Zacama, Primal Calamity - Naya "Hide Tide" Storm

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darrenhabib
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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

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When it comes to what have been some of the best mechanics in Magic the Gathering, arguably anything that contains a potential "free" cost ranks among the top. Alternative casting costs like; exiling another card instead, Phyrexian mana, storm, cascade, the Urza's block untap land cards.

Here we have that mechanic in a commander, and oh boy it's time to abuse it, hang on for the ride.

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Naya wgr "High Tide" Storm Combo
This is a deck that aims to produce massive amounts of mana and draw tons of cards, with also the ability to use Zacama, Primal Calamity powerful removal abilities to clear most if not all of the opponents boards. It's a storm deck that looks to draw and play most of your deck in a single combo turn. Because of Zacama incredible ability to untap lands, you will string together huge incremental gains in mana by recasting Zacama over and over again.

Mana Doublers
One key aspect to the deck are cards that at least double the mana produced from lands. There are 15 of them in the deck.
With Zacama untapping lands ability, you can cast them and actually gain exponential mana. The idea is to follow it up with preferably more mana doublers and big draw cards so that you can assemble a win within a single big turn.

It's important to understand how to get the maximum amount of mana from your mana doublers. With so many of them in the deck, the possibility of stacking multiple of them means that casting Zacama multiple times will generate exponential mana. You will be casting lots of the mana ramp cards in the combo turn as you get to untap them with casting Zacama again. You'll often have an extra 10+ lands in play by the end of when you fully combo.

Draw, Draw, Draw
There are a lot of draw cards in the deck that are centered around a creatures power and with Zacama at 9 power you have access to one of the bigger creatures in the game.
With at least one mana doubler you can get a storm strategy going. With drawing cards you can follow up with other mana doublers, then cast out Zacama again to have triple or more mana from lands. You have massive potential in this deck to chain off with drawing your deck and having unlimited mana.

Ramp, Ramp, Ramp
There is a lot of land ramp in the deck to try and reach thresholds as quickly to make Zacama untap land trigger as potent as possible. It's actually pretty hard to ever flood out or have too much mana in this deck as you can always sink your mana into Zacama abilities. Clearing your opponents boards is a very fine game plan on its own.

Boom, Boom, Boom
Even if you do not finish the game in a single turn, normally you'll do enough that you have mana to destroy all/most of your opponents non-land permanents. At that stage it's hard for them to play around Zacama because once you've got the mana base setup, even removing it for a turn is really only delaying the inevitable.
This deck also plays a major control role, if the beast is unleashed.

Consistency with Redundancy
The reason this deck is so good is that it has a lot of the same type of cards, so you are never waiting too long to draw and assemble a very broken engine. 15 mana doublers, 15 big draw cards and a bunch of mana ramp cards. These cards are always going to be part of your game. It's also very hard for your opponents to stop you altogether. Eventually with so many cards aligning you to a strategy, you'll find yourself with the opportunity to combo off in a single turn very consistently.

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What makes Zacama so special is that there really is no other card quite like this Elder Dinosaur.
There are some commanders who have different activated abilities that can do similar control roles and there are other commanders that can untap lands (as activated abilities), but no others can do both.
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  • Breya, Etherium Shaper wubr - Breya has three activated abilities, with two that are quite similar to Zacama targeting creatures for removal and also gaining life. Breya puts you into white and red (also blue and black), but not green.
    She doesn't have the ability to remove artifacts or enchantments and requires additional resources to use the abilities in needing artifacts to sacrifice on-board.
  • Shattergang Brothers brg - In Jund, so no white but black instead but has a similar activation cost to remove artifacts and enchantments. However requires additional resources with needing the same card types to sacrifice.
    Shattergang can also remove creatures on a different axis, by making opponents sacrifice their creatures which can line up well if they are a creature light deck or really badly against tokens, etc. No life gain however.
  • Gishath, Sun's Avatar wrg - To the untrained eye some assume that these creatures are comparable but they don't actually share anything important in common, other than it can put you into the Naya color-pie. Sure they are both expensive beat-down creatures if you wanted to compare them that way but the ways you use these commanders is very different. Gishath ability leads itself into Dinosaur tribal nicely, where as Zacama doesn't care about it's own species, it would just prefer to eat them rather than team up with them.
  • Teferi, Temporal Archmage u - As far as actual deck approach, this is about as close as you'll get to this Zacama build. Teferi has the ability to untap lands/mana sources when you put him into play. Using High Tide, Extraplanar Lens, Gauntlet of Power, Caged Sun, with Islands leads into a very similar deck approach. Doesn't have the ability to remove permanents, gain life, and completely outside of the Naya colors however.
  • Estrid, the Masked wug - Similar to Teferi in that you can untap lands the turn you cast it, if you have the support cards in enchant lands. Put's you into white and green as well if the colors were important to you.
  • Patron of the Orochi g - With haste can untap all your Forests once cast, leading into a similar approach to gaining lots of mana potentially. Only green however and without haste need to wait a full turn to get benefits. But actually Patron is one of my first commanders decks and honestly still one of my favorites. I build decks to do broken things and Patron is similar to Zacama in that you can do incredible things once you get to cast them at high mana costs (for commanders).
  • Selvala, Heart of the Wilds g - Another mono-green potential "storm" strategy. A very different approach however in that you will not be untapping lands but creatures instead. So your cards are not centered around mana doublers but big creatures for "power" and untapping creatures instead.
  • Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder ubrg, Kess, Dissident Mage ubr, Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge ubr , Mizzix of the Izmagnus ur - With Zacama leading into a storm strategy, it's important to look at some other commanders that you might be looking to have "free" cost of spells. It's obviously a completely different approach but being able to chain big turns together has the same results.
    The most notable thing about storm commanders in general is that they are mostly Grixis ubr or Izzet ur, green is not part of their colors (Yidris is the exception). They all put you into blue however, the common color domination for typical storm.
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For me personally Zacama is very near and dear to my heart as I've ventured into many realms with commanders and decks but I had never managed to find anything that made me proud to be Naya rgw.
Typically Naya is known for combat and big creatures which doesn't always make for the most competitive decks.
But when the design for Zacama was spoiled, I couldn't believe that they put a typically "blue" ability in untapping lands (on enters the battlefield) which we have previously with Cloud of Faeries, Peregrine Drake, Palinchron into a non-blue legendary creature!

The flavor on this card is amazing, chaining together huge turns, blowing up all your opponents' permanents and even just the way this three-headed Dinosaur looks bad-ass means that if you're prepared to finally play a storm deck outside of blue, the extra reward of doing it in Naya rgw feels second to none in terms of satisfaction.

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You might like Zacama if
  • You like playing a storm strategy in very unlikely color combination.
  • You like incredible turns where you get massive amounts of mana and card draw.
  • You like being able to destroy opponents' permanents over and over.


You might dislike Zacama if
  • You don't like being all in on your commanders abilities.
  • You don't like playing a solitaire turn to finish the game.
  • You don't like relatively linear approach to winning.
  • You have Deinophobia..oh yes it's real.





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Zacama, Primal Calamity, Naya High Tide Storm

Creatures (other)


Graveyard recovery


Extra turn


Artifact Mana


Approximate Total Cost:

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Storm archetype with in-built control
The deck is mainly a storm deck, which means that you're chaining together drawing lots of cards and generating lots of mana to be able to draw your deck and play out as many cards as you want, usually in a single big turn.

However unlike other storm archetypes usually behind Grixis colors, there is a huge element of control. Zacama, Primal Calamity abilities are the real deal. Often decks get locked out by certain cards on the battlefield. Zacama has this incredible ability to remove practically anything that would cause problems.

