The way last weekend shaped up, the only Prerelease I was going to be able to make was the midnight Prerelease Friday night at Collector’s Heaven. The only
problem with that plan? After working my full-time job all day I was scheduled to work my part-time job from 7 PM to 11 PM. A long day to end a long week,
and to add to the fun I had to be up early Saturday morning to go see my son’s game for Spring football league.
Stopping by Collector’s Friday night I knew
I’d be tired, but I was still so excited about Journey into Nyx that I didn’t want to miss out. I figured worse case I’d get my loot, build my deck, play a
game, drop, and make a beeline home to bed.
It turned out that if you played in at least two rounds of the Prerelease you got two booster packs of Journey into Nyx, so I resolved to stick around for
two rounds. Then I read the “Forge a Godslayer” activity card, and you needed to get 3 sticker “ingredients” to get one of the options for your hero weapon
and you got one sticker for each round you played (winner of each round gets first choice of the three stickers). This sounded kinda neat, considering
there were five different hero weapons and seven different combinations of ingredients to add another special ability; you could really make a rather
OK, so maybe I’d stay for three rounds if I could keep my eyes open. After round three I was undefeated and had forged a rather sick Godslayer:
I decided I should stay for the final round… and end up winning that too, taking home a fat stack of store credit, a kickass Godslayer and some decent
Journey into Nyx loot. Turns out opening a Hydra Broodmaster to go with the prerelease Heroes’ Bane along with all the good white removal and a dash of
mana acceleration makes for a pretty sweet sealed deck. I convince myself it was all worth it as I climbed into bed at 5 AM for a few hours of sleep before
the football game.
While every new set has cards that I immediate start salivating over for Commander, Journey into Nyx really has me excited to play 60 card decks. I
previously wrote about a few updates to my very successful RUG Monsters Standard deck
along with a sweet Necrotic Ooze/Varolz, the Scar-Striped Sage of Hours Modern deck,
but what really got me excited was the gaggle of utility enchantment creatures that got spoiled immediately after I wrote up those decks, in particular
Brain Maggot is a throwback to Mesmeric Fiend. I played the heck out of Mesmeric Fiend back in the day, and even in a world where creatures are much better
than they were back then Brain Maggot is still going to do some great work temporarily disrupting the plans of opponents while conveniently attached to a
creature body. I plan on playing the heck out of it in Standard. The other two struck me as aiming squarely at older formats, especially Eidolon of
Rhetoric’s suspicious toughness that is just out of Lightning Bolt range. Having these two “hate” effects attached to bodies that can attack makes them
But what really got my mind turning was that all three are enchantments that cost three mana or less, and you know who loves those sorts of cards?
Zur the Enchanter decks have made a little noise recently in Modern due to the ability to fetch up Detention Sphere, which is positively gross. Nearly as
gross is fetching up a Threads of Disloyalty for Tarmogoyf or Dark Confidant. Now we can seed our deck with singleton “hate bear” enchantment creatures to
tutor up in the right matchups, but if none of them really fits the bill, how about fetching up another Brain Maggot to put the squeeze on your opponent’s
You know what else is a three mana enchantment? This.
Along with Zur the Enchanter, Courser of Kruphix is out of Lightning Bolt range as well. It’s my favorite card in Standard and I feel it’s got enough power
to make it in Modern, especially given how easy it is to reset the top of your deck with fetchlands. Of course, adding a creature that costs double green
to your Zur deck brings some serious mana challenges, but given how easy it is to fix your mana in Modern with fetchlands – and how Courser quite nicely
offsets a lot of the pain from fetchlands and Ravnica duals – I think we can make it work. A nice bonus is that Zur’s attack trigger gives us another
opportunity to reset the top of our deck.
Pondering the puzzle of adding green to my black, white and blue deck, along with creatures with the toughness to shrug off Lightning Bolt (and you know my
long-time favorite card Spellskite has got to find a home in here) led me down the road to this former all-star:
Pairing up Zur and Doran isn’t totally out of left field. While both were in Standard Gerry Thompson did some brewing with the idea back in 2008 (see Zur for Regionals), and it made a little bit of a
splash on the competitive scene in a few places around the world. I took a five-color “aggro Zur” deck to a big tournament in the summer of ’08 (
Rockin’ Richie’s Tournament with Aggro Zur, Part 1
) and this was an environment where we didn’t have fetchlands and Ravnica duals. I had to use Vivid lands and Reflecting Pool. I think we can make the mana
work in Modern.
The current modern Zur deck plays more of a control game and is not something I’m particularly interested in, especially given that I don’t own any copies
of Snapcaster Mage or Geist of Saint Traft. I prefer the different flavor adding Doran to the mix brings. Cards like Spellskite, Courser of Kruphix and Zur
the Enchanter are all solid defensive creatures, but when Doran hits the ground you can shift gears to a much more aggressive stance and put the game away
fast if you need to.
Doran is also another must-deal-with threat, which can spread opposing removal and counterspells thin. Does an opponent hit Doran with Path to Exile or
wait for Zur? I always tend to gravitate towards mid-range because I like to have flexible answers and flexible threats, but I find it’s sometimes a
struggle to finish out games. Having Doran around gives me that raw power to take out an opponent quickly.
What’s also super-amusing is being able to put copies of this gem in the sideboard:
Against aggressive decks, particularly burn, this card is a gigantic pain in the butt. With a Doran on the table it can go on offense and smash for five.
