Grinding Hedrons With Zada

Zada, Hedron Grinder is one of the most exciting and explosive red legends to hit the Commander scene in a while! See what Bennie has planned for the latest Goblin in all her hedron-grinding glory!

Like everyone else, I’ve been jumping on the internet each morning looking to see what new goodies from Battle for Zendikar have been spoiled
today, and this week unveiled a very interesting red legend that’s tempting to build a deck around. If you haven’t seen Zada, Hedron Grinder yet, check her

Bruce Richard previewed the card on Tuesday in his Serious Fun column

on the Mothership so be sure to check that out as well. He brought up that Zada, Hedron Grinder calls back to a sweet and weird card that was printed way
back in Guildpact: Ink-Treader Nephilim!

If you’ve read me for any length of time, it won’t surprise you to learn I tried really hard to make a Nephilim deck work in Guildpact Standard,
and when things went according to plan (i.e. my opponent didn’t immediately kill each Nephilim I played) things got crazy. Ink-Treader Nephilim was an
all-star when I got to target it with a pump spell that would also draw a card (a “cantrip”), but sometimes it led to awkward boardstates when my opponent
had creatures I wasn’t overly interested in pumping. Ink-Treader Nephilim copies the spell that targets it for all other creatures in play no matter which
side of the battlefield they lurked.

Zada, Hedron Grinder narrows the scope of the ability, so while you won’t draw as many cards from your cantrips, you can load up on beneficial spells and
not worry about awkwardly helping out opposing creatures you don’t want to help. Sounds like a fantastically fun build-around for Commander to me, don’t
you think?

There’s a really cool tension in Zada, Hedron Grinder’s design as you think about how to build a deck around her. On the one hand, you want a good number
of spells in your deck that you can target Zada for copying… but at the same time you’d want a fair number of creatures in your deck so you have plenty of
targets for the copies. The more creatures you have in play, the more value you gain from spells targeting Zada. Unfortunately, many of your
Commander opponents are going to have lots of mass removal in their decks to stymie players who need a critical number of creatures in play. With all that
in mind, let’s see what we can cook up!


Crimson Wisps, Accelerate, Aleatory, Chaotic Strike, Balduvian Rage

When you’ve got Zada, Hedron in play with a handful of creatures, you’re going to cast a cantrip spell on Zada. This will replenish your hand of resources
you’ve had to deploy to the battlefield and minimize the risk of over-extending into a board sweeper. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many really good
choices here in a mono-red deck, with Balduvian Rage likely the best of the bunch. It can pump your team for offense or defense and lets you draw a card
for each creature you have on the battlefield (though you’ll need to wait until next turn for those cards). In a pinch you can fire it off for just one red
mana if you find all your creatures getting destroyed by a sweeper spell. The other four spells have slight utility and are there mostly for the draw power
with Zada.

Pump You Up

Crowd’s Favor, Seething Anger, Titan’s Strength, Brute Force, Temur Battle Rage, Fatal Frenzy, Blazing Shoal

While these spells won’t swell your hand with cards, they can lead to some crazy blow-outs. Crowd’s Favor is a nice trick if you need to tap out to play
some creatures and an opponent thinks you’re vulnerable to attacks; assign blockers and then cast Crowd’s Favor with convoke to pump your team and give
them first strike. Titan’s Strength may not cantrip, but it’s a good way to provide your team with a large power boost while ensuring your next draw is
fantastic. Fatal Frenzy and Blazing Shoal are your haymaker combo cards: just imagine attacking with Zada and four random creatures, cast Blazing Shoal
targeting Zada and pitch Insurrection to give your team +8/+0, then cast Fatal Frenzy on Zada to double your team’s power and give them trample. Sure,
they’ll all be sacrificed at the end of the turn, but you’re unleashing over 90 points of trampling damage on your attack. Toss a Temur Battle Rage into
the mix for more fun!

Sweet Tricks

Fall of the Hammer, Twinflame, Commando Raid, Soul’s Fire, Tail Slash, Reiterate, Past in Flames

In conjunction with a pump spell, some of these can add more value to Zada and her team. Play Twinflame before your pump spells or cantrips to nearly
double your targets (just remember that the copy made of Zada will immediately be sacrificed due to the legend rule). Fall of the Hammer and Tail Slash can
clear away blockers or strike down a troublesome creature in the middle of your attack step, while Soul’s Fire can go straight to a player’s dome. Commando
Raid is a way to ensure that non-blocking creatures your opponent controls don’t survive to attack you back. Since so many spells we’re playing on Zada are
so cheap, it’ll be relatively easy to use Reiterate with buyback to double the fun in the midgame, and for the lategame, Past in Flames will often be able
to cobble together another big haymaker turn if we need it.


