From Right Field: Electrolyze This

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For his Independence Day article, Chris cooks up a Red, White, and Blue special! If you’re looking for a patriotic deck to cut a swathe through your local tournament scene, then this is the deck for you. Even so… Izzet Chronarch? In Standard? Surely some mistake! Ah well, if the deck don’t thrill ya, the cheesecake will…

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget or players who don’t want to play netdecks. The decks are designed to let the budget-conscious player be competitive in local, Saturday tournaments. They are not decks that will qualify a player for The Pro Tour. As such, the decks written about in this column are, almost by necessity, rogue decks. They contain, at most, eight to twelve rares. When they do contain rares, those cards will either be cheap rares or staples of which new players should be trying to collect a set of four, such as Wrath of God, Yavimaya Coast, or Birds of Paradise. The decks are also tested by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. He will never claim that a deck has an 85% winning percentage against the entire field. He will also let you know when the decks are just plain lousy. Readers should never consider these decks “set in stone” or “done.” If you think you can change some cards to make them better, well, you probably can, and the author encourages you to do so.}

I was reluctant to write about this deck. It’s janky. Janky like the plot of that environmental disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow or that political comedy where Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes the governor of a state whose economy is so huge that it would have the tenth largest GNP if it were its own country. Oh, how that one cracks me up. Not to spoil the surprise or anything, but Jiminy Christmas, this deck contains Izzet Chronarch on purpose.

StarCityGames.com Magic Essay Test

Question #1) Define janky:

Answer #1) your deck contains Izzet Chronarch on purpose.

There’s also something else wacky about this deck. It’s Blue (and Red), but there’s no maindeck countermagic. What the hell is up wit dat, huh? There is just no way a deck like this can work. It sucks. Horribly.

Doesn’t it?

Actually, um, no. It’s been really, really good. Wait until you see this. It’s scary. I call it Bizzy Bee. Word. To your mother.

Don’t Play This Deck!

I’m telling this thing is stoopid bad. It’s awful and nerve wracking. Just an example. During one test game, I was getting beaten down pretty badly. I kinda held my ground with my suicide gang and the exquisitely-timed Electrolyze and such, but it was about to blow up on me. I had dropped an early Furnace of Rath, and he’d abused it. I was at two, praying that he didn’t have an Instant or Sorcery that could deal one point of damage, a single point that my Furnace would turn into two. My board was a Gelectrode, land, and the Furnace, all of my other warriors having died noble deaths in an effort to keep me in the game. He was at eight. On my turn, I drew another Furnace. No biggie. Except for the fact that I’d been holding the second one for fear of giving him the win. I dropped both Furnaces.

I tapped the Gelectrode to deal eight damage to him. Man, I love exponential expansion or whatever it’s called.

I don’t want to have to explain this. I truly don’t. Those of you who understand how the Gelectrode, which taps to deal one damage to any target, ended the game when my opponent was at eight, just skip to the next paragraph. I don’t want to be accused of being condescending. (As if!) Those of you who need any help, don’t be ashamed or anything. I wasn’t sure it would even work myself. That’s why I tried it. You see, Furnace of Rath’s ability is a replacement effect. Nothing triggers its ability. It just happens. What happens is that damage is doubled. So, with one Furnace out, one damage becomes two. With two out, one damage becomes two which then becomes four. With three Furnaces going full tilt, one damage becomes two becomes four becomes eight. In other words, tap Gelectrode once, end the game of someone who’s at eight life. Wow.

Seriously, Don’t Even Consider Playing This

That play, of course, is a red herring. That’s never going to happen to you. I threw it in there to show what could happen. Where the Furnaces shine, though, is in making your weenies into beef killers. It’s funny to watch some Angel or Dragon or something just sit there when you have a Wee Dragonauts in play with mana up because they’re afraid of what might happen.

“Why dontcha swing with your Mahamoti Djinn?”

“Because you have three lands untapped and a Wee Dragonauts.”

“So, what’s the worst that could happen?”

