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By: gwyned, gwyned
Aug 29 2016 11:00am
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I. Introduction

As I announced last time, my weekly Standard Pauper Deck Tech column is back after a long hiatus. This series, which originally ran during Season 9 of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, will take the winning decklist from the Monday Standard Pauper tournament (known as MPDC) on Magic Online and offer an analysis of the components, a quick run-down of the deck's strategy and Sideboard, and a video-cast of a sample match showcasing the deck. We are currently in our 34th season of this event (which ends with the release of each new set), and today I want to highlight the list that Nate316 used to take home the trophy from MPDC 34.02.

This week's build is an Izzet Spells list, built around the powerful ability to untap Thermo-Alchemist with each spell you cast. Like most Izzet builds, it includes a mix of a few efficient creatures, card advantage, and burn spells to get off to an aggressive start, do lots of damage early, refuel your hand, and then finish off your opponent before he or she can stabilize. But depending on the matchup, it can also easily slide into more of a Control strategy, drawing lots of cards to keep your opponent's threats in line and then pull out a big finish with Rolling Thunder. Let's take a look at the decklist:

II. The Decklist

III. Deck Strategy

As I mentioned above, this deck is really all about Thermo-Alchemist. Drop it on Turn 2, and if left unchecked it can easily deal 10 or more damage over the course of a game. Elusive Spellfist also synergizes nicely with the 29 spells in the deck, especially since it can't be blocked by your opponent the vast majority of the time. But to keep these threats pumping out damage, you need a steady supply of spells, which is why the 12 card draw spells - Pieces of the Puzzle, Take Inventory, and Tormenting Voice are so important. Pieces of the Puzzle might seem like an odd choice, especially since there will be times when it will force you to discard either the Spellfist or the Alchemist. But the ability to dig through your deck to find just the answer you need more than makes up for the times when it hurts you. 

The other major part of this deck is the burn package. Galvanic Bombardment and Fiery Impulse start off only being able to deal with smaller creatures, but as the game progresses really come into their own. It is somewhat unusual that neither of these spells can target your opponent, which means you are truly relying on your creatures to deal most of your damage. Rolling Thunder is primarily in the deck to help shore up this weakness, allowing you to finish off your opponent even if he or she is still at a healthy Life total, but in a pinch there's certainly nothing wrong with using it to remove two or three of your opponent's creatures instead.

Meanwhile, the rest of the spells give you some options against specific threats. Ojutai's Summons, while expensive, forces your opponent to deal with two different relevant creatures for one spell, often requiring them to spend two removal spells to your one card. Clutch of Currents helps against Auras or other abilities that allow your opponent to augment their own creatures to the point where they become too big for your burn spells to take out, as well as providing a few more much-needed creatures in the late game. And, with the popularity of token builds, Boiling Earth has absolutely become playable in the main deck, wreaking havoc on aggressive strategies and even providing yet another creature in a pinch.

For the Sideboard, the deck can bring in a dedicated creature package against removal heavy or very aggressive opponents. Dragon Fodder is quite strong against faster decks, while Eldrazi Skyspawner provides another a relevant threat with evasion as well as the ability to ramp up using the Eldrazi token. You also have access to a full playset of Negate, which as always is the Standard Pauper permission spell of choice, allowing you to counter a large variety of important spells or just protect your valuable Thermo-Alchemist. Finally, you can also bring in an additional copy of Boiling Earth or Clutch of Currents where those are particularly relevant, or just one more removal spell in the form of Fiery Impulse.

IV. The Match

This match is taken from Round 3 of MPDC 34.03, where I was at 1-1 going into the final Swiss round. As it turned out, my opponent littlefield was playing a very similar build, but one that used Lightning Axe and Tormenting Voice to activate the Madness cost on Fiery Temper as well as including a full playset of Twin Bolt. As such, his build was faster than mine, with better removal but much less card draw and late game spells. Here's how it played out:

V. Post Game Thoughts

Overall, I think a faster build with more removal is going to be superior, especially if this deck continues to be popular in the metagame. The inability of Fiery Impulse and Galvanic Bombardment to deal with 3 Toughness creatures right away is a big liability, as was shown in my match. And with Tormenting Voice already in the deck, swapping out the Bombardment for Fiery Temper seems like an easy fix. I would also probably put all of the copies of Boiling Earth into the Sideboard, making room for additional removal spells, especially Claustrophobia to give the deck the ability to deal with any size of creature (despite the fact that it isn't great against Thermo-Alchemist). Drag Under is another solid possibility, helping to deal with large creatures while also continuing to draw you deeper into your deck.

VI. Conclusion

And with that I conclude this Standard Pauper Deck Tech on the Izzet Spell deck. In closing, let me remind you that you can check out all of my previous articles here on PureMTGO by clicking here. I also publish over on my blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and encourage you to keep up with all my projects there. You can get a sneak peek at any of my videos before they go live here at over on Simply search for "gwyned42," select one of my videocasts, and click the Subscribe button. You can keep up with everything I'm doing on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Finally, I am the host of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, which is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EST / 7:00pm GMT in the /join MPDC room.