All Aboard The Gravy Train

Pulling Lazav from a booster made me love him. Now you will love him too. Those (really nice people) over at the EDH Power Level List drew my (immense) ire after ranking the Lazavster as a "high powered" general, without quite realizing that Lazav is a champion and a winner and we love him dearly.

The noble and inquisitive reader might ask, what makes Lazav so fantastic? The Lazavster is the instant speed backup to any of our creature based wincons, and can actually serve as a combo piece himself. Lazav also generates a weird kind of card advantage by helping fix your top deck, or milling you by 1, which allows Lazav to flip your entire library if you so desire.

That's right Mr. Reader, this is a combo deck

We have a few different basic game plans
Assemble the A + B of a self mill combo, flip library, recur or copy Laboratory Maniac , draw a card
Assemble the A + B of an infinite mana combo, acquire C to dump infinite mana
Acquire and resolve Ad Nauseum to draw combo pieces if graveyard is offline. 1.66 average CMC in the deck makes Ad Nauseum a tasty option, also considering Ad Naus is tied for most expensive card in the deck
Assemble the A + B of Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter , combine with Sensei's Divining Top to draw deck, or Cathartic Adept to mill opponents out. Copy Artifact with Dramatic Scepter also has outlets by copying either Winds of Rebuke or Swan Song
Pili-Pala + Grand Architect : Costs 2 cards, and . Nice and simple A + B that we can split into smaller chunks across our early turns. We should prioritize Pili-Pala first as it will normally be summoning sick. We like this combo because it will always provide infinite colored mana

The Loop Show

Aphetto Alchemist + Illusionist's Bracers + Any Mana Rock: Costs 3 (basically 2) cards, and . Another low cost combo, as we can once again split costs among multiple turns. We can assume we will be playing mana rocks to ramp, so the card cost is minimal to this combo. Having high amounts of colorless in the combo cost gives us a nice use for Grim Monolith and Mana Vault . Once again, Alchemist comes out summoning sick so we should play him first, but also because Alchemist functions as a costless voltaic key for value when digging for the Bracers. Please note this combo may leave us with only infinite colorless mana, but we also get infinite creature/artifact untaps which can fuel us to victory.

The Loop Show

Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter + 3 mana generated among any number of rocks: Costs 2+ cards, and . An instant classic, and slammed into most EDH blue decks for a reason. Compact, rewards you for doing things you should already be doing, both pieces have high quality outside the combo, and opens us to wincons requiring tap activations. We have the possibility of only having colorless infinite mana, but we can make it work.

The Loop Show

So you acquired infinite mana huh?

Infinite Colorless: Play Dimensional Infiltrator or copy it with Lazav, laughing as your opponents lose their libraries and the game. We will usually choose not to return our combo piece during the combo in 99% of combo situations, but do note that you can get tricky on 'em.

Infinite Colored Mana: We want to acquire some way to sacrifice creatures so we can dump our library using our commander's surveil ability. Inside our deck, we have a few options. Hapless Researcher lets us filter our hand with our library while dumping all of it. Viscera Seer , Mistcaller , Carrion Feeder and Blood Pet can also serve as a sac outlet for Lazav, the Multifarious , and Rootwater Diver can also sac him if you have a haste enabler and an artifact outlet ( Tormod's Crypt , Lotus Petal , or Mox Diamond without a land in hand). Having any of these in play or in our graveyard will work, as we can use Lazav to copy the creature that will sac Lazav, allowing us to replay him. We then want to deck our opponents with Dimensional Infiltrator , so we can stop our combo as soon as we see the cards we need to win.

Infinite Untaps: We acquire infinite untaps with Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter , or Aphetto Alchemist + Illusionist's Bracers . We have a few neat outlets for infinite untaps, notably Cathartic Adept and Sensei's Divining Top , both of which we can recur from our 'yard.

I gotchyu covered fam.

Cephalid Illusionist + Lightning Greaves

The Loop Show

Aphetto Alchemist + Mesmeric Orb

The Loop Show

After you flip, you have a few options:

Dread Return the Laboratory Maniac , then draw a card (Lazav can become Hapless Researcher !!!)

Lazav copies Laboratory Maniac , then draw a card

Lazav copies the missing A or B creature piece of an infinite combo, complete combo, deck opponents with Dimensional Infiltrator or Cathartic Adept

Lazav recurs the missing A or B piece of an infinite combo using Rootwater Diver , complete combo, deck opponents with Dimensional Infiltrator or Cathartic Adept

Dread Return the Snapcaster Mage , grabbing Yawgmoth's Will and ramping/pulling another wincon from your graveyard

Lazav copies or recurs the missing A or B piece of an infinite colorless mana combo. Use Lazav's ability to switch him between our tap creature effects ( Aphetto Alchemist or Cathartic Adept ) and our untap creature Pili-Pala to filter to colored mana, or deck opponents.