“You could cast Electrolyze on me which would pump your Dragonauts to a 3/3 which means it would deal six damage to the Djinn. That’s the worst that could happen.”

“I know. I just wanted to hear you say it.” *tee hee*

“You’re a butfour.”

“What’s a butfour?”

“For pooping.”

Opponents are also reluctant to block your guys, which (sometimes) I don’t really understand. Another great example. An opponent had a Kodama of the North Tree out, while I had a Ninja of the Deep Hours swinging into the Red Zone (he’d already been Ninjutsu-ed out the last turn). He refused to block the Ninja. I could kind of understand. He’d lose the Kodama when it could swing through for twelve damage. You know what? I’m probably not doing that if I don’t have someone in hand to block Kodama. He took four damage. I drew a card. I plopped down a Chronarch (getting back Repeal) and a Guildmage. On his next turn, the Kodama just sat there. He could have taken out one of my guys and dealt eight damage to me. Maybe, just maybe, I would have blocked with both to soak up maximum damage. He still would have dealt me four damage. And yet, Kodama of the North Tree sat there like a dog on a leash that was just long enough to let him get to the curb.

Furnace of Rath Math

Izzet Chronarch + Izzet Guildmage > Kodama of the North Tree.

Heh. Or, rather, double heh. Possibly quadruple heh.

I Mean It: Don’t Take This Deck to a Tournament

Normally, this is right about the place where I tell you how hard I worked on honing this deck, the part where I explain that I had four copies of Izzet Signet but took out the fourth because some bikini model told me to or some such other baloney. The truth is, however, that this is the alpha-tested version. This is how the thing sprung from my gray matter. I wrote down this list one day while I was at work. I figured I’d play a few games and see what needed to change.

So far, I can’t find a thing.

That scares me because I know that it’s not done. None of my decks are ever truly “done.” This deck, though, it’s been doing so balls-to-the-wall well that I can’t bring myself to change anything.

How Well Has It Been Doing?

So well that you wouldn’t believe me. You simply wouldn’t. Let’s put it this way. Last night, I lost my first game in nearly a week. My opponent was playing the B/W Bats deck that packs Belfry Spirit and Skeletal Vampire. (I called mine Going Batty.) I might have been able to hang with the bats (I’m so witty!) if I had seen any burn at all. As it was, I went the whole game without seeing Electrolyze, Glacial Ray, or Gelectrode.

Speaking of Glacial Ray

Of all of the cool plays I made with this deck, this is, far and away, the coolest. Opponent at sixteen. Furnace in play. I’m staring down another loss. Izzet Guildmage on board. Seven mana available. I’m holding a Glacial Ray when I draw a second one.

How to Get Blocked on Magic: The Gathering Online

You kill your opponent who is at sixteen life with two two-mana commons. First, make sure you have Furnace of Rath on board. Then, cast Glacial Ray targeting your opponent, and Splice the second Glacial Ray onto it. (Make sure that you’re holding CTL down when you click on the first Glacial Ray because you need to keep priority. In real life, you don’t need to hold down any buttons. I guess you can if you want, but you don’t need to. You simply don’t pass priority. Instead you say “in response to my Glacial Ray…”) Activate the Izzet Guildmage’s ability that allows you to copy an Instant with converted mana cost of two or less.

Yes, a Glacial Ray Spliced onto a Glacial Ray is one spell whose converted mana cost is two. The rules look only at the original G-Ray.


And, yah.

Furnace of Rath doubles those two spells. Each one is four damage. Four times two is eight. Double that, it’s sixteen. Sixteen to dead with one spell cast, and not a Draco in sight.

I was rock hard after that. I knocked over a vase when I stood up. It woke up Luanne. I mean the vase breaking, you dirty boy.

An Open Letter to Wizards Research / Development

Dear Geniuses Who Create the Cardboard Crack,

Keep doing what you’re doing. There’s power all up and down those rarities, and I, for one, love it. Guildmages? Yummy. Karoo lands? Delicious? Gold cards? Scrumpdillyicious.