Goblin Burrows, Legion Loyalist, Spikeshot Elder, Goblin Chirurgeon, Mogg War Marshal, Warren Instigator, Mogg Maniac, Tuktuk the Explorer, Goblin Chieftain, Goblin Warchief; Squee, Goblin Nabob; Krenko, Mob Boss; Beetleback Chief, Moggcatcher, Siege-Gang Commander; Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker; Mogg Infestation, Goblin Marshal

I’ve mustered up a lot of great spells to target Zada, so now I need some creatures around to benefit from the copy ability. My gut instinct was to look
for creatures that created more than one creature when they entered the battlefield, and not-surprisingly, many of the best of those are Goblins. Since
Zada, Hedron Grinder is a Goblin, it made sense to layer in some Goblin tribal synergies we can lean on if things aren’t going according to plan. Squee,
Goblin Nabob may look a little weird in the list, but Squee is a Goblin and he’s also a resilient creature that you can bank on keeping around throughout
the game (while not being so scary as to provoke graveyard hate). Moggcatcher does good work-activate to search up Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, then copy
Moggcatcher to go search up another Goblin, like maybe Goblin Marshal. Instant army!

Mo’ Creatures

Kher Keep, Nim Deathmantle, Young Pyromancer, Goblin Warrens, Mass Mutiny, Rapacious One, Mob Rule, Insurrection

Goblin Warrens can keep the Goblin train running once you’ve got two Goblins out there (paging Mr. Squee), but I thought a few other non-Goblin-themed
cards could make the cut. With so many spells in the deck, Young Pyromancer seems like a natural fit for providing additional bodies to leverage value from
Zada. Rapacious One might be a little too optimistic, but with trample and all the creature-pump in the deck I’m figuring it won’t be too hard to crank out
a fair number of Eldrazi Spawn. Kher Keep is a fantastic way to turn extra mana into another creature each turn without costing a spell slot.

Of course, sometimes the best way to boost your creature count is to steal them, thus Mass Mutiny, Mob Rule, and big daddy Insurrection. These spells are
already great haymaker plays, but if you get to throw around Zada copies too? Zada bo Bada Bonana Fanna fo Fada!


Mind Stone, Commander’s Sphere, Unstable Obelisk, Hedron Archive, Dreamstone Hedron

I’m not entirely sure how grinding hedrons translates into copying spells, but that’s okay, we’ll roll with it. Battle for Zendikar brings us a
pretty sweet hedron in Hedron Archive, which fills in the gap between Mind Stone and Dreamstone Hedron. They give you mana when you need ’em and can be
cashed in for cards when you don’t. I’ve thrown in Commander’s Sphere and Unstable Obelisk too as honorary hedrons you can “cash out” when needed.

One last question… if you grind hedrons, can you make coffee with the grounds? Maybe that’s just the jolt the Zendikari need to kick Eldrazi butt! Someone
should do an alter of Zada, Hedron Grinder in a Starbucks outfit.

Pyromancer’s Goggles

I figured with all the spells we’re casting, Pyromancer’s Goggles can function as a backup to Zada, Hedron Grinder in case she’s in Time Out (a.k.a. the
command zone). Zada’s copying ability triggers on casting, so the copy of a spell made by Pyromancer’s Goggles won’t totally double your fun, but an extra
copy is certain to be welcome.

Of course, where things get really fun is when you get to double some of the bigger spells in the deck. For one thing, if you don’t mind destroying your
actual creature cards (including, say, Anger) copying Mogg Infestation can lead to some serious swarms of Goblins if you target yourself. Doubling Mana
Geyser can lead to a huge rush of mana. Keep in mind too that Pyromancer’s Goggles can just be tapped for mana to cast creature spells too.

Fiery Gambit

I have a confession to make. When I was first researching spells for this deck, one that leapt off the screen and hooked me right in my Johnny mouth was
Fiery Gambit. Fiery Gambit is a weird coin-flipping card, but it does have one single creature target so it’s eligible to target Zada, Hedron Grinder. I
had a vision of casting Fiery Gambit on Zada with a board of ten or more other creatures and going into a coin-flipping frenzy! Of course, the odds are not
in your favor to win the Gambit’s grand prize, so we’d have to play Krark’s Thumb to help things along. How glorious a turn it would be if we got to deal
six to each opponent plus draw nine cards plus untap all lands I control for two, three, or four times?

I’m already playing Accelerate and Aleatory, so I should find room for Chance Encounter too!

Eventually I realized I was probably stretching my theme a bit by cramming these extra elements into the deck, but I’m not forgetting my dream. I’ll need
to percolate on the idea a bit, but I think the dream might have to involve a five-color deck with Zada, Hedron Grinder alongside Ink-Treader Nephilim and
Krark’s Thumb with copying and coin-flipping madness. Stay tuned!

But back to reality… here’s how my Zada, Hedron Grinder deck has shaped up:

I have to say, Battle for Zendikar already looks to have a ton of sweet stuff I want for both Commander and Standard. What cards have you excited
for your 100-card decks? Are there any cards or themes you think I’m missing from Zada, Hedron Grinder?

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visonary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)