Pristaxcontrombmodruu! (A Zedruu EDH Primer)

Pristaxcontrombmodruu!
The deck formerly known as Zedruu's Enduring Ideal.
Which is the deck formerly known as Zedruu Sucks.
Which is the deck formerly known as America Enchantment Tribal.
Which is the deck formerly known as Let's Do Something Epic!

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Introduction

I have been playing Magic for a long time, but not so for EDH. A few friends dragged me kicking and screaming into EDH right after the Commander product was released, giving me decks to borrow so I could play with them. The first thing I played with was the Kaalia preconstructed. Someone else at that table had the Zedruu precon and I remember thinking it was a cute general, but totally worthless. I started to enjoy the format well enough, but I never found a deck that really clicked with me until I stumbled onto Gaka's Norin the Wary list, which I have been playing since early 2012. That list is strong, fun, and hilarious, but it did have one significant flaw: It was not mine. I wanted something I could call my own. And I wanted it to be epic.

Inspiration struck me when I picked up a copy of Enduring Ideal. It says Epic right on the damn card! I had to build a deck around it. Enchantment.dec sounds good, right? The first iteration of the deck was ready in September 2012 and it was this super mash of silly group hug stuff like Mana Flare and Wild Evocation. I picked the general almost as an afterthought; I liked a lot of red and blue enchantments and most of my stuff said all players so Zedruu could donate it. I figured I could just dump high cost enchantments and "everybody draw cards" into the deck because eventually I would Enduring Ideal and play all my stuff for free. I think I remember it working once... it may have been a dream. Eventually, I realized that I was helping my opponents too much and overly relying on Enduring Ideal.

That initial plan was scrapped and pillow fort became the name of the game. I already had Zedruu, so I just kept her and the colors. This version was notably better, but definitely not great. The pillow fort would work for a while, but the deck had late game problems. It could not keep up with the table. I noticed that most of my games I would not even take Zedruu out of the box. This is when I realized that she was a fantastic source of card advantage. She was definitely still cute, but far from worthless.

This version of the deck is a blend of the two extremes. Defense aplenty with enough group hug and donate-able stuff to keep the gas pedal down. Still, this is the first EDH deck I've built from the ground up myself, so it probably sucks. Then again, I put Zedruu at the helm, so it has to suck. Anyway, I'm sure you have some questions, like this one:

What does this deck do?

It totally sucks. No one is ever afraid of it and it does not do anything awesome. Until it wins.

No, seriously, what does it do?

Ok, ok. The deck plays in three distinct phases. First, it looks like a cute group hugging pillow fort. The deck lets everyone draw extra cards while protecting itself with Propaganda effects and walls. The second phase brings in more aggressive defense that turns the pillow fort into a Fort Knox IN SPACE. The transition itself may be very subtle, but it means the difference between "defended" and "no one else can do anything ha ha."

This all changes once those adequate protections are in place and the deck gets to put on its war face. In phase three, a few combo pieces will drop into place and it will be too late for anyone to do anything about it. People will begin to curse the "help" you've given them as it gets turned against them. If that much sounds like fun to you, keep reading.

Who is Zedruu?

Ignore the official lore that's written about Zedruu. It's bullshit. Here, I wrote my own story and it's better:

Zedruu was born a destitute and outcast member of her tribe due to some non-specific but entirely aesthetic genetic defect. After learning how to get by in a harsh world that didn't want her (and totally becoming a badass survivalist in the meantime), she vowed to let no other creature be treated as she was. Now she spends her time searching for those less fortunate, throwing her things at them and shouting "I'm helping you, goddamnit."

Oh, you want to know what she does? Let's give her a rundown.

Zedruu the Greathearted

  • Mana Cost - 1WUR - Four CMC means she can come out early. I guess that's neat. It also gives us a very unusual color combination.
  • P/T - 2/4 - That's certainly not threatening. The high toughness lets her survive a lot of damage spells and abilities, though.
  • First ability - At the beginning of your upkeep, draw X and gain X life where X is the number of permanents you own but someone else controls. Well, that's right useless unless you...
  • Second ability - WUR: Donate. Ah, it starts to make sense now.

Why You Should Play Zedruu

  1. People think she sucks.
    1. Zedruu does not appear to be a threat, so it lets you get away with a lot of stuff.
    2. This can be our little secret.
    3. She will look like a threat the first time you draw 8 cards with her, though.
  2. Giving people stuff is fun, especially if that stuff doesn't care who controls it.
  3. All the best enchantments are Red, White and Blue.
    1. America, fuck yeah!
    2. White and Blue enchantments are notoriously hard to deal with, while Red enchantments tend to hurt a lot.
  4. Zedruu is the poster child for Group Hug.
    1. Fuck that Hippo. I don't want to hear it.
    2. No one is afraid of Group Hug.
    3. This is like point #1. The appearance is very non-threatening. It lets us get away with stuff.
    4. Again, our little secret. Shhhh. We actually plan to win this.
  5. This deck always wants to draw more cards and Zedruu is one hell of an engine for this.

Reasons You Might Not Play Zedruu

  1. Your favorite colors are Black and Green.
  2. Your playgroup has an irrational hatred towards Group Hug.
  3. You don't want to keep track of who has all your stuff.
  4. You don't like a complicated upkeep step.
  5. You prefer to win in the combat phase.
  6. You want to be in a dominating position the entire game.

Other Choices

When it comes to the WUR wedge, there really aren't a lot of choices for a Commander. I chose Zedruu because of her synergy with many of the deck's enchantments: things that can be given to another controller without changing the way they function. If you like the basic plan of the deck but want to put someone else in charge, these are your options.

