There’s few things that say Commander like a truly oddball theme deck, be it a “book tribal” list with Bosh, Iron Golem to throw encyclopedias at people or a Rubinia deck that wants to make tokens of other people’s commanders and populate them as many times as possible. This is the format where pretty much anything can be viable, and this week’s submission is no exception.
Goblins are just about my favorite thing, so when the Commander 2015 sets were announced I immediately ordered the Mizzix deck, but the other new legends were also pretty amazing so I quickly ordered single cards for most of them as well. The following list is my first attempt at a Mazirek deck.
Apart from Goblins, another favorite creature type of mine is Fungus and this deck is built around a Fungus core that I’ve been running since I first discovered Commander (or EDH as it was then). The deck has had many different commanders ranging from Thelon of Havenwood up to Ghave, Guru of Spores, and while it can be slow to get rolling it has always been solid, and once it reaches a critical mass of Saproling tokens it can cause absolute havoc in the red zone. The Pallid Mycoderm enabled by Ghave’s white mana could be especially deadly, pumping all the fungi and saprolings up to gigantic size.
That’s an option that this incarnation no longer has access too, but Mazirek’s ability has been just as effective in the games I’ve played so far and as my commander he obviously shows up much more reliably than the Pallid Mycoderm ever could.
Apart from the fungi, which were lifted straight from previous versions of the deck my card shortlist mostly consisted of anything which had the word sacrifice in the text box. Even the non-basic lands were often chosen for this reason rather than for mana-fixing or other abilities. Rupture Spire, for example, is a land I seldom play, but in this case it’s like a Sorcery for 0 mana that adds a +1/+1 counter to all my creatures. Spawning Bed sacrifices itself for three Scions that can immediately sacrifice as well for a total of four +1/+1 counters, not bad when you have a bunch of Saprolings in play.
One card that has always had the potential to go crazy, and more so than ever in this deck, is Mycoloth. The more +1/+1 counters it has, the more Saprolings it produces which are immediately available for sacrifice to produce still more +1/+1’s.
So, it plays pretty well, but it isn’t really tuned up yet, and Fungus core aside, it still feels like a list of random Golgari sacrifice stuff rather than a living, breathing deck. If you could help polish off the rough edges and produce a more coherent whole that would be just great. One last thing, I’m not a fan of tutoring or infinite combos, so none of those shenanigans please. Also I really don’t enjoy having my creatures or stuff stolen by my opponents, and taking their stuff just makes me feel guilty, so none of that either.
Fungus Tribal isn’t exactly a well-known strategy in Commander (or anywhere, really), but there’s a decent amount of internal synergy here, and Mazirek gives the list a lot more punch than you would expect.
Despite being overshadowed by Meren of Clan Nel Toth, I think Mazirek is actually one of the more powerful commanders from this year’s precon decks. Triggering off of every player’s sacrifices is great since almost every deck has a few cards that trigger it before we get our own cards involved, and the power buff being permanent means that you can grow your army to gigantic proportions over the course of a few turns.
Since sacrificial mechanics are so commonplace in commander, there’s an almost unlimited number of ways that you can build a Mazirek deck, and Fungus tribal is a wacky enough build that I got a few laughs writing this article. That’s not to say the Thallid clan isn’t powerful, and having as much flexibility as the variety of Saproling sacrifice outlets gives you makes the deck a legitimate threat. But there’s one problem that all Mazirek decks share and Nigel’s deck in particular highlights.
So. Many. Dice.
Your commander’s ability guarantees that you’ll need (often multiple) dice for each creature you control, and the Fungus theme needs more dice for spore counters, probably several more to keep track of how many Saprolings you have, and then we get to the problems of keeping track of designating tokens with different numbers of counters on them…
Long story short, I recommend getting your hands on as many of those mini d-sixes as possible and getting used to using them.
As far as the deck itself goes, Nigel was spot-on when he said it lacked focus. There’s a lot of off-theme and subpar cards we can get rid of, and the result will be a lot more streamlined.
Corpse Traders, Drooling Groodion, and Golgari Guildmage are all getting cut because their sacrifice abilities cost too much to activate repeatedly, and in the case of the first two, it’s for a mediocre effect. Thoughtpicker Witch and Gutless Ghoul are easy to activate, but their effects are pretty subpar.
The pair of devour creatures come out because while they’re a great way to eat a bunch of tokens, we can do better than gaining life or making a single opponent discard their hand. Druid Lyrist is simply getting upgraded to something that can hit a wider array of targets. Finally, I’m cutting Reassembling Skeleton because I think this deck would rather have more sources of token production than a single creature that comes back repeatedly.
