Is Nahiri, Forged in Fury the queen of Boros Equipment in Commander? How should you build her? Kristen has the definitive breakdown on just how powerful Nahiri can be.
It’s fair to say I’m a bit of a Nahiri fangirl. I felt compleating her was a mistake. While I won’t excuse her actions on Innistrad, her backstory of trauma and being betrayed makes her a complex and engaging anti-hero. I’m beyond hyped to see that her story isn’t over just yet, so naturally, I went to town on brewing with the new card.
Nahiri, Forged in Fury
Nahiri, Forged in Fury is hardly a unique approach to Boros in Commander. She cares about equipment — who would have guessed?
While she might be another Boros equipment Commander, her design actually opens up a new avenue in deckbuilding. Sure, you can go the usual route and build a Voltron deck with Blackblade Reforged, Colossus Hammer and all of the Swords of Sugar and Spice, but Nahiri is secretly more complex than that.
She offers card advantage in the Command Zone, which is a great starting point. But what’s more, she can let you free-cast equipment, and she herself dodges Commander Tax in an abusable (if not broken) way. Few Boros Commanders offer a combination of mana advantage and card advantage, and we should lean into it.
What Does a Nahiri Deck Look Like
It can be tempting to focus on tried and tested “powerful” equipment, but doing so gives you a pretty average build that’s probably less good than running Akiri, Fearless Voyager or Wyleth, Soul of Steel instead.
It’s Nahiri’s time under the control of Phyresis that gives us our direction, and that direction is to employ Living Weapons to do our bidding. Not just Living Weapons, but For Mirrodin! and other cards that create tokens when they enter play.
By going wide with equipped creatures, we can maximize our chances to hit free-cast equipment off the top. Of course, we also want to play haymakers too, so we absolutely want cards like Argentum Armor, Kaldra Compleat, Hexplate Wallbreaker and Grafted Exoskeleton.
I’ve done some serious crunching on how the deck works best, and it means running at least thirty equipment to take advantage of the free-cast rider. I can’t claim to be Frank Karsten, but by combining my ADHD sense of “knowing things” with my experience playing Boros decks, it feels like going any lower limits the unique gameplay experience you can get when you tweak the deck to the max.
Nahiri isn’t Winota; you don’t look at the top six for every trigger. Equally, you need to go wide to ensure you hit three or more triggers per attack. This means packing the deck with equipment and having the majority of the curve be Living Weapons.
To me, that’s a sweet take on equipment, and one that gives a unique experience — which is what really matters. Now, to increase your odds at scoring free spells, you can employ a lesser-used Boros technique: Sensei’s Divining Top and Scroll Rack.
If you run enough basics and add Land Tax as well, you can really thin your deck and ensure the right cards are being exiled to Nahiri each turn. You can also draw a card with Top and recast Top from Nahiri’s trigger if you’re in a pinch. Expensive includes? Sure, but ones that really make the deck sing.
While the shell can be used to play combos, they’re pretty done to death. Nahiri also isn’t the best shell to run combos in, given the high chance you’ll exile the pieces with impulse draw at the wrong moment and cast them too soon. You don’t have the deck slots to dedicate to interaction and recursion, either.
Common Card Packages
Now, I’ll be the first to say that thematic includes are cool. Getting to run an iconic walker in the Command Zone is exciting, because there’s a wealth of Nahiri cards to run in the 99. YMMV, but these are the most playable ones:
- Nahiri, the Lithomancer and Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients: Tokens and free equips, card draw, removal and recursion
- Declaration in Stone: Underplayed removal, wipes token armies which are our weakness.
- Single Combat: Most of our creatures come into play as tokens, and this lets us use evasion to one-shot with Nahiri. Delicious flavor win.
- Nahiri, Storm of Stone: first strike and cheaper equip costs is always good, plus she has removal
- Stoneforge Mystic: It’s Stoneforge Mystic.
I also opted to run Sword of Truth and Justice in my build to keep the ‘walkers around longer. You could go deep on Kor, Phyrexians or add other Nahiri cards too, but the wider you cast the net, the lower the power level of the deck will be.
There are also some cards that come in packages, in my opinion, and running one of them means you should consider their related cards. The most powerful of these suites can be used individually, but consider the synergies.
