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Zimona the Brave


Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill by Pieter Claeszoon (1628).

Cat Dragon by Cynthia Sheppard.

For today's build I'm going to leap into the warm and familiar embrace of Blue/Green landfall. I have to admit that it's been hard to shake the old terminology, but in Strixhaven those colors we normally call Simic are now called Quandrix.

If nothing else, this is evidence that Wizards of the Coast cares more about Magic lore than we might have suspected. I may not stop asking if the Atlanta, Georgia of TWD will be found on every new plane they take us to, but I do think it's an indication that lore still matters to WotC. It would have been easy for Wizards to just keep with the terminology we had all been using, but in Strixhaven it's "Quandrix" for Blue/Green. Apparently "Simic'' is just SO five years ago.

Our commander for today's list is Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy. She is low-costed, has card draw right there in her text box, and seems well suited for a range of power levels. You could build a fair deck around Zimone, but you could also leverage high powered combos to really push up toward fringe cEDH. I don't think Zimone has what it takes to break into the top tier of cEDH, but let's see what we can build with her in the command zone.

Meet Zimone

This young lady might not seem like much at first. I could see how one might compare her to a Rashmi, Eternities Crafter as they both give you card draw and both are set up to be relatively fair. Neither is as easily broken as Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait or Thrasios, Triton Hero, but having a tap ability opens up a few build paths that are worth exploring.

Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy

She can tap to put a land onto the battlefield for one mana and she can tap to draw a card for the cost of four mana. If you have eight or more lands, that becomes two cards, and this deck should be able to get to eight lands in games outside of the higher end of our format.

This deck's early plan will be to try to get to eight lands as quickly as possible. Eight lands doesn't win me the game, but will position me to be able to start using that second ability to draw two cards and that will let me dig to my wincons. That means I'll be running a robust ramp package with lots of ways to put lands in my hand in addition to putting lands onto the battlefield. In the early game, Zimone can help me put those lands down and will let me hold up my mana during other players' turns. I'll want to activate her on the end step of the player before me in the turn cycle so that I can bluff interaction or simply be ready to counter or remove any major threat that might hit the table.

Leyline of Anticipation
Vedalken Orrery
Emergence Zone

Running Leyline of Anticipation and Vedalken Orrery will give me more flexibility to keep my mana up. Emergence Zone and the older Winding Canyons will also help with that goal. Ideally this will be one of those decks where you want to be playing "draw go". You draw your card for the turn and then you pass turn because you want to be ready to interact on an opponents' turn. If you get through the turn cycle without having to cast any spells you are rewarded by having the mana available to use one of Zimone's abilities.

Seedborn Muse
Retreat to Coralhelm
Illusionist's Bracers

My next step is to look at ways to get more out of Zimone's ability. Seedborn Muse will let me untap on every opponent's turn. With eight lands on the field, I'll be set up to draw a lot of cards if I'm untapping on each opponent's untap step. With Retreat to Coralhelm on the field I'll be able to tap Zimone to play a land, untap her with the landfall trigger, and then tap her again. I'll have to pay to use her ability, and if she's got Illusionist's Bracers equipped, I'll be able to drop two lands or draw two (or four) cards.

Zimone's Combo Corner

Competitive and high-powered decks tend to lean on well-known combos. There is less variety at the high end of our format because they generally only play the most efficient cards and most effective synergies. If you can do something with two cards or accomplish the same thing with four or five cards in a much more roundabout fashion, the high-end decks will always go for the most efficient method. If nothing else, that opens up more room in their decks for interaction. After all, what good is a combo if you can't protect it or if you can't stop someone else from winning on an earlier turn?

Dramatic Reversal
Isochron Scepter

I would absolutely run the Dramatic Scepter combo in Zimone. If I were building the deck for a lower power level, I might build it with the plan to only use it for a singular untap during my turn. With enough mana rocks, you can certainly make infinite mana, draw your entire deck and win the game. If your meta isn't into that style of play, there is no reason you can't just run these two cards and drop the number of mana rocks in your list. If you do this, you should make sure your list is less likely to hit the combo, and you should tell your tablemates that you're only using the two cards for a singular untap trigger. They might still blow it up, but if you're being honest about your deck there's a chance they'll let it stick around.

If I'm going to open the door to playing combo, and I'm already running Retreat to Coralhelm, I might as well throw in another delightful little trick.

Avenging Druid
Hermetic Study
Retreat to Coralhelm

With Avenging Druid on the field enchanted with Hermetic Study, you can tap Druid to do one damage to an opponent. Avenging Druid's damage trigger will let you put a land from your library onto the battlefield, milling any cards revealed before you hit the land. With Retreat to Coralhelm out, you'll untap Avenging Druid so you can do it again.

This isn't a cEDH level stuff, but it's a fun combo and it will let you put all of your lands onto the battlefield. In my Muldrotha, the Gravetide deck, I'm able to pull cards back out of my graveyard with ease. Zimone doesn't have access to Black so I can't just Dread Return a Laboratory Maniac or Thassa's Oracle back onto the battlefield, but that doesn't mean I don't have recursion.