The general idea is to get enough lands into play to give yourself an opportunity to cast a mana doubler and then be able to cast Zacama, so that you have large amounts of mana to spend on preferably further mana cards and big draw spells.

You can easily combo off with about 5 lands in play. The more lands you have the better obviously, but most of my wins come from starting around the 5-7 land range. But by the end of your combo turn however don't be surprised if you have like 10+ lands in play due to the many land ramp spells.

Mana doublers are everything!
Really the key aspect to playing this deck well is to understand how to be patient with the mana doublers that also give your opponents mana in Heartbeat of Spring, Mana Flare, Overabundance, Vernal Bloom, Keeper of Progenitus, Zhur-Taa Ancient, Dictate of Karametra.
You should really plan to never play one of these symmetrical cards and just pass the turn. Giving your opponents the chance at first shot at the extra mana is usually a terrible idea. This will probably lead to busted plays by your opponents and perhaps locking you out because they are able to establish their own accelerated game plan before you.

If you have one of the mana doublers that only gives you mana then I'm much more inclined to play it out and hope that it remains in play until the next turn. Dictate of Karametra is the best early play mana doubler in your deck, as the ability to cast it before your turn allows you to have fully untapped lands to potentially combo off.
Often you will just play out your own non-symmetrical mana doublers as soon as you can cast them: Mirari's Wake, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Mana Reflection, Zendikar Resurgent, Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, Caged Sun, Nyxbloom Ancient.
Expect your first one to be removed before you get to untap with it. But we have 15 mana doublers, redundancy is the name of the game and you should have a follow up or at least draw into one within a few turns. Obviously it's nice if you have the mana to be able to play a mana doubler and then cast Zacama, but realistically for your early game you will probably only have enough to play one and pass the turn, hoping to untap with it in play.

With Zacama costing 9 mana, if you are playing out a mana doubler which effects all players then often the key is to have enough mana to cast out Zacama in that same turn, i.e. 5 untapped lands. A nice sequence is to play a second mana doubler before casting Zacama and then you only need 3 untapped lands to cast it.
If you're familiar with "High Tide" builds in blue, then this deck requires a similar approach to sequencing, where you are tapping the least amount of lands, while stacking mana doubler effects.

The deck is mainly green g, mostly to make Vernal Bloom, Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Caged Sun a lot more efficient. For these same reasons Forests are super important to lands being played out so a lot of the lands are Forest type.

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Zacama's activated abilities
I've mainly focused the game plan around the untap lands ability but Zacama activated abilities are really another important aspect of the deck. It's unusual to get a commander who can almost deal with any permanent on the board. You can afford to run less disruption by default as you have it on-tap from the commander zone.
There is an Oblation to deal with most permanents. There are cards that can be problematic like Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Pithing Needle, Cursed Totem, etc shutting down Zacama abilities.

If you fail to completely combo for the win, you should seriously think about using Zacama, Primal Calamity ability to remove the mana doublers which help opponents as well if you have played them out. It seems odd to have played them out only to remove them, but if opponents have full hands and seemed to have been waiting on mana for playing their hands then it can be very wise to remove them and try and use the control game instead. Really tough call, but you just have to go with your instincts during those fail to fire game.

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Starting hands and Mulligans

Your early game is to ramp land as much as possible. So when mulling your starting hands, you really want a few of these, rather than keeping your late game cards.

Only 35 land in a deck that must hit land drops?
Well there are a number of cards which smooth out getting your land drops, but it must be noted that you will have games where you miss land drops. This seems insane right? However mixed with a lot of early land ramp you will find that on average you will be getting to the right threshold of lands consistently.

You can keep land light hands, with the intention of getting a bit get lucky with your draws. I've posted an example of a one land hand in which I was still able to win on Turn 4 just to show you to really look at starting hands in terms of potential.
One land starting hand, Turn 4 win
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Only a Forest in hand, but have a lot of key components to comboing. Realistically need to draw some lands, I rolled the dice so let's go.
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Turn 1, fail to draw a land.
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Turn 2, draw a Plateau. Suspend a Search for Tomorrow and cast a Farseek. We are well on course.
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Turn 3, draw a Mountain, now we have everything to try and go off next turn.
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Turn 4, draw another land and we have everything we need. Play out the mana doublers, play Zacama, and draw 9 cards.
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Early game

There are a lot of land ramp spells and you're hoping to just keep consecutively casting these cards until you feel ready to try a big turn. You'll notice that I've really focused in on 2 mana or less land ramp spells so that you have the potential for a lot more early tempo to your plays.
Also you're happy if you just spend a turn using cards like Krosan Verge and Blighted Woodland to ramp during the early stages rather than committing anything to the board.

Mid game

It must be noted that the 9 mana cost of Zacama alludes to it being a late game "haymaker", but in fact often I win through turns 4-7 with this deck.
As I pointed out you will often be able to go off with only 5-7 lands in play, so don't think that you need to ramp into a magical threshold of 9 lands to be able to do your thing.

Navigating around disruption is one of the hardest aspects of this deck. The way to look at this deck is that it's a 3 card combo deck. You need 1x mana doubler and 1x big draw, in conjunction with your commander to chain sequences that will often lead to winning the game that same turn.
You can afford to be a little less respectful of disruption because you have a lot of the same type of cards, so you have the ability to potentially follow up in following turns with another attempt at a combo sequence even if stopped initially. Other combo decks that rely on a very particular combination of cards cannot afford to really be disrupted because often those are they only cards in the deck that can do that ability.
You do have Silence, Grand Abolisher, Dosan the Falling Leaf to try and stop your opponents from disrupting your plans.

You will get some games where you can play Zacama and either have the option of chaining at least some sequence of value or using Zacama abilities to control some of the opponents' boards. Experience with opponents decks will help with this. For example I have decided to wait a turn to attempt to combo by using Zacama abilities instead to remove a couple of the most dangerous cards as they threaten to combo off as well.

Late game

You will get games where you flood out with mana so are able to play Zacama but not able to actually combo off. You can play these stalled out games, where you can remove your opponents permanents over the course of a couple of turns or sometimes all of them immediately if you have a mana doubler and then your opponents simply cannot play out anything, as you can remove them. "Oppressive" is the term opponents have used in this situation.

It's also difficult for opponents to time removal on Zacama when you have so much mana. After opponents' being locked down for a series of turns, I've had them try and force through getting a board presence by all opponents' committing playing out cards as much as possible. But often you can just cast out Zacama again and remove the permanents which threaten to change the game. Once this happens it really is hard for your opponents to gather up enough resources again to make an impact.

I have won games by simple attacking with Zacama over the course of turns, such is the power of Zacama activated abilities and his 9 power. This can be buffed by Mirari's Wake and Caged Sun to give you two attacks for commander lethal to shorten the clock.

Another major advantage of Zacama as your commander is that you really don't have to focus on protecting it outright to win. Unlike other decks where the commanders are central to remaining in play for a length of time, removing Zacama often just means you get to generate more mana. Therefore spot removal can be wasted on it. The exception is when you've calculated mana exactly for being able to cast a sorcery big draw card that relies on Zacama power and it gets removed in response.

I have played many stalled games where I'm top decking into finding a big draw card but have Zacama out and just remove opponents' key cards and they can't play out any of their permanent cards they draw because they'll just get instantly removed. It can be a control deck when you fail to find action cards.

Winning the game
However most of the time you are winning by combo with drawing as much of the deck as you want and having realistically infinite mana.
In the past I have run various different cards that deal damage to players like Rolling Earthquake and Conflagrate to burn players out.
Shivan Gorge was also another way to kill opponents' with infinite untaps combined with Sanctum of Eternity.
Currently the deck is using Finale of Devastation as the finishing blow. If it was cast earlier in the game then Underworld Breach gives you access to it again.
Simply cast out all your creatures, make them large enough to attack for lethal with haste, removing any blockers with Zacama damage ability.


