MTG Commander Deep Dive: The Azlask Experience With Azlask, The Swelling Scourge

Which MTG Modern Horizons 3 Commander card hits harder than Hendrix? Bennie Smith breaks down Azlask, the Swelling Scourge.

Azlask, the Swelling Scourge
Azlask, the Swelling Scourge, illustrated by Alexander Mokhov

“Be forewarned. Used to be an Experience meant making you a bit older. This one makes you wider… You hear with new ears, after being Experienced.The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?

Modern Horizons 3 Prerelease weekend is in the books, and hopefully you’ve had a few reps with some of the new cards from the new set. We’ve also got Modern Horizons 3 Commander decks with a bunch of new cards, and today I wanted to explore the alternative commander from the Eldrazi Incursion deck, Azlask, the Swelling Scourge!

Azlask, the Swelling Scourge

Ostensibly a five-color Eldrazi commander, this legend is an “experience” lord where all of the cards that care about experience could potentially live together in one deck! Sure, Azlask can increase experience on its own by having colorless creatures die, and Azlask itself is an experience payoff with its activated ability, but I think it would be much more fun to jam all the other experience legends with their own sweet experience payoffs too, and round out the deck with colorless creatures and sacrifice outlets to let Azlask tick up that experience and set up the big Overrun-like effect.

Note that Azlask’s activated ability boosts all of your creatures +X/+X, where X is your experience; it just gives a little extra to any Scions or Spawns you might have around. I actually find giving those creatures annihilator 1 the least interesting of abilities, since I’m not a fan of the annihilator mechanic, even when it’s just annihilator 1, so my plan is to just use Scion and Spawn tokens as colorless creatures you can sacrifice for mana to cast other spells and to ramp up that experience. But if your Commander pod is fine with the annihilator mechanic, feel free to conserve those Scion and Spawn tokens for the big attack!

Okay, let’s dive in!

Other Experience Payoffs

Meren of Clan Nel Toth Otharri, Suns' Glory Minthara, Merciless Soul Mizzix of the Izmagnus Ezuri, Claw of Progress Daxos the Returned Kelsien, the Plague Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas

Where in the world did Minthara, Merciless Soul come from? I know – now – it was printed in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, a set that I loved and bought a ton of booster packs that I cracked open. I probably have one lurking in the depths of my gold uncommon/commons box, but it never registered to me how bonkers it is when it comes to experience. It provides a power boost to all your creatures based on your experience as a static effect, so it works as a powerful backup to Azlask’s activated ability. And it will crank up experience counters when you sacrifice those Eldrazi token creatures for mana.

Ezuri, Claw of Progress also likes seeing those Eldrazi token creatures since they are small enough to generate experience, and then its trigger can put a bunch of +1/+1 counters on some other creature. Meren of Clan Nel Toth likes it when you sacrifice those Eldrazi token creatures for mana, generating extra experience, and either reanimating a creature from your graveyard during your end step, or putting a more expensive one into your hand.

The other three from the original Commander 2015 cycle of experience commanders don’t really play into your gameplan, but they still provide some value. Daxos the Returned can crank out white and black Spirit enchantment creature tokens that are sized based on your total experience, and Mizzix of the Izmagnus can discount whatever instant or sorcery spells you want to cast. And Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas becomes a monstrously huge creature with double strike, and since it has vigilance it can both attack and block.

Kelsien, the Plague also gets huge based on your experience level, and also has vigilance so it can attack and block, but instead of double strike like Kalemne, it has haste, which unlocks its tap ability right away. Dealing a point of damage to a creature can help cull away small token creatures and add to your experience stash.  Otharri, Suns’ Glory has flying, lifelink and haste, and when it attacks, it will let you create a 2/2 red Rebel creature token that’s tapped and attacking for each experience counter you have, which can make quite an impressive army of creatures that could be pumped with Azlask for a sweet late-game finish.