Mostly artifact based, shouldn't be anything too surprising here. 9 pieces of permanent artifact ramp to help ensure dramatic scepter/alchemist lines, and 2 one-time-use ramps that synergize quite well with Yawgwill

Sol Ring Mana Vault Mana Crypt Mox Opal Chrome Mox Fellwar Stone Grim Monolith Dimir Signet Talisman of Dominance Lotus Petal Dark Ritual

Here we see some rare enchantments in this deck. These are simply too value not to have

Mystic Remora Rhystic Study

We also have two creature based card draw. Even though we run Ad Naus, we still desire Dark Confidant for value reasons.

Dark Confidant Hapless Researcher

We also have a pretty standard spell suite of cantrips and draws.

Brainstorm Ponder Preordain Night's Whisper

Gotta throw out one for this broken card

Sensei's Divining Top

And finally, we have the big boys, usually resolving these will win you games. Timetwister we can run because we don't really "value fill" our graveyard, we wait until we combo off to dump a lot into our gravey.

ad nauseum Windfall Timetwister

Cards for winning go here yabish

Cathartic Adept

Surprising value against tutor-to-topdeck that runs rampant in EDH. Cheap to drop, can always use as part of the Dread Return flashback cost. Can also use on yourself for effective card advantage

Laboratory Maniac

You already knowwwwwww. Draw on empty library to win!

Dimensional Infiltrator

Note this guy's flash. Can help reduce cost on combo turn. Also serves as instant speed flying blocker!

Isochron Scepter + Winds of Rebuke

Usually created after drawing deck with Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal + Sensei's Divining Top . Use Copy Artifact to make the second Isochron. Also works with Aphetto Alchemist + Illusionist's Bracers to get those untaps. Deck your opponents, then pass and let them draw into an empty library.

We've already beat this horse a lot but let's be discrete shall we?

Aphetto Alchemist

Used as the creature component in two of our combos, self mill and infinite untaps. Can be used as a value Voltaic Key outside of combo turn.

Mesmeric Orb

Probably the only "value" graveyard filler. Can be cast independently from Alchemist to let you fill that graveyard, having each mill act as a psuedo-draw for your hand. Whether the Alchemist goes to your hand or graveyard, you will be able to combo eventually.

Illusionist's Bracers

Not stellar outside the combo. Can provide value to Rootwater Diver or Cathartic Adept if games are being super grindy

Grand Architect

Can be used to accelerate rocks and artifacts. Small boost for your blue critters, helping against pyroclasm and the like.

Pili-Pala

Not great outside combo. Great inside combo though!

Carrion Feeder Viscera Seer Blood Pet Mistcaller

Value 1 drop sacrifice creatures to serve as outlets for Infinite Colored Mana + Lazav. Hapless Researcher can also fill this role, and so can Rootwater Diver if you have a haste enabler ( Lightning Greaves ) as well as a sac artifact ( Tormod's Crypt or Lotus Petal , Mox Diamond is also an option if it is in your hand). Carrion Feeder can swing for lethal if an opponent makes themselves immune to decking. Mistcaller can slow your opponents that are on reanimator/cheat out fatties strategies.

Cephalid Illusionist

Very marginal outside of combo. Once again, we can use for Dread Return if nothing else presents itself. Weird self mill outlet with Aphetto Alchemist + Illusionist's Bracers

Lightning Greaves

The better half of the Cephalid Combo. Haste helps us to ram vics down the throats of our enemies, and shroud helps us to go fast (we don't have to leave mana for protection in some lines)

Conventional tutors you may have seen in some other decks

Vampiric Tutor Imperial Seal Demonic Tutor Mystical Tutor Lim-Dul's Vault

We have decently high creature density so we can run this tutor too

Diabolic Intent

Many of our favorite combo pieces are at 2 cmc ( Aphetto Alchemist Mesmeric Orb Cephalid Illusionist Lightning Greaves Illusionist's Bracers Pili-Pala Dramatic Reversal Isochron Scepter Dimensional Infiltrator , and we can double this as a counter in a pinch. Activated abilities can be harder to stop too! Shred Memory functions as a similar tutor, but can also be used against opponents gravey strategies.

