How Magic Cards work
Lazav, the Multifarious

Lazav, the Multifarious Russian

Last Modified 17.04.2021

Lazav, the Multifarious becomes a copy of target creature card in your graveyard, except its name is Lazav, the Multifarious. This is what brings all the questions. Can Lazav’s ability be activated if he has copied Siren Stormtamer? If Lazav has copied Etrata does it mean that he should be shuffled into the owner’s library? What if he copies another creature in response to the trigger? All the answers to the questions above and all Surveil’s secrets will be revealed in this article.

Lazav, the Multifarious

Oracle Text:

Legendary Creature — Shapeshifter

When Lazav, the Multifarious enters the battlefield, surveil 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put it into your graveyard.)

X: Lazav, the Multifarious becomes a copy of target creature card in your graveyard with mana value X, except its name is Lazav, the Multifarious, it´s legendary in addition to its other types, and it has this ability.

Clones are always interesting. We have already met Phyrexian Metamorph, who becomes a copy when he enters the battlefield, just like the majority of clones. However, Lazav, the Multifarious becomes a copy when he is already on the battlefield. That is what changes some of his behaviour. Besides that, Lazav leaves his name when he copies something, therefore, we are curious about abilities where the card’s name is mentioned.

When Lazav’s ability can be activated?

Lazav’s second ability is an activated ability — a colon in its text defines that. You can activate it any time when you have a priority: for example, you can declare Lazav attacking and transform it into another creature after blocks have been declared. That transformation can be very useful for you and unpleasant for an opponent. Another common situation for Lazav’s activation is in response to any opponent’s actions, which targets Lazav. Lazav suddenly swaps the suit and opponent will not get the result they were expecting.

Cunning opponent can prevent activating Lazav’s abilities if they apply restricting effects.


For instance, if Lazav, the Multifarious is enchanted with Demotion his ability cannot be activated.

Ground Seal

Ground Seal disallows to target cards in the graveyard; therefore, you cannot activate Lazav’s ability.

How X is defined in Lazav’s ability?

According to the rules, first of all when we activate abilities we define (X) in its cost and then we chose targets. In real game, you are probably going to do it otherwise. I.e. firstly, you will choose a card as a target, then define its mana cost and using that information define X.

Lazav’s ability targets a creature card on its owner’s graveyard. Everything is simple: we look at the card’s mana cost and count how much mana is there.

Chamber Sentry

X always counts as 0, because the cars is in the graveyard.

Dryad Arbor

Dryad Arbor does not have mana cost; thus, its mana cost is equal 0.

Moltensteel Dragon

mana value of Moltensteel Dragon is equal 6. No, you cannot pay life for Lazav’s ability.

Reducing or increasing a cost of the creature spell does not affect card’s mana value. Only effects, that change a cost of activated abilities are able to increase or reduce Lazav’s activating cost.

Training Grounds

Training Grounds will reduce Lazav’s activated ability cost up to {2}.

Krallenhorde Howler

On the other side, Krallenhorde Howler does not affect Lazav’s activated ability cost.

Some cards cannot be targets for Lazav’s ability for obvious reasons.

Inkmoth Nexus

Inkmoth Nexus is not a creature card; thus, we cannot choose it as a target of Lazav’s ability.

Smugglers Copter

We have the same situation with vehicles. It is an artefact card on the graveyard, not a creature.

Kruphix, God of Horizons

When Theros Gods are actually creature cards on the graveyard, despite your Devotion to colours.

Boon Satyr

Cards with Bestow in a graveyard – are the creature cards. You can easily choose them as Lazav’s ability targets.

Can Lazav copy creature cards with a protection?

As everyone already knows, protection works only on the battlefield, therefore, you can copy cards with protection from black, protection from creatures, well, with protection from everything. According to the above, nothing will stop you from copying cards with a shroud as well.


Lazav’s ability targets, so the legality will be checked twice: when you are activating it and when it resolves.