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Mana Doublers
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Heartbeat of Spring, Mana Flare - The cheapest of the mana doublers. Do not be tempted to play these out without having the means to combo off yourself in the turn you cast them. It seems really tempting to just cast them and pass the turn hoping to untap to go off, but often this will lead to handing the game over to opponents' as they get to cast all there spells before you.

Overabundance - The damage does add up during your combo turn, but with Zacama ability to gain life you can navigate around it not killing you fairly easily.


Vernal Bloom - There are a number of mana doublers that onloy work with specific land types or color of mana. I've designed the mana base specifically to be great with this card and other similar cards as it can be a key element to winning.
Note that there is Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove that can make all your lands Forest.

Keeper of Progenitus - With only a small number of lands in the deck that are not Plains, Forest or Mountain the mana base has been carefully designed to maximize this mana doubler. But as the ability is symmetric for your opponents', again be careful about giving them mana before you are ready to combo. As a green creature can be additional searched with Natural Order and Green Sun's Zenith.
Note that there is Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove that can make all your lands Forest.

Nissa, Who Shakes the World - Same as Vernal Bloom but not a symmetrical effect so opponents don't benefit. You can use her 1 ability to untap a land to get extra mana and of course with mana doublers (herself being one) you'll get additional mana on top of that. You can think of her as only costing 3 mana and with another mana doubler only 2 mana, as she gets to untap a land straight away.
Her -8 is unbelievable in this deck as you have so many Forests in the deck. There is very little chance your opponents' can stop you once you get this threshold.
Note that there is Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove that can make all your lands Forest.

Mirari's Wake - Pretty great at only giving you double mana and not your opponents.

Dictate of Karametra - This is one of the best mana doublers, as you can time to setup a mana explosion before your turn. Honestly if you have 5 lands in play and cast it before your turn, you're likely to go off in your turn.





Zhur-Taa Ancient - The 7 power can be relevant for the draw cards equal to power, if Zacama is locked out for a bit. As a green creature can be additional searched with Natural Order and Green Sun's Zenith.

Regal Behemoth is a non-symmetrical mana doubler, which is great for casting and passing the turn if need be. As a green creature can be additional searched with Natural Order and Green Sun's Zenith. If you lose the monarchy, then the trample element can help you get it back when needed. Usually there is at least one opponent you can expose to get it back.



Mana Reflection - You can get infinite colorless mana with Grim Monolith or Basalt Monolith with Mana Reflection.


Caged Sun - With only a handful of lands not providing "green", always choose this color when resolving this card.
Note that there is Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove that can make all your lands Forest.




Nyxbloom Ancient - Actually a mana tripler. Literally all you need to combo off for you mana sources. Often a target for Natural Order. Also can be search with Enlightened Tutor, Sterling Groove or Academy Rector as it's also an enchantment.

Zendikar Resurgent is one of the more expensive to cast mana doublers but it does come with the benefit of additional card draw with creatures. If you combine with Sanctum of Eternity then you will be able to draw your deck.




Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger - Another go to target for Natural Order. Depends on the competitiveness of your playgroup but choosing between usually Nyxbloom Ancient or Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger comes down to if you want to cut your opponents' off mana (Vorinclex) or look to combo quicker (Nyxbloom).



Final Fortune - Because this deck plans to finish the game in a single turn, Final Fortune is perfect for being able to setup mana doublers and then use the extra turn to untap everything and look to combo. You should realistically have a big draw card in hand already. If you have a single red source land available after you cast a mana doubler, then you'll be able to cast it. So in some instances it is better to wait for opponents to relatively tap out before playing out anything, as you can use this trick to really have the mana you need.
Draw
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Drawing equal to creatures power

Life's Legacy is the cheapest to cast of the sacrifice to draw effects. Perfect for the decks winning game plan.

Greater Good is easily the signature draw card for the deck. Not only do you get to draw most likely 9 cards, it also allows you to sacrifice Zacama so that you can look to continuous recast. This is normally the card opponents scoop to when you show them that you can just keep gaining mana and drawing your deck.




Momentous Fall is more costly than Life's Legacy but the instant speed can play around removal better.


Soul's Majesty draws at least 9 cards with Zacama power. Doesn't require a sacrifice which can be a boon if you've been cut off Zacama and looking to draw off one of your other creatures that you'd like to keep.




Return of the Wildspeaker is another instant speed draw with Zacama which allows you to play around removal a little better.

Garruk, Primal Hunter -3 draws 9 cards with Zacama power normally. Because you can potentially cast it out before you combo, it can free up your mana unlike some of the other card draw which requires casting at in the same turn you want to combo.



Rishkar's Expertise ability to draw 9 and then cast another card is great to put another mana doubler into play off it, as that means you don't have to tap lands, gaining huge benefits.



Draw 7

Wheel of Fortune is a symmetrical effect, but usually you're combing and if you're sitting behind Grand Abolisher or Dosan the Falling Leaf in your combo turn, then it doesn't matter giving your opponents cards.

Wheel of Misfortune has a lot of text, but just think of it as another Wheel of Fortune for your purposes. Unless all your opponents pick a larger number you will get to draw cards.




Reforge the Soul costs more than the Wheels but any draw 7 is amazing for the deck, so spending 5 mana is fine. There is no top deck manipulation so will only be random for getting the miracle cost.

Memory Jar is another symmetrical draw, but only lasts for duration of the turn. You can play it to setup a future turn, which is great for freeing up mana when looking to combo.



Creatures with draw

Grothama, All-Devouring - A really unique card. Card draw is at an absolute premium for this deck. There is Hunter's Insight and Hunter's Prowess that could also be played, but the reason I don't play these is that it means that you have to wait a whole turn to attack and also have to also connect with Zacama, which in my opinion is just too slow and not reliable.
There are two different ways to use Grothama, All-Devouring in this deck.
  • Use Zacama deal 3 damage to creature ability to kill it with 9 damage, draw 9 cards.
  • Grothama, All-Devouring is the same in that you'd have to wait to attack with Zacama for them to fight, but at least you don't have to connect with him. Weirdly enough the fact that it kills Zacama is a bonus in this deck, as you get to recast Zacama producing more mana if you have your mana doubler.
If you do attack with Zacama then as a trick you can deal 6 damage with Zacama ability before the fight trigger resolves, which would result in you drawing 15 instead.
Even though it's a relatively hard card to get the draw, with Natural Order and Green Sun's Zenith, it's important to have access to at least one "green" creature for draw.

Sandstone Oracle - Having creatures that draw cards is important with Eldritch Evolution, and Tooth and Nail. Dumping your current hand is pretty easy, so you end up drawing often 5-7 cards.



Miscellaneous card advantage

Sylvan Library - Although it's not one of the signature big draw cards, still an auto include as you can get an additional 2 cards each turn.

Genesis Wave is easily the most powerful of the big payoff spells when you have large amounts of mana.
Mana Ramp
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Land ramp

Search for Tomorrow is the only Turn 1 land ramp spell you can invest into, but with suspend it does mean that you'd only get the additional land on Turn 3. Can obviously be played at full cost later on in the game.

Nature's Lore even gives you an untapped Forest which can help with early tempo plays.
Any time you cast a spell that brings untapped land into play gains more value when you have mana doublers. With one mana doubler Nature's Lore and Three Visits are essentially "free" to cast as you'll immediately get 2 mana again.



Three Visits is the same as Nature's Lore and with a reprint very affordable.


Farseek notably can't get Forests but as long as you have dual land types in the deck you can fix on all colors.





