The Second Showdown, still a novice’s attempt but this time playing something slightly more sophisticated than just small creatures and hitting face. I decided to play a variation on the Izzet guilds drake list. The Izzet guild is Ravnica’s intellectuals known for slinging spell and performing mad experiments. With this in mind, the deck was centred around a few key cards and lots of cheap spells.
The drakes themselves are both excellent creatures on their own. The fact that they get stronger with each spell in the graveyard opens the potential for them to ramp into unstoppable evasive flyers. The Phoenix is a recurring threat also, coming back into play if you cast three instant or sorcery spells in before combat. This leaves your opponent with a tough choice; try and deal with the big beasts, or put up walls to try and stop the Arclights bursting through (or exiling it). I had high hopes for this strategy, play a lot of spells that cycle through the deck, get the threats down and then push through with cheap spells.
These cheap spells had some excellent synergy with the deck and let me sift through seamlessly whilst being able to fill the graveyard and choose what I wanted to discard. The ability to be able to put Arclights into the graveyard then quickly get it back out whilst casting three spells was definitely more effective than I thought it was going to be.
My first match was up against a deck I’d seen before. After previously meeting this opponent in the last showdown I thought I might be better equipped to battle his mighty dragon control deck. The match started out well, spells were getting cast very fast and I had a good cycle going with plenty of time to ramp up. I dealt with a couple of the big threats and had my drakes out. Then it all started to fall apart. I was running out of spells fast and my drakes had been lava coiled out, the threat of the Phoniex was not really enough to get past his army of dragons and I was drawing far too many lands to end the game without spells being countered. After a few minutes of digging through the deck, my opponent had a couple of planeswalkers and that pretty much saw the game play out to a close. He was running a card I didn’t expect, an Izzet spell called Expansion/ Explosion which had both parts playing out dealing a massive eighteen damage to me.
The second game was a bit of a washout and I can’t really say much about it. My opponent managed to get his Planeswalker down extremely fast and use the ultimate ability before I could respond. Sarkhan is a great card for rummaging through your deck and he was able to draw counter after counter, whilst also getting down the second planeswalker Ral, Izzet Viceroy, giving him even more power to cycle through to the cards he needed. After a few turns of me trying to play catch up, there wasn’t anything I could do. There were four 5/5 dragons coming at me and the game resolved. Risk Factor did it’s fair share of work too. It’s a card I never considered putting into the deck but all my opponents today were playing it and as a tempo play, it really puts the pressure on.
The second game I should have maybe considered going down to five cards, I kept a risky hand but maybe my lack of experience with the deck would have had an input into my decision making.
The second match was a different sort of match up. My opponent was playing the Infamous Jeskai Control deck. I had played against it online and knew that if I didn’t hit the ground running then It would be all over.
The first match had a good tempo to it. Phoniex was able to come back several times and his Teferi was taking care of. All I had to do was get one or two Drakes to stick and I could push forward. Unfortunately, I drew too many lands, with most of the spells only being able to cycle through rather than pose any threat. My opponent had stabilised the board and Teferi can remove permanents from the game. His land count was approaching twenty by the time I had my seventh so I conceded as to not draw out the hurt for too long.
I found a bit more success in the second game, a shock was able to take down Teferi after him using the -3 to take care of my already massive 10/4 drake early on. After realising that he probably didn’t have much in the way of removal I was able to cycle through several more drakes and eventually, one more Crackling Drake landed. I waited for something, anything, to take care of it. After my opponent was done rummaging and cycling he was virtually tapped out of mana and with two Arclights in the grave I knew time was of the essence. I was able to cast enough spells to swing in for twenty-three damage.
The changes made sideboarding in my favourite card Niv Mizzet was a good decision. He was able to land cleanly and after my opponent was able to deal with him, it paved the path for the other threats to have a clear board. The other valuable creature that was able to stick was the murmuring mystic, a card that creates illusionary birds that although were 1/1 in stats, created just enough pressure to push through.
The third game was similar to my last match. My hand kept pulling and cycling lands and Teferi had too much presence. I think I really need to mulligan more aggressively. Although I had all the pieces, I should have maybe looked for more card draw or drakes against a control match up.
The third match I was feeling slightly deflated, but I pulled my socks up and was ready to give the deck another try.
The first Match went swimmingly, we were fairly back and forth with me applying pressure from a card that I had debated even putting in. The Goblin Electromancer reduced the cost of all my spells by one mana. In a deck that primarily runs one or two mana cost spells, this is phenomenal but most people will take it out as soon as it lands. My opponent was also playing Izzet but was relying more on counters and experimental frenzy to do his work for him. Once again a massive Crackling Drake was able to hit through for twelve and spells his end.
The second game my opponent was able to get his threats out much earlier. With having a ton of counters and his trump cards of Ral and Adeliz being able to pump his wizards for 1+1 he was able to find the damage he needed to finish me and my army of drakes off. The combination of Experimental Frenzy and the Runaway Steamkin really did some work for his cycling and the tempo it was able to put down was astonishing. Me not thinking that his deck would have played Ral, Izzet Viceroy was probably down to inexperience but I should suspect it from now on in Izzet vs Izzet as it’s generally a strong play on turn five if you have it.
The third game was extremely close, with us both going blow for blow. After trading spells back and forth for several turns, I eventually was able to land a Goblin Electromancer and then throw down two spells. I looked at my lands open, the count was five and I had no spells to play to allow my two Arclight phoenixes to come back. My drake was ready to strike and my opponent was tapped out, his Ral was looking like it could finish the game so I had to act fast. I decided that playing another Crackling Drake would at least allow me to draw one card, that card was exactly what I needed. My third spell went off and now there were huge drakes; one ready to attack, and two phoenixes ready to swoop in for the win. My opponent conceded and we laughed about how fast and furious Izzet can get once the ball starts rolling.
Unfortunately, in the second game, I didn’t pull any cards that could counter his big threats. Whilst a couple of counters would have been handy, I think once again a more aggressive mulligan could have swayed the start to allow me to push through a bit faster.
Finishing on one win and two losses was a nice end to the day. I was still making the same mistakes as last time. Forgetting to draw or missing triggers on certain cards but those can be fixed with practice and focus.
My Showdown Pack contained: