Zacama, Primal Calamity - Big Mana, Big Draw...Everybody Fear the Dinosaur

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darrenhabib
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Post by darrenhabib » 1 year ago

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When it comes to what have been some of the best mechanics in Magic the Gathering cards, 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 14 of them in the deck.
With Zacama untap 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 one turn win.

It's important to understand how to get the maximum amount of mana from your mana doublers. With 14 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 plus lands in play by the end of comboing.

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 best.
With at least one mana doubler you can get a storm deck going. With the sacrifice draw 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 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 abilites. 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. 14 mana doublers, 14 draw cards, 15 land 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 getting you to your deck 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 requiring additional resources in 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, with cards like 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 it 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 combo or storm decks.
  • You have Deinophobia..oh yes it's real.
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I knew straight away how most of the backbone of the deck would be configured with doubling mana and draw cards, but that didn't mean that I haven't tried lots of different configurations around this strategy to try and get the best deck possible.
I've posted my various iterations throughout the thread that original posted on MTGSalvation, as the deck was first born there and I've always kept my threads updated by my experiences for those that are interested in Zacama.
These are essentially the four other shells I've tested:
  • Infinite combo orientated with bouncing Zacama for recasting.
  • Speed focused deck, playing more mana acceleration, especially mana creatures.
  • Control orientated build, with more mass removal to put opponents under tighter board constraints.
  • Graveyard as a resource, to leverage off big pay off spells using your graveyard.
I explain these configurations further down in the 'Build Configuration' section (under Meta Dependencies, which you can click here for details), where I specifically show you what you can add and remove from the primer deck, if wanting to play these various versions, which are all very viable and have their own strengths and weaknesses.


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Zacama, Primal Calamity, Big Mana, Big Draw...Everybody Fear the Dinosaur

Creature Disruption Protection


1 Grand Abolisher
1 Dosan the Falling Leaf

Disruption / Protection


1 Silence
1 Pyroblast
1 Veil of Summer
1 Oblation
1 Lapse of Certainty

Extra turn


1 Final Fortune

Graveyard recovery


1 Underworld Breach
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 10-15 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 its 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, 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.

Zacama's activated abilities
I've mainly focused the game plan around the untap lands ability but Zacama, Primal Calamity 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 and Chaos Warp to deal with most permanents. There are cards that can be problematic like, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Pithing Needle, Sorcerous Spyglass, Nevermore, shutting down Zacama abilities. Anything that specifically deals with Zacama. For a more detailed list of weaknesses click here.

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. 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 that 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 lots of games where you miss land drops. This seems insane right? Well the bounce lands, Boros Garrison, Gruul Turf, Selesnya Sanctuary, mean you're far more likely to have a land to play. Also Cultivate and Kodama's Reach, help to make sure you have a land in hand to play.

However you can keep land light hands. You do have to get lucky with your draws, but I'll post an example of a 1 land hand, in which I was still able to win on turn 4.
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 however.
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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 11 land ramp spells, and you're hoping to just keep consecutively casting these cards until you feel ready to try a big turn. There are also 4 additional mana accelerators to help speed the turns up.
With so many in the deck, your ability to cast a three mana spell on turn two and a four or five mana card on turn three, have very high likelihood.

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 its 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 follow up with another, or draw into another, even if stopped initially. Other combo decks that rely on a very particular combination of cards, cannot afford to be disrupted.
You do have Silence, Grand Abolisher, Dosan the Falling Leaf, to try and stop your opponents from disrupting you.

You will get some games, where you can play Zacama, Primal Calamity but 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 start drawing, by using Zacama abilities to remove a couple of the most dangerous threats, 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 draw extra cards. 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 board presence, by all opponents committing playing out as much as possible. But you can just cast out Zacama again and remove the threats which threaten to change the game.

I have won games by simple attacking with Zacama over the course of 10 turns, such is the power of Zacama activated abilities and the 9 power, which can be buffed by Mirari's Wake and Caged Sun to give you two attacks for commander lethal to shorten the clocks.

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, so 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 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.


