I am a huge fan of Izzet decks – I love their adaptability and flexibility. Historically, Izzet is a colour combination that could accommodate control, combo, and even aggro. However, what’s great is when a single deck can maneuver between those plans depending on the match-up, and even within a single game. Here, I present to you Izzet Pyromancer,, aka 8-peezy, that’s been played a bit more in Pioneer. With Fiery Impulse and Rending Volley added to the format, I believe this deck can make waves in Explorer.
The basic premise is to deploy a turn-two creature and back it up with a wall of interaction, riding the threat to victory. Sometimes though, we will assume a purely control role killing creatures at sight, chumping with tokens, and pulling ahead with our card selection. Other times, you may need to put the pedal to the metal and try to close the game in a few combat steps. What’s great about this deck is that it can indeed do any of these, depending on the needs. This high adaptability is what makes the deck powerful.
Let’s start looking at the namesake threats.
For all intents and purposes, they are the same card. The idea is that we deploy one of them on turn two, and then keep playing spells every single turn to flood the battlefield with little creatures. Those creatures may start pushing damage through or chump opposing attackers to allow us to stay alive. Importantly, with multiple Pyromancers on the field, each spell becomes very powerful. Such boards are very tough to contain for the opponent. You may go turn two creature, turn three creature, and a one-mana spell. Sometimes though you may need to abstain from deploying the threat on turn two as it may get immediately killed by Fatal Push or Fiery Impulse. In those cases, either hold off and play them only with a spell backup or play them into removal if you have a few copies of Pyromancers in hand anyways.
There are some minuscule differences between TPI and Young Pyro that could come up. TPI can get Mystical Disputed while Pyromancer wouldn’t. However, the fact that TPI makes colorless artifact tokens is relevant against Brave the Elements. I reckon those two cases are going to come up the most.
The bird is just a generically powerful card in spell-slinger decks. It blocks great, it filters through bad draws, and clocks the opponent with evasion. Importantly, it does survive early game Fiery Impulse, Spikefield Hazard, and Play with Fire so you can jam it more safely on turn two. I like playing it on turn two instead of Pyromancer when I expect removal that could kill Pyromancer as, generally speaking, I don’t care much if Ledger Shredder dies. However, Ledger turn three is also a good play when you can immediately connive and grow it. In a given game, you have to ask yourself whether a single bigger threat is better than going wide. In short, having one threat is better when you want to block in combat and kill opposing creatures but worse against spot removal like Fatal Push which would nullify all the progress you’ve made. The opposite is true for Pyromancer.
I used to actively avoid Balmo,r but its power dawned on me – buffing your six 1/1 tokens one, two, or three times make them lethal most of the time. Ever since I added them to the deck, they’ve been great! I usually keep them as the last creature to play so that on a key turn I can cast it and multiple other spells. It’s a weird combo-esque kill of sorts that could happen seemingly out of nowhere. It’s also great to break board stalls when we have bunch of tokens and the opponent has a couple of 2/2s. Balmor, Battlemage Captain itself is a flying threat and a blocker which can help us stabilise.
Both Young Pyromancer and Third Path Iconoclast are Humans and make non-Human tokens. It means that with just a single token on the field, we can play Of One Mind for a single blue. On top of that, Ledger Shredder and Balmor are non-Humans so watch out for that! Drawing two so cheaply is very efficient and pulls us ahead, all whilst still triggering our creatures. Bear in mind, the opponent cannot kill your creature in response to suddenly make the spell more expensive – once it’s on the stack and you’ve paid the blue, you won’t need to pay anything more. Don’t feel bad about about playing it for the full cost though, as sometimes, you will be in such a dire situation where this play is needed.
In order to reliably trigger our creatures, we play eight cantrips – Consider and Opt. The key is that they provide the trigger, replace themselves, and some card selection on top. It means that you can cast them, get another card and keep going, while never being down a card. Consider, Opt, and Of One Mind make a strong team of allowing us to go through our deck fast. In addition, those cards smooth out our draws so that we have the right mix of threats and interaction. Last but not least, cantrips are a great top deck as it helps us find what’s needed e.g. Of One Mind, a threat, or interaction.
As most Izzet decks in most formats, the deck is flush with interaction, both against creatures and on the stack.
A new Anthology II addition. It’s a huge upgrade from Play with Fire as it kills Ledger Shredder, Greasefang, Okiba Boss, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider and many more creatures. In this deck, spell mastery will be on the vast majority of the time so you don’t need to worry about it. It’s easily the best and most efficient instant speed removal spell right now in the format.
