Some decks become synonymous with the people who play them. Jon Finkel has Storm, Feline Longmore has High Tide, Cedric Phillips has Kithkin, and Tim Fay has Zur Midrange. For as long as I’ve known Tim, he has been taking down tournaments with an esper deck that plays so many legendary creatures, someone over at MTGtop8 cheekily named the deck “The Best of Commander”. Though Tim doesn’t love the “Best of Commander” moniker, he does love putting enchantments into play with Zur and was willing to sit down with me to talk about the deck and his experiences with it. Here is the deck in question:


Modern Zur

LANDS (24)
Polluted Delta
Creeping Tar Pit
Marsh Flats
Darkslick Shores
Flooded Strand
Godless Shrine
Eiganjo Castle
River of Tears
Watery Grave
Hallowed Fountain

Zur the Enchanter
Geist of Saint Traft
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Vendilion Clique
Thassa, God of the Sea

Inquisition of Kozilek
Path to Exile
Mana Leak
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Lingering Souls

Spreading Seas
Detention Sphere
Steel of the Godhead

Steel of the Godhead
Kitchen Finks
Timely Reinforcements
Supreme Verdict
Illness in the Ranks
Rest in Peace
Threads of Disloyalty
Stony Silence


Shawn: The Zur deck existed on the fringes of Modern for a while now right? How did you stumble upon a list and what changes did you make to it?

Tim: Before I started playing constructed, I was mainly an EDH player with a tricked out Zur deck. Almost two years ago, someone showed me a Modern list and knowing full well the joy of tutoring with Zur, I’ve been tweaking it ever since. It started as a tempo deck, with a Meddling Mage and Gitaxian Probe/Thoughtseize package but it’s shifted into more of a controlling shell to respond to the metagame.

S: Chris VanMeter and Jeff Hoogland both picked up the deck and posted videos with it. What are your thoughts on their games?

T: For being such a fringe strategy they both played the list pretty well. It was a shame though, because Delver decks are the worst matchup, and both CVM and Hoogland tested my list against the Temur Delver deck that won the SCG IQ that I top eighted.

S: What’s your name of the deck? Where did the Best of Commander name come from?

T: Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of my favorite movies, so I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to name my deck “There are some who call me… Tim” as an homage to one of the best Enchanters of all time. As far as I’m aware the “Best of Commander” name was spawned by internet, which seems fair since walking around tournament halls I often hear people complaining about losing to “some trashy Commander card”.

S: What are your top finishes with the deck?

T: I made the top eight of a 166 person PTQ and the 273 person Modern IQ in Worcester. I also won a PPTQ a few months back.

S: What are the good and bad match-ups for Zur? Why?

T: The bad match-ups currently are Delver decks and U/R twin. The Delver decks can get under Zur and Geist and then counter my threats. Twin has the combo plan and can bring in Blood Moon out of the side which is pretty tough for this deck to beat. The good match-ups are linear aggro decks (Burn, Affinity, or Infect), anything that tries to play a fair attrition style game (Abzan or Jund), or Tron, since maindecking Spreading Seas and discard is a great recipe for taking them down.

S: Any insane good or bad beat story with the deck?

T: One of my most memorable games was a match against Tron a few months back, where my opponent cast two Wurmcoil Engines, activated Karn four times, hardcast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn annihilated six permanents on my board and hit for 15 damage… and it STILL wasn’t enough to beat Zur.

S: Tips for people looking to pick up the deck?

T: The deck is very adaptable, and can be tailored to be competitive in whatever metagame you expect to encounter. From a technical side, Zur’s ability doesn’t allow responses once you start searching (much like Birthing Pod), so look for opportunities to catch your opponent off-guard. I’ve Spreading Seas‘d multiple Eye of Ugin‘s to deny my opponent a tutor, multiple Gavony Townships to save myself from what would have been a lethal counter-attack, and Stony Silence‘d many Affinity players before they can set up lethal counter shenanigans with Ravager or Overseer.

S: Not only are you a Zur expert, but you’re a Boldwr historian as well. Can cowards block warriors? I’ve heard they can’t, but wanted verification.

T: From my research no, cowards cannot block warriors. So by the transitive property, equipping a Boldwyr Intimidator with a Whispersilk Cloak (making your opponent unable to block) means you can, by the rules of Magic, declare your opponent a Coward. Science.



At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.

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