This entry is part 11 of 17 in the series Accumulated Knowledge

By SEAN aka SWORDTOPLOW

Group Hug is like an uncle that wants to give you a backrub. You know he isn’t doing it for your good.  Wizards decided it wanted to include one creepy uncle as part of the Commander precon series, Political PuppetsPolitical Puppets was a big steaming pile of terrible.  If it wasn’t for Fluster Storm and Chaos Warp, these would still be on the shelf.  Players would have been willing to just buy the singles online and build around the new legends.  Today’s article is for those of you who accidentally bought this precon and want to try and salvage it into something that you don’t feel embarrassed to play.

I realize that I am biased in the direction of throwing this heap in the fire and just building a new Commander deck, so I got some help from Uriah over at CMDRdecks.  Uriah has the distinction of playing the first Zedruu deck I have ever seen win a game of Commander.  Today we will be covering $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 upgrades to a Zedruu based Political Puppets deck.  Hopefully we can save you from the embarrassment of playing the stock list or just give you ideas on how to build your own Zedruu deck.

[mtg_deck]
1 Arbiter of Knollridge

1 Armillary Sphere
1 Austere Command
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Azorius Guildmage
1 Boros Garrison
1 Brainstorm
1 Breath of Darigaaz
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Chromeshell Crab
1 Court Hussar
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Dominus of Fealty
1 Dreamstone Hedron
1 Evolving Wilds
1 False Prophet
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Fog Bank
1 Ghostly Prison
1 Goblin Cadets
1 Gomazoa
1 Guard Gomazoa
1 Howling Mine
1 Insurrection
12 Island
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Izzet Chronarch
1 Jotun Grunt
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Lash Out
1 Lightning Greaves
8 Mountain
1 Murmurs from Beyond
1 Nin, the Pain Artist
1 Numot, the Devastator
1 Oblation
1 Perilous Research
8 Plains
1 Plumeveil
1 Pollen Lullaby
1 Prison Term
1 Propaganda
1 Prophetic Prism
1 Punishing Fire
1 Rapacious One
1 Reins of Power
1 Repulse
1 Skyscribing
1 Sol Ring
1 Spurnmage Advocate
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Trade Secrets
1 Vision Skeins
1 Wall of Denial
1 Wall of Omens
1 Whirlpool Whelm
1 Wild Ricochet
1 Windborn Muse
1 Ruhan of the Fomori
1 Vedalken Plotter
1 Command Tower
1 Champion’s Helm
1 Chaos Warp
1 Crescendo of War
1 Death by Dragons
1 Flusterstorm
1 Martyr’s Bond
1 Scattering Stroke
1 Soul Snare
1 Spell Crumple
1 Vow of Duty
1 Vow of Flight
1 Vow of Lightning
[/mtg_deck]

Pinch Those Pennies – $5
This deck starts off bad.  You can argue with me all you like, but you’re better off saving your breath.  The easiest part of upgrading this deck is finding space.   Running 34 lands in a commander deck with no green color identity, only 2 mana rocks, and a bad curve is just unacceptable.  You need to start adding land immediately.  Spell selection doesn’t matter much if you can’t cast anything.  If we are going to make this deck work, we need to do an overhaul right from the start.

  • Enduring IdealEnduring Ideal adds a win condition to Zedruu, which she is sorely missing in the precon.  The main way Enduring Ideal wins in this deck is by grabbing Second Chance and Form of the Dragon.   With Mistveil Plains, you can recycle the Second Chance and take infinite turns burning people to death with Form of the Dragon.  This win condition is difficult to pull off.  You will need to get in more than a few games before you get a grip on how to win.  Unlike other one spell win conditions, Enduring Ideal doesn’t win immediately.  It may be ten minutes after you cast this spell before people realize you have won the game.
  • Celestial Dawn – You need to shut your opponents down so you can survive long enough for your win condition to work.  Give this to a non-white player with Zedruu and you shut them down completely.
  • Delusions of Mediocrity – This card is an excellent donate target.  Zedruu will be able to draw extra cards since your opponent won’t want this to go away.  This is best given to the player you think is most likely to play an enchantment sweeper.  You want to make them think twice about destroying all enchantments.
  • Steel Golem/Grid Monitor – Both of these cards are a direct shot to the groin for anyone playing a heavy creature deck.  Either of these two cards combine with Dovescape to prevent one player from playing any spells.  Give these to an Animar player to watch them cry.
  • Transcendence – Here comes the rope-a-dope.  Take swings until it looks like they have you against the ropes.  Then, uppercut square in the jaw! Dropped at the right time, you get to see a wonderful deer-in-the-headlights expression from one of your opponents.

