Raging Levine – Not For the Great of Heart

Hey folks! I’m back and I’m ready to talk about [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card]! I know you’ve all been excited to talk about the Zedruu lists that were sent in for my contest, but I think there’s one person even more excited. That’s right, it’s me, and I finally get to talk about the winning deck list. Before I do that, though, I’d like to discuss some of the cards you folks submitted in deck lists, because even those who didn’t win had some great ideas.

Before I do that, though, and I’m aware we’re going seriously deep on these nested “befores,” I want to draw your attention to a rule that affects Zedruu:

110.5. Some effects put tokens onto the battlefield. A token is a marker used to represent any permanent that isn’t represented by a card.
110.5a. A token is both owned and controlled by the player under whose control it entered the battlefield.

This means that the following cards are not going to do what you want them to do when you’ve got [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card] in play:

[draft]Varchild’s War-Riders
Hunted Phantasm
Hunted Lammasu
Hunted Dragon[/draft]

Think about it. How good would [card]Alliance of Arms[/card] be if this rule didn’t exist? That would be insane in the brain!

A few people sent in deck lists with [card]Celestial Dawn[/card] saying, effectively, “I know you hate this card and told us not to send in deck lists with it, but you’re doing it wrong and this is the best card ever. Here it is in my deck list.” I’m not sure what the plan was here, but I’m fairly sure I know my Marketing professor would have something to say about it. (Note that this set of people includes the winner.)

Let’s get into the sweet cards before I add more befores:

[draft]Cultural Exchange[/draft]

This one’s a party, huh? A shoutout to Billie B (Gypsy6 on MTGO) for suggesting this fantastic slice of cardboard. Once you’re done with [card]Vedalken Plotter[/card], [card]Spawnbroker[/card], or whatever else, toss ‘em around and grab some Dragons, Titans, or whatever else you can find. You can use this as a mega-[card]Switcheroo[/card] or to shift the political tides at the table, which thematically, [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card] should be all about, right?


Also from the aforementioned Billie B, this seems like a great pick. It’s one of those symmetrical effects that has a drawback. With that in mind, let’s take advantage of that symmetrical effect while letting someone else pay that Mercadian security guard or whatever is going on in this art? Zedruu’s not interested in going toe-to-toe in creature combat with [card]Hazezon Tamar[/card], [card]Animar, Soul of Elements[/card], [card]Ascendant Evincar[/card], or even [card]Lady Orca[/card]. We’re probably on level with [card]Sivitri Scarzam[/card] if you want to be realistic.

[draft]Venser, the Sojourner[/draft]

This card was suggested by literally everyone who submitted. [card]Illusions of Grandeur[/card], [card]Delusions of Mediocrity[/card], and similar are all well-served by everyone’s favorite planeswalker/time lord. You get to blink cards you own! If you give something away but need it back, this is a great way to be. Try not to forget exactly what you gave away so that you can blink those things later. If you need help with that, make sure you use these wonderful markers made by Inkwell Looter.

[draft]Fickle Efreet[/draft]

A choice selection by local L2 Elliot Raff, this card combines two of my favorite things: flipping coins and being reasonable with [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card]. I used to have a 60-card casual [card]Chance Encounter[/card] deck featuring [card]Fiery Gambit[/card], [card]Krark’s Thumb[/card], [card]Orcish Captain[/card], [card]Stitch in Time[/card], and other sweet flippers of coins. And now I’ve got my article topic for next week. I’m not one to play the [card]Confusion in the Ranks[/card]/[card]Scrambleverse[/card]/[card]Shared Fate[/card] deck, but if I’m the one subjected to my randomness, that’s my deal. Plus, you haven’t lived until you’ve cast [card]Game of Chaos[/card] with [card]Krark’s Thumb[/card] on the battlefield.

[draft]Thought Lash[/draft]

Yet another card mentioned by pretty much everyone, [card]Thought Lash[/card] is no longer the boogeyman it was when you could fire it off at your opponent in response to the upkeep trigger, fail to pay the cumulative upkeep, and exile your opponent’s library. That being said, the card is much more fun and fair now, which means you can embrace the hilarity as your opponent’s library erodes over the course of a few turns. (Especially if you’re willing to pay the cumulative upkeep yourself a few times.)

