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Description

Have you ever looked at Ancestral Recall and thought, "I can do better"?

Have you ever concluded that 3 cards for 1 mana was too inefficient?

Have you ever wanted to draw ten or more cards for one mana...in mono-red?

Have you ever dreamed of dealing 800 damage in one turn with a storm deck in EDH?

If so, look no further, this is the deck for you!

I recently rebuilt this list for the third time, and I'm remembering why I love it.

Zada, Hedron Grinder is glorious in her jank. The goal is to pump out a bunch of tokens, then play spells like Crimson Wisps targeting Zada to draw LOTS of cards. She turns every targeting red cantrip into an off-color Collective Unconscious , and the card advantage is unbelievable - the deck frequently draws ten to fifteen cards for a single red mana. Card advantage like this handily wins games: after all, you usually draw into more token-creating spells and draw spells! With various pump spells in the deck, you are often able to swing for literally hundreds of damage as early as Turn 5.

This deck accelerates from 0 to 60 in a matter of a few turns. The oft-inaccurate Tier List describes Zada as trash, so you usually get no attention at the table - then suddenly you're the threat, and you're murdering everyone with hundreds of damage (either from combat or storm spells). There's no better words in EDH than "Cast Firestorm , discard 50 cards, kill everyone".

Having had time to test it now, I can attest to its strength. It's pretty strong against countermagic, since the copying effect is triggered off of casting, and a counterspell will only remove a single one of the copied spells (barring something like Mindbreak Trap). It also tends to have many very explosive midrange turns: pump out tokens, play draw spell, draw into token maker and draw spell, repeat.

This deck is actually ridiculously budget: more than $100 worth of cards in the deck are just EDH staples I had lying around, and could be removed without significantly impacting the functionality of the core components. I've constructed a $25 competitive EDH deck based on this one ($25 Extreme Budget Zada EDH) - ridiculously cheap for a very powerful EDH deck!

The most obvious combos are with Zada herself. Targeted draw spells, like Expedite , give you massive benefit and card advantage. There are 15 spells in the deck that "chain" off of Zada's ability, and can do everything from cast your whole deck, to give all of your creatures a +7/+0 boost with haste, to generate hundreds of tokens, to create over 60 mana.

Notably, you can splice Desperate Ritual onto Blazing Shoal and generate RRR for each creature you control. In a deck where mana rituals are the backbone of the deck, this is not to be taken lightly.

Doubling spells like Twinflame are already nuts in this deck. But when combined with creature-based token makers like Beetleback Chief or Chancellor of the Forge , they can create an exponentially-growing token swarm that will stick around even after the end of the turn. Twinflame and Heat Shimmer also go truly infinite with Dualcaster Mage :)

Possibility Storm is an amazing piece of tech in this deck. Beyond heavily disrupting your opponents, you can stack the triggers so that Zada copies a spell before the spell is exiled: you still draw all but one of the cards, and you often pseudo-cascade into another draw spell, doubling your returns! It also doubles cast triggers, so you get doubled value from Aetherflux Reservoir and Empty the Warrens.

As in any spell-slinger type deck, Past in Flames and Mizzix's Mastery are unbelievable with a full graveyard: doubly so because the spells are cast and thus trigger Zada. In particular, casting Gamble grabbing Past in Flames mitigates the discard effect.

It's worth specifically highlighting how Fiery Gambit functions in this list. There is only one part of the spell that targets (the first Lightning Bolt mode) so Zada CAN copy it. I always shoot for the highest level (3 winning flips in a row) except for the copy that targets Zada, where I continue flipping until I fail (preventing Zada from dying). This gives me an average of 1.25 cards per creature I control, though of course it's somewhat high-variance.

1) Headshot players with Aetherflux Reservoir.

2) Deal infinite damage with Dualcaster Mage+ Twinflame /Heat Shimmer.

3) Cast Firestorm for X greater than 40 (usually targeting your own creatures too).

4) Statistically, cast Fiery Gambit with at least 30 tokens on the battlefield.

5) With Purphoros, God of the Forge on the field, generate at least 20 tokens.

6) Good old-fashioned beatdown: swing with a token swarm, pumped by Screaming Fury / Blazing Shoal / Downhill Charge et cetera.

Having played this deck for a long time, there are certain cards I've chosen to omit:

Goblin Rabblemaster and Goblin Assault : These would be great cards to generate tokens...if Zada wasn't a goblin. If all of my opponents control creatures with power three or greater, these cards force Zada to attack into lethal situations. The risk is simply too high and too frequent.

Burn at the Stake : This used to be in the deck as an alternate win-con. But it turns out that Firestorm is generally a better card in this deck (given that I have lots of cards in hand when I combo off) because I can target all opponents and their creatures.

Seize the Day and Angel's Trumpet : Many Zada decks play this combo to gain combat steps equal to the number of creatures you control. However, the two cards are useless enough alone that they have not made the cut in my list. Also, Angel's Trumpet runs into the same issue as Goblin Rabblemaster above, where it forces my commander into dangerous combo situations.

Akroma's Memorial: While this is an amazing card in general for token decks, the protection from red cripples this deck - I literally CANNOT play this and expect my deck to function.

Soul's Fire and Fall of the Hammer : These are often played in Zada lists, intending to shoot your opponent with the combined power of all of your creatures. However, contrary to popular opinion, they do not work with Zada because the spells have two targets.

Arcbond and Chandra's Ignition: These also don't work particularly well with Zada, unless your creatures have indestructible - the first creature to deal damage kills all of the rest of your board, causing the remaining copies of the spell to fizzle.

