Recently I’ve found myself getting pretty bored of standard, so much so that going to FNM every week had stopped becoming my first choice for something to do! For a while I really struggled to find a deck that I could enjoy playing, and week-on-week I found myself facing what felt like the same types of deck over and over. Restoration Angel is so damn popular it got really boring really fast. And although I have a playset of the godforsaken card myself, I’m definitely not an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” kinda player!
At 1am on friday morning I finally had a chance to sit down and make myself a new standard deck. I had previously thrown together an Izzet deck for the Ravnica game day, attempting to build around Guttersnipe, but with so much lifegain within my metagame I found the deck lacked any finishing power. Moving forwards, I was sure that I wanted to try some form of control deck, and given the lifegain issues, milling my opponent seemed like a good alternative strategy. Looking through my Ravnica cards I found a set of Chronic Flooding. Although obviously not the best card, the idea of using this intrigued me so I thought I’d try them out. I had a Jace, Memory Adept and two Increasing Confusion to back up my plan, and thankfully managed to arrange to borrow a second Jace (which I eventually I decided to just trade for).
Of course, being an Izzet deck how could I not include the guild leader!? Especially since he’s a dragon. And so to round out the deck with a possible back-up strategy, I included my two copies of Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius. Here is the final decklist that I took along to FNM, which has since been entitled “Niv-Mill-it”
2 Niv-Mizzet, DracoGenius
2 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Devil’s Play
3 Pillar of Flame
2 Mizzium Mortars
4 Think Twice
2 Essence Scatter
2 Increasing Confusion
3 Izzet Charm
4 Chronic Flooding
3 Izzet Guildgate
1 Steam Vents
4 Blood Crypt
1 Nephalia Drownyard
1 Desolate Lighthouse
2 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Pithing Needle
2 Witchbane Orb
2 Izzet Staticaster
1 Essence Scatter
Ok, first some quick notes on the deck. I’ve already talked about why I included Chronic Flooding. I found that in my first two matchups the card actually worked quite well for me, effectively neutralising one or two of my opponents’ lands for the beginning of the game. However in the later rounds, against decks that were happy to try and play a longer game, it wasn’t so effective and so I found myself siding them out whenever possible. Simply controlling the game to the point where Increasing Confusion could prove lethal seemed like a much more solid strategy to run with.
I expected some trouble from Planeswalkers, hence the inclusion of Dreadbores. I was a little worried about my “lack” of black mana sources, but this proved to not be a problem on the night. In fact any mana problems I did have seemed to be due to a lack of Blue mana! I’ll have to adjust my manabase slightly more in favour of blue in the future.
In all honesty, although it may look well crafted, the sideboard was just thrown together. I wasn’t really sure what to expect so just went with a nice variety of possible answers. Good job I did! Almost my whole sideboard came in for round 3…
To kick off I faced an opponent who openly admitted to taking his UWR tempo list straight from the internet. Admittedly he did have the edge, but both games were very closely fought. I lost out each time to Restoration Angel appearing at the end of my turn. Countering this left me vulnerable to Geist of St Traft in his following turn. I may need to have a couple more Rewinds in my sideboard in the future to help deal with that damn angel. Still, both matches were excellent to play so I felt pretty happy about how I’d done and confident that my new deck had some potential. 0-2 for me, my opponent went on to win the night.
In Round 2 I played against a Mono-Black Vampire deck. I say Mono-Black, it actually used shocklands to splash Green and Red for things like Abrupt Decay and Rakdos’ Return, all the while retaining the power of Mutilate. Fortunately I knew all the removal would be next to useless against me, so I didn’t have to worry about that so much. Game 1 went smoothly, although it did take a fair amount of time as it took me a while to get into a position where I could mill my opponent.
Game 2 I was on the draw, and greedily kept a hand with no blue source. This came back to hurt me, I didn’t see any blue for a good 4 turns, and by the end of the game (which went pretty long!) I only had 2 blue mana sources in play. Slaughter Games took care of my Jaces, and being unable to make solid offensive plays myself (and back them up with counter magic), I just sat back and dropped lands. With 2 Increasing Confusion in my graveyard I got to a point, healthily (or so I thought) on 16 life, where I could flashback one and then the next in the following turn. I made the play, and oh how it cost me! Not being fully familiar with Liliana of the Dark Realms, I didn’t realise that she could boost creatures as well as kill them! My opponent Rakdos’s Returned for 7, then pumped his Vampire Nighthawk to swing for exactly lethal. Gutted! Nevermind, I’ll know for next time.
