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Zur the Enchanter's "Prison" (cEDH)

Commander / EDH WUB (Esper)


This is my 14-year-old and refined Zur the Enchanter Prison decklist that has evolved since Zur's first print, Summer 2006. This list slowly shifted to include more efficient cards as sets released while maintaining the older, generally stronger, non-creature spells and theme. It is my definitive High-Powered EDH deck before cEDH; today, it is my CEDH deck that I pilot regularly against two separate cEDH playgroups.

August 2006, I piloted Prison Zur against Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary, Braids, Cabal Minion and Erayo, Soratami Ascendant  . The players were infamous for their high-level and strict play. By Winter, an Arcum Dagsson pilot joined. We were ostracized but others spectated; although it should have been inclusive, isolation was mutual, beneficial.

Benefits: We created and amended a to-the-letter EDH social contract, created a meta and tended a healthy and growing playgroup.

Drawbacks: We were misunderstood, negatively associated and vilified as the EDH social climate changed.

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. Participation is not indicative of being a competitor.

Early 2007, a Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind pilot was fostered once she included A+B combos. We strengthened her play and card quality through group effort. Her philosophy and holistic knowledge followed suit.

By Winter, a lull struck. We met during school breaks and holidays only.

Rofellos gets 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 augmented and accelerated powerful strategies, were legal. Rofellos was critical for balancing the top percentile. It was obvious that non-general cards were a looming issue.

2008, A Mind Over Matter-Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Proto-Hack Ball Momir Vig, Simic Visionary and Sharuum the Hegemon Artifact Combo pilot surprised the group with new combos and joined. It reinvigorated brewing, and the playgroup brewed with new generals and strategies; then we played exclusively on Skype because High-Powered EDH dwindled at our LGSs. We implemented more Vintage and Legacy concepts and philosophies into EDH as we created.

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

We noticed the looming issues, problematic non-general cards, were beginning to surface in Causal EDH. Generals were an issue, but Magic was changing; historically Vintage/Legacy pushed inefficient but effective spells in EDH, but the at-the-time mana base, creatures and noncreature spells were changing into Legendary cards without the Super Type or drawbacks: Low CMC, only upside and multiple abilities upon cast or enter the battlefield. It was great, but with the mix of our card collections and the new trend would likely change EDH into something more value oriented.

2010, we established ourselves as skilled pilots, High-Powered Meta theory leaders and strategists in our respective communities; although, we were represented by a vocal minority on message boards and LGSs. Similar thinking playgroups echoed our thoughts while the majority of the group lauded the attention (Including myself). For all the High-Powered we played, built, discussed and refined, we were mainly Vintage and Legacy core. The newest members extrapolated the core group's ideas and sought expanded Hogh-Powered play, possibly cEDH foundations._

Primers and Net-Decking gained traction. It was commonplace to witness individuals play-test and Pub-Stomp with prototype cEDH primers; thus, those whom neither Net-Deck nor learned to combat said decks correlated Net-Deckers with Pub-Stompers.

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". Players judged deck power level by general alone. Rule Zero caused deck construction issues for players without a playgroup or many. Playgroups and randoms used the RC Ban List and rules without drafting a social contract; in fact, to many, the RC did not exist. There were issues where contracts excluded strategies, isolated members and/or stunted progress: player, meta and/or game growth.

Rofellos was banned, again. Braids remained banned. We braced ourselves: especially the Erayo pilot and myself.

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. He was shocked that we were not duped by his Glass-Cannon combo, and he was equally surprised everyone had interaction. We explained that the strongest Vintage/Legacy strategies are the best High-Powered EDH strategies. These strategies and decks needed to be answered just enough to win, even in Mono-Green.

2011, Erayo got 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. Ruhan of the Fomori was my casual deck. The 2011 Commander product confirmed our group's assertions that MTG was headed for major changes, along with EDH rules changes.

My EDH pod disbanded because of bans, EDH norm shifts, new responsibilities and availability issues.

I sought EDH because paper Legacy, especially Vintage, was nonexistent due to closures and my lack of communication. I was mislead by players whom misjudged and/or misrepresented their deck strategy, card quality, skill level and/or GRPC Knowledge because they were the most winning player in their pod.

