Welcome back to another edition of A Seat at the Table. With people receiving their Street Fighter Secret Lairs, I thought it’d be fun to pick some of my favourite new designs brought to us in this release.
This week, let’s talk about Zangief, the Red Cyclone. Time to serve up a suplex on our opponents with this novel Jund design. Textbox time!
For 2BRG, we get a 7/4 Human Warrior that says,
“Zangief, the Red Cyclone must be blocked if able.
Iron Muscle — As long as it’s your turn, Zangief has indestructible.
Spinning Piledriver — Whenever Zangief deals damage to a creature, if that creature was dealt excess damage this turn, that creature’s controller sacrifices a noncreature, nonland permanent.”
That! Is! SPICY!
A Lure effect stapled onto a creature who is indestructible on your turn makes this aggro beefcake a death lover’s dream. Excess damage dealt to creatures by the Lariat Lord himself causes that creature’s controller to sacrifice important permanent. Here’s a list of cards I think would be really great in a Zangief, the Red Cyclone decks.
The concept of excess damage is pretty simple: is it more than necessary to kill the creature? Congratulations – it’s excess damage! How much damage does it take to kill a creature when you’re in combat and your creature has deathtouch? Just one.
Zangief hits for seven and the Collar gains you that life and guarantees excess damage even when an opponent has Desolation Twins out.
Nylea, God of the Hunt and Brawn and Archetype of Aggression are excellent ways to give your big Russian wrestler trample so you can make use of that excess damage and hit your opponents. Trample and deathtouch means you’ll hit a creature for one damage and your opponent for at least six.
These are great ways to give your opponents creatures for you to swing into and they’re tiny, so you’ll be stomping away and having your opponents sacrifice their artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers.
Forbidden Orchard is an incredible land and serves a great purpose here. Grismold gets pretty beefy as tokens die, so you get another beater in the ring. Infernal Genesis is an old card I’ve always loved. I think it fits well here. It’s slow mill, but puts a done of little guys on the field.
This equipment is perfect. Attach it to Chief Gief and any blocker your opponents have becomes a creature wipe, and more than likely also will wipe out a bunch of other noncreature, nonland permanents they control. Not to mention the +1/+0 ability can potentially close out a game or push over the edge if you need to hit the “excess damage” requirement.
Chandra’s Ignition is one of my favourite board wipes for any deck with one important creature. Let’s also not ignore that using this while you have other creatures in play also means that if they take excess damage, you’ll also need to sacrifice nonland, noncreature permanents for each one. This is why I’ve avoided putting creatures on this list.
Fiendlash is one of my favourite new pieces of equipment. Boosting your commander up by two puts you over the edge for excess damage, but the real fun is that because Zangief needs to be blocked, you’ll be dealing nine damage to a player or planeswalker of your choice. Let’s not forget Pyrohemia or Pestilence or Pestilence Demon, which turn your single mana payments into a nine damage Gatling gun. And as long as it’s your turn, you don’t even need to worry about Zangief’s 4 toughness. Maybe Zangief is the perfect Brash Taunter tribal commander for Jund (we know the best one for Jeskai is Sevinne, the Chronoclasm, of course).
Hear me out. Thornbite Staff, we know, is an absolute house for combos. Burning Anger is a great way to get Zangief to throw around damage and kill other creatures. Of course, fight and bite spells like Rabid Bite, Prizefight and Clear Shot – they all allow you to throw some damage around without the combat step. And they are still not creatures!
Fine! Here are some creatures. The Tracker allows you to force a fight between Zangief and another creature at instant speed and again allow you to get excess damage outside the combat step.
Neyith draws you a card whenever you fight, but also whenever a creature you control is blocked, you also draw a card. Zangief must be blocked when he attacks. So you get to draw a card when you swing, for sure. Neyith can also double Zangief’s power for a Street Fighter Alpha strike. I really love Neyith, but haven’t found a spot for it myself. Maybe it’s time to try her out in my Grand Warlord Radha deck.
Honorable Mention – Vicious Shadows
Zangief is going to be killing so many creatures. You’ve got to have some sort of payoff. Vicious Shadows is one of my favourite aristocrats tools and I think it’s perfect for here. So many creatures dying mean lots of damage for your opponents as long as their hands are full.
And that does it for another edition of A Seat at the Table. I’ll be back next time with more Street Fighters, or maybe if we get more Dominaria United spoilers, I’ll have a whole new legend to knock out for you!