[draft]Risky Move[/draft]

Thanks again to Elliot for this one. I can’t believe I missed it the first time around—I own a foil copy of this card! On purpose! First of all, the card gets passed around the table, which is great for Zedruu. Second of all, the card passes creatures around the table, which is great for Zedruu. Just make sure you don’t only control Zedruu!

[draft]Pyromancer’s Swath[/draft]

Let it be known that Michael Christensen fights dirty. Let it also be known that he said he would also like to be called “MC Cracker Jack.” Well, despite his terrible nickname (you can’t give yourself a nickname—see Sports Night S2E11 “The Cut Man Cometh.” It’s on Netflix. See also Seinfeld S9E19, “The Maid.”) DJ Smoldyface here has given us a nice one. Is that pesky blue player drawing too many cards? Drop a train on ‘em! [card]Grafted Skullcap[/card] is a card in a similar vein for those of you who need more of these.

I do have a friend who wishes he could be called “DJ MC Diskjockey,” but I don’t think that counts as giving yourself a nickname in the, “I’ll take Foods Only Eaten At the Alamodome for $200, Alex,” category. Although, if pressed, I would prefer to use Wankdorf Stadium in Switzerland for all future sports arena-related jokes.

But I digress.

[draft]Bronze Bombshell[/draft]

Yet another traditionally terrible card that I own a foil copy of, this little gift doesn’t need to wait to deliver its payload like Illusions or Delusions. Once you send it, sealed with loving hatred, to your enemy, it explodes, blasting your opponent for 7. Even though it’s not as powerful, it’s still a great card for [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card]. This one comes to us courtesy of Cliff D’s fiancée, who, since her name wasn’t given, I’ll call “Sunny.” Enjoy married life, Sunny D. Cliff D is notable in that he can show you how to make a deck box out of a booster box! It’s really cool. (Although, if he thinks I’m internet famous enough to make him internet famous, he has another thing coming.)


It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a [card]Seasinger[/card] kicking around the ol’ battlefield. I [card]remember[/card] buying packs of Fallen Empires at some store in Framingham, MA—or was it at Video Signals? Anyway, I could never open a dang Seasinger. One of my friends had two. TWO! And he would always [card]Phantasmal Terrain[/card] my Mountains and then start stealing my Goblins. Jerk.

Loyal reader Stefano Petracca pointed out that Zedruu makes using Seasinger a lot easier—just donate an Island and steal, steal, steal! Just make sure it’s not your last Island…


Another one I’m embarrassed to have missed. My fiancée Emily will take any excuse to shout the hilarious name of this totally ludicrous card. Luckily, Shane Hobe is picking up my slack here. To quote Shane, “Oh look, you only have lands every other turn.” Just make sure you can deal with a trampling 7/7 every other turn, because you’ll be the one with this legendary Serpent bearing down on you!

[draft]Lich’s Tomb[/draft]

Doug Cole pointed out that this is a fantastic way to get your opponent to sacrifice a lot of permanents. Are you about to take a ton of damage, opponent? Why, perhaps you’d like to BE A LICH! Once you’re done tearing up your opponent’s board, blink it out with Venser, [card]Ghostly Flicker[/card], or similar. If you have a [card]Leyline of Anticipation[/card] or a [card]Vedalken Orrery[/card] that you can use to blast this into play at instant speed, it’s even better. Otherwise you open yourself up to some dangerous stuff.

[draft]Ancestral Knowledge[/draft]

Ruairidh Macdonald, who is reading these articles in Scotland (awesome!) suggested this one. You can use this card to set up spells like [card]Entreat the Angels[/card], [card]Terminus[/card], or [card]Temporal Mastery[/card]. Once you’ve benefited from double [card]Index[/card], donate this to someone else who likes to manipulate their library. Narrow? Yes. Cool? Yes.

