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Zacama, Primal Great Whale


Great Whale
Something I proposed as a potential 75% approach was to build non-traditional combo with a non-traditional combo commander. This would allow you to play a slower game since you combo off as a surprise. This allows you to eschew tutors and other cards that homogenize and create more linear lines of play for your deck. You can build a combo deck that's not as resistant to disruption, or a little slower, because they won't know it's a combo deck until it's too late. That was the theory, anyway. It's been a long time since that article, and I never really thought I would come back to that approach. Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked they printed a dinosaur thing that untaps all of your lands.

It's years later and here we are again, with another Naya monster that is the candidate for an unlikely combo deck-build. We have a big old dinosaur that does a pretty decent Great Whale impression, untapping lands when it comes into play and not being a slouch once it's there, sporting so many abilities my Trading Post collection is jealous. Can we try the approach we tried before and make a combo deck that appears to be a durdle dino deck at first? Are there cards that would be played in both a durdle version and a combo version that can obscure our intentions until it's time to generate all the mana in the world and go off? Can we even generate an arbitrarily large amount of mana in a deck like this with no access to Blue (That one's easy, the answer is "duh")? Which cards would get played in both versions?

I think Regal Behemoth is the card that shines the most, here. Some of our combo pieces will want to stay in our hands until the time is right, and windmilling a Heartbeat of Spring or Mana Flare is going to not only alert them to our scheme, it's going to benefit them as well, allowing them to take advantage of the windfall of free manas to Drain our Whelks, Evict us without Mercy or a third thing. Behemoth, though, draws us cards, doubles mana and, despite how large and conspicuous he is, slides under the radar by appearing to be just another durdlesaurus.

Zacama, Primal Calamity

Urza's Incubator is another card you can run out fairly early. It helps you net mana when you start bouncing Zacama but doesn't look out of place in a Zacama deck since you'd normally have quite a few dinosaurs and would run a tribal enabler like this.

I like Kinjalli's Sunwing for a few reasons. Firstly, I like slowing my opponents down and this can slow down their board development and keep them from playing blockers or killing you with a Kiki-Jiki combo the turn before you go off. It's also a dinosaur so it's inconspicuous. Last of all, it's cheap and can help net you mana if you need to go off with Cloudstone Curio and Zacama. Cheap dinos are needed to fuel that loop, and this is a cheap dino I would run in either version of the deck.

There are a lot of combos inherent in a deck like this and even with no access to Blue, you'll still be able to get one of your loops going. Green gives us a lot of card draw, and since there are a lot of combos in the deck we should be able to find something to go off or at least get some big mana things going. We can still function as a big, dumb dino deck if we don't draw into combo pieces, which is why I think this deck will be interesting and linear enough to keep put together. What would a dino combo deck with Zacama at the helm look like?

Zacama Attackama -- Commander | Jason Alt

This is a spicy one!

This functions as a typical durdlesaurus deck in a lot of scenarios with a small number of non-dinosaur creatures doing utility work. If you need to for thematic reasons, you can cut the non-dinosaurs, but it will be very difficult for this to function as a combo deck. I would not recommend that approach. If you start cutting stuff like Temur Sabertooth and Whitemane Lion, you may as well go full dino and just use Zacama to untap lands and let you play more spells. The deck won't be 75% if you lean too hard into the theme, which is common, but it's worth pointing out very specifically in this case. Hic Emptor.

Temur Sabertooth
Whitemane Lion

There aren't too many infinite mana outlets in the deck besides blowing up all of their artifacts, killing all of their destructible creatures and gaining a ton of life with Zacama. We're trying to get a Shivan Gorge or a Helix Pinnacle, so if you have a line on one of those, go off, by all means. However, since they're bound to underestimate you, I think you have a good long while to set up and try and make big things happen. If you don't think you can go off, don't worry. Being a big mana dino deck isn't that bad, especially when you have Genesis Wave running around. You can dump a ton of permanents out and go ham that way.

When you do try and go off, get your lands to tap for extra mana. There are a lot of ways to do that. When they do, you can cast Zacama from your hand profitably and if you can get Zacama back in your hand, you can keep looping to get a ton of mana. Use Whitemane Lion, Temur Sabertooth, Cloudstone Curio, Erratic Portal, Stormfront Riders or any other bounce cards you wish to keep putting Zacama back in your hand to keep untapping lands for mana and, when you get it, Shivan Gorge to kill them. Either that or funnel the mana through Zacama to put yourself so far ahead they can't catch up. Flameshadow Conjuring is a sneaky card because dino decks can run this already and it will look like spicy tech rather than a combo piece, so make sure you take advantage of that. If you get a Panharmonicon, it's tough to lose, so stick as many combo pieces that don't seem like combo pieces out there and by the time you start revealing your plan, it should be too late.

Tooth and Nail
Too inconsistent? Try some number of tutor cards. Worldly Tutor and Tooth and Nail come to mind, although kicking a Tooth and Nail and not winning on the spot feels awkward. Tooth and Nail never felt much like a 75% card to people in the past which is why I stopped including it so much, but I think you can get away with it here, especially if you get some weird cards that people underestimate or you get the creatures you needed and just go off.

You might want to run more Basics. You benefit a lot from having them. I went snow-covered to get the benefit from Extraplanar Lens, just in case you forget that's a thing, but you don't have to do that at all. You can probably cut the bicycling lands (where's our Golgari one for Gitrog, HUH?) and add more Basics but you probably need to test that out.

This is a good starting point, if you ask me. You're going to combo people and generate a ton of mana, so make sure you can survive a ton of Commander damage with 4 people mad at you. If you don't have a Gorge, Pinnacle or whichever win condition you added, you might want to hold off if an arbitrarily large but finite amount of life isn't enough. Otherwise, enjoy.

What do you think? Is building a combo deck that no one recognizes until it's too late an acceptable way to build 75%? Is Zacama it? Did you go back and read the Marath article and realize how far this series has come? Leave me some comments in the section where you do that and we can hash it out. Until next time!

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