Pokedecks: Jiwari the Magby

Unsummoned Skull • September 22, 2023

Some People Just Want to See the World Burn!

Over the last few weeks, we've delved into decks that were born from the ashes of my former signature Simic Burn deck. This week, we'll look at a more traditional burn deck, albeit one with an unusual commander and a not-so-subtle theme. This overlooked commander is primed for some red-dead redemption, burninating the countryside despite not being a Dragon.

Today's deck is the mono-red sibling of my Rosheen Meanderer Hydras deck: Jiwari, the Earth Aflame!

Jiwari, the Earth Aflame

Jiwari sets things on fire. Plain and simple. The deck's history, however, is a bit more complex. I started playing Commander when Worldwake came out, as Jace, the Mind Sculptor priced me out of most competitive formats. Rosheen Meanderer was one of the first commanders to catch my eye, as I love the limitless potential of X spells. At the time, though, I didn't want to invest a lot of money in an unknown format.

Years later, when I was fully into Commander, I started collecting green and red X spells. I discovered that three categories formed: Fireballs, Hurricanes, and Hydras. Rosheen got the Hydras and Hurricanes, but that left a large stack of Fireballs, including Jiwari, a legendary creature. And thus, the second sibling was born! While Rosheen has gone through many iterations over the years, Jiwari has remained a favorite for a long time, and is one of the oldest decks I still have intact!

But, like Rosheen, the Poke Alter didn't come to me immediately. The first constraint I put on the design was that the Pokemon needed to not be fully evolved. This is because I have a bit of a theme where my theme deck commanders are Pokemon that have not evolved, but can. The themes they follow are cute, so why shouldn't the commanders be?

Since the deck has a pre-EDH commander with a lot of older cards, I wanted the commander to be connected to the OG 150, but new enough to reflect that there are some newer cards in there. As a result, I chose the baby form of the classic lava master, Magmar. Magby, the baby form, isn't quite as badass as its evolved form, but it's still a tough fireballer with a big enough head to reflect the subtly cerebral nature of the deck.

Jiwari's Abilities

The first challenge was to figure out what Jiwari brings to the table. Jiwari is a criminally underused commander, but there is a bit of a reason behind it. Unlike Shigeki, Jukai Visionary, its eventual successor as a commander with Channel, Jiwari is unable to return itself to the owner's hand. It was designed at a time when legendary creatures being cast from the exile zone wasn't really a thought, so a portion of the text is difficult if not impossible to use, but that's okay. This is a theme deck, and what I care about is that it can tap to repeatedly Heat Ray a creature. Best of all, since it's an activated ability, the Heat Ray effect can even neutralize a Gaddock Teeg, which would otherwise shut the deck down. This deck brings the heat, time and time again.

Earthquake is kind of the signature card of the deck. It spreads the fire to anything that touches the ground: players, creatures, nothing is safe. It's a finisher. It's a Wrath of God effect, it's a way to resolve the game in a draw, and it's exactly the kind of card we want.

Banefire is the perfect counter to pesky Azorius decks. As long as we put enough force into the flamethrower, they can't counter it, they can't prevent it, they can't run or hide from the stream of fire burning them to a crisp.

Crackle with Power is a 1-hit KO. Easily the most powerful card in the deck, Crackle is a relatively new addition, but it's the fireballingest fireball to ever be fired like a ball. A giant X spell, it expends as much energy as we can pour into it and deals five times that to that many targets. How's THAT for a critical hit?

Magby's Moves

The next challenge is to figure out how to cross the IP from Pokemon to Magic. We've already alluded to flamethrower, which is an OG power move, but Earthquake opens the door to worldwide burnination, and Jiwari absolutely wants to bust down that door. One of Magby's moves is Lava Plume, which happens to hit adjacent Pokemon. That seems to suit the various Earthquake effects just fine.

Whose fault is it when the game goes long? Not ours, because Fault Line is a functional reprint of Earthquake, burning everything on the ground and each player for one more mana. While it does wipe the board, it hastens the demise of all players, which gets around one of the downsides of wrath effects.

Magmaquake is another mass-burning X spell, but it doesn't hit players. That is a big downside, because it doesn't advance our gameplan, but it does buy time. It also hits planeswalkers, which is important for a deck that is kind of hit-and-miss with regards to whether the errata specifies hitting "any target".

Street Spasm is a long-time favorite of mine, as I played heavily during Return to Ravnica and have a lot of these flexible fireballs. It's either a worse Heat Ray or a worse Magmaquake, but the flexibility to be either is what makes it an important card.

So... we're burning things with big flames, but how do we get Magby's tiny body to produce big enough blasts?

The Perfect Fusion

In order to properly lay the smackdown, Magby needs to breathe a lot of air in. This fills up its little lava lizard lungs, loading it up for launch. With as many X spells as we are running, we need some way to generate the critical mass needed to ensure that the heat we're drawing off the top is able to be slung at opponents for as much value as possible. With boosts to our power, we can ensure that the sun shines brightly on our topdecks, just like Sunny Day!

Mana Flare is one of my favorite ways to supercharge a game. It doubles everyone's mana, enabling big, splashy plays. While it's true that we are the last to use it, we're also better poised to make efficient use of it, as we are always going to have mana sinks for the excess, and opponents might run out of things to do.

Speaking of mana, Mana Cache is a cute card that I hadn't heard of until a friend pointed out to me that it fits with my Kerosene and Matches phase. It builds up counters at the end of each player's turn equal to the amount of untapped lands, which the next player can use as extra mana. This can even convince blue players to tap extra mana in order to prevent others from getting it. It creates cool mini-games and gives us a potentially huge ritual!

Speaking of potentially huge rituals... never mind. Mana Geyser isn't POTENTIALLY huge, it's almost ALWAYS huge. Our deck is mana-hungry, and we will sop up that excess mana like grilled cheese sopping up tomato soup.

Jiwari, Use Lava Plume!

Here is the most recent iteration of the deck, which is still one of my favorites. What are some of your oldies but goldies? And what underused commanders have you given love recently?

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Teacher, judge, DM, & Twitch Affiliate. Lover of all things Unsummon. Streams EDH, Oathbreaker, D & D, & Pokemon. Even made it to a Pro Tour!