In case you hadn't heard, the weekend before last played host to the TCGplayer Modern State Championships. They were a huge success across the country and allowed us to amass a tremendous amount of Modern format decklists for everyone to peruse.
You can find all of the decklists that have been entered so far at this link, but a couple decks in particular ended up standing out for me. One of those was a Zur Aggro list, played by Zach Gutnik to a Top 4 finish.
Now, I called the deck Zur Aggro simply because it has things like Geist of Saint Traft in it. I could call it midrange or control, but it doesn't really seem to fit those molds very well, especially with our curve topping out at a mere four mana (with none other than Zur the Enchanter himself).
I played a Zur deck a while back as well, in January, but I didn't devote an entire article to it. I merely played a single match with the deck between rounds of a Magic Online Cube Draft. While the power level could be a little hit or miss, the deck was kind of a blast to play if you landed Zur the Enchanter and the card advantage he provided was pretty undeniable. Well, that was about eight months ago and since then several sets have been released (along with a somewhat enchantment-based set) and an unbanning has occurred. With all these factors culminating in something of a perfect storm of opportunity, I thought there was no better time to try the deck out and see how it fared!
Zur Aggro vs. Monogreen Devotion
Zur Aggro vs. Golgari Midrange
Zur Aggro vs. Melira Pod
Zur Aggro vs. UWR Pyromancer
My first question before even playing a game was why there wasn't a Bitterblossom included in the deck. The last version of Zur I played didn't have one, but at the time it was still banned. Now that the card is unbanned, it makes total sense to include at least one, considering it's often great on both offense and defense.
Thassa, God of the Sea is clearly a welcome addition to the deck that also wasn't included in the first version I played. Then again Theros was released on Magic Online on October 7th last year and that was the exact date that the initial Zur deck I used was piloted in a Premier Event. Either way, Thassa is quite easy to turn on with things like Threads of Disloyalty and Vendilion Clique, so along with her scrying and unblockability, she's quite the asset.
Zur having four toughness is also quite relevant. It means he dodges most burn while also being immune to other removal such as Slaughter Pact, Abrupt Decay, and Shriekmaw.
Dead Weight was a card I added to the original list I played, because I thought it was a great removal spell that could easily be found with Zur. Sometimes you don't want a Detention Sphere because your opponent has things like Reclamation Sage or Qasali Pridemage, and you just want to kill their Noble Hierarch or Scavenging Ooze straight away. Dead Weight is great for this.
Along with the gods, Theros block gave us a ton of awesome tools for Zur the Enchanter that happen to come in the form of creatures. I thought Brain Maggot could be an excellent addition as a sort of free Thoughtseize when attacking with Zur. Another great option was Aegis of the Gods, as granting hexproof against something like Burn or Storm could be huge. Being able to search out multiples is also an option, depending on how many you want in the sideboard.
Unfortunately I was never really impressed by Meddling Mage (sorry Chris) and I go over my reasons a few times. Basically, there is just such a large variety of removal that no matter what you name with the Mage, the opponent will simply use the other removal in their hand. If you don't name removal, and instead name something like Birthing Pod, we have no way to really stop the opponent from just killing the Meddling Mage. If we want a Meddling Mage-esque effect, I think adding one Nevermore to the deck is completely reasonable (and harder to Remove as well). Other than that, I would most likely fill the Meddling Mage spot with an alternate Invitational card: Snapcaster Mage. I can't really think of a time where I don't want the value of a Snapcaster Mage. I would also cut the Gitaxian Probes since they were at their best with Meddling Mage and they don't really serve a function other than a little velocity.
Runed Halo is another card that I wouldn't mind as a one-of. It does a lot of work, such as blanking things like Tarmogoyfs or other troublesome creatures. and spells. Of course it takes a solid hit from Abrupt Decay, but what doesn't? Sanctimony was another interesting card Melissa and I stumbled upon, but we weren't sure how good it would be. Could be decent, especially if Burn becomes more popular/retains its popularity level, but I'm not sure if it's fast enough.
While Zur the Enchanter is awesome, I think this iteration could do with a few changes. I think I might take some of the ideas I've proposed and work them into the deck, because the card advantage and selection that the Coldsnap legend provides is pretty sweet. Either way, that's about all I have for today! I'll catch you guys on Thursday with, possibly, Jund Superfriends starring Nissa, Worldwaker herself! If you happen to be heading to Gen Con, come check out TCGplayer! Melissa DeTora, Craig Wescoe, Cassidy Silver, and myself can all be found there, at booth #2529, signing tokens and chatting with you guys! Thanks for reading, and I'll catch you then (either in person or on the interwebs).
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV