Conditions Allow – Eternal Dominion in Zaffai EDH

Ben Doolittle • September 28, 2021

Eternal Dominion by Shishizaru

One Epic Spell

Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow, where I take a Magic card with a drawback and build a deck to turn it into a strength. Today I’m excited, because I get to talk about one of my favorite cards in Magic. If you like casting big spells that change the shape of the game, this one’s for you because today I’m building around Eternal Dominion.

Eternal Dominion is one of five spells with the Epic keyword. Once an Epic spell resolves, you can’t cast any other spells for the rest of the game. In return, you’ll get to copy that spell, without its Epic ability, during each of your upkeeps. So after you cast Eternal Dominion you won’t be able to cast other spells, but you will get to steal the best artifact, creature, enchantment, or land one of your opponent’s is playing during your upkeep.

The idea for this deck really crystallized when the Commander 2021 decks were revealed and we got our first look at Zaffai, Thunder Conductor. Eternal Dominion costs 10mana, triggering the full suite of Zaffai’s abilities during each of your upkeeps. Dealing 10 damage each upkeep covers for the other downside of Eternal Dominion, you have no idea what your opponents are playing. But 10 damage a turn still may not be enough. If one Eternal Dominion is epic, why not aim for more?

An Eternity of Eternities

Once an Epic spell resolves, you’ll copy that spell without the Epic keyword during each of your upkeeps. This stops you from getting more and more copies of Eternal Dominion as the game progresses. But if you copy the original Epic spell on the stack, it will still have that keyword and you will then get two copies during each of your upkeeps for the rest of the game. Zaffai, Thunder Conductor will then get to deal 10 damage twice, and create two 4/4 Elemental tokens, in addition to stealing two cards from your opponents.

To help us get there, I’m including as many permanents as possible that copy spells. Fork and Reverberate are great, but Eternal Dominion already costs 10 mana. Pyromancer’s Goggles and Primal Amulet both help ramp up to 10 mana, and copy our best spells on the way. I’ve found Swarm Intelligence to be more awkward, but it helps to consistently have a way to copy spells.

If you really want to step up the number of copies you can make, though, you’ll need Thousand-Year Storm and Twinning Staff. Even though this isn’t a true Storm deck, we will still be running enough rituals and cantrips that Thousand-Year Storm can end the game. The real threat, though, is Twinning Staff. Doubling the impact of all our other spell copiers is huge, but the staff also works with Eternal Dominion on its own. You copy Eternal Dominion during your upkeep, so Twinning Staff will make an additional copy. Unlike every other card mentioned so far, Twinning Staff continues to copy Eternal Dominion after you’ve cast it, which in turn doubles the amount of damage Zaffai, Thunder Conductor deals.

Twinning Staff may be the only card that keeps copying Eternal Dominion, but it isn’t the only card that gets more Zaffai triggers. Harmonic Prodigy and Veyran, Voice of Duality both double your Magecraft triggers. While that doesn’t let you steal more permanents, it does cause Zaffai, Thunder Conductor to deal twice as much damage, and create twice as many 4/4 tokens. If everything goes according to plan, it shouldn’t be difficult to deal thirty damage in your upkeep, and that’s before you even resolve any copies of Eternal Dominion

Securing Your Dominion

For as much damage as this Zaffai EDH deck is capable of dishing out, casting Eternal Dominion is still a big risk. Being unable to cast spells make sit very hard to protect your creatures, or even to stay alive. This is where Eternal Dominion itself comes in. Choosing what to steal will be vital for staying alive and keeping your combo pieces in play.

According to data on EDHREC, nearly a quarter of all decks play Swiftfoot Boots, and just over a quarter include Lightning Greaves. In just about every game you sit down for, one of your opponents is likely to be playing at least one for you to borrow for your commander. Commander’s Plate and Hammer of Nazahn are also popular in equipment focused decks. If you play against tribal strategies a lot, you may instead choose to search for General’s Enforcer or Etchings of the Chosen. If a vital creature does die, you can borrow an Animate Dead to revive it.

The other approach is to end the game before you can be interrupted. Craterhoof Behemoth, End-Raze Forerunners, and Blightsteel Colossus are all popular win conditions. If you are able to copy Eternal Dominion you can even grab an opponent’s combo to win the game. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is a solid option for this. If you know your opponent likes infect, Grafted Exoskeleton makes the 10 damage Zaffai, Thunder Conductor deals immediately lethal.

Getting There

The rest of the deck is dedicated to finding Eternal Dominion reliably, and surviving long enough to cast it. Along with classics like Negate and Ponder, I’ve been having a lot of success with bigger model spells, especially in this take on Zaffai EDH.

One of the big problems with a five-mana Counterspell is that you often end up wasting an entire turn. Choosing to not cast a spell during your turn is a devastating loss of tempo if none of your opponents cast a spell you need to counter. And countering a spell just to use your mana can attract attention you’d rather avoid. But those drawbacks don’t really apply to Mystic Confluence and Sublime Epiphany, since they are worth casting just to draw cards and copy your creatures. The 4/4 Elemental tokens from Zaffai, Thunder Conductor do a lot of work too. They attack and block well, ensuring you survive long enough to put your combo together.

The same logic applies to the draw spells I’ve selected for the deck. Opt and Ponder help smooth out the early turns, but Zaffai EDH really wants you to be casting bigger spells. Blue Sun’s Zenith and Pull from Tomorrow are perfect for this, because their mana value shifts to match how much mana you have available. In the mid game you cast them for five or six mana to draw some cards and make an elemental. Later on, you can poor more mana into X and start dealing damage with Zaffai, Thunder Conductor. That flexibility means you don’t have to balance 10 mana spells in the deck’s curve, since so many cards fit at any point.

For a little extra insurance that you get to cast spells for ten mana, I’m also adding Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. These might be a little contentious, but I think both cards could stand to see a little more play. Blood Moon effects keep other decks from out-grinding you by punishing greedy mana bases. They’re also a great answer for decks relying on Field of the Dead or Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to win. If you find you’re getting more grief than its worth though, these two slots are easily filled by counterspells, or more targeted land destruction.

With that out of the way, here’s the full list.

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This deck is very close to a typical Zaffai, Thunder Conductor deck. She was overshadowed by Veyran, Voice of Duality, but don’t underestimate what this thunder conductor is capable of. Building around Eternal Dominion also helps to streamline to Spellslinger game plan, since you always know the end goal is to cast one specific spell. Once you’re familiar with the deck, your turns can be quick and definitive.

Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to tackle any of the other Epic spells, and anything you thought about my take on this with Zaffai EDH! Until next time, when I’ll be building around a new legend from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt.

 



Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.