Could Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp Make Improvise a Real Deck?

We live in a world where 5/5s for 4 are pretty much the norm, and need a new great ability to be useful. Well, how about 5/6 flyer for 4? That’s what Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp offers. In return, all it asks is that you have an artifact that you can tap, which shouldn’t be too difficult in this Standard format. If you don’t have one, then you can still cast Zahid, and you get a good old Mahamoti Djinn, which is certainly not a good card, but still not that bad of a the worst-case scenario.

So is this card worth jumping through the hoops of having to have an artifact? In my opinion, yes. A 5/6 flyer is a huge creature. It beats Rekindling Phoenix and Glorybringer in combat, and it stops Hazoret on its tracks. It even blocks The Scarab God! It also can’t be hit by Fatal Push, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Abrade, or the new removal spell that might become a Standard staple—Cast Down. For 4 mana, this is a great deal, and I’m interested in making this card work. I think it’s powerful enough when it’s working that you can play three or even four copies, even though it’s legendary, because if they don’t kill it they just die.

A good possible shell for Zahid is a deck that hasn’t had much success lately, but could come back now that having artifacts is a good thing again: Grixis Improvise. Improvise will almost always have an artifact lying around by turn 4, and has enough of an aggressive component that it can use a 5/6 flyer to great effect.

On top of Zahid, the deck gets a new tool—Karn, Scion of Urza. In control decks, you’re mostly going to use Karn to draw a couple of cards and then kill them eventually. In improvise decks, you want to use Karn to make tokens almost all the time, and, if you’re in a weird spot, you can draw a card. If you can get two or three X/X tokens in a deck full of artifacts, that’s a pretty good deal. In this deck, you could realistically go turn-1 Renegade Map, turn-2 Puzzleknot or Servo Schematic, and then on turn 4 you play a Karn and make a 4/4. Since a 4/4 should be good enough to defend Karn, you’ll upgrade that to two 5/5s next turn. Karn is legendary, of course, but you don’t care about that because you just want to cash it in for Constructs. In fact, you’re happy to draw multiple Karns, as they scale pretty well with one another if you’re using the -2 ability.

With the addition of Zahid, you can perhaps even cut a color from your Grixis deck. You obviously can’t cut blue, but either black or red could go, though my inclination is that the mana in the deck is good enough to support all three colors. I’d be a bit skeptical of cutting black, as I think Herald of Anguish is a huge draw toward the archetype. As a 5/5 flyer, Herald of Anguish survives most things that Zahid survives, so it’s good for the exact same reasons. So I’d experiment first with Grixis, then with U/B, and finally with U/R.

This is how I would build with all three colors:


If you want to be straight U/B, then this is how I would build it:


And this is how straight U/R would look:



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