Forgotten Harvest - Kazarov Damages Everything

(Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood | Art by Igor Kieryluk)

Let the Hate Flow Through You

Boy, howdy! Has it been two weeks already? That must mean it's time to read some Forgotten Harvest! This week, in our never-ending quest to highlight cards that see play in 300 decks or less on EDHREC, we're taking a look at the color pairing of black and red, otherwise known as Rakdos. For those of you unfamiliar, the following gif should help to clarify what it means to be Rakdos:

Looking through the Rakdos commanders, I came across this neglected fellow in need of some love. His name is Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood, and he only sees play in a measly 262 decks (both as commander and in the 99):

Based on Kazarov's text box, we want this deck to do two things: deal lots of damage to our opponents' creatures, and clear a path for a supersized Kazarov to deal 21 to the dome. To achieve this, we'll need to supplement the deck with both enough mana ramp to support our expensive general and proper Equipment to protect him, such as Lightning Greaves and the like. Additionally, it'll be great to have some ways to give some creatures to our opponents, like with Hunted Horror or Akroan Horse, so we always have something for Kazarov to bite.

But those cards are plenty popular. Let's get into some underplayed cards that could use more notoriety!

The Needlers

First, let's look at some of the permanents that can repeatably ping opposing creatures. My favorite of them has to be Fire Ants (59 decks). I love the imagery here of unleashing a swarm of bitey Insects to pester other creatures. Plus, the fact that the Ants don't damage themselves is a huge bonus.

The first walking Pestilence to be printed, Thrashing Wumpus gives us exactly what we're looking for. It can function as a means to slowly ping creatures and build up Kazarov, but it can also be used to wipe the board should things begin to look hairy. It only sees play in 148 decks, but that number should be higher.

When working on this deck, I looked long and hard at creatures with protection from red and from black to help preserve the team while the rest of the board is soaking up all the untargeted damage. But I'll leave talk of protection to Elijah and his article today on Earnest Fellowship. Instead, I'll only bring up Subterranean Spirit. In just 35 decks, it's yet another wide pinger that, in this case, saves itself from all red damage.

I've talked about our next card in previous articles, and I'll continue to talk about it until its numbers increase from the paltry 20 decks that run it right now. Magmatic Core needs your love, folks! It's a wonderful card that, when played right, can function as a repeatable one-sided board wipe. It fits perfectly into what Kazarov is trying to do. Pitter patter!

With this deck not always wanting to deal lethal damage to opposing creatures (if they die, then Kazarov can't get bigger until more hit the battlefield), it's tough to find a deterrent to keep opposing creatures from attacking. Circle of Flame (281 decks) does a great job of that. It basically reads, "If you attack, Kazarov gets huge." Such a great deterrent.

Noxious Field plays much the same role as Fire Ants and Subterranean Spirit do, laying out a fine layer of single-point damage on everything. This Prophecy card only sees play in 65 decks, but it offers this damage-dealing deck some excellent redundancy. Plus, all this damage won't kill off the land it enchants, making this a reliable source of damage.

Damage Done

In addition to all of the options for repeatable damage sources, there are many instants and sorceries that help the cause, too. For instance, the recently printed Widespread Brutality is only seeing play in 104 decks, but it can cut a wide swath through each of the other creatures, making a token to boot. For me, this card feels undercosted for the ability, which is why I'm shocked it doesn't see more play.

Next up is Slice and Dice fromĀ Onslaught. While I'll rarely play it for the full six mana, the Cycling effect is a great way to grow Kazarov while replacing itself, and all at instant speed. It only sees play in 203 decks, but it's a critical inclusion in this deck.

Another card with built-in versatility, Wail of the Nim can save our board from a wipe or pump up our Vampire commander. Ideally, it's going to do both every time thanks to Entwine. Given its 111 deck count on the site, it is a bit of a niche effect, but I'm always looking for an excuse to play it, and I'm happy to have one here.

Moving into instants and sorceries also means that we can find options that only damage opposing creatures. For instance, Radiating Lightning throws some damage around on the opposing side of the field, both to a player and their creatures. It currently sees play in just 162 decks on EDHREC.

Instead of targeting a specific player, we could always try to hit everything, again at instant speed. For this, it doesn't get much better than anĀ Overloaded Electrickery. Appearing in 226 decks, this instant can be a great combat trick to jump an unblocked Kazarov to lethal quite unexpectedly.

The king of these damage spells for Kazarov has to be Cosmotronic Wave. Dealing damage across the board to opposing creatures AND ensuring that Kazarov is going to go unblocked is the dream! Sadly, it sees play in 316 decks, which is 16 too many decks to meet my super-scientific requirements. However, its cousin, Barrage of Boulders, clocks in at 173 decks, so I can talk about that instead! For one less mana, we see the same damage to all opposing creatures, with a Ferocious rider that prevents creatures form blocking. Kazaorv will definitely qualify for that rider!

Damage Utility

There are a few other cards that don't quite fit in under the categories above, but will still help get our Kazarov big and unblockable. The first of these is features an entire mechanic that's built around similar concept: Enrage fits this deck's theme quite well, turning minor bits of damage to our creatures into big effects. Frilled Deathspitter is a great prehistoric example of this, and sees play in only 286 decks. Adding on two extra damage to all these spells and effects is certainly going to add up over time.

With all this global damage floating around, it may become necessary to prevent that damage to one of our own utility creatures. Shield of the Realm (161 decks) can certainly help with that. This is one of those cards that I'm shocked doesn't see more play; it has such a wide variety of applications, and its usefulness in Equipment decks alone should have those numbers spiking.

There are other times, however, when you're going to want to make sure your damage gets through. For those moments, there's Unstable Footing, played in 119 decks on the site. I prefer this option over something like Everlasting Torment as I want to have control over when damage can and can't be dealt. Plus, Wither will lead to the death of opposing creatures. That being said, we don't want them dying, necessarily, just neutralized.

How about we snag a peek at the full decklist?

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
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Damage Assessment

That about does it for Kazarov and his mighty damage-makers. What did you think of the article? Any questions, comments, or snide remarks? If so, leave them in the comments below. I'll be down there to rant and rave yet again about Magmatic Core, or about how I included Dragon Shadow in this deck, but failed to talk about it in the article. Are there any neglected commanders or cards you'd like me to talk about? So long as they see play in 300 decks or less on the site, I'm game to write about them. See you next time!

Midwest transplant to the Pacific Northwest, Kyle has been playing the jankiest of decks for nearly 20 years. He loves non-lethal combos, obscure deck themes, Cloudstone Curio, and winning with Coalition Victory. When he's not tapping lands or brewing decks, Kyle is enjoying his other ridiculously expensive hobby: building with Lego.

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