Four Fiery Impulse is not enough, so we need to play a bit more removal. You could play Play with Fire, but I prefer Strangle. I like being able to finish off Planeswalkers and 3 damage cleanly kills Karn, the Great Creator after it’s ticked down. However, if you see a lot of small creatures, feel free to change it to Play with Fire.
Another piece of removal which performs a bit of a different function. You could play more Strangle, Play with Fire, or Obliterating Bolt, but I have really liked Fading Hope for a few reasons. First, it unconditionally removes a creature from the battlefield, regardless of how big it is. Early in the game, it gives you the scry which is a nice perk to smooth out the draw. In some cases, you can also bounce your own stuff to protect them from removal. As all of your creatures cost two mana, you will always get scry 1 when bouncing them.
While bounce effects are technically card disadvantage, you can negate those effects by obtaining card advantage e.g through Of One Mind or by using the bounce effect to kill the opponent faster – which is the ultimate card advantage.
Make Disappear as a counter unless they pay 2 is already pretty good and arguably the best counterspell in the format. However, this deck specifically can use casualty vast majority of the time as we’ve got plenty of tokens lying around. At that point, Make Disappearing being ‘pay 4’ makes it better than one of the best two-mana counters of all time in Mana Leak. If any deck can play Make Disappear, it’s easily this one.
In tempo decks, you want to play more efficient spells and punish the opponent for casting expensive cards. Spell Pierce does that like no other. You will get a nice fuzzy feeling once you’ve Spell Pierced Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. I love playing Spell Pierce, be it Modern, Pioneer, Historic, or Explorer. This card is brutally efficient and punishes greedy opponents.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
Games post-board can change the dynamic completely as you will have to fluidly change between being an aggro and a control deck.
Mono White Humans
As is clear from theboarding, we want to kill everything on sight. Tokens chumping are going to be very good against their big creatures, but you need to be super wary of Brave the Elements. When blocking with different tokens, try to make it so that you’re left with some red Elementals and some colorless Soldiers as a hedge against the previously mentioned Brave the Elements. Don’t keep hands that fold to turn two Thalia, Guardian of Thraben if possible.
For this matchup specifically, I’ve put quadruple Disdainful Stroke in the board. All their relevant cards cost 4+ mana and we always get a tempo-positive deal on the exchange. Usually, we have enough time to deploy a turn two threat and then keep holding up interaction. Sometimes, you may even play turn two threat and a turn three threat when you can hold up Spell Pierce for Karn, the Great Creator. Cavalier of Thorns is very good against us, so Disdainful Stroke or Fading Hope have to be at the ready. Make Disappear will lose relevance quick if you cannot turn on casualty.
Unfortunately, they can ping off our tokens and Pyromancers. Ledger Shredder is going to be an important threat, but then again, it may get Fatal Pushed or Claim the Firstborn-ed. Interesting matchup all around, but it is tricky to play. On top of that, we haven’t got any lifegain to stabilise after they’ve Cat Ovened us too much. We need to assume a tempo-ish aggressive role.
In my estimation, it’s a great matchup. Between graveyard hate, countermagic, Rending Volley, and Fiery Impulse, they will have an immensely hard time getting the combo on line. Frequently, they will have to default to a midrange plan with Esika's Chariot and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship which won’t cut it against a flurry of tokens. You *may* consider keeping Spell Pierce in to punish them for tapping our for the aforementioned vehicles.
Mono Blue Spirits
Tricky matchup as the timing of your removal spells is important. Sorcery speed cards like Strangle are going to disappoint in the face of Rattlechains, so you either have to be sure they can’t cast it (e.g. due to not having the requisite mana) or have a counterspell for it. They have a hard time playing through Ledger Shredder and Balmor, Battlemage Captain and they can’t also contain all the tokens made with Pyromancers. You need to strike the balance between interacting and squeezing a threat through their interaction.
Tips and Tricks
- Jegantha, the Wellspring adds mana which can be useful when you know you won’t attack with it anyways.
- Rending Volley cannot be countered, but it does not mean that it works through hexproof, shroud, or protection.
- Remember that Ledger Shredder triggers on either player’s turn and when either player casts the second spell.
- You may want to cast your own removal spell on Ledger Shredder when you know it survives just to connive and/or trigger Pyromancers or Balmor, Battlemage Captain.
- Keep track of spell mastery on Fiery Impulse. Don’t get caught by opposing Unlicensed Hearse turning it off with Impulse on the stack.
- You can connive a spell away to turn on spell mastery.
- You may want to Fading Hope your own creature to scry 1, especially if they’re trying to remove it.
- In order for Of One Mind to cost a single blue, you need to already have a Human and a non-Human on the battlefield. It won’t work just with Young Pyromancer and no token, thinking it will meet the condition upon Mind’s resolution. The condition has to be met already when you place it on the stack.