Down And Dirty – You Don’t Mess With The Zuran

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Thursday, July 10th – While most of the premier Constructed minds in the game are concentrating on Block Constructed, Kyle Sanchez is sticking to his Standard guns. Today’s Down And Dirty sees Kyle build upon the interesting Zur The Enchanter decks that put up decent numbers at recent Regionals events…

I didn’t want to start out too sappily, but I wanted to thank yall’s (I’m Texan) fine words and emails from last week trying to help me out with my legal situation, or just providing kind sympathies. By the luck of the Irish I was able to sneak past the heavy fines, so it would just be a waste of my time and money to hire a lawyer over something that will result in a max of $500 fine with little possibility of probation.

I’m also not even remotely interested in Block Constructed right now. The format as a whole just doesn’t entice me… it’s like a potato with no butter or a fish with no tartar.

Perhaps Crazytide will change all that, but I swear every time I sit down to come up with a cool deck, or start playing already successful decks, I just can’t get them to work. Every time I sport the Kith hat, I get awkward draws. Every time I mount my throw-back Fae jersey, I lose to Kith. Don’t even get me started on my Quick n’ Shorts, they just lose to everything.

Someone better make an interesting deck pretty soon, or I’m not even going to take an attempt at Berlin. Speaking of, Patrick’s Solar Flare list looks pretty cool. Which is a bit of a stretch, since you have to be really lenient on comparisons to this and the true Japanese-Cheon Flare circa 2006. Still, I like most of the spells in his deck, which is something I can’t say for the others. I actually forgot Shriekmaw was in this block… it seemed like everyone was getting around playing non-Black creatures. Opposite Kin however, he’s an OG ’til the end. But I have bigger endeavors to conquer…

Like winning Nats with this home brew!

I shared this deck a couple of weeks ago, and testing it since then has showed me it has the skills to become a heavyweight contender. And before you hear my thoughts, I also hate a lot of three-ofs, but it was pretty unavoidable here, and it doesn’t appear to slow or clog the deck too much.

It basically plays like a five color Rock deck, using mana producers to extend your reach on the opponent with heavy and hard to handle hitters: Doran, Zur, and Reveillark. It supports this unique cast with cheap efficient spells to answer a multitude of decks in the current environment, like Oblivion Ring, Thoughtseize, Rune Snag, and Firespout. There is also a small enchantment toolbox to make Zur’s value off the charts, being able to search for the aforementioned O-Rings, Steel of the Godhead to make Zur an overpowered Exalted Angel, and Knollspine Invocation to provide another serious threat the opponent has to deal with alongside Zur.

The sideboard is metagamed to deal with the big decks in the format, with overlapping value spread between the fifteen to give you more avenues of attack opposite the bewildered opponent. The numbers and such might appear a bit off, so I’m going to do something that I absolutely hate: a card by card evaluation. For my taste it’s just a bit too basic.

Here is my deck, here are my cards, here are the matchups, let’s be friends!


4 Wall of Roots
3 Birds of Paradise

These are the accelerators for the deck to provide a quicker Zur, Doran, or Reveillark advantage. Alongside twenty-one lands, the four Birds and Walls were too much mana for me to handle, so a cut had to be made and Birds was the clear choice. It’s much better to have a turn 1 Vivid land than Birds, unless you have Doran, which is where the Bosk came from. With that logic, Birds is the clear choice, since Wall of Roots is like Ben Wallace with a Pistons jersey when Doran is aboard.

The strength of Walls of Roots in this format is really amazing. He gives you mana when you need it, and is an excellent option opposite Chameleon Colossus, which was a big problem for me before I refined my list. Of course, he also serves the purpose of negating all the little ground damage, and also enables a turn 3 Doran with possible Rune Snag backup on their turn.

4 Vivid Grove
2 Vivid Marsh
2 Murmuring Bosk
4 Reflecting Pool
3 River of Tears
3 Horizon Canopy
2 Yavimaya Coast
1 Gemstone Mine

Green Sources on turn 1 – 8 if you’re on the Bird/Doran draw.
Green Sources – 14 without BOP, Wall, Pool. 25 all sources considered.
Black Sources – 12 without BOP or Pool. 21 all sources considered.
Blue Sources – 12 without BOP or Pool. 21 all sources considered.
White Sources – 12 without BOP or Pool. 21 all sources considered.
Red sources – 7 without BOP or Pool. 14 all sources considered.

