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Commander Top 10: Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios

Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios is worth the deckbuilding journey in Commander. See the path Bennie Smith took to arrive at 100 cards.

Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios, illustrated by Chris Rahn

Strixhaven releases this weekend!  I hope everyone was able to get their hands on some Prerelease kits last week; I personally picked up a Witherbloom and a Lorehold kit and got some fun cards to tide me over until I’m able to buy all the singles I’m looking for from StarCityGames.com.  Which Strixhaven school appeals most to you?

This week I’m building a deck around one of the splashiest and potentially bonkers new legends, Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios!

One thing I’ve noticed about the double-faced cards you can play as your commander is that it’s often tough to make use of both sides effectively, but the play pattern for this card is quite clear: you cast Journey to the Oracle to put a few lands onto the battlefield, getting up to eight lands, and return it to your hand so that next turn you can cast Jadzi.  One side literally paves the way towards playing the other side, which is a really cool design. 

Let’s take a look at the release notes on Jadzi:

Putting a land onto the battlefield does not count as playing a land for the turn and doesn’t use the normal timing restrictions.

You may choose not to cast a nonland card revealed by Jadzi’s triggered ability. If you don’t cast it, it stays on top of your library.

If you’re casting the card you reveal with Jadzi’s ability, you ignore normal timing restrictions.

If you reveal a modal double-faced card with Jadzi’s triggered ability, and both faces are nonland, you may cast either face by paying {1} rather than its mana cost. If only the back face is a land, you may cast the front face. If both faces are lands, you will put onto the battlefield front face up.

If you cast a spell with {X} in its mana cost using Jadzi’s magecraft ability, you must choose 0 as the value of X.

Because the magecraft ability supplies an alternative cost of {1} for the spell, you cannot pay any other alternative costs that may apply. However, you may pay additional costs and must pay any additional costs that are required.

You may activate Jadzi’s activated ability only while Jadzi is on the battlefield. If Jadzi is no longer on the battlefield as the ability resolves, it won’t return her to your hand from any other zone.

Okay, so what sort of cards should we be looking for when building our deck?  Both sides of the card want you to reach eight lands on the battlefield, and the sorcery side Journey really wants you to have extra lands in your hand to maximize its effect. What’s fun about this spell is how it makes you look a bit differently at spells that search your library for lands. Traditionally green decks will load up on mana ramp spells that search up one or more lands and put them directly onto the battlefield, but there are a host of cards that search for multiple lands and put them in your hand rather than the battlefield.  Since those don’t really see much play, I really love that this commander encourages us to give those cards a try.

The Jadzi side of the card has a very potent magecraft ability, which means we’ll want to play a good number of instant or sorcery spells. An interesting wrinkle to this is that fifth paragraph from the release notes above: if you reveal a spell with X in the mana cost with Jadzi’s ability and cast it, X will be zero. Typically, in a deck like this one that puts a lot of lands onto the battlefield X spells are one way to scale the effect to how much mana you have, but since we’re already going to be missing sometimes with Jadzi’s ability when it reveals a land, we definitely don’t want to add more misses for it.

Speaking of which, you know what also will often be a miss?  Reactive spells, especially many counterspells.  So, does that mean we’re going to be a blue deck with no counterspells?  Let’s see what we can figure out.

1. Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait

The first sort of cards I wanted to hunt down are landfall cards, including cards that trigger from lands entering the battlefield but don’t specify “landfall.” Luckily for us, the Simic color combination gives us a ton of high-quality cards with this ability, and I think the best of the bunch is Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait.  This Serpent is a respectable size as a 5/5, it lets you play an additional land on each of your turns, and when a land enters the battlefield under your control you may draw a card. This is exactly the sort of thing we’re looking for; it keeps your hand stocked with cards and should ensure you have a couple of lands you can put onto the battlefield with Journey to the Oracle.

Jaddi Offshoot Lotus Cobra Tireless Tracker Scute Swarm Tatyova, Benthic Druid Rampaging Baloths Avenger of Zendikar

Tatyova, Benthic Druid is Aesi’s smaller older sister, drawing you cards and gaining you life. Scute Swarm, Rampaging Baloths, and Avenger of Zendikar all provide you with a potentially dominating battlefield with enough landfall triggers.

2. Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar

I also wanted to hunt down cards that care about land shenanigans, and again the Simic color combination gives us no end of great cards for this, and the best of the bunch is Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar.  Multani will get incredibly large here, with reach making it a huge brick wall for any attackers, and its trample ability making it a lethal attacking threat. If it dies, its ability to return to your hand from the graveyard by bouncing two lands back to your hand will barely slow this deck down based on everything else we’re doing.

Here are the other land-themed cards I’ve added to the deck:

Field of the Dead Elvish Reclaimer Blackblade Reforged Ramunap Excavator World Shaper The Mending of Dominaria Ancient Greenwarden

Both sides of your commander have abilities that involve discarding a card, and since so many of the cards I’m adding to the deck put multiple lands in your hand, odds are pretty good that lands will get pitched to the graveyard, which makes Ramunap Excavator, World Shaper, The Mending of Dominaria, and Ancient Greenwarden awesome!

3. Nylea’s Intervention

I made an exception on not including X-spells in the deck for Nylea’s Intervention since it plays into our plan so perfectly.  For six mana you can get the four best lands in your deck in your hand and easily set up a sweet next turn with Journey to the Oracle.