By Winter, Worldgorger Dragon, Ad Nauseam and Hermit Druid were considered the strongest EDH strategies by varying High-Powered EDH internet cliques; although, whomever created the decks must have had inadequate opponents because those all-in strategies were serverey susceptible to it and they were detrimental, if not game losing, weaknesses.

Primers in forums were a norm and carried little negativity. I believe people were Pub-Stomping with said best decks because deck power levels were directly tied to generals or cost; thus, there was little distinction between EDH-type pods or power levels beyond general and expense. It was all EDH. Thusly, these best decks rarely competed against one another, if ever. It took more time for players to play against, recognize, understand and adjust to said strategies or exclude them. The latter was easier. Just like my group, these players eventually created their own space within the community.

Winter 2012, I awaited a Zur ban, so I upgraded it: Doomsday Zur with Ad Nauseam. Pairing Ad Nauseam and Doomsday was relatively unique.

2013, I traveled significantly further for fresh pods and Legacy. cEDH became the term for the top EDH strategies.

2014, I piloted Karador Boonweaver and Zur's Prison. I frequented conventions, GPs and international events.

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

2016, I played Commander 2011, 2013-2016 pre constructed decks and taught new players MTG. I played prison Zur, America and Junk as teaching tools.

2017, I began recording: Win/Loss ratio and other relevant data. I joined a cEDH playgroup with internal issues. They spiked my win rates. It was an unhealthy environment that I left during 2018.

2019, I built Shimmer Zur because I found it quaint 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 significantly lowered my Win rate, which was, is, unhealthy.

March - October 2020, No new game-play and data because of Covid-19 isolation. There has been play-testing, but the deck is piloting without any meta adjustments because any Prison deck needs a micro-meta to tune appropriately.


Enjoy and further refine the deck to suit your Meta and play-style.

Average Converted Mana Cost (ACMC) Show

Prison Combinations Show

Silver-Bullets (The Toolbox) Show

Interaction Show

Tutors Show

Ramp and Fixing Show

Draw Power Show

Win Conditions Show

Note: It is difficult and not too helpful to write a Play Guide for $tax deck like Zur's Prison because its plays revolve and depend on the battlefield and pod composition; yet, I provided one. Keep in mind, play sequencing essentially is Zur--> Necropotence--> Interaction--> Win.

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 an opponent(s). This fact leaves many Prison (Umbrella term for Tax, Denial, $T4X and Interactive cards) pieces untouched 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 Zur is the norm. There is nothing wrong with playing Zur later to build a resilient board state and/or hold, feign 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, its target depends on the board state and one's interpretation of the information provided. My top contenders are Greater Auramancy, Solitary Confinement or Phyrexian Arena. The only easy answer is Necropotence (The learning curve is steep).

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

From this point, pending on what Necropotence provided one, one can use Zur as a toolbox engine to find 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 and force opponents to interact with your opponents.

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

The Interaction route means you are behind or one is in need to drag another player back. Opting for this necessitates one to be diplomatic and clear of intention. Understand that searching for interaction is a losing route but obligatory at times.

Eventually, opponents will find it difficult to interact with one and one's board state at all. This is the moment one wins, establish a Stasis-type lock, General Damage kill or combo win; Isochron Scepter with Dramatic Reversal and Blind Obedience.

Rare feat: Being the archenemy and opponent collaboration. Collaboration is unusual because it takes most, if not all, interaction and forces each opponent to divulge, otherwise concealed, information to all players. If successful, whomever untaps first once the prison weakened usually wins (Common knowledge) because mana and interaction is exhausted. It is the risk, not effectiveness, that discourages opponent collaboration to this extent.

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

Land Count and Options Show

Interaction Show

Aura Show

Remove/Add Section Show

Scene 1, 2013, The Pubstomper Show

Scene 2, 2014, The Big Talker Show

Scene 3, 2015, Rules Judge Show

Scene 4A, 2017, The New Guy Show

Scene 4B, 2019, Reminiscing Show


Updates Add


Top Ranked
Date added 9 months
Last updated 4 days
Key combos

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 2/2 Bird
Folders CEDH, Zur the Enchanter EDH decks, Cards C, cedh decks, Good, AAWant to try, Interest, Comp EDH
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