Numot, the Devastator - Costs 2 more to play, has flying, 4 more power and a mediocre ability that will draw disproportionate hate. People don't like having their lands destroyed, and despite the fact that he has to connect and you have to pay to use him, people will hate on this general irrationally. He is a dragon, though. That's kind of cool.

Ruhan of the Fomori - As a general rule, I dislike cards that give my opponents the choice (e.g. Dash Hopes). The only thing worse is a card that gives no one a choice. Don't get me wrong, a 7/7 for four mana? Efficient beater to beat all. If he connects with any opponent three times, he's out of the game. Good luck getting him to swing at the same person three times, though.

Decklist Time!

This is the decklist as I run it, but there is a lot of flexibility with this list. A good deal of it will depend on how you like to win; I give a rundown of many options later and this list does not include all of them. There are also a few slots that will depend on the meta you play in. This deck retails on TCGPlayer.com for a grand total of $830 (as of 4/27/13). You may notice, however, that the most expensive part of this deck is the manabase. Good news! You don't actually need duals and fetches to play this. Pull out just the expensive manabase and you're left with a deck that costs under $200. That's probably because it sucks. (Shhh. Our secret...)

Deck
COMMANDER
4 Zedruu the Greathearted

ARTIFACT (13)
1 Expedition Map
1 Sol Ring
2 Boros Signet
2 Fellwar Stone
2 Izzet Signet
2 Pentad Prism
2 Sphere of the Suns
2 Talisman of Progress
2 Torpor Orb
3 Chromatic Lantern
3 Coalition Relic
3 Temple Bell
4 Otherworld Atlas

ENCHANTMENT (34)
2 Copy Artifact
2 Darksteel Mutation
2 Greater Auramancy
2 Mana Maze
2 Oath of Lieges
3 Aura of Silence
3 Copy Enchantment
3 Detention Sphere
3 Ghostly Prison
3 Karmic Justice
3 Paradox Haze
3 Propaganda
3 Rhystic Study
3 Sacred Mesa
3 Second Chance
3 Solitary Confinement
3 Wild Research
4 Humility
4 Lightmine Field
4 Opalescence
4 Parallax Wave
4 Puca’s Mischief
4 Purphoros, God of the Forge
4 Pyrohemia
5 Assemble the Legion
5 Enchanted Evening
5 Sphere of Safety
6 Dovescape
6 Mind Over Matter
6 Mind Unbound
6 Volition Reins
7 Form of the Dragon
7 Vicious Shadows
8 Eldrazi Conscription

CREATURE (7)
2 Fog Bank
3 Auramancer
3 Jace's Archivist
3 Monk Idealist
4 Academy Rector
4 Akroan Horse
11 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

SORCERY (3)
3 Idyllic Tutor
4 Replenish
7 Enduring Ideal

INSTANT (6)
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Tithe
2 Reverberate
2 Twincast
3 Spell Crumple

PLANESWALKER (2)
3 Jace Beleren
5 Venser, the Sojourner

LAND (34)
0 Arid Mesa
0 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
0 Command Tower
0 Flooded Strand
0 Hallowed Fountain
0 High Market
0 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
0 Mistveil Plains
0 Petrified Field
0 Plateau
0 Sacred Foundry
0 Scalding Tarn
0 Serra's Sanctum
0 Steam Vents
0 Tolaria West
0 Tundra
0 Volcanic Island
0 Wasteland
6x Plains
5x Island
5x Mountain


Sorted by function

Deck
CARD ADVANTAGE (4)
3 Rhystic Study
4 Puca’s Mischief
4 Zedruu the Greathearted
6 Mind Unbound
HUGS! (6)
0 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
2 Oath of Lieges
3 Jace Beleren
3 Jace's Archivist
3 Temple Bell
4 Otherworld Atlas

LOCKDOWN (5)
2 Mana Maze
2 Torpor Orb
4 Humility
4 Lightmine Field
6 Dovescape

COVER MY ASS (12)
2 Darksteel Mutation
2 Fog Bank
2 Greater Auramancy
3 Aura of Silence
3 Detention Sphere
3 Ghostly Prison
3 Karmic Justice
3 Propaganda
3 Solitary Confinement
3 Spell Crumple
4 Parallax Wave
5 Sphere of Safety

RECURSION (5)
0 Mistveil Plains
0 Petrified Field
3 Auramancer
3 Monk Idealist
11 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

WINSTUFFS (13)
3 Paradox Haze
3 Sacred Mesa
3 Second Chance
4 Opalescence
4 Purphoros, God of the Forge
4 Pyrohemia
4 Replenish
5 Assemble the Legion
5 Enchanted Evening
6 Mind Over Matter
7 Form of the Dragon
7 Vicious Shadows
8 Eldrazi Conscription

TUTOR AND CHEAT (9)
0 Tolaria West
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Expedition Map
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Tithe
3 Idyllic Tutor
3 Wild Research
4 Academy Rector
7 Enduring Ideal

VERSATILE (6)
2 Copy Artifact
2 Reverberate
2 Twincast
3 Copy Enchantment
4 Akroan Horse
5 Venser, the Sojourner
6 Volition Reins

MANASTUFFS (39)
1 Sol Ring
2 Boros Signet
2 Fellwar Stone
2 Izzet Signet
2 Pentad Prism
2 Sphere of the Suns
2 Talisman of Progress
3 Chromatic Lantern
3 Coalition Relic
0 Arid Mesa
0 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
0 Command Tower
0 Flooded Strand
0 Hallowed Fountain
0 High Market
0 Plateau
0 Sacred Foundry
0 Scalding Tarn
0 Serra's Sanctum
0 Steam Vents
0 Tundra
0 Volcanic Island
0 Wasteland
6x Plains
5x Island
5x Mountain
How Do I Pilot This Thing?

