Zaxara, the Exemplary, a 4 cost 2/3 legendary nightmare hydra with deathtouch. You can consider it a mana dork as it can tap for 2 mana of any one colour but the main draw seems to be the X spell token creation. Whenever you cast a spell with X in it’s mana cost you’ll get a 0/0 hydra token with X +1/+1 counters to match. This deck screams a lot of different building strategies but for the most interactive games we’re going to play some more entertaining spells with value to support it.
Zaxara, the Exemplary
Cavern of Souls
Creeping Tar Pit
Path of Ancestry
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Finale of Devastation
Flood of Tears
Torment of Hailfire
Birds of Paradise
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Unbound Flourishing: Whether you have to force it in or you’ve been waiting for the chance this Modern Horizons mythic had a chance to shine in this deck. Doubling the X in permanent spells and copying spells with X in the cost it can pay for its use quite easily.
Vivien, Champion of the Wild: Because flashing in creatures is really handy to be able to do. She also lets you dig for creatures and grant vigilance and reach. Flashing in your Commander is fun, sinking a ton of mana and flashing in a huge hydra is hilarious.
Zarara, the Exemplary / Bloom Tender + Freed from the Real / Pemmin’s Aura: A quick infinite mana combo for the deck. Minimal requirements with available redundancy and one of the pieces is your Commander.
Eternal Witness + Crystal Shard + Temporal Manipulation: It takes so little effort and space to run this combo in multiple decks. Eternal Witness is a staple recursion creature and an extra turn could change a dangerous board into a game ending play. I suppose it’s the utility of Crystal Shard here that should be justified. There are multiple enter the battlefield effects that can be abused, the ability to force your opponents to keep mana up, and the ability to save a creatures especially the hydras are enough to me for it to have a spot here for me.
There are a number of spells you could run, but as always there is only so much room in the deck. I chose several pieces over others for balance sake along with casting cost and colour weight. It’s going to be a heavy focus on these spells so let’s take a look at what was kept in the deck and the reasoning.
Torment of Hailfire: Starting off strong with this impactful finisher spell. You’ll never see your opponents struggle more than when they have count their cards in hand, their non land permanents, and their life total all at once. The each opponent clause makes this even better in multiplayer but it’s a fun asymmetrical card that can lead to difficult decisions.
Villainous Wealth: An opposing Genesis Wave effect except with any non-land permanents. I’ve heard the nickname Nemesis Wave for it and it’s not exactly untrue. In a “why play my cards when I can play yours?” strategy this is a card that can easily turn the tides and disrupt your opponents. At worse you can also just exile an opponent’s’ library.
Nissa, Steward of Elements: The X cost planeswalker is pretty versatile in this deck. Whether early game for scry, ramp, or cheating in creatures from the top of your deck or late game for throwing a couple of 5/5 Flying Land Creatures at people.
Mana Bloom: An X enchantment that acts as mana storage and can return to your hand. Great synergy with Zaxara to create hydra tokens so much that you’ll be removing counters each turn just to get it back to your hand.
Finale of Devastation: Whether you’re just looking to pump the board or looking for a good body Finale is happy to oblige. The Finale cycle from. War of the Spark have incredible extra effects when you sink enough mana into it and and +X/+X and haste can cause some serious damage with all the hydra tokens.
Chord of Calling: While I wouldn’t recommend going for 0/0 hydra creatures this instant speed creature tutor does a lot of work and can get you out of some difficult situations with the right choices. Convoking to increase the CMC for a bigger hydra and getting Eternal Witness to bring it back to hand is also a neat play..
Pull from Tomorrow I picked this one over the other X draw spells completely due to its cost. Double blue may not seem too difficult but triple blue like Gadwick, the Wizened can leave you in an awkward situation. Everything’s fine when you’re ahead but when you’re behind just being able to dig a bit more and cast a bit easier helps a ton.
Thassa’s Intervention: At worse it’s 4 mana for 2 cards and a 3 mana Miscalculation. With more mana comes deeper digging for answers and with infinite mana you just take a couple of cards from your deck. That could be a win condition and something to protect it or just more draw power to overwhelm the board.
Hydroid Krasis: The mythic flying trample draw and life gain jellyfish hydra beast from the Simic combine. Actually I don’t think there’s much else to say that’s not self explainatory.
Genesis Hydra: Extra value on top of extra value the shuffle effect and the cast trigger are not something to underestimate. While it does have the chance to miss a nonland permanent in it’s reveal you can easily end up with a three for one with Zaxara.
Steelbane Hydra: I mean why not use the artifact and enchantment removal hydra, fits with the theme though it does cost a bit to play and use.
Stonecoil Serpent: Not a hydra but a reach, trample, protection from multicoloured snake. I am heavily questioning why some would run Endless One over this with it’s array of keywords. As an X cost creature it can be played at pretty much any point in the game as a solid creature option.
Walking Ballista: A huge mana sink and win condition. Even without infinite mana you can create a creature that can take out all sorts of targets and grow with any leftover mana you may have.
There are some notable exclusions from this variation of Zaxara, Blue Sun’s Zenith or Stroke of Genius for example or Doubling Season for the hydra token synergies. It’s a very all in strategy when you require the Commander for most of your value and they’re already a big target. Balancing Zaxara was difficult, if the nightmare hydra sticks on board for a turn you’re ahead by plenty but functioning without your Commander is a design I focus most deck builds on.
There is no double there is high potential for Zaxara though whether as a hydra tribal commander, a Sultai combo deck, or just X spells and extra value. It doesn’t exactly synergize with the other legendary creatures from the Enhanced Evolution deck but it’s a fine Commander choice regardless of the contents of your deck.
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