Muddle the Mixture Shred Memory

Lastly, we have the direct to gravey tutors. We should exclusively use these to finish combos, and we should try to win after resolving them everytime. Intuition and buried alive may take some finesse to get used to, but we basically want to dump the last piece of our combo + an outlet with them. Filling our gravey with our important pieces only to lose them can hurt quite a bit.

Entomb Buried Alive Intuition

There comes a time during the game where something has to leave. Whether its stax, someone's wincon, or someone else's Rhystic Study , you just can't leave everything alone. We want to save these so we can combo off in peace

Chain of Vapor Winds of Rebuke Slaughter Pact Cyclonic Rift

We also have a small counterspell suite

Mental Misstep Force of Will Flusterstorm Pact of Negation Spell Pierce Swan Song Arcane Denial Mana Drain

All that random leftover utility

Yawgmoth's Will

I mean really now, we would be silly not to run this.

Copy Artifact

We can use as value with shiny rocks or to win with isochron. Nice.

Dread Return

Sac three critters, get the critter you need. Neato

Narcomoeba

Useful fuel for Dread Return , helps with speed and consistency, because it reduces your board state to only 2 creatures for the Dread Return

Not much to say here, we run the available duals and fetches for consistency, the filter and painlands also for consistency, and a decent number of basics to avoid getting caught by Back to Basics or Blood Moon . Phyrexian Tower can be useful sometimes, but can end up being situational with draws.

And as always, don't play Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth if you can avoid it. Mana fixing you and your opponent at the same time can be risky.

This deck has quite a few nice and weird synergies, and is equipped to handle playing through grave hate. We can take extra time to work around the grave hate, or switch our combo line to avoid our graveyard altogether. All of our combo pieces are hard-castable, so you can assemble an infinite mana + outlet without any pieces going to the graveyard.

Rootwater Diver is one of the sleeper all-stars of this deck. It can simultaneously act as the second copy of our Mesmeric Orb or Illusionist's Bracers , it can ramp us with Lotus Petal or provide extra control with Tormod's Crypt , or you can use it with Entomb / Intuition to get any artifact straight to hand. It provides far more utility than it appears at first sight. Testing had revealed that we shouldn't run Lion's Eye Diamond , but this card makes a fantastic case for LED as well.

One interesting note on grave hate, depending on what type of hate it is, we might still be able to combo through our graveyard. Lazav's ability is instant speed, so anything that lets the card hit the graveyard THEN exiles it we can respond to. Using Lazav to copy Laboratory Maniac , we could continue to self mill to a win, assuming we have a draw spell in hand. THIS BECOMES RISKY AS YOU ARE EXILING YOUR WIN CONS. Grave hate that is a replacement effect that doesn't allow the card to ever hit the gravey is harder to play around, and if they land we usually pivot to Ad Naus + Dramatic Scepter

Our interaction suite is small and tight, so threat assessment is critical! Don't waste counters on other people's tutors, don't waste counters on other people's cards, only use them to protect yourself and stop people from immediately winning! Some of our interaction pieces can be quite costly too ( Force of Will Pact of Negation Slaughter Pact ) in terms of resources, which also contributes to us using them sparingly. We want to be holding a counter or two when we combo off, but having extra mana can also work in a pinch if we have the right material on board. Generally speaking, saving counters for our artifact based combo pieces is more important because we can't recur them as easily with our commander. Aphetto Alchemist getting countered is a bummer, but we can always copy him with the Lazavster.

We always want to put our summoning sick creatures into play as fast as we can, unless we can do something with huge value instead. Lazav, the Multifarious Aphetto Alchemist Pili-Pala all require an activation to combo off, so pumping one of these bad boys out on turn 1 can help a lot with speed!

Buried Alive is a little easier to use than Intuition . Our piles will change based on our board texture, so it is really important than the pilot knows the A + B + C combos in this list. For example, if we have Lightning Greaves in play, then Cephalid Illusionist becomes an attractive choice. Same for Illusionist's Bracers or Mesmeric Orb with Aphetto Alchemist . After finishing your combo, grab your outlet of choice with Dimensional Infiltrator or Cathartic Adept , then we can use our third grab as protection or another enabler. We can grab Rootwater Diver if we think our opponent is on instant speed artifact destruction, or we can grab Blighted Bat if we need to haste enable our commander to combo.