Hugs and Kisses,

Other Plays That Makes You Look Much Cooler Than You Really Are

Seriously, We Play Magic. We’re Not Cool.

Cast Glacial Ray Splicing on another Glacial Ray, and copy it with the Guildmage. Next turn, cast Izzet Chronarch and get back the Glacial Ray in the ‘yard. The turn after, repeat step one. Sixteen damage; one card used.

Really Cool Play for End-of-Summer/Beginning-of-Fall 2007

Didja see where Incinerate will be back in Tenth Edition? Incinerate costs 1R. That’s two mana. For five mana and one card, you get six damage and maybe two dead Watchwolves. Too bad Ravnica won’t be Standard-legal for long while Incinerate’s in the mix. It’s almost like they know what they’re doing.

Possibly the Coolest Play of All with This Deck

Bring back an Izzet Chronarch when sneaking a Ninja of the Deep Hours into play. Talk about card advantage!

If Izzet Guildmage is So Good, Why Don’t You Have More Two-Mana Spells?

This is a No Spin Zone ™! Shut up! Just shut up!

Dude, What is Your Major Malfunction?

My bad. Sorry. It’s just that I knew that that would come up, and I don’t have a good answer. I mean, on the one hand, Repeal is some great card advantage, especially when I can essentially counter an Aura. Like last night, I Repealed my Ninja, and the Fetters that was headed for it just went away. In addition, I drew a card. My opponent lost a card and didn’t gain life.

Of course, what if that slot held Boomerang instead of Repeal? With one Boomerang and five mana (three of which would have to be Blue), I could bounce two permanents, even lands. I wouldn’t draw a card, but I could bounce anything. Maybe I should look into this.

“Yeah, you probably should.”

Shut up!

Playing Badly for the Win

If you’re a good player — when I say that, I don’t mean that you have Pro Tour points or win all of your Friday Night Magic tournaments; I mean that you don’t usually play things before combat — this deck encourages you to think like a bad player or like a n00bie. Often, you want to play stuff before combat.

Now, if the strategy is correct, then it’s not wrong to play spells before combat. Here’s the way I learned it:

Don’t do anything before combat if it doesn’t help you in combat.

When Onslaught Goblins were hot, people had to relearn this. Due to the haste that the Goblin Warchief gave to Goblins, it was A Good Thing ™ to play creatures before combat. Unless you ran into Wing Shards. This was not how most people learned the game if they learned it well. You don’t do anything before combat.


You don’t do anything before combat if it doesn’t help in combat. Having extra Goblins plowing into the Red Zone helps in combat.

Sometimes, this deck really, really wants you to play spells before combat. For example, let’s say that your opponent is at seven. You have a Wee Dragonauts on board, but Celestial Kirin stands between you and victory. You were holding Repeal at the end of your opponent’s turn, and had plenty of mana to cast it. Why didn’t you? Here’s why.

During your main phase, you cast Repeal on the Kirin. Your Dragonauts is now a 3/3. It draws you Electrolyze. You hit your opponent for two damage, dropping him to five. This also makes the Dragonauts a 5/3 with nothing to block it. Had you cast the Repeal at the end of your opponent’s turn, you would have only gotten five damage through on your turn. (Obviously, you have to consider your mana and cards along with what you might draw.)

Is Ninja of the Deep Hours Really Any Good in This?

Might as well ask if Angelina Jolie is still hot after having squeezed out a puppy, or if Heidi Klum is still hot after squeezing out a seal. (That is so wrong. Lord, please, forgive me. Amen.) Yes, the NDH is really good in this. Why? Because people don’t block guys like the Izzet Guildmage. (Also, because the Wee Dragonauts flies, but that’s nearly as dramatic.) Case in point. I’m playing a guy with a Tallowisp/Thief of Hope deck. I swing with the Guildmage. Does he block with the Thief? Of course, not. Who trades a Thief of Hope for an Izzet Guildmage? (Answer: you should, but you won’t.) I get a free Ninja and a card. Yeah for me!

