Commander Corner: Zurgo Bellstriker

Welcome back,

For this week, I decided to get away from the slow ramp decks and control decks for something lean and mean. [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] is about as lean as it gets. A 2/2 for one is pretty solid in other constructed formats, so why not in this one? We can definitely make this work in this wonderful format we call Commander.

Last time we saw Zurgo, he was the man in charge. He was the leader of the Mardu, charging them into battle. He was a master of war, dominating his foes on the battlefield. Things have changed since Sarkhan went back in time. Now, he rings bells and serves Kolaghan. He is Kolaghan’s personal attendant, and essentially a punching bag. When Kolaghan wishes to go to war, its Zurgo’s job to ring the bell and rally the troops together. Before this time shift, Sarkhan and Zurgo were enemies. Sarkhan wanted nothing more than to take vengeance on him, but now that he has saw how low his enemy has fallen, he decided against it. It seems that Zurgo’s fate was worse than what Sarkhan had planned for him.

[c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] lends himself to a super lean aggressive deck. In terms of constructed formats like Standard, he fits square into these hyper aggressive red decks that focus so much on curving out perfectly. This format is no different. The deck’s focus is about curving out and utilizing your mana effectively, while squeezing out every last point of damage you can from each spell you cast. Lets take a look at what troops [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] can rally up for us.

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He may have lost his power, but he sure makes up for it in speed and efficiency

[d title= “Zurgo Bellstriker (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Zurgo Bellstriker

Lands

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Scrying Sheets

1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

28 Snow-Covered Mountain

1 Strip Mine

1 Tectonic Edge

1 Wooded Foothills

[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Anger

1 Ash Zealot

1 Avalanche Riders

1 Chandra’s Phoenix

1 Diaochan, Artful Beauty

1 Dragon Whisperer

1 Eidolon of the Great Revel

1 Fanatic of Mogis

1 Firedrinker Satyr

1 Firefist Striker

1 Flametongue Kavu

1 Foundry Street Denizen

1 Frenzied Goblin

1 Goblin Guide

1 Goblin Heelcutter

1 Goblin Rabblemaster

1 Goblin Wardriver

1 Grim Lavamancer

1 Hellrider

[/d]

[d]

Creatures Cont.

1 Hero of Oxid Ridge

1 Ire Shaman

1 Kargan Dragonlord

1 Legion Loyalist

1 Lightning Berserker

1 Lightning Mauler

1 Magus of the Moon

1 Manic Vandal

1 Mardu Scout

1 Monastery Swiftspear

1 Ogre Battledriver

1 Purphoros, God of the Forge

1 Satyr Firedancer

1 Stormbreath Dragon

1 Thundermaw Hellkite

1 Urabrask the Hidden

1 Vexing Devil

1 War-Name Aspirant

1 Zealous Conscripts

[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Chain of Plasma

1 Falter

1 Fireblast

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Magma Jet

1 Price of Progress

1 Pyrokinesis

1 Searing Blaze

1 Searing Blood

1 Stoke the Flames

Sorceries

1 Arc Lightning

1 Blinding Flare

1 Chain Lightning

1 Goblin War Cry

1 Harness by Force

1 Hordeling Outburst

1 Magmatic Chasm

1 Mizzium Mortars

1 Wheel of Fate

1 Wheel of Fortune

[/d]

[d]

Enchantments

1 Aggravated Assault

1 Goblin War Drums

1 Heat Stroke

1 Sulfuric Vortex

Artifacts

1 Hall of Triumph

[/d]

Price: Paper = $201.42 | MTGO = 154.9 TIX

The MTGO price does not include [c]Goblin War Cry[/c]. I would recommend replacing it with another [c]Falter[/c] effect like [c]Ruthless Invasion[/c], but this slot is up to you.

This deck is pretty much hellbent on beating your opponent’s face into the pavement. This is the most aggressive deck I think I’ve ever seen or built. It’s creature dense, packed with burn and [c]Falter[/c] effects, and some card draw to keep the pain train coming. It does one thing, but it does that one thing extremely well.

The biggest draw to this deck is its curve. I’ve done the best I can to make the curve as good as possible. This deck has been in the works for at least a month now, so I’ve had a lot of time with it. The deck tends to curve out supremely, and usually has some way to use all of its mana in the turn cycle. I skimped a little on the one drops, because our turn one play is usually just [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c]. We do curve up to five drops, or six drops if you include [c]Pyrokinesis[/c] and [c]Fireblast[/c] though you usually won’t be casting it for its mana cost, so that we can maximize the pressure on our opponent during the early game.

Most decks in the format take some time to set up, which is where we do the most of our damage. We curve out to some of the best aggressive five drops printed in recent memory with [c]Stormbreath Dragon[/c], [c]Thundermaw Hellkite[/c], and [c]Urabrask the Hidden[/c]. These hasty threats will be able to close out the game in short order.

If we do end up going into the long game, our smaller creatures will probably get outclassed. So to mitigate this, we have a handfull of [c]Falter[/c] effects. They will allow us to blow out our opponent and shove tons of damage through. I hope your opponent doesn’t plan on blocking often, because that’s not going to happen.

On top of these effects, we also have some mana sinks to help us utilize our mana in the late game. Cards like [c]Aggravated Assault[/c] will give us extra combat steps, which lets us utilize [c]Falter[/c] even more. If one combat step where their creatures can’t block was bad, two seems like a death sentence. [c]Blinding Flare[/c] also acts like a mana sink when we get to pour mana into its strive cost. We can even refill our hand with [c]Wheel of Fortune[/c] and [c]Wheel of Fate[/c] so that we never run out of gas.

Our early game aggression, compounded with our late game mana sinks, lets us consistently keep the pressure on our opponent. This deck will never let up, and will punish any misstep or stumble from our opponent. Most of our creatures may be small, but it’s unwise to underestimate their potential. Who said red was the worst color in EDH? Zurgo would beg to differ.

Overall, this deck is tons of fun if you like turning cards sideways. It borrows its core concepts from the red decks of yore, focusing on curving out instead of shear power. In a format known for durdeling around in the early game, this deck doesn’t mess around. Its quick and unrelenting nature will turn any opponent to a pile of ash. Zurgo is ringing his bell. Will you answer the call to war?

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for a future commander, or topic you wish for me to discuss, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we will take a visit to Ravnica once again to meet the head of the [c]Church of Deals[/c]. I’ll get to testing that deck, as soon as I stop watching Kung Fury. Seriously, go watch that movie. It’s radical.

-Steven Gulsby