Magical Hack: April Fools, or The Long Road To Regionals

Really, I don’t know where to begin with the intro for this one. Sean, it seems, has gone mad… and handed over the bulk of his column to someone else. I won’t spoil the surprise, but if you’re looking for top-notch Standard matchup analysis, this will be the best — and strangest — you’ll see this dec(k)ade…

I’d had high hopes for the City Championships series… but as would seem obvious, my move

online (as recently chronicled) probably hinted at the

fact that getting into the city even as often as once a week to play Magic was more or less an

impossible dream. For most everyone else, however, the stretch into April marks the home stretch of

the City Championships tournaments, and that stretch at the end is where things start to turn

vicious… friendly collaborations for mutual success just mean you have one more person to contend

with for the Top 8 in the standings, and all the work that has been put into the series so far has to

be maintained in order to keep ahead on the leaderboards. I’ve recently been testing Block

Constructed to gain at least some depth of understanding on the format, and have figured out about

everything I can about the format just through personal observation… what I am lacking at the moment

to really advance that further for myself and for the Magical Hack readers is some numbers to

run with.

Block Constructed, however, probably makes up a very small portion of your City Championships

tournaments… and we’ve just had a Standard Grand Prix come through and shake up some of the

ideas behind the Standard metagame. While my interest in Standard is ultimately premature, looking

forward past Future Sight to the Regional Championships, we have a lot of cards to work with

in a Standard format that is already swollen larger than your usual two full blocks plus X Edition.

(And with Tenth Edition being officially “X Edition”, I may have to get used to not calling

“whatever the base set is nowadays” X Edition.) Getting a firm grasp on

what works in the modern Standard will give us something to work with when it comes to Regionals, and

getting a solid understanding of one deck now will hopefully come in handy when it comes time

to make a decision then. As they say, it’s never too early to start working… but then

you have to wonder who “they” are, Mennonites that rise with the sun in Amish Country to

hitch the horses to the plow, or third-world sweatshop overlords.

Speaking of early… it’s never too early to have a little April Fools Day fun, so the rest

of this article will be written by none other than the illustrious “Michael J. Flores”


See you next week! Man, what an easy column this week… I can’t believe they pay

me for this!

Sean McKeown
smckeown @ livejournal.com

I disconnect the act, I disconnect the dots
I disconnect the me in me…
And you’re mistaken, it’s you that’s faking
Living and breathing and dying too…
This message is for anyone who dares to hear a fool…
The Smashing Pumpkins, “An Ode To No One”

Previously on Magical Hack: Kyoto Karate

Dear Reader,

It’s me, Izzy Tron, the new kid at Dominaria Standard High School! I’m from South America

circa 2005, back before it was cool for pop stars from the United States to come adopt our babies, emo

was still trendy instead of being “too MySpace,” and for the cost of 5U or 4U, Kamigawa

legends proved once and for all that Blue is the color of the best fatties ever printed… and no

one thought to do anything about it. I know you didn’t expect to see me again, what with

Magic Online saying Dralnu was the big bully here at ‘Standard, but life at ‘Standard is crazy

strange to me, what with the Green creatures falling all over each other to hang out with Silhana

Ledgewalker at lunch and – get this – Teferi and Mystical Teachings getting crowned King of

Beatdown and Ice Queen – together – at the Homecoming Ball… and everybody loving them like they were

Demonic Consultation and Necropotence or something. Eww. I mean, what is with that? In 1996 it was

Blinking Spirit that hung out with the Counterspells, if they even bothered while they sent Millstone

after you to borrow two cards or something. Where I’m from… Let me just say I can’t even imagine

paying five mana for two cards or whatever. Does that even make any sense? Three for three or four for

five, efficient and big, that’s where I’m from… and don’t even mention Mystical

Teachings, I know what I can get for ten mana and it ain’t just two piddling cards.

Anywho, I’m trying to make the best of it. Last week I showed you just how much I

don’t like those snobs who hang out with Dralnu by showing off my pet Sulfur Elemental, who gets

a real laugh out of those silly Island-mages fingering their mana waiting to do stuff during the end of

your turn, like that’s a real time for casting spells or something. I think I pulled a good one

over on them… after all, I did win a Grand Prix, and all they yammer on about is how they almost

did well at a tournament in Paris and how many online Premier Events they’ve won, like making

them good at video games is somehow cool. It’s like they think that just because they’re

good at World of Warcraft that I should just bow down and let them walk all over me, like they

didn’t buy their Level 70 Paladin off one of those Internet sites that have some poor starving

Asian kid run your character up to the maximum level in two weeks… so what if I’m still

grinding it out at level 38 and can’t wait to use the Loot card I got for Christmas to get me a

Saltwater Snapjaw mount when I hit 40, you know? Dralnu does get one or two draws that completely lock

you down so you can’t do anything, counter, counter, counter, Teferi, counter, Teachings,

counter, Dralnu… so what if for five seconds in there I thought about ditching the Steam Vents for

Watery Graves? Sometimes I go Mine, Tower, Signet, Power Plant, and it’s game over for them

instead… who cares if the cheerleaders think he’s hot when he’s sucking hot Demonfire to

the grill?

I’ve already proven myself at least a little, I’d like to think, but you don’t

get your nerd cred just because you can pronounce Kyoto without sounding like a gaijin idiot

or some kind of demented redneck. The kids in the local chess club here had heard a few things about

me and wanted to see if I lived up to the hype they’d heard through Mathletes, that old story

about my father Cloete and the rest of the Werner clan and how through a complex series of unlikely

events brought us out of South Africa and into the limelight, changing my name from the

nearly-unpronounceable “hattorihanzo” to good old “Izzy.” It’s a fun

story, kind of like Heart of Darkness but with less slavery, and I’ve been hanging with the

stoner crowd trying some “experimental biochemistry” which has really got me expanding my

mind and trying out new things, and learning to tell way more wicked stories nowadays… like the one

about Kyle Sanchez that was flinging all over Kyoto. The chess kids are kind of cool, they play Texas

Hold ‘Em as a math game and I’d never tried that before, but we got in trouble yesterday

when Principal M. M. Young caught us in the Science Research room, we almost got suspended because he

didn’t believe us when we said the poker chips didn’t represent money.

