pie chart

Zur the Enchanter's "Prison" (cEDH)

Commander / EDH WUB (Esper)

jclaust


Zur the Enchanter's Prison cEDH

History of the Deck

This is my 14-year-old and refined Zur the Enchanter Prison decklist that has evolved since Zur's first print, Summer 2006. This specific decklist has slowly changed to include more efficient cards as sets released while maintaining the older, generally stronger non-creature spells. It is my definitive High-Powered EDH deck before cEDH existed as a term.

August 2006, I began play with Prison Zur against Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary, Braids, Cabal Minion and Erayo, Soratami Ascendant  . The Rofellos and Braids were known as the EDH villains by surrounding playgroups for their high-level and to-the-textbook play. By Winter 2006, an Arcum Daggson pilot joined. We were largely ostracised but other playgroups spectated; alhough it should have been more inclusive, the isolation was mutual and beneficial.

As Veteran players (Type 1/Type 1.5), being competitive meant matching Card Quality, Skill Level, Deck Strategy, and GRPC (AKA Game/Rules/Player/Card) Knowledge. Willingness to play is not indicative of being a competitor.

Early 2007, a Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind pilot was fostered after his deck was ruled too powerful by casual playgroups. We further strengthened his play by group effort.

By Winter 2007, the lull struck. We solely met during school breaks and holidays.

Rofellos was banned, but after a dialogue, Rofellos remained an illegal yet playable general because we were certain the Rules Committee would unban it. Our reasoning was that other, equally problematic generals whom augmented and accelerated powerful strategies, were legal. Rofellos was critical for balancing the top percentile and our group. It was obvious that other, non-general, cards were a looming issue.

2008, A Sharuum the Hegemon pilot surprised the group with a new combo and joined. She reinvigorated brewinh; then we used Skype exclusively to play. High-Powered EDH dwindled in our LGS, but Legacy play had an upsurge at LGSs.

2009, Braids was banned; yet, we believed it would be unbanned like Rofellos, so the deck remained. Until then, various cards were printed, banned and unbanned that changed our metagame. This kept our playgroup intact and refreshed play.

2010, the Rofellos and Braids players sought new, admittedly weaker, general options, but both postponed it; they solely played on Skype because High-Powered play was closely associated with Pub-Stomping at LGSs.

Primers and Net-Decking gained noticable traction on websites. It was commonplace to hear and see individuals playtest cEDH equivalent decks and Pub-Stomp.

Various factors lead to negative trends like Pub-Stomping: no consensus on deck level ranking, the gray area Rule Zero perpetuates and the idea that "EDH is a casual format". Many players judged deck power level solely by its general. The majority of LGS playgroups and randoms solely used the RC ban List and rules without drafting a social contract. The RC failed to stress the Social Contract as an EDH component before play commenced; in fact, the RC did not exist to many players. If an attempt to reach these playgroups was made, it failed.

My playgroup and I utilized the social contract to explain level of play, game and character expectations; unfortunately, less individuals knew about social contracts and its importance. Some, if not many, would react negatively, defensively, of our process and playgroup expectations.

Rofellos was banned, again. Braids remained banned. That Winter, a High-Power Hermit Druid pilot surprised the group with a new deck strategy. We welcomed him, but he rejected regular play after some rough games. His presence convinced our Rofellos pilot to run his own interaction package.

2011, Erayo gets banned, and we were certain Zur was next. I purchased the first Commander cycle, and I experimented with Ghave, Guru of Spores and Karador, Ghost Chieftain.

My original EDH pod officially disbanded because of bans, change in responsibilities and availability. EDH was too much of a time investment, so we opted to be a Legacy and Vintage playgroup.

I roamed and played any level of EDH because paper Legacy, especially Vintage, was nonexistent; yet, I sought High-Powered EDH play. I was mislead by many players whom misjudged and/or misrepresented their deck strategy, card quality, skill level and/or GRPC knowledge level because they were the winningest player of their area.

By Winter 2011, Worldgorger Dragon, Ad Nauseam and Hermit Druid were considered the strongest EDH strategies by the small High-Powered EDH internet hivemind; although, I am hesitant about the latter: too much of a glass cannon from my experience.

At this time, Primers on forums were the norm: Net-Decking no longer carried a negative stigma.

Winter 2012, I was still certain Zur would be banned, so I upgraded it: Doomsday Zur with Ad Nauseam. It was an original brew. Ad Nauseam and Doomsday were not yet a popular combination.

2014, I piloted Karador Boonweaver and Zur's Prison.

2015, I built and piloted Voltron Zur for casual EDH and no longer anticipated a Zur ban.

2017, I began recording: Win/Loss ratio and other relevant data.

2019, I built Shimmer Zur because I found it neat and equally shallow to Doomsday and Voltron Zur play; although, it was interesting at first.

Start of March 2020, I played Prison Zur circa 430 games and maintain a 67.3 win percentage: 105 Wins / 51 Losses (Records began 2017). My current LGS playgroup has a large, active and growing cEDH playgroup that lowered my Win significantly, which was unhealthier. It will be healthier once gameplay resumes.

End of March 2020, No gameplay, data.

April 2020, No gameplay, data.

Note

I hope you enjoy and further refine the deck to suit one's needs.

