The Scoop: Casual Contemplation – Zada’s Garrison

It’s been a lot of fun grinding out a decklist around Zada, Hedron Grinder that delivers all sorts of shenanigans. I’m not a fan of Goblins in general, unless I’m feeding them to my Jund Dragons EDH deck, but this little scamp was too much fun to pass up. Zada is definitely my favorite goblin card out there because it can be exploited outside of traditional goblin decks while also being a welcomed addition in most tribal goblin combinations. In this case, I’ve focused on Zada’s ability to copy buff spells to exploit armies created by Hanweir Garrison and Young Pyromancer.

Zada, Hedron Grinder

It is important to note that Zada does have limitations due to the copy rules of Magic. When you copy a spell, it isn’t cast in the conventional sense, therefore abilities that trigger from cast cards, like Heroic, don’t work here with Zada. So, the deck is focused around producing tokens and buffing the tokens through Zada.


  • Creatures
    • Zada, Hedron Grinder x4
    • Young Pyromancer x4
    • Hanweir Garrison x4
  • Instants and Sorceries
    • Infernal Plunge x3
    • Pyretic Ritual x3
    • Soul’s Fire x2
    • Tail Slash x2
    • Shelter x3
    • Gods Willing x3
    • Titan’s Strength x3
    • Defiant Strike x3
    • Rush of Adrenaline x1
    • Temur Battle Rage x1
    • Aerial Maneuver x1
    • Boros Charm x1
  • Lands
    • Hanweir Battlements x4
    • Boros Guildgate x4
    • Plains x7
    • Mountain x7

This deck is all about playing instants and sorceries to feed Zada and the army-building Young Pyromancer and Hanweir Garrison. Infernal Plunge and Pyretic Ritual help get a head start on Zada and building instant and sorcery combos. Shelter, Defiant Strike, Gods Willing, and Titan’s Strength cycle the deck and keep your hand full with the right cards while also supporting the army. Soul’s Fire and Tail Slash give direct damage options, and a handful of 1-of’s provide some versatility.

Zada and Young Pyromancer speak for themselves in this deck. It is worth noting that while Young Pyromancer is an obvious inclusion in a deck like this, its ability doesn’t trigger from Zada’s copies. Still, there are plenty of instants and sorceries to go around for creating 1/1 elemental creature tokens. Hanweir Garrison is used to provide more army pawns for Zada. Garrison also provides a late-game boost when melded with Hanweir Battlements to create a powerful Eldrazi called Hanweir, the Writhing Township. This melded monstrosity is essentially a buffed version of Garrison, so it retains the benefits and cohesion with the deck’s goals.

Ideal Scenario

  • Turn 1: (Mountain)
  • Turn 2: (Mountain) Young Pyromancer
  • Turn 3: (Plains) Pyretic Ritual, etb 1/1 elemental token, Hanweir Garrison
  • Turn 4: Infernal Plunge, sack 1/1 elemental token, etb 1/1 elemental token, Zada, attack with Hanweir Garrison, etb 2 1/1 human tokens, target Zada with Shelter, all creatures gain protection from the chosen color, etb 1/1 elemental token, draw 6 cards, swing for 4
  • Turn 5: (Mountain) Target Zada with Gods Willing, etb 1/1 elemental token, scry once x7, all creatures have protection from the chosen color, Pyretic Ritual, etb 1/1 elemental token, target Zada with Titan’s Strength, etb 1/1 elemental token, scry once x8, target Zada with Tail Slash, 40 direct damage

Despite the low CMC of many of the cards, the deck has the potential to be fairly slow to get going because of the sporadic nature of the deck. Pyretic Ritual can help speed things up a bit, but the truly effective play is Infernal Plunge with Young Pyromancer to negate the sacrificial cost and use the increased mana pool to cast Zada early and/or play a chunk of instants/sorceries.

The diverse set of instants and sorceries is a blessing and a curse. They offer answers to a lot of situations, but dilute consistency and reliability game-to-game.

Like many of my casual conventions, this deck is designed for cohesion that can take several turns to build up. Unlike some of the other decks, this one does have options (though not ideal) for dealing with early game aggro, and houses enough answers for mid-game and control. The disadvantage is in its inconsistency and reliability on all sets of its creatures to be present early and often.


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