Friday, November 27, 2015

Izzet Overwhelming?

As I was pushing through my post-Thanksgiving sleepiness and pondering what to write about for my post for today, I decided to go browse the stats over at the Standard Pauper Mirror, a handy app I've mentioned before run by rremedio1 that compiles data from both of the weekly Standard Pauper PREs. As of this writing, it doesn't include the results from earlier this week, but it's still a very useful snapshot of what's going on in the Standard Pauper metagame right now.

As I was analyzing the data, two interesting facts stood out to me:
  1. There is a surprising difference in the metagame between the Sunday and Monday PREs. This is most clearly illustrated in the case of the Rakdos Delve deck, which by the numbers is the most popular choice of decks right now. Yet despite putting up some strong finishes, it is seeing almost no play in MPDC.
  2. More importantly, Izzet in its various iterations is posting some incredible numbers, with a match win rate somewhere between 60-70% when you average it out between the most popular versions. Rakdos may be the most popular deck, but Izzet is by and large the runaway powerhouse of the format right now. Earlier this week I complained a bit on Twitter about the fact that I literally have not played against any other archetype in the past two weeks, both in my matches for the Standard Pauper Double League and during MPDC.
So for all you players out there with experience with Rakdos Delve, tell me this: does it have a good matchup against Izzet Control? If so, maybe that's would explain why it's so popular.


  1. The high win rate of UR Control seems to be just a case of a small sample size, Dr Chris managed to go 5-1 with it once and that's almost 50% of the matches recorded, it's not a bad deck but it's not broken.

    UR prowess/tempo on the other hand IS pretty broken, it is as aggressive as a monored deck, but it does not have any of its weaknesses. You can't just stabilize with bigger creatures (elusive spellfist is unblockable most of the time, prowess creatures with pump spell can easily outsize your creatures for less mana and clutch of currents will stop you from having good blockers in time), you can't defend and wait for them to run out of steam (treasure cruise and some other draw spells refill their hand and awaken makes spells good in the late game) and even if you manage to take control of the game they can still kill you out of nowhere with some crazy combo of pump spells and whirlwind adept + battlerage which can't be removed or chumpblocked, so you can't just wait forever to win.

    If you are playing aggro it is hard to win the damage race against a deck with such strong tempo plays, and if you are playing a more grindycontroly type of deck(like I've been doing), the only way to win is to kill all of their earlier creatures with removal (it is really hard to trade for them with your own) and then finish them off before they can play their late game combos (because they WILL kill you if you give them the time).

    So here is the advice I can think off:
    -Don't be too afraid of them always having all off their combos and answers, if they do you'll probably lose anyway, just assume their hand is good but not perfect.

    -Even if you are playing a grindy deck against an aggressive deck that does not mean you should be fully on the defensive, elusive spellfist is unblockable anyway(and will only deal one damage if it's not) and you may not want to block magering bully for fear of a trick. If you see that you probably won't be blocking with your creatures anyway you may as well attack. After you survive their initial, assault there is usually a period when the deck slows down to prepare for its final push (by drawing cards/playing more creatures), you want to end the game before that period is over so every point of damage counts.

    -Duress is really good against them as the deck relies a lot on synergies with pump spells, also keep in mind that treasure cruise is not necessarily always the pick if you can make them stumble, a slow start is the most common way for UR tempo to lose. In this metagame you can easily maindeck up to 2 duresses and after sideboarding you deffinetly want 4.

    -Responding to pump effects with instant removal is of course good, but don't forget that prowess and pump effects can make damage-based/power-based removal whiff, if they have no creatures their pump is dead anyway so the main focus should be to make sure they die.

    I still need to perfect my game plan against UR prowess, it's by far the deck that has been beating me the most this format, and wow was this a lot longer than I expected.

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  3. Sorry about not updating the site last week. I'm overwhelmed with stuff to do but hopefully I can catch up until the end of the week.

    The main strength of Izzet is being a deck that can kill out of nowhere. Infectious Bloodlust giving their creatures haste means that it is very hard to stabilize and Temur Battle Rage means that even 14+ life is not always safe.

    I think removal+bounce+discard are good against them (the same tech we used against heroic in the last format), but the fact that Izzet always need to be answered asap gives them lot of wins even when their gameplan is not working for most of the match.

    Rakdos is great because it is full of answers while also being able to pressure the opponent and finish the game quickly if needed, having good matchups all over the field, but it is no "Izzet killer" and I think it should remain that way so it doesn't lose its strengths against other decks because of being too focused on beating Izzet.

  4. Unfun fact: in my last 5 tournaments I got one 1st, two 2nds and one top 8 (dropped after round 1 in the other). On the tournament I won, I went 3-0 against Izzet. Then I lost all my games against them. Really need some tech.

  5. It may sound elementary, but why are so many people losing to Izzet Prowess?

    Statistically, we know that their pilots only field about a dozen creatures, most of whom have base P/T =< 2/2. With so much removal in Rakdos, and an unlikely strategy of sacrifice/exploit by Izzet Prowess, what spells beyond Titan's Strength or Temur Battle Rage destroy the field? More importantly, if the popular advice to newer, struggling players is to simply copy winning decks, why doesn't everyone sleeve-up Izzet Prowess and see who gets the better draw for the inevitable win?

    We've seen Izzet Prowess evolve over recent tournaments, so I wonder how much change other decks experience in answer to Izzet Prowess' tweaks.

    I'll offer you the same advice I get about changing my luck in PDCs: Copy the winning deck, if wins are what matters to you.