Intuition is somewhat trickier because one card goes to your hand, and they aren't restricted to just creatures. This card is best when we have two different combo creatures on the board/graveyard. With Cephalid and Alchemist on the field/yard, we can tutor for Mesmermic Orb and Illusionist's Bracers with Rootwater Diver for guaranteed combo. We can also have weird and tricky A of one combo, B of another combo situations, but they pan out similarly. Illusionist on the field with Mesmeric on the field means we grab Aphetto Alchemist and Illusionist's Bracers and Rootwater Diver . Please note that Intuition is at instant speed, play it at the end step before your turn so you get to untap with those shiny new toys. Lazav can also copy critters from your gravey at instant speed, so extra mana after Intuition can save you mana on the combo turn.

ad nauseum is a fatty card, and you probably know how to use it. For those unaware, you also want to cast this on the end step before your turn, so you can untap with that huge new hand. You only discard down to handsize during your own end step, so don't be worried. Our deck has a low curve, lots of 0 cmc spells, and some neat wincons you can draw or tutor to off an Ad Naus.

Chain of Vapor is another EDH all star for utility purposes. Bounce your own mana positive rocks on your combo turn for an extra mana boost ( Sol Ring Mana Crypt Mana Vault Mox Opal Chrome Mox ) if you need help getting there

Normally I'm not a huge fan of Dark Confidant with ad nauseum, but this lil' guy is just too strong to ignore for the purposes of our deck. We have a low curve, lots of topdeck manipulation and scry, and Bob can help us escape from underneath grody stax pieces by simply outdrawing them. Lazav can copy a dead Bob for value, also rather notable. Plus we have a decent amount of sac effects, which lets us drop him if we need to.

Speaking of topdeck manipulation, its super important that we use ours correctly. Many of our cantrips and peek cards don't generate us card advantage, or they actually lose us card advantage, so we have to be fantastic about scrying and shuffling effects to help ourselves. We have access to 7 fetchlands, all of which give us a shuffle as part of the effect. Some of our cantrips and all of our tutors also allow us a shuffle. We need to use these shuffles strategically to get out from future bad draws. Many of the cards in our deck give us effective card advantage over actual card advantage, so learning how to dig properly can help a lot!

Lazav himself gives us a lot of interesting choices to sauce on our opponents. We can value copy critters from our graveyard in response to opponents ("I cast Vampiric Tutor at the end step" "Nice dawg I'm gonna active Lazav to copy Cathartic Adept from my graveyard, then resolve the stack, then mill you one"). Lazav can also give us a double Laboratory Maniac if we feel like being maniacs. After hitting a self mill combo, have Lazav copy Lab man, then Dread Return the actual lab man to have double lab man on the field for safer comboing. Another saucy copy off the Lazav is so save your own lab man. Copying Grand Architect in response can save your own lab man from some gross cards like Pyroclasm and the like.

Probably the single card I'm most sad isn't currently viable is Doomsday . Lazav provides an excellent way to crack the pile, using his ETB surveil 1 to plop Hapless Researcher into the graveyard, copy it, and pop it to hit card #2 of the pile. I'm hoping some inspired Johnny out there finds a slick way to get some spicy Doomsday action into this list

Basalt Monolith is another card I wish I had space for, but it just isn't as viable as I would like. It will rarely come out on turn 1, and when it does, it never does anything for the deck. We don't have a lot of fantastic colorless permanents to ramp into, so colored mana production is pretty important. Basalt combos with Mesmeric Orb , but I'd rather skip it because of mana cost/production simply not in line with what I want. Plus it hits for 3 off bob/naus

Power Artifact sat in this list during early builds. It was a convenient way to hit infinite mana off Basalt Monolith or Grim Monolith , but was a complete dead draw outside those two options. Even after assembling infinite colorless, the deck ran into the problem of "I have nothing to use this mana on". It was a bummer dude

Cephalid Aristocrat is a second copy of Cephalid Illusionist , but costs too much CMC and is redundant. Budget versions can run him with Shuko for more gravey flip shenanigans

Cabal Ritual is a nice card, but usually win more here. We don't have threshold when we need it, and whenever we do have threshold we're usually already comboing to a win.

We don't really need reanimation pieces in this deck, since Lazav serves as a second copy of any critter. Our curve is low, our costs for creatures are low, and many of the reanimate cards would simply be negative card advantage for us. Reanimate on Aphetto Alchemist is pretty wasteful, and it gets more wasteful the more expensive the reanimate is. Reanimator cards also cause us to have higher reliance on the graveyard, which can cause trouble when the table packs graveyard hate. We slot Dread Return as a 0 cmc way to recur lab man if we are going for a super fast self mill win, which provides enough justification for taking that 4 off bob/naus :(

3+ cmc tutors need to act as winning cards for us in order to run them. Buried Alive and Intuition both have the potential to wrap up games or gas you to the end of a game, but other 3 cmc tutors simply do not. Grim Tutor is a notable no here. Also note that we would 100% run Gifts Ungiven if it wasn't banned in EDH.

