Streets of New Capenna has really good Shards of Alara vibes for me. This is a great time to get into Commander with all of the three-color commander options – you can quite easily find a way to build a deck with the theme of your dreams. I’ve talked about my love for Kresh the Bloodbraided in the past, and I was very happy to see a Jund commander that hit some of the same notes as the sacrifice-happy shard of yesteryear. Wait, Shards of Alara was 14 years ago? Excuse me while I crumble to dust real quick. Anyway, let’s take a look at that commander I mentioned – Ziatora, the Incinerator.
Ziatora’s crime? Why, it’s the crime of flinging! If you feel like hurling… er, if you’re looking for the best creatures for throwing up… let’s just go back to the word “flinging”, shall we? Ziatora is ready to have a launch party (there it is!) with your favorite high-power creatures and presents you a partial refund in the process along with the fling damage. So how do we build around Ziatora? Just like any good crime movie, I have a detailed plan:
- Play high-power creatures to fling with Ziatora.
- We need some creatures with strong dies triggers to keep the value going.
- Some of our creatures should also be good at coming back to life or bringing others back to keep the catapult full of ammunition.
- Some of our creatures can just be enormous.
- Reanimate or otherwise recur those high-power creatures to use again.
- Ramp hard so that we can recast Ziatora multiple times.
- When recasting Ziatora isn’t an option, we should have enough mana to cast big creatures and just beat down normally.
Let’s take a look at some of the sweet creatures we’ll be throwing for treasure!
These creatures are all quite happy to be sacrificed, with the exception of Stalking Vengeance, who is here to make other creatures better at dying. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see the cream of the legendary Dragon crop here in the form of Atsushi, Junji and Kokusho, with all three having a serious effect on the game at large. Daemogoth Woe-Eater needs to be sacrificed rather than just die, but the extra trigger is a nice addition, and the cost is extremely low. Finally, Thunderblust is for all of you out there who were hoping this deck would be full of Ball Lightning’s best friends – it’s the only one that made the cut thanks to both the persist and the fact that it isn’t totally embarrassing without Ziatora.
These two creatures just keep coming back, with Ebondeath castable from the graveyard and Phytotitan just bouncing directly back into play after a turn cycle. Gigapede didn’t make the cut, but it was close. The reason these are so important is their self-recursion combined with high power – anything five and up is a solid sacrifice to Ziatora.
Sepulchral Primordial gets you the best options from opposing graveyards and isn’t so bad to throw with Ziatora. Sheoldred isn’t ideal for tossing, but she does cause some serious havoc on the battlefield while letting you bring back more creatures over time.
These creatures are just enormous! Hamletback Goliath and Kresh the Bloodbraided need some time to warm up, but once they do, they’re ridiculous. Lord of Extinction and Multani are big as long as you’re playing Commander, though Lord of Extinction does still have the problem of requiring everyone to count their graveyards from time to time (just watch out for Scavenger Grounds!). Malignus is better earlier in the game, in contrast to Hamletback and Kresh. Ghalta is easy to cast in a deck full of high-power creatures, and Daemogoth Titan is just big and cheap.
We have a couple more miscellaneous creatures here. Don’t worry, there are more creatures peppered around some of our other categories – we’re not done after just 20 of them. Goldspan Dragon has great synergy with our Treasures, and if you want to push the Treasure theme further with Old Gnawbone, Prosper, Juri and similar, you totally can. Ilharg brings in another creature to bash with and then sacrifice, while Terror of the Peaks loves all of these huge creatures in the form of big damage triggers.
Both versions of Chainer play well in this deck, letting us bring back some of our favorites for additional time on the battlefield and extra trips through the Ziatora cannon. Feldon makes temporary copies that are great to fling, while Ruthless Technomancer leverages the treasures we get from Ziatora and its own sacrifice trigger to continue bringing back big baddies.
Some one-shot reanimation here, with a Rushed Rebirth sneaking into the category as a “not actually reanimation” card that lets us grab something smaller from our library. Pattern of Rebirth could work here as well if you like. Persist has a decent number of non-legendary targets, though it’s not especially impressive on Thunderblust. Using Necromancy to grab something at instant speed in response to your own Ziatora trigger shouldn’t be overlooked, though it’s more likely people will aim their removal at your commander rather than your fodder. Victimize and Living Death both let us take advantage of some of the creatures with solid dies effects, and since they both sacrifice, they work just fine with Daemogoth Woe-Eater!
We have some more repeatable reanimation here, though Whip does end up exiling some of our goodies. The lifelink is nice, though. Journey to Eternity takes some work, but once you flip it to Atzal, you’ll realize how worthwhile it is.
Some additional recursion options won’t hurt, right? The Witnesses can be sacrificed in a pinch, and Bala Ged Recovery has the emergency land option. Takenuma feels pretty similar to Recovery in that particular regard, and we have enough legendary creatures that channeling it for 1B is achievable.
These are neither reanimation nor recursion, but they do give us fun copies of our non-legendary creatures to hurl with Ziatora or some extra dies effects on legendary powerhouses like the Kamigawa Dragons.