I’m not sure if it can get better than that. Across the board, your mana leans toward Green while producing additional colors.

I’m still not completely sure on Murmuring Bosk. It was originally a one-of, but I drew it a lot and liked it so I upped it to two and haven’t looked back. Gemstone Mine might turn into Gemstone Caverns. Turn 2 Doran without needing a Birds is pretty cute, but so is turn 2 Zur with the help of Birds or Wall. Clearly the usability is there, but is it worth the risk of topdecking that colorless land in this color hungry deck? Probably.

Dude Base

4 Doran, the Siege Tower

Doran is the center point in this deck, with his value being high even when the board is clogged down. He acts like a Liege for the entire deck, giving Birds a beak, Walls a fist with which to block, and Zur a hardy +3/+3. He is also an extremely proactive offensive weapon, crashing into the opponent with no regard taking a chunk from his dome or legions from his army. At the very least a well timed spell from his hand. This old tree is also very hard to blow over, with roots stretching deep within the ground to avoid any non-Black removal and every popular Red burn spell.

4 Zur the Enchanter

The presumed focus of the deck, his value really only soars when Doran is down. He still has the power to take it down himself, but with Doran in play it turns that first Steel of the Godhead attack from 3 to 6 damage. With an expected attack for 8 on the next turn, gaining a monstrous 16 life due to double Lifelink. But he’s not just a big time attacker. He is also a four-toughness blocker on D the turn you play him, although he only jumps into the red zone on D in the most dire of cases, since you want to protect him.

4 Mulldrifter, the Drawer of Cards

He draws cards or attacks for two in the air when you don’t have Reveillark. He represents half of this deck’s card drawing ability.

3 Reveillark, the Getter Backer of Really Good Dudes

Reveillark is awesome, but on a different scale than you’re used to seeing. In a deck centered around Reveillark, you look to perform some kind of combo. Not that getting back Doran and Zur in one Evoke isn’t a combo, but it doesn’t win on the spot. His role in this deck is a supporter, giving mid-late game card advantage. He is also a safe bet when played next to a Zur or Doran, since he stops Wrath effects and naturally has to die before the others are killed to negate his death trigger. But he is also a solid beater, with four power for five mana and evasion – he can get the job done. Kill it? Sure! There were four at first, but it became a three-of due to the clunks in drawing multiples, and the fourth was replaced with a Foresee.

The Goodies

2 Steel of the Godhead
3 Oblivion Ring
1 Knollspine Invocation

Ah, the enchantment package for Zur. There are a host of powerful enchantments in the current format, ranging from Sacred Mesa to Pentarch Ward, but none of them are really that good in the metagame. It’s too fast paced to be able to lean on cards that take a mass amount of mana, or they take time to perform, like Mesa and Bitterblossom. So the “toolbox” is limited to Oblivion Rings, a Steel pair, and Invocation.

Steel of the Godhead makes Zur into an Exalted Angel with a -1/+1 counter on it, but the second makes him into a beastly 5/8 with double lifelink. It deals the same amount of damage in two attacks but gains five more life than the retired Angel. The Steel plan shouldn’t be rushed, since you only have two to work with and no way to get them back if Zur dies with them on him. This is why Steel on a Doran is such a risky play. There’s a very good chance he’s not going to be the game finisher, and putting an Aura on him leaves him susceptible to death by combat given his wingless state. Reveillark is a much better target, and can still gain enough life to race most situations.

If you have enough time and aren’t racing, it’s usually best to go for Knollspine Invocation first, giving you another angle of attack in the case they draw an answer or have something stupid like Condemn. Decks like Faeries and even Rock decks have a hard time dealing with it because it can also be aimed at creatures to clear a path, along with the obvious uncounterable Lava Axes to the face. It also makes answer #4 to a resolved Magus of the Moon, with Firespout being the other three. It’s also noteworthy the high casting cost on the spells, along with a very high spell count at 39, making Knollspine a fairly reliable plan at many stages in the game.

Oblivion Ring is the last member of the Zur package, and the best of the bunch to bring into play without the help of Zur. It takes out virtually any non-man-land permanent that could cause you problems such as that ballsy Colossus and the rare Oversoul of Dusk. There are very few situations when you want to actually tutor for O-Ring, since the other options have much more potential value, but when you do I’ve always been glad to have ’em around. Perhaps it would be better to lower the O-Ring count to two or one to make room for some Eventide cards, which I’ll highlight later on in the article.