Ok. Time to introduce our runner-up’s deck list. MrLuBuFu is our runner up, and here’s his list, which has:

• Sweet stuff to donate.
• Awesome ways to stay alive.
• More fun ways to donate stuff (but I’ll be swapping [card]Conjured Currency[/card] out).
• Great ways to use [card]Wild Research[/card] and [card]Sunforger[/card].
• The card [card]Celestial Convergence[/card] (awesome!).
• [card]Hanna, Ship’s Navigator[/card] for Weatherlight Crew Street Cred (very important).
• A well-written, goofy writeup about the deck that makes for a good addition to the article.

I could talk for a while about this deck, but let me turn you over to MrLuBuFu.

— Begin Things Written By MrLuBuFu —

“Everyone has that one person in their family that is IMPOSSIBLE to shop for. Well, in my family that honor belongs to my father. Every year everyone pools their knowledge to try and figure out a good gift, only to realize come present-unwrapping-time how horribly we chose. A short list of things he’s received (and eventually returned) include: an orthopedic pillow, multiple tools that he already owned, presents he’s received in previous years, and several brain puzzles that were impossible for us that he solved in five minutes. Trust me, we cannot seem to get him a gift he enjoys…

So I figured I can use my natural talent (of failing to give useful presents) in Commander!

This deck is all about giving gifts, stalling the game out and making sure you don’t die, so you can keep giving presents. Eventually the goal is for someone to be so overwhelmed by the large pile of gifts that they eventually have to run away, for fear of receiving more!

So… What kind of things would an EDH player like to receive? I can only assume that they like powerful enchantments… Hmm… What could be powerful? I know! Players HATE taking damage, right? So why not give them something that makes them immune to 90+ damage? [card]Thought Lash[/card] seems perfect for them! The best thing about it is that they HAVE to keep it, none of this ‘not paying cumulative upkeep’ shenanigans! Genius, man! Pure Genius!

How about drawing cards? I think players like to do that too… What about [card]Mind Unbound[/card]? I mean, sure I can use it a little bit first, but they won’t mind if it’s used, right? Soon enough they can be drawing 20+ cards a turn! Sounds great!

Hmmm, I have other gifts I’d love to hand out, but I have to make sure that people don’t turn on me, so I have to plan to keep the game stalled. What better way to do that than with another assortment of enchantments? Probably the most powerful is [card]Solitary Confinement[/card], giving you access to complete protection, and it’s downside is easily counteracted by [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card]. [card]Ghost Prison[/card]’s effect is extremely powerful, and getting multiples (or sorts) just keeps you even safer!

The mana base is pretty straightforward, but there is one card I would like to point out in particular: [card]Rainbow Vale[/card]. Here you have a land that immediately rewards Zedruu play. Opponents love being able to get free lands, right? [card]Reliquary Tower[/card] is also a must, since you plan on drawing plenty of cards, and you want to give those away!

One of the key things to have around to complete the deck is a [card]Sunforger[/card] package. This offers a certain amount of consistency to the deck that keeps you alive and lets you tutor for basically anything you need. With Sunforger you can fetch counterspells ([card]Counterflux[/card], [card]Absorb[/card]), creature removal, ([card]Sword to Plowshares[/card], [card]Path to Exile[/card], [card]Chaos Warp[/card] etc.) or other artifact/enchantment removal ([card]Dismantling Blow[/card], [card]Return to Dust[/card] etc.)

In addition, by playing equipment search cards ([card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], [card]Stonehewer Giant[/card], [card]Steelshaper’s Gift[/card], and [card]Godo, Bandit Warlord[/card]) you can also search for protection for Zedruu ([card]Lightning Greaves[/card], [card]Swiftfoot Boots[/card], and [card]Darksteel Plate[/card])

Lastly, another card I’d love to play is [card]Venser, the Sojourner[/card]. They didn’t like your gift the first time? How about a second? Maybe someone else at the table feels left out? Flickering [card]Illusions of Grandeur[/card] is actually just broken.

Well, all this time spent creating this deck has really got me in a giving mood. Time to go give away all of my possessions to that random homeless guy across the street!”

