Primer Spotlight - Zedruu the Greatest of All Time
Welcome to the first Primer Spotlight! Deck primers are wonderful guides built by players to thoroughly examine a deck, its functions, and its possibilities. For Commander, primers focus on a specific commander, build type, or both. Primer writers spend countless hours writing these guides for other players. Although primers often become a long reads, truly covering all aspects of a deck requires detail. They become invaluable resources for new players and deck hunters alike.
One such primer is "Zedruu - The Greatest of All Time" by tstorm823, who has gone to great lengths to explain not only his own build of Zedruu, but also its intricacies and other possibilities. His primer has become one of the best places for anyone wanting to build a Zedruu deck to start from.
And now, we'll turn it over to tstorm823 and his Zedruu primer:
What is this deck, and why would I play it?
This deck is a lot of things. It's a solid amount of group hug, a unique selection of combos, and a tiny bit of chaos sprinkled on top. It is my understanding that every part of that last sentence has a bad reputation among magic players, but I think that's because of the way people tend to play those styles. It can be frustrating to play against a group hug player who pretends they aren't trying to win, or a chaos player who actually isn't trying to win, or a combo player who wins with efficiency and consistency. This deck is not going to do any of that. It yearns for the win, it does everything in its power to get it, and it takes the game on a wild ride in the process.
• You might like this deck if you enjoy varied and extremely unconventional lines of play.
• You might not like this deck if you're looking to have a consistent game plan.
• You should play this deck if you're looking for new crazy stories to tell.
• You shouldn't play this deck if your playgroup isn't interested in spectating a convoluted endgame.
I have no credentials. I had never played in an event bigger than a local game store until years after starting this deck. I've played on and off, largely limited formats, since 1997, including the dubious break that skipped Mirrodin to come back for Kamigawa, and nearly all of my knowledge of competitive Magic comes from watching other people.
That being said, I hope you're not looking for competitive chops from me, because this deck is supremely casual. The essence of casual play is playing what you want, and I have decades of playing the cards that I want to under my belt. That's harder than it sounds. You can't just slap Knowledge Pool in a deck and suddenly have a good time, it takes some serious deckbuilding to make the cards you want to play shine in the way that you dream of. In the end, my credentials are this deck. This is the deck where the cards I love the most shine the brightest. So if you love some of the cards that I do, read on, and maybe my experience will help you make them shine.
I started playing EDH not too long before the first precons and wasn't totally sold on the format... and then I went out at midnight when Zedruu was released because it was love at first sight. The deck they had constructed for Zedruu was, to be generous in my description, disappointing. The included win conditions were a) hope your opponents kill each other, b) make their creatures kill them, or c) play a different general. So I started off by adding some cards I like and a few really convoluted combos, expecting the deck to be silly but bad. Then something crazy happened: it started winning. And every time I came up with another weird unwieldy combo, it slotted in easily, and I still kept up at what people would now call a 75% table. I used to say that the deck built itself because I couldn't explain why it was working.
So the first few years of playing this deck were figuring out why it worked. The next few years were implementing the theories on why it was working to make it work better, still playing my ridiculous win conditions but making them work even better, to the point where this genuinely became the most threatening deck I owned for a time. Since then, the power has been toned down a little, as most of my changes have been dedicated to squishing as many of my favorite cards and strategies into a single deck as possible without devolving into an unplayable mess. And I've certainly tested out changes that cross the line into unplayable mess before, but I promise I don't post a list unless I've played games enough to make sure it's still working.
All About Zedruu
Why play Zedruu as your commander?
There are 3 mechanical reasons why Zedruu the Greathearted is the correct commander here. The most important reason by far is the card draw. Card draw is the foundation of this deck, and Zedruu is a powerful card draw engine in the command zone. It's not uncommon for Zedruu to draw 10-15 cards in a game if she's left alone, and very few commanders have that draw power, particularly on a 4 mana creature that doesn't demand a specific build like something like Edric, Spymaster of Trest.
There are certainly a few (mostly bluer) generals with similar draw capabilities (a couple are in the deck), but the second reason to play Zedruu is the color combination. Jeskai is just the zaniest 3-color combination in magic and that's all there is to it. Adding the color identity to the draw requirement leaves basically 3 alternatives to Zedruu (none of which existed when Zedruu was printed).
- Narset, Enlightened Master: digs 4 deep and plays them for free. Not technically drawing cards, but far more powerful. A Narset version would focus more on the powerful non-creatures (and paint a target on your head)
- Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis: draws you cards every turn like the Howling Mines I love, but it also helps your opponents ramp if that's optimal, so I'd recommend more control spells if you use them.
- Partners with Kraum, Ludevic's Opus: Kraum is the only partner for these colors that will passively generate more than 1 card of value a turn. If you wanted to focus in on things like Possibility Storm, you could build Kraum + Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker as an interesting alternative.
But then there's the 3rd reason to use Zedruu, and that's the usefulness of the donate ability. Some cards function better for you under opponent's control. Some combos this deck has played require an opponent to have something specific. Some win conditions don't work if your opponent has no creatures. And all of that is on top of the political possibilities of handing a de facto teammate something they need to turn the tables on the opponent closest to victory. There really is no substitute for everything Zedruu brings to the table.
There are certainly weaknesses to Zedruu. If you build too much dependence on Zedruu's draw ability, you can lose a whole game from a Mind Control. And the ability requires a lot of mana of specific colors to get rolling, so color screw can be a big hurdle at times. But a deck built to make Zedruu shine will be playing other cards to mitigate these issues.
How to play Zedruu the Greathearted?
Playing Zedruu properly requires an understanding of certain rules in the game, many of them specific enough that not all players would be familiar with them, so before I introduce my deck, I'd like to give a brief summary of rules that will likely come up if you play Zedruu.
Ownership: Zedruu counts cards you own but don't control. The owner of a card is fairly obviously whoever's using the deck it started in. Ownership in the game does not care about the real world owner of the card, only the person who is using that deck. As often as I've made the joke "I loaned you that deck, so I should get to draw 20, right?", it does not work that way. The only cards you own when playing Zedruu are the cards from the deck you're playing. Ownership of tokens works differently because they don't exist at the start of the game. For tokens, the owner is whoever made them. For example, if you were to play Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and use it to make a token, you would be the owner of that token. If you play Forbidden Orchard and make an opponent make a token, the opponent owns that token, so you do not draw off of those tokens. If you play Political Trickery and give someone Forbidden Orchard and then they give you the token (as will happen if it's 1 on 1), you own those and can donate them for value. This can get a little tricky with some cards because they've changed the rules over time, and most recently changed the text of cards to accommodate those rules. So while the text on Forbidden Orchard tells you to put a token under their control, the oracle text tells the opponent to create the token. As far as I know, no cards let you deliberately have a token you own enter under an opponent's control, but if you ever find it ambiguous who created a a token, you should look up the official oracle text for the card in question.
Control: Changing control is sort of the whole point of Zedruu. The two rules situations where control is iffy are auras and multiple control effects. Auras are easy, you just need to remember that control of an aura doesn't change what it's attached to. In my deck, the aura traditionally in question was Paradox Haze. If I enchant myself with Paradox Haze and then donate it, it still enchants me and thus I still get the extra upkeep. There are entire Zedruu decks dedicated to playing auras and then donating them to draw cards. In the situation where multiple effects are giving players control of an object, the most recently applied effect is the one that counts, and an earlier effect ending doesn't change later effects. Example, if you Mind Control a creature and then donate the creature (not that you would, but you could), there would be two static effects giving control of the creature, but Zedruu was more recent and would be the one that wins. If Mind Control is destroyed later, it doesn't change control back to the original controller because Zedruu's effect still applies (and will continue to apply until the object leaves play or you or the current controller lose the game). More likely, if you play a Threaten effect and donate the stolen creature, it will remain donated even after Threaten ends. And if someone plays Mind Control on something donated with Zedruu, that effect will be most recent and give them control, but you'll end up drawing anyway so who cares!
A specific case of changing control is during combat. If an attacking or blocking creature changes control, it is removed from combat, and thus takes no damage. Thus, you can block a creature with your own, let's say it's Memnite, and then pay 3 into Zedruu to donate that Memnite, the attacker remains blocked but instead of Memnite dying it moves to the other side to help you draw more cards. I highly recommend avoiding creatures as donations as they can be easily sacrificed or used as chump blockers to deny you cards, but it's better to donate than just chump block yourself.
Trigger Resolution: Zedruu's only trigger condition is that you reach the beginning of the upkeep with her. No player gets priority during the untap step, and upkeep triggers happen before priority passes, so as soon as someone passes the turn to you, you're guaranteed that Zedruu will trigger. Even if your opponents control nothing you own, Zedruu's trigger still goes on the stack. Then priority passes before the trigger resolves, which means you can do things before it resolves, which is important because you can donate things in response to the trigger, and then X is counted during resolution. A common play for me is Pentad Prism on turn 2 followed by Zedruu on turn three and donating the prism on turn 4 in response to the trigger. Mind that this works both ways though, so if your opponents remove your donations in response to the trigger you'll draw less. But the trigger resolves independent of whether you still control Zedruu when it resolves, so targeted removal at Zedruu wont stop the draw, and if you're desperate enough, you can donate Zedruu to draw off of Zedruu's trigger.
Players Leaving the Game: Lets look at the official rule, because it's important to know:
800.4a When a player leaves the game, all objects (see rule 109) owned by that player leave the game and any effects which give that player control of any objects or players end. Then, if that player controlled any objects on the stack not represented by cards, those objects cease to exist. Then, if there are any objects still controlled by that player, those objects are exiled.
- If you die while someone controls one of your cards, your card leaves with you.
- If they die while controlling a card donated to them, the effect giving them control ends and it returns to whoever would control it without that effect.
- If a card you own entered play under an opponent's control (e.g. they used Bribery), there is no effect giving them control, thus it stays in their control and falls under the last clause where everything left is exiled.
- Players dying is a big mess, which is ok, because big messes are sort of this decks M.O.
My Zedruu Deck
This is the deck mostly as it exists in real life pink sleeves (that make it easily identifiable when the cards get handed out to other people). This deck has reached a point where I can say comfortably there isn't a change I wish I could make. That is not to say that I don't ever change the deck, but rather that I'm long past the point where I keep a list of things I would play if budgets and availability worked out.
1 Zedruu the Greathearted
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Boros Garrison
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 Mystic Gate
1 Rugged Prairie
1 Skycloud Expanse
1 Temple of Enlightenment
1 Temple of Epiphany
1 Temple of Triumph
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Needle Spires
1 Wandering Fumarole
1 Mystic Monastery
1 Path of Ancestry
1 Command Tower
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Gemstone Caverns
1 Forsaken City
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Riptide Laboratory
1 Kami of the Crescent Moon
1 Nin, the Pain Artist
1 Vedalken Plotter
1 Walking Archive
1 Crystalline Crawler
1 Golden Guardian
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage
1 Sakashima the Impostor
1 Swans of Bryn Argoll
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Archangel Avacyn
1 Cavalier of Dawn
1 Precursor Golem
1 Inferno Titan
1 Chrome Mox
1 Azorius Signet
1 Azor's Gateway
1 Boros Signet
1 Howling Mine
1 Izzet Signet
1 Pentad Prism
1 Strionic Resonator
1 Thought Vessel
1 Temple Bell
1 Font of Mythos
1 Unbender Tine
1 Vedalken Orrery
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Mirror of Fate
1 Knowledge Pool
1 Detention Sphere
1 Dictate of Kruphix
1 Jeskai Ascendancy
1 Leyline of Anticipation
1 March of the Machines
1 Possibility Storm
1 Barren Glory
1 Infinite Reflection
1 Eye of the Storm
1 Leave // Chance
1 Jeskai Charm
1 Sudden Substitution
1 Vanish Into Memory
1 Bonus Round
1 Catch // Release
1 Political Trickery
1 Role Reversal
1 Throes of Chaos
1 Echo Storm
1 Mind's Desire
1 Time Spiral
1 Temporal Cascade
1 Temporal Mastery
The Deck Philosophy
So what exactly is the theoretical basis I've found for why the deck above works? Just like in the introduction where I described the deck as a combination of multiple things, here I'd like to break down those things.
