Last updated on April 26, 2023

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth - Illustration by Michael Komarck

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth | Illustration by Michael Komarck

Magic has its share of villains. From planeswalkers like Ob Nixilis and Tibalt, who seek to sow chaos and obtain power across planes, to plane-bound foes like the authoritarian Consuls on Kaladesh, there’s no end of enemies for our protagonists to battle in each set.

But few of these foes are like the Eldrazi. Introduced on the plane of Zendikar, they're more than enemies. They swept across the wild plane, devouring and destroying the land. Once imprisoned by three planeswalkers (Ugin, Sorin, and Nahiri), they were freed by the machinations of Nicol Bolas. The Eldrazi were a force of nature, the embodiment of entropy.

While numerous Eldrazi roamed Zendikar, they were birthed from three titans: Ulamog, Emrakul, and Kozilek, the latter of which is today’s focus. We've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's get started!

Who Is Kozilek?

Kozilek, the Great Distortion - Illustration by Aleksi Briclot

Kozilek, the Great Distortion | Illustration by Aleksi Briclot

Kozilek is one of the three Eldrazi Titans. These behemoths created the smaller Eldrazi broods that spread across Zendikar, feasting on the plane’s fierce mana and its inhabitants. Kozilek is so overwhelming that he distorts reality. As you can see in the art of Kozilek, the Great Distortion, his presence warps space itself.

Reaver Drone

Like the other Titans, Kozilek is more of a force of nature than a villain. We can learn of him through the Eldrazi he births. Kozilek’s brood is more erratic than some of the others. The flavor text of Reaver Drone shows this, telling us that Kozilek’s children do more than consume. This is also reflected on other cards.

Slip Through Space depicts one of Kozilek’s drones warping through reality as easily as its father. Eldrazi Mimic hints that the forms of Kozilek’s brood are as mutable as they find space. Cards like Inverter of Truth suggest these reality-warping powers aren’t limited to concepts as simple as space.

We also see Kozilek’s pervasive influence with cards like Artisan of Kozilek and Inquisition of Kozilek, which show that Kozilek’s influence isn’t confined to breaking things so simple as the laws of physics. He can twist and pervert even your deepest thoughts. Even in your mind you aren’t safe from the incursion of Kozilek.

It may seem odd to analyze this character through his spawn. But, as Ugin revealed to Jace in the Battle for Zendikar story, the Eldrazi titans are but a part of the whole creature. They exist in the Blind Eternities, the space between planes. Ugin likens their presence on Zendikar to a person sticking their hand in a pond, expanding that each member of the titans’ broods is nothing more than a cell of that respective hand.

Analyzing the brood isn’t just helpful: it’s necessary to understand the staggering, nearly incomprehensible scope of Kozilek, a being so great that reality splinters in his very presence.

List of Kozilek Cards

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth costs a whooping 10 mana but delivers with a powerful statline. A 12/12 for 10 is a body you want, and the power doesn’t stop with its stats.

Annihilator is an ability shared with several other Eldrazi. It captures the devastation the titans brought to Zendikar. Even before their physical form reaches you, the tide of destruction rolls forth. Your battlefield lies in ruins by the time Kozilek reaches you.

The second ability also talks about the inevitability of its power. Removing Kozilek from the battlefield only delays the inevitable. Discard doesn’t remove the looming threat, and even milling the card won’t halt the unstoppable advance. All you can do is flee and hope you buy enough time before Kozilek comes to you.

Finally, the cast trigger captures the immediate presence and reality-warping powers of Kozilek. Even if an opponent has a counterspell, drawing four cards gives Kozilek an immediate impact on the game. As soon as you see this card, you’ve lost.

Card draw is often associated with learning and growth in Magic, but here it’s a representation of how Kozilek butchers reality to suit him. He’s changing the terrain to benefit himself and his brood.

Kozilek, the Great Distortion

Kozilek, the Great Distortion

The second iteration of Kozilek, Kozilek, the Great Distortion, shares a lot with its predecessor. They both cost 10 mana to produce a 12/12 titan. This version of Kozilek uses the colorless mana symbol, so at least two of the mana must be colorless instead of any color. This is a nice way to express Eldrazi’s alien nature.

Generic mana costs and colorless mana have been around in Magic forever, but something about requiring colorless mana is jarring. It’s treating a part of the game that’s by nature uncolored as though it has color. It’s just unnerving enough to work.

Menace is a fine addition that captures the strength of Kozilek. Perhaps it doesn’t do so as poetically as annihilator and the shuffler clause, but there’s still intimidation here. This card's art also takes a step in that direction. The first card merely made Kozilek look huge, but this card does so while capturing that reality-warping power.

