“I address you all tonight for who you truly are: wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, and magicians. You are the true dreamers.”

― Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

This is a primer for Inalla, Archmage Ritualist in 4 player Free-For-All competitive EDH. The deck performs well into a variety of different metas, being flexible enough to fight through stax, race some of the fastest decks in the format, all the while sitting behind a nice control shell.

If you’re unfamiliar with multiplayer competitive EDH format/meta and want to learn more about it, check out the discord server at cEDH Discord - feel free to come by and ask questions or just hang out and chat about Magic.

Furthermore, if you enjoy this deck and love grixis colors, come join the grixis server at Grixis Discord, where we talk about everything competitive grixis.

Fast Combo: Fast combo is the ability of a deck to win early, through powerful, easy to set up combos by means of tutors and card advantage. Along the same lines, the deck is very resilient to most kinds of hate because it consists of a very tight combo protection suite.

Control: The deck is built in a way that makes it able to race fast decks, but when this is not the case, you are able to stop them through variations of controlling the board state. With a plethora of counter spells, bounce spells, and creature removal, we are able to make plays that put us ahead of other players while slowing down the decks that are faster than us.

Paring this more reactive play-style of control, with a more proactive style of fast combo, can make the deck a little harder to pilot, but it enables a higher ceiling once mastered.

Yes if:

  • You like passing the turn and holding up interaction for other players
  • You want to have decisions to make on opposing turns as well as your own
  • You like having a high amount of decision points
  • You like grinding through value and being resilient to interaction
  • You like fast wins but are willing to concede the fast win to make a smarter play
  • You like control
  • You like reanimator
  • You like having the exact same win conditions

No if:

  • You don’t like the “wanderwine” combo
  • You want to mostly play on your turn
  • You don’t like control
  • You want a developed board state
  • You want more lines to victory
  • You play in a super heavy creature meta
  • You want to win every game as fast as possible
  1. The strength of this deck is its efficiency. Inalla, Archmage Ritualist enables several very compact combos that do not require several dead cards to work. Very few, if any, can claim the same slot efficiency as this deck.

  2. The deck plays very well into a variety of metas since it is very flexible. The flexibility of a deck is defined by the different ways it can reach its end goals. This deck can be put in a variety of difficult situations; whether by stax, opposing board state presence, or any other reason, we can wiggle our way to victory through different compact methods.

  3. The deck has considerably more counter spells and interaction than most combo decks, the reason for this is because A) I like running lots of interaction and B) the deck lets us run loads of flex slots. You have the ability to add a variety of specific interaction cards that target whatever you need it to for your meta. So, for example, you need a specific kind of interaction like more creature removal, you can throw that in and replace it with something that you don’t really need, maybe artifact hate.

  4. Strong into combo-centric decks. With the amount of counter magic and interaction this deck possesses, we are able to slow down/stop any decks that try to combo off before we do.

  5. Strong into stax decks. Stax decks rarely hurt us since all we are doing is sitting back and watching the game unfold while slowly building up a good hand that can win out of the blue.

  6. Counter magic, hurts, but it isn’t the end of the world since we have the ability to use our win conditions from the graveyard.

  7. The biggest strength of this deck is the commander and the eminence ability. We basically get to use our commander without ever paying to cast her. So this commander-centric deck does not have the weakness other commander-centric decks have, and that is the removal of said commander.

  1. There are two substantial weakness to this deck. The first major weakness is that if every single person has creatures, you can’t (usually) win with Wanderwine Prophets loops. You first must clear the board in order to attack people and deal combat damage.

  2. The second major weakness of the deck is graveyard exiling affects such as Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace . These two cards really limit our deck. This deck utilizes the graveyard to take advantage of specific cards, if you remove the ability to use the graveyard then you remove half the decks strategy/synergy.

  3. Another huge weakness of this deck is the lesser played stax piece known as Torpor Orb . This card single-handedly stops every wincon in this deck. You will only be able to win if you remove this card. Luckily, I have yet to play against this card, since it is fairly narrow and not very many stax decks want to run it. However, if you do see it, destroy it or else you can’t win.

  4. The deck is also weak to affects like Aven Mindcensor . The deck has so many "search your library" cards that when this bird shows up we get kind of screwed over.