Rampant Growth can only get basics, but this is fine. You'll see that I explicitly have chosen 2 mana land ramp spells for earlier tempo.

Emergent Sequence is unique in that it does make the land a creature. Just like Dryad Arbor this can be a liability in the face of creature removal, however it does also mean that you can sacrifice it to Natural Order as it is a green.




Sakura-Tribe Elder or also known as Steve can be a target for Green Sun's Zenith or Finale of Devastation if you are wanting early and safe tempo on land ramp.

Wood Elves is preferable over say other 3 mana land ramp spells like Cultivate simply because it is a creature that can be sacrifice/searched with a number of cards in the deck. It also has an untapped land and this just gives it a little more toolbox for the deck over sorcery/instant spells of the same type of cost and nature.



Mana ramp

Wild Growth alotugh not land ramp is another Turn 1 play you can make that gives you additional mana. Inherently a "mana doubler" for a land so you will benefit from Zacama untapping land ability.

Utopia Sprawl needs a Forest specifically to enchnt which is no problem for this deck.





Arbor Elf. I have played a version with more mana creatures, but I like to be resilient to board wipes in general. But this one is premium with the mana doublers as you get produce additional mana with lands over say a Birds of Paradise.

Selvala, Heart of the Wilds - Her ability to produce 8 mana using Zacama 9 power is a real mana boost. She also draws you a card each time you recast Zacama so another little draw engine. With unlimited Zacama casts from loops like Sanctum of Eternity you will of course be able to draw your deck.



Dryad of the Ilysian Grove allows you to play an extra land each turn which can be really good to get to the threshold of lands that you want to combo realistically. It also gives your lands a Forest type which means that you can use some of your non-Forest utility lands with particular mana doublers in Vernal Bloom, Keeper of Progenitus, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Caged Sun.
I often find that I play out a land pre starting to combo and this means that it doesn't matter how many cards you draw, if you want to put say Sanctum of Eternity to loop you normally can't. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove allows you to play out a utility land once you go off.



Artifact mana

Sol Ring - Ban this already, too good for the format.

Mana Crypt is an expensive card to buy. You know the drill, without the trinkets you will be less consistent with early tempo plays.





Mana Vault is just to really give you a burst of mana for some tight mana spots. Not essential to the deck so can be replaced.

Grim Monolith could easily be replaced by Basalt Monolith for budget considerations.
Interaction
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Instants

Silence is normally used to make sure you can combo freely in your setup turn, although you can use it in a pinch to stop an opponent when they are looking to do a big turn themselves.

Pyroblast is an obviously a reflection of playing in a strong blue meta. I find that I almost always have a target and honestly if there are no blue decks at the table, you're very favorably positioned.




Veil of Summer stands out as ways to prevent blue or black players from countering or targeting your stuff. The additional draw is nice and sometimes you might just fire it off in an opponents turn to draw a card rather than using it for protection.

Tibalt's Trickery is nice to have at least one counterspell which can cause a big surprise to opponents' when you are not in blue.



Lapse of Certainty is one of my pet includes for any non-blue deck as it really catches opponents by surprise when often they hadn't thought about a counterspell. This allows you to push through big spells. It can be used to potentially stop opponents' from winning as well giving you another turn to go off yourself.

Oblation - Even though Zacama can remove most permanents that might be troubling you, it's important to have a couple of cards that don't use Zacama for removal in case of cards like Pithing Needle, Sorcerous Spyglass, Cursed Totem, Phyrexian Revoker, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, etc that prevent you using it in the first place.
The card draw could find you action cards in a pinch if you use it on your own permanents and it's an outlet for removing Zacama as well, if looking to recast for mana gain.
There are a number of removal options like this with Beast Within, Generous Gift, Chaos Warp in Naya and it doesn't make much difference which ones you choose for your own build.



Creatures

Grand Abolisher is perfect for making sure that you can combo freely in your turn.

Dosan the Falling Leaf means that all players can't cast spells outside of their turn, so it is wise to not just cast Dosan until you are ready to really cast important spells. The reason is that it does mean that your opponents' can also freely look to combo (or whatever) and without anybody else being able to stop them this can be a liability. It's a green creature for Green Sun's Zenith and even Natural Order. Yes I have searched for Dosan with Natural Order before, because sometimes you have all the setup and you just want to make sure that the coast is clear.
Tutors
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Crop Rotation main targets are Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth or maybe Sanctum of Eternity. You can use it as land ramp with either Krosan Verge or Blighted Woodland.

Enlightened Tutor - Because mana doublers are so important and most of them are enchantments or artifacts, you can use Enlightened Tutor to get you one of them. Also can be used for card draw getting Greater Good, Memory Jar, Sandstone Oracle.



Sterling Grove not only can be used to search for a mana doubler or draw enchantment, but can provide protection if necessary.

Academy Rector can get a mana doubler or for draw Greater Good. With Zacama ability to deal 3 damage to a creature this means you can guarantee that it dies if necessary. Of note Nyxbloom Ancient is an enchantment.




Natural Order is a way to "cheat in" some of your high impact mana doublers with Nyxbloom Ancient or Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger being the main targets. You can also get Grothama, All-Devouring if needing card draw.
A big reason that Dryad Arbor is in the deck is so that you can search for it with a Forest fetchland and then sacrifice it to Natural Order for a quick start.

Green Sun's Zenith is a great versatile creature tutor. You can get you early mana in Arbor Elf, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Wood Elves. But also can be used to get a mana doubler with Keeper of Progenitus, Zhur-Taa Ancient, Regal Behemoth, Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. For draw you can get Grothama, All-Devouring.

Finale of Devastation is similar to Green Sun's Zenith but costs one more green, but can search your library OR graveyard, meaning that it's also a reanimation card. You also can search for any creature and not just green colored. This means that you can get Sandstone Oracle and Grand Abolisher with it.
You can also use it as a win condition casting it for a large amount (literally hundreds of mana) and alpha strike your opponents', turning even your Dryad Arbor and Arbor Elf into lethal hits. Zacama 2r of course clears the way of blockers.
Lands
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Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth means that your non-Forest lands are able to be used with specific mana doublers in Vernal Bloom, Keeper of Progenitus, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Caged Sun.
There are not a lot of non-Forest lands in the deck, but as basically a free-roll in the deck you get more value out of some of the utility lands in the deck.
Of note you can tap fetchlands for mana if not wanting to sacrifice them for whatever reason.

Sanctum of Eternity can give you infinite mana with a mana doubler and only 7 lands in play. With this in mind you can use Crop Rotation to search for it if setup.

Taiga and Savannah are expensive to purchase so you can play Highland Forest and Arctic Treeline as tapped replacements. The important element of choosing dual lands in this deck is that most of them have Forest type.




Plateau and Sacred Foundry are the only non-Forest dual lands in the deck.




Stomping Ground and Temple Garden are the second best dual Forest lands you can play.



Sheltered Thicket and Scattered Groves come into play tapped but do have the upside of being able to be cycled when you are top decking.




Cinder Glade and Canopy Vista usually can be setup to come into play untapped just because there are so many basics in the deck.

Sheltered Thicket and Scattered Groves come into play tapped but do have the upside of being able to be cycled when you are top decking.




7x Forest, 1x Plains, 1x Mountain - The basics in the deck can be searched additionally with Search for Tomorrow, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Rampant Growth, Emergent Sequence, Blighted Woodland, Prismatic Vista.
There are is only one basic Plains and Mountain in the deck, but this is a reflection of wanting Forests and the fact that there is a heavy ratio of green spells. The Forest aspect is important for Vernal Bloom, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Caged Sun so only having one of each is enough to make sure you can color fix on red and white with the basic land searches.