Add Zur to the mix and each turn you add another dude that can attack for five and gains you a life each turn. Alongside Courser of Kruphix I’m feeling
pretty good about staying ahead of aggressive decks.
Below is my initial sketch of the deck idea. While I’m sure it needs plenty of tweaking, I’d be happy to run this at a Modern tournament tomorrow if there
was one nearby.
- 4 Zur the Enchanter
- 4 Doran, the Siege Tower
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Spellskite
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
- 4 Brain Maggot
Brain Maggot, Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek give me a ton of hand disruption, especially since I can ratchet up the pressure on my opponent’s
hand with Zur triggers if needed. If something slips through then Abrupt Decay, Detention Sphere and Threads of Disloyalty will often be able to answer it.
Noble Hierarch is obviously awesome but does a ton of work in our deck by providing some extra blue mana for Zur and the occasional Spellskite activation.
Turn one Overgrown Tomb, cast Noble Hierarch gives us access to all four colors of mana and an Exalted trigger for gravy.
I’m a huge fan of maindeck Spellskite in Modern. It blocks early threats quite nicely, neutralizes Lightning Bolt, and is a huge thorn in the side of
Splinter Twin decks as well as Hexproof and Infect strategies. As good as he is there were times when I played him at GP Richmond where he just sat around
doing nothing since he had zero power. Well, in this deck you’ve a good possibility of having Doran come down and letting Spellskite swing for four!
Zur decks typically run Steel of the Godhead to fetch up, making Zur unblockable and giving him a +2/+2 boost and lifelink. After some consideration, I
think that Unflinching Courage is better in this deck. It gives the same power and toughness boost, not only to Zur but to any creature you might need it
put it on (say you’ve only got Spellskite in play), and the trample is going to be nearly as good as being unblockable a lot of the time.
I’m not entirely sure that Eidolon of Rhetoric deserves a maindeck slot, but my reasoning is that against combo or control, after you’ve disrupted their
hand, fetching up Eidolon will make it harder to use card draw to climb back into the game. Being a 1/4 means he’s not terrible against aggro decks and
plays nicely with Doran too.
For the sideboard, Stony Silence is a killer card against Affinity and is a perfect bullet for a Zur deck. Sometimes though there’s an artifact creature
that is already equipped with Cranial Plating, in which case you need to just blow that bad boy up with Seal of Primordium. Rest in Peace hits graveyard
decks, Aegis of the Gods hits the combo decks, and Copy Enchantment acts as backup copies to any of the hate cards that are doing good work.
Blind Obedience seems it might be decent against Kiki Pod and maybe other mid-range decks. I thought Athreos, God of Passage might be good against Control
decks, since ideally I’ll be able to disrupt them long enough to do some serious beatdown with Doran. Zur fetching up Athreos will put them between a rock
and a hard place when leaning on mass removal to bail them out. Thrun, the Last Troll brings some more pain to control decks.
Searching through all the good enchantments that cost three or less in Modern, there is an embarrassment of riches that didn’t make the cut in my first
draft but certainly are on the radar. Here are some potential all-stars:
Aspect of Mongoose
– I’m hoping that Spellskite fits this role better, but if targeted removal is too problematic this might be decent.
Aura of Silence
– I’ve always liked this card, but I think Stony Silence and Seal of Primordium are probably better.
Bow of Nylea
– The Swiss Army knife of artifact enchantments. The deathtouch can combo with Unflinching Courage’s trample.
– While I am running a few Islands, this might be brutal enough against control decks to warrant a sideboard spot.
– I’ve got a lot of creatures in my deck. I hate to see them die. If Athreos, God of Passage doesn’t work out I might give this or Gift of Immortality
Illness in the Ranks
– Are token creatures something that needs an answer?
– Might this be a decent anti-control card?
Mark of Asylum
– Makes burning my creatures impossible… not sure if that’s a good thing, since it’ll just be launched at my face instead.
No Rest for the Wicked
– I’ve got a lot of creatures in my deck. I hate to see them die.
Spirit of the Labyrinth
– Another anti-combo hate bear, but a non-bo with Doran. Still might be good enough.
– Do we really need to mess with people’s lands?
– A nice, flexible answer.
– I’ve been on the receiving end of this and it’s a pain.
Thassa, God of the Sea
– Seems like a natural fit (a 3-drop enchantment!) but my three-mana slots are jam-packed with cards I like better.
Let me know if I’ve missed any relevant enchantments for Zur to tutor up…
This is just one of the many Constructed tournament deck ideas that Journey into Nyx has inspired me to brew up. I’m really excited about this deck and
can’t wait to get the cards and try it out. I think it’s chock-full of powerful cards and synergies and just might be able to hang with the big boys of
Modern. What do you think?
New to Commander?
If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
Commander Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
Commander Starter Kits 1
(kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 2
(kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 3
(kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):
- King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)
- Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)
- Child of Alara (Land Ho!)
- Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)
- Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)
- Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)
- Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus
- Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)
- Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)
- Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)
- Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)
- Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)
- Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)
- Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)
- Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)
- Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)
- Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)
- Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)
- Sliver Overlord ( Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)
- Marath, Will of the Wild ( Juicing up the Naya Precon)
- Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)
- Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)
- Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)
Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker (
Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling
- Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)
- Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)
- Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)
- Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)
- Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)
- Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)
- Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)
- Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius ( new player-friendly)
- Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)
- Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)
Riku of Two Reflections (
steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna, Light of Alabaster ( Aura-centric Voltron)
- Ruhan of the Fomori ( lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)
- Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)
- Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)