When Ravnica first came out, this guy was
exciting because of his potential, but he was
very hard to use properly. So few creatures have
activated abilities that can be meaningfully
grafted onto another creature. Most of the ones
that do, it's because they're tap abilities (and
giving it to Kraj means a second usage) or they
specifically reference "this creature" (usually
because they're sacrifice abilities). The best
choices were Simic Ragworm, allowing you to
machine-gun +1/+1 counters onto all your
creatures, or maybe a creature that regenerates.
Besides, the first Simic block was full of
Graft, so they were kind of already sharing
their activated abilities anyway.
This all changed one Commander became a format.
Suddenly, you could literally build a deck
around Kraj, and not have to worry about drawing
Kraj because he starts the game in a zone he can
be cast from, but not discarded from. Even
better, you weren't restricted to a Standard
card pool-- anything green or blue ever printed
was fair game!
My own Experiment Kraj deck is probably my
favorite Commander deck of them all, and not
because it has the best win ratio. I added Simic
Ragworm and Horseshoe Crab, of course, but also
all the creatures I could from Shadowmoor block
with the "untap" symbol. Even humble Pili-Pala
lets you machine-gun +1/+1 counters, and it's a
solid target for them thanks to its flying.
Knacksaw Clique costs more to exploit, but
occasionally you steal something sweet with it.
River Boa and Cudgel Troll help protect Kraj
almost as well as Plaxcaster Frogling does, and
if neither of them are around, Transmogrifying
Licid lets Kraj counter kill spells by not being
a creature when they try to resolve-- hilarious
when your opponent realizes how it works. Aerie
Ouphes and Biting Tether are significantly
stronger thanks to +1/+1 counters cancelling out
-1/-1 counters, but that rule makes it a lot
harder to give Kraj a copy of Leech Bonder's
ability. Myr Welder isn't there to copy any
specific ability, except perhaps to reuse a dead
Pili-Pala, Licid, or Contagion Clasp, but
sometimes I'm able to assimilate something from
my artifact-loving opponents. Simic Keyrune is a
good mana rock that can also protect Kraj... by
turning into a 2/3 Crab with hexproof and then
getting a +1/+1 counter, thereby giving Kraj the
ability to turn into a 2/3 Crab with hexproof.
That's another combo that only works because
your opponent won't notice it's there.
As for actually winning? Well, there's several
infinite mana combos in the deck. Bloom Tender
and Ragworm are obvious, but less obvious is
replacing Bloom Tender with Spike Tiller and
Simic Growth Chamber. Trouble is, that's only
infinite GREEN mana, and the only cards I have
that could productively use infinite mana are
Sphinx of Magosi, Zameck Guildmage, and possibly
Knacksaw Clique. If I've got Bloom Tender and
Knacksaw, that's infinite milling. Gilder Bairn
doesn't go infinite, but he does turn just about
every card in my deck into a win. There's the
"boring" method of piling enough +1/+1 counters
onto flying creatures that I can swing for a
finite but lethal amount of damage. Even on a
bad day I can usually tap Kraj three or four
times a turn, and that's usually because I'm
using Merrow Wavebreakers as the untap engine.
But the reason this deck is so much fun is that
I usually have a game-winning combo on the board
for several turns before anyone, myself
included, notices it. That's because it usually
involves using Myr Welder or Spike Tiller to
steal an ability that was never meant for a
creature, or it involves one of my opponents'
creatures, whose abilities I can steal by
putting +1/+1 counters onto it. In that respect,
Kraj almost plays like a "group hug" deck. I
often put +1/+1 counters onto other people's
creatures and exile as many cards as I can with
Myr Welder even if I don't yet know why I want
their abilities, but I rarely regret it and I
always enjoy seeing how many abilities I can
solder onto this pile of ooze.
In an infinite multiverse, Experiment Kraj is
still truly unique. And while competitive Magic
doesn't always go for that, Kraj shines in
multiplayer formats. Take that ability of his
and multiply it by the activated abilities in
decks and by the number of players . . . well,
if you weren't ahead before, you will be soon.
And considering that every set has activated
abilities, I think there may come a time when
Kraj is statistically the best creature in
Magic. Oh, plus you can use him to strengthen
your own creatures, or steal things with Simic
Manipulator faster than usual, or go nuts with
Oona's Blackguard or Rage Forger. Ridiculous!
Today's card of the day is Experiment Kraj
which is a six mana Green and Blue 4/6 Legendary
that has all activated abilities of creatures
+1/+1 counter and taps to put a +1/+1 counter on
target creature. This
is a very powerful card in Multiplayer settings
and Commander where it has time to build up and
collect activated abilities, particularly in a
deck themed to have other sources of +1/+1
For a Limited format with this it is not just
a stalemate ending card, but one that can turn a
stalemate into an overwhelming victory. The
higher cost and dual colors prevents easy
splashing, but in a Simic build this is a great
first pick in Booster or Sealed for the top of
the mana curve.
This card is experimental all right.
Experimental in the sense that you want to
experiment around with it to find the best and
craziest combos you can make.
Even if you just look at the stats of the
creature itself, it's not too shabby. 6 mana for
a 4/6 is not too bad for a body, although the
colour requirements are pretty intensive. But
that's ok, you're really only going to play this
in blue/green anyway. Even without crazy combos,
putting a +1/+1 counter on a creature each turn
can be useful in limited, even if too slow for
most other formats. Simic certainly does love
it's +1/+1 counters.
But you didn't play Experimental Kraj for a
mediocre body and you didn't play it for a mere
+1/+1 counter per turn. No, you played it to
steal some cool activated abilities and go nuts
with them! Note, activated abilities only. That
means they need to have a : in them to indicate
a cost and an effect. Something like "Tap: Deal
1 damage." or "3UU: Draw a card." You won't gain
keywords like flying and hexproof, or triggered
abilities like "When X enters the
battlefield..." and all that.
So with that in mind, let's get our science
on and see what experiments our Kraj friend here
can really do.
A great card to combo him with is Gilder
Bairn. You want to get an untap ability of some
kind onto the Kraj for all sorts of shenanigans,
and this one is better than most because it's in
the right colours and actually combos incredibly
well with all those +1/+1 counters you're
throwing around. Cytoplast Manipulator is
another card with a fun ability for the Kraj to
steal. With just 4 mana you could put a +1/+1
counter on your opponent's creatures, untap to
double them, and then steal said creature over
to your side. Heck if you had enough mana, you
could do that to every creature on the
opponent's side of the field in the same turn.
There's also a very simple infinite mana
combo you could do with Pila-Pala and something
like Elvish Abberation or Viridian Joiner or
heck even Fyndhorn Elder. And if you just want
something direct like spending a bunch of blue
mana to add a ton of +1/+1 counters to all of
your creatures and make an unstoppable army,
then you can give Experimental Kraj an even
easier untap ability by taking one from
Horseshoe Crab or Simic Ragworm or Soliton.
There are many, many more fun activated
abilities you could find and have Experimental
Kraj absorb for lots of good times. Dozens.
Hundreds. Abilities that create tokens,
abilities that deal damage, abilities that draw
cards, abilities that gain life. You could even
find some elaborate way to turn noncreature
permanents into creatures and then absorb their
activated abilities as well.
The very point of Experimental Kraj is indeed
to experiment. To imagine the possibilities. See
where it takes you.