"Zur was a powerful wizard during the Dominarian Ice Age. Also called Zur the Mad, he was a rival of the famous Gerda Aagesdotter, the archmage of the School of the Unseen. A former Kjeldoran, Zur was exiled for his insane attempts to achieve eternal life. He later assembled a formidable array of mages and soldiers and attacked his former homeland. His efforts were thwarted however, in part by the ancient mage Jodah. Zur ventured deep into the tundra and disappeared. From then on, he deliberately avoided taking a hand in the events of later years, remaining aloof from the casting of the World Spell or the plots of the Cult of Rimewind. Most people thought he died, although some of his followers claimed he attained immortality deep in the frozen wastes."
-MTG Salvation Wiki
So, I have this problem. I'd like to build a competitive, multiplayer-focused Zur the Enchanter deck. There seems to be a fairly standardized competitive decklist using Zur for 1v1 commander, but that's not what I'm looking for here. I'd like to build the deck so that it's not so dependent on Zur himself, but instead uses a few more utility creatures and spells in the awesome WUB colors so that the deck is a bit less linear and fragile. I feel that the decklist I'm using so far is pretty good, but I haven't played it with my playgroup, because I don't want to pull it out and annoy them just yet until it's been tweaked a bit more...that's where you all come in.
I've been playing magic for a few years, and have basically taught most of the others how to play. Even though we've played for well over a year together, I'm still quite feared in our playgroup, and I usually get singled out. This is kind of a mystery to me, since I lose way more games than I win, usually because I am being a nice guy, and trying to help someone else win (the person who hasn't won in a couple of weeks), and hopefully keep the other guys enjoying the game. It's gotten to the point, though, where I'd like to bring a pretty high-powered, not-totally-combo deck in colors I enjoy playing, just so that I can hold off the inevitable onslaught that I face every game (no matter what deck I bring to play). In case you're not familiar with who Zur is and what he does, here's the scoop:
I wanted to build a deck that could answer the multiple threats I will inevitably face, as well as play a controlling roll, either helping someone else win, or annihilating them all for picking on me ;). For those of you more experienced multiplayer Zur pilots out there, are there any glaring omissions or weaknesses you could point out to me that would help optimize this deck? Thanks in advance.
Also, here's my own current "cutthroat" version of Zur for multiplayer. The goal is to have enough counter magic, stack control, and mana rocks to resolve Zur quickly at all cost. Once Zur attacks, ideally you grab Necro, then Solitary Confinement, and then just win from there. If you need to protect Zur while he's on the board, you grab Vanishing and hold up U for it. This build has very little redundancy with the enchantments since you want as few enchantments as possible to limit your dead draws. You want counterspells and mana rocks in your opening hand, and then you just let Zur do the rest for you.
Current Cutthroat Decklist (Updated January 5, 2013):
I like Stoneforge Mystic because it's a third copy of greaves/boots, and I find that protecting and giving haste to Zur is really, really, really, really important. It also has the added benefit of putting said greaves/boots into play as an activated ability, making it almost uncounterable, which, although it doesn't usually matter, is nice.
My playgroup uses a lot of creature removal, and they love to shuffle generals into their owner's libraries using Chaos Warp, Oblation, and Spin into Myth. I'd love to say that I always have the counterspell ready when someone tries this, but that's wishful thinking. In fact, this is the main reason I have Clutch of the Undercity in my deck, for recovering Zur if he gets tucked, and for not being totally useless other than recovering Zur, as bouncing a permanent is pretty useful. Maybe I'm just paranoid, I don't know. My anticipated Zur hate is one of the reasons why I want to keep my deck less dependent on Zur himself, and more resilient overall. When/if Zur gets tucked, I want to have a plan B, which is why I have so many utility creatures in addition to Zur in the deck. These creatures are meant to compliment the Zur strategy of using enchantments, or just being decent on their own. Here's a bit of a breakdown:
Mother of Runes is just another cheap way of ensuring that Zur stays in play.
Umbra Mystic makes an enchanted Zur indestructible, but I think this is a creature that could be cut, because once Zur fetches Vanishing, he's pretty immune to everything as long as you keep UU freed up.
Magus of the Moat holds off much of the onslaught that's coming and buys time, although this is a cuttable creature for sure.