Having made new friends and tried to radically change my appearance, so I can be different (just

like everybody else), here’s what I’ve got:

CAN Izzetron change its stripes and still win in a varied metagame? Just how many of

Watanabe’s cards are “essential” to the build, and which can be replaced with other

moving parts? Find out after this commercial break…

Magical Hack: Tournament Practice Room Jiujitsu” is brought to you by TORCHLING INC.

Torchling Inc. is the next step in Morphling. With our patented non-Morphling future-age Morphling

technology, you will amaze and confuse your opponents with such strategies as…

Torchling versus your entire army! FIGHT ME RIGHT NOW!

Wildfire / Detritivore lock. (“Wake me up when it’s time for game 2 and I can cast a

spell again.”)

Looking at life through a Prismatic Lens, instead of seeing things the Dimir way. (“You

Dimir folks are way too subtle. I just like to burn things.” – Jaya Ballard, Task Mage)

Listen to what other Magic players have to say about Torchling technology:

“FIGHT ME RIGHT NOW!” – Rivien Swanson

“I just lost in the semifinals of a PE to some stupid Tron deck playing Torchlings to

‘compensate’ for the uselessness of Detritivore main-deck against Mono-Green Aggro.

I’ve never been this f***ing embarrassed in my entire life.” – First Apprentice

Tin-Street Hooligan Barn-Burner Truth-Teller Mother Superior IV

“I wrote this article a week before Flores even thought of this deck. I have proof of it in

my email box – right here, from a week ago, sent to Cabal Rogue. ‘From Adrian Sullivan, to

CABAL. Re: Torchling in Tron.’ Never mind that I opened this email in Photoshop instead of

Internet Explorer… what are you, some kind of computer nazi? No, you can’t remove a layered

effect and see ‘Mike Flores‘ written on the ‘To’ line. Hey look…

shiny!” – Adrian “The Corrupter” Sullivan.

“This deck is the best thing ever, if I do say so myself… and I do, you know, say so

myself.” – Michael J. Flores, Time’s Man Of The Year.

“Wait a minute, you took the spiders out of the sideboard? No quote for you!” –

Jonathan Becker

TORCHLING TRON: It might not be “the best deck,” but it’s probably better than

whatever you’re playing.


Dralnu comes to us as a latecomer to the Dimir guild, who would remind you that your time is your

own, your opponent’s time is your own, and with Teferi in play there’s a lot more time

that’s your own than your opponent’s time that’s your own. Tonight he is presented

by way of Frank Karsten, that cheeky head-designer whose name presents lesser designers by the dozen at

any given week. This build by Islands gives us a little more Sorcery-speed action going on, and a

powerful end-game thanks to Spell Burst where it’s not usually present.

Round 1
On the play, Izzy wastes no time circling the ring with Dralnu, and immediately makes the first move:

Tower and Power Plant into Signet, Mine into Detritivore suspended for three. That Dralnu started off

with the near-trademarked Watery Grave into Dreadship Reef at that point doesn’t bode well, and

you might even go so far as to say it’s over immediately. The third land is a basic Island, but

the fourth is a Desert that might as well sit in hand, and it’s not like Izzy does absolutely

nothing in the meantime, picking a fight with Compulsive Research and losing it, setting up its quirky

Prismatic Lens, and when it’s down to just Island for Dralnu in comes the 2/2 Vore, eating a

Shivan Reef, and alongside it we’re joined with that Morphling look-alike, Torchling. There is

nothing whatsoever Dralnu can do to this kind of a drubbing.
Round 1 to Izzy

Round 2
Dralnu shakes off a rough first round and opens up the second game. Again we’ve got Watery Grave

and Dreadship Reef, while Izzy leads with Steam Vents and a Power Plant then tries for a Signet, which

meets Spell Snare. Izzy leaves him a wide berth without his Mine or Tower to be found, but the lands

do seem to be flowing and the turn 4 Lens doesn’t rate the Snare this time. Dralnu sets up with

Teachings, which gets Remanded, but it’s just a matter of time as he does his thing… Teachings

for Rewind then for Teferi, Teferi with enough mana back to pay for Mana Leak at the end of

Izzy’s turn, then the master of space and time himself Mr. Nakamura closes three points at a time

while the next Teachings is for Spell Burst and the concession. Without the ‘Tron that punchy

Demonfire isn’t going to be quite the haymaker it was intended to be.

“You’re good, kid, but you’ve got some issues of your own to settle out. You

can’t hang with the cool kids if you just aren’t cool, and Math Olympiads, well, just

isn’t cool.”
Round 2 to Dralnu

Round 3
The boys go at it right from the start here, both throwing early punches the best as they seem able…

Izzy’s leading with Steam Vents and Mine, and Dralnu takes two for an untapped Watery Grave, but

Izzy’s Signet lands just fine despite any bluffing to the contrary. Another Signet lands with

the Power Plant, and Izzy’s off to a strong start. Dralnu thinks a few extra times to try and

catch up, but he’s getting nowhere fast; Izzy leads with Compulsive Research and Dralnu’s

got the Remand, but Izzy’s got a Leak of his own and completes the trifecta of Tron on turn 4.

From there it’s all done but the crying, as a two-point Detritivore pushes the advantage and Izzy

has the Remand for Teferi, who sticks main-phase the next turn… but that’s never a good sign

for him. Repeal scoops him up and gets him out of the way while Detritivore picked off the third Blue

source, all the while drawing an extra card here and an extra card there. Dralnu doesn’t try to

replace Teferi, mostly because two basic Islands can’t do it by themselves, and Vore picks off an

irrelevant Desert on his way to meet Rewind. Remand returns the Vore to hand where he’ll likely

be a future nuisance, and an incoming Torchling seems laughable but still finishes in four.

Izzy eats a Persecute on Red, taking Wildfire and Vore but leaving a clear opening for the

remaining Tidings, and ‘Ling clocks for five. Dralnu follows up with Damnation, but this leaves

Izzy a clear window to reduce him to zero permanents in play with Wildfire, keeping the Tron plus two


“I was never in this one. It looked solid when I landed Teferi and scored a technical

knockout as far as I’m concerned, but these janky cards that aren’t supposed to matter

played cleanup and took me out. From there it was only a matter of time before he overpowered me,

he’s slow to build sometimes but bad things happen if he gets pissed off. When that Detritivore

showed up he just kept punching me in the face, knocking me flat on the ass before he even hit the

board. I had nothing left, and he just abused me for it.”
Round 3 to Izzy

Round 4
Dralnu starts off with a firm defensive play, popping a Signet on Izzy’s turn 2 with Spell Snare.

