Last updated on August 16, 2023
Zur the Enchanter | Illustration by Josu Hernaiz
Esper is a shard of grace and proactivity. Swiftly and easily removing enemy threats, consistently having efficient interaction, and playing powerful enchantments are all things Esper () does well, and that Zur the Enchanter greatly empowers. If you’ve been looking for a deck that plays like this or you’re just interested in Zur in general, you’ve come to the right place.
I’ve put together a casual Zur the Enchanter list that revolves around the strategy of aura-based enchantments. I’m also going to break down what cards are included and why as well as a general strategy in case you’re new to Zur. The list can also be upgraded or downgraded for power or budget, and I’ll include some recommendations for that at the end of the guide.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!
All That Glitters | Illustration by Iain McCaig
Archon of Sun's Grace
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
Eidolon of Countless Battles
Sovereigns of Lost Alara
Thassa, God of the Sea
Face of Divinity
Blessing of Leeches
Imprisoned in the Moon
All That Glitters
Gift of Immortality
Steel of the Godhead
Mantle of the Ancients
Authority of the Consuls
Vault of Champions
Hall of Heliod's Generosity
Sea of Clouds
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
The Commander list I’m presenting today isn’t the typical max-power cEDH build I’d usually put together, but a standard mid-power build. Its main focus is to get out powerful enchantments using Zur the Enchanter’s triggered attack ability and combine a laundry list of enchantments with synergistic creatures to swing in for the kill.
The list is very typical as far as Zur is concerned. It also has room to be upgraded to competitive levels or trimmed down for more casual tables. Its current price sits around $600 which means it can more easily be transitioned to a budget list than, say, a $5,500 cEDH version.
But that’s enough talk. Let’s get into the meat of the deck!
Let’s start with the most important piece, your commander! Zur the Enchanter has been around for some time, longer than I (and maybe most of you) have been playing Magic. Despite originally being released over 15 years ago, Zur has continued to be a forerunner as one of the most popular commanders both in Esper and in general, with over 3,600 decks online.
This commander can be used in many ways, but today’s focus is taking advantage of its triggered ability to tutor out powerful and necessary enchantments and create a juggernaut attacker. Since lethal commander damage sits at only 20 and Zur has flying, it’s significantly easier to attack and 1- or 2-shot an opponent with a beefed-up commander than you think.
Zur the Enchanter can also be used to tutor a few utility or removal enchantments like Detention Sphere and Necropotence. This gives you the option to play the tempo game and not put all your eggs into the aggressive-attacker basket.
Your early game is essentially summed up by one goal: play Zur the Enchanter and tutor out a defensive aura for it. This can be in the form of Blessing of Leeches, Empyrial Armor, Gift of Immortality, Hyena Umbra, Timely Ward, Thrull Retainer, or Kaya's Ghostform. Protecting your commander is the most important thing once it’s in play since losing it sets you back at least one turn and open you up to more removal later.
Once Zur the Enchanter is safe and sound in play you want to shift your attention to building your resources up. Each attack gives you a new enchantment to beef up your commander or remove a potential threat, and you want to back this up with creatures that synergize well.
Ajani's Chosen curves right into your turn 4 swing with Zur and starts creating more of a board presence.
Archon of Sun's Grace creates flyers to help push more damage and keep your life total padded.
Interaction is key for any deck, especially one that has access to the wonderful spells in Esper. Anguished Unmaking is excellent removal and hits just about anything with a very small downside.
Fierce Guardianship offers a free counter once Zur the Enchanter is in play, and both Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares grant instant-speed 1-mana removal that can be great for flashed-in blockers.
The deck doesn’t run too many counterspells or instant-based removal other than that because the deck doesn’t like passing the turn with mana open, which is something you need to do in a deck trying to accomplish those kinds of goals. This deck has over 52 permanent spells (more than half), so you want to spend your mana developing these cards and making unstoppable creatures.
There’s a decent amount of removal to be found in the enchantment base. Detention Sphere is one of the better ones since it targets any nonland permanent and any other card with the same name of it. This means you can hit an opponent’s Sol Ring and take out any other players Rings at the same time.
Darksteel Mutation is another great enchantment because it totally nullifies another creature and replaces it with a mediocre blocker. Imprisoned in the Moon essentially does the same thing but gives your opponents a free instead.
Minimus Containment is another one of those exile enchantments that turns nonland permanents it into a Treasure token. This directly incentivizes your opponent to expend the permanent that was hit, possibly removing it before they have access to enchantment removal.
Auras are the bread and butter of this deck. They usually give some small buff on their own, like +1/+1 and indestructible or flying. It’s when they come together and start stacking on a single creature that a juggernaut monstrosity that can 1-shot your opponents with commander damage comes into play.
The best of these auras are cards like Battle Mastery and Daybreak Coronet which both give powerful damage and utility buffs to your creatures. Double strike is not to be underestimated since it instantly turns a decent creature into a must-remove threat.
The lifelink and vigilance from Daybreak Coronet is also just as strong since it greatly bolsters the defensive side of Zur the Enchanter. Not only does it give you copious amounts of life, it also leaves you with an incredible blocker during your opponent’s combat steps.
All that Glitters is also worth mentioning. This aura can easily be a game-ender if you get to attack with it. Combine it with three to four enchantments and double strike, and you’re looking at a +8/+8 buff on your creature.