  5. This next weakness is really only for the less skilled player, since the deck can be harder to pilot sometimes you can make the mistake of wanting to establish your board state when instead you should pass the turn and hold up interaction for someone who might be able to win. This is a weakness of the deck since the control theme really makes it so that even when we want to establish a board state, sometimes we shouldn't.

Method 1: Dualcaster Mage + Ghostly Flicker

Dualcaster Mage + Ghostly Flicker + Inalla, Archmage Ritualist (either in the command zone or on the battlefield) gives you infinite Dualcaster Mage 's with haste. It is a Splinter Twin style combo.

  1. Cast Ghostly Flicker , targeting any two legal permanents you control. For purposes of this combo, what you target with the first Ghostly Flicker won't actually matter.
  2. Holding priority, respond to your Ghostly Flicker by casting Dualcaster Mage .
  3. Dualcaster Mage ETBs and you get both his trigger and Inalla, Archmage Ritualist 's. Put Dualcaster Mage 's trigger on top of the stack and Target Ghostly Flicker with it. You won't actually need to do anything with this specific Inalla, Archmage Ritualist Trigger, but it's good to call it out since you can still use it if you get stopped mid-combo.
  4. With Inalla, Archmage Ritualist 's trigger still on the stack, your Dualcaster Mage trigger will resolve. Copy Ghostly Flicker and use the copy to target Dualcaster Mage and a land that ETBs untapped.
  5. The land you targeted will enter untapped along with Dualcaster Mage . You get a Dualcaster Mage trigger and an Inalla trigger. Target Ghostly Flicker with your Dualcaster Mage trigger as before.
  6. Use the land that just reentered the battlefield to pay to copy Dualcaster Mage with Inalla.
  7. A token copy of Dualcaster Mage enters the battlefield with haste. Since it's a token, you only get one trigger: the Dualcaster Mage trigger. Target Ghostly Flicker with it.
  8. Another copy of Ghostly Flicker is placed on the stack. Target your original Dualcaster Mage and the same land as before.
  9. Your original Dualcaster Mage ETBs along with an untapped land, allowing you to continue paying the required by Inalla's trigger to repeat the process for an arbitrarily large number of hasty 2/2s. This combo requires access to and at least one land that ETBs untapped. Note that, with Inalla, Archmage Ritualist on the battlefield, this combo can be used to win at instant speed and outside the combat step, allowing you to circumvent Moat and similar effects. Her activated ability can turn your arbitrarily large army of Dualcaster Mage 's into an arbitrarily large amount of life loss for each of your opponents.

Method 2: Wanderwine Prophets and Pseudo-infinite Turns

As long as Wanderwine Prophets has the ability to attack freely, you can take as many consecutive turns as you like, limited only by the remaining cards in your library. Inalla, Archmage Ritualist enables this by making a hasty copy of Wanderwine Prophets when it ETBs that can champion the original.

  1. Wanderwine Prophets ETBs and you get a "Champion a Merfolk" trigger and an Inalla trigger.
  2. Put Inalla, Archmage Ritualist 's trigger on top of the stack and pay to make a copy of Wanderwine Prophets .
  3. When the copy ETBs another "Champion a Merfolk" trigger occurs. Champion the original Wanderwine Prophets with the copy.
  4. Since the copy has haste, swing with it and when it deals damage sacrifice it to take an extra turn.
  5. When the copy dies the original returns and Inalla, Archmage Ritualist triggers again. Pay to make another copy.
  6. On your end step the copy will go away and the original Wanderwine Prophets will return again. Pay yet again to make another copy. Since this copy entered the battlefield on your end step, it won't go away until the end step of your next turn.
  7. On your extra turns, continue attacking with the copied Wanderwine Prophets and paying to make new copies when the original returns to the battlefield.

Doing this loop requires on the first turn without cost reducers and only on subsequent turns. However, we will almost never actually cast Wanderwine Prophets because it costs way to much. We will instead be focusing on reanimating it by means of several reanimation spells in the deck ( Reanimate , Animate Dead , Shallow Grave ). This way, the combo will cost or less, for reanimating Wanderwine Prophets , to make an initial copy, to make a copy when you sacrifice the copy to take an extra turn, and to make another copy on your end step.

