Lazav, Dimir Mastermind - High House Shadow

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toctheyounger
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Post by toctheyounger » 1 year ago

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind - High House Shadow


Image


This is my first ever build, and possibly favourite decklist. It's built around the theme of some of my favourite characters in my favourite series of books - The Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson. Anyone who is into 'grimdark' fantasy, military fantasy or epic fantasy should give them a read - obviously, I strongly recommend. Bear in mind, however, that reading through this representation there are some spoilers present.

To provide some background to the picture I'm trying to paint, High House Shadow is one part of a pantheon of gods within the series. Shadowthrone is the name of the ruler of the house. He is new to ascendancy, and is suspected to be the former emperor of the Malazan Empire, Kellanved, who was assassinated along with his second in command and master assassin, Dancer, after which his rule was usurped by the Empress Laseen - I've always seen Queen Marchesa as a good representation of Laseen FWIW. Shadowthrone is usually described as an ephemeral, cloaked figure wreathed in shadows, and is often seen with a cane. In character he is manipulative, shifty, incredibly clever, with ultimate goals unbeknownst to any but himself; he speaks in cryptic riddles and takes every chance he can to bend others to his will or snare them in his service. Needless to say, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind visually embodies this rather well - even mechanically, the similarity is strong.

Image


He does have an accomplice, by the name of Cotillion, aka The Rope, Patron god of assassins. I don't have a specific card that embodies Dancer (pre-ascendancy) perfectly here, but probably the closest visual representation in the deck is Shadowmage Infiltrator. Dancer is usually described as nondescript, with bland and ordinary features, but an air of lethality that bodes ill for any who would cross him. Post ascendancy he is similar in appearance if a little more ephemeral and shadowed. In that respect Gonti, Lord of Luxury suffices for present. As can be implied from his nickname, his weapon of choice is the rope. The assassin is a theme I have tried to instill through the deck, and in terms of the style of assassins used by the claw under Empress Laseen and prior to that the Talons under Dancer, ninjas fit very well. They pre-eminently use knives, magic, stealth and deception to achieve their kills, and recent printings have made this an easy theme to embody.

Last but not least, these two ascendants are not the only beings within the realm of Shadow. Throughout the series, there are quite a few different characters revealed to be living within Shadow, including Demons, the elemental Hounds of Shadow, fallen ascendants, and others. These are represented within the deck to the best of my abilities.

Without further ado, here is the list:
Decklist by Type

Planeswalker


Approximate Total Cost:

Decklist by theme
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Lazav's High House Shadow

Shadowthrone, the Usurper


Cotillion, The Rope - Patron of Assassins


Sordiko Qualm - Queen of High House Shadow


Apsalar - Assassin of High House Shadow


Lostara Yil - Assassin of High House Shadow


Kalam Mekhar - Assassin of High House Shadow


Ben Adaephon Delat


The shaved knuckle in the hole


Vorcan Radok - Mistress of High House Shadow


Iskaral Pust - Magus of High House Shadow


Traveller


Kalse/Ampelas/Eloth


Onrack the Broken


The Hounds of Shadow


Kenyll'rah Demon


Korvalahrai Demon


Dinal Demon


Baudin


Throatslitter


Invoking the Rites of Meanas


Magery & Deception


Otataral


"They never did find the bodies"


The Temple of Shadow


Malaz City and Smiley's Bar


The Deadhouse & Azath Grounds


Mock's Hold


Approximate Total Cost:


Strategy/Mechanics



So there's a few things going on in the deck these days. Essentially, like many Lazav decks it really is quite reflexive, in that it depends what else is happening on the table as to how well it plays, but that's not really the point of the deck either way; it's here to tell a story, and maybe win some games in the meantime. Its a lot of fun regardless, and that's what counts.

We're leaning relatively heavily into the ninja subtheme these days (thank you Modern Horizons!) - there's a lot of ninjutsu as well as some ways to return creatures to hand - Cunning Evasion and Phyrexian Reclamation can handle that, and lots of combat evasion to help into the bargain.

Downstream from this, there's a few ways to benefit from unblocked attack, with things like Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, Trepanation Blade, Silent-Blade Oni, Ingenious Infiltrator, Fallen Shinobi, Deepfathom Skulker/Bident of Thassa, and Sygg, River Cutthroat. These all act to keep our hand full and give us nice little perks for hitting life totals. We've also got a nice suite of cantrips and low cost instants (hey there, Isochron Scepter) to help us keep some control of the board, cantrip a little and remove pesky blockers where we can. In terms of Scepter, I was tempted to include Muddle the Mixture to search it up, but it doesn't fit thematically, and I don't want it being something I rely on heavily (also why Dramatic Reversal is no longer in the deck.

