Commander Deck Of The Week: Hazezon, Shaper Of Sand

Ready to explore the Deserts? Bennie Smith shares his latest Commander MTG deck, built around Dominaria United’s Hazezon, Shaper of Sand.

Hazezon, Shaper of Sand
Hazezon, Shaper of Sand, illustrated by Bryan Sola

As I write this, we’re in the middle of previews for Unfinity, and the previous week, we were previewing Magic’s Warhammer 40,000 precon decks for Commander.

But the week before that was the release of Dominaria United, and I’m still having fun digging through that set for Commander.  In particular, I love the Legends Retold cards, new spins on many of the old classics from the original Legends. I have a fair number of those original legendary creatures from back then, including Hazezon Tamar, and while I played him a fair amount during the wild and wooly multiplayer days before EDH came along, over time he has definitely gotten severely outclassed by modern legendary creature designs.

Hazezon Tamar

You expect a bit more bang for your seven-mana buck these days, despite the incredible cool Richard Kane Ferguson artwork and the idea of Sand Warrior tokens that Wizards of the Coast (WotC) have never made outside the virtual world of Magic Online (MTGO). So I was incredibly stoked to learn about a Legends Retold version, Hazezon, Shaper of Sand, and the long-awaited Sand Warrior tokens in paper!

The Shaper of Sand

Hazezon, Shaper of Sand

Even cooler, this Hazezon brings us a “Deserts matter” commander, a fantastic reason to dig into our unused land boxes for all the various Desert cards and then to hunt down the handful of nonland cards that care about Deserts. Hazezon wants you to play Desert cards and rewards you with two 1/1 Sand Warrior tokens each time you do. He also lets you play Desert lands from your graveyard, which is quite handy since a lot of Desert cards sacrifice for some extra effect other than tapping for mana.

Hazezon is also excited when your opponents are playing Deserts, since he is now only the second creature to ever have desertwalk evasion. While the chances this ability will be relevant are pretty small, maybe we can find a way to tilt the odds in our favor.

I finally got the deck pulled together and sleeved up this week, and I’m eager to share it with you!  Let’s dig in.

Colorless Deserts

Desert Scavenger Grounds Grasping Dunes Endless Sands Hostile Desert Dunes of the Dead Cradle of the Accursed Sunscorched Desert Survivors' Encampment Painted Bluffs

First up, we have access to all the Deserts that provide colorless mana, and I’ve included all of them here to increase my Desert density.  Scavenger Grounds is a Commander all-star, and I hope to be able to desertwalk on it a few times for free beats. The rest of them aren’t really seen too much, but the small utility of them should be useful here and there. In particular, I like that some of them involve sacrificing themselves for an effect, which should play well with Hazezon’s ability to let you play Deserts from the graveyard, with the notable exception of Scavenger Grounds, which will exile all graveyards.

I don’t normally like having these many colorless sources of mana in a three-color deck, but felt like I needed as many as possible, so I’ve upped my land count to 41 to help ensure I have enough sources for my colors to operate early in the game.  In a way, I’m counting some of these as a spell slot that creates two Sand Warrior tokens.

Specific-Color Deserts

Shefet Dunes Desert of the True Ramunap Ruins Desert of the Fervent Hashep Oasis Desert of the Indomitable

The Deserts that produce mana in specific colors are the workhorses of the deck!  The ones that cycle will let you draw deeper into your deck, and then you can play them from the graveyard with Hazezon. The ones that sacrifice have small but meaningful effects for the cost of sacrificing a Desert, which again you can play from the graveyard with Hazezon. In particular, I’m looking forward to sacrificing Dunes of the Dead to fuel the effect of Shefet Dunes, Hashep Oasis, or Ramunap Ruins, netting a 2/2 Zombie each time and bringing it back with Hazezon.

Deserts Matter

Shefet Monitor Ramunap Hydra Hour of Promise

I’m a little sad that our brief visit to the world of Amonkhet has yielded relatively few “Deserts matter” cards, but I can’t imagine we won’t revisit that world at some point in the future, in which case we’ll hopefully get some more Hazezon goodies.  In the meantime, we’ll enjoy maximum value from Hour of Promise – more Zombies! – and Ramunap Hydra will be a 5/5 most of the time. Shefet Monitor and Sand Strangler were both on the line for consideration, and I ended up keeping Shefet Monitor for the potential of getting a Desert at instant speed for surprise Sand Warrior blockers, while I cut Sand Strangler to make room for other goodies.

Lands Matter

Lotus Cobra Llanowar Loamspeaker Blackblade Reforged Erinis, Gloom Stalker Felidar Retreat Geode Rager Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar

Since we’re wanting to do cool things with Deserts, including some number of lands-matter cards to leverage additional synergies makes sense. Lotus Cobra is particularly helpful since some Deserts and other lands in my deck enter the battlefield tapped, so that extra mana keeps our tempo. Felidar Retreat can either help go wide or boost our entire team for each landfall trigger. And I love that Geode Rager goads an entire player’s team of creatures with each landfall trigger, saving your tokens from chump blocking duty that turn.

Erinis, Gloom Stalker gives us another way to bring Deserts or other lands from the graveyard back to the battlefield and can actually ramp if you’ve already played your lands for the turn, but hopefully she survives combat.