This combo won't always be enough to kill the whole table, as some players will have blockers. But there are ample bounce spells ( Cyclonic Rift , Chain of Vapor , Winds of Rebuke ) and various forms of removal ( Rolling Earthquake , Pyroclasm , and maybe Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast if the target is blue) to set up a successful attack against one player. Assuming the player you can successfully attack is at a healthy life total, you will draw multiple cards and develop your board state further to enable you to draw into either a way to attack the remaining players or the previous combo to kill them regardless of their blockers.

What happens if Dualcaster Mage is in my graveyard and I have Ghostly Flicker in my hand?

Great question, this leads into my next section, winning at instant speed with Dualcaster Mage in the graveyard.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, we lose Dualcaster Mage to the graveyard. This is not the end of the world, and sometimes, it can be the best possible scenario. Winning with Dualcaster Mage from the graveyard is as easy as having 1 of 3 different reanimate spells; Apprentice Necromancer , Necromancy , and Shallow Grave , which can all be used at instant speed. Instant speed is the keyword here, otherwise the combo does not work.

With one of the aforementioned reanimate spells in hand, you cast Ghostly Flicker targeting two eligible permanents, holding priority, you then cast the reanimate spell targeting Dualcaster Mage . The reanimate spell will resolve first putting Dualcaster Mage onto the battlefield. Once Dualcaster Mage enters the battlefield, hold priority and have it copy the Ghostly Flicker that is on the stack. This will then start the combo.

The beauty of this line is it costs less mana than just hard casting both Ghostly Flicker and Dualcaster Mage , and it does not require the sometimes hard to achieve .

The very cheapest way to win with this deck is by having Baral, Chief of Compliance out on the battlefield with Ghostly Flicker and Shallow Grave in your hand with Dualcaster Mage in the graveyard. Baral, Chief of Compliance cheapens your instant and sorcery spells by , making Shallow Grave cost only one and Ghostly Flicker cost .

To start the combo, you cast Ghostly Flicker for , targeting any two eligible permanents, then holding priority, you cast Shallow Grave , for one , targeting Dualcaster Mage . It will then reanimate Dualcaster Mage and when Dualcaster Mage enters the battlefield it will copy the Ghostly Flicker on the stack and the combo has begun.

This line to victory, with the said setup, will only cost to win, and can be done at instant speed (this line becomes even faster with Dark Ritual ). If you have Inalla, Archmage Ritualist on the battlefield, for whatever reason, you can win at instant speed.

Carnival of Souls + Spell seeker is able to combo you into the Wanderwine Prophets loop.

To start, You need Carnival of Souls on the battlefield and Spellseeker in your hand.

  1. Cast spellseeker, when it enters the battlefield stack Carnival of Souls trigger on top. This way you get the mana from Carnival of Souls and can use it to pay the inalla trigger.
  2. The copy of Spellseeker will enter the battlefield and net you one Black mana for the price of one life.
  3. With the search ability grab Culling the Weak and reanimate.
  4. with the one black mana floating cast Culling the Weak targeting the Spellseeker . This will net you four black mana.
  5. With one of the four black mana cast reanimate targeting Spellseeker . You lose three life for the reanimation, lose one more for the Carnival of Souls trigger, and gain one black mana.
  6. With one black mana pay for the inalla trigger and create a copy of Spellseeker . Lose another life and gain another black mana. You now have 4 black mana floating
  7. With the Spellseeker 's search etb trigger, search for Entomb and Shallow Grave .
  8. Cast entomb, using one of the black floating mana, bin Wanderwine Prophets .
  9. cast Shallow Grave reanimating Wanderwine Prophets .
  10. When Wanderwine Prophets enters the battlefield you will lose one life and gain one black mana. Use this mana to pay for the inalla trigger. Continue the Wanderwine Prophets loop taking exrta turns and looking for a bounce spell to remove the Carnival of Souls .
  11. With the array of tutors and use of cards like JVP (cast him, take an extra turn and flip him, then use his ability to cast a card from the graveyard) we can search for a bounce spell in our library or play one from our graveyard.
  12. Once removed, continue the loop as normal until everyone is dead.
It is to no surprise that Stax is a favorite among many. Stax is a deck architype that focuses on playing cards that hurt/stop other decks. Some of the best Stax pieces in the format: Null Rod (shuts down artifact decks completely), Rest in Peace (one of the best stax pieces in the current meta because it stops loads of decks from winning the game because of the strict graveyard hate), Trinisphere which is a massive pain for everyone playing the game, and Rule of Law , which stops storm decks and most combo decks.