Lion's Eye Diamond has a lot of potential for this deck, and we are most likely just 1-2 new printings away from finding a fantastic way to break it. Great synergy with Doomsday , those two will probably enter and leave the deck together in the future. We run into two problems when using LED though. The first is that almost all of our protection is reactive and hand based. If we crack LED, we must pitch out counterspells, putting us in a bit of a precarious position. We don't run proactive disruption such as Defense Grid or Silence , which makes LED a scary investment for us. The second problem comes from an investment of cards and mana standpoint. If we create 3 mana, but then throw away our win con, and have to use 2+ mana to get our commander, then X more to copy our win con again, we are usually losing out on that bargain. We also have a harder time recurring artifacts, and many of the second halves of our combos are artifact based. We have no method of flashing in our artifacts, so we can't in response to the crack drop our important combo piece, then combo with the LED mana. LED works well when we are trying to flip our library and then copy Lab Man, and also works well with Yawgwill, but in most of our games it is simply a 0 drop metalcraft enabler.

One of the easiest ways to save on the budget of this deck. You can run lower cost versions of blue/black lands that enter untapped! The most important part is that they enter untapped!!! I can't emphasize enough you want your lands to enter untapped

Snag those painlands, those checklands, and potentially some other meme lands before you go for fetchlands. Fetches will give more consistency and help thin your deck as well as give those shuffles, preventing land flooding later in the game, but really you can do without them. I highly recommend Watery Grave if you nab any fetches, as its pretty cheap and lets you hit color consistency consistently. You can always slot more basics without too much of a drop, plus helps protect you against Back to Basics and Blood Moon , which see play. If you run more budget rocks, you should up the land count by 2-3 lands.

The rocks help a lot with speed and consistency, but they cost $$$ and there are suitable replacements. I would recommend budgeting out Mox Opal Mana Crypt Grim Monolith and Mox Diamond . The middle tier rocks are Mana Vault and Chrome Mox , which will help a lot if you can run them and are currently sitting around the $20 mark. The other rocks don't break the bank, and should be run, Fellwar Stone Sol Ring Dimir Signet Talisman of Dominance

Mox Amber is in a weird spot with this deck, since the only legendary creature we have is our commander. It can be a budget replacement to one of the other moxes or mana crypt though!

I recommend Basalt Monolith as a budget version of Grim Monolith , since it also combos with Mesmeric Orb

I recommend replacing the very expensive rocks with Mind Stone Fractured Powerstone and Prismatic Lens . Further budgetary replacements might include Thought Vessel or Jeweled Amulet . If you remove a lot of the 0 cmc mana rocks, I also recommend cutting one or both of Blood Pet and Carrion Feeder for basic lands. If we don't have as many good turn 1 accelerators, we need to make sure we can consistently hit our turn 2 accelerators.

The easiest way to lower $$$ cost while maintaining combos is adding more draw/combo pieces. Keep in mind that higher CMC spells will make the Ad Naus harder to cast!!!

Our tutors are really nice, but we can budget them out. Imperial Seal is particularly expensive, so that can be the first to go. Vampiric Tutor and Demonic Tutor also run a pretty penny, so you can substitute them out if need be. Look for tutors to replace tutors, even if they are shoddy quality. Diabolic Tutor is lame at 4 cmc but costs like 1/100 the price of Vampiric Tutor . Fabricate is another fantastic replacement for a tutor, and is at a decently playable CMC. Dark Petition is another fantastic replacement tutor, but be aware it hits for a lot off bob/naus!! Praetor's Grasp is also basically a tutor, while being a card denial tool, and we would maindeck it if Lazav, the Multifarious could copy enemy graveyards.

Cephalid Aristocrat and Shuko provide another self mill outlet. I recommend keeping all the infinite combos, as they are relatively cheap in dollar cost and playing cost, and they form the basis of this deck.

ad nauseum is pretty important, please keep and please optimize to a low average CMC so your Naus doesn't kill you. Dark Confidant is far easier to cut costwise and effectwise. Phyrexian Arena is a shoddy replacement for Dark Confidant , but ya gotta do what ya gotta do

Yawgmoth's Will is a real neato card in this deck, but can function without. Definitely recommend splurging on this card if you pick just one.

Suggestions

Updates Add

Comments

Casual

100% Competitive

Top Ranked
Date added 8 months
Last updated 2 months
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 1.61
Tokens 2/2 Morph, 1/1 Bird
Folders Lazav, MISC
Votes
Ignored suggestions
Shared with
Views