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Comprehensive list of cards in the deck, and further interactions that I might not have detailed in the 'Playing the Deck' section.
Card-by-card analysis
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Mana Doublers
  • 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 15 Forests in the deck, with additionally 11 search lands that can get Forests as well. So that's about 75% of the land base can be Forests. I've designed the mana base specifically to be great with this card, as it can be a key element to winning.
  • 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 15 Forests, there is no way your opponents can stop you once you get this threshold.
  • Keeper of Progenitus - With only 6 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 opponents, again be careful about giving your opponents mana. As a green creature can be additional searched with Natural Order and Green Sun's Zenith.

  • 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 - A non-symmetrical mana doubler, which are great at 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 5 lands not providing "green", always choose this color with this card.
  • Nyxbloom Ancient - Actually a mana tripler. Literally all you need to combo off for you mana sources.
  • Zendikar Resurgent - Amazing at doubling your mana and giving you additional card draw.
  • Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger - A great target for Eldritch Evolution, Natural Order, Tooth and Nail, when sacrificing Zacama. Usually my go to when casting these.


Draw
  • Greater Good - 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 do the continuous recasting. This is normally the card opponents scoop to when you show them that you can just keep gaining mana and drawing your deck.
  • Life's Legacy - Another sacrifice and draw, perfect for the decks winning game plan.
  • Momentous Fall - More costly than Life's Legacy, and the instant speed is not likely to give you an advantage, but still a signature card for the deck.
  • Soul's Majesty - Drawing 9 cards off Zacama power normally.
  • Garruk, Primal Hunter - Drawing 9 cards off 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 the time.

  • Rishkar's Expertise - Draw 9 and then cast another card for free..sign me up. Another perfect draw card for the deck. It's great to just put another mana doubler into play off it, as that means you don't have to tap lands, gaining huge benefits.
  • Wheel of Fortune - 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.
  • Harmonize - A great little draw spell, just to make sure you have a bit more fuel into the game
  • Memory Jar - Another symmetrical draw, but you're doing it in your turn. You get to play it out and then use it potentially latter, which is great for freeing up mana if looking to go off.
  • Reforge the Soul - Just 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 effect.

  • Genesis Wave - Easily the most powerful of the big payoff spells for large amounts of mana. The best commander card to soak mana into period in all of Magic the Gathering.
  • 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. She has crept up to $40, which is just a reflection of how good she is in general.
  • 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.
    The other thing, is that you can actually deal a further 6 damage with Zacama ability before it resolves that fight meaning that you'd draw 15 cards.
    Even though it's a relatively hard card to get the draw, with Eldritch Evolution, Natural Order, Tooth and Nail, Green Sun's Zenith, it's important to have access to especially a "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.
  • 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.
Mana Ramp What is nice is cards that allow you extra mana immediately like; Utopia Sprawl, Wild Growth, Search for Tomorrow, Nature's Lore, Three Visits, Skyshroud Claim, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Wood Elves. These cards are basically free to cast if you have a mana doubler in play as they all pay for themselves. So its easy to cast them to allow extra mana when you recast Zacama. Even the cards that play lands tapped, should be cast before casting Zacama because they'll all untap.


Creature Disruption / Protection
  • Grand Abolisher, Dosan the Falling Leaf - Having protection against instant speed disruption in your turn can be vital to winning. Forcing your opponents to remove them (if not wanting to lose) often means that they use up the only disruption they might have had anyway.
Disruption / Protection
  • Silence - Resolving this in your combo turn, means that you're probably going to win.
  • Pyroblast - This is an obviously a reflection of a strong blue disruption meta. I find that I almost always have a target for them, and honestly if there are no blue-decks at the table, you're very favorably positioned.
  • 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, 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.
  • Chaos Warp - For the same reasons as Oblation, a general all round removal card.
  • Lapse of Certainty - One of my pet includes for any non-blue deck, as it really catches opponents by surprise, as they will not plan for a counterspell. Often allowing you to push through a big spell. It can be used to stop opponents from winning as well, giving you another turn to go off yourself.

