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 Post subject: Zur the Enchanter: Toolbox Extraordinaire
AgePosted: 2017-May-06 1:52 pm 

Joined: 2017-May-06 3:16 am
Age: Hatchling
First, the decklist:

Commander [1]
Zur the Enchanter

Creatures [6]
Eidolon of Countless Battles
Thassa, God of the Sea
Archangel of Tithes
Grand Abolisher
Notion Thief
Mesa Enchantress

Enchantments [27]
Leyline of Anticipation
Flickerform
Diplomatic Immunity
Steel of the Godhead
Ethereal Armor
Imprisoned in the Moon
Detention Sphere
Grasp of Fate
Stasis Snare
Oblivion Ring
Greater Auramancy
Copy Enchantment
Nevermore
Declaration of Naught
Spear of Heliod
Story Circle
Blind Obedience
Ghostly Prison
Propaganda
Solitary Confinement
Necropotence
Rhystic Study
Phyrexian Arena
Aura of Silence
Waste Not
Rest in Peace
Virulent Plague

Instants and Sorceries [21]
Counterspell
Scatter to the Winds
Dissolve
Void Shatter
Disdainful Stroke
Summary Dismissal
Swan Song
Remand
Arcane Denial
Day of Judgment
Supreme Verdict
Merciless Eviction
Cyclonic Rift
Vindicate
Anguished Unmaking
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Enlightened Tutor
Brainstorm
Replenish
Secure the Wastes

Artifacts [9]
Azorius Signet
Dimir Signet
Orzhov Signet
Sol Ring
Thought Vessel
Commander's Sphere
Fellwar Stone
Chromatic Lantern
Lightning Greaves

Lands [36]
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Windswept Heath
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Bloodstained Mire
Sunken Hollow
Watery Grave
Prairie Stream
Hallowed Fountain
Godless Shrine
Orzhov Basilica
Dimir Aqueduct
Azorius Chancery
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Silence
Glacial Fortress
Isolated Chapel
Drowned Catacomb
Underground River
Adarkar Wastes
Caves of Koilos
Dismal Backwater
Arcane Sanctum
Command Tower
Exotic Orchard
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth,
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Reliquary Tower
2 Plains
2 Swamp
2 Island

-----------
Explanation
So right now my main goal is kind of toolbox control. I have an enchantment answer for everything. My main goal of winning is to get in some swings with Ethereal Armor after whittling down my opponents and politicking.

Problems
Zur is well-known as a competitive commander. Generally, people will focus me from the start of the game to prevent oppression. A lot of times, if they weren't attacking me before, people will blow everything once they see Necropotence. This is kind of a problem because I have avoided the Doomsday build or any other real combos because I don't want the heat. I need some way of being harder to focus. More deterrence so I can focus on my real goal: durdling.

Meta
Currently my meta consists of Marath Value, Gitrog Dredge, Karador, Yidris Wheels, Saskia, and a very budgeted Breya deck.

Yidris Wheels gives me some problems due to the deck being weak to milling, and even weaker to Evacuation. Yidris is also my fiancee's deck, so she doesn't focus me a lot, but she does still play 20 evacuations like it's her job. She's the main reason I play Waste Not, as a lot of times it means I survive after turn 6.

Gitrog, Karador, and Breya are easily answered. I run Virulent Plague and Aura of Silence to slow Breya. I run Rest in Peace to deal with Gitrog and Karador. Saskia also generally doesn't give me a problem due to board wipes and prisons.

Then there's Marath. The Marath player guns for me constantly. He's the best player at the table, and easily the best built deck. It is extremely difficult to keep him from holding Marath's gun effect up to shoot Zur every time I play him. It's hard to get a Nevermore/Naught on him before he forces me to get something like Diplomatic Immunity. He puts the pressure down on me early, and only deals with the actual table threat once I've been dealt with. His main concern is "losing in two turns" to the Necropotence+Solitary Confinement combo.

What I need
I need ways to deal with Marath's aggressive focus on me as a top priority. As a second priority, I need ways to get around Yidris' hand control.


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 Post subject: Re: Zur the Enchanter: Toolbox Extraordinaire
AgePosted: 2017-May-06 2:35 pm 
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Joined: 2012-Feb-07 4:15 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
The first thing that comes to mind for me is that if your opponent is consistently attacking you because of the threat of Necro+Solitary, getting rid of one or both of those cards may be inevitable. I think in that case Necro is clearly the problematic half, and it also has plenty of other cards that do a fine job of replacing it, my personal favorite being Dark Tutelage.

The second thing that strikes me as odd about the deck is simply the fact that you seem extremely dependent on Zur himself, with him being the only real win condition. I'd add in a few extra cards that can get you some sort of path to a reliable victory. Animate Dead, Necromancy, and Dance of the Dead seem like really good inclusions since your opponents include GY shenanigans, fatties, wheels, and GY Fatty Shenanigans. Other random potential win conditions include Bloodchief Ascension, Underworld Coinsmith, or adding in some extra life gain and Test of Endurance.

Now, as for some specific card choices in the deck:
Scatter to the Winds: Probably would be better off as Dissipate
Remand: I'd switch it out for Negate, since you have so much trouble with Evacuation and friends.
Secure the Wastes: Unless there's a specific card interaction in here that I've missed, this card seems completely random to include and not that helpful.
Thought Vessel: I honestly am not a huge fan of this card. I think most of the time you have 7 cards in hand you really don't need the extra 2 or 3. I'd switch it out for Talisman of Dominance or Talisman of Progress, both of which will be better 90% of the time.
Chromatic Lantern: I feel that you have enough fixing in your manabase alone that this card simply isn't needed. Again, I'd easily replace it with one of the talismans, which have the advantage of allowing you to get a T2 zur out of a natural curve.
Azorius Chancery: I've honestly never been a fan of this cycle outside of some very specific decks (Zur not being among them). I'm not sure how much $$ is a factor, but the Mystic Gate cycle or some of the other fetchlands would be a nice replacement. Otherwise some slightly cheaper options include City of Brass, Mana Confluence, and Forbidden Orchard.

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 Post subject: Re: Zur the Enchanter: Toolbox Extraordinaire
AgePosted: 2017-May-06 6:34 pm 

Joined: 2017-May-06 3:16 am
Age: Hatchling
Uktabi_Kong wrote:
The first thing that comes to mind for me is that if your opponent is consistently attacking you because of the threat of Necro+Solitary, getting rid of one or both of those cards may be inevitable. I think in that case Necro is clearly the problematic half, and it also has plenty of other cards that do a fine job of replacing it, my personal favorite being Dark Tutelage.


I've been considering removing Necropotence. My biggest concern there may be just talking to them to see if the Necro+Solitary combo is what draws the focus before actually cutting it.

Uktabi_Kong wrote:
The second thing that strikes me as odd about the deck is simply the fact that you seem extremely dependent on Zur himself, with him being the only real win condition. I'd add in a few extra cards that can get you some sort of path to a reliable victory. Animate Dead, Necromancy, and Dance of the Dead seem like really good inclusions since your opponents include GY shenanigans, fatties, wheels, and GY Fatty Shenanigans. Other random potential win conditions include Bloodchief Ascension, Underworld Coinsmith, or adding in some extra life gain and Test of Endurance.


Somebody actually mentioned this in our last match in the form of "kill Zur so he can't do anything." I filled my maybeboard with things like Gonti, Bloodchief Ascension, Luminarch Ascension and Felidar Sovereign to kick up some ideas.

Uktabi_Kong wrote:
Secure the Wastes: Unless there's a specific card interaction in here that I've missed, this card seems completely random to include and not that helpful.
Thought Vessel: I honestly am not a huge fan of this card. I think most of the time you have 7 cards in hand you really don't need the extra 2 or 3. I'd switch it out for Talisman of Dominance or Talisman of Progress, both of which will be better 90% of the time.
Chromatic Lantern: I feel that you have enough fixing in your manabase alone that this card simply isn't needed. Again, I'd easily replace it with one of the talismans, which have the advantage of allowing you to get a T2 zur out of a natural curve.
Azorius Chancery: I've honestly never been a fan of this cycle outside of some very specific decks (Zur not being among them). I'm not sure how much $$ is a factor, but the Mystic Gate cycle or some of the other fetchlands would be a nice replacement. Otherwise some slightly cheaper options include City of Brass, Mana Confluence, and Forbidden Orchard.


I have the talismans and didn't really think about using them over Thought Vessel/Lantern. Thanks for that!

Honestly, Secure the Wastes IS a random pick, actually, and is first on the chopping block. I realized I had 98 cards for the past 2 weeks (I lost a Porphry Nodes, also not a good card for the deck) and grabbed the first semi-fitting card in binder. It just so happened to work well against Dictate of Heliod, but not long/well enough to justify its position.

As far as lands go, I've been meaning to improve the mana base, but just not able to reallocate the funds. I'll probably pick up the filter lands cycle and a City of Brass.