Think Twice, flashback, Teachings for Rewind, Izzy’s stuck on two mana and can’t

realistically do much about it. Izzy gets to three and doesn’t bother with Research, as he

already knows Dralnu’s got at least one Rewind, and Dralnu’s got the six-versus-three mana

advantage and is charging things up with Dreadship Reef. Vore looks on from the sidelines as the Reef

charges, and Izzy gets to four and tries a Prismatic Lens, meeting another Snare (and the only relevant

card it can hit anyway). Dralnu flashes Teachings back for Teferi while Izzy holds back for counters,

and the game goes long but Izzy was never in it. Draining Whelk on the eventual Research seals the

deal with a firm one-two punch about the head and shoulders.
Round 4 to Dralnu

Round 5
Izzy leads off again with Tower, Mine, Signet, and Dralnu’s pants are down with no Spell Snare

coming from his Underground River. Worse yet, Izzy gets ballsy and tries for Compulsive Research

before playing a land, tempting a Remand that isn’t there, drawing and completing the Trifecta on

turn 3 with Power Plant into Lens. Dralnu can’t keep up with the welterweight’s speed,

floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, playing a third land and hoping he’s still in

this one. Izzy plays himself a Steam Vents untapped, first blood is drawn in this beating of a match,

and Izzy goes for Tidings and has Mana Leak for the incoming… nothing. Dralnu plays land four and

goes for the Hail Mary Persecute, meeting that Leak, and Izzy follows up by playing another Tower and

using his thirteen-to-one mana advantage to play another Signet and chain together Wildfire and

Torchling on the same turn. The Morphling impersonator finishes in four.

“Man you’re slow. I can’t believe I was ever afraid of you.”
Round 5 to Izzy

Round 6
Izzy starts off solid on the off-foot with a tapped Steam Vents and Power Plant, holding up Remand for

the end-of-his-turn Think Twice. Izzy successfully cycles for land, leading with Shivan Reef into

Signet for the next turn, offering Dralnu the play of Remand or Spell Snare into an undisputed

Persecute. The Signet eats Spell Snare but Persecute is nowhere to be found, and a second Signet when

Izzy has four lands is left uncontested. Izzy plays another Steam Vents untapped and sets aside Vore

for two, which lets Teferi in to play. Teferi starts the closing action but a Dimir Aqueduct is a

clear casualty, and Dralnu plays basic Mountain and sets a second Vore aside, this time for three.

Teferi comes in again a second time, and the first Vore is removed from the game as Underground River

and Desert bite the dust, leaving Izzy a clear window to Repeal Mr. Nakamura back to five years in the

future with his warnings for Peter Petrelli left ungiven. Vore eats a second Desert and Izzy draws

with Compulsive Research, playing an extra Tron piece that feeds the Vore coming in next turn. Vore

meets Remand on his way in, but Remand meets Remand as well and Vore starts to make up for

Dralnu’s early lead. Dralnu tries for Damnation and it settles, but Izzy’s prepared and

closes with hellbent Demonfire.
Round 6 to Izzy

Round 7
Izzy takes a double-mulligan, but has a land-heavy draw with nothing but Remands and a lone Compulsive

Research to work with on the play over the first four turns, leaving the Research safely in hand where

it might do some good later. Dralnu stumbles on mana at four, without Dreadship Reef, and despite a

chain of Teachings for Think Twice and thinking… twice… Dralnu can’t get above enough mana to

counter more than once a turn. On five, Izzy leads with Research and Remands the Research in response

to Rewind; the following turn it’s a Signet and nothing else, while Dralnu Teachings for another

Rewind. Izzy tries again with his Research, Remands the Rewind this time and completes the Tron,

leaving just Wildfire and Repeal in hand. Repeal returns the Signet at end of turn just to draw a

card, and the Signet comes back in unhindered, while Wildfire finds Rewind. Izzy gets to try and

follow through with Tidings the next turn, and it sticks, which is the beginning of the end for the

frustrated Dralnu who still can’t find land five and is seeing a Vore suspended with three

counters on the other side of the table. Land five comes finally and Teferi comes into play while Izzy

is still tapped out, but he’s back to four in Izzy’s upkeep and a Repeal does something

useful despite the improbable odds once again. Dralnu gets to five again and plays Teferi, again,

which is met with Mana Leak and he’s back down to four. Torchling comes in and demands a

response, and meets Damnation again, but the Vore picks off another land and Izzy is able to finish

from there after two swings via Demonfire.
Round 7 to Izzy

Round 8
Dralnu takes his first mulligan, but starts strong with a pair of basic Islands while Izzy plays Shivan

Reef and Power Plant. Izzy doesn’t have the Signet for turn two but plays Compulsive Research on

turn three, which Dralnu lets in after thinking twice about it. Izzy discards a second Reef and Dralnu

picks off Compulsive Research with Extirpate, seeing a hand of five Blue cards, Torchling and Wildfire.

Dralnu bans Compulsive Research from the game and finishes the one-two punch with Persecute on Blue,

nailing what would have been a second Research, Tidings, Remand and Repeal. From there the rest is

academic, if not particularly quick; Teferi hits play, Torchling falls by the wayside in sudden-death

overtime, and Mystical Teachings plucks the one-two pair of Skeletal Vampire and Spell Burst while Izzy

can’t even complete the Tron to try and break past the mana advantage, never mind the

already-ridiculous card advantage.