If a target card has left a graveyard Lazav’s ability will not resolve and he will not become a copy.


Obviously, if Lazav will not become a copy of target card if a cunning opponent will cancel its activated ability. Luckily, for Lazav-holders it is not simple to do that. There are a few spells, which can cancel abilities in general.

If Lazav’s ability has resolved, he became a copy of target creature, except its name remains Lazav, the Multifarious and it is legendary in addition to its other types, if target creature was not legendary.

First of all, we should pay attention to a fact, that name, ability to change and supertype legendary Lazav, the Multifarious gains because if copying effect. It means, that if any other clone will copy Lazav, who already wears someone-else's dress, will have Lazav’s ability, his name and his legendary supertype as well.

Dark Confidant

If Lazav has copied Dark Confidant, thus Clone, which came into the battlefield as Lazav’s copy, will be Legendary copy of Dark Confidant with a name Lazav, the Multifarious and with Lazav’s ability. If the same player controls both creatures, they have to decide which one will remain on the battlefield because of legend rule and put another creature to the graveyard.

«When it enters the battlefield» triggered-abilities

Lazav does not enters the battlefield as a copy (he was there already, he just changed his characteristics), therefore EtB-triggers of the copy will not work. Sometimes it is useful, but sometimes it is sad.

Phyrexian Dreadnought

Lazav will become a copy of Phyrexian Dreadnought just for 1 mana and there will be no drawback. Yay!

Banisher Priest

Copying Banisher Priest by Lazav you will not get EtB-trigger. Plaguy.

«When it enters the battlefield» abilities

True-Name Nemesis

Unfortunately, there is no place for static “EtB” abilities either.

Let's suppose, that Lazav, the Multifarious is copying True-Name Nemesis. He has not entered the battlefield as True-Name Nemesis, thus a player has not been chosen. In that case, second True-Name Nemesis ability simply does nothing.

By the way, If Lazav has been a copy of some creature that had an ability to choose a player and a player have been chosen; you cannot use that choice for True-Name Nemesis. The secret lies in linked abilities.

Does Lazav save all the counters?

From the game point of view, Lazav remains the same object; therefore, he will have all the counters and damage, marked on him. This is important, because Lazav can suddenly die due to SBA, which check lethal damage. Changing his toughness — is the fastest way to the graveyard. Loosing indestructible is annoying too, if Lazav has lethal damage marked on him.

What is happening to the aura, enchanted to Lazav?

What will happen with auras and equipments, attached to Lazav is up to characteristics, which Lazav will as a result of copying a creature. Some auras and equipments will not be able to hold on the change. Auras will go to the graveyard and equipments will remain on the battlefield unattached under their owner’s control. Gaining Hexproof or Shroud will not affect enchanted to Lazav objects, because aura-permanents and equipment-permanents does not target anything.

Runners Bane
Serra Avenger

For instance, Lazav, the Multifurious is enchanted by your Dub and opponent’s Runner’s Bane. If you make Lazav a copy of Serra Avenger, Runner’s Bane will fall off with a closest SBA and will go to the opponent’s graveyard. Dub remains on its place and will give bonus to Lazav (it is all about layers).

Abilities, using a card’s name

201.4 Text that refers to the object it’s on by name means just that particular object and not any other objects with that name, regardless of any name changes caused by game effects.

This simple rule tells us that if Lazav is copying any creature, that has an ability that refers to creature’s name, we can imagine “Lazav, the Multifarious” instead of its name.

Siren Stormtamer

Lazav, who become a copy of Siren Stormtamer, have an ability “U, Lazav, the Multifarious: Counter target spell...”. You can only sacrifice this Lazav, not something else.

Etrata, the Silencer

If Lazav, who become a copy of Etrata, the Silencer, has dealt combat damage, he has to be shuffled into the library when the trigger resolves, even if he has copied another creature.

Essence of the Wild

If you control Lazav, who become a copy of Essence of the Wild, all creatures under your control will enter the battlefield as a copy of this Lazav. They will be legendary and have the same name. Legend rule will come to claim their souls.

