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Stardew_Vale's Guide to Ezuri Claw of Progress EDH

Commander / EDH Counters GU (Simic) Tokens Unblockable

Stardew_Vale


STARDEW_VALE'S GUIDE TO 75% EZURI, CLAW OF PROGRESS

This is a passionate guide to Ezuri, Claw of Progress, my first ever EDH deck that I pride myself to pilot constantly since 2016. It had many different evolutions over time and this list, being a deck that is regularly played, is tailored a bit towards my meta. An important note: this deck is in the field of the 75% decks, so it aims to be as powerful as it can while remaining "fair" to play against and not being too cut-throat, so if some cards are missing is probably for that reason. But don't worry, I'll give you indications at the end for the most powerful (and most expensive) cards to swap in if you want to really maximise the deck's potential.

THE GENERAL PLAN

This deck revolves completely around Ezuri, Claw of Progress himself as he is the main way we can generate and distribute +1/+1 counters, which are the core mechanic of the deck. Ezuri allows us to do this in a very efficient and safe way.

Firstly, creatures entering the battlefield generate experience counters that can then be distributed via Ezuri at the beginning of combat, and this can be done in a fast and efficient way using creatures that meet Ezuri's requirement (less then or equal to 2 power) or that produce a variable number of tokens that easily meet this strict requirement.

Secondly, many of the creatures that trigger Ezuri's ability are useful also in many other ways, making the whole process of running the deck towards its main game plan way more efficient.

Lastly, Ezuri's ability is a really safe ability to invest in. Experience counters are counters placed on the player, and as so are extremely difficult to remove (if not really impossible unless you build specificly to do so). During the game they will only grow, making the deck scale extremely well from the early game into the late game. The only real concern for us is to have Ezuri on the field to use the counters we accumulated, and we will have many ways to insure that is consistently happening.

Let's see how we develop on all of that.

THE ENGINE: COUNTERS AND WHERE TO PUT THEM

As already explained above, we need a fast and efficient way to generate a lot of experience counter and then, once converted into +1/+1 counters, the best creatures to put them on.

TOKENS: FAST COUNTER GENERATORS

The fastest way to generate experience counters is to have spells that generate a lot of creatures at once, ideally small enough to pass Ezuri's restrictions (power less then or equal to 2), and to really maximize our strategy we need this effect on creatures that can also trigger Ezuri theirself. So we have: Whirler Rogue, Patagia Viper, Deep Forest Hermit, Experimental Aviator, Cultivator of Blades and Hornet Queen. These meet al the criteria, but there are some other token generators that are too good to pass on: Chasm Skulker generates great tokens iven if they are not "immediately" on the field, Iridescent Hornbeetle has the same "delayed" token generation but can grow our experience counter exponentially (if we place 10 1+/+1 counters, we make 10 tokens, so by the end of turn Ezuri's counters go up to 20 - they are effectively doubled), and Avenger of Zendikar has the exceptional ability to generate a ton of tokens and also pump them relatively easily.

We should seat between 8 and 10 tokens generator, as this makes them pretty consistent in opening hands or way easier to find them at least. The selection I made about token generators takes all the best we can have in Simic, meaning that they either are very efficient (mana vs tokens produced), are relatively efficient but generate evasive tokens (like thopthers or islandwalking squids), or have very important effects (like Cultivator of Blades 's mass pump ability, which can end games).

An important card to look out for: Fable of Wolf and Owl can seem like a good card, but if your playgroup is at least a bit competitive it will be a complete waste of 6 mana. If you can cast it, you should not be in need of the tokens it generates.

The last thing to consider about tokens is that they are, in most cases, great. They can be blockers, sac targets if edict effects are present, or ever game ender with the right cards (there is some mass pump along the way, in different shapes).

UNBLOCKABLES: WEAPONIZE OUR EXPERIENCE

Once we have the first experience counters, we want to put the converted +1/+1 counters on something that can really deliver and use them at best. We have a plethora of incredible creatures in Simic, and virtually all of them can benefit from our counters, but the objective here is extreme efficiency. We want something that has a great potential for damage, but that should also be able to trigger Ezuri to up the number of experience counters and it's ideally cheap, with some nice abilities on the side. Seems like a lot to ask, but we are in the right colors.

