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Against the Odds: Zur, but the Opponent Has No Permanents (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 348 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had another Dominaria United Standard Against the Odds poll but with a twist: rather than playing the winning card in Standard, we'd play it in Modern! In the end, Zur, Eternal Schemer took home a pretty convincing win, so we're heading to Modern today to turn some enchantments into hexproof, deathtouch, lifelinking creatures and maybe even pick up some flawless victories! What are the odds of winning with Zur in Modern? How in the world does a Zur deck get flawless victories? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Zur

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The Deck

When Zur, Eternal Schemer won the poll, I wasn't really sure which direction to go with the deck. While it would obviously involve enchantments in one way or another, there were several possibilities. Playing Zur with indestructible Gods did seem interesting, as making a bunch of 5/5 indestructible hexproof creatures seems strong. Zur Tribal with Zur the Enchanter also seemed like it could work. We could also just overload on enchantment creatures and maybe Collected Company and use Zur like a lord. But eventually, I landed on the perfect plan as I was digging around looking for Zur synergies, which is what led to the deck we're playing today!

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So, how are we building around Zur, Eternal Schemer? Here's the plan. Zur itself is a pretty interesting card, giving enchantment creatures lifelink, deathtouch, and, most importantly, hexproof, and it can turn non-aura enchantments into enchantment creatures for just two mana. Probably the most powerful aspect of Zur is its ability to give enchantment creatures hexproof. We've seen time and time again that hexproof is an incredibly powerful mechanic, blanking targeted removal and making it super hard to kill hexproof creatures. While turning random enchantments into enchantment creatures with power and toughness equal to their mana value for just two mana is a solid ability, it has one big problem: it doesn't do anything to protect Zur itself. While it is nice that the enchantments we animate remain creatures even if Zur dies, what if we could turn Zur, Eternal Schemer into an enchantment creature so it could protect itself? That's the primary plan of our deck.

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By far the easiest way to turn Zur into an enchantment is to just turn everything into an enchantment with Enchanted Evening. If we can play Enchanted Evening and then Zur, Eternal Schemer, Zur will give itself hexproof, lifelink, and deathtouch, and we can even use its ability to target itself and turn it into a 3/3 creature (since its mana value is 3). After realizing just how strong Enchanted Evening was with Zur, I started searching for other cards that synergized with turning everything into enchantments and stumbled on a perfect but hilarious plan with the help of a forgotten old Guildpact sorcery, Primeval Light!

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Take another look at Enchanted Evening. Notice that it doesn't just turn our permanents into enchantments, it turns all permanents into enchantments, including all of our opponent's permanents. Well, there's exactly one card in Modern guaranteed to blow up all of our opponent's enchantments while leaving our enchantments untouched: Primeval Light. What this means in practice is that if we can get Enchanted Evening on the battlefield for the low, low price of just four mana, we can use Primeval Light to blow up all of our opponent's permanents: lands, creatures, planeswalkers, artifact, enchantments—all of them! 

As such, the goals of our deck are twofold. First, we're hoping to get Zur, Eternal Schemer on the battlefield alongside Enchanted Evening. Then, we use Primeval Light to blow up all of our opponent's permanents; while our opponent struggles to rebuild, we can turn Enchanted Evening into a 5/5 hexproof, lifelinking, deathtoucher and use it to beat our opponent down!

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We've also got a couple of backup plans. Thanks to our fetch land, shock land, and Triome mana base, we can easily get all five basic land types on the battlefield, which turns Leyline Binding into an incredibly strong removal spell by reducing its cost to just one mana. While removing anything for one mana at instant speed is great, Leyline Binding is even better in our deck because it technically has a mana value of six, which means we can often cast it for a single mana and then turn it into a 6/6 hexproof, lifelink, deathtouch creature with Zur, Eternal Schemer, making it not only a great removal spell but also a great finisher. We also have one Zur the Enchanter, which is solid in our deck since we have a bunch of cheap enchantments, but it is mostly in the deck for flavor purposes as the OG Zur.

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The rest of the deck is fairly typical Enchantress stuff, although it all gets super-charged thanks to Zur. Sythis, Harvest's Hand and Enchantress's Presence help us draw through our deck to find our combo pieces, while Sterling Grove can tutor up Enchanted Evening or Leyline Binding directly. Plus, all of these cards are great with Zur, Eternal Schemer, which protects Sythis, Harvest's Hand since it's an enchantment creature and can turn Enchantress's Presence and Sterling Grove into creatures, if necessary.

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Sanctum Weaver and Utopia Sprawl help fix our mana and ramp us into our expensive combo pieces like Enchanted Evening. The one drawback of the Enchanted Evening / Primeval Light combo is that it costs a total of nine mana, and we need to play the more expensive combo piece (Enchanted Evening) first. Having some extra mana generation greatly increases our odds of living long enough to blow up all of our opponent's permanents, and a bit of extra mana fixing is never a bad thing for a five-color deck.

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Finally, we have a lone copy of Destiny Spinner in case we run into counterspell-heavy control decks (with more copies in the sideboard) and Solitary Confinement to help keep us alive for a few turns against combo and aggro while we get Zur on the battlefield or blow up all of our opponent's permanents with Enchanted Evening

The Matchup

In general, Zur doesn't care a ton about what the opponent is playing (outside of maybe fast combo, which can be tough); instead, it's more about our draws. Do we hit the right colors of lands to cast our spells? Do we find enough card draw to draw into our combo pieces? Those are some of the biggest questions for the deck. Basically, I think the deck has the potential to beat most decks with a good draw, but as a five-color deck with a lot of tapped lands and a pretty jank plan for finishing the game, we do sometimes lose to ourselves. 

The Odds

Record-wise, Zur worked surprisingly well. We ended up going 4-2 with the deck, good for a 66.7% win percentage. More importantly, pretty much all of our wins came because of Zur, Eternal Schemer and our Enchanted Evening / Primeval Light combo. We managed to blow up all of our opponent's permanents a bunch of times (although we did get blown out once by our opponent killing Enchanted Evening with Primeval Light on the stack, which was rough). Meanwhile, Zur, Eternal Schemer was a lot stronger than I expected. It was absurd when it was a mostly unkillable enchantment creature thanks to Enchanted Evening, but it was usually still very good even without the extra help. Turning something like Leyline Binding into a huge lifelinker let us steal wins against aggro, and we even got some weird Zur aggro draws where we made a bunch of extra mana with Sanctum Weaver and Utopia Sprawl and used it to animate all of our enchantments and beat our opponent down surprisingly early in the game! While it might not involve the somewhat janky (although surprisingly effective) "blow up all your permanents" combo, I wouldn't be shocked to out that Zur, Eternal Schemer has a home in Modern or Pioneer. It's a lot better than it looks!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Next week we're trying some Dominaria United in Pioneer, but which card? Click here to vote!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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