Deck list:
[card]Zedruu the Greathearted[/card]

“Gifts”: (11)
[card]Celestial Convergence[/card]
[card]Delaying Shield[/card]
[card]Delusions of Mediocrity[/card]
[card]Faith’s Fetters[/card]
[card]Illusions of Grandeur[/card]
[card]Mind Unbound[/card]
[card]Oath of Lieges[/card]
[card]Thought Lash[/card]
[card]Celestial Dawn[/card]

Givers: (5)
[card]Bazaar Trader[/card]
[card]Gilded Drake[/card]
[card]Puca’s Mischief[/card]
[card]Conjured Currency[/card]

Wraths: (4)
[card]Austere Command[/card]
[card]Wrath of God[/card]
[card]Supreme Verdict[/card]

Tutors: (3)
[card]Wild Research[/card]
[card]Idyllic Tutor[/card]
[card]Academy Rector[/card]

Can’t Touch This: (9)
[card]Dream Tides[/card]
[card]Rule of Law[/card]
[card]Karmic Justice[/card]
[card]Collective Restraint[/card]
[card]Ghostly Prison[/card]
[card]Solitary Confinement[/card]
[card]War Tax[/card]

Good Stuff: (8)
[card]Sol Ring[/card]
[card]Detention Sphere[/card]
[card]Land Tax[/card]
[card]Venser, the Sojourner[/card]
[card]Hanna, Ship’s Navigator[/card]
[card]Chromatic Lantern[/card]
[card]Coalition Relic[/card]
[card]Gilded Lotus[/card]

Sunforger Package: (18)
[card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]
[card]Stonehewer Giant[/card]
[card]Steelshaper’s Gift[/card]
[card]Godo, Bandit Warlord[/card]
[card]Chaos Warp[/card]
[card]Dismantling Blow[/card]
[card]Double Negative[/card]
[card]Enlightened Tutor[/card]
[card]Orim’s Thunder[/card]
[card]Path to Exile[/card]
[card]Return to Dust[/card]
[card]Swords to Plowshares[/card]
[card]Wild Ricochet[/card]

Other Equips worth Fetching: (3)
[card]Lightning Greaves[/card]
[card]Swiftfoot Boots[/card]
[card]Darksteel Plate[/card]

Lands: (38)
[card]Academy Ruins[/card]
[card]Adarkar Wastes[/card]
[card]Arid Mesa[/card]
[card]Azorius Chancery[/card]
[card]Battlefield Forge[/card]
[card]Boros Garrison[/card]
[card]Buried Ruin[/card]
[card]Cascade Bluffs[/card]
[card]Command Tower[/card]
[card]Flooded Strand[/card]
[card]Hallowed Fountain[/card]
2 [card]Island[/card]
[card]Kher Keep[/card]
[card]Marsh Flats[/card]
[card]Maze of Ith[/card]
[card]Mikokoro, Center of the Sea[/card]
[card]Mistveil Plains[/card]
2 [card]Mountain[/card]
[card]Mystic Gate[/card]
3 [card]Plains[/card]
[card]Rainbow Vale[/card]
[card]Reflecting Pool[/card]
[card]Reliquary Tower[/card]
[card]Rugged Prairie[/card]
[card]Sacred Foundry[/card]
[card]Scalding Tarn[/card]
[card]Steam Vents[/card]
[card]Strip Mine[/card]
[card]Tolaria West[/card]
[card]Vivid Meadow[/card]
[card]Volcanic Island[/card]
[card]Windswept Heath[/card]

—End Things Written By That Guy, Sheesh, He Said A Lot—

It was nice to hear from our runner-up. Let’s now hear from our winner, Michael Christensen AKA DJ Mankiewicz or something:

—Michael Christensen—

“I was quite excited when I saw your article this week. I’ve been running [card zedruu the greathearted]Zedruu[/card] for a while at my local shop and it’s been quite a bit of fun. The deck has taken a number of different forms, but my current list has been by far the most successful as well as the most fun to play.

One of the things I learned quickly while playing this deck is that you really can’t count of Zedruu being around for too long, even if you’re doing your best to protect her. Whether it’s the threat of a 40-point life swing from [card]Illusions of Grandeur[/card] or “just” the fact that you’re drawing five extra cards each turn from lands and enchantments you’ve donated, people generally go to reasonable lengths to whack everyone’s favorite goat.