Group Hug: I'm not a particular fan of the moniker "group hug" because it gives the impression that I'm being kind, but I don't play Howling Mine for that purpose. I play these things because they rebalance the resource management of the game in a way that benefits me more than my opponents. It's the theoretical inverse of stax: where stax restricts resource development, we expand it. Stax decks are designed to play through their own restriction, winning with cards that would be individually weak against fully developed opponents. A competent hugging deck does the opposite: plays effects that are not efficient or compact because it makes a game state where players have a glut of resources. A normal Commander deck builds with a curve, it wants to play a land and a spell each turn, it wants to have redundancy for consistency's sake, and tutors for even better options. Zedruu plays no tutors, only 34 lands, and a pile of unique 6+ mana effects. It looks bad on the surface, but when drawing 3-4 cards a turn, everyone else has fist fulls of redundant effects that they can't play all of, and Zedruu is developing towards a synergy or combo win safely in hand.
The other advantage of everyone drawing lots of cards is the two-fold tendency of people to tap out because of it. Your opponents will always have a proactive option on their turn, and some people will succumb to the temptation to tap out for their own things. And even the ones wise enough to keep mana up when it means discarding to hand size will at some point have to answer someone other than you who's trying to win the game. Particularly with the flash-enabling effects, this can create an opening where everyone is tapped out and you're free to play something that would never have a chance to get by unanswered under normal circumstances.
Chaos: Just like a good stax deck is built to play through the resource denial, and a good hug deck is built to prosper with the extra resources, a good chaos shell is one that is built to play through its own chaos more optimally than opponents. This isn't exactly a chaos deck, just a few effects here and there, but that doesn't mean there's any less consideration to the ones included. Possibility Storm is the prime example here. It's a card that for most players makes their spells utterly unpredictable, but this deck is constructed in a way that mitigates that. The spread of spell types makes it so bombs can be dug for by focusing on casting sorceries or enchantments. 2/3 of the planeswalkers can remove Possibility Storm to let cards be cast from hand when necessary, allowing for a statistically significant chance of having that option. Probably the best example I've seen of playing best through chaos was an opponent of mine who tapped out floating mana and played Thieves' Auction, took no artifacts, and then cast Shatterstorm and completely ran away with the game. Chaos for chaos' sake earns its bad reputation, but benefiting from an effect that is hampering everyone else is really impressive to see.
Combo: There are two aspects of this deck's combos that are different than a stereotypical combo deck. The first is that they are all 4+ cards to go infinite. That doesn't explain why the deck works, it's quite obviously a big limitation, and one I put on myself to generate the sort of gameplay I enjoy. But the second difference is part of why this deck runs well: all of the combo pieces have purposes outside just an infinite. Font of Mythos can be a combo piece, Rest in Peace can be a combo piece, Dissipation Field can be a combo piece, Detention Sphere can be a combo piece, Turnabout can be a combo piece. All of these are cards that are going to be relevant in many games of magic even if they only combo in a select few. And if you want to build a deck full of wild and wacky combos, that is something you should aim for.
But that brings up another difference between this and linear combo decks: there are more combos woven into this deck than a linear combo deck usually has because that sort of deck would rather tutor pieces and play more efficient combos than play a dozen combos and hope to pull the right pairs. This feels a bit counter-intuitive, playing both more combos and combos with more pieces, but it's actually helpful because of the insistence on playing combo pieces that are also functional cards you're happy to play proactively. Sometimes you play out a combo piece early and lose access to it later, so having a wide variety of backup plans ensures you don't run out of win conditions.
Politics: It's not right to call this a political deck because very nearly every imaginable deck is political in a multiplayer environment. If you have removal, that's a political tool. If you can choose who to attack, that's political. That doesn't leave many decks left that lack political options. But Zedruu is itself a political option, so it's more of a conscious effort here than most places. But that doesn't mean table talk. Politics is the art of making what's good for you also good for other players. Verbally making deals to do things for each other is both the most obvious and second worst form of politics (next to lying). Letting someone else play a threat first so a 3rd player can remove it is good politics, it gets rid of a threat to them while also burning the removal for you. Donating someone a blocker so that they don't die to the 3rd player who will come for you next is good politics, as them being alive can make your survival more likely. These things that don't require you saying a single word are so good because they don't require any loyalty or trust, they just rely on people acting in their self-interest because you made their interests coincide with yours. Zedruu's donate ability gives you more opportunities to use others self-interest for your own benefit, and if you recognize threats correctly, the ability to cooperate smoothly can give you a big leg up that you wouldn't have based only on your own merits.
The Deck Strategy
How to play Zedruu breaks down into essentially 3 phases.
Phase 1: Fix the mana, set up card draw, and hopefully get flash.
Phase 2: Interact, sow chaos, and continue drawing cards.
Phase 3: Win in one big swoop.
Phase 1 is all about making mana and playing Howling Mines and then the Howling Mines will find you more mana and you're ready to go, and that usually takes the first 4 or 5 turns. The early game strategy is the only easy part of the game, just get as many cards and as much mana as you can for the future. Your turns at this point in the game should be very quick.
Phase 2 is all about card interactions, the subtle synergies within this deck as well as the interactions between these cards and things opponents might play that will keep people guessing instead of winning the game or destroying the card draw, and this part of the game could be 2 turns or 200 depending on the opponents. The synergy section below as well as the card selection section of this thread go into great detail on what combinations of cards to look out for, but it's important to note right away that you should be on the look out. The key to quickly and accurately finding the right line in a deck as potentially complex as this one is in taking stock of your resources during everyone else's turn and determining which draws are going to swing the game swiftly in your favor. If you have 7 devotion to blue and Unbender Tine in play, you can recognize the Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is a potential draw ahead of time and be careful not to waste your land drop on something else. If you play Knowledge Pool and Zedruu, you can know that Echo Storm will probably give you 3 more Knowledge Pools, a position that's close to "can't lose" territory. Don't just spectate when it isn't your turn, plan out your best draws so that you don't miss when they do arrive.
Phase 3 is doing something immensely stupid and flashy to win the game, and that almost universally takes 1 turn, 2 turns, or infinite turns and nothing inbetween. This tends to be where you make up for the short early turns where you didn't play anything threatening by playing all of it at once. See the synergies and combos sections for more info.
Zedruu has won many games of edh in many remarkable ways, but casting individual spells and letting them act as a win condition alone is an incredibly rare outcome. In order to reach the point of victory, this deck almost requires that select pieces be strung together that grant the pilot an unfathomable board state or direct access to most or all of the deck. On occasion, I've claimed I either need 10 mana and 30 cards or 10 cards and 30 mana to end the game, It's not quite as formulaic as that, but while I pride myself on winning in comically unique ways, the truth is that the win conditions are often purely academic exercises once one of the major engines get up and running. Any one of these strategies could be picked out and made into a more focused, more consistent deck. Having done so with more than one of them, I've found it's my preference to weave them all into one deck and let chance decide what strategy to pursue in any given game.
Drawing cards to draw more cards to draw more cards
We've established that this deck intends to draw a lot of cards passively over time, but when the time comes to close the game out, we switch to active drawing effects. After drawing cards each turn with Howling Mine effects, you eventually hit faster engines: Mindmoil and Jeskai Ascendancy are cards that let you cycle out your hand whenever you cast a spell. Chance (from Leave // Chance) lets you rummage any number of cards away. Swans of Bryn Argoll lets you draw cards whenever you can damage it or loot away cards with Firestorm. Most of that doesn't actually increase the number of cards in hand, but eventually they draw into direct draw spells: Temporal Cascade, Time Spiral, and Vanish Into Memory, at which point you can often string together draw effects until the entire library is evaporated.
And if you play either of the draw doubling effects Thought Reflection or Alhammarret's Archive, all of these cards go into turbo overdrive with a reasonable threat of decking by accident. Moment's like that are why my planeswalkers are dedicated to sneaking through Possibility Storm, as Mindmoil + Possibility Storm +Thought Reflection can lead to accidental game overs if you aren't careful.
Making Mana to Make More Mana to Make More Mana...
This deck doesn't use too much mana until it's gotten that big ol' fist of cards, and then it uses a lot of mana that it makes in a hurry. How do we make lots of mana in a hurry? First up is mana rocks. Once you're far enough in, the moxen add a mana, the signets effectively cost 1, Gilded Lotus costs 2, Pentad Prism and Crystalline Crawler (and Phyrexian Metamorph on either of those or Gilded Lotus) are effectively free, and all these things at the right time can jump you from a few mana on your turn to double that the next turn. Having flash on your mana rocks means you can do this on your opponent's end step and then take a huge turn out of nowhere.
Another way to make a ton of mana is to untap mana sources repeatedly. Turnabout and Time Spiral are the cards that do this, Turnabout is generally a mega-ritual, and Time Spiral even nets positive mana with a bounceland in play. Put either of these into Eye of the Storm and instants and sorceries become free. This is a dangerous play if any of your opponent's can respond, but do it anyway cause it's super fun. Additionally, these cards and Unbender Tine can untap Nykthos, Unbender Tine being the most interesting because it (and copies of it) add to the devotion for Nykthos.
A third way to turn your mana into more mana is Jeskai Ascendancy with creatures that make mana. It could be Crystalline Crawler and clones of it, it could be active man-lands, it could be mana rocks animated by March of the Machines. Whatever the combination of things is, you can start untapping mana with every non-creature spell, and suddenly you realize that a third of the deck is non-creature spells that cost 4 or less and by the end of the turn you've spent 20 or 30 mana. An additional synergy is Throes of Chaos, which turns a land into a noncreature spell that cascades into 80% noncreature spells, several of which generate mana themselves.
And then there's Azor's Gateway, a card that can tap for 40 of any color. This deck has 4 ways to untap the gateway to turbo flip, and 5 to untap it as a land after flipping. There is an extra secret way to flip it in this deck as well. Saheeli, Sublime Artificer can turn Azor's Gateway into a clone of Golden Guardian (r Archangel Avacyn[/card], and then they can fight to flip Azor's Gateway into its printed backside, Sanctum of the Sun. I promise it works that way, and probably nobody will believe you when you try to do this.
