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Strategy

Be legitimately helpful to other players while gradually manipulating the game in your favor. Bribe your opponents into not attacking you. Shut down instant-win combos and runaway life gain with spot removal. Stay out of one-hit-KO range with Zedruu's life gain. And when it's time for the final showdown, use your enemy's strength against them.

Your key cards for dealing the final blow include Master Warcraft , Reins of Power , Mirrorweave , and Deflecting Palm . Warcraft is a situational or combo killer; the others subvert wide creatures, tall creatures, and direct damage. You get a couple of chances with Mystic Retrieval , but ideally you shouldn't make your move until your opponents have worn each other down.

Zedruu the Greathearted donates at instant speed. Most sorcery-speed cards are low cost so you can afford to play something on your turn and keep mana up for donating. If you can, give your opponents stuff right when they need it most (e.g. "Listen, if you leave me alone for a bit I'll give you a Fog Bank to fend off that flying attack.") Otherwise, donate at the last possible second, right before your turn starts.

You'll also want mana up to punish attackers when diplomacy fails. Illusionist's Gambit and Portal Mage can ruin somebody's day, and after the first time you use one they'll be eyeing your open mana for the rest of the game.

Combos and Synergies

This deck has lots of unconventional interactions and uses for cards. Some highlights:

  • Self-Donating Cards: Goblin Cadets and Humble Defector are pretty straightforward. Play them after Zedruu hits the board. Rainbow Vale is best used on an opponent's turn so it doesn't come right back to you. Contested War Zone and Coveted Jewel require you to take a hit - consider sweetening the pot by offering not to block if your opponent attacks with their weakest creature.
  • Donation Fodder: Every wall is a good candidate for donation - just keep one for yourself. Enchantment-based removal like Cast Out , Seal Away and Stasis Snare are good harmless donations. Pentad Prism and Sphere of the Suns are perfect for donating after their charge counters are gone, and Pyramid of the Pantheon is good if you got it late in the game and it doesn't have any brick counters. It doesn't matter who controls Oath of Lieges , Clout of the Dominus , or Paradox Haze . Redundant Circles of Protection are good cheap targets as well.
  • Helping Hand: You want your opponents to increase in power and destabilize the game. To that end, make open offers to the table when it suits you. Give players mana with Victory Chimes . Give attackers double strike with Duelist's Heritage . Let people draw cards with Soldevi Sentry (you don't have to wait for a creature to take lethal damage before regenerating it). Recruit help from your rivals with Minds Aglow , Manifold Insights and Out of Bounds . Flex your benevolence with Benevolent Offering . Make sure you're benefiting others besides just yourself, and always try to bargain for the least possible personal investment.
  • Land Baron: Donate your lands! I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out. Lands make one of the best bribes - everybody wants them. If you fall too far behind Terrain Generator can help make up the difference; but your secret is that you want fewer lands than your opponents so you can get maximum value out of Oath of Lieges and/or Surveyor's Scope . And if the tide turns against you, you can always snatch them back with Brand .
  • Not for Sale: Some permanents you definitely do not want to give away. Vow of Flight , Vow of Lightning , Curse of Opulence , Island Sanctuary and Orzhov Advokist fall solidly in this category. They're great for keeping heat off your back, but only while they're under your control.
  • MVPs: Paradox Haze accelerates Zedruu's ability to ludicrous speed. Delusions of Mediocrity and Statecraft are wonderful deterrents - you can donate them at instant speed to whoever deigns to fuck with you. Vedalken Plotter and Shifting Borders are great value, since you can trade a basic land for something fancier, and it's nigh impossible to un-swap lands once they've been swapped.
  • Playing with Colors: Between Protective Sphere , Circle of Protection: Green , and Circle of Protection: Black you have non-targeted damage prevention for the whole spectrum. Hydroblast and Pyroblast give you cheap U/R control. Alter Reality can modify most of the above to get you out of a tight spot. Scuttlemutt has limited color-changing capabilities as well.
  • Indentured Servitude: If another player is about to die, form an instant alliance by donating Lich's Mirror . Since the card specifies that everything they own is shuffled into their deck, they get to keep whatever you've donated to them... including the mirror. Congratulations! You now have an immortal thrall slaved to your continued survival. Feed them lands and watch them go.
  • The "Other" Win Con: It can be tough to maneuver into a winnable board state against heavy removal/lifegain decks. With a bit of sneakiness, Orzhov Advokist can break this stalemate. Crucially, her ability is not targeted, so she can gradually tick up Zedruu's power even when shrouded by Clout of the Dominus . Once Zedruu is in killin' shape, cast Master Warcraft for an instant commander takedown.
  • Pressure Release Valve: Once you get rolling, card draw ramps quickly and it's entirely possible to mill yourself out. Elixir of Immortality is your first and best answer. Of course, you may have no maximum hand size due to Spellbook and/or Reliquary Tower - in that case, either return them to your hand with Leave / Chance or give them away with Zedruu. Brand is your last-resort insurance against overindulging in card draw. In a pinch, it can also be used to recall your blockers. But be warned: It'll kill your momentum. Use sparingly.

Weaknesses

This is not a duel deck; it will never, ever win a 1v1 match.

This is not a competitive deck. It starts slow, and has no guaranteed win cons. Suitable for casual play.

This deck's Achilles heel is life gain. Its damage is designed to be quick and explosive (not sustained). If the final surviving opponent's life total is out of alpha-strike range, its chances of winning drop dramatically.

Treat significant sustained life gain sources (such as big lifelinker creatures) as a threat on par with big-dick combos, and proactively remove them.

Suggestions

Updates Add

Removed a few slower cards, draw spells, walls. Removed on-theme but underperforming cards such as Akroan Horse . Added more lands and ramp. Added a mechanism to shuffle excess cards back into deck ( Leave / Chance with Elixir of Immortality ) and Lich's Mirror because it's hilarious.

The general goals of this update were to a) increase the consistency of getting Zedruu out early, b) decrease the number of "turtle-y" cards that slow the game down, and c) decrease the number of "dead" cards that are only useful very early or very late game.

Comments

71% Casual

29% Competitive

Date added 11 months
Last updated 1 month
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.50
Tokens Gold, 1/1 Spirit
Folders Test, WTB, Things I Like
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