Consecrated Sphinx is just awesome, and it belongs in almost all decks running blue, I think.
Sheoldred, Whispering One is just a fun card that I tend to throw into most black decks I run, but I think this creature will be cut from the list, since I don't really have enough creatures to justify its high CMC, which you commented on in your post and I agree with for the most part.
If I ever went the pure voltron Zur multiplayer build, I'd cut the following creatures:
-Magus of the Moat
-Sheoldred, Whispering One
Thanks for the comments, Morex. I would like to clarify a couple of things, though. First of all, in terms of Empyrial Armor, don't you need Reliquary Tower or something like it to make this card good enough in multiplayer games? Or are you thinking of Empyrial Armor + Phyresis or some other part of a combo that everybody but me knows about? I haven't tested this card, so I fully admit that I'm probably wrong, but it seems a bit slow to me. I should probably test it out.
Bitterblossom and Contamination seem awesome, since they're both fetchable with Zur. In my few test games outside of my regular playgroup, one of the most difficult decisions I find to make when playing is the order of enchantments to fetch with Zur. Unless I have a really good reason not to, I tend to fetch Necropotence first, then depending on what new cards I get off of Necro, the decision-making process begins from there. I suspect with my regular playgroup I'm going to need to go on the defensive right away, with Vanishing, Diplomatic Immunity, or Greater Auramancy.
All of your suggestions are great, but my only hesitation is that by making these changes, I'm committing more and more to an all-in approach with Zur, as opposed to diversifying a bit. Do you think it is better to have more enchantments as opposed some different threats in the form of utility creatures like Auratouched Mage?
Also, do you recommend cutting any extraneous enchantments I am currently running to free up some deck space for your recommendations? Lastly, what's your take on the appropriate number of counters in a deck like this for playing against multiple opponents? I'm thinking my list is a bit light so far. Once again, I appreciate all of the advice.
Does anyone have an opinion on Stasis in a multiplayer Zur deck? It seems like you'd need to give Zur vigilance with Daybreak Coronet or Triclopean Sight or something. Also, you'd probably only have Stasis around for a couple of turns before you have to sack due to the upkeep cost.
Thanks for the comments, Morex. I like the Sun Titan idea, and will have to think about that one for recursion. I'm not so hot on Sorin, because I can't always count on having BBB available to cast him, and hate having dead cards in hand if I don't have to. One thing I like about Zur is that when you draw your enchantments, they're all pretty cheap to cast so they're useful in your deck and in your hand.
As far as Magister Sphinx goes, it's great in 1v1, but I think I'd rather have something with a bit more value for multiplayer for 7 mana.
Based on a bit of testing, some thought, and the helpful comments, I'm making a few changes. Please keep in mind that I'm trying to only make changes that will help this deck improve for multiplayer games. For a 1v1 build, I'd probably just replace a lot of the higher CMC spells and chaff with counters. I've updated the decklist in the first post with the following changes:
I did forget to mention some other nice and other broken stuff you can do with Sun Titan to sell him to you even more
#1 Liliana of the Veil: +1 Throws a card in the graveyard that can be fetched with Sun Titan so that you don't need to cast it even if it's only 3 mana. -2 Who does not like to sac your opponents shroud/hexproof creature? -6 This is just game ending. Can get up again with Sun Titan.
#2 Phantasmal Image: Kills Generals for 1u and once again get picked up with Sun Titan. Can also clone itself to a Sun Titan for 2 Sun Titans and still get a land or Permanent for CC3 or less
3# Let's you put back Strip Mine, Wasteland and Tectonic Edge for more destruction
I'm still pondering the Sun Titan, and I can see the recursive value. It's a great card, no doubt, and has a lot of uses in this deck. I'm also a fan of Phantasmal Image, and I have this creature in most of my blue Commander decks. It just seems a bit off theme here, though, and it probably would just function as general removal much of the time (which is still useful for two mana). It may not be as good as it could be with the low number of creatures I'm currently running. I have Phantasmal Image in my Riku of Two Reflections deck, and it's just awesome there, because even if my opponents have nothing worth copying, I almost always do.
For the moment, I'm going to play this Zur deck as is tomorrow night with my playgroup and test it out. Based on how that goes, I'll see if any current card choices seem worth cutting for the Titan.