Next turn, I set the Guildmage back out and wait while he makes a ‘Wisp and takes some life from me. *yawn* With another card in hand, I swing on my next turn. He’s got it all figured out now. So, he puts the Thief in from of the Ninja and the ‘Wisp in front of the Guildmage. “No soup for you!” he seemed to say. Before damage was on the stack, I cast Glacial Ray and copied it. The copy took out the Thief with nothing in the ‘yard for him to bring back. The original did the final damage to the ‘Wisp. On my next turn, I got another NDH into combat. It was sweet.

Pyroclasm Sucks for You

And your point would be?

Lotsa People Are Playing Maindeck Pyroclasm

Lotsa people are playing Wrath of God, too. You don’t see the world forsaking creatures, do you? Play smart. That’s all I gotta say. Well, that and “I’ll fix it with the sideboard.” I hear Spell Snare is good.

So, You’re Gonna Give Us a Sideboard Now?


4 Spell Snare
11 Other cards

Did You Realize That This Column Will Hit the Site on July 4th?

Just now. Thanks.

A Riddle for Craig and All of the Non-United Statesians Out There

Really, though, this is for everyone. Try it! It’s fun!

Q: Does England have July 4th? Answer below!

A Special Deck for This Special Day

Bizzy Bee is already Red and Blue. All we gotta do is add some White, and you have an All-American, Fourth-of-July, beat-the-crap-out-of-the-other-guy deck. Just like we like ‘em!

The first change will be the mana and Signets. Not gonna bore you with that. Wouldn’t be prudent. Second, let’s find some spells with White in them. Oh, look at this. Lightning Helix could slip right into the Electrolyze slot and would give us a second two-mana spell that the Izzet Guildmage could copy.

I don’t want to lose Electrolyze. Damage. Card drawing. It’s happening again. Instead, I’m dropping the Furnaces. I know. I know. I won’t be able to do any of those great doubling and quadrupling tricks I mentioned above. In exchange, though, I get Lightning Freakin’ Helix. I’ll take that trade.

Besides, I kinda made a sorta promise to one of the budget fans out there. He said that he understood why I always had rares in my deck. However, “some of us have even smaller budgets that that. Sure, a one- or two-dollar rare doesn’t seem like much to some people. To some of us who are fathers of two children, even that is too much. I can’t spend eight dollars on four Shivan Phoenixes. I need to spread my Magic money as far as I can. It’s a strict diet of commons and uncommons only for me.” In honor of all of the great fathers who give selflessly of themselves so that there children can have more than they do, the men who will ruin far too much meat and undercook way too many hamburgers today, I present:

I hated dropping a Chronarch and a Gelectrode, but this version has got to have the Signets and four Helixes.

Why Do You Only Have Two Izzet Boilerworks and Two Boros Garrisons? Why Not Three or Four of Each to Make Sure You Get the Right Mana?

You do realize that you have to bring back a land to your hand when you play those, right? Do you know how frustrating it is to have a three-land opening hand when all three are the so-called “Karoo” lands? Makes you wanna just punch Britney Spears or something. Not while she’s pregnant, though. I figure that means Lindsay Lohan won’t get that chance until Britney’s about 48 years old.

Oh, geez, I almost forgot. Yeah, Stan Smith is working very well in testing. I’ve lost only two games so far. One was to a deck called Mana’s Crew (I had to mulligan to four cards, and, still, I almost won) and another was to a U/R MagnivoreWildfire deck, another one that I almost won. So, I feel pretty good about this Red, White, and Blue deck.

Thanks for being such a great audience. Remember to point those Roman candles away from anything flammable, toward your sister if you need to. Also, practice saying “Oooooo!” and “Ahhhhhh!”

Chris Romeo

Yeah, the answer to the riddle:

A) Yes, England, like almost every country, has a July 4th. It comes between July 3rd and July 5th. If you said “no,” you were probably thinking that what I really asked was “Does England celebrate July 4th as Independence Day like we do in the U.S. of A.?” The answer there is “probably not.” [Nope, it’s no biggie over here. — Craig.]