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 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


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

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



I decided to test Glorious End and Harsh Mentor, currently over Guttersnipe and Dualcaster Mage. Thoughts? :)

Comments View Archive

Bluefire016 says... #1

I love stack-shenanigans and many triggers going off. This is an awesome deck idea and would be fun to pilot, although I would definitely want to test it out before I took it to a Commander game at my LGS because I wouldn't want people to sit around waiting for me to do math.

Again, awesome deck idea..Well done.

April 1, 2017 3:29 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #2

Bluefire016: Thanks for your kind words! Let me know how it works for you if you build it! :)

April 1, 2017 4:41 p.m.

Pinkie_Satanas says... #3

I don't quite get the reason to use Indomitable Creativity. It's just because or has an specific function i'm just missing?

April 1, 2017 7:33 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #4

Pinkie_Satanas: If I cast it with X=1 targeting Zada, it copies to all of my tokens and spits out every creature and artifact from my deck (at the cost of losing Zada). Still, this tactic can allow some ridiculously explosive board states.

April 1, 2017 8:06 p.m.

rvngzus33 says... #5

I have a similar Zada deck, also budget (mine's less than $40), and it combo'd off turn 5 and defeated all three opponents.

Zada should not be underestimated :)

April 3, 2017 3:57 a.m.

hamiam says... #6

Awesome +1

April 3, 2017 1:01 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #7

rvngzus33: Budget zada is a drug. Have you had a chance to check out my $25 version? :)

April 3, 2017 1:08 p.m.

rvngzus33 says... #8

Yeah man, it's nasty. My friends are so pissed that their $300+ decks can't beat a $35 Zada deck haha. It's like the great salt lake every weekend haha.

April 3, 2017 3:48 p.m.

Scorprix says... #9

If you play Extraplanar Lens, why not use Snow-Covered Mountains instead of normal ones so that you can prevent your opponents from getting the benefit of your mana rock?

April 4, 2017 10:24 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #10

Scorprix: To be honest? 1) My meta doesn't include many basic mountains, so it's somewhat marginal and 2) I like the art on Mountains better ;)

April 5, 2017 12:05 a.m.

Hey, maybe add Molten Birth it is a recursive token maker that helps if you are waiting to go off.

April 5, 2017 1:07 a.m.

Also I'm working on a zada list of my own, and I found a cool card that can save some of your team from wraths, Goblin Chirurgeon. The sac is usually negligible after you accrue some tokens to protect your value creatures. Also one copy effect that does work with zada is Isochron Scepter which allows you to hold onto your value spells like Battle Hymn and Expedite, and use them every turn. Another sneaky addition i have is Plague Myr as both ramp to get zada out earlier, and as an alt wincon against crazy Oloro, Ageless Ascetic decks or similar infinite lifegain startegies. And just as an all around answer to ghostly prison effects or similar things ie any enchantment, Chaos Warp is a must have as the single best red removal spell in edh. Lastly you may consider maindecking Balduvian Rage as another pump spell to finish off the game. It is flexible enough to let you combo off, albeit a turn later, and also be a finisher.

April 5, 2017 1:28 a.m.

Also #ZadaLife foer dayz!

April 5, 2017 1:55 a.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #14

sarkhanisverybroken: Thanks for the comment! Lemme get back to you in the morning ;)

April 5, 2017 2:35 a.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #15

sarkhanisverybroken: Thanks for the long comment, I really appreciate it! In order:

I used to run Molten Birth, but it just turned out to be too slow :( the fact that it conditionally returns to my hand was too unreliable. I eventually replaced it with Mogg Alarm (because it can be cast without mana on my combo turn if I need more tokens) but that got cut eventually too.

Goblin Chirurgeon is a good idea - what would you cut for it?

I also used to run Isochron Scepter (it's an amazing card in general) but, astonishingly, it didn't end up pulling its weight. There were too many times when it was a dead card in hand...and the repeatability was not worth as much as I originally thought. I only get one combo turn usually - my opponents keep Zada off the board whenever they have the chance.

I've considered Plague Myr before...but I generally don't like infect much, and it seems like the colorless mana is a heavy downside. Does it work well in your list? I don't have much to give it trample...

Chaos Warp is an amazing card...but slots are really, really tight in this deck. What would you cut for it?