Going to Game 3 we only had 10 minutes left on the round (about 8 once we were done shuffling). I figured I could probably hold out for a draw, but likely not be able to mill my opponent in time. I did try to make Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenious stick, but it seems my opponent hadn’t quite sided out all his removal spells and I was tapped out unable to protect him. My opponent Slaughter Games‘d for Jace again (for some reason insisting on taking time to look fully though my library for the second time.. with less than 4 minutes left on the clock -_- lol). As expected we went to time. Flashbacking a Devil’s Play in the final of the 5 extra turns I was able to do some damage, but unfortunately not enough to win the game. And with that, it was a draw. Still, a reasonable performance from my deck. I may have to get used to going to time seeing as we (irritatingly) have shorter-than-normal round times. 1-1-1.
In Round 3 I faced, what I thought, was a brilliantly constructed deck. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but the plan seemed to be play an accelerators, such as Arbor Elf and Farseek early on, get Chromatic Lantern into play, and from there.. do whatever you want! With all 5 colours readily available the deck had a lot of good spells to choose from and throw at me. But this wasn’t my main problem. These could all be countered. To my surprise, the card that kill me, the one I had no answer to, was Stensia Bloodhall! I’ll admit, wrapping up the first game I was a bit worried. My deck seemed to have no way to stop the inevitable killer land.
Then took a look at my sideboard. Its like it had been created purely to beat this deck! I brought in a massive 13 out of 15 cards! Only Tormod’s Crypt got left behind. More counter magic looked good, Izzet Staticasters kill Elves (and block Thragtusks that attack my Jace, giving me another turn to mill with him). Witchbane Orb stopped all of his direct damage, and even some of his removal in the form of Tribute to Hunger! Without that, he was unable to answer my Niv Mizzet in Game 2. For the first time ever I had the Dracogenius survive through my opponent’s turn, from which point onward it almost felt unfair. Niv’s card drawing ability is, quite simply, INSANE! I managed to win through Milling in Game 3 to take the round 2-1.
The final round saw me paired me up against what looked to be a bit of a random 4-colour “good stuff” deck. I was later told that the game plan was in fact to combine Dead-Eye Navigator, Zealous Conscripts and Gilded Lotus to create infinite mana and the steal all his opponent’s stuff. There were also cards like Huntmaster of the Fells and Bonfire of the Damned thrown in there, and no doubt many other great cards that I didn’t see.
In Game 1 we both played draw-go for a while, until I broke form and tried to cast a Jace, Memory Adept to see what my opponent was up to. Of course, it got countered. This was fine. He followed up with Huntmaster, which I was able to kill in my following turn and soon after Unsummoned the token to clear up the board. I held out until I was able to perfectly time (and back up with counter magic) a flashbacked Increasing Confusion to end the game.
In Game 2 my opponent landed an early Augur of Bolas, and all that really happened from there was him swinging for 1 each turn, and me milling for 3 with Nephalia Drownyard. Later, my opponent cast Tamiyo, the Moon Sage to tap down my milling land. I responded with Jace, Memory Adept and promptly ended the damage/Mill race.in my favour. 2-0.
Going into the night I said I’d be happy with 2-2, so I was pleased with my 2-1-1 result. I really should’ve taken round 2 as well but then I would’ve had different matchups in the following rounds.. who knows what would have happened. Rounds 3 and 4 may not have been as fun
On top of finding and constructing a new deck of my own design what I think I’m really going to enjoy playing with, the best thing about the night overall was that ALL my games were really good ones. For the first time in a LONG time it seems as though a lot of the local players were trying out new things. Perhaps everyone is finally bored of the same old standard aggro strategies, and for that I’m very thankful. Or at the very least, I managed to avoid these decks in my matchups
I’ve often said that I don’t mind losing good games but I hate winning bad ones. It may sound strange to some, but standard recently has definitely proved that for myself. Now I have an enjoyable deck to play with hopefully going to FNM will start to become a more appealing prospect once again.
I’m planning to update the list a little for next week, with a little tuning (and the obvious removal of Chronic Flooding) hopefully I’ll continue to enjoy standard and maybe even have some success with the deck Until next time!