Dryad Arbor can be searched into play with Green Sun's Zenith and Finale of Devastation. This means that you can land ramp on Turn 1 if you have Green Sun's Zenith. Dryad Arbor is also a green creature, so you can sacrifice it to Natural Order if need be. Because it's a Forest it can be searched with a number of cards including the fetchlands which means that you you should always have access to it as a sacrifice option for Natural Order.

Castle Garenbrig is notably not a Forest but being able to cast Zacama off it gives you an edge sometimes. Mana Reflection and Nyxbloom Ancient actually have the wording that that they literally double and triple what you land produces, so you'd get 12 mana with Mana Reflection and 18 mana with Nyxbloom Ancient.








Arid Mesa, Flooded Strand, Marsh Flats, Windswept Heath can all search for Plains.




Krosan Verge can search for two lands and ramping is a key element to the deck.



Blighted Woodland can only get basic lands but searching for two lands is good to ramp to get to a good land count threshold.


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What possible combos can you do with Zacama? (not featured in deck)
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Creature Bounce
There are some cards that enable you to return a creature to hand. I'll start with the creature bouncers; Temur Sabertooth, Cloudstone Curio, Stormfront Riders and Aegis Automaton.

With enough mana you can cast Zacama, Primal Calamity and afford the bounce costs you can loop bouncing Zacama netting infinite mana from recasting.
Temur Sabertooth: You need 12 mana (produced from lands)
Stormfront Riders, Aegis Automaton: 15 mana (produced from lands)
Dust Elemental: 14 mana (produced from lands)
Cloudstone Curio requires that the creature you are costing will net you a mana. So for example you'd need 12 mana (produced from lands), if you were to use a 2 cmc creature for the infinite bouncing.

You can get Temur Sabertooth to combo with 6 lands in play with a mana doubler. With Stormfront Riders and Aegis Automaton you'll need 8 lands with a mana doubler.
Cloudstone Curio depends on the creature you are looping with, but at a minimum you'll need 6 lands with a mana doubler to combo with a 2 cmc creature.

As you can see the mana needs to be produced from lands. Artifact and creature mana will not help the combos. So with this in mind, the enablers in this deck are cards that let you produce at least double mana off your lands and land ramp.

Infinite Graveyard Bounce
My initial list played a graveyard recursion theme using the following: Enduring Renewal, Sigil of the New Dawn, Yomiji, Who Bars the Way or Conqueror's Galleon (transformed to Conqueror's Foothold) and a sacrifice outlet. The idea is to sacrifice Zacama, Primal Calamity with one these in play and let it go to graveyard so that it returns to hand.
The sacrifice outlets: Greater Good, High Market, Ashnod's Altar, Phyrexian Altar, Thermopod, Goblin Bombardment. You need to be able to produce 10 mana (from lands) for Enduring Renewal, 12 mana (from lands) for Sigil of the New Dawn, 16 mana (from lands) for Conqueror's Foothold and 10 mana (from lands) for Yomiji, Who Bars the Way.

Further Bounce
With Panharmonicon or Flameshadow Conjuring in play, creatures that bounce creatures as ETB effect can be copied so that both Zacama and the bounce creature can be returned to hand. As long as you have 1 more mana to cast both the Zacama and the bounce creature, you'll gain infinite mana.
I've chosen bounce creatures that are 4 or less mana, and "flash" ability is a bonus: Whitemane Lion, Stonecloaker, Fleetfoot Panther, Horned Kavu, Sparkcaster.

Even without Panharmonicon or Flameshadow Conjuring these creatures can potentially net you mana one time if you have a mana doubler and use it just to bounce Zacama once.

Erratic Portal, Decoction Module or Obelisk of Undoing with Paradox Engine can go infinite.

Snow Hound is another bounce card, but requires haste (each time) to work.

Food Chain
Food Chain does not go infinite with Zacama by itself, but can net you 20 plus mana. For example if you had 9 lands in play then you can cast Zacama and use Food Chain netting 8 mana. Each time you recast and then Food Chain it, you'll net 2 mana less (commander tax), so you can do it a total time in this instance of recasting 4 times, for a total of 20 mana. If you have a mana doubler then you'll have 80 mana with 9 lands in play. The downside however is that your commander will have a massive commander tax, so if you don't finish the game that turn and it goes back to the command zone, you'll struggle to cast it again.








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Last edited by darrenhabib 5 months ago, edited 41 times in total.

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

With Sanctum of Eternity being spoiled for Commander 2019, this is the sort of card I've been waiting for, since Karakas is banned.

With a mana doubler, you only need 7 lands in play to get infinite mana.
You tap a land to pay for the 2 and tap the Sanctum of Eternity, so with 5 additional lands and a mana doubler you'll get 10 mana, giving you enough to recast Zacama with a mana floating each time, meaning infinite.

With this in mind being able to search your library for any lands becomes potential infinite mana, so I've decided to add Pir's Whim and Hour of Promise, which have always been fine land ramp cards in the budget build, I think are now powerful enough given this particular land.

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Post by Rumpy5897 » 2 years ago

Heh, I see you're excited for the card, you're not even waiting for the full set to be spoiled to add it! ;) I can't blame you, it's pretty much tailor made for the deck. Nice to see another one of your threads porting over, the list looks like a solid as hell Zacama build. I once tried to build around this fella myself, tossed together a Naya goodstuff heap, and then I promptly stopped caring about the 99 as I cast the commander and it stole the game by itself. Stupid, stupid card. Pretty much the only feedback I can offer is consider Chance for Glory over Final Fortune for the indestructibility shielding as another trick for the card?
 
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Post by TearsOfTomorrow » 2 years ago

You know, I've always been a fan of your style in creating primers, but I find this one in particular to be your finest yet. As chance would have it, yesterday I was browsing my binder while thinking about how much I want to make a more powerful, more focused cEDH deck, and as I did I found a copy of Zacama I just happened to have lying around. And now that I've read this primer, I'm definitely going to take your list for a spin, test some changes and report my findings.
From the top of my mind I can think of Domri, Anarch of Bolas, who is another way of stopping counters. Decks with plenty of counters are quite common in my meta after all.
Alzò, maybe Vandalblast/Shattering Spree? You've listed a lot of artifacts among the problematics card: artifact destruction can both remove those and slow down the Izzet/Esper player who relies on artifact ramp.

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Post by Rasputin101 » 2 years ago

Is it worth running an expedition map to go get the sanctum of eternity?
Nice early drop for 1 or late for the whole 3? Obviously doesn't put it into play like pir's whim does though

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

Rumpy5897 wrote:
2 years ago
Heh, I see you're excited for the card, you're not even waiting for the full set to be spoiled to add it! ;) I can't blame you, it's pretty much tailor made for the deck. Nice to see another one of your threads porting over, the list looks like a solid as hell Zacama build. I once tried to build around this fella myself, tossed together a Naya goodstuff heap, and then I promptly stopped caring about the 99 as I cast the commander and it stole the game by itself. Stupid, stupid card. Pretty much the only feedback I can offer is consider Chance for Glory over Final Fortune for the indestructibility shielding as another trick for the card?
Yeah, not many cards come along that break into the deck at this stage, so honestly I'm not even expecting another card from the set.
It normally has to be a premium draw card, mana doubler or tutor to make the deck these days.

I did think about Chance for Glory, but the cost does make a huge difference when setting up. Often you might be setting up with 4 lands in play. So you play out a Mana Flare/Heartbeat of Spring/Overabundance and then are able to tap a single land for the rr. Next turn you have 5 lands, and this is enough to start comboing. So it does make a difference, and the indestructible isn't all that necessary as you are always happy to have Zacama go to the command zone.