Here are a bunch of other cards that will help keep our hands stocked with lands:

Abundant Harvest Dryad Greenseeker Sprouting Vines Yavimaya Elder Nissa's Pilgrimage Seek the Horizon

I’m really excited about Sprouting Vines, a card I’ve always thought was cool but ultimately cut from any decks I’ve thought about running it before. The storm ability plays nicely with Jadzi’s magecraft ability.  If any deck can maximize it’s potential, it’s gotta be this one!

4. Nexus of Fate

If we’re not going to have a bunch of X-spells to take advantage of all this extra mana, I wanted to have a few “big mana” spells to pay off the land ramp, and among the first ones I reached for is Nexus of Fate. Sure, taking an extra turn is an eye-roll, but it’s undeniably powerful.

Kamahl, Heart of Krosa Ezuri's Predation

Kamahl, Heart of Krosa lets you turn a bunch of your lands into 1/1 creatures with vigilance, indestructible and haste, and then at the beginning of combat on your turn creatures you control get +3/+3 and trample until the end of turn.  If you get to untap with Kamahl on the battlefield that’s likely to be game-ending.  Ezuri’s Predation is potentially a huge swing on the battlefield, especially if one of your opponents is generating a whole bunch of small token creatures that will die and leave behind a horde of 4/4 Beast tokens.

5. Quandrix Apprentice

With Jadzi having a magecraft triggered ability I went looking for other cards with that ability, and Quandrix Apprentice seems like a perfect fit here, searching your library for more and more land cards.

Archmage Emeritus God-Eternal Kefnet

Archmage Emeritus provides some nice raw card-drawing ability when you cast instant or sorcery spells. God-Eternal Kefnet is a nice early creature of size with evasion that can potentially generate some value with discounted copies of instant and sorcery cards, with nice synergy with magecraft since that triggers off copied spells.

6. Sea Gate Restoration

This is the sort of deck where our land counts should be high, and to help facilitate that I decided to run some double-faced cards with lands on the back side in my spell slots so that we’ll always be making land drops. Sea Gate Restoration is probably the best for this deck, letting us potentially draw a bunch of extra cards on the spell side, maybe just for one mana if you reveal it from a Jadzi magecraft trigger, or maybe being that eighth land drop when you cast Journey to the Oracle.

Guildless Commons Simic Growth Chamber Bala Ged Recovery Kazandu Mammoth Turntimber Symbiosis

I also wanted the bouncelands Guildless Commons and Simic Growth Chamber. They naturally help keep you have lands in your hand and also provide a way to return to your hand one of these double-faced cards that you play as a land early.

7. Urban Evolution

While a lot of our land fetching spells will provide raw cards in hand, I also wanted to make sure I peppered in some other card drawing spells, particularly ones that are either land, instant, or sorcery cards.  Urban Evolution checks off several boxes, providing three fresh cards from the top of your library and giving you an extra land drop.

Castle Vantress Bonders' Enclave Coiling Oracle Growth Spiral Sylvan Library Harmonize

Castle Vantress and Sylvan Library provide some measure of card selection for the top of your deck, which will be quite helpful with Jadzi’s magecraft ability.

8. Oversimplify

Removal spells are important, especially if your opponents develop a lethal battlefield state very quickly and while the Simic color combination doesn’t have too many options here, Commander 2021 brings a very powerful option with Oversimplify.  Exiling all creatures is crazy powerful, a blow to anyone with indestructible creatures or graveyard recursion strategies. It will also be interesting to see the battlefield state when the dust clears, and each player has a Fractal creature token with +1/+1 counters equal to the total power of creatures they controlled that were exiled.

I’ve included a bunch of other removal spells that you’d expect from the Simic color combination:

Nature's Claim Rapid Hybridization Reality Shift Ravenform Force of Vigor

9. Yedora, Grave Gardener

I also wanted to include some other ways to interact with your opponents’ actions, and I’m highly impressed with new Commander 2021 card Yedora, Grave Gardener!  Whenever one of your creatures dies, you get to bring it back from the graveyard as a Forest card, which can quickly ramp you up to eight lands or more. And between bounce lands or Multani’s graveyard ability you can potentially get those creatures back to your hand later. I’m really looking forward to putting this cards in all sorts of decks, and potentially as its own commander.

Alchemist's Refuge Spellskite Return to Nature Cyclonic Rift Mystic Confluence Sublime Epiphany

I did find room for a few counterspells with Mystic Confluence and Sublime Epiphany, both of which can still be useful if cast with Jadzi’s ability and no cards on the stack that you want to counterspell.

10. Skyshroud Claim

Last but not least I wanted to include some of the more traditional mana ramp spells that you’d expect in most every green deck, all of which are great cards, but I wanted to spotlight Skyshroud Claim.  There are many versions of this card, a four-mana sorcery that lets you put two lands from your graveyard onto the battlefield, but I really love this one since the Forest cards you search up aren’t put on the battlefield tapped, which gives you back two mana for your four-mana investment.

Myriad Landscape Blighted Woodland Sol Ring Sakura-Tribe Elder Three Visits Nature's Lore Cultivate Kodama's Reach Solemn Simulacrum

Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:

Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 04-24-2021
Commander

Here’s how the deck looks graphically, thanks to our friends at Archidekt:

What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  If you see any new cards from Strixhaven or Commander 2021 that should find a home here, let me know! 

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!  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.

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

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