An aside on Azor's Gateway's transform effect (since this is likely the best place for me to put this): transform only happens if the card in question is a double-faced card and if it hasn't transformed since the ability was put on the stack. The second part there leads to a weird bit of optimization in the case of Azor's Gateway.. Imagine you have Azor's Gateway and Unbender Tine and 20 life. You activate the Gateway for a mana, exile the 5th card, flip it, gain 5 life, and untap it. Tap for 25, untap with Tine, tap for 25 more. 49 net mana, neat! But instead, try this: activate the Gateway for 1 mana, untap with Tine in response, activate a second time for a mana. The second activation resolves for a loot, 5 life, a transform, and an untap. Tap for 25 mana. Then the second one resolves, but it the rules say it can't transform again, so you end up with a loot, 5 life, and untap Sanctum of the Sun, which can tap for 30 mana now, a net of 53 instead. If you have the one extra mana to start with, it's likely better to do this method and get your extra loot and extra life. Last side note, if you clone Azor's Gateway with a non-double-faced card and manage to get 5 different cmc's beneath it, it still can't transform but will do the rest of the ability, making a permanent that essentially reads "1: draw a card, exile a card from hand, gain 5 life".
Knowledge Pool, Possibility Storm, Eye of the Storm
These three cards have a lot in common. "Whenever a player casts a spell, exile that spell, then they play another spell." The trick is what happens when you control more than one at the same time and they all want to exile the same spell. Knowledge Pool is the simple one because it uses the word "if." If they exile the spell, they get one out of Knowledge Pool, but if they don't exile the spell to Knowledge Pool, they get nothing out. There could be 1000 Knowledge Pools, there would still only be one that gets the card and gives one back. Possibility Storm is similarly simple, but in the opposite way; there is no if, so the ability resolves to the end whether or not the spell is actually removed by Possibility Storm. If the spell gets countered or exiled by something else, you still get a spell from your library from Possibility Storm. This means, if there were 1000 Possibility Storms and you cast an artifact, you'd end up flipping through looking for 1000 artifacts (and the first trigger puts the triggering spell on the bottom, so you'd end up getting that one back as well.) Eye of the Storm lies somewhere between the two. There is no if in Eye of the Storm, so you get to cast the spells exiled by Eye of the Storm whether or not the original spell is exiled by it, but you only get to copy that spell if Eye of the Storm does eat it, so letting another permanent exile the spell means you only get to copy the cards otherwise exiled by Eye of the Storm. Another distinction of Eye of the Storm that differentiates it from the other two is that it triggers from spells cast from zones other than the hand. Possibility Storm and Knowledge Pool only trigger off cards cast from the hand, where Eye of the Storm triggers off of any instant or sorcery card played. (The "card" distinction is what keeps it from triggering itself). But this means that Eye of the Storm accepts spells cast off Knowledge Pool, Possibility Storm, and Mind's Desire.
If multiples of these are on the field and controlled by different players, what happens becomes dictated by whose turn it is and you better hope you've got instant speed everything, but there's not a strategy you can plan ahead for that situation, so go find a judge if you get bogged down or confused. In the much more likely scenario that you're in charge of everything, you can stack the triggers in the order that benefits you. With the most common situation of multiple Knowledge Pools, this means that you get to pick with Pool each player is casting spells from for each spell cast. Echo Storm is particularly great with Knowledge Pool, as the cast trigger will copy Knowledge Pool as you cast from hand without any chance of another player stealing the opportunity from you, and trigger a second time when cast from the Pool for a total of 4 Pools if you've cast Zedruu once.
If you want a spell in Eye of the Storm, you have that resolve first and you've gotten what you want, you can still Possibility Storm if that's out, and you get nothing out of Knowledge Pool. If you have Knowledge Pool and Eye of the Storm, you can have Knowledge Pool resolve first, get a spell out of that, and still cast everything in Eye of the Storm. If the spell cast out of Knowledge Pool is an instant or sorcery, that will trigger Eye as well, and then you copy every spell exiled by Eye (including the one out of Knowledge Pool) twice. If you have Possibility Storm and Knowledge Pool, you can let Knowledge Pool resolve first, get a spell out, then Possibility Storm anyways, getting two spell from each cast from hand. Letting Possibility Storm resolve first on spells your opponents cast can keep them from accessing Knowledge Pool or filling Eye of the Storm (though you can't prevent them from casting spells already in Eye of the Storm). And if you have all 3 permanents out and you cast an instant or sorcery, you can get something out of Knowledge Pool, cast an instant or sorcery from your deck, and cast all the instants and sorceries in the Eye (atleast twice).
As an illustration of how ridiculous this can be, I will use an extreme example: you control all 3, you have 7 mana available, Knowledge Pool has an inconsequential instant or sorcery in it, and your hand contains Mind's Desire and Firestorm. Cast Mind's Desire, all 3 trigger, storm count 1. Knowledge Pool trigger on top eats Mind's Desire and casts an instant or sorcery out (from here referred to as "spell"), triggering Eye of the storm. Storm count is 2, stack is Eye/spell/PS on sorcery/Eye. With those on the stack, cast Firestorm from hand and let Knowledge Pool eat that as well, casting out Mind's Desire and triggering Eye again as well as the storm trigger. Storm count is 4, and the stack is Eye/storm trigger/Mind's Desire/PS on instant/Eye/Eye/spell/PS on sorcery/Eye. Eye exiles Mind's Desire, then copies it and triggers storm for 4 more copies, then the first storm trigger makes 3 more copies for a grand total of 8. 8 Mind's Desire, storm count 5, stack is PS on instant/Eye/Eye/spell/PS on sorcery/Eye. Possibility Storm finds an instant, triggering Eye of the Storm, recasting the instant and Mind's Desire for 7 more copies. Then eye trigger from casting Firestorm resolves casting the two spells for 9 more Mind's Desires up to 24. That's 24 Mind's Desires, storm count 10, and the stack is Eye/spell/PS on sorcery/Eye. Eye eats the spell first cast out of Knowledge Pool, then cast it and the two other spells in the Eye making 11 more Mind's Desires for 35 Mind's Desires, 13 storm, and just the original 2 triggers left. Possibility Storm resolves finding a sorcery to cast, triggering Eye of the Storm and casting all 4 things in the Eye, making 15 more Mind's Desire copies and getting up to 18 storm, and then the first Eye trigger that been waiting since we cast Mind's Desire resolves, casting all 4 things in the Eye again for 19 more copies of Mind's Desire, making a grand total of 72 copies of Mind's Desire. And by the time you finish this, that's probably the entire library exiled and castable.
Even without something absurd like Mind's Desire, all those cast triggers will be triggering things like Jeskai Ascendancy and Mindmoil. And one more addition on top of these things is Bonus Round, which copies the instant and sorceries you cast regardless of whether something tries to eat them or not. With Bonus Round resolved Turnabout would copy before going into Eye of the Storm, and then copy again on the way out for 3 copies of Turnabout in total, and if Bonus Round is in Eye of the Storm, the rate of copies grows fast.
Mirrorweave is shenanigans. You can make all your stuff really good for a turn, or you can make your opponent's stuff really bad for a turn. A Memnite turns into an Inferno Titan, or your opponent's Lord of Extinction turns into a Vedalken Plotter. While Mirrorweave can certainly be used aggressively, the instant speed and effecting opponents creatures makes Mirrorweave a great defensive card. I've said enough about shrinking threats into 1/1s, but even more than that, you can give things defender and make them not attack, which is a big deal when it's something like a 40/40 protection from creatures Uril, the Miststalker. This format is plagued with evasion and protection abilities, and Mirrorweave is great at blanking them. Ground flyers, make hexproof targettable, remove trample, destroy through indestructible. This gets even more significant with the additions of March of the Machines and Opalescence. Mirrorweave can (and has) dug through some of the most elaborate pillowforts I've ever seen. When someone has enchantments to make them and their permanents hexproof and limit me to one spell a turn and make me pay 16 mana per attacker or some such nonsense and they think they're safe, I can turn all their creature and enchantments into simple Inferno Titans and then wipe them out with my own Inferno Titan attack triggers.
But then there's the aggressive use of Mirrorweave with noncreatures turned into creatures. Wanna play Doomsday? Mirrorweave Mirror of Fate and go to town (more on this shortly). Need to do some damage fast? Mirrorweave Pandemonium. Wanna cast a rediculous amount of spells? Mirrorweave Possibility Storm and get replacement spells from every creature in play. Wanna steal an opponent's creatures? Mirrorweave a manland, and then Political trickery the creature away. Bonus there, your opponent's creatures turned lands aren't creatures so they can't block. Just need a lot of mana? Mirrorweave a Gilded Lotus. Wanna Catch every creature in play? Mirrorweave Precursor Golem. Wanna exile all creatures? Mirrorweave anything and play Detention Sphere. Wanna mill people to death in combat? Mirrorweave Swans of Bryn Argoll. Or you can cast Arcbond at an opponents creature after piling on blockers, and then Mirrorweave Swans in response to the Arcbond trigger to make them draw out. Wanna use your token creatures for Nykthos devotion? You can Mirrorweave Swans for that too! The options are plentiful before you even account for other people's creatures as targets.
Infinite Reflection is a similar effect, but so very very different that the usage of the two cards barely overlaps at all. The differences are a)Infinite Reflection only effects you, so you can't use it defensively against things in play, b)Infinite Reflection is sorcery speed (usually), and c) Infinite Reflection lasts forever. And I mean forever. It doesn't just change the creatures while it's in play, it changes them so good they stay changed after it leaves the battlefield. So what does one use Infinite Reflection for then? One thing you can do is be a nuisance with Zedruu, by enchanting Zedruu and donating the aura, all their creatures will enter the battlefield as Zedruu. Another thing it does that Mirrorweave doesn't is act really really aggressive. Only your creatures are all Inferno Titans now... whoops. And also, effecting creatures as they enter the battlefield, you get etb things as well. Inferno Titan is neat for that too, but the zaniest interaction is with Crystalline Crawler (or an animated Pentad Prism), as every creature you pay colors of mana for (which you have access to all 5 colors) enters with counters that make mana to play more things. It can actually become difficult to win when all your creatures are locked as mana dorks forever, but only because it locks away zedruu. This deck can win with only mana dorks as creatures. And as an added fringe interaction, Infinite Reflection does not effect tokens, so if you want to keep a creature through Infinite Reflection, you can make a token clone with something like Stolen Identity before firing off Infinite Reflection.
One last shenanigan with Infinite Reflection specifically is when March of the Machines and Knowledge Pool are out. If you turn all your creatures in play into Knowledge Pools, they have no imprinted cards and can just eat spells without giving anything back until they've all been satisified. That's like having a field full of Decree of Silence except they're all 6/6 creatures. Just some food for thought.
Strionic Resonator Spam
Strionic Resonator can target a lot of things (though the 2 mana can be pretty steep in this deck), but there are a handful that make the mana investment quite lucrative. First is Zedruu, as doubling the draw trigger is pretty darn nice. Second is the Storm Trio, Mind's Desire, Possibility Storm, and Eye of the Storm, as you can copy the triggers and double your spells. This is nice also with Echo Storm where you can copy the cast trigger to make a copy of strionic resonator to copy the cast trigger until you run out of mana. Then with Bonus Round going, you can effectively copy you instants and sorceries on the stack, and if that includes Turnabout you're in the money. You can do a similar trick with Jeskai Ascendancy, but that's a subject for the combos section.
Additionally, Strionic Resonator can copy etb effects like Precursor Golem, making it 15 power for 7 mana.