I used to run Balduvian Rage, Aleatory, Chaotic Strike, etc for additional sources of card draw. However, their timing restrictions simply kill the deck - because all of my mana from rituals fizzles when I change phase - and the delayed draw is also really, really dangerous. I swapped in Blazing Shoal to replace the pump effect, and have never regretted it.

Do you have a list online? I'd love to look it over if you want :)

Also, you're welcome to give an upvote if you like the deck! We Zada players have got to stick together #ZadaLife ;)

April 5, 2017 10:44 a.m.

grimcase21 says... #16

I'm trying to build a Zada deck as well, and I was wondering what you thought about Invigorated Rampage, Goblin Dark-Dwellers, and Spark of Creativity.

April 5, 2017 10:50 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #17

grimcase21: I wish you all the luck in the world! :)

Invigorated Rampage is pretty good for more combat-focussed builds.

Goblin Dark-Dwellers is powerful, I just found it to be a bit too high in mana cost.

Spark of Creativity is...something I hadn't considered before, actually. I completely neglected to notice that it works that way with Zada. Holy mother of god I need to test this now...Thank you!!

April 5, 2017 11:05 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #18

grimcase21: I added Spark of Creativity over Hope of Ghirapur - seems like a good switch :) Thank you very much for that suggestion!

April 6, 2017 12:13 p.m.

grimcase21 says... #19

Daedalus19876: I'm glad it I found something for you to add :D

April 6, 2017 2:33 p.m.

Maybe switch out the Dragonmaster Outcast for the chirurgeon, since the protection seems better than the tokens, especially when the tokens come very slow and starting on turn 6.

April 7, 2017 5:18 p.m.

Orantus says... #21

How about swapping Confusion in the Ranks with Zap ?

April 8, 2017 1:14 a.m.

Orantus says... #22

sorry .. i mean swapping Cathartic Reunion with Zap

April 8, 2017 1:20 a.m.

Conflagrate seems like it would be awesome in this.

Generate a ton of , Conflagrate, hit Zada with a draw spell, then dump a huge hand and Conflagrate from the graveyard.

April 10, 2017 3:42 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #24

Orantus: I really can't use Zap here, because it will wipe my board.

WalkingWormFood: Ooh, interesting idea! Thanks :)

April 10, 2017 3:50 p.m.

Also Abbot of Keral Keep would be fun with the Twinflame + Dualcaster Mage loop and enough mana.

Kind of a long way around compared to hitting Zada with draw spells and playing everything at once but you'd get to trigger Prowess repeatedly on endless copies of Abbot.

April 10, 2017 4:08 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #26

WalkingWormFood: I'm afraid that combo won't work :( copies aren't cast, so I can't get any non-Dualcaster Mage creatures, and I can't get any prowess triggers :(

April 12, 2017 6:09 p.m.

I know it doesn't work with Heat Shimmer, but potentially Twinflame would let you copy both Abbot of Keral Keep and Dualcaster Mage repeatedly and triggering both their ETB abilities, unless I misread Twinflame.

April 12, 2017 8:07 p.m.

Oh wait, yeah. Not sure how strive works when copied.

April 12, 2017 10:06 p.m.

IgnisMachina says... #29

Strive is copied I believe.

April 12, 2017 11:45 p.m.

IgnisMachina says... #30

Goblin Dark-Dwellers has always been a good card for me, since Zada has a bit of ramp

April 12, 2017 11:50 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #31

WalkingWormFood and IgnisMachina: When a card with Strive is copied, you may change the targets but NOT the number of targets. So yes, you can make infinite copies of any creature doing that. That being said, since the combo generates an infinite number of hasty Dualcaster Mages already, I think the addition of Abbot of Keral Keep is a bit win-more :(

IgnisMachina: Goblin Dark-Dwellers keep rotating in and out. To be honest, although they can reuse a draw spell, I tend to just prefer a token generator :( If I could find something to cut, though, they'd probably make it back into the list.

April 13, 2017 9:28 p.m.

IgnisMachina says... #32

Yeah, Once my current semester is up. I am going to go through and update my lists with cards from new sets.

April 17, 2017 4:08 a.m.

TheatreJay says... #33

Loving the list. I'm curious why not release the gremlins over indomitable creativity? I know it only his artifacts, but the token maker aspect feels like it would make up for it.

