As is the norm around here, when a new set for Magic: The Gathering comes out I try to be on top of spoilers and in turn, brews that can come up with those new sets. There are several new legendary creatures coming with Guilds of Ravnica, and one of those immediately stood out as something that I knew I’d want to build around. I own a copy of the original Lazav, who came out in Guildpact (I think?) and he was always a character I enjoyed the look of. He definitely does Dimir things, in that he can copy creatures that are headed to opponent’s graveyards and become them, whether they are a lowly 1/1 or a massive Eldrazi. He also had hexproof, so getting rid of him was tricky. The new version of Lazav is a similar design, but also a bit different. Take a look:
A 1/3 body for two mana (Dimir). I like where this is going. His ETB makes use of the new keyword, Surveil, which allows you to look at the top card of your library and then either put it back or put it into your graveyard. His activated ability costs X, which is equal to the CMC of the creature in your own graveyard that is copied, and he gets all the cards characteristics, from P/T to it’s rules text, along with remaining a legendary creature and it keeps Lazav’s ability, so you can copy something else at any time. There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break things down into what we should focus on when building a Lazav, the Multifarious deck.
- Graveyard matters. Surveil is a great tool for getting cards into your graveyard.
- Looting. There are a bunch of great cards in blue that allow us to draw cards and then discard cards, filling our hand and our graveyard simultaneously.
- Targets. We want things that Lazav will benefit from copying, but also that aren’t too expensive, as our goal is to throw things into the yard and then copy them with Lazav.
- Tutors. Not in the traditional sense, we want the cards that throw things into our graveyard.
- Recursion. When you’re focused on filling your yard with cards, we’ll also want to bring some of them back, and there’s plenty of ways to do this.
So these are our subthemes. Let’s take a look at what I’ve included in my initial build:
Besides Lazav himself, these cards all have the Surveil keyword and should compliment the rest of the deck’s build. Doom Whisperer is a great body along with a self-milling machine. You should be able to churn through to find what you want rather quickly with him. Enhanced Surveillance will also help as it lets you look at two additional cards when you surveil. Mission Briefing is some recursion along with having the keyword, and Notion Rain surveils and draws you some cards at the same time. Nightveil Sprite surveils on combat trigger, and can easily be copied if you want Lazav to get some extra surveillance in. Lastly, though he doesn’t have the keyword, Taigam basically does the same thing, getting you a card to your hand and two in the graveyard each upkeep. Next up, other loot cards that will synergize to help fill our graveyard.
There are a ton of options when it comes to looting, which is a term to describe mostly symmetrical draw/discard cards. From creatures like Looter il-Kor to Wharf Infiltrator, they’ll get you a card and you can discard something juicy for Lazav to target in the graveyard. Windfall and Jace’s Archivist will dump your hand, the table’s hand and you get to draw a bunch of cards. Ancient Excavation will do the same to just you. Generally, these cards will help you to churn through your library to get the cards you want into the graveyard.
There are only three tutors here, and they are Demonic, Vampiric, or Mystical. The reason being is that we don’t really want to cast most of these cards from hand, particularly the high CMC ones. We want to target creatures from our library and dump them into the yard for Lazav to copy. Entomb and Buried Alive work best, but Dimir House Guard can be transmuted to pull out a couple of our creatures as well.
Recursion is pretty straightforward in this deck. Oversold Cemetery and Sheoldred will get you a creature back each turn. Whisper and the Doomed Necromancer require sacrifice to recur, and the other spells can help you get cards back in a variety of ways. These are best used when a creature has an ETB that you can exploit over and over like Ravenous Chupacabra or Fleshbag Marauder. Also a nice way to get something back someone used a spell to remove.
A cool thing to note when using Lazav’s ability: when a card reads “when ____ enters the battlefield” or “when ____ comes into play” you don’t have to resolve those effects. Lazav is copying something, and thereby not entering the battlefield, so you can avoid some nasty side effects and get big creatures on the cheap as long as he copies them from the graveyard. So cards like Leveler, Hunted Horror, Hunted Phantasm, Eater of days, and Nyxathid don’t have any downside despite being big creatures and costing a small CMC. You can also target the Vector Asp to get its ability to have infect, Invisible Stalker to gain hexproof and unblockable, etc. Keep in mind, you can copy an unblockable ability, then after the declare blockers step, copy a bigger creature and still get in unblocked. It’s a nice trick.
One Win Con:
Besides poking people down with commander damage or infect, here’s a pretty solid win-con. You need Necrotic Ooze to either be on the battlefield or copy it with Lazav. It/he then gains all activated abilities of all creatures in all graveyards. Then, you’ll want Bloodline Keeper and Grimgrin in the graveyard so that you can activate BK’s tap ability to create a vampire token. You can then activate Grimgrin’s sac outlet to sacrifice the token, untapping the Ooze/Lazav and gaining a +1/+1 counter. You can literally do this infinite times, then copy an unblockable effect and boom. Game over.
There are some other odds and ends I didn’t discuss here, but you can check out the full deck list over here.