Develop Defenses

The first thing to do is to set up your personal defenses. You're looking for attack deterring creatures (even Zedruu counts) or enchantments that make you look like a bad target. You want Edric to look at his hand, wonder whether he should swing at you, or use that mana to cast Farseek. The best things will discourage people from attacking you without actually pissing them off (Lightmine Field will piss people off). You want enough defenses to feel safe, but don't overextend into the area of untouchable too quickly. As long as your opponents think "I can get to him if he becomes a threat," they aren't thinking "I need to find a way through that right now."

Eventually you will want to defend your defenses. This treads into the realm of becoming the threat because people will start to realize that you're setting up a board where they cannot do anything about you. People will start tutoring for their answers, but this deck has a way to stop all of them. You need to judge your opponents' decks so you can get the best solution. Sometimes you need Dovescape. Sometimes it should be Greater Auramancy. You will need to do that assessment on your own when you get there.

Politics and Persuasion

The very first thing to do when you start playing this deck is to make some friends. Never mind what I said before. Friends attack you even less often than angry people staring at Propaganda.

Let people draw cards; everybody likes drawing cards. This is a little bit of a double edged sword, but honestly, it's all good. You draw extra cards to dig to find the pieces you need to win, but so does everyone else, right? Not quite. You are the one letting people draw cards, so you are not the initial target. Further, your main goal is building defenses, so you do not even look like a threat. Your opponents will be drawing all kinds of removal and using it on each other because they are all drawing threats, too. Meanwhile you get to sit back and plot their ultimate demise.

You also want to get Zedruu on the board and pass out some junk. There are a lot of permanents in this deck that won't care who controls them. Pass these to people as soon as you can to get extra draws off of them, but be sure they do not go to people with sac outlets. You can be cute, too, and say things like "I'm helping!" Some people think this is funny and even play along, thanking you for the oh, so generous gifts. Others might find it annoying, so be careful. You want friends. Annoyed people are rarely friendly.

Do not be afraid to give up a permanent with Zedruu that is actually helping you. You will eventually have enough walls and Propagandas that you can spare one or two. Lay the ground rules first, of course, so your opponent understands that you expect him to return a favor.

Watch and Win

Once the deck is entrenched, it's time to find a win condition. The deck is full of them, and with a Zedruu online drawing three or more cards per turn (in addition to the group hug cards), you will find one eventually. The best aspect of the deck is probably the wide variety of wins this deck is capable of. Some wins will be immediate once the pieces are on the table, others will be an inevitable kind of win over a few turns. There are even ways to win via scoop. Each game will lead to different situations, and some wins will be more appropriate than others.

Zedruu Doesn't Afraid of Anything

There are cards that will absolutely wreck this deck; that much should be apparent. That does not make Zedruu scared. Why? Because Zedruu is smart. Zedruu knows what these cards are, she knows who has them, and she knows how to stop them. She can spot W and G in other commander's mana costs and plan accordingly. Read a little further and you can too.

Aura Shards - Good news: Only GW/x commanders have this. Bad news: Every GW/x commander will have this. They will be able to tutor for it, but they will not until you look like a threat, which gives you the time you need. Your best answer to this is Aura of Silence, forcing them to play it a turn or two later and destroying it on the spot as soon as they do. Be ready for the Eternal Witness with Humility. Alternatively, you can shroud your stuff with Greater Auramancy and then shroud that with Copy Enchantment.

Austere Command - Pretty much anything that says Destroy all Enchantments is bad, but most of them are too niche to find spots in decks. Austere Command, however, is versatile and quite popular. There are precisely two times when the opponent will use this kind of card: When it is too early or when it is too late. If your opponent casts this too early, then it sets you back just like a Wrath does to anyone else because you have not been overextending. You kept redundant protection or recursion in hand just waiting for this card (you did see the W in that general's mana cost, after all). If he casts it too late, that is because you are already Epic and will bounce back quite easily, you have been holding on to Replenish, or you already had Dovescape in play to keep something like this from happening.

In truth, there should not be anything you cannot find an answer for with this deck. What Dovescape does not shut down, Humility will. Most of it is proactive, though, so you need to be on the ball. The largest challenge is choosing the right answers before they ask the questions.

There are just a few other things you will have to keep in mind.

Sacrifice Outlets - Do not donate stuff with Zedruu to people who probably have a sacrifice outlet for it. This means Howling Mine does not go to Norin because he plays a Goblin Welder. It sounds really simple, but it is one of those easily overlooked things.

Your Graveyard - Be mindful of what is in there. You do not want to Replenish enchantments that work against each other (e.g. Opalescence and Humility) or something like Form of the Dragon without a way to protect your life total.

Dat Mulligan

This deck is not Azusa. You do not draw seven cards, see Forests, a ramp spell, a bomb and say "keep." Zedruu has to think. This is fine, because Zedruu is smart.*

Before deciding what to keep in your opening hand, you need to take into account who you are playing against. Propaganda may be a great defensive tool against Edric, Spymaster of Trest and his weenies, but not so against Rafiq of the Many. Keep in mind the things your opponents want to do. Like I said above, you can shut anything down, you just need to find the right tool for the job. Generally, you are looking for something to protect you, something you can use to draw cards (especially donate to draw cards), and enough mana to cast it all. Ramp rocks are good to have as well.

*I am not implying that Azusa is dumb here. You are inferring that.