- Toggo, Arterial Alchemy, Ceremonial Knife and Bloodforged Battleaxe make token equipment. Balan, Kazuul’s Toll Collector, Heavenly Blademaster, Armory Automaton and Goldwarden’s Gambit can then “vacuum up” the piles for massive damage. You can also employ Akiri Line-slinger, Thran Power Suit and Bronze Guardian
- Esper Sentinel, Sram, Mask of Memory and Skullclamp mean you’re drawing way more cards than you need to, meaning equipment may lay stranded in hand. If you still want to play Nahiri over other Commanders, this means you need to go deep on recursion. Look to Daretti, Scrap Savant, Scrap Mastery, Blood Tokens, Goblin Welder and other recursion pieces to take advantage of discarding.
- We interact at sorcery speed frequently in Nahiri, so we don’t get to hold up many instants in hand. You can go deep with Sunforger and Mistveil Plains, but that’s mana intensive. Consider on-board effects like Zamriel, Selfless Spirit, Invasion of Gobahkhan, Dispeller’s Capsule, Shenanigans, Citizen’s Crowbar, etc.
- Playing equipment at Flash speed will be lethal in some instances. While Leonin Shikari and Brass Squire might be too cute, Sigarda’s Aid, Hammer of Nazahn and Liberator, Urza’s Battlethopter are great picks, as is an Emergence Zone in the manabase.
- Rebbec and Indomitable Archangel are a “nonbo” in this deck. We can’t target equipment with Toll Collector, and artifact creatures can’t wear them.
Nahiri, Forged In Fury — Three Ways
The way I see it, Nahiri can be built in three main directions.
You want all of the best equipment payoffs, like Reyav and Halvar, Akiri, Fearless Voyager and Bruenor Battlehammer — and you play fewer of the living weapons because you need room for ways to close the game.
This build then uses Toggo, Arterial Alchemy, Ceremonial Knife, Bloodforged Battleaxe, Bludgeon Brawl and artifact lands to give you the cheap equips you need to trigger Nahiri. Then you go for payoffs like Akiri, Line-slinger, Thran Power Suit, Heavenly Blademaster, Bruenor and Nahiri herself to end games by going tall or just beating face with the strongest Living Weapon creatures, like Kaldra Compleat and Hexplate Wallbreaker.
It might be correct to run classic cards like Sun Titan and Aurelia the Warleader, plus affinity cards like Chiss-Goria.
This build wants to run some more thematic cards related to Nahiri, so you have less room for min-maxing. In this build, you want to be doing some of what the equipment payoff build does, but you’re not so deep on either what the former build is doing or what the build below does.
As far as how consistent this build is, it truly depends on how deep you want to go into thematic cards. It could end up being a lower power level than the Equipment Payoffs build, but equally, it could set up faster and trigger Nahiri a whole turn quicker than that build due to running more low-cost, Living Weapon creatures.
One thing to note about running more thematic cards is you end up taking slots away from non-equipment cards that might be “stronger.” You’ll have room for Declaration in Stone and Dispatch but not Path to Exile. You’re running Nahiri the Harbinger but not Wear//Tear.
I think most people will end up with a build like this, and this is the first build I’ve built on paper. You can check out my list “The Swords Have Hands” on Moxfield.
I’ve already mentioned how Scroll Rack and Divining Top are great here, but there’s a few other sweet synergies I’d like to share.
Bladegraft Aspirant and Astor, Bearer of Blades are arguably the two best creatures in the deck, except for maybe Puresteel Paladin. Aspirant’s Menace and cost reduction is potent, and early game it wears value-generating equipment like a champ.
That’s why I happily tutor for Beamtown Beatstick over Sword of the Animist if my early bodies are fragile and getting walled off. Astor is incredible, and combined with the other cost reduction in the deck does a great Puresteel Paladin impression.
This deck wants to pave the way for beats, so our wraths are centered on that. With Nahiri’s impulse draw, we can enjoy Delayed Blast Fireball’s stellar “from exile” rider. Likewise, with us having pseudo-storm, if we hit equipment with Nahiri’s trigger, Volcanic Torrent quickly ends up in one-sided wipe territory. It’s partly why I’m running Meteoric Mace, too.
Finally, this is a deck for Masterwork of Ingenuity to shine. It’ll give you a second copy of the best thing in play. Early game this is more value-generation, mid to late game it’s an extra Hexplate Wallbreaker or Batterskull. Card’s absolute gas in this deck.