Sporemound, Korozda Guildmage, Thelondite Hermit, and Nemata, Grove Guardian are all coming in as additional ways to make Saproling tokens. The Guildmage comes with the additional benefit of being a sacrifice outlet at the same time, and the Hermit pumps all of our tokens. Nemata does both, and he does a pretty credible imitation of Pallid Mycoderm for a nonwhite deck.
Plaugemaw Beast can only sacrifice things once a turn, but proliferating all the +1/+1 counters from your commander and the spore counters on your Fungi makes it worth it. Thought Gorger and Bloodspore Thrinax both play very well with the ever-increasing counters on your team, either to give you monstrosities in combat or draw you upwards of ten to twenty cards when you finally get rid of Thought Gorger. Thelon of Havenwood is getting included because he’s an obscure Lord for the Fungus tribe, and if someone manages to kill any of your Thallids, Thelon can eat them to turn up token production from the rest.
I’m not a fan of auras in general, and these two are especially underwhelming. There are much better ways to make tokens than Fists of Ironwood, and while Ordeal of Nylea is a really cute way to ramp in this deck, it just doesn’t have the punch that I want.
Seal of Doom is hard removal that triggers your commander, and playing it out in advance can discourage people from pointing treats your way. Dictate of Erebos serves to magnify all of your sacrifice triggers for each opponent and will often chew through your opponents’ boardstate single-handedly. I could have included the full package of Grave Pact and Butcher of Malikir, but I felt like one such effect was enough if you don’t want to go for a full lockdown build of the deck.
Primal Vigor and Doubling Season get included for the same fairly obvious reasons that Corpsejack Menace was in your original list. Primal Vigor doubles both your Saproling tokens and the +1/+1 counters from your commander, while Doubling Season does all that while also doubling up on the spore counters you use to make tokens. (And doesn’t help your opponents at all, unlike Primal Vigor.) Doubling Season in particular is fairly expensive, but the rest of the overhaul turned out to be pretty cheap so I didn’t feel too bad about listing a single $30 card. If you don’t want to spring for a card that expensive, Parallel Lives fills a similar role and is barely a sixth of the cost.
The one-shot mana fixers are coming out. I know they trigger Mazirek and replace themselves, but you want actual ramp in these slots, not filtering. Golgari Cluestone is simply getting an upgrade.
Commander’s Sphere is what you want out of your mana rocks: ramp when you need it and the ability to cash it in for a card and a slew of +1/+1 counters later. It’s also functionally identical to Golgari Cluestone in the deck, except you don’t have to pay to get the card. I almost included Mind Stone for similar reasons, but decided on a different card that we’ll get to later.
Contagion Engine is turning into something of a favorite niche card for me, since in a lot of ways it serves as a board wipe that misses your own creatures, and especially for a colorless card, that’s a very rare effect. On top of that it lets you double-proliferate all of your counters every turn, which will get out of hand fast.
Eldrazi Monument serves the double purpose of shielding your team from opposing Wraths (very important since your gameplan involves a lot of beating down) and sending them into the skies for an alpha strike. Useful at almost any point in the game, all it requires is a token every turn to sacrifice, which is a cost you’re more than willing to pay.
Looking at these cuts it’s a little funny how many of them are removal spells, but I tend to lean more towards advancing your own gameplan than interfering with others. Unless your metagame is made of Token decks, Bile Blight is a pretty bad card in Commander, and even then you’ll be lucky to kill much of anything with a mere -3/-3. Setessan Tactics is pretty good removal for mono-green, but you’re in green-black and have much better options available. Tragic Slip came out to make room for Seal of Doom, although normally I like Tragic Slip a lot.
I get what you were going for with Ichor Explosion, but even if this might be the best deck to make it shine, seven mana is just way too much for a conditional wrath. At that point I’d rather just pay nine for Plague Wind and call it a day. Similar reasoning applies to Spread the Sickness. Unless you’re getting a lot of additional upside, I just don’t want to pay five for a single-target kill spell, and while proliferate is on-theme, it isn’t enough.
Edge of Autumn is an awkward ramp spell that I’ve never been a fan of for a very simple reason. It’s live in the opening rounds of the game (usually until turn 5, unless you’re missing land drops) and again once you’re completely flooded on lands (depends on the deck, but in Commander you usually want at least eight to nine lands in play and often a lot more than that). The problem is that it’s completely dead between those points, and since you probably won’t be hitting all your land drops past turn 5 or so, you have a card in your deck that does literally nothing if you draw it anywhere between turn 5 and turn 12 to 13. That’s a very long way of saying it’s not worth the spell slot.