Extra turn
  • 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.
Tutors Artifact mana
Lands


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This section is for guiding you on deck configurations that will help you to be more prepared for particular match-ups. I normally play in disruption heavy games, so I have a lot of cards that help to navigate disruption. However, you might have other main focuses. I have played a lot of different deck configurations, and they all have their strengths and weaknessess. It actually comes down to what you're playing against.

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It's important to identify what sort of cards can really disrupt your strategies, and those that are particularity popular among decks.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The Ugly

Can't cast Zacama
Cards that prevent you from casting Zacama means that you can't rely on using it's abilities as removal in the first place. Will lock you out of using Zacama until you draw removal in your 99.
Meddling Mage, Nevermore, Null Chamber, Gideon's Intervention, Council of the Absolute, Voidstone Gargoyle.




Mass land destruction
With the primary method of comboing being untapping lands, removing your land base is going to set you back to square one. However there is a lot of land ramp in the deck so you can recover more quickly than a lot of decks.
Armageddon, Ravages of War, Cataclysm, Jokulhaups, Obliterate, Ruination.


The Bad

Prevent activated abilities
Cards that prevent using the activated ability of Zacama will stop from further control.
Cursed Totem, Pithing Needle, Sorcerous Spyglass, Phyrexian Revoker, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Damping Matrix.



If we were to only hoping to use Zacama to remove them, then we will get completely shut off by some of the above. Would need to draw removal from your 99 if wanting to use removal or life gain with Zacama.
However it's a combo deck, so unless there is actually something stopping you from generating lots of mana and drawing cards, then you might not even care about being shut off Zacama activate abilities.

Prevent enter the battlefield triggers
Cards that prevent triggers happening on 'entering the battlefield' will stop Zacama from untapping your lands. However you can still get Zacama so you can use the 2g to destroy Torpor Orb and 2r to remove Hushwing Gryff and Tocatli Honor Guard.



Prevent additional mana off lands
Damping Sphere is a unique card that will prevent you from getting the additional mana off your mana doublers, and even take you off getting colored mana. If the card has been cast before you've put a mana doubler into play, then you can be patient and wait to generate enough mana to cast Zacama, and you can remove it with the 2g destroy artifact ability.


The Good

With Zacama being able to remove artifacts, enchantments and creatures, there is very little on-board cards that can really stop you. This is the power of a deck that has a commander who can personally deal with hate cards.
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I have played various configurations around Zacama, and the truth is that they all have their merits, and are all great and viable. It might just come down to personal preference or perhaps your meta.

Infinite combo

The very first iteration I had was very focused on essentially recasting Zacama an infinite number of times via infinite loops of returning it to your hand.
I have a section 'Combo Resource' which you can click here for details, that has the cards involved in creating these loops.

Ultimately I did find that you don't need infinite's to actually combo off easily, so ended up focusing on other aspects.

Speed

Creating decks that are as quick to combo as possible is obviously always an avenue to pursue.
With Zacama untapping lands, it's apparent that you really want mana acceleration in the form of land ramp.
But what happens when you've already play all the most efficient land ramp cards, as is the case of the primer?
Well you can look for non land ramp cards, and green offers the most of any color.

I ended up trying a creature heavy version that played a lot of the one mana casting cost creatures that can tap for mana.
It doesn't help you with land counts, but it does mean that you can cast other enablers a turn or two faster on curve.

One of the great other advantages of playing a lot of cheap creatures is that you also get have another draw creature in Regal Force. The reason that this is good, is that you can turn the tutors into draw more easily in, Eldritch Evolution, Natural Order, Tooth and Nail, Green Sun's Zenith.

This is definitely a competitive way to configure the deck. The disadvantages that you might face is that you're more exposed to mass creature removal.

My personal preference to not play the mana creature heavy version is that I'm more aiming towards robust interaction, rather than complete speed. There is no right or wrong configuration here, but I find that counterspells are more likely to put a spanner in my plans, so rather than trying to combo a turn or two quicker, I like to setup more with my own defenses.

If you want to try a deck that is more orientated towards speed, then try adding and removing the following cards;
Add
Bird of Paradise, Avacyn's Pilgrim, Fyndhorn Elves, Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, Joraga Treespeaker, Boreal Druid, Regal Force.