Abusing Enduring Ideal

What exactly is Enduring Ideal? Well, it is a tutor first, but it also cheats things into play. Then, it repeats itself every upkeep. There is a drawback in that you will not be able to cast anything else for the rest of the game. All of these need to be considered when it comes to abusing the card.

The deck runs over thirty enchantments so that it can make the most of the tutoring and repeatable aspects of Enduring Ideal. All of the deck's answers and the vast majority of its threats are enchantments. Being able to find a new one every turn is amazing. Need more Ghostly Prison? Pick one. Looks like Aura Shards could destroy everything you've worked for? Grab Greater Auramancy. Pull out that Solitary Confinement. Looks solid? Pick a win-con and go for it.

Once you resolve this spell, it will recur once per turn for the rest of the game, but once per turn is not quite enough. This spell locks you out of casting anything else for the rest of the game, so when you cast it, you have to make it count. So to get more out of Enduring Ideal, copy it with Reverberate or Twincast! Both if you can manage it. Each copy of the spell will set up its own recurring trigger. Then you can use one of the instances to find Paradox Haze, earning you another upkeep. Suddenly, you will be putting four enchantments into play every turn, for free!

The drawback of not casting spells for the rest of the game needs to be addressed as well. I hate waste, so I found things to do with the mana I would have after resolving Enduring Ideal. Things like Dragon Roost, Pyrohemia, and Words of War. The latter also give us something to do with the extra draws we'll have, since we prefer enchantments to be in the library, rather than in our hand, after going Epic.

First things first, though, we need to draw it and cast it. This is half the reason I included all of the draw abilities in the deck. It will help you cycle through and find the one card that gives you access to every threat in the deck. The other half, of course, is that I want people to like me. Like Santa Claus. No one wants to kill Santa Claus.

So, What Does Zedruu Do Again?

I can imagine what you are thinking. Zedruu is not some combo enabler that ends games like Oona, Queen of the Fae. Outside of some jank, she definitely does not swing for the win like Rafiq of the Many. The question becomes, aside from color identity, what does Zedruu really do for this deck?

This will be easier if you look at Zedruu the same way you look at Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Does an Edric deck win because of commander damage? No. Is he part of an instant win combo? Still no. Does he still make that deck win the game? Very yes, because of the card advantage he provides. Zedruu is very much the same way, but she is a lot more subtle about it. She does not need an army of small elves pissing people off to get it, either. In fact, when she is helping you the most, your opponents may even be thanking you for it.

Often, you put Zedruu on the field in the same circumstance as you would play Edric: as soon as you have the opportunity to take advantage of the ability. Edric does no good unless you can swing with stuff; Zedruu needs something that you can donate away. In either case you want the engine up and running as soon as possible. Her purpose is to dig through your deck and find what you need, so the earlier the better. Be reasonable, of course. If someone just dropped a big threat and the BW player is going to wrath, wait a turn.

Which brings me to Zedruu getting killed. She has no innate protection aside from a toughness of four, so it will happen. Usually, you just deal with it and keep playing, but it really depends on the board state and why she died. If you have three things passed out already, she is worth the six or eight mana to cast again. Then again, drawing three extra cards per turn might be what got her killed in the first place. If she died to a wrath that was aimed at something else, play her again. If she was drawing spot removal and probably will again, do not waste the mana. Eventually, you will probably drop Humility anyway, so keep in mind that she is not a huge deal to lose. Again, her purpose is to dig through the deck and find what you need; if you have what you need, you do not care anymore.

Explanation of Card Choices

As I have said, the deck list itself is very flexible. There exists a core of cards that essentially make this deck what it is, but after that it’s all fluid. I break that down into groups like defensive options and the manabase. All told, I will give you many more options than you could hope to fit in the deck; a lot of them will be meta dependent.
After all that, we get into what I call "win condition packages" that can be removed or added to taste. Initial versions of my deck were jammed as full of win conditions as I could make it, but since then I’ve narrowed down to two that overlap pretty strongly and a third that has no overlap, a fourth contingency plan, and one all-else-fails infinite mill. I guess it’s still pretty chock full of win conditions.
Throughout these lists, I will put an asterisk by things that make for excellent donations.

The Core
Below is a short list of cards that define the deck, a shell that everything else builds from. Also in this section are cards are universally beneficial, regardless of the other choices you make.

  • Enduring Ideal - Haven’t I talked about this enough? This is what the deck was built around. If it resolves, you should win that game.
  • Replenish - Sometimes this is a win; sometimes it’s just recursion. Either way, in a deck built around enchantments, the card is essential.
  • *Paradox Haze - An extra upkeep really goes a long way in this deck. Zedruu's ability and Enduring Ideal are the most notable bonuses.
  • Reverberate, Twincast - Extremely versatile cards which can be used to incredible effect. Apart from echoing the Enduring Ideal, these cards can steal an Exsanguinate win or counter a counterspell. "Did you just Genesis Wave for 18? That sounds like a fantastic idea."
  • Academy Rector - Should be a no-brainer include because she can always find that one enchantment you need. She discourages people from attacking you while she is out, too.
  • Greater Auramancy - With so many enchantments, we need a way to protect them. This is one of the best ways. Beware that this will prevent you from donating them.
  • Copy Enchantment - This should be another one I don't have to justify, but I will. With so many other enchantments, this always has something good to do. It can be used to give Greater Auramancy shroud, but when that level of protection isn't needed, it can easily be another Paradox Haze or a win condition.
  • *Copy Artifact - In the worst case, this is a blank enchantment that you donate. In the best case, you copy someone's Blightsteel Colossus. Somewhere in between it is another Howling Mine or a Sol Ring.
  • Wild Research - Allows us to search for enchantments we need. With how full Zedruu keeps our hand, the random discard is much less likely to bite us in the ass.
  • Enlightened Tutor, Idyllic Tutor - The deck has specific enchantments for specific situations. These let you find them.
  • Mystical Tutor - An extra copy of Enduring Ideal or Replenish? Yes please.
  • Venser, the Sojourner - Venser allows you to be very political because he exiles permanents you own, taking back things you have previously donated. It also resets things for you and lets you play around things like Dovescape or Rule of Law.

