Commander Focus – Zabaz, or: LA+R+BO+DU RO+MO+S

Modern Horizons 2 wasn’t exactly a timeshifted set, but it wasn’t exactly not timeshifted, either. A number of mechanics were revisited that haven’t been used in a while, and among them was Modular. Modular hasn’t really seen much use since its inception; it was part of the Mirrodin block, which was a famously high-powered block and included two synergistic effects – Affinity and Modular. Affinity still shows up from time to time, and is usually – but not always – associated with artifacts. Artifacts making other artifacts cheaper can get quite dangerous quickly, especially when you have artifact lands in the mix. Modular is a +1/+1 counter ability, from the comprehensive rules.

702.43. Modular

702.43a Modular represents both a static ability and a triggered ability. “Modular N” means “This permanent enters the battlefield with N +1/+1 counters on it” and “When this permanent is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may put a +1/+1 counter on target artifact creature for each +1/+1 counter on this permanent.”

702.43b If a creature has multiple instances of modular, each one works separately.

This is both a triggered and a static ability, and it’s important to understand when it’s which. The enters-the-battlefield-with aspect is static; it’s not affected by things that affect triggered abilities. For example, if someone has a Torpor Orb in play, your modular creatures will still enter with +1/+1 counters. It’s the goes-to-the-graveyard ability that is a triggered ability.

This brings up a relatively important card from Modern Horizons 2:

Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp, credit Wizards of the Coast

Zabaz both has Modular and adds one more +1/+1 counter whenever a modular ability triggers but specifically, entering play with +1/+1 counters isn’t triggered. So Zabaz is normally a 0/0 with a +1/+1 counter. Thankfully it can easily grow.


Building Around Zabaz

Aside from Modular, this deck has a couple of sub-themes, one is equipment, and one is Boros reanimation. There’ve been a number of Boros cards that return creatures, often as dying triggers or when triggers rather than the straight reanimation effects of black, though white has its fair share of straight-up resurrection effects, these effects are mostly expensive and meant for targeting huge creatures.  In the case of Boros reanimation it seems targeted around small value creatures, generally speaking.

In any case, the reanimation effects include:

And mass reanimation in the form of

This means you can pretty freely sacrifice your artifacts to get various benefits, such as distributing their +1/+1 tokens via Modular.

One of the most important cards to tutor for in the deck is Skullclamp, and this should be the primary target of your Urza’s Saga, Enlightened Tutor, or Goblin Engineer.

The basic game plan for the deck is to rush out your commander, since Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp costs 1 colorless mana, you ought to be able to get it out on the curve, and then look for one of your value engines. Once you have a couple of modular creatures in play and some kind of utility try to set up a loop to pump up Zabaz, and use commander damage to take people out of the game. Embercleave and Halvar, God of Battle can give double strike, getting up to 10 modular counters shouldn’t be terribly difficult and there are a number of haste sources.

If the game goes long look for an opportunity to get a wide board state then sac all your creatures and return them with a mass reanimation effect for a load of +1/+1 counters.

There’s a heft sideboard included for ways to make the deck more competitive. One of the most obvious is to turn it into a control shell for resolving the Heliod, Sun-Crowned + Walking Ballista combo, but I think this combo is pretty well established and the stax deck that already exists to support it is pretty obviously more competitive, going infinite so easily with a 0 cost artifact and an indestructible god. There’s also the opportunity to push the go wide sacrifice theme by including cards like Gerard, Weatherlight Hero, Roar of Reclamation and Wake the Past.


The Deck


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