Build Your Own Doomsday
In the card by card breakdown, I will mention building a Doomsday like 48,000 times, so now it's important to talk about what that actually means. Well, if my card tags worked right, you can just read Doomsday yourself and then I don't have to explain anything. Frankly, if you're reading this on a magic forum, you're probably familiar enough with Doomsday that I don't have to go on a long rant about what it is, certainly not all this trash I'm typing instead of "it picks a few cards from your library and replaces your library with those cards in the order of your choice," so let's move on to the "how" and "why" parts of playing jeskai doomsday. To turn Mirror of Fate into Doomsday, you need to exile your library first, and the easy way to do that is activate Mirror of Fate twice. The first activation exiles your library so that the second activation has a lot more options to choose from. There are a few ways to get two activations in the deck right now. To list them: Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, Echo Storm, Time Spiral, Temporal Cascade, Mirrormade, Phyrexian Metamorph, Sakashima with March of the Machines, and Cavalier of Dawn. Time Spiral and Temporal Cascade are a bit more tricky to pull off: you don't have much of a library because you activated Mirror of Fate already, so with enough care, you can manage the number of cards being shuffled in with the sorceries so that you redraw Mirror of Fate immediately or in short order.
In a Doomsday deck, you generally set your 5 card library to draw into the win. Well, it's a good thing we get those 2 extra cards to work with, because if you're trying to stack a win condition in this deck, you're likely looking to the next section...
4 cards minimum, that's basically a hard rule here. 2 or 3 card combos are efficient, and efficiency is lame-o. Feel free to ask any opponent ever, and they'll gladly tell you how lame your combo win was. But when it takes 4 or more pieces to create the infinite loop, at least you know you had to work for it! It's like assembling Blasting Station+Summoning Station+Salvaging Station+Grinding Station except my combos are better because they weren't designed by Wizards of the Coast they're extra double plus convoluted, and that's just the essence of style. I hope people reading understand the nonsense tone I'm going for, but in all seriousness, the greatest joy I've gotten out of posting my Zedruu online is that more than just appreciating the deck style, people have imitated my win conditions, and that's just such lunacy that I can only smile.
This first one is not in the deck at the time of writing, but it was the first 4-card combo I put in the deck, so it will always get first billing here for the sake of posterity.
- Memnite+Zedruu the Greathearted+Warstorm Surge+Dissipation Field = Infinite Damage
Combo ExplainedShowControl Warstorm Surge, then use Zedruu to donate someone else Dissipation Field. Finally, play Memnite. Warstorm Surge triggers having Memnite deal 1 damage to that player, triggering Dissipation Field to return Memnite to your hand, and then Memnite costs zero so you can repeat this process for free until they die. If more than one opponent needs to die, the Dissipation Field will return to you when an opponent with it dies, just make sure not to kill with Memnite itself as the Dissipation Field trigger won't resolve to bounce it if the controler of that trigger dies.
But what if you don't have Memnite and you want to do the same trick? Luckily for you, there's a backup free creature. Crystalline Crawler makes as much mana as it costs if you happen to make 4 colors of mana to cast it. Which you can do once you cast it because it makes any color of mana. Sweet!
But what if you have the Memnite, but not the Warstorm Surge? In that case, you can strap Infinite Reflection onto an Inferno Titan, and your free Memnite is now an Inferno Titan that does 3 damage on etb! you can even do this without Zedruu involved if you're willing to ping yourself a bunch of times.
- Opalescence/Detention Sphere/Sakashima the Impostor/Pandemonium = Infinite damage
Combo ExplainedShowAnother infinite etb combo, and the one that forced me to acquire a Detention Sphere as I was already playing the other 3 cards. Opalescence makes Detention Sphere a creature, then Sakashima can clone Detention Sphere. It enters the battlefield and exiles a permanent not named Detention Sphere. And its name isn't Detention Sphere, it's name is Sakashima the Impostor, so it can exile itself. Then the leave the battlefield trigger returns itself to play. Throw in a Pandemonium and suddenly all your opponents die.
- Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, Venser, the Sojourner, Mirror of Fate, Temporal Mastery, = Infinite turns and Venser activations
Combo ExplainedShowThe classic infinite turn combo in here was with Rest in Peace and Howling Mines. Cast Temporal Mastery. Activate Mirror of Fate, it's exiled immediately by Rest in Peace, then pick Mirror of Fate and Temporal Mastery as 2 of the 3 cards you want to draw on your extra turn. Pass to the next turn, draw them, then repeat the process. Each cycle you get another turn and another card of your choice. This combo can be done with any extra draw effect, but Font of Mythos is the simplest. Howling Mine seems simpler, but since you only go in an exact circle, it only wins if your board can kill people already.
The current method for this one is the double-planeswalker surprise: cast Temporal Mastery with Saheeli, Sublime Artificer in play. Saheeli makes a servo, then makes that servo into a copy of Mirror of Fate. Sacrifice the copy Mirror to put Temporal Mastery back on top. Then plus Venser, the Sojourner to flicker Saheeli to reset her loyalty to 5. The best part of this is that Venser only needs to reset Saheeli every other turn, so the off turns can be used to make Zedruu unblockable and win with commander damage.
- Jeskai Ascendancy/Strionic Resonator/March of the Machines/Mana Creatures = Infinitely large creatures and maybe infinite mana
Combo ExplainedShowMarch of the Machines makes Strionic Resonator and your mana rocks into creatures. Jeskai Ascendancy triggers to untap your creatures. Strionic Resonator copies the Jeskai Ascendany trigger to untap all creatures, and that includes Strionic Resonator and mana rocks to pay for another activation. Lather, rinse, repeat. At the very least, those creatures will get pumped to infinity, but if you make an extra mana, you can have infinite mana as well. There are ways without multiple mana rocks in play: Crystalline Crawler is a mana dork and so are activated man ;8lands.
Similarly enough that I'm just listing it in this combo, Strionic Resonator/mana rocks/Eye of the Storm/Turnabout. Strionic Resonator copies the Eye of the Storm trigger, copying turnabout to untap all your artifacts to let you copy the Eye of the Storm trigger again. If the mana rocks make 3 mana, it's infinite mana. If there's another spell in the Eye, that's infinite copies of that spell. Plenty of ways to end the game with infinite strionic resonator activations. And if you have both Turnabout and Catch // Release in Eye of the Storm, you can untap lands with Turnabout and Resonator with Catch to go infinite (and eventually cast infinite copies or Release, obviously)
A 3rd alternative for infinite mana with Strionic Resonator is Bonus Round with Turnabout. These 3 cards with the 4th condition of having 3 mana worth of mana rocks in play lets you untap and retap artifacts infinite times.
Since this is the first combo listed with infinite mana, I'll mention the ways to win with infinite mana. Infinite mana with Nin, the Pain Artist draws your library, or mills someone to death, or kills everyone with Arcbond. Infinite mana with zedruu donates all permanents except for Barren Glory. Infinite mana with Walking Archive makes everyone draw infinite cards on their upkeep, so you can just pass the turn and win. Inferno Titan can be made arbitrarily large, especially with Pandemonium for the immediate kill.
- Eye of the Storm, Mind's Desire, Echo Storm, Mirror of Fate
Combo ExplainedShow(This one is a doozy. A 4 card combo put together in so convoluted a way that I was playing all the necessary pieces for years before I noticed the full infinite. The original plan again was with Rest in Peace instead of Echo Storm to exile Mirror of Fate before you choose what cards to put on top.
Have Eye of the Storm and Mirror of Fate in play, and Echo Storm in the Eye. Cast Mind's Desire, no prior storm necessary. Eye of the Storm triggers, then resolves, exiling Mind's Desire, then casting a copy. The original casting of Mind's Desire counts toward storm, so when the copy is cast, it makes a storm copy. With those two copies on the stack and Echo Storm, resolve Echo Storm to make a Mirror of Fate, then respond to Mind's Desire by activating a Mirror of Fate. When the ability resolves, you choose up to 7 face up exiled cards you own, which in this case is up to 2 cards, one of which is Mirror of Fate. Those 2 cards become your library and everything else is exiled. Then the copies of Mind's Desire resolve, exiling 2 random cards from your library, which are the only 2 cards in your library. Cast Mind's Desire for free, except this time the storm count is higher, so you can put more cards into your deck with Mirror of Fate. This lets you cast every spell in the deck for free as many times as you want. Infinite turns with Temporal Mastery, infinite mana with Turnabout, infinite damage with Pandemonium. My preferred win condition if I get this assembled is get Orrery or Leyline and then make a big stack where everyone sacrifices all permanents with infinite Releases, shuffle hands and graveyards back in with Temporal Cascade, exile all libraries with infinite Knowledge Pool triggers, set up infinite turns, then resolve Barren Glory, and then pass the turn to myself with every other card in exile.
Note: March of the Machines gives Mirror of Fate summoning sickness.
- Precursor Golem/Sakashima the Impostor/Jeskai Charm/Arcbond
Combo ExplainedShowThis used to be listed with Ephemeral Shields instead of Sakashima to make it fully infinite damage, but over time I realized that fully infinite was just overkill. (The deck has since gained Archangel Avacyn, making the full infinite possible again.) Clone Precursor to have 6 golems. Jeskai Charm gives golems lifelink. Arcbond makes it so when one is damaged, it deals that much damage to everything, but since it targetted one golem, it will radiate to the 5 other golems twice. Any damage dealt to a golem will trigger damage back and forth at each other until they all die, which is at least 4 damage because Jeskai Charm made them 4/4s. With 1 original Arcbond, and 2 made for the other 5 golems, you get 11 copies of Arcbond dealing minimum 4 damage each for a total of 44+ damage to each creature and planeswalker. And because they have lifelink, you gain life faster than you die while everyone else suffers. Just make sure you can damage a creature. The combo is half instant speed, so attacking or blocking with golems probably gets the job done, but the combo doesn't work without initial damage.
Additionally, this can be done without Jeskai Charm if you've somehow kept the highest life total at the table, and it can be done with Eye of the Storm copying spells instead of Precursor Golem so long as you have two creatures to apply the copies of the spells to and can stack enough Arcbond copies to kill. That version comes with the added bonus of theoretically having Zedruu deal the lethal damage. A noteworthy card in this option is Throes of Chaos. Throes of Chaos in Eye of the Storm can rip most of the cards with cmc less than 3 out of the deck, which notably includes Arcbond, Jeskai Charm, and Firestorm, to sort of fetch out the entire 4 card combo piece by piece.
- Infinite Reflection/Cavalier of Dawn/March of the Machines/Chrome Mox=infinite 3/3 golems
Combo ExplainedShowInfinite Reflection makes all your nontoken creatures enter as copies of Cavalier, March of the Machines makes Chrome Mox a creature, Chrome Mox enters as Cavalier targeting itself to pick itself up out of the graveyard. Repeat, gaining a golem each time. The nicest part of this combo is if any other piece is lost, a clone of Cavalier can pick it up right on time.
- Barren Glory
Combo ExplainedShowI guess winning with Barren Glory isn't really a 4-card infinite combo, but it definitely feels like a combo win, and there are a few ways to do it. The most ridiculous method, and consequently the easiest to pull off is the infinite Mind's Desire combo above. Otherwise, it's not easy to win with Barren Glory. It may not look like it, but there are 4 distinct requirements to triggering it and they're all difficult.
1) Control Barren Glory: seems easy enough, just play the card... but if someone can destroy it after you're out of cards and permanents, you're out of luck.
2) Control no other permanents: seems harder. The deck has 3 ways to get rid of all other permanents. First, you can make enough mana to donate everything with zedruu. Second, you can cast Leave // Chance to just pick them all up. Third, you can sacrifice everything to enough copies of Release, either by rediating across a ton of golems or copying a lot with Eye of the Storm and Thousand-Year Storm. (If you do that last part, you'll need to float mana to cast Barren Glory after the field is clear.)