May 23, 2017 9:37 a.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #34

TheatreJay: Because I can cast Indomitable Creativity on Zada, causing all of my tokens to spit out artifacts and creatures from my deck haha.

I did have Release the Gremlins in here for a while but that XX cost was just too vicious.

I'm so happy you like the list! Haha :)

May 23, 2017 3:29 p.m.

Elujin says... #35

What are you thoughts on Precursor Golem its 3 for 5 and it can act as a mini zada effect when your in a pinch

Nice deck +1

May 28, 2017 9:48 a.m.

Lode_Denolf says... #36


first of al nice deck, really like it.but i have a question. if you want to cast Firestorm for like 40 to win the game is it not to big of a problem te have 40 targets (at least) for you to cast Firestorm?

June 3, 2017 6:40 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #37

Elujin: I tried it briefly and didn't like it too much TBH. I can get one more creature from Goblin Rally and that's the same amount of mana. My basic problem is that I want all of my token-makers to be cheap so I can play them before I drop Zada if possible. Thanks for your comment! :)

Lode_Denolf: If you combo off with this deck, you easily possess more creatures than that. Plus, you can use all of your opponents' creatures and your opponents themselves as targets too. I have not had too many problems with it.

June 3, 2017 8:18 p.m.

Lode_Denolf says... #38

is this deck good enough to play against some competetive decks?in my playgroup you have some people who like to play with gaea's cradle and want to go wild fast.can this deck keep up with that becous all of my other decks are a bit slower and need a turn of 6 or 7 to set up to kill the table.

also is this decklist not a bit to schort on cards that rais the attack of your creatures? or is that less of a wincon in this particular decklist?

June 4, 2017 9:59 a.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #39

Lode_Denolf: Can it hold its own against powerful decks with Gaea's Cradle? With a good hand, absolutely.

I will say that this is probably the least powerful of my current roster of decks (I keep it around because I love the absurdity and out-of-nowhere wins), and that some of my other decks might stand up better to a competitive playgroup.

But on a good hand, this can combo-kill the table on T4 without too much difficulty. It just depends a LOT on what you draw.

June 4, 2017 11:09 a.m.

BabyDoc says... #40

Has anyone tried Glorious End as a defensive measure as soon as your opponent has declared attackers, that also sets you up for your alpha strike on your turn?

June 9, 2017 6:47 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #41

BabyDoc: Yes, which is why it's in here ;) Though I tend to use it instead as a countermeasure to infinite combos.

June 9, 2017 6:50 p.m.

Lode_Denolf says... #42

what do you think of Mana Echoes for in this deck?

June 10, 2017 7:23 a.m.

Lode_Denolf says... #43

And also swiftfoot boots and defence grid and Ruination?

June 10, 2017 7:27 a.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #44

Lode_Denolf: I tried Mana Echoes here and just couldn't get it to work (mostly because the deck is very hungry for red mana specifically). Swiftfoot Boots was in here and I'm not sure why I removed it. I try not to play MLD in general, so Ruination is out. And my Masterpiece Defense Grid hasn't shown up yet, alas.

Thanks for the comment! If you like the deck you're welcome to leave a +1 ;)

June 10, 2017 11:38 a.m.

Lode_Denolf says... #45

thanks for the review and already did ;)

June 10, 2017 noon

Daedalus19876 says... #46

Lode_Denolf: Mind clicking it again? :) I don't think it worked right :(

June 10, 2017 1:15 p.m.

xEth0sx says... #47

I've been testing insult/injury and combat celebrant in my zada list and both have been absolute Rockstars.

June 11, 2017 2:07 a.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #48

xEth0sx: I'll take a look! I happen to have a foily copy of each sitting around. What would you cut? And is your list more combat-focused than mine?

June 11, 2017 6:52 p.m.

xEth0sx says... #49

Depends on the match up. I'll get my list on tapped soon. 1v1 I tend to go for a quick aggro swing but in multi I usually have time to set up a bit and combo kill. Dualcaster mage+ twin flame and swing infinite or storm off into purphoros kills, Goblin war strike, or firestorm. As far as the cuts, hard to say. Aligned hedron network wouldn't be great in my meta because there aren't a lot of fatties. Mostly all comp/combo players, but if it's solid in your meta I get it. Cathartic Runion doesn't seem great either. No card advantage there. It does give some filtering which is reds weak spot. That may even be a good slot for Divining top. Anyway, I'll get my list on here in the next couple days.

