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Commander & Change — General Tazri


A few months ago, we built a five-color deck with an Ally theme. Karona, False God filled in as our commander, but she wasn’t a perfect fit—she doesn’t help us that much, her ability is kind of meh because we can’t always make sure we have enough creatures or evasion, and she isn’t an Ally. Part of the reason for the deck, though, was preparation for returning to Zendikar, when we knew we had more Allies coming. Enter the commander we’ve been waiting for.

General Tazri

Now that’s what I’m talking about. An Ally who mobilizes new Allies to the battle and pumps her forces with a five-color identity? We really couldn’t have much better for the deck.

Ally Encampment
So here’s what I’d like to do this week. Let’s rebuild our five-color deck, keeping the same budget, but recruiting new Allies to pump up the theme and use some of those sweet cards we’ve been opening at our recent Drafts. The Maze's End package can stay—just as before, it’s not that many cards and it helps us fix, and it adds a foreboding sense of inevitability to our deck, which can put a nice clock on the game. Some of the old Allies can stay, some will retire to clear space, and, more importantly, we can bump up the Ally count by a whole bunch and make sure we still have relevance with each card.

The average mana cost has gone up—we’ve cut some of the French vanilla, but cheaper, Allies from the original Zendikar block. So our average is almost 4, which means we want to hit our lands and often won’t do anything until turn four! Forty lands help, and the vast majority of them tap for multiple colors. We have the full suite of tri-lands and Guildgates, of course, plus Temple of Deceit and Temple of Abandon, ’cause scry is good. Command Tower, sure, but we also have Ally Encampment and the much slower Rupture Spire to make all the colors. Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree and Kher Keep both make dudes, which can be useful, especially when we transform them into Allies. Watch the sequencing of lands—we want to look at what we have in our opening hands and make sure we play the one that comes into play untapped on the right turn.

Our previous Ally-based draw was Sea Gate Loremaster, which is still awesome. We didn’t get a ton more, but we have a few new things—Akoum Flameseeker lets us “rummage” (that’s red’s form of looting, where we discard before we draw), and Malakir Soothsayer turns life into cards. We need to make sure we have plenty coming, though, so we’re running a good portion of the previous package. Mulldrifter is straight value, and it does great work on a Mimic Vat, so it’s one of our few non-Ally creatures—same with Disciple of Bolas. Momentous Fall is great when someone tries to Wrath of God, and Rhystic Study keeps the hand full, much to the chagrin of everyone else at the table.

General Tazri’s Allies are seriously more threatening than Karona’s. A bunch of these Allies are pretty big, and effects can start to pile up in a fairly epic way. Angelic Captain and Hero of Goma Fada are sweet 5-drop additions. A few more are even more aggressive, like last week’s commander Mina and Denn, Wildborn and Ondu Champion, while Resolute Blademaster is absurd. Combine that with General Tazri’s pump ability, and it can be some very serious damage.

Duneblast is a go-to in any deck that can manage the colors, and Merciless Eviction returns as well because options are great. Reclamation Sage is a good catch-all (like Mulldrifter, it’s great on a Mimic Vat), and it’s reasonably cheap at 3 mana—the price is better than the fat on something like Indrik Stomphowler when we have so many expensive cards already. A number of the Allies—Tuktuk Scrapper, Murasa Pyromancer—will also handle problems when they join the battle.

Synergy is the heart of tribal, of course, and all these new toys make for a whole bunch of it. Rally, the Battle for Zendikar version of the original Ally ability, abounds with creatures like Munda, Ambush Leader and Lantern Scout. We have some powerful new ones—digging for more creatures, indestructibility, and double strike are all really strong, Grovetender Druids generates little Plants, and +2/+2 for everything can get silly in a hurry. Cohort, though, gives us access to other fun abilities. Drana's Chosen makes extra dudes, and we gain extra counters, in addition to the draw effects. Plus, we have some extra dudes designed to work well with a lot of creatures—Angelic Captain and Veteran Warleader work well both in a Limited Ally deck and here. And we have a couple of support creatures—seriously, creatures with the support ability. Relief Captain is good, and Joraga Auxiliary lets us pour extra mana into more power and toughness.

Mimic Vat
Mimic Vat makes a proud return here; there are just so many juicy targets! Almost every creature in the deck will be awesome in the Vat. Join the Ranks and Unified Front give multiple triggers for a single card—that’s great with Hagra Diabolist, Kazuul Warlord, and Kalastria Healer. Plus, the new Retreat to Emeria makes an Ally every time we put a land in play, which is sometimes two or three times a turn. March from the Tomb gives us some recursion and will often bring back three cards for the cost of one. Our armorer’s brilliant new Captain's Claws triggers every combat, sure to annoy opponents. Rite of Replication, of course, is just great fun. Target one of ours or, y’know, someone else’s Grave Titan. Whee! Finally, we’ve kept Xenograft and Conspiracy, which make every creature we control any creature type of our choice. (Here’s a hint: Pick Ally.) Turntimber Ranger goes infinite, and Drana's Chosen activations will trigger all our Ally abilities. Check out the Ranger with Tajuru Warcaller. Infinitely large Allies!

Then, there’s the Maze's End package. Ten Guildgates, Maze's End, Expedition Map, Reap and Sow, Tempt with Discovery, Realm Seekers, Crop Rotation, and Gatecreeper Vine all help, while Grim Discovery and Cartographer both bring lands back from the graveyard—in case some jerk tries to stop us with a Wasteland or whatever.

General Tazri ? Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

  • Commander (0)

There are a couple of other new cards that would help make this deck sing but that were just too pricey for a $75 budget. A deck like this could really use a fetch-and-shock mana base like in Modern because it gives so much flexibility—one fetch can find pretty much any color. Scapeshift would be very strong—that’s a way to play a card and win the game before the table is focused on the Maze's End threat. Drana, Liberator of Malakir would be excellent here. And, of course, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar would be a quality addition. There’s an argument for swapping out Munda, Ambush Leader for Crystal Ball if you worry about putting non-Ally cards to the bottom of the deck.

Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper
The other fun thing is you can play with the Allies you have. Even the vanillas will be fine because there are so many great abilities. If you cracked a Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper at a prerelease, go ahead and jam it and see how it works out. The point is to have fun with all sorts of crazy interactions while slowly and subtly trying to amass a critical quantity of Guildgates.

Is Maze's End worth it here? Or should we just go all-in on the Allies and see what happens? Please tell me in the comments!

I should note I play the original Karona, False God version of this deck in real life at Commander night with some regularity. It’s slow but very fun, mostly because the interactions with all the Allies are great to watch come together. I’ve yet to pull off the Maze's End combo, but I’ve also never been able to really hide it, and once you start going for it in a five-color deck, your opponents will do everything they can to stop you—someone is always running Ghost Quarter. That said, the Battle for Zendikar block brought us enough new Allies—and Ally abilities—to make a sweeping change just to make the deck more fun, and with all the attention on the Maze's End combo, our Allies can really get there. One thing that is really neat is no one can figure out why you just played Xenograft when almost every creature you’ve played is already an Ally. Then, you play Turntimber Ranger and are impressed, or maybe depressed, when they discover you’ve just killed them with it.

Have fun with this one. I don’t, however, recommend yelling, “For Zendikar!” every time you play a new Ally. You might get kicked out of your shop.

Total cost: $72.40

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