The Great Distortion’s cast trigger also leans harder into expressing the idea behind this character. Drawing cards until you have seven in hand shows how this power works in your favor. It’s about making the world your playground, about garnering an advantage so complete that your opponents are ground into dust.

The ability to discard cards to counter your opponent’s spells captures the hopelessness of fighting something this immense. How are you supposed to fight something so much greater than yourself? Something with such power that the laws of physics don’t matter in his presence? Can you even use magic or cast a spell when the nature of the reality as you know it no longer applies?

This last ability especially captures the flavor of Kozilek, and how he rewrites the world to suit him.

Kozilek’s Backstory

Like his fellow Eldrazi titans, Kozilek was trapped on Zendikar for eons. The planeswalkers Nahiri, Ugin, and Sorin worked together to bind them on Zendikar with the hedrons Nahiri created with her lithomancy. This brief partnership came from the necessity to protect the Multiverse from the Eldrazi, and Sorin and Ugin left shortly after the hedron network was completed.

At one point in Zendikar’s history, the Eldrazi escaped. Nahiri trapped them again and set off across the Multiverse to find Ugin and Sorin to help her once more. She would not return.

Shrine of the Forsaken Gods

Kozilek and the other Eldrazi were mostly forgotten over time. The hedrons became another part of Zendikar’s wild landscapes. The titans were remembered as a trio of gods worshipped by the merfolk of Zendikar, as seen on Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. They remembered Kozilek as “Cosi.”

The Eldrazi would eventually be freed once more. Planeswalkers Jace Beleren, Sarkhan, and Chandra Nalaar were manipulated by the Elder Dragon Nicol Bolas into unleashing the Eldrazi. Kozilek and his brood disappeared shortly after emerging. There was some speculation that he may have left the plane entirely.

Kozilek's Return

But after the Gatewatch used the hedrons to capture Ulamog, which were disrupted by Ob Nixilis in a ploy to reignite his spark, Kozilek and his brood erupted from the ground and renewed their pillage of Zendikar, as seen in Kozilek's Return.

What Does Kozilek Do?

Kozilek and his brood consume. They traverse Zendikar, feasting on the plane and those living there. With the possible exception of Emrakul, the Eldrazi are never shown to have motivations deeper than hunger. That, and trying to restore their power so they can leave Zendikar and travel the Multiverse, presumably to feed on other planes.

Kozilek's Pathfinder

Some Eldrazi cards hint at how little the Eldrazi seem to care for the Zendikar natives, like Kozilek's Pathfinder. There’s no malice, no hatred, and no desire beyond what every living thing wants: to eat and grow. The people of Zendikar and even the plane itself are simply inconsequential to them.

Kozilek will eat, and Zendikar will be eaten.

Who Defeated Kozilek?

Kozilek was defeated alongside Ulamog by the joint actions of the original four members of the Gatewatch: Gideon, Chandra, Jace, and Nissa. Jace used what he learned about trapping the Eldrazi from Ugin alongside Nissa’s ability to manipulate Zendikar’s leylines to construct a spell that would pull the entirety of the Eldrazi into Zendikar instead of just the metaphorical hand.

Chandra used her fire magic, buoyed by Nissa’s connection to Zendikar, to incinerate the Eldrazi once they were on the plane. This destroyed the titans and their broods, permanently freeing Zendikar from the Eldrazi scourge with no chance of them returning as they had before.

Decklist: Kozilek in Commander

Eldrazi Temple - Illustration by James Paick

Eldrazi Temple | Illustration by James Paick

Creating a colorless Commander deck poses some interesting challenges to the deckbuilding process. Access to interaction and removal is limited, but there’s a plethora of ramp that this deck seeks to take advantage of.

This is a simple deck: ramp hard and then bring the horror of the Eldrazi to your table! It’s slow, but it has great inevitability. Your opponents will eventually succumb to the tides of Eldrazi.

Wrap Up

Kozilek's Return - Illustration by Lius Lasahido

Kozilek's Return | Illustration by Lius Lasahido

The Eldrazi are super interesting villains for Magic. They’re utterly alien, even among the varied planes of the Multiverse. They’re more primal than other enemies the Gatewatch and other Magic protagonists have faced previously, making them quite interesting.

Kozilek takes this a step further by looking at what would happen if there was a primal force so great it could warp reality itself. The laws of physics are mere suggestions before Kozilek, and the sanctity of a mind or death is ignored.

What did you think of Kozilek's character breakdown and the deck? Who's your favorite or most feared Eldrazi titan? Let me know in the comments below or over on the official Draftsim Twitter.

Catch you next time!

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