3) Have no cards in hand: the hardest part. This deck spends all day drawing cards, and now they need to be gone. If you have infinite mana, you might be able to play everything and get rid of it, but lands get in the way. Throes of Chaos can clear those lands out of hand, or good enough luck with Jeskai Ascendancy triggers. Otherwise, 3 cards of note are Firestorm, Nahiri's Wrath, and Temporal Cascade. All can clear out a hand, but Temporal Cascade is the best option, as it makes sure your opponent's can't surprise you after it resolves.
4) Reach your upkeep: going for the Barren Glory win and passing the turn naturally means not just Barren Glory needs to survive, you do too. And that means surviving the combined power of every creature in play. To avoid this scenario, we have Vedalken Orrery, Leyline of Anticipation, and Temporal Mastery to keep our opponents from taking any pesky turns between setting up Barren Glory and winning with it.
The Card Selection
In previous iterations of this thread, I claimed that any number of things could happen and I couldn't cover them all, but that's not going to be true anymore. The following is a list of how all the cards in the deck function followed by how they synergize with one another. I don't imagine that I'll really hit every possibility, but if there is anything missing, feel free to mention it and I will gladly make additions.
The first card to address is, of course....
Zedruu the Greathearted
Zedruu is obviously the linchpin of the deck. I've thoroughly covered the importance of having a draw engine in the command zone for this deck, additionally the donation ability is relevant in many games of magic for both synergy purposes and political efforts. All of Zedruu's notable points of interaction are listed below.
- "Global" permanents: Most the things zedruu donates from this deck are things that don't particularly care who controls them. Howling Mine and friends, Opalescence/March of the Machines, Detention Sphere a Pentad Prism with no counters left... Anything that effects all players equally makes a fair candidate for donation.
- Political Trickery: the 3 land swapping cards set up zedruu draws smoothly. The 3 mana spells curve into Zedruu nicely.
- creatures: generally, it's best not to donate creatures because sacrifice outlets (and board wipes) are common enough that you'll lose your donation quickly, but there is a handy little trick you can do in combat. If you block with a creature and then donate it after blocks, the change in controller removes the creature from combat, so you get a permanent over to an opponent and hold off an attacker (unless it has trample)
- Strionic Resonator: activate Strionic Resonator to copy Zedruu's upkeep trigger and gain double life and draw double cards.
- Sakashima the Impostor: Because Sakashima keeps his name, you can clone Zedruu to double up on the upkeep trigger.
- Swans of Bryn Argoll: The controller of a source of damage draws the cards, so you can sometimes do a fun trick where you donate a creature before it deals non-combat damage to Swans so that the target player draws instead, either as a friendly gesture or making them draw to death.
- Catch // Release: You can take a permanent away from one player permanently by Catching it and then donating to a 3rd player. Might sound like you're just making a different player a problem, but changing the table balance is better than nothing, and sometimes you get to give the Bant player a Crypt Ghast
The other 99 cards in the deck are detailed below in the same format as zedruu is above: a brief description followed by a list of the notable interactions in the deck.
A note about the lands in this deck, (much like the rest of the deck) the lands go slightly against conventional wisdom. Short of the extreme decks that plan on winning in the first 3 or 4 turns, playing a deck with 34 lands is probably a bit low. But here it works due to the vast card draw and the other means of generating and fixing mana. The first 3 or 4 mana are key to getting the engine running, but once everyone is drawing 4 cards a turn, this deck can consistently hit every land drop while everyone else gets frustrated by perceived mana flood. I don't run a maximized mana base with fetches/duals/shocks because min/maxing zedruu's mana base would be like greasing the wheels of a K'nex car, but the lands are picked to carry their weight.
Temple of Enlightenment, Temple of Epiphany, and Temple of Triumph: solid dual colored lands. They enter tapped, but they also give early scrys to smooth out the early game and get to the 3 or 4 mana needed to start the snowball.
• Venser, the Sojourner: Venser's +2 can flicker the land to get another scry off of it.
Celestial Colonnade, Needle Spires, Wandering Fumarole: man lands are better than guildgates. They leave you with something to do after Planar Cleansing, but also have some fun tricks you can do.
• Jeskai Ascendancy: manlands still make mana as creatures, so they work as mana dorks for Jeskai Ascendancy combos.
• Role Reversal: an activated manland can trade for a creature, leaving them with a land they likely can't attack with.
Azorius Chancery, Boros Garrison, and Izzet Boilerworks: The bounce lands are like two lands for the price of one! Seriously though, don't count these as multiple lands in your deck and don't be upset if you end up strip mined, but they do make a lot of early hands more attractive by ensuring the first few land drops.
• Mindmoil: keeping an extra card in hand while still making land drops is akin to drawing an extra card with these out.
• Catch // Release: You can steal an opponent's land and bounce that temporary land instead of your own. Only recommended in 1v1 (or if someone really deserves it).
• Time Spiral, Unbender Tine: untapping a set number of lands is better when they make more than 1 mana.
Filter Lands: Cascade Bluffs, Mystic Gate, and Rugged Prairie are just excellent, excellent color fixing. Let you go from 0 mana of a color to 2 in one shot, and that's huge. Every card with 2 or 3 colored symbols could count as a synergy here, but Kami of the Crescent Moon is the card most notably helped by the filter lands, as this mana base factually lacks enough blue sources to hit UU on 2.
Skycloud Expanse: Odyssey filter, Azorius Signet: the Land.
Command Tower and Mystic Monastery: make all 3 colors and that's pretty neato.
Path of Ancestry: but I'm not playing minotaurs or monks. The truth is that this is literally a Mystic Monastery that scrys 1 when I cast Zedruu herself, so it's silly to not play just because this isn't monk tribal.
Forbidden Orchard: makes all 5 colors and it gives someone a friend. In multiplayer, sometimes the spirit is even a good thing on its own, and even if it isn't, I've never foregone mana because I feared a 1/1. But remember the tokens are owned by whoever they entered under, so they don't feed zedruu. Boooo.
• Mirrorweave: depending on what is being Mirrorweaved, having more things turn into it can be a positive thing.
• Political Trickery, etc: swapping Forbidden Orchard over to someone else makes them decide between making mana and giving away tokens.
• Nin, the Pain Artist: Nin with enough mana can mill people to death, but they need to have a creature.
Exotic Orchard: Potentially makes all 5 colors of mana, depending on opponents.
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx: normal scenario, this makes 1 colorless. By the end of the game, this nets this deck an extra mana or two because this is a 3 color deck with no specific devotion themes that also donates away permanents, but on rare occasion, this is big mana.
• Catch // Release/Unbender Tine: can untap target permanent, which can net mana if devotion to a color is high enough.
• Mirrorweave: when all creatures are the same, they have the same mana cost.
• Leave // Chance: bouncing and replaying Nykthos can be a ritual with enough devotion.
Reliquary Tower: super valuable in a deck that draws 5 cards a turn. We want more cards and we want to keep them.
• Flash enablers; not having to discard at end step makes holding mana up through other people's turns more profitable.
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea is like Howling Mine on a land and we like all the Howling Mines.
Riptide Laboratory: a colorless land that can also bounce wizards. This deck has 7 wizards before clone effects get involved, and they have some relevant abilities that you'd want to replay them.
• Vedalken Plotter: bouncing plotter makes reusable Political Trickery.
Gemstone Caverns: makes any color if you start with it in your opening hand, otherwise it's a nonbasic waste.
• Howling Mine: turn 1 Howling Mine is best turn 1.
Forsaken City: makes any color of mana, at the cost of not untapping unless you exile a card. But we have lots of card, so no big deal.
• Flash enablers: the way the card is templated, if it starts the turn untapped, you can float a mana in response to its trigger, untap it, then tap again to get a pseudo-ritual during your upkeep. With this and Leyline, you can theoretically flash in Howling Mine in time to draw 2 on the second turn.
• Mirror of Fate/Time Spiral: this exiles cards, so you can have access to them with Mirror of Fate later. And when attempting to loop Mirror of Fate with Time Spiral, it can be hard to keep exactly 7 cards around to redraw, so this can manage you hand size a little.
Minamo, School at Water's Edge: an untapped blue land that can untap relevant legendary permanents, as well as any random thing Sakashima turns into.
Artifacts are the second most prevalent card type in the deck as they do most of the heavy lifting in the mana-making and card-drawing engines that let the deck succeed, but there are some fun bits in here.
• Knowledge Pool/Possibility Storm: 0-mana spells are good when they're just going to be replaced anyway.
• Mind's Desire: Free storm count!
• Jeskai Ascendancy: Free loot and prowess!
• Leave // Chance: bouncing moxen with Leave can pay for leave.
Azorius Signet, Boros Signet, and Izzet Signet ramp by one and fix colors, basically ensuring the ability to play Zedruu on turn 3.
Thought Vessel: It's a mana rock that lets you keep 87 cards in hand, the castable version of reliquary tower.
Pentad Prism: Color fixing, a one time mana source equal to Dark Ritual if you wait a turn, occasionally 1 free storm, and a dummy permanent to donate. With 3 lands, Pentad Prism ensures turn 3 Zedruu into turn 4 donate to get the draw engine going ASAP.
• Mind's Desire: Free storm count!
Howling Mine, Temple Bell, and Font of Mythos: everybody draws cards! The soul of this deck is repeated card draw. We don't particularly care that everyone else is drawing cards because we need the draw more and we use it better. Howling Mine is the cheapest, efficient option. Temple Bell costs 1 more but lets us draw first. Font of Mythos has double the power. They're each unique but they're all good.
• Flash!: Get to draw before everyone else
Strionic Resonater: copies triggered abilities. Oh boy, there are a lot of those.
• Vedalken Plotter: two exchanges at once.
• Temples: scry 1 twice! Ok, maybe not the most useful option, but it exists.
• Bouncelands: Even less useful!
• Detention Sphere: exile 2 permanents instead of 1.
• Precursor Golem: get 4 tokens instead of 2. 15 power for 7 mana. After that, double the Precursor Golem target trigger to copy it for each other golem a second time.
• Venser, Shaper Savant: bounce 2 permanents or spells.
• Inferno Titan: an extra Lightning Bolt for 2 mana.
• Knowledge Pool: you can't get double spells out by copying cast triggers, but you can copy the etb and exile the top 6 from everybody, and there's bound to be some sweet stuff in there.
• Possibility Storm: unlike Knkowledge Pool, you can get double spells out of Possibility Storm, so go for it!
• Eye of the Storm: like Possibility Storm, it does its whole ability whether there was something to exile or not, so copy away. The copied ability will exile the spell that triggered in the first place, and then the original trigger will just cast everything a second time.
• Jeskai Ascendancy: copy the trigger for double looting, or copy for double untaps/pumps, whichever suits your interests.
• Pandemonium: Extra damage, could be a kill spell.
• Mind's Desire: storm is a triggered ability, so copying it is like doubling the storm count.
• Bonus Round: copying the trigger lets Resonator copy instants and sorceries.
• Arcbond: doubling up the damage practically ensures a board wipe.
• Echo Storm: copy the cast trigger, potentially just making extra Strionic Resonators.
Azor's Gateway: it's not free, but it's fairly efficient card filtering, and if it happens to flip, you're in the money.
• Mirror of Fate: exiled cards can be recycled later.
