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Smashing Through the Snow...


Jesse Dana
Jesse Dana

About Jesse Dana

I live in Massachusetts just outside of Boston. I am obsessed with food and will travel anywhere in the country to find the best meal, often making restaurant reservations before booking the travel plans. I am also a huge sports fan and quite devoted to my hometown teams. I started playing Magic during the Unlimited/Revised era and played regularly until Tempest. I then played off and on until Alara block and now play regularly. Since my return to the game, I have become fascinated about every aspect of it, from the strategy, to the Pro Tour, to even the lore of the game, but most of all the camaraderie and betterment it has brought about for those that have the privilege to play.  Although I am extremely competitive by nature, most of my spell slinging now is done in the form of casual Commander and I have never enjoyed the game more. I try to play as much as possible, or as much as I can without having my wife kick me out of the house. (She is, however, supportive of the hobby).  My goal is to one day work for WotC not only in a creative capacity but to be an ambassador for the game that has brought so much enrichment to my life.  

Smashing Through the Snow...

Happy Holidays everyone and thanks for taking the time out of your cookie binge eating and online shopping to sit and discuss a little Commander.  Most people around the globe look at this time of year as a season of sharing and loving family time, however, to Zurgo, there is no better time to be bashing skulls, and he insists we all join him.  Let’s see what he has in store for us, shall we?

I actually wanted to make this deck for quite some time, however, it took all the stars to align before I felt it was ready to be constructed.  First off, the color combination is one that is really intriguing and prior to Zurgo, there was only Kaalia of the Vast and some other over costed angel from the same precon deck, neither of which I had any interest in building around.  Now don’t get me wrong, Kaalia is a great card, but she is too close minded for my taste and that other card I can’t even mention, cause’ it costs like 9...ugh.  Secondly, it has been at least a year since I took apart my Rafiq of the Many list and I have missed piloting a deck that was geared around winning with Commander damage.  When I saw Zurgo spoiled at Pax East, I knew he and I would be fast friends, the artwork for the promo is so intimidating that I was genuinely frightened.  It was just a matter of getting all the cards I needed out of the other decks I have.  Believe me, it is only coincidence that I am revealing the deck to you now, the day that the final Hobbit Film is released in the states ;)

The Deck

As hinted above, the deck is designed to get Zurgo through and make your opponents pay for the arrogance of even thinking they should be sitting at the same table as you.  There are lots of tools/weapons… at Zurgo’s disposal, you just have to make the right decision, and use them swiftly.  

Keep in mind the list has a handful of cards like Armageddon that are often frowned upon in some groups, it is important to use these cards in a “fair” way.

Smashing through the Snow...

Converted Mana Cost
Basic Land17
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His power is at what I consider to be the magic number in Commander.  Three hits from him and your opponent is dead, regardless of how much life they gain off of Zuran Orb Crucible of Worlds combo… Of course there are Commanders that can win by hitting your opponent twice, but their cmc is going to be way too expensive.  The fact that you can get him out on turn three and he has Haste only makes him that much more menacing.  Although he is indestructible (On your turn only, don’t forget) he is still vulnerable, so the rest of the deck is designed to help not only get him through, but to protect him as well.   

Other Creatures

The handful that have made it into Zurgo’s elite squad are truly all here to aid him in slaughtering all the foes, whether they are getting him equipment or distracting blockers.

The Gods:  Mogis, God of Slaughter and Iroas, God of Victory pair nicely together, as if your opponents want to keep enough blockers around for Zurgo, they are going to bleed out slowly.  Erebos is obviously here for the card draw, but, like the other two, being indestructible is such a plus when they are hanging with Zurgo after a board wipe.  

Godo, Bandit Warlord and Stoneforge Mystic:  You want to get Zurgo equipped fast in order to not just maximize damage, but to gain the benefits from swords... These were the first two creatures I put in the deck and you can see why.

The Titans:  I can’t think of a deck I don’t want Grave Titan in, blockers, creatures to equip, sacrifice outlets… Sun Titan is here to help get back all those weapons your opponents try to destroy.  One of the most satisfying victories I have had with this deck is when on turn five, after already hitting with Zurgo once, I dropped Sunny Days and targeted an Ajani, Caller of the Pride that my opponent had milled.  I think you can guess who got the benefit of the -3 activation?!?     


Gideon Champion of Justice is one of the least used, at least from what I have seen, but he is really a powerhouse.  You can target your opponent, plus him and sweep, or you can make him a creature and still sweep and swing.  While everyone else is playing catch up, you can have the time to -15 and watch everyone else scoop.  Nahiri, the Lithomancer, I am willing to bet that her and Zurgo dated for a while, because their stats would undoubtedly pair them together on e-harmony.  My guess is that they broke up because’ she was doing all the giving and a relationship has to be two ways, but for now, I am fine having them together under the same sleeves!


While Nahiri’s Stoneforged Blade is Zurgo’s favorite, there are a plethora of other toys that he likes to cripple his foes with, some far more fearsome than others.  

Sword of Feast and Famine:  One of the main reasons I have been itching to construct this deck.  I already love this card, but I FINALLY get to pair it with Aggravated Assault.  This is an awesome aggro combo that keeps the bashing rolling all night.

Worldslayer:  I have seen a few Zurgo lists out there that are not playing this and I’m like Whaaaaaattttt?  I’m guessing it’s for one of two reasons: one, they don’t know the card exists, as it's rather obscure, or two, because others in their playgroup would throw their deck boxes at them.