Now, winning through any assortment of these stax pieces can be hard but it is possible.

  • Null Rod : Stops us from winning early on, however, it can easily be bounced to hand at end step to let us win on our turn. Also, in some cases, we can just ignore this If we have enough lands and dark ritual or something.

  • Rest in Peace / Tormod's Crypt / Card:Grafdigger's cage / Leyline of the Void : These completely stop the Wanderwine Prophets win condition. They must be removed in order to use this line. However, you have an alternate win-con through Dualcaster Mage and Ghostly Flicker which is not hindered by the above mentioned cards.

  • Trinisphere : Slows down the game as soon as it enters the battlfield, but doesn’t stop us from winning. Ghostly Flicker and Dualcaster Mage are unaffected by this spell and you can win as normal. It also doesn’t really hurt lines with Wanderwine Prophets , it will just slow down the deck.

  • Rule of Law and Arcane Laboratory : Powerful stax pieces that stop most fast combo decks completely until removed. Surprisingly, this stax piece does very little in hurting us. Sure, it will slow us down. But it can also be a very powerful source of advantage for us. By this I mean, we have a strong control sub-theme, when an opponent casts a spell we don’t like, we can counter it without fear of them countering back. The way we win through this is by preparing a path to victory on everyone else’s turns. For example, entomb on someone else’s end step reanimate Wanderwine Prophets on your turn and easy-peasy (of course, do this with caution as you will not be able to protect your combo. In most cases, if you have the ability, you should try to remove it on someone else's turn).

Some of our best friends during these staxy games will be Trinket Mage , Dualcaster Mage , Spellseeker , and Dark Confidant . These are generally slower cards but in a stax game they are very powerful. In stax, it is important to remember that games are usually slowed down drastically (if played correctly). For this reason, it will be important to generate lots of value off our cards.

In conclusion, stax can be our friend. It helps slow down the game and can completely ruin other people’s chances of winning. Since our deck has various slick paths to victory we are often able to win most stax matchup’s.

“No man, no power, can bind the action of wizardry or still the words of power. For they are the very words of Making, and one who could silence them could unmake the world.”

― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

Deciding whether to go all out for a fast combo kill or to control the game until you have an easy line to victory can be very challenging. It is important when making these decisions to be flexible and to understand what other people are trying to do. When trying to make these decisions a few notable things are:

  1. Understanding what decks are at the table,

  2. Turn order,

  3. What your hand gives you access to, and finally,

  4. Everyone’s turn 1 plays.

The first and foremost observation you need to make at the table is what decks you are playing against. This does require some knowledge about the current meta and what decks do what.

For example, understanding when someone is playing:

It is important to know how other decks work in order to play a controlling strategy effectively. The more you know about a person's deck, the better you can evaluate problematic cards. With the above examples, it will be important to keep a slower hand full of interaction. It would be very hard to race some of these decks unless you have a very good starting hand. It is totally possible to out-pace these decks, but in most cases, it will be wiser to be mindful that these decks will generally be faster than ours.

When playing against decks such as:

Against decks such as these, you can sometimes just speed right by them. Other times, they will throw down stax which will slow everyone down and enable you to build up a nice hand full of interaction, which you can then use to bounce whatever problematic pieces the turn before you go for the win.

Surprisingly, this deck is very resilient to hate and stax. In some cases, I would prefer this deck into staxy games. We have ample card draw, looting, and value engines which makes it easy to power through those long games. During this time it is important to sandbag counter spells and build up incremental advantage which will enable wins through any forms of hate.

