Daily Digest: Esp-Zur

Zur the Enchanter is one of Magic’s most charming weirdos. He appears now and again, makes a mess of a tournament or two, then vanishes. Ross Merriam wants to know if he’s here to stay at #SCGDFW!

Shouldn’t this deck be called Esp-Zur? Whoever is naming these decks needs to step up their portmanteau game.

Zur the Enchanter has always been a sweet card, and over the years there have been several Constructed decks built around the card, as well as countless Commander decks, I’m sure. For Modern, it’s well-sized, since it dodges both Abrupt Decay and Lightning Bolt, and the diversity of enchantments available to find with the trigger is staggering.

Here we see a nicely disciplined package for Zur, mostly revolving around Detention Sphere to use the namesake card as repeatable removal. That’s already pretty sweet, but we also have access to Spreading Seas, which can provide some mana disruption and card advantage as well as a solution to creature-lands like Raging Ravine or Inkmoth Nexus.

Then there are the two bullets: Ghostly Prison and Steel of the Godhead. Ghostly Prison is an important tool against aggressive decks; this deck is mostly trying to race, using Zur in an aggressive role rather than strictly for card advantage. Preventing your opponent from overwhelming you before you set up the engine is important. Once Zur is going, you can turn the corner very quickly.

Steel of the Godhead is a common first target if you want to get aggressive immediately, making Zur the Enchanter a 3/6 lifelinking unblockable creature and significantly restricting your opponent’s angles of interaction. Notably, Steel of the Godhead also goes nicely on Geist of Saint Traft, giving you a nearly unstoppable eight-point attack each turn that also gains four life.

Keep in mind that, once your opponent allows the Zur trigger to resolve, Steel of the Godhead enters the battlefield immediately without targeting a specific creature, so there is no window for your opponent to kill the creature Steel of the Godhead is getting attached to before it enters the battlefield, nor do they get to know that you are searching for Steel before it enters the battlefield.

The rest of the deck is a typical aggro-control deck replete with cheap discard, removal, and excellent threats in Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy; Lingering Souls; and the aforementioned Geist of Saint Traft. Jace is a little suspect since you don’t have much to Flashback once it transforms, but it certainly makes combat awkward for your opponent, and discarding unnecessary enchantments with the looting ability is valuable.

The last major draw to Zur the Enchanter is how it gives you access to some of Modern’s most powerful sideboard cards. In Games 2 and 3, Zur can threaten to find Rest in Peace or Stony Silence, meaning you do not have to overload on them in order to find them consistently in the matchups where they are good. This gives the deck more space for other sideboard options, allowing it to more easily tackle the diverse Modern metagame.

I close today with a final thought on names. Who decided on “Zur the Enchanter?” No one was reaching too deep into the tank for that one. He’s a Wizard, and he casts enchantments. For a deck this sweet, it’s really being let down by its nomenclature. We can do better.