We can easily fall on unblockables as creatures of choice: Invisible Stalker, Silhana Ledgewalker and Slippery Scoundrel are all perfect targets for our commander's ability (they protect theirself very well), while Cephalid Facetaker, Marang River Prowler and Lu Xun, Scholar General all have amazing secondary abilities. Special attention goes to our Prowler, which has built in easy recursion that saved or strictly won games more than once. Kaseto, Orochi Archmage is instead an easy way to make anything we want unblockable (but don't underestimate the great pump that he can give to himself) and Herald of Secret Streams amd Champion of Lambholt are just straight bombs that can close games if played at the right time, making basically our entire board unblockable.

A couple of special mentions here: Whirler Rogue can make creature unblockable by tapping two artifacts (for example her two thopters or other tokens or artifacts in the deck), and Rogue's Passage is just another way to have unblockable at our disposal. Den Protector in this deck becomes effectively another unblockable, with the added value of being one of our recursion cards.

We have to keep in mind that while this is our main way to swing for high damage with almost no drawback, we also have many flyers among token generator, tokens and other cards with different effects (like for example Mulldrifter or Trygon Predator ), which are all good targets for our counters as well. That's one of the many ways in which this deck is very sinergystic.

SPARE PARTS: GENERALLY GOOD FOR THE STRATEGY

There are still a couple of cards to close out on the "core" of our strategy.

First, we have to mention Forgotten Ancient, just a solid card that triggers Ezuri upon entering and speeds up pretty easilly our +1/+1 counter game (remember we can put +1/+1 counters on Ezuri with him, then make our commanders unblockable and go for an alternative win). Then, we can need to make a space in here for Master Biomancer. While he may seem kind of a non-bo at first (and he is) there are always points in games in which he becames the best card in our deck: imagine a late game Avenger of Zendikar with a solid +10/+10 from the Biomancer on each token, or a simpler but effective Experimental Aviator. We have to remember that at a certain point in the game it can effectively function as an alternative to Ezuri, and in certain condition a strictly better one, as it's not limited to one creature per turn in its +1/+1 counters distribution. He also triggers Ezuri upon entering the battlefield.

Now, I want to talk about my only "doubler" in the deck and why there isn't any other besides it. I'm obviously talking about Panharmonicon, which is an incredible way to double our experience counters when our creatures enters the battlefield BUT has also the equally important function of doubling all the tokens we make. Aside from the sheer number of bodies on the field, this also means that Ezuri triggers for the double of the tokens, and for each of them he triggers tiwice. It is simply too good and effective to pass on, if we know when to use it right (usually for ending games or putting ourself far ahead when opponents have no way to respond or we have enough interaction to do it safely). But at the same time, here also lies the reason for not having other counter doublers: they tend to generate a lot of hate and are seen as incredible threats by the table, while not giving us all that power back. Don't get me wrong, having double counters on a creature from a Doubling Season or Primal Vigor is really good, but personally I don't want to spend good money on them just to become the Archenemy as soon as I drop them and be instantly killed. And, on a side note, it's better to distribute a lower amount of counters on different creatures during each of your turns that to concentrate everything on one: this will get it instantly killed and all of our effort will be lost. Panharmonicon works because it doubles our experience counters, which are virtually untouchable, so it's way safer. One last point about a card tha is really present in Ezuri lists: Vorel of the Hull Clade. While this may seem great, remember that it's a creature, so it's super fragile, and you have to put mana in it an tap it, so it's super slow for summoning sickness and limited to one target per turn. Avoid if you're not on a strict budget, otherwise can be decent.

Adding our dear commander Ezuri, Claw of Progress himself to this section, we can conclude with the core of the deck and of our strategy, which seats at around 25 or so cards. Now we have to make this core work smoothly.

THE PILLARS

In order to make all of our core cards work, we need some solid foundations, some pillars on which the whole structure is sustained. This concept can take many forms, but mainly we focus on ramp, card draw and some recursion.

RAMP

As far as ramp is concerned, we use some really basic stuff, but with a calculated approach that may seem as not making much sense, but really it does. After running mana dorks for years in this deck, I decided to cut them out to prioritize other types of cards, resulting in the best ramp package this deck ever had. The resoning behind this decision is simple: Ezuri is an even costed, two colors commander, and as such using mana dorks that cost one and tap for one is not making us any favour. In every scenario we will be able to cast Ezuri only from turn 3 onwards, so I prefer to use mana rocks that cost 2 to cast (as they are more difficult to destroy, we are not back on mana after a boardwipe) like Arcane Signet, Talisman of Curiosity or Simic Signet or 2 CMC mana dorks that can scale in a synergistic way like Gyre Sage or Incubation Druid. Then we can add some ramp in the form of other kinds of 2 CMC spells, like Rampant Growth, Farseek or Sakura-Tribe Elder which can also trigger Ezuri. Sol Ring is present, of course, and it's the only possible way to get Ezuri out on turn 2. To conclude our package we run Fertilid which can scale very well and also the odd pick that is Augur of Autumn, which is really a powerhouse that's not really ramp as much as it is card selection that can also grant us land drops. It's important to mention that using it for casting creature is pretty easy in this deck (causing more possible triggers for Ezuri) and can also trigger our commander entering the battlefield.

