Commander Spotlight: Zur’s Weirding

When it comes to organizing and processing a group of, well, anything, you need to have a method. Whether it’s cataloging your collection of Norwegian reindeer stuffed animals or trying to corral a busload of unruly, fidgety preteens to ensure you didn’t leave them on the side of the road (again), finding a systematic way to cut through chaos and disarray is essential. No one wants to waste any more time on clerical and bureaucratic processes than they absolutely need to.

I mean, unless that’s your jam. In which case, all the power to you. But most of us would rather focus on the activity the Thing is based around rather than the Thing itself.

It’s why libraries have the Dewey Decimal System. It’s why scientists have the Periodic Table. And it’s why BoardGameGeek has so many sections.

Just kidding. That site is a logistical nightmare the likes of which most government agencies would consider a step down from their own documentation morass.

Whatever approach you choose to tackle organization is fine, however. Some are easier and more common to understand, but at the end of the day, if there is a system that makes sense for you and your application, go with it. If you have a pile of games, for instance, you could choose to organize them by genre, mechanic, year, title, or even the color of the box. There is no wrong answer to your approach – despite what some may say to the contrary.

By far though, the most common approach to take for organizing any list is alphabetically. It’s simple, straightforward, easy to understand, and easy to convey. Everyone gets how that works. There is no head-scratching to be done or tutorial to be had. From an efficiency standpoint, it’s one of the easiest and best ways to tackle getting through a sizable list.

That said, ask any kid with a last name past the letter ‘Q’ how they feel about the fairness of alphabetical processing and you may get a different story. Alphabetizing book titles or Magic cards is one thing, but when you’re in the latter half of every roll call for the first third of your life, you have some opinions on how fair that all may be. The point being, when you have a lengthy list to get through, it can be hard to retain a vested interest for the entire duration. By the end of that list, you’re likely more glad about the accomplishment of reaching the end than of whatever you’re processing in the first place. Sometimes to a point where we sort of just rush the last bits, as if XYZ were a single letter rather than three. Fine if you’re just sorting your photos of Australian wallabies; less so if it’s someone’s last name.

The same can happen sifting through Magic cards, be it casually browsing online or digging into your own box. Assuming your cards are even sorted alphabetically, let alone sorted at all, you’re likely going to be more focused and attentive at the start of the pile you’re flipping through than at the handful of cards at the very back. Which means that it’s entirely probable that you could miss out on interesting cards the next time you’re putting a deck together.

And so, it is in that spirit that this week’s card skips to the back of the proverbial line and plucks out an example of something that could get easily overlooked simply because of its name.

Today we have: Zur’s Weirding

Name: Zur’s Weirding

Edition: Ice Age / Fifth through Sixth Edition / Eighth through Ninth Edition

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Discard / Board Control

Highlights: Despite having been printed five times, including the original in Ice Age and four core sets, Zur’s Weirding never really saw a ton of attention – even in casual games. For one, this enchantment almost feels more Grixis colored rather than straight up Blue, given its propensity for both a chaotic board state and that anyone can take advantage of its use – essentially making it a non-starter for most competitive circles. Mostly though, its limited use was due to the fact 2 life activations are not a small price when you only have 20 life to work with. Luckily, with the advent of a format with a bit more breathing room, Zur’s Weirding has the potential to see more action. That is, if people are willing.

Some Commander players really seem to lean into the increased unpredictability inherent to a game with 100 card decks, 40 point life totals, and numerous opponents to face. There are far less guarantees in these games, even compared to normal multiplayer casual. In that sense, Zur’s Weirding fits right in with some of the best (often Red) enchantments that shake up the board state. At four mana, Zur’s Weirding states everyone plays with an open hand – which if nothing else makes it an expensive Telepathy. It goes one step further though by providing a draw trigger stating that when anyone draws a card, any other player may pay 2 life to force them to discard it. Combined, these effects completely upends the normal flow of a game. Not only is everyone’s hand televised to everyone else, removing some of the hidden tension in the game, but it also creates an entirely new genre of hand management and table politics in deciding who gets to draw what when. Yet while this is a very powerful card effect, and the life totals in a Commander game enable people to take advantage of it more frequently, life as a resource is not limitless. Players must therefore either be judicious in deciding which cards get discarded or are willing to simply not care about the ramifications of spending life to keep someone at bay. Spiteful actions are certainly possible with this one, but so too is well-timed rebuttals.

The one real downside to Zur’s Weirding (life costs aside), is that in using this trigger, the affected player loses out on their draw for their turn. Which when combined with the open-hand effect can really put some players off. So don’t be surprised if it – or you – becomes a removal target after too long.

Still, this card is a wonderful example that Magic has plenty of game options from A to Z. And in this case Z stands for zany.

Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.

You can discuss this article over on our social media!