“You’re not as tough as you think you are, punk,” Dralnu drawls. “Without

your quick burst of overpowering speed, you’re a lightweight.”
Round 8 to Dralnu

Round 9
Izzy starts off strong again with Island, Tower, Prismatic Lens unmolested, and leads with Power Plant

and Izzet Signet for turn 3… which meets Remand, but just gets replayed. Dralnu has two basic

Islands and a Watery Grave, but Izzy plays an untapped Steam Vents and sets aside Detritivore for two

to push the mana advantage even further. Dralnu goes for Persecute off an Underground River and nails

Blue, picking off Compulsive Research but not Wildfire or Torchling; Izzy picks off Watery Grave then

plays a spare Tower and plays Wildfire, leaving himself an Island, Lens and Signet versus an empty

board. Dralnu’s next land is nonbasic so he holds it in hand, with the second Detritivore

counter effectively being Time Walk instead, and holding the damage to a mere swing for two. Izzy adds

another Signet to the board and just needs another land before Torchling becomes active, laughable as

he may sound to less free-thinking individuals. Dralnu plays its Watery Grave finally and Torchling

hits the board, leaving Vore and Torchling to mop up a very bloody ring.
Round 9 to Izzy

Round 10
Dralnu starts on the play again, and has one of its better scripted openings… Watery Grave into

Dreadship Reef, while Izzy leads off with Steam Vents into Shivan Reef plus Prismatic Lens. Dralnu

begins charging the Reef, while Izzy plays a Mountain and Izzet Signet off Mountain plus Lens. Dralnu

charges the Reef again while Izzy untaps and suspends Detritivore for one, to which Dralnu responds

with a turn 4 Teferi at end of turn. Dralnu loses the Grave but still has four mana, so when

Compulsive Research is met with Rewind, Dralnu still has the ability to play Mystical Teachings at end

of turn for another. Teferi begins the inexorable slow crawl to twenty, and Rewind counters Repeal on

Teferi tapping out for Izzy, then follows up with a flashback of Mystical Teachings for Spell Burst and

its seventh land. Down to just two cards in hand, both of which counter spells when Teferi isn’t

in play, Teferi scores from twenty in seven turns thanks to Spell Burst lockdown.

“It’s better than going out with a whimper,” Dralnu remarked, “but I still

went out with just four points to Izzy’s six.”
Round 10 to Dralnu


Point: Dralnu du Louvre Control’s failing in this matchup is the result of two

individual shortcomings: 1) an inability to keep up with Izzetron’s acceleration, even when they

don’t draw the full Tron early in the game, letting Izzetron run rampant over their expensive

countermagic like Rewind with a fair bit of regularity, and 2) the paucity of its own card-drawing

engine in comparison to the explosiveness of Izzetron’s when spells like Tidings and Compulsive

Research resolve. The former is easy to understand, as that is why the Urzatron see competitive play

even in larger formats like Extended; the second point, though, shows where Izzetron takes risks and

how they pay off. Tron takes risks of its mana being absolutely worthless until it draws enough

colored mana to cast its spells, or not being able to play even a single card if they haven’t

drawn up to five or six mana yet… and for the most part Dralnu is unable to punish Tron for its

early-game vulnerability (at least before sideboarding) until after Tron has managed to draw out of its

problem, and Dralnu is unable to stop the grinding positional advantage of a suspended Detritivore

pushing that advantage even further… and might just find itself unable to keep with the steady flow

of cards that Izzetron generates over very quick bursts once it gets rolling. Once Izzetron gets the

advantage, it pushes the advantage, while the best Dralnu is really doing when it has the

advantage is playing an ultimately fair game of mana and card to answer mana and card.

Counterpoint: Izzetron isn’t completely out of the blue, however; early-game Spell

Snares on Signets can be crippling, and even the risk of a Spell Snare can leave Izzetron with a Signet

in hand and three mana on the board lest it walk into a big Persecute. Its means of getting the

early-game mana is vulnerable, and its ability to defend itself as the game ultimately goes long is

very limited. So long as Izzetron isn’t able to really push the mana advantage with the Tron

early in the game or a suspended Detritivore to pick off Dralnu’s heavily non-basic manabase, it

will find itself buried under a small avalanche of incremental card advantage just like everybody else.

Point: Often Izzetron couldn’t find a threat to push its early lead, or keep a

threat in play against Damnation and Mystical Teachings. Its threats are just as vulnerable to

counters as everyone else’s… it just happens to be that Detritivore can push an advantage

without Dralnu having a real chance to respond, and the trade-off to using Torchling to shore up

Detritivore’s occasional uselessness against aggressive matchups showed a little where the quick

Sulfur Elementals would have allowed Izzetron to play an early “Monkey May I?” strategy,

clocking for three a turn and preventing anything truly useful from resolving with its limited

countermagic. Izzetron as seen here is relying on big splashy things and its mana advantage to win the

game, when it could instead be playing a more tempo-oriented game that will advance its overall

strategy against counter-control decks without relying on drawing the Urzatron early and often.

Counterpoint: While it may have to rely on drawing the Tron early and often, it is at

least well set-up to try and do that, with the cantrip portion of Remand and Repeal working alongside

Compulsive Research to see a lot of cards quickly and keep the flow of cards steadily going. Even

against Dralnu the Repeals were reasonable, being cycled on a Signet to draw a card or even picking off

Teferi after a response to Detritivore once or twice. Early card-flow leads to early Tron, and even

the sacrifices made to give the Tron deck a better start against aggro didn’t really cost it in

this matchup, as Torchling closes from twenty in four swings just like Morphling did, and costs quite a

bit less than the traditional Bogardan Hellkites (and thus slip under counters or alongside Wildfire



IZZETRON, a Tron deck, untraditional in appearance
ANGEL OF DESPAIR, a flying Vindicate, both popular and reviled
TSUBASA TOMII, of the Orient and a trainer of Angels


Tsubasa – Here is my deck list:



ANGEL – I see you have the Urzatron, milord, but I am no craven – if

subtle – Lich Lord. This is a Castigate, and I pray tell it shall stop thee merrily.

IZZETRON – I must correct you, sir; it has not stopped me, merely slowed me.

I need not this Research to defeat you, and my Repeal shall slow thee equally in turn. Tidings have

been cast. Battle is joined!

ANGEL– You have vexed me here! Begone, all Blue cards, for I hate you so!

IZZETRON – I need them not, I say. Meet my Detritivore. It is a Lhurgoyf

of quite questionable breeding, and it is I fear a tax collector come for your estates.

ANGEL – I need them not as well, kind sir. Have at thee, so spaketh Akroma!

IZZETRON – God’s wounds! Zounds! You are attacking me with an Angel

of an altogether different stripe! Cease, I say, cease! Return to there from whence you have come,

unkind wench, and may your Basilica be burned unto the ground. A plague upon both your houses!

ANGEL – That Lhurgoyf, what is it that you are feeding him that makes him so


IZZETRON – You, sirrah, you. One piece at a time. It is best to portion it

out slowly, lest it grow lazy.

