Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Controlling Izzet Control

If you've been following what's being going on in Standard Pauper for the past couple weeks, Izzet Control has become one of the most dominant decks in the format, capturing the 1st place trophy in three of the past four Standard Pauper PREs. Like the Dimir Mill deck of the past, it attacks on a different axis than the other popular decks by drawing a ton of cards and relying exclusively on spells to win the game (albeit via creature tokens).

One way to defeat Izzet Control is to try to rapidly go over the top with aggression, knocking it out before it can get its powerful engine going. The other is to go even deeper along the Control axis, using counter magic and defensive cards to hold out against it.

So when I sat down to design a deck to beat Izzet Control, it was the latter option I chose. Here's what my list looked like yesterday:

I decided to start with a fairly typical Mono-Black shell, then cut it back enough to add a fairly sizable Blue suite of counterspells, card draw, bounce, and the excellent Hexproof Benthic Giants. The plan against Izzet Control is simple: get a few creatures down early, pick off their token spells through a combination of Negate and removal, and try not to fall too far behind in card advantage. Disowned Ancestor is particularly good, as it is cheap enough to attack with early and big enough that it is very difficult to remove.

I ended up going 5-2 in games against Izzet Control, beating it in two matches without dropping a game before losing the third match against it 1-2. My draws in the third match were pretty land light, forcing me to shuffle away too much value in order to find land, and at the end of long games I couldn't overcome my opponent's massive card advantage. Overall though I was fairly happy with how the deck performed, and placed in the Top 4 in Monday's MPDC 27.04.

If you've got some thoughts on how the deck could be improved, I'd love to hear it. Thanks for reading.

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