The Best Attack Triggers For an Isshin Deck

The Best Attack Triggers for an Isshin Commander Deck

Kristen GregoryCommander

Isshin, Two Heavens as One is one of the most popular Mardu Aggro Commanders. What’s the best way to build him? What are the best attack triggers for Isshin? Let’s suit up and turn sideways. 


Isshin is a very fun Commander, as he lets us double up on the best attack triggers in the game, whether that’s extra combats, card draw, mana, or pure damage buffs. Isshin doubles attack triggers on your permanents, whether from you attacking or from an opponent attacking, meaning he can also double triggers on a Revenge of Ravens or Cunning Rhetoric.

Personally, I feel Isshin pillowfort is a trap. Most value you can generate is from attacking, and a pillowfort deck doesn’t really attack enough to get full value. So, I’m not going to be covering any of those cards here, because we’re interested in going hard, going fast, and decimating our opposition. 


One of my favorite things to do with Isshin is run a dungeons-matter theme. Venturing singularly always feels a little anemic; one reason why the more popular dungeon decks are Sefris decks who can spin through a dungeon in no time at all. Isshin lets us speedrun dungeons too. 

Undercity is the best dungeon, and so you want to run as much Initiative as you can. The infamous Legacy duo should be the first place you look, and Loot Dispute is another cracker. Going too deep into commons and uncommons can dilute your overall card quality though, so look instead to the original venture cards.

Triumphant Adventurer is very hard to block, which enables all of our other attack conditions, making him a key player in any Isshin deck. Nadaar is another all-star, conferring a teamwide buff once you get through a dungeon.

If you do go deep on dungeons, I would run Thorough Investigation for sure, as it’ll help you to fine-tune finishing a dungeon so you can dive into the Undercity as soon as possible. It can sometimes be frustrating getting double ventures and having to re-enter Phandelver, for example. 


Taking big turns is what we want to do, but to get there, we need to make some money.

Curse of Opulence should be in every list, given it’s a one mana way to make way more. 

I used to run Captain Lannery Storm in my list, and though she’s still decent if you run ways to put counters on her or otherwise make her harder to trade with, the addition of First Strike creatures that perform her role has made the deck much better. Kellogg and Breeches are invaluable, especially as if we save up enough we can steal something; Breeches also makes attacking easier by removing blocking capability. 

Instead of Lannery, try Goldspan Dragon, which does a similar thing but is much easier to attack with, while doubling the output of your treasures.

Diamond Pick-Axe is the treasure equipment of choice for an Isshin deck, and a low-investment way to get your mana production going.

Not every card in the deck is an attack trigger, and given we already want to make treasure, don’t pass up on Lotho. He’s a low drop that can curve into Isshin, providing a body to attacking with on occasion to help get double or triple attacker triggers. 

Naturally, a land in play is worth more than ephemeral treasures. Look to both Bitterthorn and Sword of the Animist to give you plenty of lands.


While making mana is good, some cards make mana and provide other things. 

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker should absolutely be on your shortlist. Double Shaman token treasures, some card filtering, and then a way to make hastey copies of your creatures (that you don’t care about being blocked and dying) can really accelerate the deck’s gameplan.

Professional Face-Breaker continues to make it into all of my red aggro lists, and though it doesn’t have an attack trigger, it’s good here too. It’s a menace body to help get Isshin triggers, and it generates plenty of value.

Myriad is an attack trigger, so if you truly want to push damage through, running Battle Angels of Tyr, Herald of the Host, Elturel Survivors or Warchief Giant can really bring the pain. I’d start with the Battle Angels, though. Being the cheapest is one thing, but they can also bring you cards, life, and treasure.

Aurelia and her retinue are excellent as part of your “battallion”, and the MKM Aurelia can generate plenty of card draw for anyone attacking wide. Firemane Commando encourages people to not swing at you, too, which helps you survive to the late game.

Thankfully, attacking with two creatures is the new attacking with three, so you an opt for Chivalric Alliance and Horn of the Mark to net you what you need in spades. 

No list of the best attack triggers for Isshin would be complete without Etali, and Etali might even be the reason you build Isshin in the first place. 

There are some newer cards than Etali that offer plenty of value, though, and Pip-Boy 3000 is one. Think of this as a mini Feast and Famine that can sometimes push your attackers through safely, and let you see more cards in a pinch. 

What’s the best way to take advantage of double attack triggers? Well, it used to be that extra combats were the way to double up attack triggers, so there’s no reason to eschew them in your deckbuilding. If you’re an equipment heavy build then Hexplate Wallbreaker is great, as it can be found off of Steelshaper’s Gift. There is the fact you’re in black, though, so maybe just play Demonic Tutor and be done with it.

Like with Aurelia, you can only really benefit from the extra-extra combat if your creatures have vigilance, because both untaps happen first. Having this effect on permanents is still better than on spells though, and Aurelia gets a lot better if you’re playing with dungeons and the Undercity.

Completing the Undercity can have you cheat Aurelia into play, Hexproof until your next turn, with three counters. Honestly, if you’re doing Undercity, your curve should be more midrange and you should play more haymakers because finishing Undercity is too good to pass up on. 


In order to attack, you need creatures. 

I like Anim Pakal and Krenko in Isshin as my first picks, because the former doesn’t have to attack to get the trigger, and the latter provides you with untapped tokens that can’t just be chumped during combat. Both can block really well when they get taller. 