This may be a bad idea, but you can set up a lock for Stasis if you run Forsaken City; however, I’m not sure how useful the land will be on it’s own. Just an idea.
That sounds like a nifty trick, but I can see myself sitting there more often than not wishing I was holding any land other than Forsaken City. That's a pretty steep cost to untap a land, unless I already have Necropotence in play.
Edit: Or you could just grab Eldrazi Conscription and Battle Mastery for giggles, immediately taking someone out with general damage...there are sooooo many lines of play with a tutoring general like Zur.
What do you boys think about Bruna? She seems like a pretty solid addition for Zur at first glance. It won't grab permanents from the graveyard for recursion like good 'ol Sun Titan, but getting multiple auras back when she attacks OR blocks every time seems like pure gold. I think Zur just got a new friend. She seems good enough to me to warrant a slot. Her vigilance works nicely with the Stasis plan, too, which is just icing on an already tasty cake. I only see two downsides, the first being that her skills have to do with auras, and not regular enchantments, and the second being that she doesn't have haste and has to stick around until she attacks or blocks to be useful. We have the same non-haste problem with Zur himself, so with our greaves/boots and tutors, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Also, I think there are enough auras in my current decklist for her to be pretty good. So, am I missing anything here, or is she a near perfect fit for this deck (besides the above average CMC)?
OUT: Liliana Vess - most of the time she ends up being a 5 mana Vampiric Tutor, since I don't have the creatures to defend her, and her ultimate never, ever, ever gets activated when I've played her. Auratouched Mage - my plan B if something happens to Zur, and he should be replaced by Bruna, as she is just better in my opinion Nomad Mythmaker - lackluster and uneccessary
IN: Muddle the Mixture - doubles as a tutor for my many 2 CMC spells, as well as more protection for Zur Bruna, Light of Alabaster - replaces Auratouched Mage as a better plan B Increasing Ambition - although it's kind of costly, I think this is a decent replacement for Liliana as a tutor. The tutored card goes right to your hand, and in the late-game, it can be used again for value.
Overall, with these changes, the CMC of the deck has gone down by 1 mana, which is something I'm always mindful of.
Hey !Celestial Dawn is a good card to add that lets you use mana as any color so you can use activated abilities of colors you don't run(if you happen to end up with one of your opponents cards) or play counters with any of your land
Celestial Dawn seems like a fun card, but I honestly don't see myself ever fetching it with Zur online, since there's just too much other good stuff to fetch. In a more casual build, this card might fill a slot. The ability to have tons of U available would be nice for Stasis and counters, though, I must admit.
So, a couple of nights ago I tried out my current Zur list. I played Zur up against two friends, who were piloting Teneb, the Harvester, and Riku of Two Reflections. The Teneb decklist was very close to the precon deck that came out a while ago, and the Riku list was running a ramp & play infect creatures with a lot of pump spells approach to quickly poison you.
The first game, I got Zur online quickly and fetched Necropotence and drew 20 cards. I sculpted an awesome hand of seven cards, but was tapped out, as I had attacked with a hasty shrouded Zur. At that point, I already had two poison counters from the Riku player, and the Teneb player was starting to build his resources, but not playing aggressively. Before I got to attack a second time with Zur, the Riku player attacked me with his poison dude, and pumped him with a Blood Lust, and then copied the pump spell with Riku, immediately killing me with poison counters...tough break for me :mad:. I should've grabbed Prison Term so his infect dude couldn't attack me, but since I only had two poison counters at the time, I thought I'd be okay. After that, the Teneb player fought hard, but eventually succumbed to being poisoned to death.
The second game, I decided to play the controlling role and wait to make my move, since the Riku guy's game plan was pretty aggressive. I sat back, countered Riku, took like three poison counters, wiped the board after the Teneb guy had cast Storm Herd for 28, 1/1 flyers, and finally cast Zur after the coast was clear. Over the next two turns, when I attacked with Zur, I grabbed Diplomatic Immunity to avoid any targeted removal, and then Arcanum Wings since I was holding an Eldrazi Conscription in my hand (but no counters). I activated Arcanum's ability, and swapped in the Eldrazi Conscription, attacking the Riku guy. The next turn, I was going to grab Phyresis and finish him off with a taste of his own medicine. But, before my next attack phase, the Riku guy who had three weenie creatures out pulled out a Triumph of the Hordes, and had just enough gas to once again do me in with poison counters :banghead:. I'm pretty sure I just misplayed this somewhere, though, and should've won this one. The Teneb guy ended up drawing a bunch of land, and got poisoned as well shortly after me.