Devoid Creatures

Smothering Abomination Sire of Stagnation Herald of Kozilek Deepfathom Skulker Void Grafter Ruination Guide Mist Intruder Sowing Mycospawn Writhing Chrysalis Drowner of Truth Emrakul's Messenger Propagator Drone Thief of Existence

We might want to run Eldrazi creatures with devoid since they are technically colorless creatures, even though they require colored mana to cast. If one dies – possibly by your own devices – Azlask will increase your experience count. Smothering Abomination has double black in its mana value, so it might be tough to cast, but it works great as both a sacrifice outlet and a card drawing engine when you sacrifice the Eldrazi tokens for mana.

Sire of Stagnation is another incredible card draw engine, assuming your opponents will be playing lands, and is especially punishing to players who ramp their lands hard. Deepfathom Skulker is another way to draw extra cards, and making a creature unblockable can be key to punching through defenses. The land side of Drowner of Truth is an excellent way to fix your colors early, or if you draw it later on, you can cast it for a large body along with two Eldrazi Spawn.  

Other Colorless Creatures

Conduit of Ruin Oblivion Sower Solemn Simulacrum Spellskite Haywire Mite Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter Geode Golem Canoptek Scarab Swarm

Most artifact creatures will also count as colorless creatures, and there is no end to the number of them you could put in this deck, but for this list, I picked ones I thought would work particularly well. Solemn Simulacrum will help land ramp you, potentially fixing your colors, and when it dies you get to draw a card. Spellskite is awesome at protecting Azlask from targeted removal and is also incredibly disruptive to people playing Aura decks.

Haywire Mite is great at taking out noncreature artifacts or enchantments, even indestructible ones like The One Ring, and since it’s self-sacrificing, it’s an easy way to get an experience counter with Azlask. Liberator, Urza’s Battlethopter lets you cast colorless spells (and artifact spells) as though they have flash, and it will grow over time.

Scion Tokens

Sifter of Skulls Catacomb Sifter Brood Monitor Drowner of Hope Vile Redeemer Warping Wail From Beyond Spawnbed Protector Eldrazi Confluence

I’m definitely in the business of making Scion and Spawn tokens so that I can sacrifice them for mana to cast other spells and rapidly ramp up my experience. Sifter of Skulls is perfect here. It’s devoid, so it counts as colorless, and whenever a nontoken creature I control dies, it will make a Scion token. Catacomb Sifter even has a nice triggered ability to scry 1 that works great with your creatures dying. Eldrazi Confluence is a fantastic new card that works well here. Each of the options can be situationally great, and the best one you can double or even triple up on.

Spawn Tokens

Awakening Zone Pawn of Ulamog Growth Spasm Emrakul's Hatcher Rapacious One Kozilek's Predator Kozilek's Unsealing Kozilek's Command Path of Annihilation Spawn-Gang Commander Glaring Fleshraker Glimpse the Impossible Idol of False Gods Basking Broodscale Chittering Dispatcher Eldrazi Repurposer Skittering Precursor Warped Tusker Drownyard Lurker

The older creatures that make Spawn tokens tend to not also have devoid, so I’d be less inclined to include these, since they won’t be colorless creatures, and you won’t get that experience from Azlask when they die. But if you’re going with a strong Eldrazi sub-theme, you might want them for your deck.

Some of the newer cards, though—wow!  Kozilek’s Unsealing can generate Spawn tokens when you cast creature spells that cost four, five, or six, and if you cast a creature spell with mana value seven or greater, you get to draw three cards. Path of Annihilation makes two Eldrazi Spawn tokens when it enters, and then it lets you tap Eldrazi to produce any color mana, which will be very useful in activating Azlask’s ability. Also keep in mind you can tap Spawn and Scion creatures for colored mana, and then still sacrifice them for a colorless mana, so the potential to multi-spell or cast something expensive is off the chain.

