izzet charm

Thoughts On: Jori En, Ruin Diver

Jori En, Ruin Diver is secretly a very powerful commander. I wrote on her once before, but I wanted now to give her my full attention. Her ability is non-threatening compared to other Izzet Generals; she will never ‘Get out of hand’. She will fly under the radar of your enemies, who would rather remove your Hypersonic Dragon than your Jori En. She will accumulate many cards over time as a result. She has two very relevant creature types that I still don’t care about. What I do care about is playing a commander turn 3 and making some plays turn 4, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.

We actually have access to a couple of 2 for 1 cards that can be cast turn 4 or 5. Talent of the Telepath and Stolen Goods along with Mizzix’s Mastery, Mindclaw Shaman, Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Jace’s Mindseeker, and 3 spells of 7cmc: Knowledge Exploitation, Chancellor of the Spires, and Diluvian Primordial. All of these are sleek triggers, half of which steal things from your enemies in the process. With Jori out a lot of these net you a spell, draw a card and/or deny the enemy a resource. I can’t overstate how good these are.

Second, I have to address the lack of creatures in the deck. Since I’ll be running a few red damage board wipes, I’ll include Darksteel Plate next to the Lightning Greaves. Beyond the small handful of red wipes we’ll include mass bounce in the form of cards like Evacuation, Displacement Wave, Whelming Wave, Devastation Tide, etc. Consider removing a bounce for a burn if your meta is creature heavy. We’ll also run the well-scaling 'x’ spells; Red Sun’s Zenith and Devil’s Play aside the new Fall of the Titans from OGW.

Almost finished now, we include the suite of Ponder, Preordain, Brainstorm, Serum Visions, Gitaxian Probe, and Lightning Bolt as 1cmc utility spells that we can use to trigger Jori cheaply while still being strong on their own. Another trick is our 8 or so mana-rocks; half serve dual purposes (Keyrune, Cluestone) and they all trigger Jori as opposed to being a dud draw later on. Hypersonic Dragon and Quicken are blowout tricks waiting to happen. We also have a slick permission suite of Rewind, Counterlash (2 for 1), Counterspell, Counterflux, and Overwhelming Denial among others. Rewind is especially cool, as is Frantic Search.

Finally, I cannot stress enough that the absolute most important pieces of this deck are the utility cards. Both on-color Commands and both on-color Confluences, Izzet Charm, Brutal Expulsion, and cards like Electrolyze, Turn//Burn, and Winterflame are always opportunistically relevant providing a variety of avenues to cast 2 spells on any given turn. They are the heart of the deck. That in mind, happy Ruin Diving! I look foreward to plundering tables in the future.

Thoughts on Deck Efficiency in Commander

-Efficiency is a catch-all term; simply put in this instance it means “A deck’s ability to consistently perform it’s plan at the desired pace”. This means many things for many decks; but some common themes emerge.

-Curve. Edh is partially about a place to drop high-cmc spells, but you have to safely arrive to a point where they make a positive difference. Thus, some ramp; but ramp is ‘bad’ late-game, so others try to stair-step cmc with some ramp involved. Elfball decks are designed to have 3 mana on turn 2, for example. Control decks often go for board control, then use half their resources proactively, half reactively to close the game. Aggro decks curve early creatures into more creatures/combat tricks. A good three mana creature like Vampire Nighthawk is good turn 3 and okay turn 6 when supplemented by a 3 mana reactive use of resource. This brings us to…

-Card slots: I am a big fan of playing cards more than once. It takes little investment in a deck (sometimes none) to be able to cast twice, return from graveyard to hand/play, etc. Cards like the Zenith/Beacon cycle are obvious examples, and cards with flashback shine. For example, I like to run a couple of burn spells in my Izzet decks; my favorites are Red Sun’s Zenith and Devil’s Play because they are relevant at any point in the game (x spells) and have built in multiple uses. Another way to ‘maximize’ card slot efficiency is the use of modal spells; the commands and the charms. Further on the hypothetical Izzet deck, Izzet Charm and Brutal Expulsion are almost auto-includes. Don’t forget split cards, especially when both halves work for a deck (Turn/Burn being my example). Having a card with more than one use in any way- recursion, options- are macro card-advantage. It’s why Bloodghast and Reassembling Skeleton always see play, even competitively.

-Synergy: How specifically a deck does what it wants to do. We mentioned recursion above; how does a deck need recursion? Instants and Sorceries? Creatures? Artifacts or even Enchantments? In the above Izzet deck, how do those instants and sorceries play amongst themselves? A perfect card for such a deck is Increasing Vengeance. It fits the above criteria of multiple use, and not only is an instant or sorcery, it positively affects other instants and sorceries. Another card like such is Past in Flames, which, like Increasing Vengeance, passes on it’s effect to other cards of it’s type. In effect, synergy- the more a card interacts with each other individual cards- creates efficiency.

-Answering problems. In our Izzet deck, we have an 'instant and sorcery’ synergy. We’ve chosen cards that fill more than one role or can be used more than once. We have curved our early spells in a balanced manner into our Diluvian Primordial, Sphinx of Uthuun and whatnot. Now, out of this general build we have weaknesses become apparent. This list only runs 6-10 creatures; we’re weak to aggro, so we have to answer that threat with mass and targeted bounce/burn- in instant and sorcery form. The colors of Izzet have problems with Enchantment removal and hexproof/indestructible creatures; so we have counterspells to stop them before they happen (serving the dual purpose of forcing our winning plays through). Finally, a minor weakness is present in speed. So we dedicate a few slots to utility ramp artifacts, things like Pyromancer’s Goggles, Izzet Keyrune, and Izzet Cluestone among others. These measures allow the deck to be efficient in the first place, relatively well-protected against major interruptions.

