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Zurgo Stands Alone


Sometimes you have a perfect name for a deck. I don't even need to describe it for my article. As one example, take my deck "Surrak's Beasts and Where to Find Them". Clearly, it's a Beast deck built around Surrak Dragonclaw, right?

I'm sure you won't need my help to figure out this next deck, as the name is perfect.

This is Zurgo Helmsmasher.

Zurgo Helmsmasher

The key here for me is that Zurgo has indestructible on my turn. Which is conveniently the same turn on which most of these mass removal spells would be cast. It's also conveniently the same colors of mass removal. Damnation? Wrath of God? Blasphemous Act? You get the idea, right.

The obvious idea I had was to pair Zurgo with these various mass removal options, leave Zurgo pretty much alone on the battlefield, and then swing for 7 Commander damage at faces over and over again until you've won.

And that can be a deck right there, no question.

But what if Zurgo Stands Alone was more of a euphemism?

I mean, for example, the obvious stuff to pair with Zurgo is other dorks with indestructible, right?

Tajic, Blade of the Legion
Darksteel Sentinel

For example, take these two dorks. They work well with mass-removal too, as they will stay out there. But having a team of wrath-surviving fools seems like Zurgo won't be so much standing alone as "Zurgo Stands With Some Friends"

Is that okay? Probably!

Zurgo: No longer just a mere smasher of helms, but a slayer of worlds!


My biggest concerns are opposing mass removal spells that do affect my team. Lesser judgments like a Day of Judgment aren't going to bother me, but a Final Judgment is going to spell doom for my Zurgo Squad! To a lesser degree, mass removal stuff that shuffles it all back, like Terminus, will also work, but I fear it less.

But that would basically just mean I'd need to recast my Zurgo and just respond like anyone else to a mass removal affect and get back in there and try again. There are only so many mass removal exile effects out there. There might even be a few cards I can run that want to be exiled after they arrive, like Desolation Giant, so I won't wrath myself accidentally later when someone casts Living Death.

Desolation Giant

I also want to run some removal that can hate my foes indestructible stuff in case the board shifts, but I control them, so I can decide when or if, that would work.

Zurgo Stands Alone -- Commander | Abe Sargent

And there is my deck!

Again, due to the number of dorks here, it may feel a little like Zurgo Stands With Friends, but that's because they have one of three reasons for being here:

  1. You don't care if they die. While there are not many options running around, as the vast majority of my creatures are in the next two categories, there are certainly a few dorks here, like Solemn Simulacrum, that want to be tossed in. Similarly, check out Burnished Hart. But it's not many.
  2. They have indestructible. A huge number of my creatures share indestructible with my leader. Now I didn't just toss in any old indestructible force I could unearth. You won't find here things like Darksteel Gargoyle's seven mana 3/3 flyer or the heavily-priced and weak-on-a-open-board Konda, Lord of Eiganjo. But you will find many others here of merit, such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope or Stuffy Doll and such. The ones that are here are very strong.
  3. The third slate of creatures are those that pack some form of mass removal into their own bodies, such as Crater Hellion or Desolation Giant. These give me a creature-based way to both sweep the board and to keep a force ready. From Angel of the Dire Hour to Reiver Demon and more, we have many options here.

And that's it. I wanted to go light on the dorks. Although do note that the deck has the man-land cycle of mana fixers in Zurgo's colors in order to turn a land into a threat post-removal and swing on a (mostly) empty board. I also have some planeswalkers that can do the same, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, can turn and swing into folks post-mass removal as well.

Speaking of 'walkers, I felt this was an obvious place to dig, so I unfurled a lot of options here.

First, I began with those that could make dorks. Making creatures post-removal to swing is key. You can have an instant army with Elspeth, Sun's Champion and her +1 ability after a Wrath of God effect. She's also perfect because she has a mass-removal -3 ability as well.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Sorin, Grim Nemesis

Secondly, I looked at 'walker options that gave my deck needed fleshing out in various places. Take Sorin, Grim Nemesis as a solid example to get started. We don't have a lot of card drawing running around in this deck, so his +1 will work to draw some cool cards and drain folk's life. I also like the -X removal ability here. You often find that folks will just play out a single dork or two when they know you are running a lot of mass removal effects. Thus, killing the occasional creature that pops its head up for air and forcing your foes to either play more stuff or answer Sorin is key.

Then, after my six 'walkers are considered, the rest of the deck was chosen because it was mass removal, support for my main stuff, or needed for things like mana making.

Given my heavy commitment to mass removal, especially on my turn when my Commander is running around, I am sure you can see the value of sweeping removal. I choose flexible removal like Austere Command, Rout, or Starstorm, which will have the ability to add to the sweeping aspects of your deck. And ditto Nevinyrral's Disk and Oblivion Stone .

So, those I like.

I also added in some equipment for Zurgo and friends to wear. He has haste and removing targetability isn't the most important thing in the world for him given his abilities, so I didn't include the normal Lightning Greaves/Swiftfoot Boots as they felt like wastes of space.

But I did run Whispersilk Cloak to slip in a hit (along with Rogue's Passage), as well as Sword of Fire and Ice to draw cards, and such.

Oh, and by the way, Zurgo definitely wants to wear an Assault Suit or wield a Conqueror's Flail!

Assault Suit
Conqueror's Flail

The first is pure fun! Forcing foes to pass around Zurgo, which requires the controller to attack every turn, but cannot swing against you or your 'walkers is downright amazing. That is going to win the game quickly. I also like the +3/+3 that Zurgo gets from the Flail as well as the ability to shut down folks from casting junk on your turn. Thou shall not counter my Wrath of God.

Some of the support for this deck includes removal of the exiling kind, like Utter End or Into the Core, as well as card drawing stuff from Ambition's Cost to Underworld Connections.

One of my favorite little tricks here is a callback from Modern/Legacy decks:

Leyline of the Void

This is Leyline of the Void. Don't forget that you can start with it in play. Now, it can draw a lot of hate and have a giant target on its back in Commander, but the heat is worth it, as it will shut down folks from abusing their otherwise-stacked graveyard.

Imagine you have out this when you cast Damnation. Great! Now suppose that your opponents are losing 13 total creatures to your Damnation. With the Leyline of the Void around, those are now ending up in the garbage bin in the sky, never to return. They ain't coming back.

Again, the synergy here is so powerful, and so many decks expect to have a clean graveyard that the result will be that the Leyline of the Void will often be countered or destroyed. I don't expect it to be on the battlefield for the entire game, if it is, then it would be wonderful. You won't need the win-con I added for you.

Rise of the Dark Realms

Rise of the Dark Realms is this deck's Insurrection, game-winning sorcery. Now, again, we won't needed to recur everyone's graveyard if we stuck the Leyline long enough to disrupt folks, but in other contexts, it's hard to refuse the Rise of the Dark Realms as your game-ender.

It works!

I won't belabor the rest of the choices, as they are pretty self-evident. From Commander's Sphere as the mana-rock of choice alongside Darksteel Ingot (because it can sacrifice before I sweep the board) to obvious stuff like Duelist's Heritage and Sol Ring.

And that's pretty much a Zurgo Stands Alone deck! So, what did you think of my deck? Anything you think I missed or would want to add?

As always, thanks for reading, and we'll see you tomorrow.

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