Sacrifice for Profit

Ashnod's Altar Phyrexian Altar Victimize Dread Return Deadly Dispute Birthing Pod Eldrazi Monument Evolutionary Leap

Beyond sacrificing Scion and Spawn tokens to crank Azlask’s experience engine, I’d want to run some number of ways to sacrifice my nontoken colorless creatures for profit. Ashnod’s Altar and Phyrexian Altar provides extra mana, while Deadly Dispute draws cards. Victimize and Dread Return sacrifice creatures to reanimate creatures. I also really like Evolutionary Leap, since it’s a great way to search up another creature to replace the one you just sacrificed.

Color Fixing

Command Tower Path of Ancestry Exotic Orchard The World Tree Zagoth Triome Spara's Headquarters Windswept Heath Cascading Cataracts Crystal Quarry Farseek Nature's Lore Three Visits Arcane Signet Chromatic Lantern Skyshroud Claim Timeless Lotus

There are tons of ways to color-fix your mana for five-color decks, but I wanted to point out a few that I would lean towards when building this myself.

Path of Ancestry is incredibly good here when you’ve got a fair number of Eldrazi. Getting that scry effect each time you cast one with mana from Path is quite powerful in smoothing out your draws. Exotic Orchard enters untapped, and odds are pretty good you’ll be able to access three, four, or even five different colors depending on what your opponents are playing. I also love The World Tree, which will fix all your colors once you’ve got six lands on the battlefield, which will be just in time for activating Azlask.

If you have them, some number of fetchlands like Windswept Heath to search up the tri-lands like Zagoth Triome or Spara’s Headquarters go a long way towards fixing all your colors. I would lean towards all the green ones, which will help you cast spells like Farseek, Nature’s Lore, or Skyshroud Claim, which will also fetch up those tri-lands.

And then there are Cascading Cataracts and the old-school predecessor Crystal Quarry, which will wash any five mana into one of each color mana, perfect for activating Azlask.

Colorless Synergies

Echoes of Eternity All Is Dust Forsaken Monument It That Heralds the End Kozilek, the Broken Reality Ugin's Binding Mystic Forge

Assuming you’re running a bunch of colorless spells, there are some great support cards for them like All Is Dust and Forsaken Monument. It That Heralds the End is a new one that’s awesome here, providing a nice boost to other colorless creatures. Echoes of Eternity is another potent new card I’d strongly consider; remember, Azlask’s experience ability is a triggered ability!

Extra Attacks

Finest Hour Anzrag, the Quake-Mole Najeela, the Blade-Blossom Combat Celebrant Karlach, Fury of Avernus

One last thing I’d mention is potentially running ways to get extra attack steps to get more mileage from Azlask’s activated ability. If your opponent has chump blockers for your army, why not attack again to push damage through? I’d want to run some permanent-based way to do that, since if you’re spending mana for an extra attack, you could just activate Azlask again for another boost. Anzrag, the Quake-Mole seems great here, since it puts opponents in a huge squeeze—take a massive hit from Anzrag (pumped by Azlask), or chump and then you get another attack step.

What other awesome cards would you consider adding to your Azlask, the Swelling Scourge Commander deck?  Would you include all the other experience creatures in the mix?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and start conversations 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. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!



SCG CON is coming to Baltimore, MD on July 26-28, 2024! The world’s premier trading card game convention features three full days of Magic: The Gathering, Flesh and Blood, Disney Lorcana, and Star Wars Unlimited action:

  • Magic: The Gathering Bloomburrow Prereleases all weekend long, Modern $10K, Legacy $5K, cEDH $5K, Commander Celebration, and Regional Championship qualifications
  • Flesh and Blood Pro Quest + events
  • Disney Lorcana Core Constructed $2K and $1K events
  • Star Wars Unlimited Premier Constructed $2K and $1K events
  • Side events all weekend long

And so much more!

Plus, meet fan-favorite special guests and artists!

Make your plans for SCG CON Baltimore!