To combat this, I’ve pulled the number of cards meant only to be donated down to a bare minimum and down to the ones that have a big impact. There’s a ton of cards that can be donated, but it really sucks to be holding a [card]Steel Golem[/card] if Zedruu has been tucked. While the ones I’m running can be a bit mean depending on the deck that’s receiving them, the important thing to note is that I don’t donate them just because I can. I’ll hold onto [card]Pyromancer’s Swath[/card] or [card]Celestial Dawn[/card] for turns until someone really deserves it, whether it’s Azami countering every spell played, or Azusa Crucible/Strip locking the table. The majority of the time I donate enchantments that have already been used such as [card]Detention Sphere[/card] or lands to generate good will.

Enchantments are one of Zedruu’s major strengths. In my experience, they tend to be the type of permanent that gets destroyed least often, other than land. The ones I run in this deck fall into four categories: removal, donate, pillow fort, and utility. The removal enchantments are pretty straight forward. Hit a creature, give control of the card to someone else, profit. I’ve already gone over the strategy I use with the donate cards.

One thing to note about these first two categories: [card]Venser, the Sojourner[/card] is amazing at shuffling the ownership and targets of these cards around. Feel someone else deserves some time with [card]Pyromancer’s Swath[/card]? Blink it. Feel like a different creature needs to be held down by [card]Faith’s Fetters[/card]? Blink it. Feel like swinging life totals by 40 points a second time (or third, or forth time depending on how long Venser has been on board) using [card]Illusions of Grandeur[/card]? Eh, I guess I’ll blink it.

The pillow fort cards in this deck are there simply because few things are better than [card]Ghostly Prison[/card] to convince the Rith player to execute your neighbor instead of you. However, I tried to avoid running too many simply because if you’re sitting behind five enchantments, you’ll have the crap beaten out of you after a sweeper, regardless of how threatening you are. Just to send a message.

Finally, the utility enchantments are just that: utility. I don’t need to explain why [card]Rhystic Study[/card] is good. [card]Copy Enchantment[/card] gives you a second dose of the best enchantment on the board. I run a number of enchantment tutors to help you find what you need, and Open the Vaults is just a good time waiting to happen in this deck.

I was slightly disappointed when I saw you mention [card]Sunforger[/card] in your article, as I had thought that that was my main innovation when it came to my version of Zedruu. Regardless, [card]Sunforger[/card] is arguably the best card in this deck. I run ten targets ranging from spot removal for creatures, artifacts, and enchantments, to a couple of counterspells, to a few goofier inclusions such as [card]Master Warcraft[/card], and my personal favorite, [card]Wild Ricochet[/card] (I normally despise taking extra turns, seeing as no one likes watching other people play solitaire, but it felt incredibly good to Ricochet a Niv Mizzet player’s [card]Time Stretch[/card]. Hitting a [card]Profane Command[/card] for 36 (originally aimed at me) and knocking out two players at once was another good one.) I run a wide array of ways to tutor for [card]Sunforger[/card] and a couple to recur it if it ever gets killed. Incidentally, the land [card]Mistveil Plains[/card] lets me reuse [card]Sunforger[/card] targets, and is a plains that can be tutored by [card]Kor Cartographer[/card] or fetch lands if you have money (unlike me.)

When it comes to win-cons, I wanted something flavorful that made sense in the deck. What would a master of politics be doing summoning Dragons and Giants to a battlefield? I eventually came to the idea of using my opponents win-cons as my own. I’m continually giving stuff away; why not take some things back in return? Whether it’s on a small scale with [card]Thada Adel[/card] taking [card]Sol Ring[/card]s from opponents or on a larger scale with one of my personal favorite EDH cards, [card]Sphinx Ambassador[/card] (The mind games become exponentially more fun if you raise one eyebrow while asking “What card am I holding?” There’s also the memorable moments when the Animar player somehow guesses [card]Indrik Stomphowler[/card] correctly from among the 50+ creatures in his deck.) the thievery is always enjoyable. For me anyway. One of my favorite plays to make with this deck is to cast [card]Gather Specimens[/card] in response to a [card]Living Death[/card]. [card]Mindslaver[/card] is a card that is often frowned upon, but without [card]Academy Ruins[/card] to recur it, it’s never felt too unfair, and there’s also something incredibly entertaining about a brilliant goat politician completely running/ruining the affairs of an opposing army.

