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Sacrificing Ball Lightnings with Ziatora!


Hello Fellow Streets of New Capenna Enthusiasts! I hope you are doing well! Ready for my first Commander deck featuring a legendary creature from that set?

Ziatora, the Incinerator

This is the Leader of the Riviteers Family, Ziatora, the Incinerator. Six mana for a 6/6 flyer is on curve and nice. Then you can, on your end step, sacrifice another dork you control and shoot any target for that creature's power and you make three Treasures. I really love building around newly spoiled dorks in spoiler season before decks and concepts hit EDHREC.com since that'll all be Abe's stuff without any suggestions or tips. Note that Ziatora deals the damage itself to the target not the creature sacrificed.

Where I like Ziatora is with creatures with a low casting cost, high power, and haste that will swing on the combat step, like Ball Lightning which is 12 damage for three mana on one card when you connect and then sacrifice. And then the high mana cost of rrr can be helped with the Treasures they make. Or Chromatic Lantern. That will be the alley we'll be shoving our foe down.

Since we want to sacrifice creatures to do things, I'll emphasize creature-based ways of interaction and ramp. I'll also toss in recursion since we are sacrificing so much, and I am in the recursion colors of Green and Black. I'll also toss in the occasional sacrifice engine to play into this, looking at damage-based ways of sacrificing to supplement the damage of Ziatora that can kill bigger stuff or hit players about to die to Ziatora's damage.

Ready for the deep dive? Let's do it to it!


Lightning Skelemental

Check out these two Ball Lighting variants. The former is a Rakdos colored one that adds 2 discard if it smashes face, which is a cool addition to the deck. And then the latter one is 7/2 the first time and a 6/1 the second with trample. Each is pretty powerful here and can be sacrificed by Ziatora for serious damage.

Feldon of the Third Path

This deck needs haste to swing with things that don't naturally have it, like Flametongue Kavu. Enter the Incarnation which you'll want to send to your graveyard as soon as possible, and sacrificing is one way to do so, which will give your team haste as long as you control a Mountain, pretty likely. And then Feldon is a key Commander dork that can tap for three mana to make a copy of a dork in your graveyard that you might have sacrificed before. Do this in your precombat phase, swing, and then sacrifice it to your Commander in your end step before it dies. Just stack it correctly.

Let's look at some removal:

Basilisk Collar

Have a dork to kill but you cannot do enough damage with your stuff? Equip Ziatora with the Collar, and then sacrifice your Eternal Witness to end your foe's Consecrated Sphinx since it has deathtouch. You'll also gain a ton of life over time from the sacrifice damage so lifelink in here is pretty useful as well. Good equipment!

Zealous Conscripts
Song-Mad Treachery // Song-Mad Ruins

Check out this duo. I have 36 lands proper and four modal lands. Since we'll be getting three Treasures per Ziatora, sacrifice, you won't need too much ramp to get going, but there are key mana needs to get to the six-mana Ziatora as early and reliably as possible, so I have enough lands with the modal stuff to make that happen.

The Conscripts are a nice 5-drop 3/3 with haste that when they arrive to the battlefield, we can steal a permanent for the turn, like a planeswalker or creature. Ideally you want to steal the creature since you can attack with haste and then sacrifice it at the end of the turn to Ziatora rather than giving it back. The same is true of Song-Mad Treachery // Song-Mad Ruins which is worth the land slot to do the same precombat.

Captivating Crew
Angrath, the Flame-Chained

These two can repeatably Threaten for the turn. The Crew is a four-mana 4/3 that can spend four mana to Threaten a foe's dork for the turn at sorcery speed so it cannot be a combat trick. Steal pre-combat, and then attack, sacrifice to Ziatora, and then make three Treasures so that the next use will just take one mana. Angrath is one of two planeswalkers here, and he can +1 to force all foes to discard and lose two life, which is great card advantage over time in a multiplayer context. And then you can -3 him to Threaten a key dork for a turn, and then sacrifice it to your Commander, although he will sacrifice smaller stuff to the ability in case you do not control it or another sacrifice engine like Goblin Bombardment.

Want to see some card draw?

Hunter's Prowess
Return of the Wildspeaker

Check out these five mana massive card drawers. The Prowess will sorcery and give a target dork +3/+3 for the turn and give it trample. Then you can swing, and draw combat damage amounts of cards, which is nice for the price, and then you can sacrifice it to Ziatora for three more damage. It's also good your flying leader as well since he'll be hard to stop as a 9/9 flying trampler although you cannot get a bigger sacrifice that time. The Return will draw cards equal to the highest power from non-Humans, so with your leader out that will always be at least 6, and it could be higher with a few dorks. Good pair!

