I like big bugs and I cannot lie...

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I've always had a soft spot for the "sacrifice matters" theme and have tried in in a few decks as a side-dish, but I never got around building around it as the main course. Recent tinkering with other brews made me reconsider Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest as a commander and rejuvenated those sacrifice matters deck ideas. It feels nice to put those sacrifice-themed cards in a deck again. It’s also great to finally have a deck centered around +1/+1 counters. I loved the idea of a deck where +1/+1 counters are currency that can be traded in for all sorts of benefits, so that was another aim with this build.

Lastly I figured out that Mazirek allows for a fun way to play Massive Land Destruction (MLD) in EDH without totally wrecking games. This was a great incentive to continue with this build, because I really liked playing Land Destruction decks back in the day, and I'd love to have an EDH deck that punishes greedy land-ramp decks in a fair way.

So this is my take at the big bug Mazirek: a deck that combines +1/+1 counter farming with sacrifice matters and fair land destruction.

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Deck Premise

With this deck I want to farm +1/+1 counters and cash them in for value. There is quite a group of cards that can do that: cards like Crystalline Crawler and Devoted Druid turn them into mana, Hangarback Walker and Hooded Hydra turn them into creatures, and Lifeblood Hydra turns them into cards. Then there are those cards that allow us to bank up counters for later use, like Servant of the Scale and The Ozolith. The general idea is to get a few of these cards out there, add Mazirek to the board and start saccing some stuff!

Since Mazirek trigger works when things are sacrificed, we run a bunch of token generators, such as Grave Titan that generate sac fodder, as well as free sacrifice outlets, like Phyrexian Altar that can sac our own stuff at will. Most of our hate cards, such as Pox, as well as a lot of our lands cards are sacrifice-based also, adding to the counter production. Lastly there are cards that trigger when something dies, like Pitiless Plunderer.

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I want to set up a board state where I can get a lot of +1/+1 counters via Mazirek and then get all sorts of value via the farmers and and cards with triggers, leading to different possible lines of play:

  • We can cripple our opponent's board with our mass sacrifice spells, such as Vona's Hunger and Grave Pact, giving the deck strong board control options. Combined with Mazirek, these spells allow for the most explosive of plays, adding huge amounts of counters to our creatures.
  • Some of these spells, like Pox, also take out a part of our opponent's mana bases, while our deck is prepared to either mitigate the blow or to turn land loss into an advantage (more on that later).
  • Of course there is one other creature besides Mazirek that combines well with mass sacrifice effects, and that thing is It That Betrays. The main way to get such a play is via Pattern of Rebirth. We can also discard it via one of the discard outlets, and then reanimate it. Or, with all of the tokens we are generating, we can sometimes even hardcast him when combined with Ashnod's Altar or a creature like Marwyn, the Nurturer or Crystalline Crawler.
  • Marionette Master can turn our +1/+1 farming into a lethal weapon. The deck runs some other artifact token generators, but the 3 the master generates herself can be enough in this deck to knock a player out.
  • Playing Liliana, Dreadhorde General with Doubling Season out will pretty much end the game.
  • We can use God-Eternal Bontu to sacrifice all our lands if combined with Natural Balance or World Shaper/Splendid Reclamation. A similar line of play is possible with a sac outlet and casting Life, generating a lot of sac triggers and hilarious turns.
  • With help of the modular-type creatures we make Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest a lethal attacker and eliminate a player via commander damage. Inkmoth Nexus is an easier to achieve variant of this strategy.
  • And we can just amass an army of small critters, pump them with Mazirek's ability and swing! enter image description here

Then there are the following infinite combo routes that can finish the job if the game drags out too long:

Less Lands Matter

There were 2 related ideas floating around before I started this deck that I did not have a home for yet:

  1. I don't like it that lands have become a safe haven in our playgroup for ramping. I wanted to attack land bases, but do it in a way that does not destroy all lands. I wanted to punish greedy decks that just ramp lands like there's no tomorrow without having a contingency plan.
  2. With Lotus Field printed I felt I could do something interesting with this card (as well as its older sibling Lotus Vale). Apart from fixing your mana, it also reduce your land count. We've been learned to assume that in EDH more lands is better. However, due to Lotus Field I was wondering if I could somehow turn having less lands into a resource.