When it comes to turn order, knowing how your position at the table will affect your plays against the other decks is of some importance. If you are going last, you are the last person to receive priority before someone resolves the spell that wins them the game. You also get full knowledge of everyone else's turn one plays. This can then help you decide whether or not to keep up interaction when someone is looking scary or to make a different play.

Unfortunately, this isn't really the place for me to go into the theory and true importance of turn order and how it can affect your game, so here is a link to a wonderful source of information about this topic Turn Order.

Lastly, be mindful of other players turn 1 plays. This should help persuade you to do certain things, like holding up interaction, tutoring for that board-wipe/counter spell, or maybe even giving you the okay to tap out and advance your board-state.

This is just a short list of some of the cool things you are able to do in this deck.

  1. I will reiterate this again, do not forget that Dualcaster Mage can also be used as a utility spell. It can be a tutor, a Counterspell , and sometimes, a 3 mana Ad Nauseam .

  2. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  , if need be, can be used the turn it comes out by creating a copy of it with haste (Do not do this often, it feels really bad lol). This is super useful when you are stuck and you only need a discard outlet in order to win and you have tons of mana from the grindy game you have been playing.

  3. Sometimes we get stuck in the awful situation where you have the mana to win, but its bunched up in a few artifacts and you need the mana dispersed in different phases. For example, you have a Sol Ring or Mana Crypt , or if you are playing the budget version a signet of some sort, along with 3 lands on the battlefield. Unfortunately, you had to use the two colored mana from your lands to cast other spells and now you have the mana to win but its clumped together on Sol Ring / Mana Crypt or a signet. If the option is available, you can use frantic search to tap Sol Ring or Mana Crypt and then use the mana to untap your 3 lands to give you the ability to win off the 3 different phases.

  4. Using Snapcaster Mage you can do amazing tricks by playing around the cards in your graveyard. Since Snapcaster Mage is wizard and it has flash, this means, you can hold up mana and cast it to disrupt other players plans. For example, using Snapcaster Mage to target two counter spells/removal/bounce to ruin someone’s day or even the specially rare case where you flash it in and use it as a blocker (hint: Najeela, the Blade-Blossom ).

  5. Another great instance of Snapcaster Mage ’s power is how it can win you the game when paired with cards like Intuition or Ghostly Flicker . Using Intuition , you search for cards such as Reanimate / Dark Ritual and Faithless Looting . They choose which card to put into your hand, the rest go to your graveyard (it doesn’t really matter which ones go where). Let’s say they chose to put Faithless Looting in your hand. After you cast Snapcaster Mage , once it hits the battlefield, pay one to make a copy. Then target reanimate and dark ritual to give them flashback. Using Faithless Looting to pitch Wanderwine Prophets . You can then cast Dark Ritual and then cast Reanimate targeting Wanderwine Prophets . This method costs a little more, but it has proven to be a great path to victory in several games for me.

  6. With Baral, Chief of Compliance on the battlefield you are able to play slightly differently. The ability to draw and discard a card enables multiple paths to victory that are normally not there. Also, his passive ability to cheapen spells means your lines to victory become cheaper and you can hold up more interaction to keep it safe.

  7. Using Winds of Rebuke to set up the win: Putting Wanderwine Prophets on top of your library, using something like Ponder or Brainstorm , so that you can bounce a permanent at end of turn so that you can place Wanderwine Prophets in the graveyard. This way on your turn, you can go for the win. Also this pairs super well with Lim-Dul's Vault , which enables you to find Wanderwine Prophets , set up your next turn and make sure you can win.

  8. Missing two mana on the Wanderwine Prophets combo but you have an extra reanimate spell. In this scenario, you can reanimate wanderine prophets, to bait out a counter spell, or you can do this to gain one extra turn. The extra turn is useful because you get to untap all your permanents to win this turn by reanimating Wanderwine Prophets and having enough mana to finish the combo.

  • Baral, Chief of Compliance : Fantastic card in this deck. Reduces the cost of all our instants and sorceries by 1 colorless. Gives us a powerful instant speed looting affect which can enable some super slick wins.

