheel of Fate : You don’t need to discard your hand cards, if you don’t have any in there. Active play
  • Whir of Invention : Another searching card
  • Aether Spellbomb : 1 mana artifact. Sacrifice for KCI or use for it the return-to-hand ability
  • Ashnod's Altar : Alternative card for KCI
  • Chromatic Star : Card draw and in the case a mana fixing artifact
  • Dross Scorpion : Untaps artifacts, after another one is put into the graveyard.
  • Hangarback Walker : Like a living hive this card generates some thopter tokens when it dies
  • Ichor Wellspring : Draws 2 cards for 2 mana
  • Junk Diver : Recursion card like some others in this deck
  • Krark-Clan Ironworks : Combo enabler
  • Myr Battlesphere : Get 4 tokens and a body itself
  • Myr Retriever : Brings any artifact back to the hand
  • Nim Deathmantle : Only equipment card, helps to enable combinations
  • Pentavus : Has also some tokens loaded, enables infinite mana combo
  • Pyrite Spellbomb : Another 1 mana artifact, alternative win card
  • Scrap Trawler : Very good recursion card
  • Spine of Ish Sah : Prefer this card other permanent destroyer like Meteor Golem . In this deck maybe better then Karn Liberated
  • Thopter Assembly : Big Boy. 6 Mana for this Flyer. Creates also useful tokens
  • Workshop Assistant : Recursion card, those are needed for a card fluctuation between hand and graveyard
  • Blasphemous Act : Does destroy the creatures, doesn’t do anything to planeswalker cards
  • Chaos Warp : Single target removal, especially great against enchantments (because it's one of the best way in Blue and Red to deal with it)
  • Curse of the Swine : Nothing is more satisfactory then blow up specific creatures
  • Cyclonic Rift : Why not, this card doesn’t need anything more to describe the board effect
  • Nevinyrral's Disk : Board wipe. This deck has options to protect specific cards
  • Oblivion Stone : Another helpful board wipe
  • Pithing Needle : There are so many cards outside to paralyse with this card, sometime the right or only answer
  • Vandalblast : get rid of the other players artifacts
  • Chandra, Torch of Defiance : Fantastic. All abilities are a good completion for this deck’s strategy
  • Chaos Warp : Flexible removal spell
  • Codex Shredder : Recursion for other cards then artifacts
  • Daretti, Scrap Savant : The card selection and the recursion ability give this card a place in my list
  • Darksteel Forge : With this card it is very hard to get rid of the own artifacts
  • Goblin Welder : Yes, recursion is needed. No question to sacrifice a token to get a needed artifact card directly into play
  • Karn, the Great Creator : This card replaces Paradox Engine and works well with Mycosynth Lattice
  • Kuldotha Forgemaster : Searches the library for an artifact card. Can sacrifice himself for that ability
  • Mycosynth Lattice : Does synergies well with the commander as well as with destroying cards
  • Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer : Most liked Goblin character in the whole universe (of course in my opinion. But read the book of Mirrodin and you’ll agree). Sometimes his abilities are needed to protect any artifact
  • Voltaic Key : In worst case it untaps a cheap mana rock, otherwise it can be the key to success
  • Ancient Tomb : All-time classic. Two colorless mana for 2 life is good if it means that you’re able to play a fantastic card one turn earlier than planned
  • Boseiju, Who Shelters All : Players cannot counter the rare but useful instant and sorcery spells. Good against control decks
  • Buried Ruin : Recursion printed on a land card
  • Cascade Bluffs : One of the best Lands for red and blue mana
  • Command Tower : All-time classic card that gives a red or a blue mana
  • Crystal Vein : not as strong as Ancient Tomb, but also with the option for an additional colorless mana
  • Darksteel Citadel : Artifact and Land with indestructible.
  • Command Beacon : Get the commander back into the hand is very useful, if Saheeli died a few times before
  • Glimmervoid : Mirrodin land card can add any red or blue mana
  • Great Furnace : Red Artifact Land
  • Inventors' Fair : Search the library for an artifact card
  • Island : Aren’t they beautiful. 8 Islands included
  • Izzet Boilerworks : Bounce back a land card to get a tapped nonbasic land, that can produce 2 colored mana.
  • Mountain : 8 Mountains from the Kaladesh set are included
  • Reliquary Tower : Gives no maximum hand size
  • Sea Gate Wreckage : No more fear of having an empty hand
  • Seat of the Synod : Blue Artifact Land
  • Shivan Reef : Pain land for mana fixing
  • Spirebluff Canal : In early game it comes untapped into play, later you may not need this card
  • Steam Vents : Shock land with flexible text
  • Sulfur Falls : Another land card that can produce any of the both needed colors
  • All informations are now gathered to move to the next step: What are possible strategic options to play this (artifact-) related deck? Many of them are suitable for Saheeli, the Gifted , but in EDH it’s very important to choose one personal favoured tactic theme instead of many different. Otherwise you’re going to risk an underpowered game performance of this (or any other) deck. Some different strategies for this commander are listed here:

    This deck is a combo deck, which strategy is to play very active. The easy part is that in the game you can play whatever you want with constantly improving your board state. You have to look for a card draw engine and keep on pushing the game forward. The more different thing to know is how the combinations work and how to find the best card if you have the option to search your library for any artifact card. If this deck starts rolling off don’t lean back and enjoy it too much – always be aware of the current board state. The game can turn very fast against this deck if you haven’t the right pieces enabled. In this deck there is no card that generates really much hate which is an advantage in a multiplayer game. In my experience this Saheeli, the Gifted deck is better in a multiplayer area then in a 1:1 match.

    Voltron strategy means that you have a single creature (or at least not many of them) to build them up with equipments (and Aura and Enchantment cards, but those card types are not necessary in a Saheeli-deck) and other spells. After playing some mana artifacts you may use Broodstar , Darksteel Juggernaut , Darksteel Colossus or even Blightsteel Colossus as fatties to finish the game. There are many ways to strengthen those creatures up, consider Lightning Greaves , Loxodon Warhammer , Blade of Selves or any card of the very famous sword series ( Sword of Feast and Famine , Sword of Fire and Ice ). Sadly there is no room for Cranial Plating due color restrictions.

    Control Midrange:
    To play a control deck you need many Counterspell s and some creatures or planeswalker to protect. The Eldrazi theme does fit very well it you prefer a deck playing more passive then active. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth seems to be a perfect choice, with adding more board wipes like All Is Dust or Earthquake (there are many similar damage cards) you have good options to play a Saheeli deck like this. The most important thing is to keep the artifacts in the game.

    The thing is that Saheeli needs always a filled hand. The commander doesn’t give anything special to this strategy, so I don’t recommend playing this theme. I recommend Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind , he is a very good commander if you’re looking to play any wheel effects.

    It’s no problem to get many artifact tokens on the battlefield. Thopter Spy Network , Loyal Apprentice , Sai, Master Thopterist and similar cards help you to get them into play. Purphoros, God of the Forge is known for his ability in token decks and can be a very good addition. The main question for everyone building a token deck is how fast can you build a stable board? Therefore, Saheeli’s second ability is helpful. If you have many artifacts in the game, then other high cost cards are easy to play.

    This infamous strategy has the goal to restrict every opponents’ options and keep the own permanents in the game. Everything slows down and it’s difficult to deal with those decks. With many mana rocks in a deck that is built for this purpose you can play cards like Winter Orb , Wildfire and Lodestone Golem . A perfect card is Smokestack , because often you have many tokens to sacrifice available. If you are likely to build and play this control-based theme look at the following deck: Workshop Party which is a great idea pool for any red and blue Stax-deck. In general, this strategy is very effective but does also generate many hates. In a casual format it’s not likely that everyone is happy with you, because in most cases no other deck can shine bright. Always remembering that Stax cards must be defendable, so some control cards are needed. This strategy is very passive, so be patience with yourself while playing any Stax themed deck. Does need very good deck knowing and experience too.