Remove
Grand Abolisher, Dosan the Falling Leaf, Silence, Pyroblast, Lapse of Certainty, Fire-lit Thicket, Blighted Woodland.

Against control players, the idea is that you can get to your threshold more quickly, so catch them in a moment where they are tapped out to push your combo cards through. You can afford to play a couple less lands as you make up for it with the other mana sources in creatures.

Control

From playing a number of games, I realized just how much of a stranglehold Zacama can be if left on the battlefield. But if their is a lot of permanents on the battlefield then it can take a number of turns to get everything under control with removing artifacts, enchantments, and especially creatures, as some of them are more than 3 toughness meaning multiple activation's.

So it made sense that if you simply do a mass board wipe and then follow up with Zacama that you are in a really great position to keep the opponents boards clear of anything relevant immediately.

So I did try playing a style of deck this way, and once again it is a really great way to go. It's a slower approach, so doesn't do as well against other combo decks that need very few cards to win, but more oppressive if the games go on a bit longer.

In the end I wanted more a combo orientated deck, so could win more quickly rather than make the control role the de facto, but I guarantee it's still a very effective way to go.

It does require being more patient, as you don't commit things to the battlefield until after you have cast a mass removal cards, so in this way it does feel less proactive during the early stages of the game.

If you want to try the deck with this style then I recommend adding and removing the following cards;
Add
Wrath of God, Austere Command, Akroma's Memorial, Hour of Revelation, Oblivion Stone.

Remove
Arbor Elf, Utopia Sprawl, Wild Growth, Experimental Frenzy, Grand Abolisher.

The idea is that you give up a bit of speed and don't have as many permanents that you'd remove anyway with mass removal.

Graveyard as a resource

My first configurations actually used a few powerful cards like Past in Flames and Life from the Loam, to name a few, as ways of leveraging from your own graveyard.

The budget deck actually has most of these strategies, so if you want to get comprehensive details on how you can configure the deck to use these types of cards, then please click here.
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Stax
The deck is able to navigate around certain stax strategies, for example Winter Orb and Static Orb can potentially be ignored, if you get to play Zacama and untap all your lands. Stax does slow you down, but often with some patience, you can burst through once you get to cast Zacama, and use the abilities to remove the stax components which might be holding you back. Played a lot against stax decks and the thing is that unless they are actually killing you, you do get time to just make land drops and setup for the one turn win.

However, you can add more creatures that tap for mana, to try and get through the tight mana margins stax decks can apply.
Add
Bird of Paradise, Avacyn's Pilgrim, Fyndhorn Elves, Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, Joraga Treespeaker, Magus of the Candelabra.
Remove
Tooth and Nail, Dosan the Falling Leaf, Pyroblast, Kodama's Reach, Cultivate, Skyshroud Claim.



Mass Land Destruction
The strongest archetype to ruin your fun. I have gone to extreme deck configurations to try and not get too ruined by these types of cards in the past, but you just have to hedge your bets a little. Life from the Loam can really make sure you always have lands, but it is only one card in the deck. Similar to stax, would benefit from adding cheap mana creatures
Add
Bird of Paradise, Avacyn's Pilgrim, Fyndhorn Elves, Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, Joraga Treespeaker, Splendid Reclamation, Life from the Loam.
Remove
Tooth and Nail, Grand Abolisher, Dosan the Falling Leaf, Silence, Pyroblast, Academy Rector, Caged Sun.



Aggro
Because the deck is creature light, blocking and combat is never really part of your plan. I do find that on average you're going to combo before opponents can reduce you to zero life, but if you find yourself in a creature heavy meta, then adding mass removal can really turn this deck into a control deck. I have run this type of configuartion in the past, and it has been really good. However, there are more "fair" decks that run aggro, so the deck is built more around other combo or control decks.
Add
Wrath of God, Austere Command, Akroma's Memorial, Oblivion Stone
Remove
Utopia Sprawl, Wild Growth, Arbor Elf, Wood Elves.



