Zack's tech: Urza’s Command

Today we have a special guest with us. Zack may be mostly known from another corner in the world of old Magic cards; spreading ideas from the first decade of Magic over at his Ancient Mtg blog. The brew master Zack has written around 80 deck techs for the Ancient format in the last four years. Today he looks back even further in the card pool and shares some glorious tech in the 93/94 format. Enjoy! /Mg out

Hey guys and gals,

I thought I'd start today’s article with a quick introduction; my name is Zack and I started playing Magic back in 1995 when I was 8 years old. My buddy taught me how to play(ish) and I immediately adored the game, the art and just the plain awesomeness. I know I know, isn’t that everyone’s story? Well, then Weatherlight and Tempest came around and the 'lore' changed, as did my interest in where the game was going. While I think 'real' Magic concluded with Visions, I absolutely love the Swedish Old School card pool and B/R. I decided to combine this passion with my deck-building hobby and write about a deck I hadn’t really read about or seen in the Old School community. Alrighty, now that we’re done with the boring introduction, let’s dive right into why we’re really here, shall we? I hope you all enjoy today’s tech about a deck I have dubbed Urza’s Command.
Let’s start with the key cards.
Urza’s Command looks to abuse the two cards in its namesake to do awesome things and win the games. Neither card is really considered a staple on their own, however when combined they really can be quite exceptional. Naturally, I am talking about Glasses of Urza and Word of Command. Hey hey hey, come on now, sit down. Yes, you read that correctly and no I am not on drugs. Just think about the two cards together. Really think about them. The applications that are available to these can be incredible and, perhaps shockingly, also quite versatile.

There are two things I tend to associate with Word of Command: 1) Command is amazing, and 2) Command is amongst the hardest cards to play in Magic; but it doesn’t have to be. Or at the very least, you can help minimize this. How? By attaining the advantage via Command and Glasses of Urza. There are actually numerous ways to do so, and I’m sure that there are several I haven’t even considered. Only lands and creatures in their hand? You don’t need to burn your Command on a (second) land that can’t be played; instead, why not drop a creature into The Abyss? The reality is, you can play anything that’s not an Instant to your advantage. Some great examples are Chain Lightning, Control Magic and their second Concordant Crossroads; notice how each example has its own card-type.
The Abyss.
The Abyss is another card that can really help you abuse Word of Command. A main problem with Command is that instants can be played around it. While Glasses does help with those, it also helps you know when and what else is available to you. Remember, 'play' can be a key component as it also includes Lands. With The Abyss doing its thing, playing your opponents' creatures essentially means destroying them. This is not without its drawbacks however, as it also presents you with a challenge; quite simply, this also limits your own creatures, as you want The Abyss to be one-sided destruction. Mishra’s Factory is a staple in Old School, so we obviously want to include a playset. I also went with 4x Su-Chi, and 4x Triskelion. The latter plays nice with our pal Tawnos, giving it some added usage as well. Oh, and don’t worry about their Mishra's, that’s why we have Bolt and Shatter.

The deck has some 4-ofs where you only want 1 in play, and several 1-ofs that you probably only want in certain situations. And no, this isn’t Vintage. It’s actually, [partly] why Greed can be so great in the deck. It, along with Jayemdae Tome, help ensure you always have cards in your hand, and it doesn’t tax your mana when you use it. Not only can both Tome and Geed provide you with some card advantage, but the latter also combines pretty decently with Mirror Universe.
The original Necropotence.
Urza’s Command relies on its mana base due to its numerous high CMC cards, so Armageddon-type decks can be backbreaking. The question then becomes: Dark Rituals or all the Moxen? Upon perusing the deck one might note that only Word of Command and Lightning Bolt don’t use colourless mana to play. As such, going with the extra Moxen route might be wise. In reality, a Mox only ramps you 1 less mana than a Ritual - but you get to keep using it! Because this decks tends to go the long game, adding those extra Moxen seems to be the better decision with Urza’s Command.

Why no Blue? Ancestral and Time Walk are ridiculously good, but are they worth changing the mana base? The short answer is, well, probably. As such, this is almost assuredly not the strongest 75 that the deck can use. It's just a blueprint to get you thinking. So why did I choose not to? Well the thing is, Blood Moon is a serious card, as is general land destruction. Also, I decided not to tread the counterspell path because we want to leave mana open to play Command; trying to leave both UU and/or BB open during your opponent’s turn can be a hard thing to do. Lastly, on a personal note, I mainly enjoy playing with only two colours when I build a deck. I had considered every Bx variation available, but decided that I wanted to try a colour combination that is a bit less commonly played.
Here it is.
Lastly, let’s end today’s article with a peek at the sideboard. I think it’s worth noting that Urza’s Command only plays one Arabian Nights card, a rarity amongst Old School decks, thus making City in a Bottle incredible. Tormod's Crypt is a bit niche, but I put in 2 because they’re good versus graveyard shenanigans. Just remember, the sideboard is based on your meta and as such, is never set in stone. With that written, I want to end this article with these words: tune a deck to how you play and remember to tweak and change whenever you want. Old School is legitimately casual, which makes it a deck-builder’s paradise, so be creative, explore and enjoy. Happy Brewing!


  1. Thanks Magnus, was really cool to have a deck posted on here.

    Btw, to those interested in the deck, there are a couple points I didn't mention in the article. 1) Command can get your opponent to play an Instant suboptimally and/or even to your advantage so keep that in mind, 2) Sorcery X-spells can make Command a 'better' Time Walk ;).

  2. Nice! Anything that gets to jam Glasses of Urza is fine by me. Thanks for sharing your deck!

  3. Sweet deck! Do you or anyone else have some tips of how to time the command? Is there a way to use it in the opponents main phase? Doesn’t the opponent have to leave priority before you can play the command? What I really want to know, is there a way to play a sorcery of the command after the opponents draw phase is over? /Preacher


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