Pay attention to a fact that rule 201.4 only applicable in a case, when the object refers by itself to its name.

Gisela, the Broken Blade

In the text of Gisela, the Broken Blade’s trigger she refers to herself, but in Bruna’s case text refers as “a creature named Bruna, the Fading Light”, that means that it needs a creature actually named “Bruna, the Fading Light”. Anyway, Lazav does not get along with melting permanents, because despite a fact, that Lazav is wearing Gisela’s dress will suit for its trigger, cards could not melt and will remain exiled.

Linessa, Zephyr Mage

If you decide to activate Lazav, the Multifarious’s Grandeur, when he became a copy of Linessa, Zephyr Mage, you have to discard Linessa, Zephyr Mage, not a Lazav, the Multifarious.

Lazav, the Multifarious and double-faced cards

Lazav can become a copy of a day side only. Copying another side of a double-faced card is impossible. That is due to a fact, that game is able to see only day side.

Because Lazav is not a double-faced card, he is not able to transform.

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

When he becomes a copy of Nicol Bolas, the Ravanger, Lazav gains his ability. If you activate it Lazav, the Multifarious will be exiled and… will remain in exile.

A rule 711.8a tells us, that if a player is instructed to put a card that is not a double-faced card onto the battlefield transformed, that card stays in its current zone. For Lazav in a Bolas suit it is exile.

Lazav, the Multifarious and Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Azusa, Lost but Seeking

If you have copied your Azusa, Lost but Seeking with Lazav’s ability, you have an opportunity to play extra two lands on each of your turns.

Additional copying of Azusa by Lazav would not allow you to play extra lands.

This question is regulated by the rule

305.2a To determine whether a player can play a land, compare the number of lands the player can play this turn with the number of lands they have already played this turn (including lands played as special actions and lands played during the resolution of spells and abilities). If the number of lands the player can play is greater, the play is legal.

Lazav, the Multifarious and Yixlid Jailer

Yixlid Jailer

Effects, that affect card’s characteristics in a graveyard does not change their copies. Yixlid Jailer will not make Lazav useless: Lazav will get all the abilities he is supposed to get during his copying.

Lazav, the Multifarious has one more ability, which allows us to take a closer look into a new Surveil mechanic.


701.41a To “surveil N” means to look at the top N cards of your library, then put any number of them into your graveyard and the rest on top of your library in any order.

There is nothing new in this ability. It is very similar to Scry, except that cards that you do not want to have on top of your library you put any nuber of them into your graveyard instead of your library’s bottom.

If you have less cards in your library, than a number of cards you are supposed to surveil, you look at the all cards that are left in your library.

Notion Rain

When Notion Rain resolves you look at the top 2 cards of your library, then put any number of unwanted cards: 2, 1 or none into your graveyard and the rest (0, 1 or 2) on top of your library, then draw 2.

Mission Briefing

After Surveil 2 you can choose an instant or sorcery card in your graveyard, including those that you have just put into your graveyard during Sirveil.

Nexus of Fate

If during Surveil you put Nexus of Fate into your graveyard, it will be shuffled into your lirary ffirst, and only then you put chosen cards on top of your library.

Enhanced Surveillance

701.41b If an effect allows you to look at additional cards while you Surveil, those cards are included among the cards you may put into your graveyard and on top of your library in any order.

If you control Enhanced Surveillance and Lazav, the Multifarious enters the battlefield under your control, you will look and distribute 3 cards instead of 1 when his EtB-trigger resolves.

Abilities, which are being triggered “whenever you Surveil” works after you finish Surveiling, even if there are less cards in your library, than a number of cards you are supposed to Surveil. They will work even if you have no cards in your library.

Blood Operative

If during Surveil you put Blood Operative into your library, its trigger will work when you finish Surveiling. On a trigger’s resolution you can pay 3 life and return this Blood Operative to your hand.

Translated by Aleksandra Ladygina