Out
[mtg_deck]
1 Arbiter of Knollridge
1 Breath of Darigaaz
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Champion’s Helm
1 Court Hussar
1 Crescendo of War
1 Death by Dragons
1 Flusterstorm
1 Fog Bank
1 Goblin Cadets
1 Gomazoa
1 Guard Gomazoa
1 Jotun Grunt
1 Lash Out
1 Murmurs from Beyond
1 Perilous Research
1 Plumeveil
1 Pollen Lullaby
1 Prophetic Prism
1 Rapacious One
1 Ruhan of the Fomori
1 Scattering Stroke
1 Skyscribing
1 Spurnmage Advocate
1 Vision Skeins
1 Vow of Duty
1 Vow of Flight
1 Vow of Lightning
1 Whirlpool Whelm
[/mtg_deck]

v.

In
[mtg_deck]
1 Auramancer
1 Celestial Dawn
1 Credit Voucher
1 Crystal Ball
1 Delusions of Mediocrity
1 Dovescape
1 Enduring Ideal
1 Expedition Map
1 Form of the Dragon
1 Grid Monitor
1 Honden of Infinite Rage
1 Honden of Seeing Winds
1 Island
1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
1 Lightmine Field
1 Mesa Enchantress
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Mountain
1 Paradox Haze
1 Plains
1 Reconnaissance
1 Second Chance
1 Steel Golem
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Stormtide Leviathan
1 Temple Bell
1 Transcendence
1 Wayfarer’s Bauble
1 Wild Research
[/mtg_deck]

Soft Lock for Small Bills – $10
Zedruu is a bit different from the other 2 deck upgrades I have done.  You have an abundance of cheap options.  The lists of cards you can include at different value upgrade levels have a large variance.  For both Heavenly Inferno and Counterpunch there was a building process from one upgrade to the next.  Political Puppets is not a deck that works as well with.

The $10 upgrade turns Zedruu into something mean.  Zedruu gets more fuel to drive players out of the game.  I have never liked the play of giving players do-nothing cards so that you can draw cards and gain life.  That plan has you drawing more cards that do nothing.  It is much better to have cards in your deck that can cripple an opponent when you donate them.

  • Guile – When you combine Guile with Dovescape, you get infinite birds.   Guile is a beater and good blocker by itself.  As you upgrade the deck over time, you will add more counterspells.  The more counterspells in the deck, the better Guile becomes.
  • Pyromancer’s Swath – This gives access to discard that would otherwise be unavailable in these colors.  Pyromancer’s Swath is exceptional at keeping someone in top deck mode.
  • Planar CollapsePlanar Collapse gives you a way to deal with creatures for a very small investment.  Thanks to Mistveil Plains, you can make keep playing this with Enduring Ideal.  When I played against Uriah, this card is what ended up winning him the game.  We couldn’t deal with the constant Wrath of God effect.
  • Thought LashThought Lash is no longer the automatic win it used to be. It still makes a great donate target.  The upkeep cost is very frustrating to pay and stops people from casting Vampiric Tutor, or any of the one mana tutors, at the end of your turn.

Out
[mtg_deck]
1 Arbiter of Knollridge
1 Breath of Darigaaz
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Champion’s Helm
1 Court Hussar
1 Crescendo of War
1 Death by Dragons
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Flusterstorm
1 Fog Bank
1 Goblin Cadets
1 Gomazoa
1 Guard Gomazoa
1 Jotun Grunt
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Lash Out
1 Murmurs from Beyond
1 Perilous Research
1 Plumeveil
1 Pollen Lullaby
1 Prophetic Prism
1 Punishing Fire
1 Rapacious One
1 Ruhan of the Fomori
1 Scattering Stroke
1 Skyscribing
1 Spurnmage Advocate
1 Vision Skeins
1 Vow of Duty
1 Vow of Flight
1 Vow of Lightning
1 Wall of Omens
1 Whirlpool Whelm
[/mtg_deck] 

v.

In
[mtg_deck]
1 Buried Ruin
1 Celestial Dawn
1 Credit Voucher
1 Crystal Ball
1 Curse of Stalked Prey
1 Delusions of Mediocrity
1 Dovescape
1 Enduring Ideal
1 Expedition Map
1 Form of the Dragon
1 Grid Monitor
1 Guile
1 Honden of Seeing Winds
1 Imperial Mask
1 Island Sanctuary
1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mesa Enchantress
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Monk Idealist
1 Paradox Haze
2 Plains
1 Planar Collapse
1 Pyromancer’s Swath
1 Second Chance
1 Steel Golem
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Stormtide Leviathan
1 Thought Lash
1 Transcendence
1 Wayfarer’s Bauble
1 Wild Research
[/mtg_deck]

Push Through $20
The $20 package gives you resilience that the previous packages didn’t have.  By adding in better control and protection we are less prone to losing to some random spot removal and sweepers.  Even with added protections and redundancy, you are going to need to play things politically.  At heart, Zedruu is a political multiplayer deck.

