Hello and welcome to Svogthir’s Study: a place to appreciate Golgari in Commander.
I struggled to sit down and write this one. Bodes well for the second article in a series, right?
The truth of the matter is this: Iname as One is not a good Commander. I’m not saying you can’t run it or that you shouldn’t, but the card has a ton of baggage. Let’s look at it piece by piece.
First, that mana cost. A whopping twelve mana. Twelve! If you manage to hit a ramp spell on two mana, four mana, and two on six, you’re still not likely to get this thing out until the eighth. And you have to cast it from your hand to boot, which means using cards like Command Beacon, Netherborn Altar, and Road of Return. Even if you manage to cast this from your hand you can’t pull any Phyrexian Reclamation shenanigans since you have to exile Iname as One to get its effect. But let’s say you go through all of this work and you get two Spirits of your choosing. In black and green, you can’t get any combination of cards that has a large enough impact to warrant spending 12 mana.
I’m not going to tell you to not build Iname as One if you want to do just that. Commander should be about what you want to do. What I am saying is that someone who enjoys building around restrictions, Iname as One is a bridge too far.
All that being said, Iname as One is important to understand as one expression of Golgari as a color pair: it perfectly represents the cycle of life and death.
Black and green were set up from the start as a color pair that cared about the way life and death interaction. You can look at Dark Heart of the Wood to understand this – sacrifice a Forest to gain some life. Mirage block continued this trend – Cadaverous Bloom traded cards in your hand for mana; Grim Feast turns your opponent’s dead creatures into life points; Squandered Resources let’s you sacrifice lands for one final burst of mana. Even Vhati il-Dal can be seen as balancing life and death if you squint hard enough.
The trend continued in Apocalypse, and not just because there was a card literally named Life // Death. Aside from Llanowar Dead and Pernicious Deed, all the black-green cards that came at the end of Invasion block represented the life cycle. The entire concept of the Golgari, which would come in the set after Iname as One was released, is built on the truth that life ends and new life begins.
Is Iname as One a good Commander? I’m not going to answer that. But it is important in that it clearly spells out what Golgari cares about: the coin of life and death and making the best use of both sides.
Treasured Find: Gravewaker