The Hugs
Here’s the “political” stuff to make everyone at your table happy and not regard you as a threat. As your playgroup gets used to the deck, though, this won’t be as easy to maintain. Some of these cards can even start to backfire, but most can be well controlled.

  • *Howling Mine, Font of Mythos - Hugs! These get shut off for you by Solitary Confinement. The more competitive your meta, the more risky these cards become.
  • *Temple Bell, Otherworld Atlas - Moar hugs! These are much safer than the above because you control when the draw happens. If you donate, most people will still use them. Even if they do not, you still draw thanks to Zedruu. Do not donate if you intend to win with these.
  • *Walking Archive - Even moar hugs! This guy is upkeep draw, which is important to note because it works around Solitary Confinement. It is also a wall, so feel free to donate and not worry about it swinging back at you.
  • Mikokoro, Center of the Sea - Land version of the above. Essentially costs 3 to use.
  • Jace Beleren - Baby Jace, as he is often called, is a real friend to the table. You typically do not even need to protect him. Work towards using the ultimate on yourself once you have Replenish in hand, but otherwise just go down twice, up once all game long.
  • Jace's Archivist - This little guy is a workhorse. Chances are someone at the table cannot empty their hand as fast as you can, so he can be great card advantage. Even if you have the largest hand at the table, he is letting you dig further for the game enders. Finally, you can use his ability in response to casting Replenish to dump even more stuff into your graveyard.
  • *Kami of the Crescent Moon - The worst everyone draw cards available because it is a creature and it is draw step, so Humility or Solitary Confinement can shut it off. Also, if you donate it, this one can swing at you. If all that was not enough, it costs UU. But hey, maybe you really want more hugs.
  • *Oath of Lieges - If there is one ramp deck in your meta, this will let everyone else keep up without giving him anything. If there are two ramp decks in your meta, they can feed each other and stay way ahead with this.

Card Advantage
Next up are the personal hugs, the pat yourself on the back kind of cards. These are how we get our card advantage.

  • Puca’s Mischief - Nice Sol Ring, here’s my Oath of Lieges or an empty Pentad Prism for it. With this, we take cool stuff and pass out our stuff we don’t care about. That by itself is card advantage, but then Zedruu starts drawing a ton of cards.
  • Mind Unbound - Expensive at six mana, but nothing draws more cards than this, especially if you start rocking double upkeeps.
  • Rhystic Study - People play spells. Greedy people do not pay extra and you draw cards.
  • Mystic Remora - No one pays the 4 and no one wastes removal on something with a cumulative upkeep. Beware using this while you have a Paradox Haze on yourself.
  • Honden of Seeing Winds - I would only run this alongside the other Hondens. Alone, it’s a little too expensive for not enough benefit.

Defensive Options
In this section I'll try to cover the cards that keep you alive. For every something out there that tries to kill you, there’s something in here to stop it. This section is arranged starting with narrow spot removal type effects, ranging into hosers and then global effects. Cards towards the bottom of this section trend towards total table lockdown.

