Conditions Allow – Hazoret the Fervent

(Hazoret the Fervent | Art by Chase Stone)

Fervently Building

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Conditions Allow. In this column I consider legendary creatures with drawbacks and turn them into powerful advantages. This week, I’m building around Hazoret the Fervent.

Hazoret is an aggressively-costed creature: for only four mana, Hazoret has five power and is indestructible, meaning she can attack with impunity and trade up against some of the highest-ranked commanders on EDHREC. However, Hazoret cannot attack or block unless we have one card or no cards in our hand, also called ‘Hellbent.’ This isn’t actually that difficult to achieve, since red naturally struggles with replacing cards in your hand. With an aggressive curve, you should naturally be out, or nearly out, of cards by the time you cast Hazoret. 

This is why Hazoret the Fervent’s EDHREC page is full of cards like Avaricious Dragon and Ghirapur Orrery. Both of these cards let you draw additional cards during your turn and then help empty your hand before the turn is over. This lets you use Hazoret for defense while moving towards a win with powerful damage effects like Pyrohemia and Heartless Hidetsugu. This makes for a deck with explosive potential, but an indistinct decklist. Many of the cards on Hazoret’s page could go in any red deck, and most of the High Synergy cards don’t do much but empty your hand. 

Cards Out of Hand

Of course, this may seem like a necessity in order to build a functioning deck. Like I said before, we need to see more than one card a turn in order to stay in the game. Luckily for us, we can do this without actually needing to draw those cards. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser is the perfect card for a Hazoret deck. Each creature we control that deals combat damage will get us a card to cast. Since those cards are exiled, we are still free to attack and block with Hazoret.

There are actually a surprising number of effects like this. One-time spells like Commune with Lava and Light Up the Stage give us access to cards throughout the turn cycle, while Outpost Siege and Chandra, Fire Artisan give us a card with a more limited window of availability. Another great source of card advantage is Experimental Frenzy. Being able to cast spells from the top of our deck can give us a lot of reach, and the downside of this enchantment doesn’t really affect us. 

Grenzo is the version of this effect that pairs best with our commander. Attacking with Hazoret the Fervent will give us more cards to cast, or prevents our opponents from retaliating. Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider both put out extra creatures for extra triggers. Bomat Courier also appears on Grenzo’s page, a great early attacker and another source of card advantage that doesn’t clutter our hand. 

If we’re going to rely on small creatures to deal damage, we’re going to want ways to make them difficult to block. Break Through the Line gives our smaller bodies unblockable, while Dolmen Gate and Eldrazi Monument simply prevent combat damage from being a deterrent. Bedlam offers the simplest solution by preventing all creatures from blocking. War Cadence is a reverse Propaganda, putting a heavy tax on any attempts to block for a turn. Finally, Key to the City offers unblockable for the cost of discarding a card. For Hazoret, this can be an upside to empty our hand, especially when Experimental Frenzy won’t let us cast spells stuck there.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Even with a steady stream of cards from all our exile effects, we are going to want to be able to reuse resources from the graveyard. This is where both Feldon of the Third Path and Daretti, Scrap Savant come in: even though these two cards target very different permanents for reanimation, both Feldon’s and Daretti’s EDHREC pages are dominated by big spells that they aim to cheat onto the field through the graveyard.

That being said, we’re going to use them in a slightly different way, one that synergizes both with Hazoret and Grenzo’s inherently aggressive nature. I’ve already mentioned Bomat Courier, which is joined by Arcbound Ravager, Filigree Familiar, and Hope of Ghirapur. These artifact creatures can be targeted by both Feldon and Daretti, and work with our evasion engines to deal constant damage to our opponents. 

Additionally, by continually cycling Filigree Familiar or Hope of Ghirapur back to the field, we can continually get the benefit of extra life, cards, and safety from Cyclonic Rift. To make this easier, and to keep gaining benefit from Modular triggers, we can include Scrap Trawler and Myr Retriever; these will keep our small artifact creatures returning to our hand where we can easily recast them.

To ensure that we always have a target for these effects, I’m including both Ornithopter and Memnite as well. On their own, these creatures aren’t impressive attackers, but they are great candidates to pick up +1/+1 counters from the Arcbound creatures in the deck. They are also free sacrifice fodder for our effects that recycle artifacts.

Speaking of recycling, this is a perfect deck for Goblin Engineer and Goblin Welder. These both offer additional ways to get cards out of our graveyard. Goblin Engineer can even search for the perfect artifact to save away for later. Scrap Mastery is a mass revival effect that can easily put us in a dominant position later in the game as well. Lastly, in order to make the most of effects that swap one artifact for another, Krark-Clan Ironworks and Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer will let us get Modular triggers when we need to, as well as allowing us to dodge effects that exile our key artifacts.

Dodge Left, Dodge Right

Speaking of dodging, we will want some way to mitigate damage coming our way. Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs discourages attacks against us, and potentially generates extra bodies if the tokens survive. While 3/3’s aren’t super impressive, they’re not anything to ignore either. Additionally, we can also use Grenzo, Havoc Raiser’s ability to goad our opponent’s creatures. Not only will this stop creatures from attacking us, it will force them to attack our opponents, doing a little of our work for us. Disrupt Decorum is worth including for the same reason. 

The only other defense we can mount is a strong offense. We already have plenty of ways to create tokens, and a few ways to ensure we can always deal damage with them. Throne of the God-Pharaoh complements the damage we’re dealing from combat by making our opponents lose life based on the number of creatures that turned sideways during combat. It also has the added benefit of being cheap to cast and easily retrieved from the graveyard if it is destroyed. 

With all this advice from three other commanders, it shouldn’t be difficult to throw together a deck. Add in some ramp, utility lands, and a couple more conventional sources of draw, and we have a deck.

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This deck strays deliberately into ground most Commander decks avoid. Trying to win with small, aggressive creatures is difficult against three players, especially in a format that quite often sees fields full of 4/4s, 5/5s, or even 7/7s. Hazoret the Fervent helps even the odds a little, especially if you opt to include Pyrohemia and other such effects.

As I’ve said before, I do like playing decks of this style because of the impact they have on a game. Many players aren’t used to their life totals being pressured in the first few turns, which can be enough to snag a narrow victory from sheer surprise factor alone. Even once the surprise wears off, an aggressive deck will force the game to move faster as the other players struggle to equalize. Plus, once some larger creatures are out, Modular triggers from the Arcbound creatures in the deck should help create some larger threats of our own. 

What do you think? Is it good to have an aggressive deck at the table, or is this strategy just not worth it? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.