But now that I think about it, I should run it over Boros Charm in the budget build.
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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

TearsOfTomorrow wrote:
2 years ago
You know, I've always been a fan of your style in creating primers, but I find this one in particular to be your finest yet. As chance would have it, yesterday I was browsing my binder while thinking about how much I want to make a more powerful, more focused cEDH deck, and as I did I found a copy of Zacama I just happened to have lying around. And now that I've read this primer, I'm definitely going to take your list for a spin, test some changes and report my findings.
From the top of my mind I can think of Domri, Anarch of Bolas, who is another way of stopping counters. Decks with plenty of counters are quite common in my meta after all.
Alzò, maybe Vandalblast/Shattering Spree? You've listed a lot of artifacts among the problematics card: artifact destruction can both remove those and slow down the Izzet/Esper player who relies on artifact ramp.
Thanks for the compliment, I think this was my second deck thread on Sally, so lots of history behind it :)

If you're playing a heavy counter/control meta, then Veil of Summer is a great option. I also used to play Hydroblast along side Pyroblast in the deck for a good while, and really the more competitive a group is the more likely that you are always going to have targets for them.
Other cards to consider; City of Solitude, Vexing Shusher, Ricochet Trap.
Even Ranger-Captain of Eos and then you could consider Hope of Ghirapur or Xantid Swarm as targets.

The artifact hate cards are not actually too bad for the deck. Sure shutting you out of activating Zacama is a pain, but you are still able to combo which is the important part, so really only Torpor Orb is the scary card.
But you can never really go wrong with a Vandalblast, turns out people like their artifacts :P
Again the more competitive the meta is, the more likely you'll see hate cards. If you're sitting in a cEDH setting then Force of Vigor should just be a slam dunk. At the moment my catch-all removal is Oblation and Chaos Warp.

Let us know how you get on and what cards you've tried in the future?

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

Rasputin101 wrote:
2 years ago
Is it worth running an expedition map to go get the sanctum of eternity?
Nice early drop for 1 or late for the whole 3? Obviously doesn't put it into play like pir's whim does though
I looked at all the search for any type of land cards to weigh up the options.

Crop Rotation, Elvish Reclaimer, Knight of the Reliquary, Realm Seekers, Reap and Sow, Scapeshift, Sylvan Scrying, Tempt with Discovery, Ulvenwald Hydra, Weathered Wayfarer, Expedition Map.

Now some very important elements when considering cards is what can your tutors get?
Enlightened Tutor, Sterling Grove, Academy Rector, Natural Order, Eldritch Evolution, Green Sun's Zenith, Finale of Devastation.
As you can see there are 4 cards that can get creatures and only one card that can get artifacts.
Then again specifically Green Sun's Zenith and Natural Order can only get green creatures.
So with this in mind I was heavily looking at Elvish Reclaimer, Knight of the Reliquary, Realm Seekers, Ulvenwald Hydra.
Elvish Reclaimer I think would be the best just based on cost AND that it would be a cheaper card to actually sacrifice for Natural Order.

The other card that I'm looking at is Scapeshift. The reason it's possible to get Sanctum of Eternity, Gruul Turf, Selesnya Sanctuary, Boros Garrison.
You have to return 3 lands to hand, but with Azusa, Lost but Seeking you can replay them quite quickly.
If I was playing Scapeshift, then I'd also play Exploration and Burgeoning to help with this plan.

I will test these cards, so I will be trying a configuration that will have Elvish Reclaimer, Scapeshift, Exploration and Burgeoning.

I've decided that my "win condition" can just be Shivan Gorge, now that I can get infinite with Sanctum of Eternity.
It's nice to have win condition in lands as to free up spell slots.
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Post by TearsOfTomorrow » 2 years ago

darrenhabib wrote:
2 years ago
So with this in mind I was heavily looking at Elvish Reclaimer, Knight of the Reliquary, Realm Seekers, Ulvenwald Hydra.
Elvish Reclaimer I think would be the best just based on cost AND that it would be a cheaper card to actually sacrifice for Natural Order.

The other card that I'm looking at is Scapeshift.
Hey, if a gameplan with cards that sacrifice lands is viable, how about including Crucible of Worlds and Ramunap Excavator? Two cards that have immense synergy with the "sac lands to find lands" strategy AND with fetches, which are lands you'd want to play anyway. One of these two + a fetch + Azusa = a lot of deck thinning in one turn.

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

TearsOfTomorrow wrote:
2 years ago
darrenhabib wrote:
2 years ago
So with this in mind I was heavily looking at Elvish Reclaimer, Knight of the Reliquary, Realm Seekers, Ulvenwald Hydra.
Elvish Reclaimer I think would be the best just based on cost AND that it would be a cheaper card to actually sacrifice for Natural Order.

The other card that I'm looking at is Scapeshift.
Hey, if a gameplan with cards that sacrifice lands is viable, how about including Crucible of Worlds and Ramunap Excavator? Two cards that have immense synergy with the "sac lands to find lands" strategy AND with fetches, which are lands you'd want to play anyway. One of these two + a fetch + Azusa = a lot of deck thinning in one turn.
Actually I've played quite a heavy build where I was using the graveyard as a resource, and running Life from the Loam, Splendid Reclamation, World Shaper and even Past in Flames and Mizzix's Mastery.
If you look at the budget build I still run a few of these, and I was using Oath of Druids and Life from the Loam to really fill up the graveyard. It's a definitely a fine way to go, but I just found it's takes a little longer to setup even though the rewards can be quite good.
But it has been nice also getting away from any potential graveyard hate, the primer deck can literally ignore graveyard hate altogether.

But I could see running some number of graveyard recursion with the Scapeshift plan. Even Wrenn and Six could be a fun little card to run.
I'd possible look at Splendid Reclamation and then Crop Rotation I think would be worth it as could get better value as well.

I'm just talking out loud here to clarify for myself, but the other thing I need to think of is that the idea is to Scapeshift without mana doublers to still combo off and with a bare minimum of lands.
The least you can do is 7 lands, where 6 of them are producing at least two mana each. The 7th land is the Sanctum of Eternity.
That's 2 lands for using the Sanctum of Eternity and activating it for 2, and then 5 lands that have to produce 6wrg plus wanting to have a spare mana to go infinite with the mana.

Currently Gruul Turf, Selesnya Sanctuary, Boros Garrison, are the only double producers of mana naturally currently in the deck.
So I think I'd need to add Gaea's Cradle and then my final options would be between Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors, Temple of the False God. Or there is even Tron! Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, Urza's Tower.

Now I've actually run Ancient Tomb before and it's not as bad as it sounds tapping it multiple times. You just have to get the party started with it, rather than use it forever. I really hate Temple of the False God it's one of the biggest traps in commander. But it might be required for this setup. City of Traitors is not exactly optimal either.

Gosh I might be talking myself into trying Tron!!

The downside of all these is that they are not Forest, so will not work with Vernal Bloom, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Caged Sun.

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Post by TearsOfTomorrow » 2 years ago

Zacama Tron definitely has that crazy awesome ring to it!


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Post by TearsOfTomorrow » 2 years ago

So, I've been messing around a lot with this deck, and for now I have this. Trying to maximize the options for accelerating mana and the ways of keeping my stuff from being countered. Since I'm building this IRL, I have adopted my usual "don't include cards you don't stand a realistic chance of actually acquiring", which means no original dual lands, but the mana base has been working well for me anyway.

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Post by Artaud » 2 years ago

How about running Temur Sabertooth as another infinite-mana enabler?