  • Decree of Silence – Decree gives you protection like nothing else.  People literally have to stop what they are doing and start throwing cards away just to get it off the table.  When we add Hanna to the mix, you create a prison that lets you delay people long enough to get your epic spells to win the game.  Guile and the decree will give you some absurd card advantage.
  • Karmic Justice – Nothing seems to protect your permanents like the vindictive nature of karma combined with other players greed over their permanents  I like this even better than Martyr’s Bond. Karmic Justice gives you the choice, not your opponents.
  • Boseiju, Who Shelters All – When your win condition is a spell, your deck becomes a lot better when that spell can’t be countered.

Out
[mtg_deck]
1 Arbiter of Knollridge
1 Breath of Darigaaz
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Champion’s Helm
1 Court Hussar
1 Crescendo of War
1 Death by Dragons
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Flusterstorm
1 Fog Bank
1 Goblin Cadets
1 Gomazoa
1 Guard Gomazoa
1 Jotun Grunt
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Lash Out
1 Murmurs from Beyond
1 Perilous Research
1 Plumeveil
1 Pollen Lullaby
1 Prophetic Prism
1 Punishing Fire
1 Rapacious One
1 Ruhan of the Fomori
1 Scattering Stroke
1 Skyscribing
1 Spurnmage Advocate
1 Vision Skeins
1 Vow of Duty
1 Vow of Flight
1 Vow of Lightning
1 Wall of Omens
1 Whirlpool Whelm
[/mtg_deck]
v.

In
[mtg_deck]
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Celestial Dawn
1 Credit Voucher
1 Crystal Ball
1 Curse of Stalked Prey
1 Decree of Silence
1 Delusions of Mediocrity
1 Dovescape
1 Enduring Ideal
1 Eternal Dominion
1 Expedition Map
1 Form of the Dragon
1 Grid Monitor
1 Guile
1 Hanna, Ship’s Navigator
1 Honden of Infinite Rage
1 Honden of Seeing Winds
1 Island Sanctuary
1 Karmic Justice
1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
1 Luminarch Ascension
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Paradox Haze
1 Planar Collapse
1 Pyromancer’s Swath
1 Second Chance
1 Steel Golem
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Stormtide Leviathan
1 Thought Lash
1 Transcendence
1 Wayfarer’s Bauble
[/mtg_deck]

Lets Get Serious – $50
The $50 package is the deluxe.  When you spend $50, you get to run some real Magic cards.  Since the main win condition is Enduring Ideal, you need to be able to find Enduring Ideal.  You need to stay alive while you tutor and dig for the spell.  $50 gives you the tools you need to accomplish this n a regular basis.

  • Humility – Players are going to have a hard time swinging through Propaganda and Ghostly Prison.  You can make the beat down plan even more difficult if you reduce enemy armies to ant token size.
  • Greater Auramancy + Copy Enchantment – Both of these cards are great.  Cast Copy Enchantment targeting Greater Auramancy to give all your enchantments shroud.  While your opponents struggle with how to deal with this annoyance, you can get busy winning.
  • Wild Research/Mystical Tutor – Earlier packages have a big problem. Those packages can’t find the main win conditions in the deck.  You have to rely on drawing cards with Zedruu to find your spells.

Out
[mtg_deck]
1 Arbiter of Knollridge
1 Breath of Darigaaz
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Champion’s Helm
1 Court Hussar
1 Crescendo of War
1 Death by Dragons
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Flusterstorm
1 Fog Bank
1 Goblin Cadets
1 Gomazoa
1 Guard Gomazoa
1 Jotun Grunt
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Lash Out
1 Murmurs from Beyond
1 Perilous Research
1 Plumeveil
1 Pollen Lullaby
1 Prophetic Prism
1 Punishing Fire
1 Rapacious One
1 Ruhan of the Fomori
1 Scattering Stroke
1 Skyscribing
1 Spurnmage Advocate
1 Vision Skeins
1 Vow of Duty
1 Vow of Flight
1 Vow of Lightning
1 Wall of Omens
1 Whirlpool Whelm
[/mtg_deck]
v.