June 11, 2017 10:41 p.m.

xEth0sx says... #50

Here u go, as promised. let me know what u think. Still on a budget but will be upgrading it a bit also. Thanks!

June 13, 2017 9:40 p.m.

Lode_Denolf says... #51

what do you do if someone song of the dryads zada or darksteel mutation? is this deck nog a bit weak on the defencive side?

June 15, 2017 1:56 a.m.

xEth0sx Remember, Insult/Injury is only half good. Insult works but injury has two targets and doesn't trigger Zada's ability. Thst being said, the double damage is good, but it's at sorcery speed . Still, it can end the game in the right scenario.

June 15, 2017 11:11 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #53

xEth0sx: I'll take a look within the next few days! :)

Lode_Denolf: I lose :( The honest answer is that, of all of my decks, this is the silly janky one. Very powerful, but still disruptable. The goal is to combo off before they do that, or fold, haha.

NarcolepZZZZZZ: Yes, that is the problem with it. It can allow some crazy explosive wins, but it's a dead card to draw into in many cases. (2 damage can kill some small utility creatures, but is otherwise pretty useless.)

June 16, 2017 1:39 p.m.

Lode_Denolf I run goblin bombardment and phyrexian arena personally.

June 16, 2017 3:05 p.m.

Lode_Denolf says... #55

thank you yesterday i played with the deck. 1 time it did his job verry good and i could go off when i was dead on the stack. so i needed to kill everyone on instant speed so no gamble or Purphoros, God of the Forge. and it was awesome. but the other game my bord was destroyed 3 times and i did nothing becous i had no creatures. some thing i wil add to the decks are rocks to ramp better like thran dynamo and thought vessel. to get the game going faster.

June 17, 2017 6:37 a.m.

mtgftw2014 says... #56

Hey guys, fellow zada abuser here. Just made my deck this week, so I'm still a zada virgin... Two suggestions that my dirty mind can give though are Knowledge Pool and Marton Stromgald. Both I believe are budget. Knowledge is better than Possibility Storm as it lets you cast yours, copy it, then cast an OPPONENTS! With your low cmc, imagine the storm of possibilities with that. Either cut Possibility, or keep both in for even more fun. If not that, I'd suggest cutting Aligned Hedron Network. I apologize if I missed it also, but Eldrazi Monument? That might be a nice addition to combo with Chandra's Ignition, but it's a pretty high mana cost combo. Those are my kind of fun. Keep Possibility because both together would let you choose where your card goes I think. Whether it goes to your deck or to the Pool. It would be fun haha.

June 23, 2017 12:53 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #57

mtgftw2014: Welcome to the Zada Cult! ;) I hope my list was helpful to you; if so, feel free to leave a +1! :)

Marton Stromgald is fantastic in a combat-focussed build, but I went for more of a combo build here. Knowledge Pool is definitely interesting, I'll have to try it out :) I used to play Eldrazi Monument, but I cut it for more cantrips to increase the density of combos in the deck. Thanks for the comment, I appreciate your feedback ;)

June 23, 2017 2:13 p.m.

mtgftw2014 says... #58

I just upped it. By the way, do you really need a Goblin Matron in there? I don't really see the goblin theme, unless it's in there to grab krenko, the combo man, in that case I understand. Regardless, I highly recommend main boarding Plague Myr. Easy to play, gets you a t3 Zada, and is a wincon in a pinch. I understand that you're not going the melee route, but in case anyone on this forum does, I'd suggest Grenzo's Ruffians.

June 23, 2017 2:35 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #59

mtgftw2014: Goblin Matron is indeed there to fetch Krenko, or Siege-Gang Commander in a pinch :)

June 23, 2017 2:38 p.m.

paxton46 says... #60

Any reason for not having Fling?

July 16, 2017 7:01 p.m.

Daedalus19876 says... #61

paxton46: Not good at all here, I'm afraid. It doesn't copy in the way you want it to :(

July 17, 2017 11:04 p.m.

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-1 Dualcaster Mage main
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+1 Harsh Mentor main
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