  • Soul Snare - I’ve been told this is a bad card. I think it’s a cheap rattlesnake that will deter attacks for a few turns.
  • *Darksteel Mutation - In my mind, this is better than killing most creatures because they’re not in a graveyard to be recurred or sent to a command zone.
  • *Temporal Isolation - Instant speed enchantment that will nullify beatsticks.
  • Aura of Silence - Its main purpose is usually the artifact destruction more than anything else, but the tax effect is worth the extra W over Seal of Cleansing. This can be downright brutal against artifact decks.
  • *Detention Sphere, Oblivion Ring - I feel like I should just say "duh." Instead, you get: Versatile spot answer. O-Ring is less color restrictive and slightly less versatile. Use both if you really need it in your meta.
  • *Volition Reins - Sometimes the best answer to a threat is to take it. There are many versions of this effect, but this card has the least restrictions and I am less concerned about the six mana cost.
  • Spell Crumple - The only real counterspell I consider running because of the interaction with Wild Research.
  • *Fog Bank - As walls go, this is one of the best. Flying and damage prevention make it hard to deal with, and it only costs two mana. Donate to make a friend after your other defenses are in place.
  • Wall of Denial - Another solid wall for just three mana. It has very high toughness, shroud and flying.
  • *Nevermore - Great for naming generals or, just to be safe, Austere Command.
  • Runed Halo - Great against token decks and voltron generals. It can also name something like Pyrohemia.
  • Words of War - This card is here for after going Epic, when you would prefer not to draw cards and have no other use for mana. It can turn into a lot of damage during your upkeep.
  • Words of Wind - Much like Words of War. This card gives you a way to return permanents to your hand when you would rather not have them (e.g. returning Humility so Zedruu triggers). Unfortunately, they will likely return things that have been donated.
  • Propaganda, Ghostly Prison, Collective Restraint - Standard pillow fort defenses. They mostly shut down swarms, but even with one large creature, they discourage "wasting" mana to attack.
  • Sphere of Safety - This deserves its own mention because it has the potential to shut down even a single attacker and it protects planeswalkers. The highest I remember having for X was 15. Then I played Enchanted Evening.
  • Solitary Confinement - Personal defense at its absolute best. It grants damage prevention and shroud at the cost of your draw step and discarding once per turn. Note that you skip your entire draw step, so you need upkeep draw or a tap: draw to keep this around.
  • Leyline of Sanctity - Another way to protect yourself from targeted effects. Solitary Confinement is usually better, but sometimes it goes boom.
  • *Enchanted Evening - This card turns everything into enchantments. With Greater Auramancy, it gives everything you control shroud. This discourages enchantment wipes. It also ramps up the enchantments matter kind of cards like Sphere of Safety or Serra's Sanctum.
  • Karmic Justice - People will hesitate to blow your stuff up if you get to blow up all of their lands, creatures, and rocks in return.
  • *Planar Collapse - Wrath on an enchantment. When donating this, the point is usually just so it triggers sooner.
  • *Lightmine Field - A solid swarm hoser that might not be necessary. Best flavor text in the deck, hands down.
  • *Meishin, the Mind Cage - Once you go Epic, this turns most creatures into walls. With enough of the Howling Mine effects, you can donate this and expect it to be just as useful.
  • Stranglehold - Punks taking extra turns? Tutoring for everything? Throw this in the deck.
  • War's Toll - This puts aggro decks in danger of leaving themselves open, shuts down Rafiq, and pisses off anyone who likes to use EOT antics or counterspells.
  • *Price of Glory - Hoses EOT kind of decks or anyone who plays counterspells.
  • *Rest in Peace - Hoses any deck reliant on a graveyard. Make sure you cast Replenish before you put this into play, not after.
  • *Arcane Laboratory, Rule of Law - Two versions of the same "I hate combo decks" card. Even against other archetypes, this will drastically slow the pace of the game.
  • *Mana Maze - Similar to the above, this really limits the options of other decks, but is really easy for Zedruu to play around. Multicolor spells become problematic and mono-color decks have a lot of trouble.
  • Stony Silence - This will neuter your own mana rocks, but there is no better way to shut down artifact decks.
  • Decree of Silence - Not what you think. This is actually a counterspell that you can use after you go Epic. If you do get it on the board, Venser can keep it fresh.
  • *Ice Cave - Fantastic card for after going Epic. You have the ability to counter spells in 3 colors and your opponents might counter each other's spells. The best part is that Epic does not even trigger Ice Cave.
  • *Impending Disaster - Destroy all lands as a searchable enchantment. If you donate this, the reason is not to trigger Zedruu. You donate it so the upkeep trigger happens sooner.
  • *Dovescape - This is the answer to Austere Command and its ilk.
  • Humility - Dovescape for ETB creatures. Beware that this will turn off Zedruu.
  • *Torpor Orb - Like Humility, this shuts off ETB creatures, but also effects like Aura Shards, without shutting off Zedruu.

Recursion
So, our stuff is going to get blown up. Because of this, we need ways to get them back into our hand or the deck. Here’s a few ways to do that.

  • *Auramancer, Monk Idealist - These creatures will allow you to power through some early game hate if any comes your way.
  • Hanna, Ship's Navigator - Another way to retrieve enchantments and also artifacts. She is immune to Torpor Orb.
  • Dawn to Dusk - Costs more than the above options, but it serves as removal and recursion without being affected by Torpor Orb or Humility.
  • *Archaeomancer - Very few targets in the deck, but the targets it has are really good.
  • Mistveil Plains - This can be used to surgically remove an enchantment before a Replenish or to put something into your library for Enduring Ideal.
  • Petrified Field - For the important lands that others like to blow up.
  • Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre - We need a way to recycle the graveyard for Enduring Ideal and sometimes, you just really need to destroy target permanent. Note that the cast trigger will still work when Humility is on the board.

Manabase
The deck’s manabase is everything you would expect for a deck with three colors. Duals/Shocks, Fetches, Command Tower and Exotic Orchard. Below are things worth mentioning for their additional utility.

  • Boseiju, Who Shelters All - It might seem like a waste to have this card in the deck for only two spells, but again, resolving one of those spells really snares the game. Do not play this until you are ready to use it because it is a fairly large target. The longer it sits, the more people worry.
  • Serra's Sanctum - This land should be giving you at least three mana, even early in the game.
  • Rainbow Vale - This land donates itself.
  • High Market - Sac outlet for Academy Rector. Also useful when people try to steal your stuff or tuck Zedruu.
  • Expedition Map, Tolaria West - Nine times out of ten, these fetch Boseiju or Serra's Sanctum. Every once in a while you are just hard up for one color of mana.
  • Tithe - This takes a land slot because it can find any color you need and the Mistveil Plains.
  • Land Tax - Like Tithe, this should take up a land slot, but running both would require too much focus on white mana.
  • Ramp Rocks - One thing Zedruu lacks is G, so to ramp we have to use artifacts. My favorites are things that come out early because the deck has little to do on turns one and two otherwise. By turn four, we want to be building defenses, not still trying to ramp and fix mana.
    • Sol Ring - Everyone else is doing it.
    • Talisman of Progress - Two mana for an untapped producer. It gives us two out of our three colors for a point of damage, and colorless for free.
    • Fellwar Stone - Another two mana untapped producer, this one gives us whatever our opponents can produce. With our three colors, chances are this gives us something useful for cheap.
    • Izzet Signet and others - Fix and ramp for two mana, but require mana in to get mana out.
    • *Sphere of the Suns - Two mana tapped, gives one of any color, runs out of charges and gets donated. Can be reset with Venser.
    • *Pentad Prism - This one is unique, you only get two mana out of it, but you can get two colored mana at once. Once it's out of charges, donate it.
    • Chromatic Lantern - Three cost, untapped, any color, and it turns all our lands into any color producers. Things like Mikokoro and Boseiju will be able to give us colored mana.
    • Darksteel Ingot - Three cost, untapped, any color. Indestructible is irrelevant most of the time.
    • Coalition Relic - Three cost, untapped, any color, and it holds charges. Playing this on turn three can give us access to six colored mana on turn four.

