Vorthos Vortex: April Fool's Day with Zedruu the Greathearted

Justin Fanzo • April 1, 2023

Zedruu the Greathearted | Illustrated by Mark Zug

Greetings, Commander players! For today's edition of Vorthos Vortex, we're celebrating the spirit of April Fool's Day with a Commander deck that embraces the spirit of chaos, uncertainty, schemes, and tricks. Perhaps no other commander encapsulates that spirit better than Zedruu the Greathearted.

On its surface, Zedruu seems like a counterproductive card, and in many contexts the card is counterproductive. After all, why would we want to give our permanents away to other players?! In most contexts we don't, as giving gifts to other players will usually be to our detriment, despite the benefits that its first ability offers. Even with strategies where we hope for our kind acts to pay long-term dividends, we will usually find that those acts will go unreciprocated (or at least under-reciprocated).

There is a context in which Zedruu's gifting ability is potentially powerful and rather interesting, and that's when we have a plethora of "bombs", or horrible permanents that 98% of decks do not want because of their severe drawbacks. Examples include cards such as Cinder Giant, Goldnight Castigator, and Steel Golem. In most decks, casting these cards would be a death knell for the caster, and our opponents would probably begin to question our sanity. For today's deck, however, these cards will be our asset, as we'll be giving them away to our opponents to throw a wrench in their plans and hopefully win the day.

To celebrate the spirit of April Fool's Day, we'll want to include traps, surprises, and tricks to throw off our opponents. Today's Vorthos deck will be chock-full of chaotic cards that can quickly change the board state, throw a wrench in our opponents' plans, and even end the game for players in an instant.

For today's edition of Vorthos Vortex, I'll be doing things a little differently. Instead of breaking the article into sections by card types, I'll be breaking it up by card theme. Specifically, I'll be highlighting important cards that epitomize the mischief of April Fool's Day in a variety of unique ways. As always, you will find a complete decklist at the bottom of the article if you want to build the deck, but if you want a deeper dive into the key pieces of the deck, make sure to read through to the end.

Mischief Makers

The first category that I would like to discuss is what I call "mischief makers." These are cards that foil our opponents' plans in fun and interesting ways. In particular, many of these cards allow us to exchange permanents with our opponents (or in some cases allow us to give cards away). Cards such as Agent of Treachery, Bazaar Trader, Spawnbroker, and Vedalken Plotter fall in this category.

There are also a number of important removal spells that fall into this category. Cards such as Imprisoned in the Moon and Darksteel Mutation offer effective forms of removal that also synergize well with the flavor of the deck.


The next category that I would like to discuss are "Bombs." These are cards that will just end the game (or make defeat very likely) for your opponents should they end up in possession of them. These are the cards that you generally wouldn't want to run in your deck, unless you are able to give them away like we can in this deck.

Some of the important bombs include Grid Monitor, Goldnight Castigator, Bronze Bombshell (whose name encapsulates this category perfectly), and Nine Lives.

Nine Lives in particular is a lot of fun, as we can remove a player from the game by giving the card to them and then destroy it or return it to hand.

Deal Makers

You'll notice that several cards in this deck provide a benefit to the entire table, and while that can certainly lead to hectic and ramped-up gameplay from the influx of additional resources for players, it also affords us the ability to cut deals and make alliances at the Commander table. Some of the cards, such as Loran of the Third Path and Humble Defector, allow us to choose a single opponent to draw cards along with us, thus granting us the opportunity to cut deals with other players where we scratch their back and they scratch ours by offering them card draw in exchange for a benefit such as not being attacked, changing the target of a removal spell from one of your permanents to another player's permanents, the delay of a board wipe, or something else.

World Shakers

Many of the cards in our deck cause unexpected shenanigans, but there are some cards that will completely upend the game and likely lead to unforeseen consequences. "World Shakers" are cards that affect all players and most, if not all, permanents for each player.

Cards in this category include gems such as Reins of Power, Warp World, Scrambleverse, and Goblin Game. I find Goblin Game in particular to be fascinating, as it is one of a few Commander-legal cards that involves utilizing objects that aren't Magic cards.

Final Thoughts

There are a few important points that are worth discussing before we wrap up today's edition of Vorthos Vortex. The first is that this deck is best thought of as a casual deck, for the wide variety of chance-contingent and highly variable spells make it difficult to rely on any particular card or strategy for success. The deck also gives our opponents a lot of free cards through group hug abilities, and this can be a death knell against more competitive decks, particularly combo decks that are looking for two or three-card combos to close out the game. In a low or mid-power meta, however, this deck will prove to be a fun and mischievous agent of chaos that upends our opponents' strategies in a myriad of unexpected ways.

The other important thing to note is that this deck tends to be rather weak against decks with sacrifice outlets, as players with sacrifice outlets can simply sacrifice their permanents to prevent us from taking them. If you find yourself going up against a deck with a commander that allows players to sacrifice permanents or that you know will have many sacrifice outlets in the deck, you'll want to save your removal pieces for those pieces. You can also steal sacrifice outlets to prevent opponents from using them!

With those caveats in mind, I hope you'll consider constructing this whacky deck that epitomizes The Fool, embracing chaos at every turn. Happy gathering, Commander players! Til next time!

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I'm an avid gamer with a passion for game design and both critical and creative writing. I've been playing Magic: the Gathering for over 15 years, and I've been playing the Commander format since its official adoption by Wizards of the Coast in 2011. My articles focus on vorthos deck building, designing decks for overlooked commanders, and designing commander cubes.