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Building Verazol, the Split Current in Commander


Alnwick Castle by JMW Turner (1829). Striped Riverwinder by Craig J Spearing.

Last week I quickly jumped to the conclusion that Hallar, the Firefletcher is still the King of Kicker Commanders and offered a tune-up of my old Hallar deck for your review. Today I'm going to do my best to test that theory. There are good arguments for why Verazol might be a stronger creature to lead a Kicker deck and it's well worth exploring.

Verazol, the Split Current
Hallar, the Firefletcher

Both Verazol and Hallar are in Green, but it's obvious that adding Blue instead of Red singlehandedly puts Verazol in a better position to protect whatever wincon we brew up. Hallar might be able to push damage out to all of our opponents, but Verazol gives us a completely different dynamic to work with.

Verazol enters with a +1/+1 counter for each mana spent to cast it. That means it can start out as a 2/2 for 2 mana (if X equals zero) and each time we have to pay 2 more commander tax we'll be getting the counters to be able to copy a kicked spell.

Instead of building up a deck around pushing out incremental damage - or big splashy chunks of damage - to all of our opponents we're going to look at the most powerful kicker spells in Simic (U/G) colors and we'll see if we can find ways to win games based upon making copies of those spells.

The Elephant In The Room

Maybe I should have written "The Five Elephants In The Room" because the single most impactful Blue kicker spell I can think of is an old favorite: Rite of Replication.

Rite of Replication

If you kick Rite of Replication, you make not just one token copy of target creature but FIVE. The target creature doesn't have to be your own, and if you're aiming for a mess of enter the battlefield triggers, it can even be a legendary creature. The legendary copies will die, but you'll get those triggers. With Verazol on the field, you can remove 2 +1/+1 counters and copy your kicked Rite of Replication so you'll be getting a whopping 10 token copies of whatever creature you've chosen to target. It will cost you 9 mana and you'll lose those 2 +1/+1 counters, but there should be ways to make that pay off.

The best targets may well be creatures your opponents control. Making 10 copies of Dockside Extortionist should give you enough Treasure tokens to power out whatever other tricks you've got up your sleeve. If you make 10 copies of a Gary, you should win the game. 2 Black "pips" on 10 "Garys" means 20 devotion to Black, seen by 10 Garys means 200 life loss for your opponents and that much life gain for each opponent you kill. In the same vein, 10 copies of Kokusho, the Evening Star will have nine of them die because of the legend rule. Your opponents will each lose 45 life and you'll gain 45 life. Reaper King will give you 100 triggers to blow up everything your opponents hold dear, sending them back to the stone age. You can't actually run any of these cards in Verazol, though, so we can't reliably build around copying our opponents' creatures.

In Simic colors, there are some obvious targets like Biovisionary. With four or more copies of this Human Wizard under your control at your end step, you win the game. It's an auto-include in this deck, but you don't need 10 of them to win. There are some pretty sweet targets for this deck's game plan in our colors.

Precursor Golem
Consecrated Sphinx
Avenger of Zendikar

Precursor Golem is a fun choice for this deck. Your initial casting will give you a 3/3 Precursor Golem and two 3/3 "Buddy" Golems. Your cast a kicked Rite of Replication will have a Verazol copy of it put on the stack. The copy will resolve first, targeting Precursor Golem. It's a copy, so it wasn't cast and as such it will make five more Precursor Golems, each of which will make 2 "buddies" leaving you with 6 Precursor Golems and 12 Buddy Golems. The original Rite of Replication then resolves, targeting a Precursor Golem so you get copies targeting each of the other Golems you control. Six Precursor Golems each getting copied 5 times means you'll be adding 5 x 6 = 30 more Precursor Golems. Those 30 new Precursor Golems will on their own create 60 more Buddy Golems. The 12 Buddy Golems getting copied 5 times each will add another 60 Buddy Golems. What that all means is that you'll wind up with 36 Precursor Golems and 132 Precursor Golems.

If an opponent tries to blow up your Golems with a Path to Exile, you'll get to put every single basic land in your deck onto the battlefield. If they use a Swords to Plowshares, you'll gain 168 x 3 = 504 life. If they use Pongify or Rapid Hybridization you'll still have a ridiculously large army of 3/3 Apes or Frog-Lizards. Sure, a Lightning Bolt or Act of Treason might ruin your day, but Precursor Golem is way too interesting a card to not include in this list. Just learn and be prepared to walk the table through the math involved in what happens when your Precursor Golem goes to Magical Christmasland.

There are plenty of other good creatures to make 10 copies of. Consecrated Sphinx will give you some serious card draw. With 11 on the field, when your next tablemate draws for turn you'll get to draw up to 22 cards. Making 10 copies of Avenger of Zendikar with 8 lands on the field will give you 80 0/1 plant tokens. A few land drops and you should be able to swing for some serious damage.

Biogenic Ooze
Master of Waves
Ulvenwald Hydra

Biogenic Ooze might seem underwhelming when you think about all those Golems, but making 10 of them will make 10 additional 2/2 Ooze creature tokens and at the beginning of your end step your 11 Biogenic Oozes will have you put 11 +1/+1 counters on each Ooze you control. Going from 22 2/2 Oozes to 22 13/13 Oozes should set you up to win a lot of games.

Master of Waves might not seem like much. He'll make at least two 1/0 Blue Elemental creature tokens because Verazol has one Blue pip on him. The tokens don't die because this clever Merfolk Wizard gives Elemental creatures you control +1/+1. Making 10 copies of Master of Waves will give you a devotion of 12 (or more). That means you'll get 10 x 12 = 120 Blue Elementals and they'll each get +11/+11.

