Right now in standard, the metagame is still trying to figure itself out. While Bant Control, Jund Zombies and Rakdos Aggro seem to be the main contenders, with White Green Junk or Tokens coming in not far behind. There’s plenty of midrange in the mix, and the Geist of Saint Traft still casts a long shadow. It’s a tough scene, I’ll be the first to admit. My original plan was to use Champion of Lambolt and human tokens to scoot to early victories…but the lack of hexproof or shroud-granting enchantments meant that the Champion simply ended up being a bullet magnet for everything from Selesnya Charm to Pillar of Flame.With the lack of protection for the main card in my deck, I had to go back to the drawing board.
The crux of the problem seemed to be ease of access to effective removal…and lots of it. I banged around a bit, trying to do it better and reinvent the wheel before I had a startling revelation. I wouldn’t be able to do that- current deck builds are optimized already, with tiny tweaks to suit the owner’s personality. What I had to do was make those decks work for me, or at least reduce the harm they could do. I also needed to do it on the cheap, because I didn’t have a ton of money left after all the drinking and swearing involved in butting my head up against conventional wisdom. I looked at what I had lying around, which was largely good uncommons from buying boxes, a Tamiyo, and a few steam vents. I ended up doing quite a bit of trading, but ended up happy after seeing a certain junk rare. Izzet it is!
Chris Matyskiel’s ‘Izzet Suckerpunch’ Decklist
The deck is basically built on a foundation of fast, expendable creatures. Yes, I will be outpaced by devoted beatdown decks in creature volume- but I also have lots of removal, including seven potential board-brooms. Pillars will deal with most major early threats, and Cyclonic Rifts can be good improvised removal, LolTroll’s worst nightmare, or a good-sized board-broom. A common question is ‘why do you run the Electromancers‘? They reduce mana costs on everything from the Mortars to the Rewinds,and they’re something for the other guy to wonder about. Robust enough to require more than a one-damage poke, they can even be used to harass or block. They even sync well with Syncopate and Dissipate, hurting graveyard manipulation and Snapcasters. Likewise, the Keyrunes are there as Terminus-proof creatures that give me a little bit of draw.
The entire deck is more of a multitool than a scalpel- it’ll perform well against almost every deck. The star of the show is kind of surprising, however- Redirect. Once one ends up in my hand, there’s always two blue mana left open for it. Detention Sphere, you say? Strange how it ended up on your Jace, isn’t it? Rancor on your Loxodon Smiter? I think not- doesn’t my Ash Zealot look so much better with it? Bonfire of the Damned? You’d better believe you just wiped your own board. Redirect is incredibly versatile, and can even be used as an improvised counterspell. For instance, an attempt to counter a Cyclonic Rift a few weeks ago resulted in me changing the target of the counter to the Redirect, letting my Rift go through. It’s a tricky, vicious card that usually punches above its weight for the simple fact that no one sees it coming, and almost every deck seeing play has removal or auras in it. The best part is that it’s currently valued at one whole dollar in most places.
Finally, the last big comment I get is ‘Why is the deck so counter-heavy in a format with Cavern of Souls and other cards that shut it down?‘ Well, the obvious reply to that is that there’s only so much coverage to go around. It can be used to counter spells and planeswalkers, especially the counterspells that may be coming from his side of the table. Taking away spells to use with the Snapcaster is important, just like dealing with undying creatures. I’m still working on the sideboard for this deck, but it seems to be working out pretty well so far.