How to properly use Zealous Persecution to avoid death by Deceiver Exarchs.

I remember the first Modern tournament I ever judged, I saw an awful lot of Pestermites and Deceiver Exarchs being turned sideways, and that strategy is still alive and strong. However, there are ways to counter it — and some of them require some planning. For example, today’s tip covers Zealous Persecution as a “not die” trick against Splinter Twin decks. If your opponent is killing you with Pestermites, casting the Persecution any old time is good enough. Even if they respond to the spell by making more Mites, all of them will bite the dust once your Persecution resolves, due to having 1 toughness. Easy.

Deceiver Exarchs, those are trickier. Since the Exarchs all have 4 toughness, they’ll live through the Persecution. What THAT means is you can’t jump the gun. If you do, and cast it right when they say “Combat?” they’ll let it resolve and then make a bunch of new Exarchs during the beginning of combat step with 1 power (instead of 0, like the old guys, since Zealous Persecution only affects creatures on the battlefield as it resolves), and kill you with those. So when do you have to do it, you might wonder? You’ve got to wait until they actually attack you! Your first chance to dodge the kill is immediately after Declare Attackers, and your last chance is right after blocks are declared. Persecution won’t kill these Exarchs (since they have more than 1 toughness), but it will take their bite away, letting you live another turn!

Today’s Rules Tip written by Trevor Nuñez

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