Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, my Conversion to Golgari – A Commander for Everyone, by Paul Palmer

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Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, my Conversion to Golgari – A Commander for Everyone

Every year when the Commander precontructed decks are released, there is usually one main legendary creature e.g. [card]Meren of Clan Nel Toth[/card] or [card]Ezuri, Claw of Progress[/card], and then some other legends that synergise well with the deck but that can also be powerful commanders in their own right (Looking at you [card]Nekusar, the Mindrazer[/card]).

So when I looked at this years precon decks I looked at both the main commanders and what I’ll call in this article ”backup commanders”. Of course everyone knows how powerful Meren is– a commander that allows you to [card]Bane of Progress[/card] every turn is nothing to be sniffed at, however I also thought that [card]Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest[/card] had a lot of potential.

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

When I wrote my article about which of the legends from the Commander 2015 precon decks would be the best, I was thinking about using Mazirek as a voltron commander. In this deck you would play and sacrifice a ton of tokens to have your commander kill your opponents in one or two hits. Between then and now I’ve been thinking a lot about this card and realised that actually a simple token deck where you can make your whole team huge is probably better. I’m going to break down where this deck idea came from and the interactions within the deck itself over the course of this article.  Enjoy!

 

Being Converted to Golgari

In the past when I’ve played Green Commander decks, I’ve either played Green plus another colour (for example: G/R for [card]Omnath, Locus of Rage[/card], Abzan for [card]Karador, Ghost Chieftain[/card]) or a Mono-Green deck with [card]Omnath, Locus of Mana[/card] and all of the mana doubling cards I could find ([card]Caged Sun[/card], [card]Zendikar Resurgent[/card], etc.). You can tell I love the design and the feel of playing both of these cards :) So, what did convert me to playing Mazirek as my Golgari commander over something very strong like [card]Meren of Clan Nel Toth[/card] or combo-y like [card]Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord[/card]? It basically stems from seeing other people playing Meren. Every time they managed to resolve Mazirek it did a lot of work in closing out the game which made me think about how strong a deck could be made focused around that card.

 

Sacrificial Outlets

There is a very high number of sac outlets in the deck, due to how important they are to make [card]Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest[/card] relevant. These outlets have a range of uses from removal to tutoring, to drawing cards.

The first of these that I am going to talk about is the removal. Two of the most obvious pieces of removal for this deck are [card]Merciless Executioner[/card] and [card]Fleshbag Marauder[/card]. These cards synergise brilliantly with Mazirek, killing your opponents creatures, even getting around hexproof, indestructible and shroud. There are two creatures in this deck that works by sacrificing your creatures and giving -X/-X to your opponents creatures. These are [card]Phyrexian Plaguelord[/card] which works better the more tokens you have and [card]Brood Butcher[/card] – which not only acts as a sac outlet, but also makes tokens itself.

Finally, in the removal suite we have [card]Viridian Zealot[/card], [card]Barter in Blood[/card], and the queen of all sacrificing, [card]Sheoldred, Whispering One[/card]. This deck also runs a few ways to sacrifice creatures to ramp. [card]Burnished Hart[/card] and [card]Sakura-Tribe Elder[/card] are great creatures that can sacrifice themselves to get more land, [card]Primal Growth[/card] also works in the same way as [card]Burnished Hart[/card] to ramp yourself by a good amount.

[deck]Merciless Executioner
Phyrexian Plaguelord
Sheoldred Whispering One
Burnished Hart
Primal Growth[/deck]

Some of the best sac outlets are based on fixing your draws and even actually drawing the cards, for example Modern staples like [card]Viscera Seer[/card] and [card]Catacomb Sifter[/card]. [card]Viscera Seer[/card] allows you to sacrifice your tokens and dig through the deck until you find what you need for a given situation. On the other hand while [card]Catacomb Sifter[/card] cannot sacrifice your creatures itself it does create a token and mean that any of your sac outlets allow you to scry. Finally there is [card]Smothering Abomination[/card]. This card works as both a sac outlet as well as something that makes your other outlet much, much better by allowing you to draw extra cards.

[deck]Viscera Seer
Catacomb Sifter
Smothering Abomination[/deck]

 

The Good Stuff

Next are what I like to call the ”good stuff” cards based around sacrificing. [card]High Market[/card] is a great card, it’s a sac outlet that costs no mana to play (being a land) and gives you incremental life gain to sweeten the deal. Thanks to the wording of [card]Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest[/card] you can sacrifice land to trigger the ability. [card]Sylvan Safekeeper[/card] is a [card]Viscera Seer[/card] for lands that can help to protect your most important creatures from any kind of spot removal. On top of all of the sac outlets [card]Sifter of Skulls[/card] generates creatures that can sacrifice themselves and ramp you into your higher drops. Just like [card]Smothering Abomination[/card], [card]Eldrazi Monument[/card] is another one of those sac outlets that only sacrifices your creatures at a particular point of your turn and gives your some other kind of benefit, in this case letting your team fly over blockers and preventing them dying to any fliers.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, tutors are something that can turn Commander into a pretty toxic environment, turning a perfectly fair game on its head by allowing you to find that piece of removal or your last combo piece to win. While this is the case this particular deck isn’t really a combo deck, it’s more of a creature based value deck so there isn’t anything you can search for that will end the game instantly. The one tutor that does fit into this deck perfectly is [card]Sidisi, Undead Vizier[/card]. Since she sacrifices a creature the synergy with Mazirek is fantastic and can at the same time let you tutor.

