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Grazi Says Zilaxx

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Readers!

This week I want to talk about a very spicy value engine that frankly isn't getting the love it deserves. Is it because it's Mono-Blue? Are people focusing on the first line of text and not the second? Is the card bad and I'm bad for liking it (no)? Can a card that makes you draw a ton of cards be all that bad? I don't think so! Today, I want to talk to you all about what I am looking to do with a card no one is as excited as I am to be putting into decks. There will be decklists but there will also be a perceptible undertone of incredulity on my part as I get increasingly excited about this card and start to wonder if its poor EDHREC inclusion metrics are as a result of everyone underestimating the card or me overestimating it. Expect me to type things like "COME ON!" then erase them. Am I slowly unlearning to evaluate cards or am I overstating the size of the niche where this card fits? A third possibility is that I'm doing a bit and for once, I'm not. I genuinely love this tendrily monster.

Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar

Look at this noodle face, what's not to love? Now, perhaps it's a poor idea to begin my "I don't think I'm overstating the appeal of this card" thesis by talking about the one deck I am most excited to add this to, but I'm going to do that right this second.

Lonis Round | Commander | Jason Alt


Grazilaxx is a natural fit in a deck like this, and as I take out really bad snake cards (It's going to suck the day I cut Kaseto...) and add better cards with lower mana curves, the deck starts to really show how it would benefit from a Grazilaxx. Imagine stealing a Sol Ring with Thieving Skydiver then spending the rest of the game cantripping on every hit until they finally block it and you can recast it for another artifact. Is that the kind of EDH you want to be playing because that sounds awesome to me. Either your Thada Adel gets through unblocked or you recast it for another Clue token. Any deck that is keen to recast small creatures to crank some sort of discount could use old Grazzy.

Animar, Soul of Elements
Ezuri, Claw of Progress
Chulane, Teller of Tales
Barrin, Tolarian Archmage

Either they bounce your creature and you're happy or they don't block and you draw a card and you're happy. Or you hit a planeswalker and you're happy. Or they like... cast Settle the Wreckage or something. And then you're sad. Cyc Rift, too. Or Aetherize. So like... 50/50 chance you're happy?

I'll take it! Roll a D20 and on a 10+ I'm happy? I'll take those odds any day, baby!

If the privilege to recast your creatures, which is admittedly usually not a privilege, doesn't make you happy, we can find some other cases where Grazilaxx does work. If drawing cards doesn't make you happy, go outside and get some Vitamin D because we've all spent a little too much time indoors these past 18 months.

Grazza is a perfect addition to a deck where you ignore the first line of text altogether. Blocked? My creatures aren't getting blocked! My creatures are going to hit, and that being the case, wouldn't you love to draw cards when that happens?

Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow
Anowon, the Ruin Thief
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive

These decks could all use a Grazilaxx and, in fact, it's one of these decks that is going to help us look at how to build with Grazilaxx in the command zone.

When the card Pteramander was new, I watched it do a ton of work in Standard. Pteramander turns into an absolute monster and gives them a major threat to have to deal with in that format, and in Commander, it's even easier to pay the glow up cost and the card is no worse than Flying Men. Pteramander simply existing made me go back and take another look at Edric, Spymaster of Trest and build that deck to add as many "Flying Men" as possible, whether it was a Salamander with Flying, An Elf Scout that can only be blocked by Fliers or a Human that can't be blocked at all. Here's the list again, for reference.

Ptera Eternal | Commander | Jason Alt


We can update that for 2021 which will include adding a ridiculous raft full of broken cardboard because everything is overpowered now and it's crazy. As long as we're adding stuff, though, let's take things out. A lot of stuff. The Green cards, mostly. Can we even make something as satisfying as Edric without any Green? Will Grazilaxx be a bad Edric or will we be glad we have so many new spots freed up for shenanigans? Will we have a win condition other than Thassa's Oracle? All of these questions and more will be answered on the neck episode of "Here's the decklist already."


I realize this skews toward the second line of Grazilaxx's text box more than the first, but there was no real payoff for casting a ton of creatures in Mono-Blue, anyway. I think Grazilaxx is better at enabling those shenanigans in the 99 of a different deck than it would be here buying back our creatures. A lot of the creatures Grazilaxx builders want to use have pretty bad rates as well - four mana for Sower of Temptation I can live with, but three for an Aether Adept or Man-o'-War seems kind of gross to me. If you have no consistent way to get them blocked, you're going into battle with a deck full of Gray Ogres. Instead, play a few more Flying Men and make sure you can always draw what you need.

We are loading up on ways to draw a lot of cards here but I think the deck as written lacks win conditions beyond stealing something with Sower or Agent. This is a bit of a choose your own adventure at this point because I have a few ideas about how you could take this and what you'd be free to take out.

Option A is you go infect. There are quite a few colorless creatures with infect to join Blighted Agent and you can include Grafted Exoskeleton and then cards like Thrummingbird. A proliferation subtheme could be fun, especially if you add cards like Toothy and Chasm Stalker. The power and toughness is low on the Infect creatures, meaning Tetsuko Umezawa can play a key role in getting them through unblocked. You have to take out quite a bit to fit this, but swapping creatures with Infect in means you just take out your durdliest fliers to make room.

Option B is you load up on equipment. You stick a decent creature and suit up, or even make Grazilaxx do battle so you can kill more quickly through Commander Damage. Quietus Spike is one of the fastest ways to end the game, but plenty of other equipment hits hard, and making a big Voltron monster with every Sword Of X in the known universe will make short work of anyone who struggles to block your unblockable creature. If it's an equipment toolbox deck, I actively encourage you to run Fabricate in a way I wouldn't in a deck where Fabricate is just a second copy of a combo piece. 75% deck-building loves toolbox cards, so the more targets a tutor has, the less likely you are to be bored by it. Toss in cards like Whir of Invention and cut cards like Strixhaven Stadium that reward you for going wide.

Ultimately, I likely don't build around Grazilaxx myself, but I am buying multiple copies for multiple decks. I like the idea of presenting opponents with a Choice of Damnations, as it were. They can let me re-buy value with my creatures or they can let me draw a bunch of cards. Either way, I come out ahead. That does it for me this week. Thanks for reading - until next time!

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