It’s been a while since I made a new Commander deck. I’ve been playing around with the idea of a black and white deck, but I don’t love any of the BW commanders. Teysa is cute but I don’t love Commanders that are fundamentally just removal, and Vish Kal is literally the same thing. Meanwhile, both versions of Ghost Council are just single player life-sucks, both of them for amounts that are generally paltry in the format.

So that deck never really came together. But I still wanted to play with extort in EDH, and like a lot of the BW creatures. It went on the back burner, and I went to build a different deck, one that used Duskmantle Seer, Dark Tutelage, and a super-low curve. The problem I’ve always had with Dark Tutelage is that as an enchantment it can be difficult to get rid of it when you’re perilously close to death, and you need to be gaining life to offset it.

At first, my solution was to run Ertai, the Corrupted and combine the two decks; I’d have a super-low curve and be able to sacrifice the Tutelage or Seer if they got out of hand. But I don’t love Ertai; repeatable counterspell is the type of thing that makes enemies at the EDH table. Fearing the target that Ertai would put on my back, I changed my general to Zur the Enchanter.

Irony. Got to love it. Anyway, the plan was to keep the converted mana cost of the deck at four or lower; plans change. As I was building, I realized that I wanted a few things that pushed my curve over four: a) I wanted to play all the extort creatures, b) I wanted to be able to play a few big life-gain cards to offset the incidental life-loss, and c) Sun Titan was going to be awesome in a deck that tutored up enchantments at a converted mana cost of three or lower. Here’s what I ended up with:

Zur the Enchanter

Creatures (32): Auramancer; Auratog; Baneslayer Angel; Basilica Guards; Basilica Screecher; Cosi’s Trickster; Crypt Ghast; Divinity of Pride; Duskmantle Guildmage; Duskmantle Seer; Ethersworn Adjudicator; Graveborn Muse; Guul Draz Assassin; High Priest of Penance; Kingpin’s Pet; Knight of Obligation; Mortician Beetle; Pride of the Clouds; Rhox Faithmender; Sangromancer; Stormscape Master; Sun Titan; Syndic of Tithes; Syndicate Enforcer; Teysa, Orzhov Scion; Thrull Parasite; Treasury Thrull; Vampire Nighthawk; Vizkopa Confessor; Vizkopa Guildmage; Wall of Reverence; Wight of Precinct Six

Spells (6): Azorius Charm; Consuming Vapors; Death Grasp; Esper Charm; Immortal Servitude; Mortify

Artifacts (4): Chromatic Lantern; Elixir of Immortality; Etherwrought Page; Tainted Sigil

Enchantments (22): Angelic Destiny; Angelic Shield; Blind Obedience; Bloodchief Ascension; Celestial Dawn; Copy Artifact; Dark Tutelage; Ghostly Prison; Gift of Orzhova; Glorious Anthem; Hold the Gates; Luminarch Ascension; Necromancer’s Covenant; Oblivion Ring; Phyrexian Arena; Propaganda; Rhystic Study; Spirit Mantle; Underworld Connections; Vow of Duty; Vow of Flight; Vow of Malice

Lands (35): Arcane Sanctum; Azorius Chancery; Azorius Guildgate; Bojuka Bog; Dimir Aqueduct; Dimir Guildgate; Dromar’s Cavern; Esper Panorama; 6 Island; Miren, the Moaning Well; Nimbus Maze; Orzhov Basilica; Orzhov Guildgate; 6 Plains; 8 Swamp; Tainted Field; Tainted Isle; Thespian’s Stage

I’d like to point out some interesting inclusions and exclusions. The most glaring exclusion is Necropotence. Necropotence is exactly the type of card that gives Zur decks a bad name, so I avoided playing it. People are still going to think I am playing it, and Phyrexian Arena isn’t much worse, but I wanted to take a hard line against over-powered cards in this deck. So no Necro! Cosi’s Trickster, Pride of the Clouds, Mortician Beetle, and Wight of Precinct Six are all hold-overs from when I was focusing on a low curve above all else; they all have the potential to be tiny Tarmogoyfs, tall men for a low, low price of two or less. Plus, again, they get recurred by Sun Titan, as does about 2/3rds of the deck.

Now, in three-color decks I tend to like to have access to perfect mana, so Chromatic Lantern has been a godsend. A less well-known card with similar functionality is Celestial Dawn, with the excellent side effect of being tutorable by Zur. Another fun card I’ve been dying to try out is Hold the Gates. I really like it in certain draft decks, and I think it has some potential to let my smaller creatures grapple above their weight class. I have access to four tutorable enchantments that draw me cards, and in case of emergency I am running six different ways to remove any enchantments that prove to be too problematic.

I am worried about a few things, though. I worry about the aggro that both Bloodchief and Luminarch Ascension can draw; they’re both very powerful win conditions that can draw more attention than I like.* I worry that the cards I am running won’t be powerful enough to avoid getting rolled over by bigger strategies. And Immortal Servitude isn’t nearly enough protection against wrath effects. But it should be fun, and hopefully I’ll be able to do a lot of things during my turns; after all, that’s why I play EDH in the first place. It’s the format of doing things, and it’s a ton of fun.

*I’ve gotten to a point in my regular playgroup where I tend to draw aggro by breathing. Or, more accurately, whenever I draw cards. So doing splashy things makes it even more likely for me to end up with a target on my back.

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