Random Friday: Rebuilding the Allies

karona_false_god

 

Welcome to another edition of Random Friday, the article series where I go over changes to my different EDH decks in detail (and where I trash them and rebuild them into something better).

There were a number of my decks last year that were on the chopping block after disappointing performances and poor games, and many were culled or changed. Much as I have done before, this year I am once again redoing decks that just aren’t working; this may involve either changing some cards around deck to deck, changing who the general of the deck is, or completely overhauling the entire deck.

Today, we’re rebuilding an entire deck, and giving it an overhaul that goes with its new, sexier general: we’re rebuilding tribal Allies, which is currently led by Karona, False God, into the new Ally general, General Tazri!

What will the sleek new Allies look like? Let’s take a look!

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Years ago, I started a series of Random Friday articles dedicated to rebuilding my EDH decks, with the ultimate goal of making them all fun to play, and fun to play against. The plan is always to rebuild any decks that aren’t performing the way I wanted them to.

Thus far, I’ve rebuilt several of my EDH decks in this series.

In 2013:
• Our Abzan deck was transformed from Ghave, Guru of Spores into Doran, the Siege Tower‘s “toughness matters” deck here.
• I’d changed my Boros list, from Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer into Brion Stoutarm‘s sacrifice-based deck here.
• The lovely Angela had changed our Dimir deck from Vela the Night-Clad to the milling-based Lazav, Dimir Mastermind here and here.
• I changed our Rakdos deck to Rakdos, Lord of Riots after the release of RTR here.
• I rebuilt the powerful Bruna, Light of Alabaster‘s combo-control deck here.
• I rebuilt the Planechase 2012 duo, Thromok the Insatiable and Krond the Dawn-Clad here.

In 2014:
• The first rebuild of our Izzet deck, from Nin, the Pain Artist to Melek, Izzet Paragon, was done here.
• I rebuilt our Clone and Shapeshifter tribal deck, Sakashima the Impostor, which is chock-full of copy effects, here.
• I went over the changes to our Equipment-friendly mono-white deck, Kemba, Kha Regent here.
• I looked at the changes to the budget-friendly Nath of the Gilt-Leaf here.

In 2015:
• I went over the changes to Commander 2014’s Titania, Protector of Argoth, my favourite of last year’s Commander generals, here.
• I rebuilt our U/R control deck, from Melek, Izzet Paragon into the new Keranos, God of Storms, here.
• I rebuilt the very first EDH deck that I’d ever put together, our Jund deck helmed by Adun Oakenshield, into one led by Kresh the Bloodbraided from Shards block here.
• I rebuilt our Boros deck again, this time changing it from Brion Stoutarm to Tajic, Blade of the Legion, a R/W control deck, here.
• I looked at a huge culling of my decks, where I disassembled Kemba, Kha Regent, Volrath the Fallen, Zedruu the Greathearted, and more here.
• I retooled two artifact-based decks, Karn, Silver Golem changed into creatureless artifact-based control, and our Esper deck Halfdane turned into Sharuum the Hegemon artifact aggro, here.

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I’ve built lots of new decks in this series of articles as well.

In 2012:
• I put together Arcum Dagsson, a dangerous general who could Tinker up win conditions at will here.
• The original incarnation of Karona, False God and her Allies, here and here.
• I looked at my initial attempt to build a Rakdos deck here, here, and here.

In 2013:
Nekusar, the Mindrazer‘s Painful Wheel was built here.

In 2014:
• The Jeskai deck that finished off The EDH Project, Zedruu the Greathearted, was built here.
• Angela’s tribal Soldier build helmed by Coldsnap’s Darien, King of Kjeldor here.
• I went over my brainstorming and the final list I looked at for Khans newcomer Narset, Enlightened Master (who is just ultra-powerful), here.

In 2015:
• I went over my first new Rakdos build of the year, building around Innistrad’s Olivia Voldaren here.
• After Olivia failed to be any good, I built a ‘new’ Rakdos deck (again), this time using Malfegor the Demon Dragon as general, and a hellbent theme here.

My look at all the EDH decks that I am going to be putting on the chopping block for cuts in the coming months is here.

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Tazri

Ever since I first built five-color tribal Allies back in original Zendikar block, I’ve wanted a five-color Ally legend to run as their general. And for years, I was forced to run Karona, False God instead. Finally, with the release of Oath of the Gatewatch this year, Wizards has finally printed me a legend to use in her place, the powerful General Tazri, and I could not be more stoked to swap them!