Garruk, Primal Hunter

Garruk is the other planeswalker in this brew. He's a nice five-mana 3 loyalty guy who can +1 to make a 3/3 Beast which can swing with haste like Anger and then get sacrificed for three damage to your leader. But he's here for that -3 to draw you a bunch of cards equal to the greatest power among your stuff, and unlike Return, this counts Humans as well, so this 5-drop is better at refilling your hand. Love this pair of abilities here a lot!

How about Ramp?

Shefet Monitor
Krosan Tusker
Greater Tanuki

Most of my ramp options are obvious, but why am I running these three 6/5 Mono-Green dorks? The Monitor is a six-mana in case you need to swing after your mana is developed or to finish off someone with Ziatora. You can cycle it for four mana and a basic land and a card drawn. You can cycle a Tusker for three mana and the same effect, but it costs a mana more to cast. The Tanuki isn't card advantage, it only channels for a basic land for three mana, but it does ramp the land in question, and can be dropped for a 6/5 trampler. Good trinity!

Recursion fun times commence!

Living Death

We only have a few reanimation spells in here, but one key one is this 5-drop. You swap the creatures in play with those in the graveyard. It's a mass removal spell stenciled to a mass recursion one, and our only Damnation effect in here to sweep the battlefield. It's really strong here, since you can go from a losing position to a winning one in one five mana sorcery. Good stuff!

Synergies and Game-Winners:

Warstorm Surge

The Surge costs a bit of mana at six, but it gives you three avenues of damage each dork. When your stuff arrives to the battlefield it deals damage equal to its power to any target. Imagine you dropped Ball Lightning. Six damage to any target, likely a foe. Then you'll deal 6 damage in combat with your haste and trample and Rogue's Passage or Whispersilk Cloak. And then you sacrifice for another 6 damage. Total potential damage dealt that turn is 18 and you only spent rrr for the Lightning! Note that the creature deals the damage... Nasty stuff!

Fiery Emancipation
Gratuitous Violence

Check out these two Red enchantments. As you can see, each costs rrr and some generic mana, and these costs are better abled by Treasures and Chromatic Lantern. You can drop the first one for 6 mana total and then triple all damage from any source. Warstorm Surge? Ziatora's sacrificing? Combat damage? It's a lot of power. The 5-drop second card will double any damage your creatures would deal so that's double from Ziatora's sacrifice (including the Surge). With just it out, now your Ball Lightning punches for 12 and sacrifices for 12 for 24 total damage potential.

Unnatural Growth
Neyith of the Dire Hunt

The Growth is a 5-drop enchantment that can, at the beginning of each combat (you and your foes) double your power and toughness. That's really strong here! With just this enchantment out, you can double the Ball Lightning to a 12/2, so you'll punch for 12 and sacrifice for 12. And if you combine with other synergies here that's really strong. Neyith of the Dire Hunt is a 4-drop 3/3 that can swing and block with the best of them. When your stuff becomes blocked, you draw a card. But this Human Warrior is here for that triggered ability. At the beginning of combat on your turn you can spend three mana to double a creature's power for the turn, which again, synergizes with Ball Lightnings.

Lithoform Engine
Strionic Resonator

Check out this copy duo. The Engine is an 4-drop legendary artifact that can, for two mana, tap to copy an activated or triggered ability. You can tap this to copy a sacrifice to Ziatora, as one example, for more damage to another source. You can also tap three mana to fork a your Cultivate or removal spell, or four mana to copy a permanent spell on the stack. It's very strong here! The Resonator also taps for two mana to copy a triggered ability like your Commander's.

God-Eternal Rhonas
Grunn, the Lonely King

Check out these two 5/5 Mono-Green dorks! Rhonas arrives to the battlefield and will, until the end of the turn, double the power of all other dorks you control! You drop this after a Ball Lightning to get double damage this turn, or you can just turn Ziatora into at least 12/12 flyer and get some serious Commander Damage in. Note that Rhonas has deathtouch to trade up and play keep away and will reload into your deck when killed so it makes a nice sacrifice option to Ziatora.