We should have between 9 and 12 ramp cards in this deck, more on the 11-12 if you decide to run low on lands as I do in this list. In this way we have the best possible distribution to follow our curve nicely from aggressively costed unblockables to big token generators or game-ending mana intensive plays. Another good reason for having a good amount of ramp is to always have a bit of mana to destinate to our interaction spells (counters, removals, protections, etc.).

CARD DRAW

For card draw the situation is a bit more complex, as there are many factors to take into account and there is no clear distinction in subcathegories. In general, we can say that we have repetable card draw and one-time card draw. In the first there are only creature cards like Fathom Mage, Mindless Automaton or Zameck Guildmage which interact directly with our +1/+1 counters theme, scaling at high speed the more counters we have, or more standard options like Beast Whisperer. All of them also trigger Ezuri upon entering the battlefield. As far as one-time effects are concerned, I have decided to go a bit out of the creature theme, having only Mulldrifter meeting this criteria (also here for triggering our commander and having a nice flying body), and using Fact or Fiction, Tresure Cruise (delve is still good, trust me - one blue mana for drawing 3) and Inspiring Call which is also a great protection for our board. Overall the package is reduced but quite articulated, and we should have around 9 or 10 of these spells, calibrating the number referring to our curve.

RECURSION

We also have a small but really useful recursion package: Skullwinder, Eternal Witness and Den Protector are single-target creatures that recur our stuff while triggering Ezuri, while Verdant Confluence can set us up for very big plays or put us back into the game after a hard boardwipe. It's obviously much more flexible than this and the other modes on the cards are nice, but it's mainly in here for the recursion.

INTERACTION

Being in Simic, we have a great selection of cards for interacting with threats, either on boards or on the stack. So our interaction package is a bit heavy, but it is absolutely worth it.

COUNTERSPELLS

First we have a good total of 5 counterpells in the form of Counterspell, Arcane Denial, Disdainful Stroke, Familiar's Ruse and Swan Song. Note that each of them is CMC 2 or lower, to be easily usable even if we are tight on mana, but remember that theey are limimted in number: use them only to protect your interest when you are ina good position to win the game or to make a key play. They should not be used to stop directly our opponents, unless they are about to win in this exact turn or make a play that sets us too far back or basically makes us lose the game already. There is only two exception: if Ezuri is targeted, we could use one of them if it's really worth it, and if an early boardwipe will destroy our super big early board, it's time to use it and take the game home, or at least a player out.

REMOVALS

Then we have to talk about interacting directly with threats on the board. Here the same reasoning for counterspells apply as far as CMC and way to play them, but I tend also to use removals in a more political way much often. We have a solid package that can remove every kind of permanent we want: Rapid Hybridization and Pongify for creatures, Krosan Grip and Trygon Predator for artifact and enchantments, and Beast Within for everything.

PROTECTION

In order not to expend too many of the already mentioned resources, I specifically reserved some slots for protection. Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots are here to protect mainly Ezuri, but can also be beneficial for many other creatures. An then there is Arachnogenesis. You can cut it if it's not in your budget or swap it for something else, but it saved me so many times I just have to keep it in there. Plus, it can trigger our commander big time.

BOARDWIPES

To finish this interaction package off, we have boardwipes. We are not in the right color combination to have an abundance of the most powerful of them, but we have blue, so we must run Cyclonic Rift which sets everyone back completely (bounce all non-land permanents) while leaving us with our complete board on an empty battlefield. Wins games, destroys our opponents plans. But we also have Curse of the Swine for a more selective boarwhipe (and it does not hurt us), and Evacuation for when we really need to hit the reset button fast and cheap.

LANDS

As far as lands are concerned, we don't have really much going on. We have a pretty average 14 forests and 11 islands, balanced with respect to our colored pips distribution in the deck, and since we need to play pretty fast in the first stages of the game, we have some double colored lands in the form of Dreamroot Cascade, Flooded Grove, Hinterland Harbor, Yavimaya Coast and the obvious Command Tower and Exotic Orchard. We also pack Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse, and a part from the aforementioned Rogue's Passage for unblockable, we have Command Beacon since Ezuri is too important to us to let commander tax stop us from casting him. We have a lot of colored pips, so Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is in there but it's not mandatory and can be swapped out for anything else without much problems.