In
[mtg_deck]
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Celestial Dawn
1 Copy Enchantment
1 Credit Voucher
1 Crystal Ball
1 Delusions of Mediocrity
1 Dovescape
1 Enduring Ideal
1 Expedition Map
1 Form of the Dragon
1 Greater Auramancy
1 Grid Monitor
1 Honden of Infinite Rage
1 Honden of Seeing Winds
1 Humility
1 Illusions of Grandeur
1 Karmic Justice
1 Land Tax
1 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Luminarch Ascension
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Paradox Haze
1 Planar Collapse
1 Pyromancer’s Swath
1 Second Chance
1 Solitary Confinement
1 Steel Golem
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Temple Bell
1 Thought Lash
1 Transcendence
1 Wild Research
[/mtg_deck]

ENDGAME – $100
The deck needed so much improvement that we haven’t had a chance to smooth out the mana base. Fixing a mana base isn’t the most exciting part of deck building, but it is usually the most important.   Planar Chaos wedge decks usually will have to have some mana fixing.   Since we aren’t playing green, there is almost no reason not to run color fixing lands.  There is only a limited amount of basic land search in these colors, so running a greater proportion on nonbasics helps us. Running more dual mana producing lands lets us run one or two more lands that produce colorless mana.

  • Serra’s Sanctum – We run a ridiculous number of enchantments.  This card is an obvious inclusion now that we have the budget for it.
  • Gilded Drake – Gilded Drake is one of the best creatures you can run in a Zedruu deck.  It lets you trade permanents rather than just donating them.
  • Kor Haven/Mystifying Maze – Even our lands can serve to protect us from our enemies!  Mystifying Maze is particularly humorous if someone forgets about it and swings at you with Gilded Drake.
  • Vivid Lands – The vivid cycle works perfectly with the Ravnica bounce lands.  Every so often, you want to be able to reset the counters on your vivids.
  • Cheap Duals – There are a large number of lands that tap for two colors that are less than 50 cents apiece.  I recommend getting these for your commander decks.  They will have drawbacks, but they have the advantage of not costing an arm and a leg.  Losing 1 life for mana is not nearly as bad in Commander as it is in a 20 life format.

Out
[mtg_deck]
1 Arbiter of Knollridge
1 Breath of Darigaaz
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Champion’s Helm
1 Court Hussar
1 Crescendo of War
1 Death by Dragons
1 Dreamstone Hedron
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Flusterstorm
1 Fog Bank
1 Goblin Cadets
1 Gomazoa
1 Guard Gomazoa
1 Jotun Grunt
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Lash Out
1 Murmurs from Beyond
1 Perilous Research
1 Plumeveil
1 Pollen Lullaby
1 Prophetic Prism
1 Punishing Fire
1 Rapacious One
1 Ruhan of the Fomori
1 Scattering Stroke
1 Skyscribing
1 Spurnmage Advocate
1 Vision Skeins
1 Vow of Duty
1 Vow of Flight
1 Vow of Lightning
1 Wall of Omens
1 Whirlpool Whelm
8 Island
5 Mountain
5 Plains
[/mtg_deck]
v.

In
[mtg_deck]
1 Ancient Amphitheater
1 Battlefield Forge
1 Boreal Shelf
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Caldera Lake
1 Celestial Dawn
1 City of Brass
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Coastal Tower
1 Copy Enchantment
1 Credit Voucher
1 Crystal Ball
1 Delusions of Mediocrity
1 Dovescape
1 Enduring Ideal
1 Expedition Map
1 Form of the Dragon
1 Gilded Drake
1 Greater Auramancy
1 Grid Monitor
1 Honden of Infinite Rage
1 Honden of Seeing Winds
1 Humility
1 Illusions of Grandeur
1 Karmic Justice
1 Kor Haven
1 Land Tax
1 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Luminarch Ascension
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Paradox Haze
1 Planar Collapse
1 Pyromancer’s Swath
1 Scabland
1 Second Chance
1 Sejiri Refuge
1 Serra’s Sanctum
1 Shivan Reef
1 Solitary Confinement
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Steel Golem
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Temple Bell
1 Thought Lash
1 Transcendence
1 Vivid Crag
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Wild Research
[/mtg_deck]

Conclusion
Thank you to Uriah from CMDR decks for helping with this article.  Check out his video at the end of this article.  I encourage you to head over to GatheringMagic to check out his articles as well as the other Commander content.  He produces consistent, quality, commander content on a weekly basis.  He is also a great guy, and you should chase him down at any event he plays at and get a few games in.

If you need any advice with your decks or just want to chat/play on cockatrice, send me an email to swordstoplow@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @swordstoplow. Until next week, may all your games be fun and all your glasses full.

-STP

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