So there you have it. While your contest had no budget restrictions, I felt like it would somehow be dishonest to include the original dual lands and fetches, or [card]Bribery[/card] and [card]Gilded Drake[/card] as much as I would love to have any of those cards. Besides, there’s something intensely satisfying about using a budget list to beat the crap out of a fully foiled/Beta’d [card merieke ri berit]Merieke[/card] deck. (OK, it was actually just 80% foiled, but still, who has that kind of money to spend on cardboard? Smack that shiz.)

And now, with no further ado, (we’ve had quite a bit of ado already,) my Zedruu decklist as I currently run it on EDH night at the shop. Enjoy!”

[card]Zedruu the Greathearted[/card]

[card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]
[card]Trinket Mage[/card]
[card]Drift of Phantasms[/card]
[card]Monk Idealist[/card]
[card]Thada Adel, Acquisitor[/card]
[card]Vedalken Plotter[/card]
[card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card]
[card]Kor Cartographer[/card]
[card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/card]
[card]Stonehewer Giant[/card]
[card]Mindclaw Shaman[/card]
[card]Sphinx Ambassador[/card]

[card]Sol Ring[/card]
[card]Relic of Progenitus [/card]
[card]Lightning Greaves[/card]
[card]Swiftfoot Boots[/card]
[card]Journeyer’s Kite[/card]
[card]Chromatic Lantern[/card]
[card]Darksteel Ingot[/card]
[card]Darksteel Plate[/card]

[card]Celestial Dawn [/card]
[card]Pyromancer’s Swath[/card]
[card]Ghostly Prison[/card]
[card]Detention Sphere[/card]
[card]Rhystic Study[/card]
[card]Copy Enchantment[/card]
[card]Illusions of Grandeur[/card]
[card]Faith’s Fetters[/card]
[card]Collective Restraint[/card]

[card]Venser, the Sojourner[/card]
[card]Tezzeret, the Seeker[/card]

[card]Swords to Plowshares[/card]
[card]Path to Exile[/card]
[card]Enlightened Tutor[/card]
[card]Mystical Tutor[/card]
[card]Orim’s Thunder[/card]
[card]Suffocating Blast[/card]
[card]Master Warcraft[/card]
[card]Return to Dust[/card]
[card]Into the Core[/card]
[card]Wild Ricochet[/card]
[card]Reins of Power[/card]
[card]Gather Specimens[/card]

[card]Steelshaper’s Gift[/card]
[card]Idyllic Tutor[/card]
[card]Rite of Replication[/card]
[card]Supreme Verdict[/card]
[card]Open the Vaults[/card]
[card]Austere Command[/card]
[card]Knowledge Exploitation[/card]

7 [card]Island[/card]
7 [card]Plains[/card]
3 [card]Mountain[/card]
[card]Adarkar Wastes[/card]
[card]Battlefield Forge[/card]
[card]Shivan Reef[/card]
[card]Glacial Fortress[/card]
[card]Command Tower[/card]
[card]Calciform Pools[/card]
[card]Reliquary Tower[/card]
[card]Strip Mine [/card]
[card]Tectonic Edge[/card]
[card]Mystifying Maze[/card]
[card]Vivid Meadow[/card]
[card]Vivid Creek[/card]
[card]Vivid Crag[/card]
[card]Azorious Chancery[/card]
[card]Boros Garrison[/card]
[card]Izzet Boilerworks[/card]
[card]Celestial Colonnade[/card]
[card]Evolving Wilds[/card]
[card]Terramorphic Expanse[/card]
[card]Mistveil Plains[/card]

(Eric’s note: I’m leaving [card]Celestial Dawn[/card] in, but doing exactly what MC Jujubee said: only using it on evil targets.)

Okay! Well, that was fun. I’ll be playing Michael Christensen’s deck list in my article soon! I’m pretty excited for next week, when I’ll talk about coin flips, and not just the kind that determines who kicks off. See you all next time!

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