Not to say that Myrel and Adeline are bad, but Myrel needs a lot to go right to not get chump blocked, and Adeline’s tokens often end up eating dirt. If you are going wider though, with a lower curve, then Myrel and Adeline are fantastic with double triggers, and make taking Skyknight Vanguard all the better too. 

When you do want to get in with your board, it might need a little buffing to swing into the green player. Fervent Charge is the Mardu classic that spiked when Isshin was printed, and it remains solid to this day. If you want more permanent buffs, then Anduril, Narsil Reforged might be more up your street, particularly if you have an equipment sub theme.

If you want the biggest buff for your buck and aren’t afraid of angering the table, then look to the Melee triggers of Adriana and Skyhunter Strike Force. If you attack three opponents, that is giving your guys +3/+3… twice. That’s a lot of damage.

Of course, getting in with attacks every turn is vital to winning with Isshin. The deck is a snowball deck, and if you take turns off because your smaller value creatures don’t have good attacks, then you’re dead in the water. Look to Iroas, God of Victory and Dolmen Gate to let you attack freely.


My favorite thing to double up on with Isshin is ways to get opposing life totals to zero as fast as possible.

Isshin is the perfect size to mount this abomination, and it can draw a lot of cards and melt life totals quick.

While the Bronco might eventually get chumped, Karazikar provides more persistent value. Life totals will be moving, cards will be drawn, and goad will start to unlock the board. The tapping down of blockers is super nice too.

Unquenchable Fury is a way to punish those Simic and Sultai players for getting too much value of their own. Burn the Rhystic Study player out by dealing anywhere from ten to thirty damage in one attack. I like this effect so much I’m also running Sword of War and Peace for the protection, lifegain, and burn effect. 

Inferno Titan is the titan of choice for this deck, and while you’ll also get a lot of mileage from Sun Titan, you’re in black, so you have the best reanimation in the game to choose from. Inferno Titan can annihilate blockers and just send a lot of burn to face.

Balor is one I added recently, and it again punishes opponents for having a full grip. It can also shred through treasure people are saving for a rainy day, or rip apart a curated hand in the midgame, removing options. It also just gets in easily. 

Putting punisher effects onto effects you already want, like card and mana advantage, really keeps the deck ticking. Tectonic Giant and Generous Plunderer are both great here, with the latter also being a two-drop menace creature that can help get you your attack triggers.

Removing blockers is really good for this deck, and if you don’t have Dolmen Gate in play, then look to cards like Hammers of Moradin that can tap down a bunch of creatures every combat while dropping in two 3/3s at each opponent it didn’t attack. Agrus Kos also works well here, as it combines removing blockers (literally!) with a double strike vigilance body perfect for attacking and blocking.

If you do choose to go wide, then bring the pain with Commisar Severine Raine, who also gives you some handy card advantage for having all of those tokens. Hellrider is a shoe-in too for those token focused builds. Make those life totals melt


Of course, being such an aggressive deck, you need to also consider ways to keep yourself in the game. While a cheeky Auriok Champion can provide lifegain coupled with protection for good attacks, I want more

Firemane Avenger is another “burn” card following suit with that approach, and crucially gives us an evasive body for attacking with. It can remove creatures or pressure life totals while keeping us topped up. 

Path of Bravery has been an all-star for me. It’s easy to cast, keeps us topped up, and converts into an anthem once we go past 40 life again. 

While I stand by pillowfort being the wrong way to build Isshin, a cheeky Blind Obedience can do a lot to enable attacks and keep life totals healthier.

On average, Brutal Hordechief can probably drain more life than Blind Obedience, and it comes with a nice activated ability that can help unlock the board, too.

The biggest haymaker you can opt for in this category though, is Mishra, Claimed by Gix. Even without Phyrexian Dragon Engine, a 3/5 attacks really easily, and that drain can really keep you alive while killing opponents quicker.

 If you do opt for the meld piece, you get a hell of a lot of value to double dip on provided you can achieve it. 

Rounding things out, though it isn’t an attack trigger, this is definitely an Akroma’s Will deck. While it’s also a Clever Concealment/Teferi’s Protection/Deflecting Swat et al deck too, Akroma’s Will is still my first pick because it helps you get in and finish people off with your lower curve value engines.


And there we have it: all of the best attack triggers to consider for an Isshin deck. The way I see it, you can slice Isshin into one of two main archetypes: midrange with dungeons, or go-wide tokens. Both can play tokens, both can play dungeons, but you’re going to want to go pretty deep in either direction to truly make the most of it.

If you’d like to see a sample decklist, you can check out my Isshin deck, “Like a Dragon”. More than just a pun, it’s a reflection of the deck’s unerring goal to burn out opposing life totals in an inferno of attack triggers. Next thing I need to add is the Mishra I finally traded into. 

If you’re more interested in the go-wide tokens approach, then friend of my discord Skippy668 has a token oriented build that has proven itself many a time that I’d like to share.

I ended up splitting my tokens build into a different deck, Aurelia, the Law Above. If that’s up your alley instead, check out “Gondor Calls for Aid!!” “…And the Boros will Answer” for a similar approach, with more Lord of the Rings for good measure.

Drop me a line on X if you want to chat about Isshin.