ANGEL – You only have one card left. Is it… blue?

IZZETRON – It is not. It is Wildfire, and a portent of your swiftly

approaching doom. Your Flagstones, I think you do not need them… and the rest, I fear, shall have to

go as well to feed my little pet.

ANGEL – Well, it seems I have gotten you to twelve.

IZZETRON – And it seems you have no lands to speak of. A shame, for my

Detritivore is yet hungry. Urza’s Tower shall have to sate its appetite on the morrow, but after

that I fear you shall not live long.

ANGEL – I shall live to fight again another day, my dearest enemy. You may

take much, but you cannot take my spirit.

IZZETRON – Alas, but the demons can. It would appear that you have not one

life point left.

ANGEL – And I am on fire, besides.

IZZETRON – For shame. Victory is mine, sirrah.


ANGEL – A moment, sirrah, before we duel. I must remove myself to Paris.

IZZETRON – Be quick, sir, for you begin this round.

ANGEL – This seems a much fairer contest. Return that to your hand, you need it


IZZETRON – It appears you are right, this Signet, I need it not. Next turn,


ANGEL – And perhaps not. While at first I thought this a dismal contest, Fortune

has been kind to me.

IZZETRON – It is a good thing then that I am not attached to these overly much.

It seems they have some difficulty in reaching where I seek to place them.

ANGEL – Blue cards, I suspect, would be most unkind to allow you to keep. So I

pray thee, do not.

IZZETRON – I shall not. However here is my Detritivore, again, come to gnaw upon

your ankles in three turns’ time.

ANGEL – Let me research further into the care and feeding of Detritivores, and we

shall see upon whom it shall feed.

IZZETRON – I say, was that your Angel placed so delicately into the graveyard?

Here is my Torchling, please do not be as unkind to it.

ANGEL – I shall not. But I say thee, this is Akroma.

IZZETRON – It does not look like her, kind sir.

ANGEL – But it shall in but a moment.

IZZETRON – I fear ‘but a moment’ is all I may have left, kind sir.

Might I research?

ANGEL – You may, though it shan’t help you.

IZZETRON – As you like it. I defer to your Angel, victory is yours.


IZZETRON – Normally, it is said, yonder Basilica is a lovely place to abide this

time of year.

ANGEL – Truly so, but in the present context, this luxurious abode doth slow me

more than strengthen my reach. Allow me but a moment to discard this Akroma and we shall speak

presently of it again.

IZZETRON – Let us speak of it no more. My Mine, Power Plant and Tower have been

most productive this season, and put much work into the breeding of Detritivores.

ANGEL – But a moment, sir, as I play this Signet and a humble Island.

IZZETRON – They frighten me not, now begone with yonder Basilica! Truly sir, you

need it not at all. Have at thee, my faithful pet!

ANGEL – Perhaps not, at that. And yet these humble Flagstones shall needs must

suffice, and my loyal Hussar shall block your Detritivore on the morrow.

IZZETRON – Perhaps he shall. But as you are distracted, I shall draw.

ANGEL – I care not at all for the position you are placing me in, sirrah.

IZZETRON – You have an Island, do you not? That is more than Dralnu could say of


ANGEL – No more, sir, you have played Wildfire. I shall find a Fountain, however,

and make do as best I can.

IZZETRON – And I wish you luck with that. Here is my Detritivore.

ANGEL – And yet somehow it is not quite here yet. What is the tale I’ve

heard, that death is like a boat? No, no, no… Death is not. Death isn’t. Take my meaning?

Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can’t not be on a boat.

IZZETRON – I fear you are stalling, sirrah. I’ve frequently not been on


ANGEL – No, no… what you’ve been is not on boats.

IZZETRON – Death comes anyway, I fear.

ANGEL – Might you kill instead my Body Double?

IZZETRON – Should you cast it, I may. But I fear that you cannot.

ANGEL – And much thanks to you for that. Victory is yours, I suppose.


ANGEL – Behold, a splendid fountain!

IZZETRON – Behold, an island made of a mountain!

ANGEL – Pray tell, do you like my Signet?

IZZETRON – As much as I like mine.

ANGEL – And these cards in your hand, is there any of which you are particularly


IZZETRON – This Research, though I suspect you knew that, as our love for it is


ANGEL – I shall have it, you shall not. ‘Tis fair.

IZZETRON – I wonder what your basis for comparison is.

ANGEL – Might I remind you of the conclusion of our last duel?

IZZETRON – You might. And might I remind you, it is your turn?

ANGEL – It is, indeed, but I have yet to declare what it is that I shall have to

live without. A moment’s time, if you might.

IZZETRON – I may. For but a moment.

ANGEL – There. This river, it shall have to run through somewhere else.

IZZETRON – And your Signet, it shall have to return another day. I believe you

need one fewer card than you had first thought?

ANGEL – Indeed. My Totem shall have to wait for another day.

IZZETRON – Well and good. Might I bother you with my dear Torchling here?

ANGEL – What does that do?

IZZETRON – Many things, and yet nothing, I fear.

ANGEL – You may have it then. My Hussar and he shall have words, I suspect.

IZZETRON – Only if you will it sir. I am attacking you.

ANGEL – Indeed you are. My Hussar and he shall tussle another time, I fear.

IZZETRON – I shall need a quarter of your life then, dear friend.

ANGEL – I need it not, as I need so very few things, I find. Like this servant of

mine, who shall save me another portion on the morrow.

IZZETRON – Might I be bothered to draw four new cards?

ANGEL – I would rather you not.

IZZETRON – Alas, but that is not the question as I have asked it.

ANGEL – Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow… but not today.

IZZETRON – As you will. What’s that you’ve got there?

ANGEL – Three new cards.

IZZETRON – Hypocrite!

ANGEL – I say thee no. I promised naught but that your four cards could be made

use of on the morrow. I am a fair man.

IZZETRON – Perhaps. I shall draw my four, now, if you are quite done.

ANGEL – I am not. My God would like to have a word with you.

IZZETRON – So he shall, at that. Fortunately, I have friends as well… or shall

in but a moment when I have drawn anew.

ANGEL – So you shall. What next, pray tell?

IZZETRON – I shall complete the trifecta, and perchance borrow another three.

ANGEL – Ouch! And all I have to offer the future is my servant here, the Hussar.