CONCLUSION

I'd like to give you some more tips about this commander and this deck, especially focus on how I piolt it and what different cards you could swap in for upping it's power level a bit or introducing particular mechanics (like infect or extra turns) that are not really much appreciated in my playgroups.

PILOT THE PHYREXIAN MACHINE

This deck is played accorind to the two color of its identity, so we tend to amass a ton o value, a very good and threatening board presence while also having that portion of control that makes our life way easier than it could be. The only real wincon in this deck is through combat damage, being it through unblockable and well-protected creatures, through super wide mass-pumped boards or through the (NOT INCLUDED HERE) infect and extra turn spells. The only thing to keep in mind is that this deck needs some sort of build up to be really effectuve, and often we need to avoid super explosive starts even if we can have them, because the killing of 1 opponent super early makes us immediately become the archenemy: so play it safe the first tuns, keep your real bombs an threats for later, and don't initiate 1v3+ kamikaze plays without the 99% assurance that you will win. Ideally, you should push the pedal to the metal when 1 opponent is already out, and be very smart and political in purusing a "middleman" role between the remaining opponents, to really explode when there are only two of them. For this reason, remember to spread your counters on different creatures (in many cases even unassuming vanilla tokens can be super valuable becoming great swinging threats masked as chubby blockers for a couple of turns) in ordern not to become a "visible" and obvious threat, and also to have a more resilient board that uses efficiently our +1/+1 counters. It's kind of a tricky deck, because if you play it without any knowledge of the plan, you can explode and to great plays, taking out many opponents early, but just remember that this will lead you to a defeat 90% of the time.

WHAT TO ADD OR SWAP

Many interesting things can be added depending on how competitive your pod is, what kind of mechanics are avoided and, of course, your budget.

DOUBLERS AND CO.

Many counter doublers can be added based on budget and tendencies/reactions to them in you playgroup, and it's up to you to be on board with my reasoning above or not. Primal Vigor and Doubling Season are perfect examples, followed closely by Branching Evolution. There is also a more budget friendly option, which is not really a doubler: Hardened Scales. It may seem super good, but remember that with this build (but with this comamnder in general) we don't want to go super wide and place counters on our entire board, so it's not as good as it may seem. Adding just one counter on top of all the others we make with ezuri, and on a single creature per turn in this deck, is not good at all. If you are on a budget you could also consider Mycoloth but ir's super slow and kind of a trap card, generating some hate as the others.

INFECT

This is a mechanich which is not appreciated in my playgroups as it tends to generate a metric ton of salt, but it's maybe the strongest you can use in a really cutthroat ezury deck. Aggressively costed infect creatures like Blighted Agent are your friends as placing around 10 +1/+1 counters on them and making them unblockable is almost a joke here, and don't forget the incredible Triumph of the Hordes which ends games the moment it's casted in this (and may other) decks.

OTHER WIN CONDITIONS

We have of course one of the easiest way ever to take extra turns: Sage of Hours. If it's not a problem for your group, get it.

We also could speak about Simic Ascendancy which is technically another way to win games pretty easily, but it's kind of lame. Good if you're on a budget, or if you really want to add alternative win conditions.

We have already included a veru handy Overwhelming Stampede just to close some games faster, but you could use more of these effects in the right build including Pathbreaker Ibex or Createrhoof Behemot. They aren't just what we are focusing on here.

THE END

This concludes my passionate guide to Ezuri, Claw of Progress. This list is by no means set in stone and the advices I've given you are, well, only advices. Let me know about your opinions, your builds and how you pilot your deck, as I'm always interested in learning new things and I pride myself of having an open mind to everyone.

My job here is finished. Salutations,

your dear Stardew_Vale.

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Date added 3 months
Last updated 3 months
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

4 - 0 Mythic Rares

32 - 0 Rares

24 - 0 Uncommons

14 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.27
Tokens Ape 3/3 G, Beast 3/3 G, Bird 2/2 U, Boar 2/2 G, City's Blessing, Experience Token, Frog Lizard 3/3 G, Insect 1/1 G, Insect 1/1 G w/ Flying, Deathtouch, Morph 2/2 C, Plant 0/1 G, Servo 1/1 C, Snake 1/1 GU, Spider 1/2 G, Squid 1/1 U, Squirrel 1/1 G, Thopter 1/1 C
Folders Primers, Decks I Can Almost Build, Other Ideas, Amazing Deck Names (100): Casual, Ideas, Uncategorized
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