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Bo1 Standard Esper Zur Deck Guide – Grind Out Opponents With Standard’s Coolest Deck

Do you like winning while also playing a stylish deck? Good thing DoggertQBones has the perfect deck for you! Find out what the deal is with Esper Zur in Bo1 and why the deck is both awesome and powerful enough to succeed in this tough metagame!

Hello everyone!

While we have been focusing a lot on our Best of Three content recently, you better believe I’ve been playing a bunch of Best of One! I love Best of Three as sideboarding is a really important part of Magic to me, but Best of One really has it’s own charm. It lets me get in so many more games compared to a protracted Best of Three match as I can play throughout the day piecemeal which is the absolute best!

So today, I get to highlight a Bo1 deck that has both the power to compete in this heavy midrange format as well as being one of the most stylish decks I’ve seen in a Standard format. Let’s just hop right in with this super cool deck, Esper Zur.

Bo1 Esper Zur
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $457.82
Standard
Midrange
best of 1
10 mythic
34 rare
6 uncommon
10 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
Creatures (12)
1
Serra Paragon
$22.99
Instants (9)
3
Cut Down
$5.37
2
Rona’s Vortex
$0.50
1
Infernal Grasp
$1.29
3
Make Disappear
$0.75
Enchantments (11)
4
Leyline Binding
$39.96
60 Cards
$574.14

Rather than break down the card choices in order like I normally do, I think it’s prudent to talk about the card the deck is named after!

The old ire of Commander is back and repackaged in a new form! When I first saw Zur, I thought it was really cool, but a bit disappointing. The amount of keywords it grants enchantment creatures is staggering, but with the lack of Enchantment creatures in Esper colors, it seemed hard to take advantage of without using the activated ability. I relegated it to a cool build around or Commander card and thought little of it, but imagine my surprise when I start seeing it on ladder!

While it does require your deck to be built in a pretty specific way, Zur can mount an incredible amount of pressure very quickly as all the enchantment creatures you play or create are untargetable, always trade in combat, and gain you some life to work with! This works well even with smaller mana value enchantments like The Meathook Massacre or Wedding Announcement as if you’re trading them in combat, you’re losing very little value as they likely did the bulk of their work already. However, if you get to animate The Cruelty of Gixor Leyline Binding, then you’re really cooking.

Beyond Zur, we have a few more early game bodies to get the deck rolling.

Pretty much the perfect card for this deck, Spirited Companion is cheap, it replaces itself, and is an Enchantment creature for Zur. Generally the 1/1 body isn’t too helpful, but when it has Deathtouch, it’s obviously a different ball game.

While only a one of, Raffine, Scheming Seer brings us up to five 3 drop creatures that get blown out by Cut Down which is good. I kid, but it is unfortunate how good Cut Down is against both Zur and Raffine, however, I found that many players have been starting to shave them as most other decks have been better with building in a way to play around it.

Never the less, Raffine is still as scary as ever threatening to snowball if not answered in a timely manner while also providing some much needed card filtering.

For our mid game threats, we have a split between many strong options.

Seeing The Wandering Emperorhere shouldn’t be a big surprise, the card is just excellent whether used offensively or defensively.

A more interesting inclusion that many decks can’t get access to, Archangel of Wrath is a really strong stabilization and reach tool. On turn four, a 3/4 Flying Lifelink isn’t too bad and quite good against decks pressuring your life total, but if you can play this turn five or six to kill something or just swing the damage race in your favor, then you have quite the powerful card.

Yet another new card for Standard, the one of Serra Paragon has felt like the perfect number as we don’t have an excess of good targets for it, but by the time we draw it, we’re likely to have multiple things to bring back. This adds another layer of resiliency for the deck as most games are going long so it’s not uncommon to top deck this, play it, and immediately get value on it while forcing the opponent to deal with it immediately.

While we touched on these when talking about Zur, a build-around is only as good as the cards that are needed to support it!

Not that we wouldn’t be playing this in an Esper deck anyway, but The Meathook Massacre is obviously a strong option. Being able to wipe the board clean or be played early to start draining the opponent, the card is as multifaceted as it is broken.

Another broken enchantment that we would play with or without Zur, Wedding Announcement is the functional white Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, and while it sees less play than Fable, it’s arguably even better. Three 2/2 bodies rather than two better ones can be better in certain matchups as well as the Glorious Anthem you get to keep after the fact.

A new option and fun of, The Cruelty of Gixshines when games are getting really grindy. Being able to net you multiple cards worth of advantage depending on where you start, Cruelty is awesome as a hedge later in the game as well as a powerful attacker with Zur.

Finally, the reason our mana base looks wacky, we’re playing a full four copies of Leyline Binding. While Binding does ask a lot of your mana base, being able to get a two to three mana instant speed Oblivion Ring that becomes a gargantuan attacker with Zur is the perfect card for this deck. I’ve had games where you’re able to start swinging with a Binding turn five, and technically, you can do it as early as turn four! Good luck racing a 6/6 with Deathtouch, Hexproof, and Lifelink when you just lost your best threat the turn before!

To round out the deck, we have the interaction suite.

As every Black decks cheap removal of choice, Cut Down is still excellent at killing any early creature that could concern you. While also excellent against us, this deck needs time more than anything which Cut Down can happily provide.

A removal spell that has yet to see a lot of play, Rona's Vortex is a really interesting card as it’s either an Unsummon or a four mana Hero's Downfall depending on which mode you use. While neither option is particularly exciting, having the choice is what makes this card powerful.

Just to have an additional hedge against large creatures, I’m playing a single Infernal Grasp just to have an additional way to kill anything, even at the cost of two life.

Finally, in a metagame that’s writhe with midrange, Make Disappear is an excellent option. Since many decks are looking to play expensive spells that will accrue them insane amounts of value, being able to deal with them for two mana is a real treat.

While admittedly this deck isn’t the most efficient midrange option out there, it’s ability to grind is excellent, you have a mana base that has a lot of utility in the late game, and most importantly, this deck is just really fun to play!


TIPS AND TRICKS

Wedding Announcement Art by Caroline Gariba
Wedding Announcement Art by Caroline Gariba
  • If you put a +1/+1 counter on an animated enchantment with The Wandering Emperor it will keep it if you animate that same enchantment!
  • Keep in mind that if you kick Archangel of Wrath, you’ll also gain life as it’s Archangel doing the damage.
  • You can cycle a land early so when you play Serra Paragon, you have something to recur.
  • While niche, if you really need to counter something, you can animate an enchantment with Zur, Eternal Schemer and then sacrifice it to the Casualty on Make Disappear.
  • It won’t happen often for this deck, but you can run out The Meathook Massacre early just to get aggressive with the drain ability.
  • If your midrange opponent is ever holding a card in hand for awhile, I would pretty much always start on the first chapter of The Cruelty of Gix as more often than not, it’s an excess copy of The Meathook Massacre.
  • Be extremely mindful of your land sequencing as you would hate to have the wrong colors on a pivotal turn. In the same vein, be more mindful of what autotapper is tapping than normal.

Thank you for reading!

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DoggertQBones
DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
Twitch and Discord.

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