  • Pithing Needle : is a fantastic choice as it enables our slow game to be extremely powerful. It locks out several deck strategies like stopping The Gitrog Monster players by freezing their discard outlet (until they find a new one), can stop Thrasios, Triton Hero decks by not allowing them to use their commander as an outlet, can stop Najeela, the Blade-Blossom from taking extra combat steps, and so on. Furthermore, since the card is tutorable with trinket mage, it is fairly easy to acquire. However, I decided to remove this card for Mana Vault .

  • Mana Vault : Switched into the deck for Pithing Needle . Helps ramp hard into Ad Nauseam . Also gives the added bonus of being able to help post Ad Nauseam , giving us valuable mana to help us win if we decide to main phase Ad Nauseam .

  • Izzet Charm : One of the worst cantrips in the deck, however, what it lacks in mana cost it makes up for in utility and versatility. All of its modes are important in this deck. Being able to counter a noncreature spell, helping to discard wanderine prophets or another card that we need in order to win (at instant speed, very important), and acting as a small creature removal spell. Another small upside is that it is a great card to pitch to Chrome Mox as it gives us two important colors.

  • Chain of Vapor : Besides being a great answer to many combo decks, being able to bounce any nonland permanent for just 1 mana is super good. Also, this can be used as an amazing ramp spell when you want to win. Targeting one of your own permanents ( Sol Ring , Mana Crypt , Mana Vault ) and then sacking a land to continue the cycle is a balls deep way to go all out on a path to victory. You can use this same method to gain value from cards like Trinket Mage or Spellseeker . You can also bounce to hand a previously used value Dualcaster Mage so that you can now use it to win.

More to come!!

This section explains some of the cards and criticisms I have towards cards I have specifically chosen not to include in this deck.
  • What! No Timetwister !?! And you call this competitive?!?! I am personally not a fan of Timetwister in this deck because it shuffles all the cards from our graveyard back into the deck. Furthermore, I am already not a huge fan of filling my opponents hands with cards, but it is acceptable when those cards can go to my graveyard and be useful. Timetwister does not have that upside and therefore is not as good.

  • Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur , another common card people like to play in a reanimator focused deck. This card is great, but it hurts really bad off an Ad Nauseam and Dark Confidant . Another reason is that I never really found a chance to utilize this card often. I would never tutor for it and sometimes I wouldn't even try to reanimate it. The reason being, if I only had one reanimate spell in my hand, I would rather save it for when I finally got Wanderwine Prophets . Another reason being, it is fairly easy for people to remove Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur on their turn and I would then be out of my reanimation spell. Basically, I felt as though Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur was a trap to some extent.

  • Why is there no Bloodline Necromancer combo? I chose to not include Bloodline Necromancer because, even though the combo package is very small, I feel two win conditions is enough and I'm not a fan of Ashnod's Altar in Cedh. However, this combo is not awful and some people choose to run it alongside their other combos.

  • What about the Fatestitcher combo? This combo, although it can be fast, includes a lot of dead cards. I prefer to play with as few dead cards as possible.

In a very creature heavy meta it will be important to add more creature removal such as Toxic Deluge , Dismember , Whipflare and friends. You can then take out some artifact removal and some counter spells.

In a graveyard heavy meta one of my favorite hate cards is Faerie Macabre because it is free. You can also add Leyline of the Void since this card only hurts opponents. Do not forget, some of the reanimate spells can be used as graveyard hate as well.

When facing against mostly fast combo decks, the need for heavy creature removal and value cards goes away slightly. For this reason, into a pod of mostly fast combo decks you can take out cards like dark confidant and maybe trinket mage if you need to speed up the deck slightly. I would then add Night's Whisper and either an additional Counterspell or Izzet Signet .

Sometimes it is honestly not worth it to spend all your money on magic cards, for those who can resist the urges, and are thus better for it, here is a list of cards I would recommend replacing to save some monies.

The land base is one of the most important parts to any deck, if you don't have the right mana to cast spells you can't cast them. With that said, here is a list of some budget lands you can get to make your land base significantly better.

A Special Thanks to maynardferguson who's Primer on Primers and Yisan Primer helped me write out my own.

Be the Commanding Wizard you think you are!

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Updates Add

I have updated my list to be better for Ad Nauseam and increased the amount of tutors in the deck. The deck is now a little more risky, but more often than not it works out to be faster and more resilient than before.