    Illus.: Adam Paquette
    There is no existing ultimate commander deck and this one is not the exception. Some of the weaknesses are against:

    1. Artifact Hate
    2. Counter/Interruption Decks
    3. Graveyard Hate

    In the following are some of those cards listed, that were hard to deal with:

    • Aetherflux Reservoir : Good against this deck, because it can kill you out of nowhere. Without Vedalken Orrery or Shimmer Myr there is no way to cast anything helpful from your hand to prevent this effect. Pithing Needle is the solution but if this card is already on the board, then it’s hard to get it again into play. One option is the ability of Goblin Welder and a sacrifice effect. However, in my mind I’ve Synod Sanctum for flickering the Pithing Needle (or in general any other card). This could be also an answer for many other effects. If you know that any opponent can play the Aetherflux Reservoir, then you must reduce his/her life points constantly.

    This deck shines against decks who haven’t answers to artifacts or are simply to slow do deal with it.

    In this category I look on how to improve this deck to a classic combo deck. Most of the suggested cards are expensive so they won’t get a place in many decks. Always keep in mind to stay focused on this deck’s strategy with any change.


    1. Mana Crypt , Mox Opal , Mox Diamond , Grim Monolith
    2. Arcum Dagsson
      • Great card tutor
      • Unlike Master Transmuter this is a fantastic way to cheat out cards (from the library). It’s worth a recognition, because those two cards are often seen in the same deck for quick board development.
      • However, Master Transmuter doesn’t fit in this deck, because Saheeli already helps to get cards from the hand for low in the game
    3. Staff of Domination
      • Another combo enabler
      • Alternative win condition, when infinite mana is available
    4. Expropriate
    5. Wurmcoil Engine
      • Suggestion to replace Pentavus or Thopter Assembly
      • Pentavus has a higher mana costs, but can generate tokens to protect you against flyer
      • Combinations work the same way as with the Pentavus
      • Thopter Assembly is weaker than the Wurmcoil Engine
      • Higher costs to buy this card


    1. Pull from Tomorrow , Day's Undoing , Magus of the Wheel
    2. Hedron Archive
      • Possible replacement for Mana Vault
      • Higher mana costs, but comes with an option for card draw
    3. Memnarch or Treasure Nabber
    4. And, of course: Any land can be easily replaced with another basic lands

    Illus.: Chris Rahn
    • Vedalken Orrery , Shimmer Myr , Unwinding Clock : As an active-to-play deck there is no need for those effects. On turn 4 or 5 this deck wants to put pressure on the board, those cards have no quick effect when entering the game. Yes, this could be helpful in many decks, but focused on this decks strategy there is no room for playing artifacts like instants.
    • Trading Post : This is indeed a very flexible card. After some research I chose not to use it, because it has no real interaction with other cards or there are better cards available. For example: If Trading Post is planned for card draw, then this is very slow. You have to pay 5 mana for the first card draw. Sadly, there is no untap-ability included, in this case it may be worth another consideration.
    • Karn Liberated : Very expensive card. In many times Spine of Ish Sah is better, because it can be played many times per turn. Guess this planeswalker card in play puts you in front for the main target and there is no need for additional attention against your board state.

    • Kozilek, Butcher of Truth , It That Betrays , Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre : My personal choice is to play without any Eldrazi card. Saheeli would help to reduce the mana costs, but there are also no great interactions between those and other cards in this EDH-deck. If you need a big beefy monster there is always a Blightsteel Colossus in my mind. It depends on your favour, if any of those cards get a place in the final deck list.
    • Hellkite Tyrant : The strategy with this deck is to get the main cards into play and win through combinations. For finish the game with the actual deck you must sacrifice many artifacts. However, the Hellkite Tyrant demands many artifacts into play, so I recommend this card in more token-orientated decks.
    • Platinum Emperion , Platinum Angel : Had those cards in my mind but they didn’t make it in the final list. Both cards can give you the needed time like another one or two turns. They have high mana costs and you must be able to protect them. Would fit in the artifact theme.

    • Rings of Brighthearth : Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s hard to argue, that the Rings of Brighthearth wouldn’t support the strategy. In my opinion playable, but I question if this expensive card can clearly power up the deck?
    • Metalworker : In many times you have not many cards in hand. And Saheeli already helps to get more cards into play.
    • Counterspell , Pact of Negation , Force of Will : Any of those cards are too passive. The counter strategy doesn’t overlap with the philosophy of this deck.


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