It seems he has smiled upon me, however, and I have learned from my poor fortune… Red cards, you need

them not.

IZZETRON – Indeed, it would seem I do not. Poor luck, for me, that I had so many.

ANGEL – Poor luck indeed. Here is my Angel, I doubt you need that Tower as much

as you have claimed.

IZZETRON – I shall have to learn to live without. The tables have turned, sirrah.

ANGEL – It is my turn, then, to draw four cards.

IZZETRON – Another day, as you have said… another day.

ANGEL – ‘Tis fair, I guess, the situation as it is. Your life points, I

shall need them. It is your turn to be outdrawn and quartered.

IZZETRON – I like this not at all, but my Steam Vents, it cannot stop it.

ANGEL – And so it shall not. Victory is mine.

IZZETRON – Indeed.


IZZETRON – I warn thee, I have a Tower.

ANGEL – And I a shrine, absent its lord. Your point, sirrah?

IZZETRON – I have a Mine as well, and a lens of such quality that it fractures

light… and mana… into the most beautiful colors.

ANGEL – My Signet, I fear, is less appealing, brown and blue and quite ugly. But

it shall serve.

IZZETRON – And here is my Power Plant, and a Signet as well besides. This

Detritivore, he feels you need not the lands you possess.

ANGEL – As he so often does. Prithee, how do you draw him so often?

IZZETRON – I play quite a few, I assure you.

ANGEL – Fortunately for me then I have drawn these flagstones and played them so

early, and this lowly Island shall sit nicely besides it.

IZZETRON – Your Shrine, however, you shall have to do without.

ANGEL – ‘Tis unfortunate, but I had suspected you might say so.

IZZETRON – Might I bother you with my friend the Torchling here?

ANGEL – You may, though I do not like it. In fact, let us be honest, I can

promise only that it shall face God’s wrath.

IZZETRON – Perhaps, and perhaps not.

ANGEL – Here it is, sir, as I have promised.

IZZETRON – Is that a Ghost Quarter?

ANGEL – Indeed.

IZZETRON – Than I shall have to make what good of this as I can now.

ANGEL – I fear you shall make little good of it indeed, as it decrees that your

Tower, you need it not.

IZZETRON – My pet shall avenge me, however, you have increased his size

dramatically. I shall learn to suffice with but this lowly Island.

ANGEL – His size matters little to me, I shall borrow your Torchling if you do not


IZZETRON – ‘Tis true, he looks just like him. Twins, perhaps?

ANGEL – Perhaps… and perhaps he is but everybody’s twin.

IZZETRON – I find I have drawn more than a few of these artifacts, and little to

contain your duplicate of my boon companion there.

ANGEL – Worse luck, this is my Angel, and she loves you not.

IZZETRON – Poor chance, for this had begun so well.

ANGEL – And ended well, methinks.


ANGEL – Pay no attention to this land, it shall be a basilica shortly.

IZZETRON – Pay no attention to this Tower… I like it not when you do.

ANGEL – A Signet shall go nicely with that I have put together so far.

IZZETRON – As I thought last turn. Might I trouble you again with that same


ANGEL – Another time, perhaps. I make no promises, but you may ask me on the


IZZETRON – I shall. What’s that you’ve got there?

ANGEL – Three cards. Do you like them?

IZZETRON – Indeed I do, I think I shall join you in that endeavor. As Fortune

would have it, I have completed the trifecta once again.

ANGEL – Those cards, you need them not… give me but a moment to decide, Red or


IZZETRON – Decide upon the morrow, do not trouble me today.

ANGEL – As you like it.

IZZETRON – I do. And this Detritivore, do you like it?

ANGEL – I do not. But I have decided… red cards, you need them not.

IZZETRON – A Demonfire is lost, dear sir, but good tidings remain to me yet.

ANGEL – I dare say I do not like where this is going.

IZZETRON – I dare say I do. That home of yours of which you were so proud, if you

would be so kind as to dispose of it.

ANGEL – Fortune smiles… that tower, it is your turn to dispose of it.

IZZETRON – Four cards say that I shall but replace it and move merrily upon my

way. My pet grows hungry… is that the tomb where Yawgmoth lies? Begone with it.

ANGEL – If you insist, I am but your humble servant.

IZZETRON – Remember that and you shall go far in life. My pet, it is time.

ANGEL – Outdrawn and quartered yet again… that is a fine beast.

IZZETRON – ‘Tis true. It seems it has won me another game.


IZZETRONSteam Vents, a fine opening.

ANGEL – I agree, and match it in kind.

IZZETRON – A tower and the Prism again, quite sparkly.

ANGEL – ‘Tis a shame that you have gone first, for thus it is I who is the


IZZETRON – A Signet, I say, and Research again. Can you match it?

ANGEL – I cannot… but the Research I can, and shall.

IZZETRON – This Wildfire shall place us on less equal footing.

ANGEL – I like it not.

IZZETRON – I did not ask you. This, however, is a Signet… and on the morrow you

shall meet my pet again.

ANGEL – The Detritivore? That foul-smelling, most unruly fiend?

IZZETRON – Or perhaps not. In this case, it is the Torchling.

ANGEL – He does not seem so bad as he could be.

IZZETRON – Outdrawn and quartered, however, cares little what avenue is taken. He

shall suffice.

ANGEL – … And so he did. Poor luck for me. To you, victory.


ANGEL – I shall have to avenge myself, you know.

IZZETRON – That Factory is unlikely to help in that regards.

ANGEL – ‘Tis but a placeholder for my Basilica, a fine estate.

IZZETRON – Not as fine as this Power Plant and Mine, and ‘tis a Signet to

pair them with.

ANGEL – Your fortune cannot be so extravagant. My Hussar shall bring me good

news, I hope.

IZZETRON – ‘Tis not, but in truth ‘twas fun to scare you. A Mountain

and another Signet shall have to suffice, and my Research shows that three in hand is better than one

in the bush.

ANGEL – You cad! Let me see what you have got there! Detritivore again? I say

thee NAY!

IZZETRON – Forsooth, I had thought he might be quite fun.

ANGEL – God’s ears, your idea of fun is quite different than mine. I shall

match you in your research, however, and see what we might learn.

IZZETRON – That is an Angel you have placed aside, is it not? I have seen that

this bodes ill for me.