These ideas clicked into place when reconsidering Mazirek, where MLD is already going to give you value if it is sacrifice-based. Pox and Smallpox synegize with these ideas, but there is one other Land Destruction card that truly rewards having less lands.

Enter a little played reserved list card called Natural Balance. It is the prime example of a fair land destruction spell, punishing the ever rampant land ramp decks and helping that one deck that got land screwed in the early game (Yay, MLD that is not breaching the social contract \0/). However, it becomes especially delicious when combined with lands like Lotus Field, Lotus Vale and Golgari Rot Farm. They turn Natural Balance into a big land ramp spell while destroying the ramp advantage of your opponents. The lands it finds enter the battlefield untapped to boot! You could be playing this at turn 6 with just 3 lands in play while your opponents might already have 8. It's plays like this that I love to build decks around, even if it only happens every now and then.

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This is where having as few lands in play as possible has value. The less lands we have, the more value we are getting from Natural Balance. Less lands will also help to mitigate our land loss of a Pox. This is why I don't run any ramp cards that search out additional lands from the library. A nice thing about this theme as that the main way to reduce your land count comes from the 2 lotus lands, which already synergize well with our commander (I'm not running Scorched Ruins because I need the colored mana).

Land Graveyard Synergy

Because of Natural Balance, Pox and the sac lands, there are some cards here that give us more benefits of lands being sacrificed. Lands like Drownyard Temple and Dunes of the Dead get us value when going to the bin, and World Shaper/Splendid Reclamation gets us all our compost back into play. I still have to play around with this theme to see how much of it can be in this deck without damaging the +1/+1 counters synergy too much.

Other Topics

Mazirek is a unique commander in that it cares about people sacrificing permanents. This is what makes Mazirek an interesting choice for a deck as it is hard to create a similar build with another commander. It is also a commander that allows for a lot of different builds, so it is unlikely to bump into another list and feel like you've played against that deck before. These are characteristics I enjoy in any commander. Plus, he's a big bug that makes small critters huge! What's not to like?

I play commander with a set playgroup in a kitchentable setting. We have added one house rule: no infinite card combo's of 2 or less cards (like Tooth and Nail based combo's). We also try to keep a check on excessive stax or denial strategies. This usually enables that everyone has a chance to try out their creations and have some fun.

I tried to make a deck similar in power level compare to the majority of my playgroup, which is around a 7. I like the majority of my decks to be at that power level in order to play the deck in more situations and still make sure everyone has a good time. This deck can do some powerful stuff, but not until after most of the table has had a chance to give their decks a go. Although sometimes things can get out of hand a bit earlier than intended :).

Category (Jank - Casual - Focused - Optimized - Competitive)

Somewhere between focused and optimized

Power Level:


Closing Thoughts

This deck is still relatively new, so I'm happy if you leave some feedback. Any cards that you think I should run given the deck's premise and themes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Also, feel free to upvote the deck if you liked it!

GL & HF!


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Updates Add

The Ozolith perfectly embodies what this deck is trying to achieve: bank counters, multiply them, and then spend them in the right place to create an explosive turn. Very cool card that I'm gladly adding to this deck. There is a delay in the way it works, so that could be seen as a downside compared to something like Death's Presence. However, the upside is that it saves your counters in the event of a boardwipe, and is a lot cheaper to cast. Mycoloth makes room as I feel that card requires too much setup in a lot of cases, and can be a dead card sometimes.

Other changes to this deck since version one have been numerous, but I am quite happy with the current build. Yet, if you have tips or questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment.


Date added 10 months
Last updated 3 days

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

12 - 0 Mythic Rares

53 - 0 Rares

19 - 0 Uncommons

7 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.00
Tokens 1/1 Servo, 3/3 Beast, 1/1 Thopter, 2/2 Spawn, 2/2 Wolf, Garruk, 0/1 Plant, 5/5 Wurm, 2/2 Zombie, None Treasure, Clue, 1/1 Eldrazi Scion, 1/1 Spirit, 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn, 1/1 Saproling, 1/1 Snake, 2/2 Morph, 1/1 Faerie Rogue, 1/2 Spider, 0/1 Goat, 1/1 City's Blessing
Folders Golgari ideas, ..., EDH
Ignored suggestions
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Revision 31 See all

2 months ago)

+1 Emergence Zone main
-1 Windswept Heath main