Finally is one of my favourite cards from the Commander 2015 set. [card]Scourge of Nel Toth[/card]. This is one of those cards that you’ll probably see become a staple in any black deck, the value it generates with cards like [card]Grave Pact[/card] and is just too much to ignore.

[deck]High Market
Smothering Abomination
Sifter of Skulls
Eldrazi Monument
Scourge of Nel Toth[/deck]

Tokens! Tokens! Tokens!

With every sac outlet comes token generators. This deck has a variety of token generation, the majority of which comes from creatures abilities. Without these creatures the deck wouldn’t really work since the sac outlets actually need something to sacrifice!

One of the stranger sources of tokens in the deck is [card]Titania, Protector of Argoth[/card]. This card wasn’t really on the radar for this deck until I put in [card]Sylvan Safekeeper[/card]. These cards are a kind of combo in that it allows you to make pretty big creatures without much trouble. [card]Ophiomancer[/card] is another one of those cards that I hadn’t really heard much about, until I started working on my EDH cube (another story for another article). Since I got a copy I’ve been using it in every deck with black in it, it provides a lot of versatility, you can sacrifice the snakes it makes in each player’s turn while also giving you a deathtouch blocker.

The more powerful token generators have a much higher CMC. [card]Avenger of Zendikar[/card] and [card]Grave Titan[/card] are cards infamous for taking over games both by themselves and with some of the most powerful green cards in the game like [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] & [card]Pathbreaker Ibex[/card]. These cards are probably the most powerful and plentiful token generators in the deck, giving you a lot of potential targets for sacrificing.

The two other powerful token generators are [card]Hornet Queen[/card], a card that can clog up the skyways and provides powerful deathtouch blockers. Finally there is [card]Verdant Force[/card]. This provides a token every upkeep, it can quickly get out of hand giving you a constant stream of fodder for sacrificing and powers up the rest of your team to kill your opponents.

[card]Army of the Damned[/card] is another one of those powerful cards you see in a lot of decks in that colour. This card produces a maximum of 26 tokens, which with Mazirek makes your team huge. Just like [card]High Market[/card] there is a land that generates tokens called [card]Khalni Garden[/card] and it is a staple in most green decks. For most of these decks it’s just a blocker however with sac outlets this tiny token can become so much more.

[deck]Sylvan Safekeeper
Titania, Protector of Argoth
Avenger of Zendikar
Grave Titan
Hornet Queen
Khalni Garden[/deck]

 

V-A-L-U-E-!

As mentioned earlier this deck is one that focuses on getting as much value out of its creatures as possible. The sac outlets give you more bang for your buck by making creatures that wouldn’t otherwise do something when they leave the battlefield, well, do something. The best of these creatures are the ones that you can bring back over and over, from [card]Bloodsoaked Champion[/card] to [card]Tenacious Dead[/card] and of course [card]Reassembling Skeleton[/card]. The last of these reanimating creatures is [card]Gravecrawler[/card]. While there are not that many zombies to bring it back there are enough to validate putting it in.

The other core value creatures in this deck are [card]Seed Guardian[/card] and [card]Lifeblood Hydra[/card]. Both of these have abilities that get you even more value when you sacrifice them. [card]Lifeblood Hydra[/card] speaks for itself, drawing cards and gaining life is always great. Ever since the Oath of the Gatewatch prerelease I’ve been going on and on about how good [card]Seed Guardian[/card] is in Commander. I’ve mainly talked about how good it is in [card]Karador, Ghost Chieftain[/card] and other reanimator decks, however in a deck like this it works almost as well, on top of that it gives me two creatures to sac for the price of one.

[deck]Bloodsoaked Champion
Reassembling Skeleton
Gravecrawler
Seed Guardian
Lifeblood Hydra[/deck]

The Good All-rounders

This section is all about the cards in the deck that are just good, they have synergy with the other cards in the deck but aren’t either of the core elements of the deck (token generation or sacrifice outlets). [card]Blood Artist[/card] and [card]Zulaport Cutthroat[/card] have perfect synergy with all of the sacrificing that you want to be doing, slowly draining your enemies, killing them and helping to keep you alive. These cards can quickly get out of control and win you the game.