Unbender Tine: untapping another target permanent may not seem like it's worth 4 mana, but this card has a high floor and a high ceiling and great flavor text. Also, it's got the political opportunity to untap other players things.
• Temple Bell/Mikokoro: or it can transform into a Howling Mine.
• Strionic Resonator: it can copy triggers.
• creatures: it can give a creature vigilance.
• Nin, the Pain Artist: it can help gun down creatures.
• Azor's Gateway: and of course, turbo gateway.
Vedalken Orrery: Gives everything flash, don't have to tap out and sit helplessly, and everything is better with flash. Don't believe me? Here's a list!
• Knowledge Pool/Eye of the Storm: get access to the eye/pool first by flashing it in endstep and then untapping with free reign.
• Possibility Storm: respond to tutor effects with style, whatever they search for is that last thing they'll get.
• Catch // Release: threaten mid attack
• creatures: everything is an ambush viper
• Temporal Cascade: Surprise... graveyard / cards in hand decks!
• Mind's Desire: I don't need my own storm, I'll just use yours instead.
Gilded Lotus: black Lotus every turn. That's thousands of dollars worth of value every turn!
Mirror of Fate: exile your library and replace it with up to 7 cards you own that have been exiled. It's incredibly rare that this effect lets you win the game by activating it, but its strength appears when you activate it a second time and have access to all the cards it exiled on the first go.
• Cavalier of Dawn, recur Mirror from the graveyard, build your own Doomsday.
• Time Spiral or Temporal Cascade: activate Mirror of Fate, shuffle it back in, draw it again, play it, and then build your own Doomsday
Knowledge Pool: I love Knowledge Pool. For those unfamiliar, when it enters the battlefield it exiles the top 3 cards from each players library, and then whenever someone casts a spell from hand, it exiles that too and lets them instead cast something previously exiled by Knowledge Pool, including other players' cards and including things it ate upon casting. Knowledge Pool makes for some of the messiest stack shananigans in MTG, but it does so much more. From getting hefty discounts, to stealing people's stuff, to multiplying cast triggers, Knowledge Pool never fails to shake up a game of magic.
• Echo Storm: can make a second/third/fourth Knowledge Pool because it triggers on both casts
• Mind's Desire: each cast into and out of Knowledge Pool is distinct, doubling the storm count. Storm triggers on cast, so even though the card is exiled, the storm copies happen.
• Jeskai Ascendancy: double cast triggers.
• Possibilty Storm/Eye of the Storm: allow you to take from the pool and from the storms. Also lets you cast your actual spells through Possibility Storm.
• Bonus Round: cast spells into the pool but keep the copies.
• Precursor Golem: golem triggers on cast, so the spells get copied for every other golem and then you get a spell from Knowledge Pool on top of that.
• Chrome Mox/Firestorm/Pentad Prism/: take the good stuff out and fill the pool with cheap/free cards that don't do anything without people throwing more cards away.
• Venser, the Sojourner: +2 can flicker permanents of yours that people played and bring them back on your side of the field. +2 can also flicker the Knowledge Pool if the contents are unsavory.
• Saheeli, Sublime Artificer: can turn an artifact into an empty Knowledge Pool for your turn, which is sort of like a Defense Grid as it takes a lot of mana to get the spell you want through the pools when one is empty and I pick which pool you take from.
• Throes of Chaos: cascade triggers on cast, so you cascade in addition to taking from the pool. Also, Knowledge Pool only triggers on cards cast from hand, so if the board hits a stalemate with nobody putting good cards in, you can sidestep the pool and just spam Throes with your mana.
Zedruu's enchantments aren't always the cards people see the most of, but they are often the cards that opponents remember. Crazy enchantments are often the highlight of a zedruu victory as they offer the greatest impact and confusion to the board state.
• Strionic Resonator: copy the trigger to exile 2 target permanents.
• Mirrorweave: exile all creatures.
• Leave // Chance/Venser, Shaper Savant: bounce in response to the trigger to exile something forever
Dictate of Kruphix: see Howling Mine. This one just has flash.
Jeskai Ascendancy: untaps creatures and loots. Both are very good effects, and the loot is a "may" ability if you're too close to drawing out.
• March of the Machines: casting a noncreature spell now untaps all your artifacts, many of which make mana to pay for more noncreature spells.
• Crystalline Crawler: doesn't even need March of the Machines, it's a mana producing creature to untap.
• manlands: also mana producing creatures
• Mirrorweave: casting Mirrorweave while someone is attacking you makes all creatures the same thing, except now your creatures all untap and get +1/+1, so if you have enough blockers and something has equal power and toughness, it's just a Comeuppance.
• Venser, the Sojourner/Turnabout: a big turn of casting spells leads to some major prowessing, and a -1 or a Turnabout can sneak by blockers for an alpha strike. Yes, Zedruu has commander damaged people to death in this deck.
• Knowledge Pool/Possibility Storm/Eye of the Storm: multiply those spell casting triggers with these behemoths.
• Throes of Chaos: turns lands in hand into noncreature spells that cascade into 80% noncreature spells.
• Nin, the Pain Artist: Buff creatures to survive Nin and untap Nin for more draw.
• Saheeli, Sublime Artificer: noncreature spells make creatures and prowess them all, killing quickly.
Mirrormade: copies an artifact or enchantment, which is nice.
• Gilded Lotus: or a really big mana rock
• Precursor Golem: more than 1 of these does dumb things
• Possibility Storm: more than one PS multiplies your spells
• Mirror of Fate: 2 copies makes doomsday
Leyline of Anticipation: see Vedalken Orrery, except this one feels like cheating in your opening hand.
March of the Machines: go from no creatures to many by turning artifacts into creatures. Suddenly those Howling Mines and mana rocks are blockers or even offensive threats. Also, you can give opponent's artifacts summoning sickness and make equipment unattachable.
• Jeskai Ascendency: all noncreature spells you cast now untap all your mana rocks. Neat!
• ;Howling Mine: if you can attack someone unimpeded, you can tap Howling Mine to turn it off on other people's turns.
• Creature removal now works on artifacts.
Opalescence: the same thing as March of the Machines, but for enchantments, which can be even neater.
• Pandemonium: enters as a creature so it triggers itself.
• Eye of the Storm: 7/7s are big enough to be noteworthy.
• Creature removal now works on enchantments.
• Sakashima the Impostor: can clone enchantments.
Pandemonium: typically just a game ender. Turns creatures entering play into direct damage.
• Swans of Bryn Argoll: draw a card for each point of power you can make.
• Saheeli, Sublime Artificer/Kykar, Storm's Fury: ping for each noncreature spell is quite often the most direct path to victory when you can cast infinite noncreature spells.
• Venser, Shaper Savant: turn infinite mana into infinite damage.
Mindmoil: each time you cast a card, you put your hand on the bottom and draw a new, equivalently-sized hand. This is genuinely one of the most underrated cards in magic. People like to plan ahead, and thus Mindmoil scares and offends them by making them rely on chance, but on average, you have a well mixed hand. Some mana production, some cheap spells, some bombs, and you end up playing them out in that order. With Mindmoil, you can play what you need at the time and then draw more of it. Suddenly you can ramp up a board of mana rocks in one turn, and then spend the rest of the game slamming haymakers because if you ever run out, you play something cheap and replace your hand with new haymakers. Don't fear Mindmoil. Just play it and see what happens. I consider an unchecked Mindmoil to be a 3 turn clock.
• Mind's Desire: every cast from hand is 2 storm, so storm builds up fast. But wait, there's more! If you cast Mind's Desire from your hand and have Possibility Storm resolve before the storm trigger, Possibility Storm will shove Mind's Desire back into your deck giving you the remote chance that the storm copies will shuffle Mind's Desire to the top and cast it a second time, truly making Mind's Desire the storm that storms.
• Throes of Chaos: works like storm, cascade triggers alongside Possibility Storm to get you 2 spells for one.
• Knowledge Pool/Eye of the Storm: the other two permanents want to eat the spell, Possibility Storm doesn't care, and being in control of these things mean you can stack the triggers to get maximum benefit and give minimum benefit to others.
• Jeskai Ascendancy: double cast triggers for double loot and untaps
• Cheap crap!: mox/firestorm are ultra cheap and can swing into big plays. 3 mana sorceries aren't as cheap, but they likely upgrade to bombs.
Barren Glory: it says win the game on it. What's better than that? Seriously though, winning with Barren Glory is too complicated to explain with two card synergies, but that doesn't mean this can't do anything. It can be a useless donation, it can be a 6/6, and it can give you 2 extra devotion to white.
Infinite Reflection: see synergies section for more information.
Eye of the Storm: whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery, Eye of the Storm exiles it, and then that player chooses to cast copies of any combination of cards exiled by Eye of the Storm. All spells in the storm are optional so you can choose not to cast them, and all the spells are cast at the same time. And then you end up with a giant nonsense stack and a 25 minute turn.
• Turnabout: every instant and sorcery can untap your lands or mana rocks to apy for itself and more.
• Catch // Release: repeatedly cast catch to steal mana from people to pay for more instants/sorceries, or pay 3 for catch to cast out release instead.
• Leave // Chance: can bounce Eye of the Storm if things get sketchy.
• Temporal Cascade/Time Spiral: let you keep digging for more instants and sorceries to run the gravy train.
• Possibility Storm/Knowledge Pool: cast twice as many spells and be twice as happy. Possibility Storm in particular guarantees a second trigger of Eye of the Storm.
• Jeskai Ascendancy: every spell cast out of Eye of the Storm triggers the ascendancy, so the big pie of loots can likely find the next spell to trigger with.
• Mind's Desire: Eye of the Storm casting Mind's Desire is a cast so it does trigger storm, and then Eye of the Storm triggers on any instant or sorcery card, including ones cast from exile for free, so you can hit one with Mind's Desire to cast another Mind's Desire, and then the game likely just ends.
• Throes of Chaos: gives each trigger of Eye a 1 in 5 shot of cascading into another instant or sorcery to keep the chain going.
• Bonus Round: every spell cast becomes lots of spells.
Where lands are the foundation of Magic: the Gathering, creatures are the face of it. Creatures aren't the face of this deck though because they mostly aim to do more of what the artifacts and enchantments are doing.
Nin, the Pain Artist: kills creatures and draws you cards, not quite the way you want to though. Nin is a mana sink and a panic button.
• Swans of Bryn Argoll: draw double X cards.
• Archangel Avacyn: shoot your creature for a lot, draw the cards with indestructible, or flip for board wipe mode.
• Unbender Tine/Jeskai Ascendancy: untap Nin to activate again.
• Jeskai Charm: give Nin lifelink.
• Arcbond: turn Nin into a board wipe.
• Zedruu: has a big butt, drawing 3 extra a turn is not mana wasted.
Walking Archive: like Howling Mine but deserves its own entry. The ability to scale up in the event of mana flood is a big deal, and the instant speed nature makes extra counters act like Dictate of Kruphix.
• Precursor Golem: Walking Archive is a golem, believe it or not.
Note! this creature has defender. You can't pump it up to infinity and attack with it because it can't attack. You can however pump it to infinity and pass the turn and your opponents draw out, and that's lethal enough.
Vedalken Plotter: enters the battlefield and exchanges control of a land you control and a land an opponent controls. Even without synergies, this can be useful as a way to fix mana colors or defend against the powerful lands that get played in this format.
• Venser, Shaper Savant: trade the lands and then return yours to your hand to Annex someone.
