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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Jun 06 2013 1:10am
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Hello!

Welcome to another edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  This is another article I've been planning to get our for a while.  In this article I will be looking at a deck that I am calling Snapcaster Ascension though it doesn't really have an official name.  The deck is sort of like a Counterburn deck using Pyromancer Ascension to double up on draw spells and burn.  So without further ado here's the list:

Snapcaster Ascension
pokerwizard (4-0) Modern Daily #4965332 on 02/04/2013
Creatures
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 cards

Other Spells
3 Burst Lightning
4 Electrolyze
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Magma Jet
4 Pyromancer Ascension
3 Remand
4 Serum Visions
4 Sleight of Hand
34 cards
 
Lands
6 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Mountain
2 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
22 cards

Pyromancer Ascension

You'll probably also notice the Splinter Twin transformative sideboard, which is pretty tasty too.  I've actually never played a deck with a transformative sideboard before so this will be an interesting experience for me.

DECK TECH

Creatures

Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage
Tiago Chan's Invitational card is an extremely powerful card, particularly in a deck so focused around spells.  It can also help you to activate your Pyromancer Ascension if you choose to flashback a spell you already have two copies of in the graveyard.

Enchantments

Pyromancer Ascension
Pyromancer Ascension
Although not absolutely crucial to victory in many ways Pyromancer Ascension is the centerpiece of the deck.  Once you have an active Ascension you will be drawing a lot of cards and dealing a lot of damage through burn spells.  This is your main game plan but if it doesn't work you can always try throwing as many burn spells at your opponent's face as possible.

Burn

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Putting the best burn spell ever in a burn deck seems like a no-brainer.

Burst Lightning
Burst Lightning
Burst Lightning is a solid burn spell that can go big in the late game.  I believe I'm correct in saying that if you pay the kicker on Burst Lightning then any copies you make with Pyromancer Ascension will also deal 4 damage as if the kicker had been paid.

Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Another burn spell but this one actually helps you find the cards you want.  Scrying is always good, particularly in a combo style deck like this where you are looking for specific cards.

Electrolyze
Electrolyze
Electrolyze bridges the gap between burn and draw.  It's a fantastic card to deal with small creatures your opponent's play, e.g. Dark Confidant, Delver of Secrets, while also being able to burn your opponent and it draws you a card.  Electrolyze gets pretty insane with an active Pyromancer Ascension as you deal out 4 damage and draw 2 cards for just three mana.

Draw

Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe
A psuedo-free draw spell that also gives you a Peek at your opponent's hand, which is always very valuable information.  Seeing your opponent's hand is particularly useful when you go for the Splinter Twin combo post-sideboard as you can check whether the cost is clear.  Works well with the Ascension as you draw two cards without tapping any mana.

Sleight of HandSerum Visions
Sleight of Hand/Serum Visions
The two best one mana draw spells in the format.  As we are a pseudo-combo deck it's very useful to be able to sculpt our hand and also keep stocked up on burn spells.  Sleight and Serum Visions also go a long way to helping set up Pyromancer Ascension as you can often chain your draw spells to get counters onto your Ascension.

Counter

Remand
Remand
It's probably unfair to refer to this as a counterburn deck as Remand is the only actual counterspell and even that is really a tempo spell rather than a hard counter.  That said Remand can buy you a lot of time and also draws you deeper into finding the cards you need.  It can also help you protect your Ascension once you've got it online.

Lands

Misty RainforestScalding Tarn
Fetchlands
The usual fetchlands are here to help fix our mana and thin the deck a little.

Steam VentsSulfur Falls
Steam Vents/Sulfur Falls
Duals are always useful and these are probably the best available in the format.

Sideboard
I think this might be the first time I've covered a transformational sideboard on Becoming A Modern Man, a first time for everything. Here we are able to change up post-sideboard to a Splinter Twin strategy.  There are advantages and disadvantages of having a transformational sideboard.  The advantages are that it makes you difficult to sideboard against and can catch your opponent off-guard as they are playing around a different strategy.  The disadvantages are that it gives you less room for sideboard cards actually dedicated to particular strategies, e.g. we don't have much to deal with a deck like Living End, and also the element of surprise can be lost quite quickly, especially once you've dropped an iconic card like Deceiver Exarch.

Deceiver ExarchPestermiteSplinter TwinVolcanic FalloutShatterstorm

  • Deceiver Exarch, Pestermite and Splinter Twin are the pieces to your sideboard combo.  I will assume everyone is familiar with the combo by now.
  • Volcanic Fallout is a useful card against quick creature based deck which can be a real problem due to our lack of creatures and the time we need to set up either of our combos.
  • Shatterstorm is our artifact hate card.  Artifacts can be a big problem in Modern so this is very useful.  I'm not quite sure why the deck builder chose Shatterstorm in particular as there are a lot of available options but I guess this deals with everything in one fell swoop.

GAMEPLAY
Here are the gameplay videos.  I apologize again if the audio is a bit choppy in places.


Our first matchup is against a UWR Control deck.  This game went pretty well.  UWR Control gives you a lot of time which is precisely what this deck wants.  You definitely have to watch out for countermagic and Cryptic Command which can bounce your Ascension but provided you can play around those cards you can end up in a good position.


Our second matchup is against a GW Auras deck.  This matchup is tough.  Our deck is relatively slow and we can't target their creatures with our burn spells.  Your best option is to board into Splinter Twin and hope to get a quick combo win.  Not a good matchup!


Our third matchup is against Mono-Blue Tron.  This was a really interesting matchup.  An unexpected (Chalic of the Void) from my opponent in Game 1 threw off our game plan somewhat.  In Game 2, we sided into Splinter Twin and got our combo off but had to tactically wait for a time to destroy our opponent's Platinum Angel to take the win.  I stuck with Splinter Twin in Game 3 but unfortunately it didn't come together.

Conclusion
This is a very interesting deck and certainly worth a try.  It took me a bit of time to get used to, which was one of the reasons it took some time to put this article together, but once I did it was good fun.  I've seen a few other similar decks that try and use Pyromancer Ascension to do crazy things, including a deck that combined it with Time Warp to take multiple extra turns.  There are certainly a lot of fun possibilities with this card.  The real problem with the deck is that it's just a bit too heavily reliant on Pyromancer Ascension which isn't particularly hard to disrupt and you can't always rely on drawing.  Also, even when you do draw Ascension the deck is quite slow and so even with a perfect hand some decks will just beat you before you can get going.

The Splinter Twin sideboard is a lot of fun and keeps your opponents on their heels.  I like the idea of transformational sideboards but I can't help but feel that if your primary strategy is strong enough your sideboard is better served giving you more targeted options.

I'd recommend taking this deck for a spin but I don't think it's the kind of deck that I would want to take into a tournament.