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

TearsOfTomorrow wrote:
2 years ago
So, I've been messing around a lot with this deck, and for now I have this. Trying to maximize the options for accelerating mana and the ways of keeping my stuff from being countered. Since I'm building this IRL, I have adopted my usual "don't include cards you don't stand a realistic chance of actually acquiring", which means no original dual lands, but the mana base has been working well for me anyway.
Looking might fine. I would say that you definitely want more big draw cards. The are numerous games where the draw has been the element that I've been waiting for and it's super important.
The other thing is that you have many different creature tutors. Worldly Tutor, Chord of Calling, Eladamri's Call, Eldritch Evolution, Finale of Devastation, Natural Order, Green Sun's Zenith, and you'll be wishing during some games that you could search for a card that draws you cards.
That's why Sandstone Oracle can play an important role. Natural Order and Green Sun's Zenith can only get green creatures.
Now you've got what I call the "creature version" of the deck where you are running more mana creatures. The advantage of this is that you can squeeze in Regal Force as a draw card. It's not like you'll draw that many cards, maybe 4 cards, but when you can convert your creature tutors into draw, it's really is important.
Dryad Arbor is a surprisingly versatile card, because it allows you to turn your Forest fetches into a creature, which means sacrifice fodder for Natural Order in a pinch. Plus you can first turn ramp with Green Sun's Zenith getting Dryad Arbor.

So yeah I think you have just a little too much ramp compared to draw. These are the changes I think you should make to get more out of your build.

Add
Sandstone Oracle
Regal Force
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Dryad Arbor
Forest

Remove
Chord of Calling
Hour of Promise
Cultivate
Mountain
Plains

Cultivate isn't so important as you have the special plan of making land drops from your graveyard.

Replacing the Mountain and Plains is about Caged Sun and Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and trust me this comes up plenty. You never want to be in a situation where you have two basic Mountains or two basic Plains in play. With sooooo much ramp you'll always have color fixing. If you've been thinking about "what if" with Blighted Woodland getting Plains or Mountains, then trust me you are always going to get two Forests with it, otherwise you'll potentially put yourself behind the 8 ball.

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

Artaud wrote:
2 years ago
How about running Temur Sabertooth as another infinite-mana enabler?
I had a Temur Sabertooth in my very first version of the deck and I just didn't need it. Having infinite in a land however is so much different as it doesn't really take up a slot.

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Post by TearsOfTomorrow » 2 years ago

Wasn't satisfied with running too many mana dorks and Regal Force, but I did like all of your other suggestions, so I tried to put together a "middle grounds" solution and, I gotta say, I'm really satisfied with the result I got in the end.

Here's a link: The ramp sorceries and the "you may play an extra land" permanents (I have plenty of those) make it really easy to turbo out Zacama even with reduced mana dorks, after which I can replenish my hand with a big draw spell and start going crazy. I'm actually very thankful to you for introducing me to this deck concept, because really, this is easily the most fun I've ever had piloting a deck in commander: it has the perfect balance of combo, control, big mana, redundancy, inevitability, and angry giant dinosaur. The current configuration I've put together is working really well for me, but of course I welcome further feedback/suggestions.

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Post by limlimrevolution » 2 years ago

First off, a big thank you for posting this primer. I ran across this article last year back when it was previously on MTGSalvation and was instantly enamored. I went and ordered a Zacama the next day! It is definitely my favorite EDH deck, to the point where everyone at my LGS knows me as "The Zacama Guy". This is by far the most comprehensive and detailed primer on the deck.

I wanted to run two cards by you to see what your thoughts on them are, as they haven't been mentioned specifically in your primer.
  • I've really enjoyed using Commune with Lava as additional card draw for the deck. It scales nicely with mana doublers in play and helps you to dig deep into your deck. The fact that you can use the cards until the end of your next turn is what makes it playable and the fact that it's an instant means you can cast it before your turn starts.
  • What are your thoughts on the new card Ignite the Future from Command 2019? Seems like it's at least as good as Harmonize and then the flashback ability is gravy on top of that. I'm planning on adding it to the deck, but was curious on your take on it.
Lastly, I was hoping you could elaborate some on lines of play. You mention throughout your primer that sometimes you can combo off with just 5 lands. I'm not exactly sure I see how that works without something like a Mana Vault or Grim Monolith in play. For example, say I have 5 lands in play and Heartbeat of Spring in hand. If I cast it, then I have 2 untapped lands and 4 mana available. Which I can't exactly do anything useful with and I certainly don't want to pass turn like that. So in this scenario I usually just ramp until I have 8 lands, cast Heartbeat of Spring, and then try to resolve Zacama after that. And that's in the best case scenario where I have one of the cheaper 3CMC doublers. What am I missing here?

PS. I am happy to see Sanctum of Eternity on your update list. My jaw dropped when they previewed the card. It's as if they printed the card for this deck specifically!

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

limlimrevolution wrote:
2 years ago
First off, a big thank you for posting this primer. I ran across this article last year back when it was previously on MTGSalvation and was instantly enamored. I went and ordered a Zacama the next day! It is definitely my favorite EDH deck, to the point where everyone at my LGS knows me as "The Zacama Guy". This is by far the most comprehensive and detailed primer on the deck.

I wanted to run two cards by you to see what your thoughts on them are, as they haven't been mentioned specifically in your primer.
  • I've really enjoyed using Commune with Lava as additional card draw for the deck. It scales nicely with mana doublers in play and helps you to dig deep into your deck. The fact that you can use the cards until the end of your next turn is what makes it playable and the fact that it's an instant means you can cast it before your turn starts.
  • What are your thoughts on the new card Ignite the Future from Command 2019? Seems like it's at least as good as Harmonize and then the flashback ability is gravy on top of that. I'm planning on adding it to the deck, but was curious on your take on it.
Lastly, I was hoping you could elaborate some on lines of play. You mention throughout your primer that sometimes you can combo off with just 5 lands. I'm not exactly sure I see how that works without something like a Mana Vault or Grim Monolith in play. For example, say I have 5 lands in play and Heartbeat of Spring in hand. If I cast it, then I have 2 untapped lands and 4 mana available. Which I can't exactly do anything useful with and I certainly don't want to pass turn like that. So in this scenario I usually just ramp until I have 8 lands, cast Heartbeat of Spring, and then try to resolve Zacama after that. And that's in the best case scenario where I have one of the cheaper 3CMC doublers. What am I missing here?

PS. I am happy to see Sanctum of Eternity on your update list. My jaw dropped when they previewed the card. It's as if they printed the card for this deck specifically!
Hey "The Zacama Guy" :)

The truth is that I've never thought about the exile to cast cards. Our options look to be;
Act on Impulse, Apex of Power, Commune with Lava, Hazoret's Undying Fury, Ignite the Future, Light Up the Stage.

Now they are in general definitely not as good as draw, because cards can become situational.
If you cast them pre Zacama then you might hit symmetrical mana doublers like Mana Flare and not want to cast it at that time. Same with creature sacrifice effects like Life's Legacy.
Then lands are a little less good as you might be only able to play one out, where as draw is going allow you to hold onto it to make a land drop on the following turn.

But any ability to get you deeper into your deck is going to be good.
I can see Commune with Lava potentially being very good, but hard to play as you'll be trying to figure out how much to invest if doing it in the combo turn to make sure that you have mana to invest into other things like a mana doubler off it and then recast Zacama, etc.

I can see Hazoret's Undying Fury being potentially very good if you hit the right cards, and the downside is often mitigated by Zacama untapping lands.

If Apex of Power allowed you do add a combination of colors then it would be perfect. A sort of zero casting draw 7 card, as you'll often have 10 mana if casting Zacama. But the all one color make it a lot worse.