Overall, I think you hit the nail on the head with the comment about alternate wincons. I'll definitely need to do some research there to see what I can work in. I think you saved Zur from getting chopped up and blended into Sen Triplets.


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 Post subject: Re: Zur the Enchanter: Toolbox Extraordinaire
AgePosted: 2017-May-07 3:30 am 
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So, you sort of answered your own conundrum in the opening post. Zur isn't a durdly or cuddly commander- and you either have to embrace a game turning into early Archenemy and build to win that game, or pick an esper general that is better at durdling (Sen Triplets, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, Sharuum the Hegemon) or one that puts less of a target on you (Dromar, the Banisher, Sydri, Galvanic Genius, Silas Renn/Tymna the Weaver.) This doesn't mean "don't play Zur", it just means- if you don't want to be targeted, play it in the 99; or just deal with the inevitability of being targeted.

In my own experience, Zur as a general is one of those strategies that a player HAS to take a "no mercy" approach to (just under Nekusar, the Mindrazer, Jhoira of the Ghitu, Mizzix of the Izmagnus, Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, Edric, Spymaster of Trest and Meren of Clan Nel Toth.)

A friend of mine (someone who was consistently an excellent grinder) once wisely told me something along the lines of.. "In EDH, you have to build your deck to restrain your plays, because if you play suboptimally- you aren't going to have fun; but if you play a deck clearly better than everything you play against, you also aren't going to have fun." I think he might have run too far with idea at times (removing all of the sac outlets from his Karador Spirit Tribal deck for example-) but it has generally served as a guiding light since.

If your meta feels like Necropotence is so far ahead of the curve that it makes you the archenemy, try rolling it back into another Phyrexian Arena variant. Communicate with your playgroup- look at what they're playing and gauge your deck accordingly.

As for structural issues with the deck. 9 Counters, is probably too many- 3 of them being Cancel variants no less in a deck looking to utilize 3 colors. Treasure Cruise and/or Murderous Cut/Go For The Throat over Counterspell and Scatter to the Winds will likely decrease your dependency on blue sources. I'd prefer Painful Truths over Secure the Wastes- since a little more structure could be used here; but if you're trying to play something in this slot that saves your bacon, Comeuppance will treat you well.

With the manabase, Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and Reliquary Tower should probably get the boot. Esper Panorama and Ash Barrens will give you fixing if Marsh Flats and River of Tears are beyond your pricepoint. Nykthos is no replacement for Serra's Sanctum- which is understandably a difficult aquisition- and Reliquary Tower doesn't actually do much here, because if you have to discard down to a 7 card grip- you're probably doing very well. I'd also recommend playing Basics over your Karoos (Dimir Aqueduct etc.)- while I used to jam them in 3-color, when the Temples came out, it became apparent that they were just a better flavor of tapland without filling your deck out with untap tricks. Having fewer than 8 basics in 3 color is a liability, and I would recommend up to 11-12 if you think running into Blood Moon or Back to Basics is a very real possibility. Last, I think 36 is a bit slim- but that's really up to you. My EDH decks usually start with 38, and trim down if the deck has excessive filtration and ramp, or bulk up if the deck relies on hard draw to simply hit as many natural land drops as possible.

Last, I would slice Rest in Peace from the deck outright. While I'm certainly a fan of hateful enchantments, playing stax, playing Zur, playing power like Necropotence is already a big target. Playing a fetchable piece of absolute grave recursion hate is going to probably stop atleast one person from the table from getting to perform their strategy- which means in subsequent games, you're very likely to get thrashed.

:D Goodluck! Hope this was somewhat helpful

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 Post subject: Re: Zur the Enchanter: Toolbox Extraordinaire
AgePosted: 2017-May-07 6:28 am 

Joined: 2017-May-06 3:16 am
Age: Hatchling
Mr Degradation wrote:
So, you sort of answered your own conundrum in the opening post. Zur isn't a durdly or cuddly commander- and you either have to embrace a game turning into early Archenemy and build to win that game, or pick an esper general that is better at durdling (Sen Triplets, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, Sharuum the Hegemon) or one that puts less of a target on you (Dromar, the Banisher, Sydri, Galvanic Genius, Silas Renn/Tymna the Weaver.) This doesn't mean "don't play Zur", it just means- if you don't want to be targeted, play it in the 99; or just deal with the inevitability of being targeted.

In my own experience, Zur as a general is one of those strategies that a player HAS to take a "no mercy" approach to (just under Nekusar, the Mindrazer, Jhoira of the Ghitu, Mizzix of the Izmagnus, Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, Edric, Spymaster of Trest and Meren of Clan Nel Toth.)