ANGEL – It does. This fellow here shall look exactly like her in but a moment.

IZZETRON – I fear you cannot afford his price, however. One cannot cheat the


ANGEL – Nay, but he may bother me about it again tomorrow. We shall return.

IZZETRON – Perhaps you may cheat him after all. I like this not, and feel we

should start again from a more level playing-field. I have come for your estates, and your

servant’s life as well.

ANGEL – ‘Tis fair. But afore long, we shall return. Already I have

recouped my losses, to rebuild my empire again from but these simple flagstones! And here, my estate

reclaimed as well!

IZZETRON – And here is my pet again, who shall return in but a moment’s time

to take your lands, your money and your life.

ANGEL – I say, this mode of combat is quite unmanly of you.

IZZETRON – And yet it suits me. Four life, if you might be so kind. And already

I have rebuilt both my Mine and my Tower.

ANGEL – And I have rebuilt as well. My servant has returned.

IZZETRON – As has my Torchling, perhaps you remember him.

ANGEL – I do. Kill them all and let God sort them out, I say.

IZZETRON – Sort this.

ANGEL – Hell’s bells!

IZZETRON – Indeed. And Hellbent besides… I would hate to ask you for

an opinion which I had not yet already provided. Shall we again?

ANGEL – We shall not. I grow tired of this.

IZZETRON – But a little while, dear friend, and we shall retire anon.


IZZETRON – I fear I have lost track, I can think of nothing witty to say.

ANGEL – ‘My Tower’, you have said before. And so I match it as well,

though I do not profess an interest in it.

IZZETRON – And a Mountain, what luck. Fortune favors me with a lens of prism, as


ANGEL – Fortune favors me less than you, I fear. My estate shall force me to lose

some portion of all that I have earned.

IZZETRON – Akroma? Do you love her not?

ANGEL – Perhaps too well, I fear. I may yet love her again on the morrow, I

reckon, and doubt that two shall get me anywhere but in trouble, for she and her twin would squabble

until there could be no peace left me.

IZZETRON – Perhaps I have been too cocky, myself. I have nothing.

ANGEL – And I ask nothing, save to rebuild and breathe a spot.

IZZETRON – I assure you, I am but feigning weakness.

ANGEL – We shall see. Red, or Blue, I wonder?

IZZETRON – Blue, I assure you. Like this spell here. Hate me not, we may yet

make peace, coz.

ANGEL – We may indeed. Her twin sister, as I promised.

IZZETRON – But that is a man!

ANGEL – He shall be unsexed in but a moment. Have you any clever words to say,

before my darling Kate arrives?

IZZETRON – No words, I fear, save a plea for mercy.

ANGEL – She is an angel of Wrath, I fear, not an angel of Mercy. Those are quite


IZZETRON – And she is by no means small.

ANGELVictory is mine, I presume?

IZZETRON – It is, though ‘twas luck and not skill that brought you it.

ANGEL – And yet it is mine the same, and ‘tis you who are proving poor



ANGEL – You could scarcely have played a more perfect opening game.

IZZETRON – Agreed. You did little to offend me, but industry proved once again

that hard work does not go unrewarded.

ANGEL – It is not as if I did nothing…

IZZETRON – … merely not enough, in the face of my pet, to save you. Poor

chance. You have been a worthy opponent.

ANGEL – And you, more worthy yet, as we have trod these boards again and again.

IZZETRON – Yes, more worthy, but I need not gloat. You have done it for me.


Matchup 3: Mono-Green Aggro

I elected to go with Benjamin Peebles-Mundy version of Mono-Green Aggro, one of the better

versions to be circulating of the Magic Online one-time phenomenon beatdown deck. I’m not

entirely sure about the four Timbermares, I’d somehow thought Groundbreaker might be better, but

then it’s probably just because it’s better against me at six for three than five

for four is.

Game 1
Game 1 goes long because Tron doesn’t complete the Tron for a long time, and can’t find

anything more than Detritivore to finish the game with. (Awkward.) The particulars of this game are

long and complicated, and involve early Remands into early Repeals negating Moldervine Cloak at least

short-term, into Wildfire two separate times to control the unruly masses and protect Tron’s life

total. Torchling shows up and has to race Silhana Ledgewalker, and is one turn behind in the race

(20-4, not 20-5) so Tron has to somehow draw a Demonfire in there while also protecting against a

dredged Cloak or just Might of Old Krosa. It does, barely… it went further behind in the race after

all when a Llanowar Elf showed up to play blocker duty, buying the Green deck another turn, but

Compulsive Research completes the Tron finally and draws Demonfire, how lucky.

Game 2
Tron stalls for a bit on colored mana, with two Tron pieces and a Signet casting Remand and Repeal,

then completing the Tron and using Prismatic Lens for its second colored mana. Tron gets Torchling

online but can’t really dominate thanks to colored mana issues, and MGA uses the window of

opportunity to play Timbermare + Might of Old Krosa for the win.

Game 3
Tron is on the play again, and has two pieces plus a Steam Vents and Signet to work with, and its

choice between Mana Leak and Remand on turn two. Since the turn two play is Ledgewalker it opts for

Leak, then Signet with Remand on the next turn for the Dryad Sophisticate. Tron draws another land and

gambles on Compulsive Research, completing the Tron and drawing Wildfire, making this game


Game 4
MGA gets Elf plus Ledgewalker and Bird on turn 2, and puts Pants on the Ledgewalker plus Might of Old

Krosa on turn three. Tron had two lands and a Lens, that’s it, and never recovers from the early

push because it can’t get up to Wildfire mana before it has to playing games with Repeal and just

dies to the Ledgewalker. MGA even got to use Pendelhaven on the Ledgewalker before recasting the

enchantment, cute isn’t it?

Game 5
MGA leads on turn zero with Gemstone Caverns, which is quite scary here. Tron has a great start though

with three Tron pieces (not matching, sadly) and two Signets, and draws the third matching Tron piece

turn three off of a Remand on Timbermare. Tron sets up turn four Torchling with plenty of mana up and

Steam Vents besides, and lets the Timbermare in this time only to untap and block it… I swear, nobody

knows what this card does yet. Having learned that lesson the opponent is less wary of running into

Torchling, who cracks for five and is ready to play D with plenty of mana open. Moldervine Cloak on a

Dryad Sophisticate makes a game of it, right into Repeal, and from there the Tron deck is abusing

Torchling to kill the Green deck’s men every turn. The race of Torchling vs. Ledgewalker is much

more fair this time, 15-11, and Torchling closes the gap easily.