A couple of final notes before we move to build three. Ensure a spread of keywords across your equipment, and make sure you have ample evasion: flying, trample, haste. Include enough lifelink, too, because that wins games. I’d still take Batterbone before Shadowspear, because making the token is just that important.
You can use the mana base to give you effects, which helps you be less reliant on equipment and instants. I’ve gone for Cavern of Souls, Buried Ruin, Demolition Field, Flamekin Village, Hanweir Battlements, Inventors’ Fair, Plaza of Heroes, Rogue’s Passage, Slayer’s Stronghold, Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion, Urza’s Saga and Witch’s Clinic.
My build might look land-light at 33, but in my test games so far, I’ve cast Nahiri for 2-4 mana the majority of the time. We need to hedge our bets and go as few lands as possible in order to get our free-casts. Land tax is worth three lands, too, and if you’re not running it you need to increase up to 34-35 lands.
How Do You Break Nahiri?
The logical endpoint of Nahiri is to try and replicate Winota as closely as possible. The build will never be cEDH (because it won’t have room for hatebears and stax), but there is a way we can approximate that kind of speed and consistency. The deck ends up looking like a cross between Winota and Neheb, the Eternal.
We basically run all of the equipment that come in on a body. The exceptions to this are probably Sword of Hearth and Home, which flickers Dockside Extortionist, and Sword of Feast and Famine, which untaps our lands.
There’s a chance we run the treasure-generating equipment, but as much of our deck needs to be focused on equipment with bodies as possible. Our other mana producers are cards like Neheb the Eternal, Jeska’s Will, and Birgi, God of Storytelling.
The goal is to swing out as early as possible with a wide team, trigger Nahiri and then use extra combat cards to go again. Hexplate Wallbreaker, Aggravated Assault and Waves of Aggression are our bread and butter here, but we can cast the net wider to Seize the Day and Fury of the Horde, or even some creatures that do the same. We will have to grant these new creatures haste, so we run the likes of Roar of Resistance, Mass Hysteria, Bitter Reunion and First Day of Class for turns where we want to pop off.
Because this is a non-deterministic win condition (unless you get Aggravated Assault and produce five mana per combat), we need some failsafes. Passionate Archaeologist is a stellar Nahiri card for when we min-max on equipment. We can also look to Inspiring Statuary and Alibou, Ancient Witness to provide card selection (to dig for an extra combat or the right equipment) and to burn face to reduce the total number of extra combats needed. This might mean running Hope of Ghirapur, Iron/Gold Myr and Loyal Apprentice.
I’ve not tested this build nearly enough to know whether it should be going all-in like Winota or wait to establish the minimum-viable board before popping off like Neheb, but I’m confident there’s a build here that we can push to the limit.
It’s possible that if this deck wants to wait for the right moment that it wants some of the “vacuum” cards we discussed previously, like Heavenly Blademaster. If it does, you probably want to lean away from Living Weapon and use more For Mirrodin! and other cards that make non-0/0 tokens so we can keep a board.
Either way, just as with any build of Nahiri, Forged in Fury, Goldwarden’s Gambit remains as one of the singularly most powerful cards in the deck. Whatever build you go for, make sure to run this one. It’s an army in a can and it wins games.
Nahiri, Forged in Fury has fast become one of my favorite Commanders. Casting spells for free is intoxicating, as is trying to min-max a build to jump through a reasonable number of hoops. I’ll never feel reasonable playing Winota in casual Commander, but I think Nahiri captures some of that fierce aggressiveness and excitement. She also lets us build Boros Equipment in a completely new direction, which is super refreshing.
Remember that the gameplan is two staged: you want to go wide, and clean up with Nahiri. You don’t need to go tall, and the advantage of building Nahiri like this is that there are fewer single points of failure in your approach. Nobody will spend a removal spell on Barbed Spike, or Batterbone — and it even feels a waste using it on Nahiri, as she’ll be right back. Now I just need to find room for Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival!
Kristen is Card Kingdom’s Head Writer, and member of the Commander Advisory Group. Formerly a competitive Pokémon TCG grinder, she has been playing Magic since Shadows Over Innistrad, which in her opinion, was a great set to start with. When she’s not taking names with Equipment and Aggro strategies in Commander, she loves to play any form of Limited.