Just when I thought the Standard Pauper metagame was getting stale – things changed.
No longer am I running into Dimir Control and Mono-Black every single round. White and Red based creatures decks that rely on aggression have been the hotness lately. This means that my Razortip Whip plan out of the Izzet Razor-Burn deck is too slow and invalidated. Decks running Hopeful Eidolon and Minotaur Skullcleaver are able to race the Whip easily. My plan of blanking the black decks with 12-16 removal spells with no creatures other than Archaeomancer is not necessary when the opponents aren’t playing much removal.
This shift in the metagame actually makes the Dimir Control deck well-positioned. The only problem is that the card advantage Dimir machine can still get outpaced in the early game my Mono-White, Boros, and Selesnya. The problem is that if a creature slides under your counter magic and you continue to draw counterspells, then they have a repeatable damage source clocking you. The solution to such a problem would be to play a blocker to brick the attacker. The best man for the job for that role is Frost-Burn Weird. Four toughness is the magic number, and his power as an early defender and late game win-con is the ultimate reason why I like Izzet so much. I used to side him in, but he was always coming in anyway. People were still playing Devour Flesh, Pharika’s Cure, or Pacifism anyway since they had no other cuts to make after boarding, so my Archaeomancers were always targeted with something. Frostburn Weird also has built in protection from Stab Wound, which the combo piece of our new deck cannot boast. I hope it’s worth the risk!
Nivix Cyclops gives the new deck a new angle of attack. It lets us support Frostburn Weird with #5-8 1/4 blockers that can bash for a ton when the coast is clear. Even with all the card advantage that the Izzet Razorburn deck could generate (Archaeomancer for Divination combo means I’m usually drawing a range of 6-10 more cards than my opponent every game, assuming they don’t play card draw) it was having problems closing out games after clearing the board and keeping it clear. A new shell that utilizes Nvix Cyclops to it’s maximum potential is what I thought would thrive. I made the following list and played in the SPDC 20.02 event without testing a game.
|4 Izzet Guildgate|
|4 Frostburn Weird|
|4 Nivix Cyclops|
|4 Annihilating Fire|
|4 Chandra’s Outrage|
|4 Essence Scatter|
|4 Lightning Strike|
|4 Razortip Whip|
I’ll be the first to admit that I got lucky with the pairings this tournament. I dodged Hexproof creatures, and rarely mulliganed. I almost always had at least 2 lands and never got mana screwed. I mulled a one-lander in the finals in game 2 and my opponent kept a one lander on the play and got punished for the next 3 turns for it. I had some interesting plays and misplays, especially against my Orzhov opponent. I can’t come close to remembering all the details of the match – so I will watch the replays if I can find them and do a video recap in a following post.
The typical game involves me burning early threats, landing a Divination, leaving counter mana open at all times I have a counter, and digging more with Archaeomancer targeting Divination until I have 7 cards in hand, a Frostburn Weird, 2x Nivix Cyclops, and an Archaeomancer in play and my opponent has no board. When the deck wins it usually does so convincingly. That said, I usually get pushed around the early game and really use the life total as a resource, so getting knocked down to less than 10 is common.
The list is very close to my previous iteration of Izzet Razorburn, but there’s one card in particular that deserves an explanation. I would venture a guess that most people would snap ask, “Isn’t Disperse just a worse Voyage’s End?”
Their thought process goes something like: “Does anyone in the right mind play Cancel when Dissolve exists in the same Standard format? Not friggin likely. You have to hold yourself in pretty low esteem to think that additional decisions on what card you can choose to draw would be such a negative that the only way to prevent yourself from train-wrecking the decision is to not give yourself the option to make it.”
While magic is hard (sometimes), I know I’ve made a few incorrect scrys that have cost me the game in Theros Sealed/Draft and Standard; however, I’ve drawn so many virtual cards by skipping past bricks that we all know Scry is the noblest of all gasses.
Cancel vs. Dissolve – that’s not even a fair comparison. Those cards have the exact same text on them except for the Scry.
While we lose the value Scry with Disperse, we gain the ability to hit non-creature permanents. When playing a blue and red standard pauper deck there are permanents that cause a particular amount of trouble – enchantments. Mainly Bestow creatures and Ethereal Armor on hexproof duders. They do not enter the realm of beatable 90+% of the time.
In the first round of MPDC 23.10 I played against the eventual winner, BigBee with GW Auras, in the first round. He resolved a Glavecover Scout in both games and from then on it was just a matter of him drawing the pants for it. Disperse gives me a narrow number of outs in this case. My best case scenario involves being attacked by a bestowed upon Hexproof monster and then I mid combat bounce the Enchantment to shrink the Gladecover Scout while also turning my Nivix Cyclops into a 4/4 – large enough to swallow it whole! We can dream. Hopefully this corner case actually happens one day so I can justify all the Scry triggers I’ve willingly denied myself.
While I was able to win a tournament with this deck, I do not think it is very good. Hexproof is kryptonite for this deck, and anything with greater than 4 toughness is not going to be killed easily. Good thing Nessian Asp is not seeing a lot of action…
Over the next week I hope to test a BUG Defenders/Gatekeepers ‘brew’ that reminds me of the Flicker decks of old. With the decline of Dimir and the rise of aggro/creature based decks I hope to have found a Midrange counter for the current meta.
Next weekend I will be trying my hardest to play some high level Theros Sealed and Draft at GPSac – just a few hours from home. If you’re there be sure say what’s up and chat me up!