As more and more Murders at Karlov Manor have become available, it’s clear that there are a ton of intriguing legends to build around within the set. Teysa, Opulent Oligarch provides a consistent flow of card advantage and board presence, making it a nice Commander option. Delney, Streetwise Lookout doubles all your triggered abilities among your small Creatures, making it an excellent card to build around.
These legends are certainly strong and look like a blast to play with, but it appears we may have an even more impactful general on our hands now. We knew going in thanks to head designer Mark Rosewater’s set teaser that a Mole God would be making an appearance. What we didn’t know, though, was that it would be one of the most enticing Commander cards in the set thus far.Anzrag, the Quake-Mole is an enormous Creature for only four mana. Thanks to its ability to grant you extra combat steps, it’s nearly impossible to chump block in an effective manner. This alone makes it a powerful card at first glance. However, this is just scratching the surface, and there are plenty of ways to abuse its abilities.
Forcing Extra Combat Steps
Right off the bat, for four mana, you get an 8/4 that provides you with an additional combat step if it is blocked. If you can get to seven mana, you can then force the opponent to block Anzrag each combat if able. What’s very strange about this card in relation to typical modern card design, however, is that you technically aren’t limited to only one additional combat per turn. There is nothing that states that “this ability triggers only once each turn,” for instance.
This means that as long as Anzrag survives combat and gets blocked, you will get to attack again. As such, ways to give Anzrag Indestructible are a must. Mithril Coat and Darksteel Plate, for example, make sure that Anzrag won’t die in combat. Now, in a multiplayer Commander game, you can start by activating Anzrag’s seven-mana ability, and the opponent you attack with Anzrag will essentially be forced to block with every Creature they have.
If they only block with one Creature, you will simply get to untap Anzrag, attack again, and force another opposing Creature to block it. Once the first opponent runs out of Creatures to block Anzrag, you simply attack the next player in succession, letting Anzrag act as a Gruul Plague Wind. The only downside is that Anzrag can’t remove opposing Creatures that are unable to block it, so your opponents are likely incentivized to attack you with a bunch of Creatures so that they are tapped and unable to block Anzrag during your turn.
Fortunately, now you can add in cards like Benefactor’s Draught that can untap your opponent’s Creatures and further reward you with card advantage whenever those Creatures block. Obviously, it’s in your opponents’ best interests to avoid letting Anzrag ever gain Indestructible as a result. It also can take a lot of mana input from your side to cast Anzrag, give it Indestructible, and activate its ability. In this sense, you may want to consider adding cards like Grappling Hook into the mix that provide cheaper alternatives to activating Anzrag’s seven-mana ability.
Different Ways to Maximize Anzrag’s Power
It should be noted that as strong as the scenarios described above can be, they aren’t always guaranteed to work. Your opponents may be able to simply bounce or exile Anzrag, for instance, and keep you off-balance. As such, it’s important to be able to use Anzrag in other ways and not rely entirely on winning the game all at once.
What’s nice is that, even if Anzrag attacks and trades off in combat, you still get to untap all of your other Creatures and gain an additional combat phase. Therefore, cards that allow you to create a wide battlefield go up in value quite a bit. Windswift Slice is a perfect inclusion, as it lets you take advantage of Anzrag’s massive stats and potentially create a bunch of tokens.
Speaking of ways to maximize Anzrag’s pushed stat line, cards like Greater Good and Life’s Legacy provide a completely different angle for you to pull ahead, this time on cards. The Great Henge and The Skullspore Nexus become cheap bombs with Anzrag in the mix.
Even if you choose not to utilize Anzrag in your Command Zone, there are plenty of Gruul-based Commanders that work well with Anzrag. Perhaps none synergize better than Neyith of the Dire Hunt. Neyith draws you cards when your Creatures become blocked and can force one of your other Creatures to become blocked each combat. Neyith’s triggered ability works perfectly with extra combat steps, too, making Anzrag almost an automatic inclusion in a Neyith deck.
It should also be noted that Anzrag has some potential outside of EDH based on its efficiency. While it is vulnerable to removal spells, it hits hard and is extremely difficult to block profitably. Likely the best current home for Anzrag is in Pioneer Gruul midrange. The synergy between Reckless Stormseeker and Anzrag is undeniable. First of all, Stormseeker gives Anzrag Haste, letting you attack for nine damage at minimum the turn you play it. If it’s Night, you can even give Anzrag Trample.
The immense clock Anzrag provides in short order can potentially help Gruul midrange decks have a better chance of racing combo decks like Lotus Field combo, and the extra combat steps can help break board stalls against decks like Boros Convoke. This deck already plays an elite four-drop in Esika’s Chariot, so it’s unclear how much of an impact Anzrag will make on the archetype, but it’s certainly something to monitor.
These Karlov Manor legends are not messing around. Anzrag is an absurdly powerful card that hits hard and offers massive upside. All praise the Mole God!