The next card should probably have been alongside the other sac outlets since it has to sacrifice something. The card is [card]Disciple of Bolas[/card] and it is yet another one of those cards that you’ve probably seen in every black deck you’ve played against. It lets you draw a bunch of cards and gain a bunch of life.

One of the highest value cards in this deck is also one of my favourite black cards in all of Magic: The Gathering. [card]Grave Pact[/card] is what you put in your deck when you don’t want to make friends, it can be very oppressive and can basically shut down any creature based decks. I decided this was OK to put in since I avoided so much of the other degenerate cards, like tutors.

Finally are what you expect when you see a green deck: [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] and its younger brother [card]Pathbreaker Ibex[/card], the silver bullets. These are the kinds of cards that you want to resolve and just win the game.

[deck]Blood Artist
Zulaport Cutthroat
Grave Pact
Craterhoof Behemoth
Pathbreaker Ibex[/deck]

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest Exclusives

As mentioned with [card]Sylvan Safekeeper[/card] Mazirek has awesome wording that means the sacrificing of lands buffs your team. With this deck the land based was designed around lands that you can sacrifice to find other lands. These range from fetchlands [card]Wooded Foothills[/card], [card]Windswept Heath[/card], [card]Polluted Delta[/card] (my spare [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card]s are currently on loan) and the two pseudo fetches in [card]Evolving Wilds[/card] and [card]Terramorphic Expanse[/card]. This deck also runs [card]Ghost quarter[/card] as a way of stifling a players coloured/colourless mana and triggering Mazirek.

Finally there are two artifacts that help with buffing up your team. The first of these is [card]Expedition Map[/card], this card lets you look for a fetch and buff your team twice in one turn. The other is [card]Zuran Orb[/card], this will basically only be used as the killing blow on the last opponent as it allows you to completely sacrifice your landbase to deliver the finishing blow. The all in as it were.

[deck]Wooded Foothills
Evolving Wilds
Ghost Quarter
Expedition Map
Zuran Orb[/deck]

 

Golgari Commander: Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

Here is the final decklist:

General

[deck]Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest[/deck]

Creatures

[deck]Bloodsoaked Champion
Tenacious Dead
Gravecrawler
Sylvan Safekeeper
Viscera Seer
Elves of Deep Shadow
Elvish Mystic
Reassembling Skeleton
Blood Artist
Zulaport Cutthroat
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Vampire Hexmage
Viridian Zealot
Beastcaller Savant
Viridian Emissary
Ophiomancer
Catacomb Sifter
Burnished Hart
Merciless Executioner
Fleshbag Marauder
Wood Elves
Eternal Witness
Reclamation Sage
Disciple of Bolas
Seed Guardian
Sifter of Skulls
Smothering Abomination
Brood Butcher
Phyrexian Plaguelord
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Titania, Protector of Argoth
Pathbreaker Ibex
Grave Titan
Greenwarden of Murasa
Reaper from the Abyss
Scourge of Nel Toth
Avenger of Zendikar
Hornet Queen
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Craterhoof Behemoth
Verdant Force
Lifeblood Hydra[/deck]

Instants

[deck]Chord of Calling[/deck]

Sorceries

[deck]Primal Growth
Cultivate
Kodama’s Reach
Barter in Blood
Tooth and Nail
Army of the Damned
Green Sun’s Zenith[/deck]

Artifacts

[deck]Zuran Orb
Expedition Map
Sol Ring
Thought Vessel
Golgari Signet
Seer’s Lantern
Chromatic Lantern
Eldrazi Monument[/deck]

Enchantments

[deck]Phyrexian Arena
Dark Prophecy
Deathreap Ritual
Grave Pact[/deck]

Land

[deck]Ghost Quarter
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Polluted Delta
Temple of Malady
Hissing Quagmire
Overgrown Tomb
Woodland Cemetery
Llanowar Wastes
Tainted Wood
Command Tower
High Market
Opal Palace
Temple of the False God
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Cabal Coffers
Mosswort Bridge
Khalni Garden
9 Forest
8 Swamp[/deck]

Potential Changes for the Deck

I think that this deck is in a pretty good spot however there are some changes. The typical land changes ([card]Bayou[/card], why are you so expensive). [card]Phyrexian Altar[/card] would also fit very well into this deck as a sac outlet that lets you play more cards.

Other than changing this deck itself there are other decks that Mazirek would fit perfectly into. The first one that came to my head was [card]Prossh, Skyraider of Kher[/card]. By sacrificing the kobolds that Prossh creates it gets +2/+2 instead of the normal +1/+1 allowing you to kill people twice as fast.

Thanks for reading this article, let me know what your favourite legend from the 2015 Commander set was and what you think of this deck.

Paul Palmer

Community Question: What is your favourite most obscure commander?

 

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