I'm keen to at least try some of these. What I'll do is slot one in and play until I literally get to play one in a game and see how it fares. I swap them out for a ramp spell like Cultivate.
I'll try them in this order Commune with Lava, Hazoret's Undying Fury, Apex of Power.

In the budget deck I think playing them over small-ball draw could definitely be the way to go.
I could easily see playing these over Faithless Looting, Tormenting Voice, Cathartic Reunion.


When I say I often combo between 5-7 lands, it will usually be three things that do this.
A non-symmetrical mana doubler first or at least one that doesn't offer all opponents the bonuses like Vernal Bloom or Keeper of Progenitus. So if you can imagine casting Vernal Bloom with 4 lands in play and then next turn you play a land and then look for further mana doublers to start going off. Also as I mentioned Dictate of Karametra is great for this type of thing.
Another one is getting an early mana doubler off Academy Rector, Eldritch Evolution, Natural Order.
Then the last one is as you say using additional mana sources like Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Grim Monolith in conjunction with Arbor Elf, Utopia Sprawl, Wild Growth.
For example you have 5 lands in play with say Wild Growth on a land and a Sol Ring. You can put a Heartbeat of Spring into play tap your Wild Growth land for three mana to put Overabundance in to play and now you have 3 lands untapped for Zacama.
I'll add some example sequencing into the primer like this to help out with the idea. Really I was just trying to make it clear that it is possible to combo without needing the full 9 lands, which most people would assume when they first read the card Zacama. But the reality is that you can combo off with far fewer lands. I'm more likely to combo with 7 lands rather than 5, say a 5:1 ratio (meaning for every one game I'd combo start on 5 lands, I'm likely to have 5 games with 7 lands as my starting land base).
But I do have those games, it is does come up.

I really should play a creature ramp for Eldritch Evolution and Natural Order over other ramp, so will add back in Yavimaya Dryad.
Springbloom Druid and Farhaven Elf are the other options, but just not excited by basic lands.

Will give the Commune with Lava a trial! And then some of the others after that.

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darrenhabib
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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

I don't often get cards from sets that are automatic includes for the Zacama storm deck but Return of the Wildspeaker is a perfect draw card, mirroring the ability of his [-3] Garruk, Primal Hunter. It can be read as one mode only, I'll never be using the +3/+3, just the draw element.

Castle Garenbrig is an interesting card. All it really does is provide you an additional single mana, but any of the lands that can produce more than one mana is really great in this deck.
With Sanctum of Eternity and some of the lands with double mana Boros Garrison, Gruul Turf, Selesnya Sanctuary and now Castle Garenbrig, it really is a game plan to win with just your lands and Zacama, no mana doublers needed. The "downside" of playing Castle Garenbrig should be mitigated with so many forest in the deck, so only the fact that it can't be searched as an actual Forest is the only real cost to putting it in the deck.
The fact that you can only use it to cast creatures and activate creature abilities is also fine as you are using it to cast Zacama.

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Moris
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Post by Moris » 2 years ago

First of all, thank you so much for the content and the primer, I found it really very useful, inspiring and definitely a deck and a commander that I want to try in a semi-competitive environment. Having said that I would have a question: in the primer you often talk about closing in a single turn or combo-off; it probably escapes me, but I haven't seen any particular combos or "ups I won" cards in the deck. I fully understand that the abnormal advantage given by zacama and the possibility of cleaning the board and closing with a 9/9 trample are in themselves a win condition, but it continues to elude me as it is possible to actually win in a single round. Thanks a lot

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darrenhabib
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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

Moris wrote:
2 years ago
First of all, thank you so much for the content and the primer, I found it really very useful, inspiring and definitely a deck and a commander that I want to try in a semi-competitive environment. Having said that I would have a question: in the primer you often talk about closing in a single turn or combo-off; it probably escapes me, but I haven't seen any particular combos or "ups I won" cards in the deck. I fully understand that the abnormal advantage given by zacama and the possibility of cleaning the board and closing with a 9/9 trample are in themselves a win condition, but it continues to elude me as it is possible to actually win in a single round. Thanks a lot
Hi, thanks for the compliments.

The actual closer are packed into the lands Sanctum of Eternity and Shivan Gorge. I mention the details under the "Card Choices" for Shivan Gorge, but I really should put a section "Winning the Game". Thanks for pointing this out.
You can get infinite mana with Sanctum of Eternity and use Shivan Gorge an infinite amount of times as well, just recasting Zacama over and over again.

You can also cast Finale of Devastation for a very large amount (like even without infinite it's often around 300 or more) and alpha strike your opponents.

[EDIT]
I just want to make sure that you understand that you don't need to go "infinite" however. The normal game you might cast Zacama say 7 times in a single turn drawing 7-9 cards each time, whether that's from a Life's Legacy type effect or other draws like Memory Jar. The net result is that you end up drawing as much of the deck as you need to win, and can generate enough mana to do what you want. I often have several hundred mana in my mana pool once you end up stringing things together.

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Post by darrenhabib » 1 year ago



The Gods have gifted Zacama the ultimate in mana doublers...no wait...mana triplers with Nyxbloom Ancient.
Literally you only need this one card in play to go off for your mana needs.
Another neat thing is that you can actually use Academy Rector to search for this as it's also an enchantment.
Also a great target for Natural Order.

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove also grabbed my attention as the deck has a few land type specific mana doublers in Vernal Bloom, Keeper of Progenitus, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Caged Sun. Now granted I've been very careful about configuring the mana base to make sure you don't get too stung by this, but still the fact that it let's you play an extra land each turn, makes this almost custom made for this deck.





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benjameenbear
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Post by benjameenbear » 1 year ago

Seriously, what were they thinking with the Nyxbloom Ancient? A mana TRIPLER?! Nonsense. That and the new return-to-command-zone land make going infinite with Zacama trivial. Time to rebuild Zacama again...

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Post by limlimrevolution » 1 year ago

I was absolutely delighted by this spoiler season. Truly the gods were generous to Zacama.

Both the cards that you mentioned are slam dunk auto-includes into the deck. I can't wait to slot them in.

Your comment about Academy Rector made me take a look at your tutor list and I had a question. You have Enlightened Tutor and Academy Rector as enchantment tutors. Looking at the Theros card list, they have reprinted Idyllic Tutor, which is a card I had previously considered, but did not run because of budget reasons. But now that it's been reprinted, I'm considering it. Would you run that over either of the other two options or in addition to? The mana cost seems trivial and going into your hand is strictly better than the top of your library, though obviously Enlightened Tutor can be played at the end step of the player before you.

I also see that you dropped Commune with Lava from your primer list. I guess that it didn't perform well for you? I've enjoyed having it as a setup card for the combo turn. Say I have a decent amount of lands in play and I have one of the expensive mana doublers in hand (such as Regal Behemoth). I don't want to tap out and play him, because chances are decent that someone can hit me and take Monarch. So I'll pass turn, burn my mana on Commune with Lava before the start of my next turn, and hopefully flip over one of the 3 mana doublers and be ready to go off. But I totally understand if it didn't quite work out that way for you in your games.

Lastly, I know you've mentioned Veil of Summer in one of your other comments, so I'm curious why you choose to play a single Pyroblast as your only dedicated anti-counterspell card. Grand Abolisher and Dosan the Falling Leaf count too, I know.

The reason I ask is because I've noticed that the two of the worst things that can happen to Zacama are him being counterspelled (which prevents the untap trigger) or taken control of (because often it's hard to get him back since we sort of depend on him to take care of most problem permanents, so our actual main deck removal is sparse). Veil of Summer has been a very key card in preventing both of those effects.

Anyways, thank you again for the deck and all of the excellent descriptions and explanations. This is still my favorite EDH deck in my collection!

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