11 pieces of ramp is significant, but when you think about our mana curve, it makes a ton of sense. Our average mana value ignoring lands is 4.18, which is way higher than what I usually build. That said, we do have two nine-drops and a 12-drop, all of which have serious cost reduction clauses, so the number is actually slightly lower.
We have a mix of mana values ranging from one to four here, with some of the creature-based ramp of green taking center stage in the one-drop spot. The reason for the mix here is to give us some solid options in the first few turns – our other creatures are generally huge, so it’s hard to ensure we have good plays otherwise. Solemn Simulacrum can also be sacrificed to Ziatora or another effect in a pinch.
Some of the classic pieces of interaction are here, mostly in the form of point removal to avoid blowing up our board of huge creatures. That said, Blasphemous Act is an escape valve if we need it, and Chandra’s Ignition can clear everyone else’s board if we’re lucky enough to get it off. Druid of Purification is one of my favorite creatures in recent memory, clearing out plenty of problem permanents in a single go.
Some draw power will help us keep the engine running. Greater Good is great in a deck that can play and recur Kokusho, and if you’re pining for the early days of Commander, it’s a great throwback interaction. Return of the Wildspeaker and Rishkar’s Expertise make refilling your hand incredibly easy, and The Great Henge is just so easy to cast when you’re playing four mana creatures with seven to 11 power.
There are so many dual lands in the world of Commander these days. I’m so glad the Battlebond duals are getting a reprint in Battle for Baldur’s Gate, as it’ll make them much more accessible. Between those, the shocks, the checklands, and the rest, we’ll be able to cast Thunderblust and Kresh with ease right on time. Look at all of these typed duals for cards like Farseek and Nature’s Lore!
Trilands are solid inclusions as well, with Ziatora’s Proving Ground being our newest inclusion.
Prismatic Vista will have nine basics to choose from today, while the other fetches can grab Ziatora’s Proving Ground or any of our many typed duals.
There are nine basics, proportioned properly based on the number of mana symbols on our cards. Unsurprisingly, we go high on Forests to make sure our ramp is running properly in the early game – after all, that’s how we fix our mana most games.
A 38th land for good measure (39th if you count Bala Ged Recovery, though I’d say it’s closer to 38.5). With such a high average mana value, I’m leaning high on the land count – the Treasures from Ziatora are nice, but since they come attached to a six-mana commander, they’re more of a bonus than a piece of consistency. That said, with so much ramp, you may draw some air in the midgame, so make the most of every turn by playing something huge.
I had a ton of fun building around Ziatora today, and I can’t wait to go deep on a full set review very soon. For now, enjoy the full deck list, and I’ll see you next time!
Commander: 1 Ziatora, the Incinerator 1 Animate Dead 1 Arcane Signet 1 Assassin's Trophy 1 Atsushi, the Blazing Sky 1 Bala Ged Recovery / Bala Ged Sanctuary 1 Beast Within 1 Birds of Paradise 1 Blasphemous Act 1 Blood Crypt 1 Bloodstained Mire 1 Bojuka Bog 1 Boseiju, Who Endures 1 Chainer, Dementia Master 1 Chainer, Nightmare Adept 1 Chandra's Ignition 1 Chaos Warp 1 Cinder Glade 1 Command Beacon 1 Command Tower 1 Cultivate 1 Daemogoth Titan 1 Daemogoth Woe-Eater 1 Deathcap Glade 1 Dragonskull Summit 1 Druid of Purification 1 Ebondeath, Dracolich 1 Eternal Witness 1 Farseek 1 Feldon of the Third Path 1 Flameshadow Conjuring 4 Forest 1 Ghalta, Primal Hunger 1 Ghost Quarter 1 Goldspan Dragon 1 Golgari Rot Farm 1 Greater Good 1 Gruul Turf 1 Hamletback Goliath 1 Haunted Ridge 1 Heroic Intervention 1 Ignoble Hierarch 1 Ilharg, the Raze-Boar 1 Journey to Eternity / Atzal, Cave of Eternity 1 Junji, the Midnight Sky 1 Kodama's Reach 1 Kokusho, the Evening Star 1 Kresh the Bloodbraided 1 Krosan Grip 1 Living Death 1 Lord of Extinction 1 Luxury Suite 1 Malignus 1 Mirror March 2 Mountain 1 Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar 1 Nature's Lore 1 Necromancy 1 Overgrown Tomb 1 Persist 1 Phytotitan 1 Prismatic Vista 1 Rakdos Carnarium 1 Reanimate 1 Return of the Wildspeaker 1 Rishkar's Expertise 1 Rockfall Vale 1 Rootbound Crag 1 Rushed Rebirth 1 Ruthless Technomancer 1 Savage Lands 1 Sepulchral Primordial 1 Sheoldred, Whispering One 1 Skyshroud Claim 1 Smoldering Marsh 1 Sol Ring 1 Solemn Simulacrum 1 Spire Garden 1 Stalking Vengeance 1 Stomping Ground 3 Swamp 1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire 1 Terror of the Peaks 1 The Great Henge 1 Three Visits 1 Thunderblust 1 Timeless Witness 1 Undergrowth Stadium 1 Verdant Catacombs 1 Victimize 1 Whip of Erebos 1 Wooded Foothills 1 Woodland Cemetery 1 Ziatora's Proving Ground