Chaotic Strike , Balduvian Rage , Panic , et al: These were a very hard cut, and have been in every version of this deck until the most recent. Eventually, they were cut because of their pesky timing restrictions (particularly, that mana from rituals fizzles when I move to combat) and because of the delayed draws (making me a threat without letting me continue my storm combo). The deck has been playing fine recently even with their exclusion, but sometimes I miss playing almost 20 draw spells...

DO NOT PLAY THIS DECK UNLESS YOU LIKE EXTREMELY COMPLEX STACK SHENANIGANS, AND LARGE AMOUNTS OF COMBAT AND MANA MATH. I cannot stress this enough. This is a ridiculously complex deck to pilot, almost like mono-red Doomsday. It's super fun, but it will both fizzle and be unfun if you don't play it intelligently. This is the Johnniest mono-red deck you will ever see.

This will never be a Tier 1 deck, because by necessity it is very reliant on both its commander and your board state. If you repeatedly lose Zada, Hedron Grinder or suffer many board wipes you are simply dead in the water. Command Tower and Otherworldly Outburst help mitigate this problem somewhat, but it's an inherent weakness of the deck's structure: this deck does basically zero without its commander. This also means that early turns are often very boring, and just serve to build up a token army.

And finally, sometimes the deck just won't function. It's unbelievably explosive, but very high-variance. One game it will murder the whole table Turn 4, and the next it will sit around durdling until Turn 9. A good hand includes a token-maker, a draw spell, and hopefully a ritual. Playing with Partial Paris mulligans makes this much less of a problem, though.

Also, check out my $25 version of this deck!

$25 Extreme Budget Zada EDH

Commander / EDH Daedalus19876

SCORE: 34 | 22 COMMENTS | 3373 VIEWS | IN 27 FOLDERS


If you like it, please leave +1 and comment :)

I'm trying to make this the highest-rated Zada deck on T/O!

Suggestions

Updates

Not much from the new set that appeals to us...

WITH THE NOTABLE EXCEPTION OF Neheb, the Eternal.

I think he deserves a slot in the 99!

Comments View Archive

Gargatus says... #1

Just wanted to say about a month or so ago I used your list as a foundation for my Zada deck and wanted to say thank you.

August 5, 2017 11:13 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #2

Gargatus: I'm glad I could help! :) How's it treating you so far?

August 9, 2017 12:53 a.m.

Gargatus says... #3

Been playing it at a competitive night against food chain Tazri, Flash Hulk and doomsday and it races them and kills them most of the time. It's a lot of fun to pilot and it's always great watching people's faces when I draw my deck :3

August 9, 2017 10:17 a.m.

Traveler247 says... #4

Is Genesis Chamber worth running in this deck? The extra tokens for other players seem almost irrelevant, and 2 mana for even just two tokens seems playable.

What is the purpose of Possibility Storm? Is it that most of your spells of a single type have similar function, so it impedes your plan little compared to other players?

Is Confusion in the Ranks not too dangerous? If someone takes your commander, seems like you'd have a hard time dealing with that.

Also, I love the deck! It looks super fun to play. I have some friends who want me to build a budget deck so I'm not whooping them as badly. I usually build $800-$1200 decks, and now I'm trying to go under $200. I think this will probably still whoop them, which I'm down with. They need to build better decks.

August 22, 2017 1:20 p.m.

iPhalanx says... #5

Curious how Temur Battle Rage has not made your list, seems pretty good in my opinion?

Also, I'm just curious if there is some busted combo that can happen with Pia and Kiran Nalaar that I'm not seeing.

September 3, 2017 7:04 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #6

Traveler247: Interesting idea re:Genesis Chamber. The tokens for other players do worry me, though...

Possibility Storm works very well with Zada's ability. She still copies the spells to your other creatures before Possibility Storm "cycles" them away, then copies the second spell too. So it disrupts your opponents while often DOUBLING your spells' outcomes.

Confusion in the Ranks is honestly there because I find it an immensely fun, hehe. I can sometimes steal my commander back with token-generators, but I just love the chaos that Confusion in the Ranks generates :)

And a $200 budget is VERY much an option for this deck :) Lots of cheap, good cards for the deck.

iPhalanx: I tend to go for a storm combo for my win-con, so I don't swing very frequently. For a more combat-focused build, though, it can definitely be good!

And there's no busted combo around Pia and Kiran Nalaar, but 3 creatures for 4 mana is something I'm willing to work with :)

September 5, 2017 1:07 p.m.

ShortStomper says... #7

Do you ever find it difficult to actually get 40 or 50 targets for firestorm so you don't nuke yourself?

September 6, 2017 9:58 a.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #8

ShortStomper: Not when I'm comboing off ;) I play in 4-5 person pods, so my opponents usually have at least 10 creatures between them, plus 4-5 opponents, and 25 tokens isn't a hard benchmark :)

At the very least, it lets me completely clear out my opponents' blockers along with some damage to their faces, then swing for lethal.

September 17, 2017 12:24 p.m.

vvankershim says... #9

How do you feel about the new Dowsing Dagger from Ixalan in this deck? I feel like its an easy include, especially because three red mana each turn after you can just get combat damage through is good. I've build mono red before and its not easy to keep up with the other ramping in an edh game: Do you find yourself mana lacking during games in this deck?

September 18, 2017 8:47 a.m.

Allomyr says... #10

You mentioned Dualcaster Mage but you left it out of your build.......

October 18, 2017 6:18 a.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #11

Allomyr: It was in older drafts. I'm trying to find a slot to add it back in but having trouble...

October 18, 2017 11:33 a.m.

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