• Venser, the Sojourner: Venser does this trick even better. If you exchange lands, you can +2 to exile the land since it's a permanent you own and then it comes back under its owner's control, and that's just actually Annex. Even more, if you +2 again targetting the plotter, you can get the etb again to exchange lands and then +2 again to steal yours back. Chances are, nobody will let you do this for long, but while they answer Venser they're ignoring everything else you do.
• Leave // Chance: bounces permanents you own, so again you can steal the land back.
• Catch // Release: threaten a land, then exchange it for someone else's and keep the second one forever.
• Strionic Resonator: for the double exchange.
Crystalline Crawler: Double the Pentad Prism, double the fun. There are 5 other mana sources in the deck that can make the 4th mana color for full value in addition to land trading tricks. And then it's an alloy Myr on top of that.
• Mirrorweave: wait for attacks, make everything a crawler, blocks, tap your crawlers to have bigger crawlers that your opponent and win at combat. Or just make a mana for each creature you control.
• Pandemonium: free damage!
• Mind's Desire: free storm!
Golden Guardian: fights your own creatures, which is sometimes a good thing, and then flips into ramp spell / token engine.
• Arcbond: turn the fight into 4 damage to everything.
• Catch // Release: steal a creature, make that fight the Guardian.
• land untappers: generate 2 mana from 1 land.
• Precursor Golem: Golden Guardian both is and makes golems.
• Zedruu: make tokens that can be donated to draw cards.
• Pandemonium: shoot things for 4 damage every turn.
Phyrexian Metamorph: like the other Clone effects, but this costs 3 effectively and hits both creatures and artifacts.
• Gilded Lotus: essentially free to cast.
Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage: See Vedalken Orrery for my love of flash explanations, but Raff only gives flash to artifacts and legends. If you ever want your deck to laugh off a Cyclonic Rift, this is the card for you.
• Howling Mine: flashing in Howling Mines, either end step or upkeep, gets you drawing before everyone else. Now that Shimmer Myr is upgrade to Raff, every Howling Mine effect is instant speed.
Sakashima the Impostor: the clone that keeps its name so it can copy legendary creatures.
Swans of Bryn Argoll: usually paired with Seismic Assault, but a great draw engine with a great many cards, and also a resilient blocker.
• Nahiri's Wrath: sometimes you just kill 8 creatures and draw 30. That's a good day.
• Pandemonium: all creatures turn into draw spells
• Nin, the Pain Artist: turns into Blue Sun's Zenith
• Arcbond: swans survives a big arcbond and can draw you cards.
• Mirrorweave: can replace complicated combat math with everyone drawing their whole deck.
Venser, Shaper Savant: the one pseudo counter in the deck, a very unique magic card.
• Mindmoil: or wheel your hand
• Venser, the Sojourner: I'll have my Venser venser my Venser, eot my Venser comes back to venser your land.
• Mind's Desire: hitting Venser off of Mind's Desire lets you bounce the original Mind's Desire back to hand where you can recast it with more storm.
Archangel Avacyn: my Boros colored legend if you count both sides. It's flash protection for creatures, a possible board wipe, and a reasonable body for 5 mana.
• Swans of Bryn Argoll: kill a creature, draw 3.
• Venser, Shaper Savant: instant speed reuse the indestructible.
Cavalier of Dawn: super versatile removal and relevant recursion with a fat body inbetween. If need be, this can play as a 3/3 golem that picks up an artifact or enchantment right away.
Precursor Golem: the crowned prince of stupid numbers, I've built entire edh decks around this dude. Here it stays fairly tame, but 9 power for 5 mana never hurt anybody.
• Golden Guardian: also a golem.
• Mirror Entity: makes everything you control a golem.
• Strionic Resonator: can copy both the etb and target triggers getting more golems or more spell copies (though there's only one spell in here you'd want to copy this way).
• Mirrorweave: aim at a token and you can make everything a Precursor Golem. Aim at something else, and you've got 3 bodies to become that thing.
• Vanish Into Memory: 4 mana to draw 9 and discard 3 at a later time is pretty strong.
• Catch // Release: fusing the spell costs 9, but that seems fair to make every player sacrifice 3 of each type of permanent. It's like crueler ultimatum.
• Arcbond: multiple arcbonds bounce damage back and forth.
• either venser: bounce the original, leave the tokens, get more tokens.
Inferno Titan: the big bomb creature here, a big threat on its own. Inferno Titan is my personal favorite of the titans, and there's plenty it can do here.
• Mirrorweave: have an army of titans
• Venser, the Sojourner: makes Inferno Titan unblockable or flickers it for etb value and pseudo-vigilance.
• Opalescence/March of the Machines: let you burn away enchantments and artifacts.
• Swans of Bryn Argoll: draw some cards.
Instants are usually instant for a reason, the instants in Zedruu offer the most immediate interaction with opponents that the deck has to offer.
• March of the Machines/Opalescence: open up artifacts and enchantments to burn removal.
• Knowledge Pool/Eye of the Storm: trigger these permanents for the low cost of R, and if anyone wants to use them against you, they have to do the discarding anyway.
• Swans of Bryn Argoll: replace every card you have to discard.
• Bonus Round: double the firestorm gives you double the damage with the same amount of discards.
Leave // Chance: Leave lets you pick your permanents up, chance lets you cycle away your hand. Even before the internal synergy of the card, these effects are great to have around. Leave is a great response to board wipes, and chance is good for finding gas. Leave is great at clearing away your own permenents that are backfiring, and the specific phrasing of leave has interesting consequences with Zedruu, as you don't need to control something to bounce it
• Mox/Signets/Pentad Prism: bounce mana rocks for added storm/mana fixing.
• Detention Sphere: bounce in response to exile trigger and never give the target back.
• Venser, Shaper Savant: reuse Venser's bounce effect.
• Thousand-Year Storm: gives you a copy of Leave that resolves through and before cast triggers, so you can pick up a Possibility Storm that's in your way or Alhammarret's Archive before Mindmoil kills you.
• Mind's Desir;2e: Leave on all your least expensive permaments can push a lot of storm.
• Mindmoil: bouncing permanents you don't need to combo can help you dig for a win aggressively. This includes lands.
• Planeswalkers: bounce planeswalkers at low loyalty and replay them.
Arcbond: as long as there's some kind of damage happening, Arcbond can be an instant speed board wipe and might just kill people
• Swans of Bryn Argoll: Swans not only always survives Arcbond, it also draws you cards (if your creature was the Arcbond target)
• Jeskai Charm: gives your creatures lifelink, and with Arcbond, the creature deals the damage.
• Nin, the Pain Artist: build an Earthquake.
• Razia, Boros Archangel: can protect a creature from Arcbond death.
• Golden Guardian: 4 damage to everything and a guaranteed Guardian flip.
Jeskai Charm: top a creature, zap a player or planeswalker, or pump the team with lifelink.
• Eye of the Storm: 4 damage isn't much, but if you start getting multiples, it adds up.
• Arcbond/Pandemonium: lifelink applies to direct damage too (doesn't effect creature not in play when charm is cast).
Mirrorweave: one of us... one of us... one of us... Mirrorweave makes everything the same thing. You can steal many a win by noticing when someone else has a big threat, or you can fog them by turning all their creatures into something much smaller. There are, of course, targets in the deck worth Mirrorweaving.
• Inferno Titan: all your creatures are deadly titans, and then for every two attackers you have, you can kill an enemy creature for free.
• Walking Archive: has defender, so it can stop attacks for a turn.
• Swans of Bryn Argoll: turns combat into a massive draw event.
• Crystalline Crawler: with enough creatures, Mirrorweave can be a mana ritual.
• man-lands: animating a land and then Mirrorweaving it turns every other creature into a non-animated land until end of turn, making it very hard to attack you or block your land-creature.
• March of the Machines[card]/[card]Opalescence: target artifacts and enchantments cause it's fun!
• Detention Sphere: exile all creatures.
Sudden Substitution: split second is great on answers, changing control of things is really good removal, this is both. It can be difficult to decide whether to save this for a problem spell, or use to to trade a Howling Mine on the stack for a big fat creature right away.
• Knowledge Pool: split second is a great way to get what you want without interference.
• Eye of the Storm: you can donate useless copies of spells to take creatures.
Turnabout: tap or untap all of target players artifacts, creatures, or lands. Turnabout is effectively a modal spell with 6 options and I've definitely used them all. Tap all opposing creatures to prevent attacks, tap all their artifacts or lands to constrain their mana (particularly against decks with counterspells), untap all creatures for surprise blocks, untap all lands for the mana ritual, untap all artifacts to reuse tap abilities. Turnabout does it all.
• Bonus Round: if Turnabout didn't generate enough mana, multiply it.
• Mind's Desire/Jeskai AscendancyKykar, Wind's Fury: turnabout acts as a free spell to trigger these things or add to storm.
• Temple Bell/Strionic Resonator: sometimes you just need to untap an artifact, and the mana rocks you have out get a free ride.
Vanish Into Memory: blank a creature for a turn, and get some sweet card draw out of it to boot. Most satisfying when aimed at hydras, but there are some internal tricks for this as well.
• Inferno Titan: use the firebreathing ability to increase the draw power, and then get an etb trigger from the titan as well.
• Clones: draw cards for power, have them re-enter as a smaller creature to keep cards in hand.
• Jeskai Ascendancy: the pump trigger from Jeskai Ascendancy increases the draw without increasing the discard.
• Firestorm: if the discard is going to make you discard you hand, may as well use all those cards for something first.
Sorceries are usually the basic spells of a deck; ramp, cantrips, boardwipes, and all those reliable staples a normal deck needs. But that's not how it works here! Zedruu's sorceries are heavy hitters. Possibility Storm from Political Trickery can cause all sorts of madness.
• Time Spiral: draw a fresh hand with 12 untaps, and maybe even a double Turnabout in the middle.
• Strionic Resonator: resonator impersonates Mirari.
Catch // Release: catch threatens a permanent, release elimates a lot of permanents. But also, secret secret, Catch can give a permanent haste for you, and in a deck that prefers to win in one big turn, summoning sickness can cause a bunch of issues.
• flash enablers: steal a creature, block with it, save some damage and kill a dude.
• Gilded Lotus: 3 mana untaps and makes 3 mana, free storm!
• Eye of the Storm: you can start stealing lands to pay for more instants and sorceries to make more copies of Catch. Also, you can cast Catch in and pull Release out.
• Precursor Golem: a fused Catch // Release will still only target one golem, so it'll copy the release for each golem and drop a nuke on the board.
• bounce lands: you can borrow someone else's land to pay the land bouncing cost to ramp yourself.
Political Trickery: see Vedalken Plotter, except this one is a sorcery.
Role Reversal: a political trickery that isn't limited to lands. Basically Confiscate that draws cards with Zedruu.
Throes of Chaos: technically, this spell does nothing. You can cast from grave by discarding a land, and it cascades. That's all. But at 4 mana, it actually sits at a nice position: almost every card in this deck that costs less than 4 is ramp, card draw, land exchange, or removal. So if you find yourself with nothing to do but retrace Throes of Chaos, it's basically spammable phase 1 as described in the strategy section.
• Knowledge Pool/Possibility Storm: cascade on cast and get multiple spells out of the deal.
• Eye of the Storm: any instant or sorcery cascaded into will de facto gain cascade for 3 or less, filling Eye very quickly.