Game 6
MGA has the Gemstone Caverns again, but it’s a lot less frightening when they’re on the

play. They miss their Elf-drop and Tron Remands the turn three Cloak, then has Signet plus Mana Leak

for it coming down turn four. This gives Tron enough breathing room to survive a while, getting out

Torchling turn four tapping out; Timbermare + Might of Old Krosa get rid of some of that breathing

room, but Tron completes the Tron with Compulsive Research and attacks for five, racing Dryad

Sophisticate. Moldervine Cloak on the Dryad meets Repeal on the Dryad, changing the nature of the

race, and Green is now struggling to prevent Torchling from just saying “Fight me right

now!” to all of its non-Ledgewalker creatures from now to infinity. Non-Ledgewalker creatures do

not appear, and Tron shows how pitiful Giant Solifuge is against Torchling if you come prepared with

Tron mana first, sealing the game when the Solifuge has to chump-block. MGA never got enough mana to

both cast a threat and play Stonewood Invocation, which would have likely changed things quite a


Game 7
Tron finally has to mulligan an opener that is too slow (multiple Wildfires and Tidings with no

Signets) and stops on three mana and two Mana Leaks. Tron runs out of resistance and Ledgewalker

finishes off with two Stonewood Invocation attacks two turns in a row.

Game 8
Tron draws all Repeals and Remands, buying all the time in the world and drawing Tron while still at

serviceable life totals. Tron drew all Detritivores for threats, though, and so defensively Wildfires,

losing the Tron, though it does try to be cute by suspending Detritivore when the first post-Wildfire

land is the ill-fated Pendelhaven. 1/1’s do not race very well, but Compulsive Research

apparently does, completing the Tron and digging up two successive Demonfires to actually finish the

game with, winning with a comfortable five life left after Detritivore has to trade with Giant


Game 9
Tron has the turn 3 Tron off of two Signets, and while it may not have slowed MGA down any to that

point, it does play turn 3 Torchling and cheat its pants off. Ledgewalker tried to make a game of it

with Moldervine Cloak, but the Cloak bounced off one turn, then stuck only to see Wildfire the next

turn setting the situation down to five mana plus a live Torchling versus absolutely nothing.

Game 10
MGA misses the Elf again and Tron has Remand into Repeal into Wildfire, and can actually find a threat

this time: Torchling does ten, Demonfire does ten. Assuming you can live long enough to stabilize the

board with him, Torchling is an absolute beating here, to make up for his lackluster performance as

seen in other areas.


I was actually quite stunned at the drubbing Torchling Tron gave MGA, but the deck’s falling

out of favor at the moment to see R/G Gruul showing up instead, which has a faster clock and you

can’t just tap out for Torchling against. The matchup is very solid thanks to the full set of

four Remands and Repeals buying time, and MGA had to find an opportunity to place Stonewood Invocation

somewhere it’d matter before Tron locked them down with Torchling… or worse yet, Spell Burst.

MGA has no disruption and you kind of have to wonder if maybe some of those Forests should be Ghost

Quarters as well, though the lone Gemstone Caverns was pretty scary the one time it showed up on turn


Solar Flare was quite interesting, since it could sort of cheat a little on the mana with Body

Double, but Detritivore provides a sound thrashing to their manabase and they have even fewer counters

than you do, with only really Persecute as far as threatening cards go. They have more Signets but

less to do with them, and as unimpressive as Torchling should be there he’s doing fine because

the Top 8 list has no main-deck targeted creature removal that he can deflect anyway; really, anything

would die to Wrath of God, so it’s his other perks that draw interest. How unimpressive he is

against Angel of Despair has to be stood up next to how awesome Detritivore is here, meaning

those Angels of Despair only got to show up when they were Body Doubles. Wildfire to set everyone back

to even tends to profit the Tron deck, because it can draw out of it more explosively with Tron lands,

but perhaps also because two of its Signets don’t require a pre-existing land to function.

Dralnu makes me wish even more for Suspend creatures that have an effect without being able to be

countered, and if we got to sideboarding I’d be absolutely thrilled to substitute Aeon Chronicler

for the unwieldy and agnostically inferior Tidings; even if Teferi stops the creature, Aeon Chronicler

sneaks the cards into your hand regardless of your opponent’s countermagic. Dralnu ultimately

plays fair, even if it does so trying to eke a small advantage out of every exchange of turns under

which to bury you; Tron does not play fair and can leverage its early lead in mana development into an

even larger lead via Detritivore. Again, Torchling was unimpressive but could have been any creature,

and once in a short while costing only five mana helped to be able to cast him and keep up countermagic

as well… or cast him without the Tron, something Bogardan Hellkite would not have been able to do in

the same position even if he is made of awesome. Sulfur Elemental and Detritivore would have been an

even better suite of creatures, but sacrifices had to be made somewhere in order to respect the notion

that beatdown is starting to re-emerge from its long winter hibernation, and Tron would have basically

had no chance if it was trying to kill MGA with the tiny Sulfur Elemental and the absolutely useless

Detritivore, so you have some give-and-take.

All that said, it’s a little premature to test a Regionals deck concept against decks without

Future Sight, but those are the breaks… we don’t see the cards for another two weeks, or at

least the general populace doesn’t. From where I am sitting, it wasn’t a complete failure,

which is a pretty good start after you take a good deck and butcher it to bring a Japanese deck into a

non-Japanese metagame. As much as I respect the Japanese deckbuilders, and enjoy the resiliency of the

Japanese decks from this Grand Prix especially, the aesthetics of killing with Sulfur Elemental and

Bogardan Hellkite with no other board sweepers in the deck than self-same Hellkites is unreasonable

against a field that is starting to show the emergence of aggressive decks again… and Detritivore can

help to control the otherwise random Tron mirror matches, which are becoming more and more popular now

that U/R and U/G Tron are sitting up high on the leaderboards. The lack of Annex in the sideboard,

favoring Pyroclasm instead, might be going too far to one side in the extreme… especially if you can

pull impressive numbers against aggro without them. Detritivore, however, seems to be able to get an

edge on pretty much the entire metagame… and you know how I love my edges.