As we enter this season of giving (first of thanks, then of toys and socks), I’m happy to have the chance to work on that most generous of generals, the Queen of Giving: Zedruu the Greathearted.
Before the Commander decks were released, if someone sat across from you with Numot, the Devastator, he probably just chose the Dragon for the colors.
With Ruhan of the Fomori and Zedruu the Greathearted now competing for the Commander slot, it’s more likely than before that your friend intends to make Numot’s ability relevant by backing it up with prison effects or more land-destruction.
Despite that, I’m far more nervous sitting across from a player piloting Zedruu the Greathearted. Some people build their decks to be “group hug”–style decks, but more often I’ve seen the “Zedruu the Coldhearted” variety, with so-called “friends” using her ability to give me all manner of foul gifts.
The top five cards I’ve seen that can make you feel like you got coal in your stocking:
#5 Steel Golem – Commander games can be confusing; players pile dozens of creatures onto the board. Thankfully, Zedruu is here to help by making it so you don’t get to play any more creatures. What a gal.
#3 Celestial Dawn – What’s worse than discarding your hand every turn? Having a hand full of cards but not being able to case any of them. If you’re not playing White, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to do anything about it since you’ll never be able to cast a colored spell until someone wipes the board.
#2 Thought Lash – While not the most powerful thing a Zedruu player can give away, it gets my vote for most devious. The first time I saw one hit the board across from me, I read it and shrugged. It wasn’t until a turn cycle later that I found out that the Oracle text meant Zedruu could force me to exile my library with it.
#1 Transcendence – Nothing special going on here. Simply drop Transcendence on the board while at lower than 20 life, then donate it to someone with 20 or more. They die, you get Transcendence back. Rinse, repeat . . . vomit.
Whether your Zedruu deck is Greathearted or Coldhearted, it will undoubtedly be more effective with a 3D Commander at the helm, so let’s get to it!
Both have a central character with lots of details, and both have a layer that slants from front to back. On Sygg, it was the surface of the river; here, it’s the ground behind Zedruu.
I start things off by cutting the furthest-back layer, removing only the sky:
The only thing between that rock wall and Zedruu is the open space above the grass. However, it would look better if instead of being flat and vertical with the rock wall, the grass was slanted at a different angle and moved closer to Zedruu. To do that, I make this layer:
You can see that the sides of the art are cut away from the card so that it can be bent back to make it flatter. I plan to put a lot of space between those layers to allow for more bend.
The only things left are Zedruu herself and the foreground rock wall. To figure out what base layer I’ll need for Zedruu, I need to figure out what details I want to cut. After staring at the art for a while, I find sixteen elements to detail.
- Back wall
- Front of wall
- Right fingers
- Right arm
- Right bracelet
- Ribbon cuff
- Ribbon back
- Head & neck
- Back ribbon
- Left arm
- Left bracelet
- Lamp bottom
As I’ve increased the complexity and level of detail of the cards I make, the amount of time I spend on each card has increased as well. A significant portion of that time is figuring out what pieces I want to cut and how to combine them successfully. Since I never finish a card in one sitting, I’ll often figure out what I want to do, cut part of it, then leave for a bit and have to work through my thoughts again when I come back.
Planning them all ahead of time and taking a few moments to write a list allows me to work through the list without having to figure out where I am any time I get interrupted—very helpful with a newborn in the house.
With the list in hand, it takes me much less time than usual to cut out the pieces:
- Most of the pieces are larger than the visible section. This allows them to disappear smoothly behind another part of the art and also gives a spot to glue them to another piece.
- Zedruu’s finished head will be made of pieces 7 and 10. On piece 10, her right ear is cut away partially and bent forward, while the small bit of the right horn is bent back. Putting piece 7 under the ear lines it up with the rest of the horn and makes it look like the horn is all one piece.
- Pieces 2 and 16 will stick up between the slanted grass layer and the back wall layer. To do that, I cut out sections for those pieces and shave the back edge of the grass layer so it will be more flush against them from the front, as shown below.
In those pictures, you can see piece 16 is already attached, with the gap for piece 2 still empty. I’ll get to filling that in later. First, I want to put Zedruu together.
Because so much of Zedruu’s body made up of small detail pieces, there isn’t much to the basic Zedruu layer:
Making Zedruu’s left arm appear to wrap around her staff requires using the same technique as on her head. Each part of the arm will extend under the staff, which will cover the seam and make it look like the two parts are one. Eager to see how that looks, I assemble the arm:
The arm is actually only three of those pieces, with the far-left piece being the ribbon behind Zedruu’s back. The ribbon on the arm and the bracelet are shaved thin by removing the back of the card.
Next, I cut the final basic layer, which contains Zedruu’s staff and the foreground wall:
The foreground wall is cut away along the bottom edge so it can be bent back, similar to how the grass will be bent back.
Next up is Zedruu’s right arm. Just like on the left arm, the bracelet and ribbon pieces are shaved thin.
I attach the arms and head to Zedruu’s body, with the staff also glued on. You can see how the horn and arm both appear to be continuous pieces despite that being impossible:
After taking that picture, I go to add on the bottom of the lamp. Unsatisfied with how it looks, I add another piece for the top section of the lamp. I shave the bottom piece to half-thickness and the top piece as thin as I can get it.
With Zedruu’s body finished, I assemble the background layers:
The person I’m making this for requested that I use a German copy of Zedruu for all of the text boxes. To do that, I need a couple of things. First is a textless, artless copy of Zedruu:
Next, I cut the German copy down to these pieces:
The info boxes are put on top of the border layer from above, with the text box placed below that layer (requiring the card below it to have its text box area removed).
The finished stack is like this:
|Bottom layer:||Zedruu the Greathearted – unaltered|
|Layer 2:||Spacer 1|
|Layer 3:||Zedruu – rock walls|
|Layer 4:||Spacer 2|
|Layer 5:||Spacer 3|
|Layer 6:||Spacer 4|
|Layer 7:||Spacer 5|
|Layer 8:||Spacer 6|
|Layer 9:||Zedruu – ground, bent back|
|Layer 11:||Zedruu’s body|
|Layer 12:||Zedruu – staff and wall, German text|
|Layer 13:||Zedruu with art and text removed|
|Layer 14:||Border and info boxes raised|
AlteredCity at gmail dot com
@AlteredCity on Twitter