Under The Meta: Historic Izzet Mindsplice Mastery
Hey everyone! This is fourth installment in the Under The Meta series where I break down a deck that I’ve been working on recently that is strong and has a lot of potential but isn’t quite tier 1, going over the strengths, weaknesses, and how it could potentially be improved going forwards.
In this episode I’m covering what I’m calling Izzet Mindsplice Mastery which is a control deck built around Mindsplice Apparatus and Mizzix's Mastery.
Mindsplice Apparatus is a very powerful engine that makes all of your instants and sorceries incredibly mana efficient, and almost feels like playing a combo deck once it racks up a few oil counters because it enables some insane turns.
The two main top end cards we have to pair with Mindsplice Apparatus are Magma Opus and Mizzix's Mastery – these cards pair very well together even without Mindsplice Apparatus since you can make a treasure with Magma Opus on turn 2, and then Mizzix's Mastery to cast the Magma Opus on turn 3 which is a really strong start, and provides the deck with a powerful option when you don’t have Mindsplice Apparatus.
When you do have Mindsplice Apparatus though, Magma Opus is great since the treasure allows you to ramp into Mindsplice Apparatus on turn 3, and once Mindsplice Apparatus starts gaining oil counters, you can much more realistically hardcast the Magma Opus too.
Mizzix's Mastery on the other hand is the main finisher in the deck, since Mindsplice Apparatus also discounts the Overload cost which consistently allows you to overload Mizzix's Mastery on turn 6 to recast every instant and sorcery you’ve cast so far, including any Magma Opus you’ve discarded. Overloading Mizzix's Mastery is often good enough to win the game on its own, and is also very capable of immediately getting you back into games where you’ve fallen behind too.
Big Score is another important card in the deck that is really strong alongside Mindsplice Apparatus since it’s completely mana neutral at 2 oil counters and mana positive at 3 or more, and is really nice off an overloaded Mizzix's Mastery since it makes treasures which provides you mana to cast instant speed interaction that you draw off the Mizzix's Mastery, even if you had to completely tap out to cast it.
Even when you don’t have Mindsplice Apparatus, Big Score is still important since it provides you extra mana to enable you to hardcast Magma Opus or overload a Mizzix's Mastery without the discount too.
For interaction on the stack we have both Divide by Zero and Supreme Will – while I’m talking about these I want to briefly address why I’m running these over more generically powerful cards like Expressive Iteration or Archmage's Charm, and the main reason is simply that they don’t get discounted by Mindsplice Apparatus.
Since we’re essentially building the whole deck around Mindsplice Apparatus it’s crucial that it always has impact immediately whenever we cast it, and you’ll end up in situations where you cast the Mindsplice Apparatus and it has basically no impact whatsoever if you just have a bunch of Expressive Iteration or Archmage's Charm in your hand, whereas Divide by Zero and Supreme Will will both immediately get discounted, even if they’re slightly worse on rate.
Divide by Zero is great since it not only works as a catch all answer to problematic cards on the stack or the battlefield, but it also gets us a lesson or allows us to loot, and if we have Mindsplice Apparatus in play then Divide by Zero and the lesson will both be discounted.
The lessons are all very valuable – Environmental Sciences is important since hitting landdrops is crucial in this deck, Teachings of the Archaics is probably the lesson I get the most since it allows you to refuel (which is particularly useful alongside Mindsplice Apparatus), Start from Scratch kills any problematic artifacts like Unlicensed Hearse, and Mascot Exhibition provides us with another way to close out the game.
Supreme Will is also nice as a way to interact on the stack that will act as a hard counterspell early in the game, and although it loses value later in the game, that’s usually mitigated by the fact that the deck as a whole has a strong lategame anyway. Supreme Will also working as a card selection spell is very important with the overload on Mizzix's Mastery because it allows us to use it for card advantage where other counterspells would be dead.
Additionally, we’re running 4 Jwari Disruption which helps ensure we have a high enough land count (which is really important since you want to hit your fourth land on curve every game) while also providing us with additional early interaction.
Finally, we’ve got Fiery Impulse and Molten Impact as early removal, Sea Gate Restoration and Shatterskull Smashing as extra spells that are nice when discounted that also help ensure we hit our fourth land on curve in most games, and some creaturelands that act as additional ways to close the game out.
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The two main weaknesses of this deck so far have been that the deck has very similar matchup spreads to Azorius Control, and the deck often plays like a worse version of Azorius Control when you don’t have Mindsplice Apparatus or Magma Opus.
Having similar matchup spreads to Azorius Control isn’t the worst thing since I think Azorius Control is still a good deck, my main issue with it right now is that Humans and particularly Rakdos Midrange are very popular decks right now which aren’t great matchups for this deck. Having said that, I do feel like both matchups are generally slightly better with this deck compared to Azorius Control, but I definitely wouldn’t consider either matchup favorable for you.
The other weakness is that the deck is generally weaker when you don’t have your namesake cards in Mindsplice Apparatus or Mizzix's Mastery which does make you even more vulnerable to discard spells like Thoughtseize and Duress, but it also means you generally have better topdecks because a card like Mizzix's Mastery can often single-handedly win you the game.
On the flipside, running cards like Supreme Will instead of Archmage's Charm for example is definitely a downgrade but not so much that the deck can’t still compete without Mindsplice Apparatus, and the deck is generally quite good at stabilizing which often buys you enough time to find your payoff cards anyway.
In terms of potential solutions to these issues, I’m not sure there’s a clean answer – since building around Mindsplice Apparatus heavily incentivizes you to run almost all instants and sorceries you will naturally always be weak to discard spells and taxing effects like Esper Sentinel and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben so I think you just have to accept Humans and Rakdos Midrange as unfavorable matchups, although they’re both definitely still winnable – especially Rakdos Midrange since an early Magma Opus + Mizzix's Mastery or Mindsplice Apparatus is very hard for them to beat, and you have a lot of pretty good topdecks, so that matchup usually comes down to how many early discard spells they have, and how well you draw out of it.
In terms of potential changes I would make to the deck, I would quite like to find room for 2 Unlicensed Hearse in the sideboard somewhere since I have struggled specifically against Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger and Arclight Phoenix, and I’d ideally like to find a slightly better alternative against control than Commence the Endgame – it has been decent so far so I wouldn’t be unhappy to continue running it but the opponent being able to steal the zombie token with Archmage's Charm is a definite issue with the card but I’m not sure what the best replacement would be.
You could potentially run a planeswalker instead like Narset, Parter of Veils, Jaya, Fiery Negotiator, or Chandra, Awakened Inferno for example, but they’re not discouned by Mindsplice Apparatus and they’re sorcery speed (and I quite like that the deck plays almost entirely at instant-speed in the mirror), and I’m not sure there’s a better instant alternative since the majority of them can be countered unlike Commence the Endgame.
This deck has been a ton of fun to play, and definitely feels like a strong alternative to Azorius Control that occupies a slightly different spot in the metagame, and plays almost like a combo deck once your engines are online. If you want a more detailed breakdown or want to see the deck in action then I definitely recommend checking the video out, and I’ll catch you in the next one!
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