Lazav, Wearer of Faces – Murders at Karlov Manor
Date Reviewed: January 24, 2024
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Back we go to Ravnica for a murder mystery, and who better to help work on it than someone who can look like anyone? Murders at Karlov Manor is a mystery-centered set, full of clues and detectives, and it looks lie Lazav is back to help solve some things.
Lazav, Wearer of Faces is actually a rather interesting creature, a combat-centric Dimir legend who can provide a bit of graveyard hate or trickery. At face value, a two-mana 2/3 that “draws” you a card each attack is pretty reasonable, with the caveat that you need to exile a card to get the clue. The exiled card needn’t be a creature, though, and it’s possible for him to just keep swinging. But if you do exile a creature, you can have Lazav borrow its face for a turn after you crack a clue. That gives him some interesting flexibility, and it means that he can punch above his weight even in a later game.
I do think Lazav is pretty solid. He’s not protected, but he does have decent combat stats for a color pair that sometimes has dismal combat prospects, and he effectively draws you cards in a way that fuels a lot of the shenanigans of the set. I think he’ll have some Constructed legs, but his skillset might be tricky to put together.
Limited: 4.5 (drop him early, and he can run away with a game)
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
Even after about a dozen Ravnica sets, Lazav remains one of the plane’s most interesting and enigmatic figures. He (she? they? something else?) was introduced in the Return to Ravnica block, and I was pleased to see that they leaned into the idea that you don’t really know a shapeshifter’s true form. Each time Lazav has had a card, he’s looked like a hooded humanoid, but they’ve suggested that he uses other forms at least as much – and even, once, hinted that he might be a dragon.
This time around, Lazav brings an interesting combat-centric twist on the reanimator mechanic. I like that he targets any graveyard, which helps him a lot in Commander but also more generally: one of the top ways to deal with opponents’ difficult creatures has always been to turn them to your side somehow. To keep using him, you’ll need to ensure he survives in combat, which is not trivial but possible for his colors. And I also like that he triggers when you sacrifice a Clue for reasons other than investigating – it adds up to quite a bit of extra flexibility for decks that have the ability to do that.
You’ve likely also noticed that a lot of cube designers put a reanimator or graveyard theme in blue and black, where the default is to reach for degenerate cards like Frantic Search and Life/Death. Lazav might suggest an angle for that theme that plays differently, perhaps more interestingly and with less linearity, and interacts better with creature-based mechanics. Honestly, he’s just a really interesting card all around.
Commander [EDH]: 4
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