A friend of mine (someone who was consistently an excellent grinder) once wisely told me something along the lines of.. "In EDH, you have to build your deck to restrain your plays, because if you play suboptimally- you aren't going to have fun; but if you play a deck clearly better than everything you play against, you also aren't going to have fun." I think he might have run too far with idea at times (removing all of the sac outlets from his Karador Spirit Tribal deck for example-) but it has generally served as a guiding light since.

If your meta feels like Necropotence is so far ahead of the curve that it makes you the archenemy, try rolling it back into another Phyrexian Arena variant. Communicate with your playgroup- look at what they're playing and gauge your deck accordingly.


I think much of this is accurate. It's hard to manage being known as "the competitive commander" while trying to avoid being a bully. I either need to dumb it down a smidge and make it known, or just go full bully.

Mr Degradation wrote:
As for structural issues with the deck. 9 Counters, is probably too many- 3 of them being Cancel variants no less in a deck looking to utilize 3 colors. Treasure Cruise and/or Murderous Cut/Go For The Throat over Counterspell and Scatter to the Winds will likely decrease your dependency on blue sources. I'd prefer Painful Truths over Secure the Wastes- since a little more structure could be used here; but if you're trying to play something in this slot that saves your bacon, Comeuppance will treat you well.

With the manabase, Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and Reliquary Tower should probably get the boot. Esper Panorama and Ash Barrens will give you fixing if Marsh Flats and River of Tears are beyond your pricepoint. Nykthos is no replacement for Serra's Sanctum- which is understandably a difficult aquisition- and Reliquary Tower doesn't actually do much here, because if you have to discard down to a 7 card grip- you're probably doing very well. I'd also recommend playing Basics over your Karoos (Dimir Aqueduct etc.)- while I used to jam them in 3-color, when the Temples came out, it became apparent that they were just a better flavor of tapland without filling your deck out with untap tricks. Having fewer than 8 basics in 3 color is a liability, and I would recommend up to 11-12 if you think running into Blood Moon or Back to Basics is a very real possibility. Last, I think 36 is a bit slim- but that's really up to you. My EDH decks usually start with 38, and trim down if the deck has excessive filtration and ramp, or bulk up if the deck relies on hard draw to simply hit as many natural land drops as possible.


Strangely I always feel like I don't have enough counters to beat 4 Beast Withins a game. I may need to put in more removal, and certainly need things like Treasure Cruise and Comeuppance. It's at least valid to test removal>counters.

The Nykthos really was an attempt at replacing Sanctum. I may up the basics to replace things like Reliquary and Nykthos. I didn't realize how much people frowned on the bouncelands. They're difficult for me to manage, and I hate them most of the time, so maybe that should've been the sign. I think I'll take the previous suggestion of Llorwyn filters for now, and work up from there. Blood Moon and BtB aren't threats at the table right now, but I'll have some serious reconsidering to do if anybody starts trying more land-hate.

Mr Degradation wrote:
Last, I would slice Rest in Peace from the deck outright. While I'm certainly a fan of hateful enchantments, playing stax, playing Zur, playing power like Necropotence is already a big target. Playing a fetchable piece of absolute grave recursion hate is going to probably stop atleast one person from the table from getting to perform their strategy- which means in subsequent games, you're very likely to get thrashed.


The only problem I have is that it is absolutely necessary to have RiP. The Karador player is not really a threat. He's really constrained by budget (sub-$100 deck) so he doesn't get to do a whole lot of fun tricks and struggles with the mana base. The Gitrog deck is a mean machine that will just win if it gets to a Living Death. Without RiP it quickly becomes the best deck at the table. Technically, it would draw heat off of me if I took RiP out and informed everyone, because then they know that there's nothing stopping Gitrog from winning out of nowhere, but then I'd have little to do to stop it. This cut would take quite a bit of consideration, and may just result in me cutting Necropotence to slim my power down.

Thank you for all of the information!


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 Post subject: Re: Zur the Enchanter: Toolbox Extraordinaire
AgePosted: 2017-May-07 6:41 am 
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Joined: 2012-Feb-07 4:15 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Zunee wrote:
Mr Degradation wrote:
Last, I would slice Rest in Peace from the deck outright. While I'm certainly a fan of hateful enchantments, playing stax, playing Zur, playing power like Necropotence is already a big target. Playing a fetchable piece of absolute grave recursion hate is going to probably stop atleast one person from the table from getting to perform their strategy- which means in subsequent games, you're very likely to get thrashed.