Eternal Witness
Wildest Dreams

Getting the Avenging Druid combo off might not mean that I'll want to dump my entire library into the graveyard just to put lands onto the field. I might do well to grab 10-12 lands but leave much of my library in place so I've got the mana to draw cards with Zimone and play big spells, but I'm not up against an empty or nearly empty library. That decision will be affected by what's in my hand, what's on my battlefield and what kinds of decks I'm playing against.

A Little Landfall

It also makes sense that any deck built around a commander that can drop lands so easily might want to run cards that work with extra landfall triggers. If this deck was aiming to be a higher powered or fringe cEDH deck, I'd run more interaction and ways to dig for my main combo. This list is meant to be played in that middle range of power where you might combo off but you also need to be able to fight it out in the trenches.

Scute Swarm
Rampaging Baloths
Avenger of Zendikar

These guys are all standouts in any deck that wants to aggressively drop lots of lands onto the field. Scute Swarm can get out of hand very quickly, doubling your army of Scutes with each landfall trigger once you've got six or more lands. Rampaging Baloths might not be quite as explosive, but getting 4/4 green Beast creature tokens does put you out of range of an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Avenger of Zendikar will give you 0/1 Plant creature tokens, which will get +1/+1 counters when you play lands.

Avenger pairs nicely with Craterhoof Behemoth, but you know that already if you've played much Commander at all. I'm not including it in this list, but if you run it, you'll likely want to also run Tooth and Nail and as many creature tutors as you can get your hands on. Craterhoof can close out games really well, but is about as unimaginative as dropping an Insurrection. If you care more about the journey than the destination, I'd leave it out but if you really want to win, it is a fairly reliable wincon.

Rounding Out the List

This deck's gameplan involves getting lots of lands onto the field so I can use Zimone to draw cards. I'm going to want to run staples that put lands onto the battlefield, but there is room in this list for creatures that will just put lands into my hand as well. I also want to get as much card draw as possible beyond what Zimone might eventually be able to give me.

Borderland Ranger
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter
Golden Ratio

Borderland Ranger is joined by Sylvan Ranger and Pilgrim's Eye as ways to get those precious lands. I'm also running Wood Elves, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Solemn Simulacrum and Burnished Hart, as Zimone's card draw ability is expensive and I want the mana to be able to use it. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter is joined by Mulldrifter and Coiling Oracle as additional card draw enablers.

I've thrown in a bunch of cards from Strixhaven, but a lot of the Quandrix cards are very focused on playing instants and sorceries. This isn't as much of a spellslinger deck as it is a landfall deck, but I was able to find some good picks. Golden Ratio will reliably draw me a few cards and its ceiling is going to be a pretty good ratio of mana to cards drawn.

Wandering Archaic
Eureka Moment

I threw in Bookwurm because it just felt right for Zimone and she should be able to get me to enough mana to be able to cast it. Wandering Archaic is just too neat a card not to run, taxing my opponents and possibly giving me some really interesting results. Eureka Moment not only has Zimone in the artwork, it also fits into her gameplan really nicely, giving me card draw and another possible land drop.

Zimona The Brave

Apologies to the late, great Beverly Cleary, author of dozens of wonderful children's books, but I couldn't resist a reference to her timeless character Ramona when naming today's deck. Cleary passed just this past March, and if you've got any interest in young adult or children's books, Ramona The Brave is a fine place to start.

I think this list should give you a pretty fun game, with enough interaction and removal to give you a chance against combo decks and enough ability to develop a board presence to give you a shot against decks that want to win on the battlefield.

I suspect you'll have an easy time getting to eight lands, and this version is capable of going infinite if you get enough mana rocks onto the field. It's admittedly not tuned for cEDH, but it does pack lots of staples to balance out some of the suboptimal cards I might have picked from our new Strixhaven options.

Final Thoughts

It's worth noting that this commander might lean well into a landfall strategy, but there's really no reason you have to go that route for your list. You could go all in on instants and sorceries, building your army with token generators including those weird new Fractal creature tokens, and have a lot of fun. I might even try going deep on land tutors, take a page from my Aesi deck and try to turn my lands into creatures to swing at my opponents.

The challenge with a commander like Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy is that she provides some good abilities but doesn't go far enough in any one direction. You could run Vorel of the Hull Clade and try to build around +1/+1 counters, but you'd find yourself asking why you weren't just running Vorel as the commander. The same argument applies to the idea of adding Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait as a landfall enabler for this list. You might as well put Aesi in the command zone.

I think the sweet spot for Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy is going to be a mid-powered flavorful build where you're less focused on building the most powerful deck ever and you're more focused on playing cards you love in a powerful color pairing with a really sweet young lady in the command zone. Lots of young players might see themselves in Zimone, while few of them will identify in any meaningful way with a giant sea monster. At least, I sure hope they won't.

Zimone isn't the next Thrasios, the next Aesi, or even the next Tatyova, and if you're eager to be crushing tables I think you'll serve yourself better by playing one of those proven high-powered commanders.

On the other hand, if you're the kind of player who could see themselves falling in love with a character and building a fun, heavily themed deck designed around the imagined adventures of a young Wizard, I think this Zimone might just be the commander for you! That's not really the path I took in this column, but as I wrap up this piece, I'm wondering why I didn't.

That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

Commander HQ: Decklists and Strategy for Strixhaven's Legendary Creatures!

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