Win Condition Packages
Now we come to the win conditions, the most flexible portion of the deck. This is like a pick and choose, mix and match potpourri of fun. Choose whichever ones suit your style. Each package will be contained within spoiler tags to avoid making this too long. I will put all cards of a package into one deck tag and follow it with an explanation of how to win with those cards. Please note that there will be some overlap between packages and with Core Cards.


Mind Over Matter Combo

Deck
1 Mind Over Matter
1 Temple Bell
1 Otherworld Atlas
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Guile

This is a legitimately infinite, instant speed, win on the spot combo. Tap so everyone draws cards, then discard one of those cards to untap. Repeat until everyone loses. Discard Ulamog to prevent decking yourself.
If you have one of the tap: draw cards on the table and Enduring Ideal resolves, you should go for this. It is the easiest win and the hardest to stop. When you reveal Mind Over Matter, it's too late for anyone to respond with a destroy effect. The best they can do is respond to one of the MoM activations, but as long the response does not have split second, you can keep going. Just activate it again by discarding another card from your hand to keep the process going without letting the destroy effect resolve. Other people may have an Eldrazi too, but without an instant speed discard outlet already on the table, they will be out of luck.


I AM BECOME FIRE

Deck
1 Form of the Dragon
1 Second Chance
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Enduring Ideal
2 White Permanents

I freely admit that this win condition is risky and janky, but you become a dragon. How cool is that? You can also end up with infinite turns, but it’s a little complicated to get there:
First, get Second Chance, Mistveil and the two other white permanents on the board (these should probably be things that protect you). You can do this with Enduring Ideal, or just play it later to grab the Form of the Dragon. Once you are a dragon, your life total is five, and it's time to have a fun upkeep step.
Trigger Enduring Ideal and then Second Chance. Sacrifice Second Chance to get the extra turn, but respond to Enduring Ideal by activating Mistveil Plains, targeting the Second Chance that's now in your graveyard. Boom. Now let Ideal resolve, putting Second Chance back into play. Form of the Dragon can trigger anywhere in here. Repeat these steps on your extra turn and it will never end.


Death by Small Tokens

Deck
1 Vicious Shadows
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Sacred Mesa
1 Assemble the Legion
1 Akroan Horse
1 Varchild’s War-Riders
1 Repercussion
1 Pyrohemia

There are a few ways to win with this package and not all of the pieces are necessary to have in the deck. The first option is to just poop out an army of small tokens, then nuke them with Pyrohemia, triggering Vicious Shadows or Purphoros for each one. This way does not care who owns the tokens.
Additionally, you can give away a lot of tokens and let Repercussion add damage to them when you do the Pyrohemia nuking. The War-Riders get out of hand in this regard, especially if you start taking multiple upkeeps. They also earn you cool points at the table for most obscure card.
Honestly, you can sometimes kill everyone with Pyrohemia alone as long as you have more life or some damage prevention. Keep in mind that Pyrohemia will be sacrificed at end of turn if you kill everything, so generate one extra token before then.
If all else fails, make a bunch of flying tokens and swing at people.


Sure is Voltron in Here

Deck
1 Eldrazi Conscription
1 Zedruu the Greathearted
1 Celestial Archon

No one ever sees Voltron Zedruu coming. Most people will actually laugh at this until they remember the Annihilator ability. An important thing to note is that after Humility is on the board, placing Conscription on a creature still gives it everything. The creature will be huge, trample, annihilating, and angry.
I mention Celestial Archon because, if you lost all your creatures after going Epic, you can pull him out of your deck with Enduring Ideal. Of course, Eldrazi Conscription isn't the only big enchantment available for this kind of thing. To commit more to this strategy, honestly just search for more WUR auras with huge mana costs.
One final thing to note is that you can donate the auras.


Opalescence

Deck
1 Opalescence
1 Parallax Wave
1 Enchanted Evening
1 Vicious Shadows
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge

This starts when you put Opalescence on the board and all your enchantments become beatsticks. Boring. Put Parallax Wave on the board, and now it can blink itself. Allow me to explain exactly what this does.
Remove four counters and target four creatures, but don't let the abilities resolve yet. Then remove the last counter, targeting the Wave itself. When that resolves, it will exile itself and trigger the "return everything it removed" ability. Wave returns with five new fade counters; nothing else returns because nothing else has been exiled yet. Finally, the first four activations resolve and remove creatures permanently.
By the way, this can protect all your stuff from targeted effects. If someone targets an enchantment of yours, remove it with the Wave. If they target Opalescence first, you're hosed.
If you add Enchanted Evening into the mix, two things happen. First, everything with 0 casting cost goes to graveyards (lands, most tokens). This is why I mention Vicious Shadows (so many triggers). Everything else is now an enchantment creature that you can exile permanently if you so desire. People scoop to this kind of oppression.
Now, if you'd rather just be silly, you can play Purphoros instead and blink your own enchantment creatures an infinite number of times.