The only problem I have is that it is absolutely necessary to have RiP. The Karador player is not really a threat. He's really constrained by budget (sub-$100 deck) so he doesn't get to do a whole lot of fun tricks and struggles with the mana base. The Gitrog deck is a mean machine that will just win if it gets to a Living Death. Without RiP it quickly becomes the best deck at the table. Technically, it would draw heat off of me if I took RiP out and informed everyone, because then they know that there's nothing stopping Gitrog from winning out of nowhere, but then I'd have little to do to stop it.!

There are other less annoying sources of GY hate, especially win your colors. Enchantments do have a bit of a rough time with it, with Agent of Erebos being the only really good choice and Gravestorm being one that's fetchable. You could always go for the staples like Tormod's Crypt, Angel of Finality, Relic of Progenitus, Withered Wretch, Scrabling Claws, and Grafdigger's Cage. There are also some cards you could run that aren't GY hate per say but have extra effects that do mitigate opponents' gy use, like the various Time Spiral-type cards, or replacing some of your counterspells with ones that exile the target like Dissipate, Faerie Trickery, and Mindbreak Trap. Finally, there are dozens of powerful spells that can get rid of problematic graveyards, with my favorites being Crypt Incursion, Shred Memory, and Suffer the Past.

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 Post subject: Re: Zur the Enchanter: Toolbox Extraordinaire
AgePosted: 2017-May-07 9:41 am 
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Zunee wrote:

I think much of this is accurate. It's hard to manage being known as "the competitive commander" while trying to avoid being a bully. I either need to dumb it down a smidge and make it known, or just go full bully.


You don't have to bully, necessarily, to be a good table villain :D. Playing the villain at your table can create some awesome moments and a good deal of dramatic tension that leads to memorable games. Strong combo decks, or tutor generals tend to perform this role admirably, if the player taking up the villain mantle is willing to make concessions regarding the power-level of their playgroup. I've had quite a bit of fun playing against powered villains, and playing a semi-powered villain deck before, just keep an open mind and build with the goal of making the game fun for yourself AND the group.

Zunee wrote:

Strangely I always feel like I don't have enough counters to beat 4 Beast Withins a game. I may need to put in more removal, and certainly need things like Treasure Cruise and Comeuppance. It's at least valid to test removal>counters.

The Nykthos really was an attempt at replacing Sanctum. I may up the basics to replace things like Reliquary and Nykthos. I didn't realize how much people frowned on the bouncelands. They're difficult for me to manage, and I hate them most of the time, so maybe that should've been the sign. I think I'll take the previous suggestion of Llorwyn filters for now, and work up from there. Blood Moon and BtB aren't threats at the table right now, but I'll have some serious reconsidering to do if anybody starts trying more land-hate.


I neglected to mention (because I forgot) that Darkwater Catacombs was reprinted in CMDR 2016, bringing it to an all-time low pricepoint. The Invasion filters are criminally underrated fixing lands. If you want to get Skycloud Expanse to fill it out, you can offset the $5USD filter, with the $1USD, averaging both lands at $3USD for very powerful fixing lands which accomplish what your karoos do, without punishing you for playing 3 colors, or for not having Karoo support.

While I absolutely adore my Mystic Gate, right now Marsh Flats is mellowing out as much as it's going to short of a standard set reprint. With this in mind, you can restructure your manabase on the cheap to be more efficient by having all 3 in-color fetches to make your fetch package look something like this...

Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Marsh Flats
Bad River
Flood Plain
Esper Panorama

While the Mirage-lands might be a bit slower, the ability for your fetches to rip any color out of your deck is absolutely crucial- where the offcolor fetches don't also have the utility of fixing your basic needs in addition to your duals. In terms of long-term value, Flats can go into many different builds if you do retire Zur regardless. This also doesn't mean you have to rip out the off-color fetches, either- but with Invasion filters, Buddlylands, Tangolands (battlelands), Temples, and Painlands, you won't have to rely as much on the Filter+Shock package (it'll just compliment your Tangoland + Shock setup to fix color needs, or reduce the number of basic lands you could potentially draw, as opposed to the myth about reducing the likelyhood of drawing a land by any significant margin.)

Whatever the case, Lorwyn Filters, Marsh Flats, and/or Invasion Filters will treat you well without slowing you down, and Mirage Filters will help you hit colors even if they spend their initial turn tapped (at which times, I still find them preferable to unsupported Karoos.)


Zunee wrote:

Thank you for all of the information!


Absolutely my pleasure :) Just make sure you're having a good time playing EDH and pushing your playgroup towards having a good time too!

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