But... check out the power of Grunn! You drop this 6-drop 5/5 and when this Ape Warrior swings alone it doubles its power and toughness into a 10/10. Then you can kick it for three mana to make it a 10/10 on arrival that doubles to a 20/20. Swing. Unblockable with Rogue's Passage or Whispersilk Cloak? You just dealt 20. Sacrifice to your leader for a nasty 20 damage and that was a one hit wonder death machine. It can one shot anyone still at their starting life total or lower!


Kessig Wolf Run
Witch's Clinic

Check out this pair! Kessig Wolf Run can tap for grx to give trample and pump the power of a dork. It's a nice mana sink once you are set. Imagine you use this on a 6/1 Ball Lightning for a 9/1 and then sacrifice it for 9 damage - total dealt 18 and you can keep on keeping on and with my damage increasers and power doublers this can really have a powerful effect. The Clinic can tap for two mana to give Ziatora lifelink, which is pretty nasty good since you can be swinging for 6 in the air and sacrificing for damage as well. Nice stuff!

Volrath's Stronghold

Check out the massive synergy with this and your leader! You tap this land and two mana, and you put any creature from your graveyard on top of your library and then draw it next time you draw. You cast your best beater like Lightning Skelemental and then sacrifice it to your leader for 6 damage after it smashes and forces a discard or two. Reload it, draw it, and then cast it again and sacrifice it again and reload it again, and so forth. This makes sure that you will never run out of sacrifice stuff as long as you have creatures in your graveyard.

Forge of Heroes
Opal Palace

Check out these two lands! The Forge will tap and give +1/+1 counter to Ziatora on arrival to the battlefield. The Palace can tap and make mana to cast Ziatora and make +1/+1 counters equal the number of times you cast it. Why are they here? I like to run them in Commander decks that can 6 power leaders. Six damage flying is a four turn Commander Damage clock. Seven damage flying is a three turn clock, so you get a faster kill from just using a land slot.

Tyrite Sanctum

I'm sure you can see why the Sanctum is here, since you can tap it and two mana to pump up a legendary dork with a +1/+1 counter, and turn it into a God. Nice! It can be used any time as a combat trick. And then on a later turn you can spend four, sacrifice it, and make the God indestructible. That does not read "use only at a sorcery" so you can do so any time in response to removal, nicely done! And sacrificing a nonbasic colorless tapper of mana land makes sense since your deck won't need that much mana to keep going once the engine starts up.

Now let's turn to cards about to debut with our leader!

Ziatora's Proving Ground

The Proving Ground is a land that taps for all three colors of mana as ours and it has cycling and the land types we care about. It's named after Ziatora so it's a must run for flavor and mechanical reasons in my opinion!

Four cards left!

Jaxis, the Troublemaker
Professional Face-Breaker

Let's start with two Mono-Red 2/3 rares from New Capenna. Jaxis can tap for a mana and discard a card (works well with recursion) to create a copy of another dork you control, and it gains haste and when it dies you draw a card, and you can only do this at sorcery speed. Do this in your precombat phase and copy something. Attack. Then sacrifice it to Ziatora and draw a card and deal some damage. It's very synergetic. It also works nicely with discarded newly drawn lands once you are set up mana wise or ramp cards like Cultivate to try and draw something better. The other card here is a 3-drop with menace to slip through. You can sacrifice your Treasures to exile draw a card. Then you can make Treasures from combat damage to a foe that slipped through, like Ball Lightning in a Rogue's Passage. Nice!

Cut of the Profits
Forge Boss

Cut of the Profits is an xbbcard draw spell that trades life for cards and is a nice mana sink. Good stuff for the card drawing. As you can see, you can sacrifice a creature with a power 3 or more to get a second copy. Imagine casting Ball Lightning in your precombat phase, swinging, and then in your post-combat phase tapping everything else and sacrificing your Treasures to make 5 or 8 X and then sacrifice the Lightning for another copy! That thing can dig quite well here! The Boss is a 4-drop Rakdos uncommon that's a 3/4 and when you sacrifice one more creatures you shoot foes for two damage each! It only works once per turn. Note that you are only sacrificing once/turn so that restriction doesn't matter here. It's also a nice way of finishing off and it deals damage from a creature-based source for your damage multipliers. Good pair!

And there we go! Wanna see my deck?

Commanding Ziatora | Commander | Abe Sargent

And...there you go! So, what did you think of my brew? Anything in here that you like or that I missed? Just let me know!

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