Play Extra Lands

Wayward Swordtooth Mina and Denn, Wildborn

I could squeeze in at least one more card that lets us play an extra land each turn into the deck, but I’m not sure which ones I want to add.  I really like both of these; Wayward Swordtooth has a sizeable body attached, and it should be easy to trigger ascend extra lands and Sand Warrior tokens. Mina and Denn, Wildborn’s activated ability can pair up nicely with a large creature anyone controls that does not otherwise have trample, and let you bounce and replay a Desert if you don’t have another land to play.  I’ve got an Exploration and a Rites of Flourishing on standby to add to the deck if it seems to need them.

Sacrifice Lands

Elvish Reclaimer Crop Rotation Sprouting Goblin Harrow Titania, Protector of Argoth

Speaking of sacrificing Dunes of the Dead, we can tap into a fair number of other ways to sacrifice lands for profit, potentially putting other Deserts in the graveyard to replay with Hazezon.

Elvish Reclaimer is the gold standard, letting us Crop Rotation each turn for two mana, but we also get a nifty new card from Dominaria United, the curiously named Sprouting Goblin. For a cheap kicker cost, you can search your library for a land with a basic land type and put it in your hand, but what’s really cool is the ability to tap and sacrifice a land to draw a card, a really sweet way to grind some value if you would otherwise miss a land drop and have Hazezon on the battlefield.

I haven’t been able to locate my copy of Goblin Trenches from the dusty depths of my gold card boxes, but when I do, I’ll probably squeeze that in here as another way to sacrifice Deserts for profit.

Of course, the ultimate payoff for sacrificing lands is Titania, Protector of Argoth.  Churning out 5/3 Elemental tokens gives us a high-powered creature to go along with 1/1 Sand Warriors and the occasional 2/2 Zombie.

Tokens Matter

Jaheira, Friend of the Forest Cryptolith Rite Gala Greeters Devilish Valet Natural Order Eldrazi Monument Jetmir, Nexus of Revels Craterhoof Behemoth

Creating Sand Warrior (and other) tokens is another awesome reason to play Jaheira, Friend of the Forest, and it’s so awesome, I’m also including Cryptolith Rite for even more mana potential!  All the alliance triggers had me find room for Gala Greeters and Devilish Valet too.  Potentially making two or more tokens every turn has me reaching for Eldrazi Monument for all those impressive extra abilities, and that extra sacrificial fodder prompted me to give Natural Order a slot.  Sacrificing a Sand Warrior to scare up Craterhoof Behemoth or Jetmir, Nexus of Revels is a fantastic way to close out a long game.


Bazaar Trader Harmless Offering

I was initially lamenting that Hazezon’s desertwalk seemed like a throwaway ability, but then I was reminded that red has a couple of ways to permanently giving a permanent to an opponent with Harmless Offering and Bazaar Trader! Enabling a 3/3 commander to attack one player and be unblockable won’t be game-ending the vast majority of pods, but the one time it does will make for an incredible story and is well worth the slot.  In the meantime, it could be worth some political maneuverings to give opponents a 1/1 Sand Warrior for chump-blocking duty occasionally.

Card Draw

Skullclamp Radha, Heart of Keld Augur of Autumn Tireless Tracker Harmonize Toski, Bearer of Secrets Ohran Frostfang

Playing so many lands means I wanted a fair amount of card draw to ensure that I have nonland gas in the tank each turn. Skullclamp is positively nuts when you have a bunch of free 1/1 token creatures popping up here and there; Ohran Frostfang and Toski, Bearer of Secrets provide another way to turn the token creatures into fresh cards.

Radha, Heart of Keld and Augur of Autumn provide a measure of card advantage by letting us play lands from the top of the library, which will also help keep drawing gas.


Swords to Plowshares Vandalblast Nature's Claim Qasali Pridemage Hull Breach Shattering Pulse Allay Contraband Livestock Wrath of God Crush Contraband Silklash Spider World Breaker Vanquish the Horde

There are tons of removal options in Naya, and I tapped into a bunch of them here. World Breaker provides a later-game resilient threat that can also provide a sacrifice outlet for Deserts.


Tamiyo's Safekeeping Giver of Runes Blind Obedience Questing Beast Saryth, the Viper's Fang Titan of Industry

Having interaction for your opponents’ fiendish plans is important for most Commander decks, so I have added a few to the list. I have really been enjoying Blind Obedience these days for slowing down the glut of Treasure cards that WotC has been hosing us down with, and randomly shutting down haste can be helpful. And any green creature-centric deck needs a slot for Questing Beast so that you don’t get locked out by Fog effects.

Mana Ramp

Sol Ring Birds of Paradise Reclusive Taxidermist Nature's Lore Three Visits

Lastly, I found room for more traditional mana ramp spells. In particular, I wanted help in fixing my colors of mana early, since Hazezon costs one of each Naya color to cast, which is why I have the potential for a Turn 1 Birds of Paradise or a Turn 2 ramp/color-fixing spell.

The List

So, here is the decklist as it stands today:

Hazezon, Shaper of Sand
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 09-26-2022
Magic Card Back

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

What would you put in your Hazezon, Shaper of Sand deck that I may have missed here?  Would you squeeze in Exploration or Rites of Flourishing, and if so, what would you cut?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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