Back when Oath was first released this year, this was what I wrote about Tazri:

“It’s a strange thing, but one of the things I’m most excited about from this set is that we finally get a five-color Ally legend, in General Tazri. I have a five-color Ally tribal deck, which was using Karona, False God as the general for lack of a five-color legend; now, we have Tazri, who can actually lead the tribe.

A five color Ally legend! (Now if we can only get our Werewolf legend in Innistrad II in April!)

When Wizards first spoiled that we’d be going back to Zendikar, this was actually one of the things I was most hoping for. Tazri definitely lives up to my expectations; she is a Tutor for the best Ally in your deck when you cast her (unfortunate, since I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of Tutors in my deck, but is extremely potent), but most importantly, she is a very powerful Overrun effect for your Allies.

Several other Allies seem like they could be quite good from the new set as well. The Allies from Oath, for the most part, all have the new cohort ability (you can tap them, and another Ally to do a small effect). Some of these cohort Allies can make other creature tokens (Drana’s Chosen), some draw cards (Malakir Soothsayer), and some pump your team (Munda’s Vanguard), so these cohorts could end up being quite potent.

I really like the token-making Allied Reinforcements and Captain’s Claws as well. Since the best Ally creatures have triggers that happen when an Ally comes into play, having spells that make multiple Allies, like this one, can be quite strong, giving you multiple triggers with one spell.

Oath of the Gatewatch has some excellent Ally cards, and I’m definitely looking forward to trying them all out.”

Well, the time has come to finally sit down and rebuild the Allies with these powerful new cards.

Going into this rebuild, this was the Allies deck I had built:

Karona, False God - decklist

General (1)
Karona, False God

Creatures (31)
Skyrider Elf
Harabaz Druid
Ondu Cleric
Halimar Excavator
Jwari Shapeshifter
Kalastria Healer
Kor Bladewhirl
Oran-Rief Survivalist
Tajuru Archer
Firemantle Mage
Agadeem Occultist
Lantern Scout
Umara Raptor
Kabira Evangel
Veteran Warleader
Adaptive Automaton
Chasm Guide
Grovetender Druids
Tuktuk Scrapper
Munda, Ambush Leader
Bala Ged Thief
Talus Paladin
Sea Gate Oracle
Kazuul Warlord
Tajuru Warcaller
Turntimber Ranger
Hero of Goma Fada
Hagra Diabolist
Resolute Bladewhirl
Angelic Captain
Murasa Pyromancer

Card drawing spells (7)
Skullclamp
Deep Analysis
Brilliant Plan
Foresee
Plea for Power
Fact or Fiction
Painful Truths

Mana-fixing (4)
Commander’s Sphere
Astral Cornucopia
Chromatic Lantern
Coalition Relic

Disenchants (3)
Gleeful Sabotage
Rain of Thorns
Aura Shards

Wraths and removal spells (3)
In Garruk’s Wake
Harsh Mercy
Nevinyrral’s Disk

Recursion (5)
Living Death
March from the Tomb
All Suns’ Dawn
Aphetto Dredging
Patriarch’s Bidding

Token-making spells (5)
Soul Foundry
Unified Front
Retreat to Emeria
Rite of Replication
Clone Legion

Other spells (1)
Genesis Wave

Land (40)
40 rainbow lands

 

This deck was fine, but it felt like a much-lower powered version of our Sliver tribal deck, and so it is long overdue for an overhaul. I had a jumble of Allies, mixed with a smidge of Clone effects, some recursion, and some card drawing. It was a bit of a mess, and so a new direction will be a good thing, and make the deck seem fresh and new.

Tazri

General Tazri is an excellent new addition to the Ally tribe, and I’m very excited to finally get to swap Karona, False God for her. I felt that she was worth mentioning today, because she’s going to usher in a completely new dimension to the Ally deck, and will make the deck play in a unique and hilarious way. She has two very strong abilities, which are going to cause the Ally deck to play in a new and exciting way.

I speak, of course, not about her Overrun ability – which, don’t get me wrong, I do like; it’s quite strong – but of her ability to Tutor up any Ally. Why is this relevant?

Well, it’s obvious that she can Tutor up the good Allies (from Kazuul Warlord, who is a repeatable Crusade for Allies; to Turntimber Ranger, a way to make more guys; to Hagra Diabolist, a way to drain your opponents to death; and even Jwari Shapeshifter, to copy whatever your best Ally is).

The real Tutor target that I’m going to be rebuilding the deck around, however, is an awesome and cool one:

Zada

That’s right, Tazri lets you find the hilarious and powerful Zada, Hedron Grinder.