• Leave // Chance: if you find yourself with very large amounts of mana, you can bounce all of your lands to hand to dig deeper with Throes of Chaos. Or bounce your whole board except creatures intending to cascade into Arcbond, Jeskai Charm, and Firestorm in the right order.
Echo Storm: makes multiple copies of an artifact.
• Mirror of Fate: 2 Mirrors makes Doomsday, 3 makes a Doomsday with a safety valve.
• Unbender Tine: like copying lands, also adds to devotion for Nykthos.
• Strionic Resonator: copy the cast trigger for more copies.
Mind's Desire: the storm that storms.
• Knowledge Pool/Eye of the Storm: makes more storm and more storm triggers.
• Possibility Storm: makes more storm and if you Possibility Storm away Mind's Desire, there's a chance you shuffle back into Mind's Desire from the storm copies and then you storm from your storm so you can storm while you storm.
• Venser, Shaper Savant: Venser bouncing Mind's Desire doesn't bounce the storm copies, so you can cast and storm twice.
• Strionic Resonator: copies the storm trigger.
• Throes of Chaos: counts as 2 storm for each time you cast before Mind's Desire.
Time Spiral: everyone draws a fresh hand, and you untap 6 lands. This is a gross card, and everyone knows it.
• Eye of the Storm: every spell eaten by Eye gets you more mana and more draw to find more instants and sorceries
• Bonus Round: untap 12 lands for the new hand to use.
• Mirror of Fate: Time Spiral shuffles in the graveyard and exiles itself, Mirror of Fate sacrifices itself and returns things from exile. It's difficult to do perfectly by balancing total cards in hand/library/graveyard, but you can just go off this way.
• Firestorm: may as well dump hand before Time Spiral reshuffles.
Temporal Cascade: everyone draws 7, or everyone shuffles hands and graveyards in, or its a 9 mana Timetwister. The one situation I can think of where the entwined spell is actually worth less mana to me than the individual halves. "Draw 7" lets you keep your big hand, "shuffle in" is actually incredibly oppressive, axing people's hands and destroying graveyard strategies.
• flash enablers: eliminate people's hands at instant speed.
Temporal Mastery: takes an extra turn. The miracle cost is fun when it happens (not too often when you draw 1000 cards a turn).
The last card type represented here, these 3 planeswalkers round out the deck. This deck is not built to be able to protect planewalkers for very long, so they're mostly included for their immediate impact, but the ultimates are cool too.
• Howling Mine: turning Howling Mine into a creature lets it attack, or mana rock lets it tap, either way it turns of the symmetry of the card drawing.
• Knowledge Pool: makes an empty Knowledge Pool for your turn, sort like a build your own Decree of Silence.
• Mirror of Fate: Saheeli can get you Mirrors number 2 and 3.
• Knowledge Pool/Possibility Storm/Eye of the Storm: multiply those cast triggers.
• Knowledge Pool: get the pool into play for free on your turn, and then take it away before anyone else gets access.
Venser, the Sojourner: +2 flicker, -1 unblockable creatures, -8 machine gun the board.
• Inferno Titan/Pandemonium: etb damage goes well with flickering.
• Precursor Golem: make more golem tokens.
• clones: reset clones
• permanents that backfire: exile something giving you trouble til end of turn.
• Knowledge Pool: people take your permanants, Venser bounces them back to you.
• Knowledge Pool/Possibility Storm/Eye of the Storm: +2 can reset these things. -8 can make multiple cast triggers a deadly tool.
Building Your Own Zedruu
So what should you do if you want to build your own Zedruu deck like this one but you don't want to just copy this list? Or perhaps you want to try this deck but have ideas for changes and don't know what's important to keep? The following is a brief guide to the contents of my deck broken down into categories (though not listing every card that fits every category, I leave that for you to figure out). It's important to remember that cards more often than not fit into multiple categories, and the more you can manage to have cards pull double duty, the easier it will be to meet these quotas.
Zedruu donations are the distinguishing aspect of any Zedruu deck. If you have nothing to give to people, you will never draw a card with Zedruu, and if that's the case then there is very little reason to play Zedruu in the first place. There are several ways to build donation options into your deck. You can play cards that donate themselves like Gilded Drake or cards that exchange control like Political Trickery. You can play global effects like Howling Mine which don't care who controls them. You can play cards that do their thing once and then sit and look pretty like Oblivion Ring or Pentad Prism. You can play aura's like Paradox Haze that effect the thing they enchant rather than the controller of the aura. You can play token producing cards and donate away just the tokens. There are plenty of ways to work donations seamlessly into your deck. My deck floats somewhere between 15 and 20 cards that can be useful for increasing the Zedruu count.
I advise against leaning on creatures as donations, as creatures are the easiest permanent type to sacrifice and deny you the card draw. I also largely advise against the "bad Christmas" strategy of Zedruu where you give people cards that actively hurt them. It can be cute, but it provides further incentive for players to kill Zedruu on sight, and it requires you to play bad cards. If a bad present somehow works into your deck well, for example if you have a life gain theme and want to play Illusions of Grandeur, that's an ok choice. But shoving Steel Golem into your deck because you think it would be funny to give to someone is not a good decision.
Since you're playing Zedruu, it's safe to say that you want to draw cards with her. Which means you want to draw cards. Don't just depend on your general for that. Never depend on your commander to fill a certain role entirely on its own. Having no redundancy once again encourages other players to kill Zedruu on sight, and then you're in trouble. Especially with something like card draw, play redundancy, it scales well in multiples. Just like possible donations, there are 15 to 20 cards in the deck that dig deeper into the deck. By turn 5 of every game, we're hoping to have found multiple options for donations and multiple options for drawing more cards besides with Zedruu. That is the engine this deck runs off of.
My card draw of choice is Howling Mine effects because they offer a lot of card draw at a very low mana cost for the output. But if you feel particularly miserly, you could certainly adjust the deck to use some of the more traditional blue draw spells available in commander. I really don't think you're going to beat the 5 cards for 2 mana you can get out of Howling Mine
I've made the point a couple times in this post that this deck runs low on lands, but that's just on lands, not on mana production. The average Commander deck intended for multiplayer games has like half the deck dedicated to making mana, and Zedruu is no exception. Between land trading's ability to color fix, all the mana rocks, other mana making effects, untap abilities, and cards that cheat on mana, there are easily 16 other mana related effects in this deck. The idea of running lower on lands is that you are limited in land drops and can't play them all if you draw a lot of cards, where spells aren't limited that way. But if you can't afford your spells, you're limited anyway. Make sure to have mana rocks, mana creatures, ritual effects, etc. so that you can afford your spells when it's time to go crazy.
Additionally, I recommend having as much of your ramp spells fall in the 2 cost slot as possible. This is for the simple reason that if you're hitting your land drops, 2 mana ramp curves naturally into a 4 mana spell on turn 3, which is exactly where Zedruu is. 3-cost mana rocks can be very good in certain decks, some Manalith variants are far more powerful than a signet, but not in this deck. This deck wants the ability to hit Zedruu sooner and potentially storm off with mana rocks later in the game.
Following this natural progression of desires from the card Zedruu the Greathearted, we want to draw many cards including those drawn from Zedruu and use our many cards to play to play more spells. Another thing we need to make that happen is turns, and we don't get more turns if someone else won the game already. Zedruu requires disruption. In order to keep myself safe from death long enough to draw more cards with Zedruu, I have 10+ direct disruptive elements, as well as a half dozen chaotic elements involved in the deck. That's enough to generally have at least 1 method of interacting available if someone does something bad for me.
Having flash on everything is also a way to turn otherwise non-disruptive elements into disruption. Someone is bogged down by someone's hate bear and has to kill it before going off? Flash in a clone maintain the hate. Someone cast Mindslaver with mana open to activate? Flash in March of the Machines to give it summoning sickness and Catch // Release if for yourself later. And while you shouldn't count on this because some opponent's just aren't prepared with interaction, in a certain sense, helping 2 opponents at a 4 person table is working against the 4th player. Just be careful not to tap out at the same time as everyone else.
Once the deck is capable of smoothly developing mana and card draw, the next level of function is to start multiplying resources rather than just add to them. Magic's got doubling effects for everything: double draw, double mana,double damage, double creatures. On top of those, a lot of effects are subtly multiplication. Extra turns multiply your turn by turn resources. Turnabout doubles your mana for a turn. Clone effects, particularly of things with triggered abilities, double the power of what they clone.
The further you get into a game of magic, the more valuable multiplying becomes. Starting at 1 of a resource and adding 2 gives you 3 where multiplying by 2 gives you 2. Starting at 10 and adding 2 gives you 12, where starting at 10 and multiplying by 2 gives you 20. This change in development type at the right time switches from climbing a hill upwards to rocketing into the stratosphere. My prefered method of doubling things up (if you couldn't tell) is spell and cast doublers. Things like Eye of the Storm or Precursor Golem where you can take the resources made by a single spell and increase them several times over. It takes about a half dozen of these multiplier effects in the deck to be ready to deploy one or more by mid-game.
The final stage after your resources multiply is when resources become completely unbound and unlimited. When the actions you take generate more resources within a single turn than they cost you. It could be that you have 4 mana dorks and a Jeskai Ascendancy, it could be that you have a draw doubler and Mindmoil, it could be that you've gotten Mind's Desire to start casting itself. It could be a Swans of Bryn Argoll drawing into more direct damage than was used to damage it in the first place. The single card the most efficiently put this deck into turbo overdrive was Mind Over Matter, where drawing cards starts to make more mana than the mana spent drawing those cards. Whatever the situation may be, eventually a stack of multiplicative effects will come together and create an exponential growth chain that lets you draw as many cards as you want or cast as many spells as you want. Since you should have assembled ways to dig dozens of cards into the library before reaching the point where you're ready for this, it only takes 3 or 4 of this sort of effect to find one consistently.
Once you reach this point, you are ready to go infinite and end the game.
"No, Neo. I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready, you won't have to."
So this is the hard part for two reasons: the first, as those with keen eyes might have noticed, is that I've already recommended 100-120 cards for your 99 card deck. So some of the cards in the deck are going to have to fit into multiple categories above. But a lot of cards that are in combos are going to have to come from those in other categories. That's why I phrase as "finishing combos", because most of the combo pieces should already have another purpose to fill, and what you're trying to do is find which exact magic card takes the list you already want to play and makes it go infinite. Strionic Resonator is my example on the right, because I already want to play Jeskai Ascendancy for filtering and pumping, I already want to play March of the Machines as both threat and disruption, I already want to play mana rocks in my mana base, and this exact 4th card makes that a combo.
The other reason it's hard is because I never named a spot in the deck for pet cards and we're already out of space. If you're anything like me, some pet cards are likely global effects that can count as Zedruu donations or disruptive elements. But if you have a pet card like Precursor Golem that you really wanna play in a deck like this, the imperative becomes finding a way to combo with it using 3 cards that fit into other categories. This kind of tuning can take hours of pouring through card databases and considering various and obscure options. Which is admittedly something I love and part of why this deck continues to evolve year after year while I shove more nonsense into it. I hope if you follow my lead and build your own Zedruu, you get as much joy out of the building challenge as I do.
And as one final note on how I maintain this deck, if ever a card becomes stale because it's individually powerful enough to make other parts of the deck obsolete, I cut it. Your deckbuilding decisions are made for your own sense of fun, if anything feels like easy mode, nobody will be upset at you dropping it to challenge yourself.