The Others

4 Rune Snag

An excellent compliment to Wall of Roots, along with being a cheap disruption spell to both protect my best dudes and spells that could turn the tide. It’s also a spell that isn’t exactly expected initially from this deck, so its first use will almost always catch them with their undies at their ankles.

3 Thoughtseize

Four is too many, while two doesn’t get the job done. It appears that three Thoughtseize is the right number for whatever deck it’s in, to avoid too much life loss when paired with multiple pain lands.

3 Firespout

Another spell I wouldn’t feel comfortable maindecking four. It doesn’t touch any of my creatures when paid with Red, and only kills a Birds or the occasional Mulldrifter in its Green form. It’s there as an equalizer for when the random draws come with only one side of the deck, such as a hand full of Rune Snags and Mulldrifters with no mana acceleration. It’s another card that isn’t normally expected, especially if I don’t show them game 1 and ambush their squad game 2 or 3.

1 Foresee

This was the fourth Lark, and the 8th form of card draw for this deck. Since its seemingly random addition for last week’s Saturday tournament, I’ve been in love. I draw it many times more than the average statistics suggest, and win games by setting up Knollspine Invocation or use it to find my three-ofs.

New Prospects

I’m going to avoid the matchup analysis and skip to potential additions, since the format is likely to shift a bit with the addition of Eveningtide. There are a couple of new additions I have my eye on.

Filter Lands

The UG and GB filter lands are very possible recruits to the deck that could reinforce an even riskier spell base, featuring additions like Cryptic Command. Of course it all depends what other spells are presented, so I don’t wanna make any claims yet, but the potential is there. Ideally you want your manabase to be UB and GW, putting Horizon Canopy and River of Tears together while Murmuring Bosk and Yavimaya Coast match up. You can shift that to pretty much any combination that’s best now, like GB-UW or UG-BW. It’ll all depend which direction the spells and format goes.


This guy is pretty cool, but I’ll have to see the WB Aura before I make any decisions about him and his inclusion in this deck. He presents a different type of card advantage while being a busty flier as well. He can also be Soulshifted back, but that’s a different block. That fact that he’s Black is also a big benefit, as it fits in with the other kill conditions nicely along with being Reveillarkable. It also has a wicked cool picture that will probably be a hawt looking foil.

Sapling of Colfenor

This guy might fit in even better than Evershrike. He’s Black, has a big butt, draws all the other big butted creatures, and just like Zur and Doran he’s Legendary and can even come back with Reveillark. I don’t think his ability is that good, but a 5/5 Indestructible creature would be, which is what his stats add up to when Doran’s in play.

Wake Thrasher

This guy is pretty sweet and easily splashable. He might even be better than Doran once everything is all said and done. If you turn two Bird him into play he’ll be swinging for 4 that turn, followed by at least six on the next. This guy might be the best blue offensive creature in the history of Magic. Despite being an easily killable 1/1, if you untap with him there’s little way to stop this guy from tearing them apart. A huge addition to Merfolk and clearly one of the staple rares of the set. He’s probably not going to be played here, but I can see other Rock-like decks picking this guy up to pair with turn one mana producers. Perhaps a UG aggro deck like Ben Lundquist format defining UG Block deck last year.

Glen Elendra Archmage

This is the real tip that tottled my tinger. This chick can shut down any permission deck. All. By. Herself. With Reveillark shenanigans soon to follow. It appears more like a sideboard card, but an excellent one at that. Blue creatures are already too good, and now they add Persist to one? So awesome! Plus, I’m really into skinny blue chicks with elongated ears and peppered red hair. And lord knows she’ll make me breakfast in bed and do my laundry if she’ll sacrifice herself to stop her neighbors’ progress.

That’s all I got now on the deck. I figured since I’m 70% committed to playing this deck that I’d rather give my preliminary version of it before the switch up comes with Crazytide. I told Rich Hagon at Indy I was gonna win Nats, and I had a dream about beating LSV in the Semis, Cheon in the Quarters, before crashing Chapin’s baldy blonde dome down.

Swept ’em all 3-0 too! The deck’s insane!

Let’s be friends!


Top 5 Picks

1) I Kissed A Girl – Kate Perry
2) Lollipop – Lil Wayne ft. Static Major
3) Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
4) Take A Bow – Rihanna
5) Burnin’ Up – Jonas Brothers