It should be fairly obvious that I’m a big fan of Zada, and her Radiate ability. I built an EDH deck around Zada as a Christmas present for our friend Brianna, which I wrote about here (and the deck has indeed been strong, hilarious, and very fun). And that was just a mono-red deck… I can only imagine what I can do with a Tutorable Zada in a five-color deck, where I have five colors’ worth of spells to work with.

So, with Tazri, the new Ally game plan will be both simple and complex. Flood the board with Allies. Play Tazri, and find Zada. Cast Zada, and spells that target Zada, and hopefully overwhelm your foes.

What spells can we now use with the Tazri- Zada combination?

Cloning spells:
This, for me, is the most exciting thing to do with Zada. Any copycat spell that targets Zada will also give you a copy of every other creature on your team, hopefully leading to some huge, game-winning swings. When you’re copying creatures like the aforementioned Hagra Diabolist, or Turntimber Ranger, or hell, even a small effect like Halimar Excavator, these triggered abilities can really add up when you copy your entire team of Allies at once.

There are a large number of possible Clone spells to use: from the trusty Rite of Replication, to Fated Infatuation, to Spitting Image, to Heat Shimmer, to Twinflame; these spells all happen to work extremely well when Radiated by Zada, to copy your entire team. This is likely the major direction I’ll be taking the deck in once I rebuild it.

Card drawing cantrips:
Much like the original Zada deck that I built for Brianna, it’s quite possible that I’ll be including a large number of creature-targeting spells with “draw a card” tacked onto them, like Accelerate, Expedite, and whatnot. Target Zada with one of these spells, and you get to draw a card for each creature you control; not a bad deal!

Removal spells:
There have been many different removal spells printed over the years, which say “target creature fights another target creature”, or comparable wording. Cards like Commando Raid, Temur Charm, or Fall of the Hammer; any of these could be used to have my team fight someone else’s to death with Zada out. I’m not convinced that this is very good, but it is worth noting that it can be done.

There are many more things that can be done with a Zada five-color toolbox; this is just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s all made possible by General Tazri.

What did I end up going with? Here’s the new decklist:

General Tazri - Current decklist

General (1)
General Tazri

Creatures (27)
Akoum Battlesinger
Bojuka Brigand
Oran-Rief Survivalist
Kalastria Healer
Harabaz Druid
Ondu Cleric
Halimar Excavator
Jwari Shapeshifter
Akoum Flameseeker
Lantern Scout
Veteran Warleader
Umara Raptor
Kabira Evangel
Tajuru Archer
Munda, Ambush Leader
Zada, Hedron Grinder
Talus Paladin
Bala Ged Thief
Tuktuk Scrapper
Malakir Soothsayer
Kor Entanglers
Tajuru Warcaller
Turntimber Ranger
Kazuul Warlord
Hagra Diabolist
Sea Gate Loremaster
Murasa Pyromancer

Token making spells (8)
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Blade of Selves
Riptide Replicator
Captain’s Claws
Allied Reinforcements
Unified Front
Join the Ranks
Oath of Gideon

Card drawing (8)
Skullclamp
Painful Truths
Fact or Fiction
Foresee
Plea for Power
Brilliant Plan
Tezzeret’s Gambit
Deep Analysis

Copycat spells (7)
Heat Shimmer
Twinflame
Tempt with Reflections
Cackling Counterpart
Spitting Image
Stolen Identity
Rite of Replication

Disenchants (4)
Return to Dust
Aura Shards
Relic Crush
Nevinyrral’s Disk

Recursion (5)
All Suns’ Dawn
Patriarch’s Bidding
Living Death
March from the Tomb
Aphetto Dredging
Lands (40)
40 rainbow lands

 

For now, I’ve gone with the ‘Copycat spell’ approach, going with a modest seven spells to go with Zada. These spells all make copies of creatures, letting me copy my entire team with Zada out, and triggering all the Allies’ abilities multiple times.

To make room for all the new cards, I’ve made some important cuts. Before, I had a bunch of mana rocks (Coalition Relic and so forth); I am really trusting the manabase now, since I’ve cut them all. I also had several Wrath effects, which have also all been cut.

Worth mentioning is that the manabase before this had all ten Guildgates and the awesome win condition Maze’s End. With this rebuild, I’m trying something new; I have cut them all for eleven more basic lands. I found that the Gates all coming into play tapped really slowed the deck down, so more basic lands should work out quite well to speed the deck up. Since I’ve cut the mana rocks, I really hope the manabase is up to supporting the deck without all the extra two-color lands!

Conclusion: So there you have it, that’s the new rebuild of our Allies tribal deck! I feel that the inclusion of Tazri should make this deck quite fun to play, giving it an added combo dimension, and lots more angles to play. I look forward to seeing how it performs!

 

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