As well as this there's somewhat of a light mill theme to the deck as well, as is common with Lazav. We have several wheels, as well as Consuming Aberration, all of which help to make the most of Lazav's unique ability. It's entirely possible that we can dominate the game for leveraging this, but we do need to play into it somewhat to make the most of Lazav. It's also why the board wipes I run, Plague Wind, In Garruk's Wake and Aetherize are here - there are cheaper versions of all, but nothing quite so asymmetrical that leaves me with possibilities for turning Lazav into something ridiculous.

Further Developments



There are a few more things I want to add, partly for theme and partly for mechanics:
  • Shizo, Death's Storehouse - This is 100% an Azath house.
  • Lazav, the Multifarious - I've thought about changing the commander to the newer iteration of Lazav, but I think in general terms the original fits the character of Shadowthrone a lot better, as a meddling puppet master genius. That's sort of his thing, every player in the game is his pawn whether they know it or not, and the original clone ability reflects that much more. Hexproof is a plus, too, so for now Gatecrash Lazav has the helm.
Mechanically I am open to suggestions if there are any, and I'm definitely interested in hearing thoughts regarding the deck in general.

Let me know what you guys think!
Thanks
Toc.
Last edited by toctheyounger 10 months ago, edited 7 times in total.
Malazan Decks of the Fallen
| Shadowthrone/Lazav | Raest/Yidris | T'iam / The Ur-Dragon |

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toctheyounger
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Post by toctheyounger » 1 year ago


Out



Picked this up (well, under current lockdown protocol, had it posted) from my LGS recently. It's a pretty decent representation of Traveller, and mechanically gives me something else to do with the 1-2 mana instants if I can't find Isochron Scepter, or if I mill something crucial. Conversely, Dread was always decent once it's on the field, but up until that point it's a lot of b and relatively expensive to cast, so it's easy to see it go.
Malazan Decks of the Fallen
| Shadowthrone/Lazav | Raest/Yidris | T'iam / The Ur-Dragon |

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toctheyounger
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Post by toctheyounger » 1 year ago


Out


Another LGS delivery. Easily represents a part of the ever-fluctuating landscape of Kurald Emurlahn. On top of that, animating it helps me get cards in hand from Bident of Thassa et al , get ninjas into play, trigger Trepanation Blade and such, so it's a valuable add.

My next add, at some point shortly is going to be Nemesis of Reason. I...guess...it can be a demon from the Shadow Realm. I'd really like something that represents Aptorians, but it's a pretty specific form so it's probably not ever going to happen. Nonetheless it hits the mill that we want, so I'm pretty happy with that.
Malazan Decks of the Fallen
| Shadowthrone/Lazav | Raest/Yidris | T'iam / The Ur-Dragon |

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Dunharrow
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Post by Dunharrow » 1 year ago

Hunted Nightmare could be a good hound of shadow

This one oozes with flavour
The New World fell not to a sword but to a meme

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toctheyounger
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Post by toctheyounger » 1 year ago

I had been looking at that one too. It's a well costed beater anyway and the flavour fits nicely.

I'd also though maybe I could find space for Blood Curdle to give the hounds more fear factor. It's not the best removal in the world though.
Malazan Decks of the Fallen
| Shadowthrone/Lazav | Raest/Yidris | T'iam / The Ur-Dragon |

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toctheyounger
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Post by toctheyounger » 10 months ago





A couple of upgrades from recent findings. I feel like the new hound is a bit lower to the ground so should smooth things out a little, and the Barghest was really just a beater, so curving seems sensible. I very much don't dedicate to shredding hands either, so it was a vanilla hound.

Shadow Rift seems made to go with the theme, as well as with the ninjas and the Bident of Thassa style effects, not to mention fitting nicely under an Isochron Scepter. Should do nicely.

I did want to try to get Blood Curdle into the deck too - it fits nicely for the atmosphere of the Hounds of Shadow. I just couldn't see anything else in the list that really justified coming out for it. I might keep thinking on it though.
Malazan Decks of the Fallen
| Shadowthrone/Lazav | Raest/Yidris | T'iam / The Ur-Dragon |

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not-a-cube
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Post by not-a-cube » 10 months ago

What about Ukkima, Stalking Shadow for a hound? except for the whale type, it does look like what i'd expect a hound ot shadow to look like. It also works well with all the ninjas in the deck, so it's a functional include.
EDH Decks:
Queen Marchesa
Chainer, Dementia Master
Will Kenrith
Bruna, the fading light

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toctheyounger
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Post by toctheyounger » 10 months ago

not-a-cube wrote:
10 months ago
What about Ukkima, Stalking Shadow for a hound? except for the whale type, it does look like what i'd expect a hound ot shadow to look like. It also works well with all the ninjas in the deck, so it's a functional include.
I'd been thinking this one over, and I agree. The effect is perfect, and the creature type I'm not too fazed about. 'Whale Wolf' is kind of the same thing as 'giant ravenous hound' anyway, so I think this would be a great add. Works nicely with things like Trepanation Blade and Cunning Evasion too.
Malazan Decks of the Fallen
| Shadowthrone/Lazav | Raest/Yidris | T'iam / The Ur-Dragon |

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