TWR: Building a Tier 1 Deck

Around tax return season this year, I decided to treat myself by purchasing a rather expensive decklist. My playgroup’s meta had been shifting towards more competitive options, and as such I looked at a tier list to see what commanders were best suited for the highest tiers. Having a Daxos, the Returned deck and being familiar with Enchantments matter themes, Zur the Enchanter appealed most to me. I set about building a list, but I was hesitant to build something that was too abusive. I didn’t want to be the guy with the most powerful deck at the table who made it impossible to win games for anyone else. So when I made my initial build that you can see in the above link, I decided to go for a sort of voltron build for Zur with some additional sub themes. From what I can tell through playing with the deck for six months is that having what is considered a tier 1 general means that it will win pretty consistently but won’t be considered competitive unless you build it in a particular way. A cursory Google search for competitive EDH (cEDH) decklists will show that the most consistent and reliable wins come from using a combination of cards that I didn’t have in my initial build. Well, I had some but I was coming at it from a different angle. Having played at GP Vegas against some real competition (people bringing their A game) I decided that my lone tier 1 general deserved to be played at his best. I’m not interested in having a long list of uber competitive builds, but having one that is a real show-stopper appeals to me. As such, I’ve decided to make some upgrades. I have a real competitive tier 1 decklist now, and I would like to share these upgrades with you all at this time.

New Combos:

The main win conditions for the deck are as follows:

  • Rest in Peace + Helm of Disobedience = mill opponent’s library into Exile causing them to lose on next draw step.
  • Necropotence or Ad Nauseum + Angel’s Grace or Phyrexian Unlife + Sickening Dreams = draw your library then discard to do X damage to all players but you won’t die.
  • Doomsday to tutor out Lab Man, counter spells, silence and windfall to win off Lab Man triggers and counter anything trying to stop this.

The other win condition that was in my old build that has survived the changeover is the combination of Steel of the Godhead (which makes Zur unblockable and gives him lifelink) and Empyrial Armor (giving +1/+1 for cards in hand) and Phyresis (giving Zur infect). There’s a nice interaction with Necropotence and lifelink that essentially gives you a ton of extra card draw as well.

Additional Ramp/Mana Fixing:

To make the deck’s engine hum, I also had to take a look at the mana base and ramp. I included plenty of artifact ramp already, but there were a couple of pieces that were missing — Mana Crypt and Lotus Petal. Mana Crypt is great when it comes to generalized ramp, but Lotus Petal is good for Zur in particular, because we want to cast him as quickly as possible. The petal can be the difference between casting Zur on turn 2 or 3 as opposed to turn 4. I’ve also added the needed fetch lands to compliment the shock lands already included in my initial build.

Additional Utility:

The final upgrades are spread about with some additional tutors in Vampiric and Mystical (I also added a Demonic Tutor) that will help us to find pieces needed for our wincons, or to tutor Doomsday which will accelerate things. I’ve also added some counterspells that have a competitive edge. Cards like Mental Misstep and Dispel feel like shitty versions of counterspells, but in a competitive meta, shutting down someone’s combo by countering their Sol Ring will be frustrating for them and excellent for you. Toxic Deluge is a arguably an upgrade from Damnation, only because it costs a mana less and life totals are a great resource. Finally we come to Stasis. I feel like it’s something that could help slow down a game if you need more time to get your combo pieces together, but some might say that it’s downside (keeping your shit tapped when you sacrifice it) makes it less worthwhile. I’m going to test it out and see what happens.

So there you have it. Checkout the full decklist here. I have ordered the majority of these cards at this point and will have the deck up and running again soon. A couple of the more expensive pieces will have to wait, but it will eventually be completed. I can’t wait to try it out and see how much it can crush the competition!

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