Last time I introduced my favorite Pauper Deck, Izzet Blitz, a deck built around the spell slinging action of the Izzet guild. You can read that first article HERE. Today, I want to talk about the actual function of the deck. The top tier gamer moments, and the super bad beats. The tournament I played in was the Rags to Riches Pauper Win-A-Duel event at the Collector Store in St. Peters MO GREAT STORE, you should check it out sometime. It was a lot of fun, and for a good cause! This tournament was a cherity event for NAMI, which makes it even better! Ever since the pandemic hit I’ve missed larger events like GP’s and SCG events, and while this event wasn’t as big as those others, it definitely scratched the community function itch I’ve had for the last few years.
I walked into the big venue the day of the tournament about 15 minutes before the event began, prepaid with my deck list, and had a judge call before the tournament EVEN BEGAN! If you’re going to one of these events for the first time, it’s good to make sure any ambiguity is checked with the head judge. Things like sleeves and playmats that may have some borderline artwork, or in my case, a card I wanted to use as a fractal token during the tournament. I couldn’t find an actual fractal token, so I bought a copy of Richard Garfield PHD to use instead. This may have been an issue because while unlikely due to the silver boarder, SOME players may have thought I was trying to play the card.
After getting that and my decklist approved I sat down with several groups of friends I haven't seen in ages. Old judge friends, players and customers from stores past, a few business partners that I still work with regularly. It reminded me how important “THE GATHERING” is to Magic: The Gathering, and how much of my love of this game comes from the love of these people. I shuffled up my deck and played some test hands before we got the oh so familiar signal…
“PAIRINGS ARE UP!”
What’s in the format
I’m not going to sugar coat this. With a 2 - 5 record, I lost this tournament. I didn’t realize how much removal had been added to the format with cards like Cast Down getting a downshift. I also didn’t realize how powerful cards from Modern Horizon 2 had shaped the decklists into much more consistent and formidable foes. I’m going to go through some of my games from memory and showcase the cards I think were the MVP’s of the format.
In my first round I went up against a Red / White aggro list. I won the first game, getting over his Seeker of the Way and Lightning Bolts with a powered-up Nivix Cyclops and pulling out the win with some chip damage from Wee Dragonauts, but games two and three he outlasted my early assault by attacking earlier and gaining life by pumping his Seekers and waiting until I wasn’t able to topdeck my way to victory. Experimental Synthesizer was the MVP of this deck giving unrestricted card draw in colors that don’t normally have it. In my only REAL tournament win I went against a similar deck that was Red / White / Blue, instead using Cleansing Wildfire on the indestructible artifact lands from MH2 (IE: Rustvale Bridge). That combo was VERY cool and a good example of why I love this format.
Direct removal was the real killer of my deck, I remember my second round I played against Mono Black control, nearly winning the first game until he used 2 Snuff Out’s and 2 Cast Downs in one turn, filling his graveyard and slamming a Gurmag Angler to just beat me down. Cards like Chittering Rats and Duress were much more annoying than I gave them credit for, and kept my deck down in a way I wasn’t expecting. In another round I played against Madness Burn, and lost due to similar reasons. I will definitely respect hand removal much more in the future.
My final game was against Black / Blue Faerie Ninjas. If that’s not the name of the deck then IT SHOULD BE. This deck was oppressive. I understand why it’s become one of the big bads in the pauper sphere.
You can find the full list HERE
This deck was GREAT! It answered every threat I had with either black spot removal or just straight up Counterspell. The scry 2 with Faerie Seer kept that removal at the top and let the player keep his creatures up when he needed them. Finally, the synergy between the Faerie Seer, Spellstutter Sprite, and Ninja of the Deep Hours was FANTASTIC! I couldn’t do a single thing, and for a control deck against an Aggro deck like mine, that’s exactly what one would want to win.
What did I learn
Izzet Blitz has some flaws. Its threats come out earliest at turn two, and it can win turn three or four pretty consistently, but the power of that glass cannon doesn’t matter if your opponent can just cut the wick. There are tons of general fixes I thought about after this tournament, one idea being to remove the blue all together and just run a SUPER HOT mono red list with Satyr Hoplite and Kiln Fiend as the primary creatures. However, since the tournament we’ve had a new set come out…
With powerful cards such as Monastery Swiftspear and Bloodwater Entity coming into the format, Izzet Blitz suddenly has new life. We’ll go over some changes to the list, and some alternate builds in the next article so stay tuned. .