Control
The deck is already well setup for control. Because you don't play many permanents in the setup stages, any sort of removal/board wipes don't effect us too much. But if you're coming up against constant countering, then there are a few more cards you can add.
Add
City of Solitude, Vexing Shusher, Ricochet Trap.
Remove
Eldritch Evolution, Wood Elves, Forest.
Milling Image
Because this deck doesn't really have one card that it needs, it's all about redundancy. So cards going to graveyard doesn't effect your "chances" to win.
Add
Life from the Loam, Past in Flames, Mizzix's Mastery, Ramunap Excavator.
Remove
Tooth and Nail, Silence, Pyroblast.



Mid-Range
Will be able to win on average before mid range decks setup. Remember this is combo and can win very quickly if necessary. Also the ability to remove all the non-land permanents with Zacama abilities, normally means that you just wreck mid-range strategies.



Creature Hate
The current version is very creature light, and short of a lot of spot removal, has almost no effect on this deck.



Pillow Fort
This deck doesn't care about attacking.



Graveyard Hate
Only a few cards that use the graveyard. This deck doesn't care about graveyard hate in general.



Storm
There is not a lot in Naya colors to control other storm decks. Any common hosers against storm, will probably stop you as well. But I mean this deck is designed to combo very quickly so I still like the chances even against very tuned storm decks.
Add
Abeyance
Remove
Tooth and Nail


Image


The budget build comes in at around $200 USD. I've managed to keep a general structure of redundancy of draw, ramp and mana doublers at a ratio that means that you will always have these cards as part of your game.

But I've put a lot of theory-crafting into the deck, and it's not just looking to replace cards one-for-one. I have some innovations and strategies specifically for the budget version, which can give it very powerful elements during a game.
I've played this deck numerous times, and it's really very good still compared to it's budget-less counterpart.

The following is a list of cards that I've identified as the most expensive cards in the primer deck, around $10 and over.
Expensive cards in primer
Show
~Price as of 22-03-2019
- Non-basic lands would be replaced.
Ancient Tomb $23.47
Arid Mesa $43.60
Bloodstained Mire $34.99
Fire-Lit Thicket $16.16
Flooded Strand $24.99
Marsh Flats $40.61
Misty Rainforest $75.00
Plateau $142.56
Savannah $175.00
Scalding Tarn $103.99
Taiga $169.94
Verdant Catacombs $70.00
Windswept Heath $15.16
Wooded Foothills $26.58



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Budget Decklist
Show
Zacama, Primal Calamity, Budget Build

Mana (additional)


1 Summer Bloom
1 Early Harvest
1 Rude Awakening

Instant and Sorcery


Haste / Protection


1 Rhythm of the Wild
Approximate Total Cost:


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Card Choices
Show
Lands
The land base for the budget build is essentially basic lands, with a few non-basic cheaper options to help with the rest of your 99.

Summer Bloom is played instead of Azusa, Lost but Seeking as a way to get additional lands into play either in the early game, or in your combo turn.

Mana Doublers
The thing you don't want to compromise on is the mana doublers. So only one has been removed, Mana Reflection.
Mirari's Wake $14.59 and Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger $16.14 are expensive, but are really key cards, so save your pennies for these.

Draw
To make up for some of the more expensive draw cards missing like Memory Jar and Wheel of Fortune, there are some trump cards not featured in the alpha deck in Hunter's Insight, Hunter's Prowess, Dragon Mage, Magus of the Wheel.
In general you will have to wait an entire turn to possible get the draw off them, with having summoning sickness. However there are 3 land cards in the deck that give haste, so you will potentially have a chance to leverage off these cards , with Flamekin Village, Hanweir Battlements, Slayers' Stronghold.
Pir's Whim and Hour of Promise can also be used to search for these lands.
There is also Rhythm of the Wild to help with haste and pushing your creatures spells through counterspells.
Also it must be noted that Grothama, All-Devouring is better in a deck with haste elements, as you can attack it the turn you play Zacama, rather the potentially leaving it around for opponents to attack.

Tutors
Because in general cards that search your library for non-land cards are some of the more expensive cards to buy in commander, we have some very innovative differences using Oath of Druids and Reality Scramble as ways of cheating creatures into play.

The only creatures in the deck are either mana doublers or card draw, the two most important elements to a Zacama combo turn.
Oath of Druids has the ability to get you a mana doubler in; Keeper of Progenitus, Zhur-Taa Ancient, Regal Behemoth, Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger.
-or-
Oath of Druids will get you a draw creature in; Grothama, All-Devouring, Sandstone Oracle, Dragon Mage.

The same applies to using Reality Scramble to get these creatures. You can use it on Zacama to get a mana doubler or draw, and it also helps with recasting Zacama for potentially gaining mana.

Graveyard as a resource
Another major difference is that the budget version looks to make your graveyard tool for the deck.

With Oath of Druids you can actually get cards into your graveyard.

Then with Open the Vaults, Past in Flames, Seasons Past, you can look to get multiple cards off them.

Open the Vaults can get a multitude of mana doublers in; Heartbeat of Spring, Mana Flare, Overabundance, Vernal Bloom, Mirari's Wake, Dictate of Karametra, Zendikar Resurgent, Caged Sun.
As well as card draw with Greater Good, Recycle, Sandstone Oracle, Experimental Frenzy.
Open the Vaults also allows you recover from mass removal.

Past in Flames with flashback is perfect for being put into your graveyard off Oath of Druids and allows you to string together incredible value.

Seasons Past becomes even better with Oath of Druids putting cards into your graveyard.

There is also card filtering with Faithless Looting, Tormenting Voice, Cathartic Reunion, which become much better with graveyard as a resource cards.

Land ramp
There is actually more land ramp in the deck than the primer, and a large part of that is due to having more access to basic lands.
Additional land ramp; Ranger's Path, Explosive Vegetation, Pir's Whim, Grow from the Ashes, Hour of Promise, Boundless Realms.

It must be noted that the deck is not playing Sakura-Tribe Elder or Wood Elves even though they are cheap cards to buy, they do not work with the Oath of Druids or Reality Scramble plan to get more important creatures into play. So these have just been replaced with sorcery land ramp instead.

Trace of Abundance is played over Utopia Sprawl as a cheaper option.

Untapping lands (without Zacama)
Another feature of the budget build is to lean on Early Harvest with all the basics. This will allow you a little extra wiggle room to combo off when mana margins are tight.
Let's say you have 6 lands in play and a Heartbeat of Spring in hand. Normally you could cast the Heartbeat of Spring leaving 3 lands untapped, which produces 6 mana, 3 short of casting Zacama.
With Rude Awakening (or Early Harvest) you can cast it (with 1 additional mana floating), and then get access to 12 mana off your lands. Allowing you to cast Zacama easily.




Image

What possible combos can you do with Zacama? (not featured in deck)
There are a number of infinite combos you can do with Zacama ability to untap lands. I will explain the cards and the interactions in the spoiler below.
Show
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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Primer
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Jan 13, 2018
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Jan 17, 2018
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Jan 27, 2018
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Mar 22, 2018
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April 29 2019
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April 30 2019
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Post by darrenhabib » 1 year 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 » 1 year 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 » 1 year 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 » 1 year 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 » 1 year ago

Rumpy5897 wrote:
1 year 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 » 1 year ago

TearsOfTomorrow wrote:
1 year 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 » 1 year ago

Rasputin101 wrote:
1 year 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 » 1 year ago

darrenhabib wrote:
1 year 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 » 1 year ago

TearsOfTomorrow wrote:
1 year ago
darrenhabib wrote:
1 year 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 » 1 year ago

Zacama Tron definitely has that crazy awesome ring to it!

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Post by benjameenbear » 1 year ago

Garruk, Primal Hunter is a welcome reprint fr this deck!
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Post by TearsOfTomorrow » 1 year 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 » 1 year ago

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

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Post by darrenhabib » 1 year ago

TearsOfTomorrow wrote:
1 year 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 TearsOfTomorrow » 1 year 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 » 11 months 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 » 11 months ago

limlimrevolution wrote:
11 months 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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Post by darrenhabib » 10 months 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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Post by Moris » 10 months 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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Post by darrenhabib » 10 months ago

Moris wrote:
10 months 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 » 7 months 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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Post by benjameenbear » 7 months 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 » 6 months 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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