Below these top enchantments are the many “basic” auras that give powerful buffs but aren’t necessarily game ending. Steel of the Godhead is one of these cards. It’s great—amazing even—but unblockable can only go so far at the end of the day.
Empyrial Armor is also strong, you just have to make sure you don’t unload your hand until you’ve gotten some amount of value from it.
There are also a few “copy enchantment” effects in the list that are as good as you make them. These include Mirrormade and Copy Enchantment. These can obviously go big by coping All that Glitters, but don’t hold them for so long waiting to hit it big that you miss out on value elsewhere. You might actually lose value if you wait three or four turns for Glitters’ +8/+8 by not simply copying Steel of the Godhead and getting additional damage plus lifelink in the attacks you skipped.
This deck runs three board wipes, which might seem like a lot at first considering this a creature-based deck. But if you look at the list you’ll see that there are a few ways to recur your enchantments from the graveyard to counteract these spells.
Replenish accomplishes this and allows you to attach all your auras to a creature in play. It doesn’t matter if Zur isn’t in play at that very moment since none of your opponents have anything to block the armored-up 2/2 token.
Divine Reckoning also does this to all but one creature which helps purge token-based decks and keeps your enchanted creature alive.
The Mana Base
This deck only has four mana rocks which is about half as many as average, and you also skip out on Sol Ring. This may feel like blasphemy at first, but take a second to consider why. The Ring provides two colorless mana, which isn’t as helpful for casting Zur the Enchanter as something that provides one mana of a single color.
You can cast Zur one turn early with just one mana rock, so playing an Arcane Signet or Thought Vessel on turn 2 makes you no worse off than playing Sol Ring on turn 1. You can still include the Ring in your own list if you want, just make sure to add more cards with in their casting cost to make sure you’re actually using it to its full potential.
The lands in this mana base aren’t anything to write home about. You only have the on-color fetches like Flooded Strand, Marsh Flats, and Polluted Delta, and you don’t have any of the original dual lands. But what you do have are all of the shock lands which considerably help fix your mana and make sure you’re able to cast Zur the Enchanter and not getting mana screwed.
There are also a few utility lands that you can put to use in just about every game. Bojuka Bog wipes out graveyards which almost always hits something in a 4-player game.
Hall of Heliod's Generosity gives you access to enchantments struck down by removal. This is a very underrated land since enchantment removal is still lacking in most games, which means the enchantments you replay are far more likely to stick around.
Rogue's Passage naturally works with your playstyle of buffing up a single creature (Zur) beyond belief and attacking for 1-shot kills.
The strategy of an aura-based Zur the Enchanter deck is one that any player can understand and pilot reasonably well in the first few play sessions. The general idea is to play Zur and protect it as quickly as possible, then enchant it through its own attack trigger combined with spells from your hand. Then it’s just a matter of connecting with it and killing players via commander damage before they can protect themselves or find a way to kill it.
The real mastery of the deck comes from knowing what enchantments to tutor out and when. Tutoring out the most powerful auras can be an attractive idea, but knowing when to grab your Necropotence or spend a trigger to remove a combo piece is what improves your win rate with the list. That comes from practice and actually playing the deck as well as knowing what your opponents are up to and how you can most effectively disrupt them along the way.
Combos and Interactions
This deck doesn’t have any infinite combos (although you could easily include some!), which makes it a much more attractive deck if you’re looking to play at a casual table. Remember that casual does not mean bad or slow. This deck is strong and can efficiently and consistently win games with the right playstyle and a little bit of luck.
Possible Rule 0 Violations
The only “questionable” spell is Fierce Guardianship, which you might want to mention to the playgroup if they’re against free counterspells. But that typically refers to the uber-efficient versions like Force of Will or Force of Negation.
While this deck doesn’t carry the mortgage payment price tag many Commander decks seem to have nowadays, half a grand is still a lot of money for 100 pieces of cardboard. If you’re looking to cut down the price a little bit (or maybe, a lot), there are a few cards to look at.
The fetch lands all carry pretty hefty price tags and are honestly not necessary. They had a solid level of consistency to your mana base but are probably the first thing I’d recommend cutting to save some money.
Despite its popularity with auras, Zur the Enchanter is actually a very good cycling commander (out of left field, I know). This is entirely thanks to the fact it can tutor out Astral Drift or Astral Slide, which lets the decks combo off and start cycling into oblivion. These decks are usually much higher power than a typical enchantment deck since they revolve around fast combos and efficient tutors.
Stax is obviously a painful strategy to play against. You should definitely only dive into the world of stax if you actually enjoy seeing your opponents get frustrated and struggle to find a reason to keep playing. If you’re like some of my friends and just want everyone to have a good time, turn around now.
Daybreak Coronet | Illustration by Johannes Voss
That concludes the decklist and guide for today! I’ve always been a huge fan of Zur the Enchanter and really enjoyed writing about the deck today. Zur Auras is a really fun and graceful strategy that’s as enjoyable to play as it is powerful. It also leaves a lot of room for customization, varying power levels, and it’s relatively cheap to put together. What more could you want!
What did you think of the deck? Have you ever played Zur, or maybe a list like this one? Let me know down in the comments or over on our official Draftsim Discord.
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