Sunforger:  This is another weapon that Zurgo loves.  If you don’t play trixies with it, it makes Zurgo an 11/2 which is just perfect for a two shot kill, if you do decide to use trixies, you can get the removal spell you need to clear the path to assure at least 7 damage.  

Nahiri, the Lithomancer

Mass/Spot Removal

One of the biggest weakness any Magic player can have is not planning on when to use removal.  Sure, you always have to consider counters, but using any removal spell simply because it’s at your disposal can be very costly later in the game.  There is a ton of removal in this deck, and I tried to keep it versatile, as there are many answers to stopping a single creature such as Zurgo, and I want to make sure that I have ways around my opponents' tricks.


This may be one of the more frowned upon card types, as some look at it as a form of cheating.  I wholeheartedly disagree, where I don’t like decks that have (Grim Tutor, Demonic Tutor/Imperial Seal) all together, I feel that tutors are necessary to sometimes end stale board states.

Unburial Rites, Grim Discovery, Remember the Fallen, Obzedat's Aid:  While these may not be traditional tutors, opponents will be targeting Zurgo and his tools quite a bit, even countering pieces that could end their day.  Having the ability to “resurrect”  game winning combinations is a crucial element to survival and ultimate victory in this deck.

Plea for Guidance:  This is primarily used to get the Gods.  Sure it is a little expensive, but chances are, the turn after you cast it, you’ll be able to cast both or even drop one and then wrath the board and put yourself way ahead.  If you happen to have any other permanents on the board, you may have them fully devoted and ready to battle.  

Pumping/Extra Combat

I can’t reiterate enough that you want to end games fast, as chances are, once a control style deck stabilizes, Zurgo may never get another shot to get damage through.  Each of these cards are great ways to put your opponent on the edge.

Hatred:  My favorite of these, as if your opponent doesn’t know you have it, it's an instant kill surprise, and if they do know it's in your deck, they will most certainly be sweating it.  I have had great success where on turn five I swing with Zurgo and follow up with a turn six swing plus Hatred and eliminating one opponent right away, leaving me the rest of my tools to use on those left at the table.  

Savage Beating:  In this deck there are cards that give Double Strike and cards that allow for additional combat phases,  this one gives you the option and for a measly two extra mana you can have both.  A great way to take out multiple opponents at once.  Don’t forget, this is all your creatures and not just Zurgo, so take full advantage of doubling up on Sun Titan triggers!

Fatal Frenzy:  Opponents are going to do everything they can to chump block Zurgo, having a few spells that give trample are a must.  Yes, this will have Zurgo die, but chances are you are getting at least 10+ damage through when casting this spell.


An often overlooked, but key piece to any successful deck.                

Shizo, Death's Storehouse/Rogue's Passage:  I have thought of adding an Expedition Map just so I have a better chance of getting these two.  Having Zurgo be unblockable makes it so much easier to kill your opponents. ;)

Darksteel Citadel/Flagstones of Trokair:  Casting an Armageddon when you have these two on the board can put you light years ahead, especially if it’s your turn and you haven’t made your land drop yet.  

The Hated

Armageddon/Obliterate/Myojin of Infinite Rage:  Along with Worldslayer these three villains will make many players groan when cast.  The land destruction debate in Commander has been raging for years and I don’t see it ending anytime soon.  My thought will always be this, I have no problem with a mass board sweep as long as at the time it is cast, the controlling mage has reason to believe they can win in the next two turns.  It should never be done in defense to keep oneself alive only to have the game basically restart.  Of the three above, Obliterate and the aforementioned Worldslayer are two crucial pieces to this deck and not only are they on theme, I would never use them, unless I had Zurgo in play, thus having the game most likely in hand.  If people kicked and screamed I’d pull out Armageddon and Myojin, but would tell them that Zurgo will not part with the others.

Final Thoughts

I have been really pleased with the results this deck has posted so far.  More importantly, it has been fun to play and I still get giddy when the White Orc is slammed down.  Believe it or not, I am looking to speed the deck up a little more, so some more ramp may be in order.  There are also a few cards I have not been super impressed with.  The Idea of Leonin Shikari is great, but it is way too easily killed by my opponents as well as me.  Also, Fervent Charge was put into the deck as its one of the first RBW cards printed and I love the art… however, Zurgo being a 7/2 vs. a 9/4 really makes no difference.  If I add more token generators, maybe it’ll stay.

Regardless of whatever deck you choose to play, I wish you and your families all a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season.




Side Note: I was going to save this topic for another article, but I am too excited about it to wait, and if you are going to be apart from your playgroup for the next few weeks cause’ of the Holidays, it’s actually a perfect time for you to try it as well.

The idea is Fantasy Commander Draft and it works like this.

1) You can pick from the entire library of Magic cards (Banned List and Unglued cards...excluded).  You must draft your Commander.

2)  Use your own cards or borrow, but if you don't have the card, Proxies are absolutely encouraged. (However, make them look decent please!)   

3)  You draft online before the event and keep everything in a group spreadsheet.  That way, when you show up to the event, your deck is already made and ready to go.

4) Once a card is picked, it is gone and can't be picked again, this includes non-basic lands...

5) Each person drafts close to 100 cards so you could have some building options or maybe a sideboard of sorts.

6)  Then, finally, you show up to the event and play with the decks you’ve drafted, it’s that simple.

I really like the idea as there are no restrictions based on card prices and availability.  There is also the excitement of waiting to see what cards are picked, does Sol Ring go first, or is it a Commander or Command Tower… What could it be?  My group will be trying this soon and I can’t wait!

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