Non-Basically Speaking — Zur the Enchanter
Hello friends and solemn guests, welcome back to EDHREC and our continuing biweekly column, Non-Basically Speaking, the series that strives to identify non-basic lands that should be considered valuable staples or hidden gems based on their visibility on EDHREC.
Hey all! Wally D. here fresh off of a non, Non-Basically Speaking article. For those of you that missed it, I was lucky enough to be a part of of an adventure here on EDHREC that brought together a splendid review of Magic's newest set, Hour of Devastation. If you haven't read the six part, in-depth article series discussing some of the potential new gems you will find in Hour, I highly recommend grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting down for a few takes on some enticing new cards!
Since I already pin-pointed a few of my favorite non-basic lands in the Hour of Devastation set review, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a Commander deck that encompasses one of this block's most beloved mechanics, cycling. If you are familiar with the team over at Commander Vs, you may remember a game play episode with Jonathan Suarez piloting a Zur the Enchanter deck based around cycling. The goal of the deck was to use Zur to retrieve Astral Slide, Faith of the Devoted and/or Drake Haven to provide value and leverage through the art of discarding a card to draw a card. Needless to say, the deck looked intriguing and fun to play so I wanted to explore a few upgrades to Astral Zur with a few new cards from Hour of Devastation.
So here's what I have on tap for you today, my Commander-thirsty friends. I used the Advanced Filter on EDHREC to show me the most popular cards players will jam into a Zur the Enchanter build to manipulate Astral Slide. I used the resulting data to shift and mold a rough list of 99 cards, and then added a few of my own oddball selections along with on-theme shenanigans from Hour of Devastation as the topic of today's article. We will be a bit light this week on our non-basic selections, but I hope you find the write-up fun and entertaining. Without further ado, let's get out on the battlefield dance floor and take a look at the Astral Slide, part Zur!
Astral Slide Part Zur
Take It Back Now Ya'll
As I stated in my review of artifacts for Hour of Devastation, I really wanted to see Abandoned Sarcophagus do some work in a Commander deck. Little did I know, the shell of such a deck already existed on the inter-webs. and—to my delight—we get to take a peek at it today. I must admit that I am a bit disappointed that the Sarcophagus totally ignores the lands in our graveyard. Nonetheless, I took the liberty of ensuring that our decklist is ripe with spells to cast after we utilize their cycling ability. This new treasure should be a corner piece of the Astral Slide decklist and reminds me a bit of a Yawgmoth's Will for cycling cards.
Five Hops This Time
Zur has always been a commander to keep an eye on. He does sneaky, devious things to game states and that is exactly why players love or despise him. While we can tell our friends to relax, we are not playing Doomsday, Ad Nauseam, Contamination or even a voltron build for that matter, I am sure they will still be skeptical of our intentions. And they should be. If you have been anywhere near social media during Hour of Devastation preview season then Solemnity needs no introduction.
Our newest win condition pairs well with an enchantment that has cycling and is already found in 53% of Astral Slide Zur builds, Decree of Silence. With Solemnity stating that counters can not be put on enchantments, Decree of Silence will counter every spell our opponents cast. With a grueling lock on our friends ability to play Magic, submission shouldn't be too far behind.
Slide to the Left
Drinking too much from the Solemn Decree Well of Winning may cause us to lose some friends, so let's take another look at a non-basic win condition we discussed a couple of months ago, Marit Lage. Who doesn't want to swing at their opponents with a 20/20 flying, indestructible token? Of course I am stating the obvious, but we can use Zur the Enchanter to put Solemnity onto the battlefield and then play our land for turn, Dark Depths. Since lands cannot have counters on them, Dark Depths is sacrificed. Hello ginormous flying avatar token.
The disgusting part about running Solemnity is the other side of the coin. Sure, it can help us achieve our win conditions, but it could potentially wreak havoc on entire deck archetypes. A Zur player with Solemnity can expect to be the archenemy of EDHREC darlings Atraxa, Praetors' Voice and Meren of Clan Nel Toth as well as the +1/+1 counter machine presented by Ezuri, Claw of Progress. I highly recommend a subtle warning to our friends that play Meren or Ezuri before shuffling up for a game if you plan on using this crippling enchantment maliciously against them.
Slide to the Right
In the wake of making ourselves an archenemy with our anti-counter enchantment, we may catch the wrath of every single combat step from there on out. Non-basically, we can protect ourselves with Glacial Chasm. In this scenario, Solemnity prevents Glacial Chasm from acquiring age counters. In other words, since the cumulative upkeep is not cumulative and Chasm gets 0 upkeep counters, we pay a mere 0 life every turn to prevent all damage dealt to us. Of course this does take away our ability to attack and use Zur's triggered ability. In this situation, we could let the Chasm go to our graveyard by not paying the upkeep, swing with Zur, and utilize Sun Titan or Crucible of Worlds to get Glacial Chasm back onto the battlefield.
Before we finish out this section I feel it's my obligatory duty to mention running Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Chromatic Lantern if we decide to run both Glacial Chasm and Dark Depths. Since neither tap for mana, the ability of the Lantern and Tomb of Yawgmoth grants them mana-producing capabilities.
Everybody Cycle Your Lands
While we haven't focused a ton on non-basics in today's article, that does not take away the value they provide in our Astral Slide Zur deck. With the release of Hour of Devastation we can add three new cycling lands to the realm of possibilities. Desert of the True, Desert of the Mindful and Desert of the Glorified could very well be sleeved up next to their functionally similar counterparts from Urza's Sage and Onslaught. Adding to the "unicycle" or single color cycling lands are the two allied color bicycle lands from Amonkhet and colorless options Blasted Landscape and Ash Barrens for a grand total of 13 possible lands to either play or discard to draw a card. If we play them all, we will have 11 lands that enter the battlefield tapped, so we should probably be careful and evaluate our mana base. Do we run them all? Sure, why not!
As mentioned previously, we will be running Crucible of Worlds and Sun Titan in our deck build. These key pieces will allow us to cycle our lands to trigger Astral Slide, Faith of the Devoted and/or Drake Haven and then play them from our graveyard courtesy of the Crucible or Titan.
Cha-cha Real Smooth
That's all I have for you today my EDHREC friends! While we didn't indulge in a vast amount of options for non-basic land strategy for Zur, I hope you found the discussion with Solemnity in a Cycling Zur build interesting. What are your thoughts on this deck build for the infamous Esper commander? What broken things do you have planned for Solemnity? Will this new enchantment wreck some deck archetypes in your playgroup? How do you rate Hour of Devastation with regards to Commander? Let's discuss in the comments below!
On to the next!
Still hungry for more Astral Slide Zur or Hour of Devastation? Check out the following links!
Hour of Devastation Review - Gold, Artifacts and Lands
Zur the Enchanter with Astral Slide - EDHREC Results
Zur the Enchanter played by Jonathan Suarez