One Of Us

Deck
1 Hive Mind
1 Enduring Ideal

Here is another combo people will scoop to. Usually I throw Hive Mind out after I've gone Epic as a way to "still play spells," but if you reverse the order, it locks everyone into Epic mode when you're the only one built to benefit from it.
I should mention why it only works Hive Mind -> Enduring Ideal and not the other way. The Enduring Ideal copy during your upkeep is worded "copy this spell" and not "copy this card, then cast it without paying its mana cost." Hive Mind only triggers on spells that are actually cast.
After winning a game like this more than once, it starts to feel like a Dick Move.


Tunnel Vision

Deck
1 Tunnel Vision
1 Replenish
0 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

This is a total nonbo unless you take Ulamog out of the deck, which is good for some people because he is kind of expensive.
Anyway, the idea here is to cast Tunnel Vision targeting yourself and naming Replenish. This fills your graveyard with spicy enchantments and puts Replenish on top of your deck. If you do not have Temple Bell out to draw Replenish, though, expect someone to mill you or exile your graveyard, because this just screams to be disrupted.


CAW CAW CAW

Deck
1 Guile
1 Dovescape

Dovescape counters any non-creature spell (even one of your own) and makes bird tokens. Because an effect you control countered a spell, Guile lets you play it for free. That spell will be countered again and create more tokens, getting played again and countered again making even more tokens and so on ad nauseam (not the card).
Feel free to throw this in with the Death by Small Tokens wincon above if for whatever reason you cannot just attack and win with the infinite birds.


Dick Move

Deck
1 Zedruu the Greathearted
1 Illusions of Grandeur
1 Delusions of Mediocrity
1 Venser, the Sojourner
1 Celestial Dawn
1 Pyromancer's Swath
1 Transcendence
1 Thought Lash

Personal Note: I do not like this stuff. I compare Celestial Dawn to playing Iona against a mono colored deck. It does not feel fun to me, and in the end it really only hurts one player. I'm in this to win, and I do not do that one player at a time.
That said, you may like these shenanigans. These are all enchantments with terrible downsides, so the idea is to play them and then donate them. Just make sure you do not have Greater Auramancy in play first. Illusions/Delusions will give you life then cause someone to lose it. Celestial Dawn can lock a non-white player out of colored mana because of the commander rules. Pyromancer's Swath is going to make the opponent have a hard time keeping anything in hand. Transcendence can trigger the player to lose immediately as long as you have less than 20 life when you play it. Thought Lash will slowly exile his entire library.
For all of these, when they've done their thing, you can use Venser to "reset" them and donate to someone else. Also, when a player dies, control changing effects end, so you will get your stuff back.



Death by Dragons

Deck
1 Dragon Roost
1 Where Ancients Tread
1 Crucible of Fire
1 Warstorm Surge

Not the actual Death By Dragons card.
After Enduring Ideal resolves, you will need something to do with that mana. So make dragons! Then make them BIGGER! Then make them deal damage when they enter the battlefield. Then do that again, except harder. Note that even if you throw Humility out, Crucible of Fire will make your 1/1 dragon tokens into 4/4 dragon tokens. That is probably better than any other creature out there.
You can probably search for other anthem effects to stack on top of this or Mana Flare to create more dragons. It's all a question of how many deck slots to commit to this strategy.


Infinite Mana

Deck
1 Price of Glory
1 Zedruu the Greathearted
1 Sacred Ground
1 Leyline of Anticipation

What's better than Omniscience? Having all the mana to cast everything and activate all the abilities! This little combo isn't immediately obvious, though, so here's how it works:
Price of Glory destroys lands used out of turn. Sacred Ground will return destroyed lands if the ability that destroyed it was controlled by an opponent. After you play both pieces, use Zedruu to donate the Price of Glory (honestly, you should donate that anyway because it's a global effect). Now, if you tap a land out of turn for mana, your opponent's Price of Glory will destroy it and your Sacred Ground will bring it back untapped. I include Leyline of Anticipation so you can play most of your spells, but there are a few other ways to win with infinite mana, you just have to be creative.


No Possibility

Deck
1 Possibility Storm
1 Rule of Law
1 Arcane Laboratory
1 Venser, the Sojourner
1 Enduring Ideal

Yay! Another "everyone scoops" kind of win. This is a lot like the common TeferiPool combo.
Here's how it works. Rule of Law or Arcane Laboratory set up the one spell per turn rule. Possibility Storm will see someone trying to cast a spell, do its exile thing and eventually let them cast something else. Except there's a problem; a player cannot cast a second spell that turn. Essentially, no one casts spells anymore.
Except you. You get around this with Venser. Blink the Possibility Storm or the Rule of Law, cast what you want, then pass the turn. Alternatively, you can have Enduring Ideal active, which only copies a spell every turn. Neither Rule of Law nor Possibility Storm cares about that.

Notable Exclusions
Here's a few cards that just don't make the cut. They either have better versions or just don't pull the weight you'd expect.

  • Counterspell - I tried as hard as I could to avoid dead cards after going Epic, and counterspell is one of the casualties, along with all the variants.
  • Gilded Lotus - Does it make sense to say this is too valuable? The problem is that it comes out later than the other ramp rocks and I have no way to protect it. I rarely get to use it before it blows up.
  • Solemn Simulacrum - Like the Lotus, it comes out a bit late for ramp and never has enough impact. I think I am spoiled by abusing this card in Goblin Welder decks, so this might just be bias.
  • Open the Vaults - Extremely over-costed Replenish that can also help opponents.
  • Lost Auramancers - A budget alternative to Academy Rector that is a lot harder to make work. Since it has to "vanish," it usually ends up getting killed before then.
  • Reliquary Tower - The deck draws a lot of cards, so why doesn't it want this land? Simply because the deck wants stuff in its graveyard for Replenish.

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