Drawn early Primal Growth gets you to five mana on turn 4 to get Mazirek out early, but drawn after your general is out it’ll ramp you twice and give you a trigger to pump your team. Fungal Sprouting and Sprout Swarm give you ways to flood the board with tokens without waiting for the spore counter engines to get up and running. Fungal Sprouting scales very well into the lategame as your creatures get bigger and bigger, while Sprout Swarm is an unstoppable one-card army given enough time.
Finally, Toxic Deluge is coming in to replace Ichor Explosion as a board wipe that you can tailor to miss your creatures. I really wish that the only viable option wasn’t a Legacy staple with a price tag to match, but this deck really can’t afford to get rid of its whole board, and this is the only card I found that really worked. The next-best options were Plague Wind and In Garruk’s Wake, both at nine mana. If your metagame is slow enough for that to be a reasonable point to reach before you need a wrath, then I’d recommend In Garruk’s wake before Plague Wind, and it isn’t an embarrassing card to run if you don’t want to spring for Toxic Deluge.
It’s pretty common knowledge that having spell effects on lands makes even very marginal effects playable. The reason for this is that since you’re getting the land anyway, whatever else you get is pure upside and (effectively) doesn’t take up a card slot. This reasoning falls apart with your use of Rupture Spire as a sorcery though. Because you’re intending to sacrifice the land and never get mana from it, it’s basically taking up a slot that a real spell would normally be occupying (doubly so since Rupture Spire is a pretty bad land on its own). And you can do so much better out of a spell than putting a counter on your whole team.
I’m not as big a fan of the Blighted lands as many people seem to be, but this deck is the right place for them. You’re already running Diabolic Edict, so an overcosted version on a land seems fine and even gets you two Mazirek triggers. Blighted Woodland gets you a trigger and ramps; although getting from five to six mana isn’t the most important in this deck, it’s still relevant.
Putting all the changes together we’re left with this:
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Viridian Zealot
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Thallid
- 1 Elvish Farmer
- 1 Nemata, Grove Guardian
- 1 Sadistic Hypnotist
- 1 Deathspore Thallid
- 1 Savage Thallid
- 1 Sporesower Thallid
- 1 Thallid Shell-Dweller
- 1 Thelon of Havenwood
- 1 Thelonite Hermit
- 1 Psychotrope Thallid
- 1 Vitaspore Thallid
- 1 Fleshwrither
- 1 Sporoloth Ancient
- 1 Utopia Mycon
- 1 Fleshbag Marauder
- 1 Mycoloth
- 1 Skullmulcher
- 1 Mold Shambler
- 1 Thought Gorger
- 1 Sylvok Replica
- 1 Plaguemaw Beast
- 1 Korozda Guildmage
- 1 Corpsejack Menace
- 1 Sporemound
- 1 Bloodspore Thrinax
- 1 Natural Balance
- 13 Forest
- 1 Diabolic Edict
- 1 Saproling Symbiosis
- 1 Victimize
- 1 Night Soil
- 1 Barter in Blood
- 1 Harrow
- 1 Attrition
- 1 Primal Growth
- 1 Seal of Doom
- 1 Innocent Blood
- 1 Doubling Season
- 1 Putrefy
- 1 Curse of the Cabal
- 1 Smallpox
- 1 Verdant Embrace
- 1 Seal of Primordium
- 1 Sprout Swarm
- 1 Eyeblight's Ending
- 1 Bone Splinters
- 1 Armillary Sphere
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Contagion Engine
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Fungal Sprouting
- 1 Ultimate Price
- 1 Primal Vigor
- 1 Toxic Deluge
- 1 Dictate of Erebos
- 1 Deathreap Ritual
- 1 Hardened Scales
- 1 Retribution of the Ancients
- 1 Commander's Sphere
As always, Nigel will receive $20 in store credit to StarCityGames.com for having his deck featured in this week’s Dear Azami column, which he can put towards acquiring some of the cards I’ve suggested here. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at the price behind this overhaul.
|Seal of Doom||$0.15|
|Primal Growth||$ 0.15|
|Thelon of Havenwood||$0.49|
|Nemata, Grove Guardian||$1.45|
|Dictate of Erebos||$1.89|
The changes add up to just under 75 dollars, although that total could be cut drastically by replacing a few of the most expensive cards with some of the budget suggestions I mentioned in the column.
Next week, Jess will be tackling the last of the backup generals from the precon decks, so anyone who wants to take on Simic Snakes with Kaseto at the helm should send in a decklist. This is a great chance to get your work featured.
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