If you're getting tired of all those tokens, how about some lands? Ulvenwald Hydra will get you a land and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Getting 10 of them will ramp you by 10 lands and since this hydra's power and toughness is equal to the number of lands you control, you'll also be pumping them by 10.

Mirror Gallery
Illusionist's Bracers
Mirage Mirror

If we're really looking to have some fun, it's worth looking at Mirror Gallery. How many commanders are so powerful that having 10 of them would make winning the game incredibly easy. With Mirror Gallery on the field, we can live that dream. Some commanders require decks that are carefully built around their commander's abilities, but there are plenty that are versatile and powerful enough to turn a kicked, copied Rite of Replication into a very powerful play if suddenly the Legend rule no longer applies.

This might be a bit of a win-more card, but Illusionist's Bracers will allow me to copy Verazol's activated ability. For Rite of Replication that would mean getting 15 copies of target creature instead of just 5 or 10. It's worth noting that both a Verazol copy and a Bracers copy of Rite can be given a new target. I'm not going to go through the Precursor Golem math for another copy of Rite of Replication, but if anyone wants to take on that challenge feel free to give us your answer in the comments.

Mirage Mirror might not be a kicker spell, but it's worth a mention. There will be times when I'll be looking across the table enviously at an Impact Tremors or some other trinket that could turn a Rite of Replication into a win if it was on my side of the field. Mirage Mirror lets me copy an artifact, creature, enchantment or land until end of turn. There might be times where I just need it to be a flying blocker so that I can live for one more turn, but its real power is in its flexibility.

Other Kicker Spells

If our main plan is to get to the point in the game where we can cast a kicked Rite of Replication to try to either win the game outright or set up a dominant enough boardstate that we can win the game, that means getting to the point where we can make 9 mana. That means we'll be running a decent number of counterspells to allow us to stop other players from casting spells that will win the game. It also means that we'll have lots of time before we get to the stage of the game where we're making 9 mana. I'd very much like to be able to use Verazol's ability to remove 2 +1/+1 counters and copy other kicker spells in the early and mid game.

Grow from the Ashes
Vastwood Surge
Skyclave Relic

Ramping is important in nearly every EDH deck, and this is no exception. I'd be remiss in my duties if I passed up the opportunity to throw some ramp kicker spells into today's list. A kicked and copied Grow From the Ashes would put 4 basic lands onto the battlefield untapped. A kicked and copies Vastwood Surge will put 4 basic lands onto the battlefield tapped and will also let us put four +1/+1 counters back onto Verazol. Skyclave Relic kicked and copied will put a whopping six indestructible mana rocks that tap for any color. I'm also running Everflowing Chalice as well, which is a multikicker mana rock that we can get an extra copy of if we use Verazol when we cast it.

Murasa Sproutling
Maddening Cacophony
Sphinx of Lost Truths

Recursion will be important in this deck. The dream is to use an early Rite of Replication to do something silly like put 10 Wood Elves or Sakura-Tribe Elders onto the field and then use it again in the late game to win the game. I'm running Archaeomancer, Mnemonic Wall, Eternal Witness and similar spells, but Murasa Sproutling gets a shout-out for its ability to bring a kicker card back from my graveyard to my hand if it was kicked. If I ever need two, I'm sure Verazol will be happy to help with that. Tazeem Roilmage also joins the party and will let me return an instant or sorcery from my graveyard to my hand when we kick it.

This isn't a mill deck, but Maddening Cacophony gets kicked it will do half the job and if we've got Bruvac, the Grandiloquent on the field each opponent will put their entire library into their graveyard. Without Bruvac around, copying Maddening Cacophony will probably leave each opponent with anywhere from 15 to 20 cards left in their library. That play might be handing someone the game if they've got a graveyard-based deck, so it's worth playing this particular card carefully.

Card draw is king in EDH, so Sphinx of Lost Truths is a kicker creature that will fit in nicely. When this Sphinx is kicked we'll draw three cards and not have to discard any, so this is definitely one we'll want to copy with Verazol. Drawing six cards and getting two flyers for our trouble seems pretty good.

The Decklist

This has turned out to not be a very budget-friendly list but I was leaning towards seeing how strong an all-in Rite of Replication Verazol list could be. I may not have included a Tropical Island, but it's still a much more expensive build than my Hallar deck. I am optimistic that this deck should be able to do silly, fun stuff with Rite of Replication and ought to be able to win its share of games.

While Hallar was a more general kicker tribal deck with cards focused around putting counters on him so he could push out damage, Rites of Verazol is a very different animal. I didn't just include as many Simic kicker spells as possible - I picked what I felt would be the most interesting and fun one to work with and built around that. If you find that your meta demands more spot removal than stack interaction I could definitely see dropping out a few counterspells and adding in some low CMC enchantment and artifact removal.

Final Thoughts

I entered into today's project with the ostensible goal of seeing if Verazol could take the "kicker crown" away from Hallar. I think I've built a more powerful deck than Hallar, but only because of the power of Rite of Replication when used well. I love the idea of making 10 copies of an opponent's Purphoros, God of the Forge with Mirror Gallery on the field and then dropping a Precursor Golem to ding my opponents for 60 damage.

Any good King cares about ALL their subjects, not just the ones they happen to like the most. Obvious parallels to our current political situation aside, in this build Verazol has a very clear favorite - Rite of Replication. Hallar is an equal opportunity Kicker spell enabler. He can win off of a ramp spell if he's managed to get enough +1/+1 counters on him.

So what do you think of today's exercise? Would you build Verazol differently or does my Rite of Replication build seem like an optimal plan for this particular legendary creature? Do you agree with my conclusion or would you pass the crown from Hallar to Verazol?

I'd love to hear your comments. As always - thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

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