The Deck

Denial

There are two card combinations that complicate gameplay.

Necropotence + Solitary Confinement is a pellowfort and replenishes one's hand.

Necro and Solitary forces players to attack and target one another. Less damage equates to more cards. Talismans and Mana Crypt cease damaging while remaining functional.

Estrid's Invocation + Greater Auramancy help protect the enchantments and Zur.

Most of the non-creature removal is target removal in cEDH, so this combination eliminates them and incentivizes opponents to target others.

Win Conditions

A hard lock: Stasis and Zur with Vigilance that eventually will be or is unanswerable.

Infinite Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter with Blind Obedience and sufficient mana rocks.

General Damage with a soft/hard lock of different Prison pieces. This may include Winter Orb and Stony Silence or Arcane Laboratory and Rest in Peace.

Play Guide

The lines in this deck are highly dependent on seat order, turn order, deck information, revealed information and player information; thus, this deck is skill intensive and difficult to pilot, but it is immensely gratifying.

When one is ahead, play like it because the deck inherently does not play cards that a conventional cEDH table would answer unless it is game winning for oneself (Few included) or game ending (Few included) for a single opponent(s). This leaves many Prison (Umbrella term for Tax, Denial, $T4X and Interactive cards) pieces to be allowed because most effective cEDH players know to hold interaction for the former. With low CMC and/or quick win decks like Consult, it further incentivizes opponents to hold interaction for the latter rather than the former. Never be greedy and play this deck as a Toolbox deck with A+B win conditions.

This means...

When ahead in turn order or when others develop, develop. While doing so, keep interaction available. The longer the game is, the more likely one wins. Without significant information, it is not advised to force a win.

Turn 2 Zur is possible, but turn 3 is the norm. There is nothing wrong with playing Zur later to build a stronger board state and/or hold interaction. Most cEDH pods counter Zur or wait until the end of Pre-Combat Main Phase to remove him. Cavern of Souls, Interaction and Shroud help it enter and remain on the battlefield

When resolving Zur's ability, find Necropotence. If Necropotence is unavailable, it depends on the board state and one's interpretation of the information provided, my top contenders are Greater Auramancy and Solitary Confinement or Phyrexian Arena. The only easily answer is Necropotence. After tha, the learning curve is significant.

Playing one's Prison or Development cards is fine while activating Neceopotence conservatively. This deck does not win by paying 30 life and instant winning with Necro.

From this point, pending on what Necropotence got one, one can use Zur as a toolbox engine and find sufficient Prison cards such as Rest in Peace, Defense cards such as Greater Auramancy or Interaction like Detention Sphere.

Going the Prison route makes one more vulnerable to other players' interaction, but it lowers their likeliness of a win and lengthens the game to better one's win opportunity.

Type of win: Cast an underwhelming Triclopean Sight and find Stasis.

The Defensive route does not directly improve one's win percentage; however, it protects one's position by closing opportunities for interaction.

Type of win: An early Blind Obedience can lead to a Dramatic-Scepter win when opponents cannot interact with enchantments.

Eventually, opponents will find it difficult to interact with one and one's board state. This forces opponents to interact with one another. This allows one to propel resources, establish a tougher Prison and/or win through Commander Damage, Stasis and Stasis-type lock or combo; Isochron Scepter with Dramatic Reversal and Blind Obidience.

Rarely, one can be the archenemy. It is unusual because it takes most, if not all, interaction and forces each opponent to divulge, otherwise concealed, information. If successful, whomever untaps first usually wins because mana and interaction have been exhausted. It is the risk, not effectiveness, that discourages archenemy tactics.

To overcome Archenemy situations, Necropotence and Reliquary Tower is the best answer. Lastly, adhere to the qualities cited in the second paragraph of this section.

Specific Card Section

Land Count and Options

The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is effectively a Prison spell.

Blast Zone is effectively a removal spell for 1-?-drop permanents.

Homeward Path is effectively a rattle-snake or answer to Mind Control effects.

Tolaria West is a tutor.

Strip Mine, Wasteland and Rishadan Port are effectively land destruction spells.

The basic land count is correct and legitimizes Land Tax and Scroll Rack. The latter has synergy with Necropotence, too. The deck is resilient, and basic lands are essential to mitigating Non-Basic land hate. In fact, I have struggled more on whether or not to exchange Prairie Stream and Sunken Hollow for non-land cards or basic land.

Interaction

Disallow and all other ability and/or spell counters were included to combat the Flash and Consult win conditions. With Flash banned, the interaction package needs an adjustment.

Aura

Triclopean Sight is a phenomenal niche card for the deck strategy. It works in tandem with Stasis.

Diplomatic Immunity was removed in 2019 because permanent interaction was at a low in cEDH decks. Currently, there is an upsurge in permanent interaction in my playgroup because of an uptick in general-centric strategies.

Keep brewing.

Suggestions

Updates Add

Comments

Casual

95% Competitive

Top Ranked
Date added 5 months
Last updated 1 week
Key combos
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

1 - 0 Mythic Rares

52 - 0 Rares

25 - 0 Uncommons

12 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 1.97
Tokens 1/1 Bird
Folders CEDH
Votes
Ignored suggestions
Shared with
Views