A Second Look at General Tazri EDH
General Tazri is the first 5 color commander Wizards of the Coast has printed in years. Can it be competitive?
This card was overlooked. I swear its better than your first impressions. So let’s look at it a second time.
It’s not very often that we get new 5-color legends. And when we do, very few of them can play much of a role in anything competitive that we might require 5-colors to do. It’s the sacrifice that you make to play 5 color generals: you trade a relevant commander for access to all 5 colors. Unless you plan on playing slivers (Sliver Overlord), elementals (Horde of Notions) or dragons (Scion of the Ur-Dragon), it won’t be central to your game plan.
However, General Tazri may prove be an exception to that rule, helping you execute plan A.
What can General Tazri tutor? Well, after getting hyped about tutoring for Crib Swap and getting dissapointed after re-reading the card, there is still an okay list of things for this guy to grab. People have compared it to a fixed Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero, but they both have their shortcomings: Lin Sivvi put any rebel permanent straight onto the battlefield, but was stuck as mono-white. Tazri tutors to hand after a slightly higher intial cost, but can play all 5 colors.
Let’s review the worthwhile allies.
Tuktuk Scrapper got me excited for the possibility of playing an ally toolbox, however, 9 mana to tutor and play a Smash to Smithereens isn’t exactly exciting. This is also one of the few allies with relevant abilities outside of combat. Even if it’s super expensive, the option is always nice.
Harabaz Druid is the only other card I would consider playing as part of an ally toolbox. As someone who has played a lot of Priest of Titania, the idea of a mana dork who taps for more than 1 mana is very exciting, if it taps for just 1 mana, it’s still fine. However, realistically, in a competitive 5-color deck, if you are tutoring for this card and playing it in the same turn, you don’t need the mana. It begs the question, what is this card doing in your deck?
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper is an interesting card for a number of reasons. First of all, let’s consider what deck would want to have the option to grab this. Many people have tried to make 5-color Jeskai Ascendancy combo work in EDH. Unfortunately, Noyan Dar isn’t red and can’t play the ascendency himself, but being 5-color gives access to tutors and mana creatures and is perhaps even better, especially since Noyan Dar would be a backup plan in this deck anyways. While I don’t know what the competitive version of this deck would look like, at least one fairly well-respeced EDH player has ranked the deck in his tier system (for a while).
Rating: 3/5, as a build-around
Sea Gate Loremaster
When is Sea Gate Loremaster better than Arcanis the Omnipotent? well, the casting cost is a little easier. And when you have petered-out of gas entirely, this is certainly a nice option to have. However, drawing this card is never going to be exciting, but as a tutor-target, it’ll be drawing at least 2 cards a turn, which isn’t the worst.
Cliffhaven Vampire is one of the new Oath of Gatewatch allies. While he’s not super exciting by himself, he does act as a combo piece with Exquisite Blood. He even does it quite well, considering he has flying, making him ideal to start the damage-to-life-to-damage chain. Now, it’s true that lots of cards combo with commanders, but unlike the other cards that combo with commanders, being in 5 colors makes it exceptionally easy to tutor for the other pieces. This combo has never really seen competitive play, and I don’t think Cliffhaven Vampire or Tazri will be the cards to make it good enough, but if it ever is, this is almost certainly the shell it will see play in. I’d consider brewing with these cards, for no reason other than how redundant this life-drain combo is getting. It seems like every other set we get a new Vizkopa Guildmage or Defiant Bloodlord.
Zulaport Cutthroat is the card that gets me excited to start brewing. When this card came out, he replaced Blood Artist in many decks. Hitting each opponent instead of just one is a pretty decent upgrade, along with having a point of power to pick off planeswalkers early. This card is one of the most efficient way to ensure that an infinite recursion loop will win you the game. While Goblin Bombardment is usually better since it comes with a win condition and a sacrifice outlet, this is still among the best rates you can get. It’s not exciting until you’re winning, but it’s needed.
Mirror Entity is a very flexible and powerful card. It can pump your team at a very affordable rate. It can act as a sacrifice outlet if you chose to activate him for zero. It has tribal synergies with everything. In fact, several allies on this list get exceptionally better with mirror entity: Harabaz Druid adds mana equal to your number of creatures, and Sea Gate Loremaster draws cards equal to your number of creatures, which are both significant upgrades. In fact, I’m certain there are some powerful infinite combos with Mirror Entity and these allies, but I have no idea what it is.
What shells can we use?
The Boonweaver Giant/Pattern of Rebirth Shell
General Tazri may be a better home than Karador, Ghost Chieftain for this shell in a deck focused on assembling the combo as quickly as possible. You can always have access to a sacrifice outlet, by tutoring Mirror Entity, and assembling a game winning loop without a Boonweaver Giant seems much easier with access to Zulaport Cutthroat. Gaining additional colors will make the deck more consistent, giving access to cards such as Intuition.
Exploring what this deck looks like would be fascinating. Karador, Ghost Chieftain isn’t a great card in Karador decks anyways, and the ability to tutor pieces of the combo lets you run a higher density of combo pieces.
Collectively, the competitive EDH community seems to have lost interest in Hermit Druid. It’s hard to find an up to date list these days. Hermit Druid is not the only one card combo around these days. However, if the deck were to get re-examined and tuned, Tarzi would be a interesting choice. Perhaps the best way to win with that deck would be by presenting multiple combos after milling. Dread Returning an Angel of Glory’s Rise to bring back Fiend Hunter (exiling the Angel), Zulaport Cutthroat and Mirror Entity (use this to sacrifice your board, returning the angel) might be strong.
The difference between this combo and the traditionally ran combo is that this combo can easily be assembled with or without Hermit Druid. Each card can function in multiple combos as well, with Fiend Hunter being an almost decent card on it’s own, and Mirror Entity isn’t the worst plan C. Compared to Laboratory Maniac, this combo can lose to a single removal spell (in response to the angel’s trigger). This, interestingly enough, could lead to a more midrange Hermit Druid deck. The Laboratory Manic and Azami, Lady of Scrolls win (also from Dread Return on Angel of Glory’s Rise) could just be better, but it’s hard to know without testing.
To beat two removal spells, reanimating Karmic Guide into Angel of Glory’s Rise, and getting two human Fiend Hunter effects exiling each one of those angels also beats the first removal spell. Returning snapcaster, targeting Pact of Negation beats most other things, although any interaction should most certainly have been played earlier.
Honestly, the opportunity cost to play Hermit Druid in a deck that could win immediately off of his activation is quite low in a 5 color deck, even if it isn’t plan A. You need to play several poor cards (Fatesticher and Narcomeba to get the creatures for Dread Return‘s flashabck, and a contingency plan if you don’t win off Hermit). Building a deck that is a reanimator combo deck at heart, but gets to play multiple paths to victory seems strong. However, without some testing, I wouldn’t know where to begin with this deck.
If you think it’s worth it to build Tazri, let me know in the comments. I think She is a promising general, that happens to tutor some powerful combo pieces.