The third game I got some better draws, powered Zur out, got Necropotence, had countermagic backup, and things went according to plan with Empyrial Armor and Battle Mastery. It was sweet :dance:.
Even though I only won the last game, I feel that the current Zur decklist is solid in a multiplayer environment. The losses I had came from tight play from my opponents, where they had just the right cards to win, and honestly, I didn't mind losing to that. I also feel that I was not really playing the deck optimally either, which I why I want to keep playing it. There are so many decisions when it comes to which enchantment to grab with Zur, depending on what your opponents are doing.
For the record, after the third game we played, our fourth guy came by with his Numot, the Devastator deck. Instead of playing Zur, I wanted to try out my other little pet deck using Arcum Dagsson. Before we started, I advised them to work together to try and take me down, with no hard feelings, since they had never seen Arcum in action before. It wasn't pretty, and I annihilated them all, essentially locking them out of the game by turn 5 :lock:. Since these guys are my friends, I promised them I wouldn't play it again with them, but it still felt pretty awesome :wink:.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Stasis/Triclopean Sight soft lock. Since I have only played three games total with this Zur deck, it is too soon for me to have a solid opinion on whether or not to cut these cards. Ask me again in a month, and I'll probably have a more definitive answer. Right now, I see this soft lock as sort of a last resort, where I just want to buy a turn or two of attacking with Zur before everyone else kills me. My life total tends to descend quickly, as my opponents have three combat phases for every one I get with Zur.
At the moment, Stasis is in the deck because I find in EDH that I can fully expect the board to be wiped at least once, but usually twice per game in my meta if I can't kill everyone quick enough. When Empyrial Armor, Battle Mastery, Phyresis, and the like are in the graveyard, that's when I see myself going for Stasis to buy some time to stabilize my position, and hopefully tutor for Replenish, Reito Lantern, or Bruna, Light of Alabaster. Because of the inevitability of board-wipes, I want to have several options to stay in the game with all of the hate I'll be facing. It's kind of a last resort, and if I can kill them all without using Stasis, I always will, since Stasis ticks people off, and these guys are my pals.
If it turns out that Stasis/Triclopean Sight aren't necessary, I can see myself cutting these two slots for a couple more mana rocks to get Zur out fast more consistently.
Well, I had another test-run with this deck last night, and it was great. I only got in a couple of games, but this deck seems to have the gas to hold its own in multiplayer, even after board-wipes, and it's quite explosive if you want to play it that way. I was playing against Numot, Teneb, and Riku, and they were all decent decks, but I was able to find answers for everything that came up during the two games I got in. I won the first game since I wanted to, and let the Teneb guy take the second game since he hasn't won in a while...but he doesn't know that.
Anyway, I've been meaning to bump this thread, so does anyone have any comments on the current decklist?
OUT: Eland Umbra -- I'm replacing this aura with Eel Umbra, which has flash, and otherwise fills the same role as Eland Umbra. Stasis -- I don't think this is needed, and I never fetch it since it's so annoying to play against for my friends, and I'd feel like an a**hat. Triclopean Sight -- Without Stasis, this aura isn't worth it. Phyrexian Arena -- A nice staple, but I'll never fetch it with Zur; there are just too many other great enchantments to get. Pariah -- A little too cute, and I think this slot could be better used.
IN: Eel Umbra -- I like the flash if I happen to draw this, so I can save it when someone plays a Wrath of God (as long as Zur doesn't have shroud when this happens). Sun Titan -- Is awesome for continually recurring all of Zur's enchantments, which helps give the deck more gas. I haven't noticed that the decks needs more gas, but it can't hurt. Cataclysm -- Helps seal the deal for only 4 mana. Arcane Denial -- Another counterspell for 2 mana. Counterspell -- Another counterspell.
I also like teferi's care and enchanted evening as a way to remove anything on the board. Since you have tutors getting enchanted evening wouldn't be difficult and if someone wipes enchantments you could just sac enchanted evening.