Deckbuilding is either an artistic science or a scientific art.

7

Splinter Twin (URW) | Modern

What’s up folks and I wanted to share a pretty big deck in the competitive Modern metagame.  It features one of the best combos from past standard and can win by turn four. The deck is called Twin combo and unfortunately the deck’s core pieces have been rising a lot in value. It may be out of reach for a lot of players now (it was cheap to build last year when Splinter Twin was $3-$4 dollars), but you can always find ways to proxy the cards you need with your friends around the kitchen table

The main combo is Splinter twin into 1 of the 3 flash creatures in the deck. Deceiver Exarch, Pestermite and Village Bell-Ringer are main creatures to combo with. You can also use Kiki-Jiki into one of the three as well and just swarm in with infinite hasted creatures. Or if you really want to be really cheeky, Restoration Angel into Kiki.

Outside of the main win condition; you can also opt for plan B, which is just switching into offensive mode with Celestial Colonnade and Restoration Angel. Snapcaster Mage can chip your opponent down while burning them out. Post-Sideboard, you can add Baneslayers against the more aggro heavy match-ups.

 There’s 2 other variations to Twin decks. There’s the UR version, which is more tempo based, and the Boros version, which is more defensive, but has more options of utilizing Restoration Angels into various creatures.

With this version (URW), you have defensive options early game with Wall of Omens against Zoo or Aggro heavy decks. It also allows you to use Restoration Angel, which interacts with most of the creatures in the deck, most notable with Kiki. Path to Exile might seem like a basic removal spell, but there have been games where I’ll actually Path my own Wall of Omens to quickly ramp up. And the biggest reasons for the white splash are the sideboard cards. White has the best sideboard card options in Modern, so always be mindful of your FNM metagame and choose them wisely. 

Matchup Tips

Aggro (Jund/Affinity/Zoo/Tokens/etc) – Post board, you’re likely to side in Anger of the Gods, Spellskite, Engineered Explosives, Wear/Tear and Baneslayer Angel. These decks will often try and disrupt your combo in games 2-3 with Torpor Orb or more removal. It’s important to stay calm when they do resolve these spells and focus on what you can do at that moment. Sometimes, you just end up winning with some well timed Bolts to the face with Snapcaster Mage  and Restoration Angels.

Chandra will also provide additional protection against Dark Confidant, opposing Snapcasters, Cliques, Thalia, and various things in the format. She’s even more powerful when you’re ahead on board and you can pseudo Scry for 1 each turn if needed.

Control (UW/UWR/Tron/Faeries) – Most UW/UWR/Faeries variations are tough. These are rather difficult matches for Twin, since Twin is partially a combo/control deck, but not fully optimized as a control deck. It’s not impossible, but disruption based lists makes it very difficult to actually combo off. It’s more important to focus on your Plan B than fall behind trying to combo. In these matchups, I would recommend using Counterflux, Vendilion Clique, Engineered Explosives, Wear/Tear, Spellskite and Baneslayer Angel. Sowing Salt is great against opposing Celestial Colonnades and Mutavalts.

Against Tron lists, the deck fares better since you can survive long enough to combo off or remove their lands with Sowing Salt. Pithing Needle on their Karn also buys you a lot of time.

Combo (Twin, Pod, Living End, Storm) – Twin mirrors usually comes down to resolving your spells and clearing away an opposing Spellskite. You’re looking at boarding in: Cliques, Counterflux, Pithing Needle, Spellskite, Wear/Tear/Engineered Explosives.

Against pod, you’re going to be focusing on a lot of fronts since you’ll definitely be seeing Linvala, Thoughtseizes and a tool-kit removal suite. Rest in Peace if you know they’re relying on the Melira combo and you just generally want to clear their board. Chandra will become helpful against Viscera Seers, Birds, Noble Hierarchs and additional firepower to remove their Spellskites with your burn spells. Again, focus on what you can do in that specific situation.

Living End or decks that rely too much on the graveyard for shenanigans to be slow. Focus on your combo first since you’re faster than they are and shift to plan B if you’re drawing blanks. Rest in Peace post board will change the game for them, but make sure you can protect it.

Storm can be faster with a god-like hand on turn 3 for the win, but it’s also just as fragile as your deck. Counterflux will deal with their entire combo post board, but make sure you have ways to deal with their Empty the Warrants as well. Side in Cliques as well, along with Rest in Peace. Engineered Explosives and Wear/Tear will deal with their Pyromancer’ Accession. 

List

*You can drop the Chandra and go with an additional copy of Kiki. That’s up to your Metagame.

4 Celestial Colonnade

2 Scalding Tarn

1 Cascade Bluffs

2 Steam Vents

2 Arid Mesa

2 Hallowed Fountain

2 Island

2 Mountain

1 Sulfur Falls

3 Misty Rainforest

1 Sacred Foundry

3 Deceiver Exarch

4 Wall of Omens

2 Restoration Angel

1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

1 Spellskite

2 Snapcaster Mage

2 Remand

4 Path to Exile

4 Lightning Bolt

2 Izzet Charm

4 Splinter Twin

1 Village Bell-Ringer

1 Pestermite

1 Chandra, Pyromaster

2 Swan Song

2 Lightning Helix

1 Mystic Gate

1 Desolate Lighthouse

SB: 2 Vendilion Clique

SB: 1 Engineered Explosives

SB: 2 Counterflux

SB: 2 Rest in Peace

SB: 2 Anger of the Gods

SB: 1 Pithing Needle

SB: 1 Wear // Tear

SB: 1 Spellskite

SB: 2 Sowing Salt

SB: 1 Baneslayer Angel