• derek

Is It Bicycles? - Standard

Folks, you gotta love when a new set drops some spicy new cards into the format, especially when you consider some sets can drop some real duds. This particular standard cycle has been pretty great though, my speculation of Arclight Phoenix felt right on the nose, and now with #MTGWAR dropping some amazing new cards for us, I think we have an amazing time to be able to try out a new take on an Arclight Phoenix deck in War of the Spark Standard.

The Gameplan.

Look, I'm going to be honest with you, this deck basically plays itself. If you can't tell by the name, we are running an Izzet deck that is looking to bi-cycle, or draw 2 cards for every 1 action card we have. So, in order to win, we play lands and we draw cards. That's pretty much it.

The Cheese.

While I'm being a little facetious, we really are drawing a ton of cards. We are playing a full play set of Opt, Chart a Course, Tormenting Voice, and Radical Idea. We actually want to be churning through our deck as best we can, so have upwards of 16 card draw spells (since radical idea can technically be cast twice), will definitely give us an opportunity to see a ton of our deck. It is also important to note that Chart a Course, Tormenting Voice, and Radical Idea also fill our graveyard. This will definitely come in handy with a few of our spells later on. Just keep it in mind.

The Spice.

War of the Spark did bring us an awesome new piece to the format in the form of a planeswalker. Saheeli, Sublime Artificer is a 3 loyalty walker that enters with 5 loyalty. Already, she's an incredibly difficult permanent to get rid of, especially since we are casting her early. On top of that, her static ability to create 1/1 servos whenever we cast a noncreature spell is pretty amazing. This deck is chalk full of noncreature spells, so you can bet your bottom dollar that we'll be able to make a ton of tokens. She does also come in with a minus ability to make target artifact we control a copy of another creature or artifact we control. Just, wow, it is seriously possible to win out of nowhere with that ability on her. Let's discuss why.

We are running a few creatures in the list (bare with me, I need to cover these first before we can get to the amazing combos with Saheeli's -2), a full play set of Electrostatic Field, a full play set of Arclight Phoenix, and 2 Crackling Drake made their way into the list. Especially when it comes to Arclight Phoenix and Crackling Drake, being able to -2 a token and make it a copy of Arclight Phoenix is pretty amazing. But making it a copy of our Drake? It is downright abusive. It is possible to make our Drakes into 6+ attackers, and being able to all of the sudden swing in with surprise 6+ points of damage out of nowhere can either win us the game, or get us darn close. Electrostatic Field is nice as it allows us the opportunity to weaponize all of our card draw spells, but on top of that is a great way for us to block early aggro decks like RB, Mono Red, and White Weenies. Then of course the sneaky thing with Arclight Phoenix is the ability to return it to the battlefield if we've cast 3 cards in a turn.

The best way for us to do that is actually with another War of the Spark special, our three copies of Finale of Promise. This card is insanely good. You will never use its secondary ability of casting this spell for X equals 10, at least not in this deck. We'll be playing this card fairly, but don't discount that ability. With this one spell, X equals 2, we can cast a Tormenting Voice (maybe pitching a Phoenix to the yard?) and an Opt to draw 3 cards, ping 3 times with an Electrostatic Field create 3 servos with Saheeli and then return all of your Arclight Phoenixes to the battlefield at the beginning of combat. Talk about a combo piece! Don't discount this card, it is extremely powerful and makes for some amazing turns.

Additional Spice.

We do have a bit of additional spice as well. In addition to our creature package, we'll also be running 2 Heartfire and 2 Invade the City. Heartfire actually makes for some really interesting interactions, we can sacrifice a servo token to it to deal 4 damage anywhere, then cast it again from the yard with Finale of Promise, using the token generated from Saheeli's trigger with the Finale to cast the second version of Heartfire. It can be a ton of damage from our of nowhere. Invade the City can be a bit of a non-bo with our deck, as the tokens we create can get smaller if we cast this after a turn sequence that exiles our spells. However, if we line it up right, we can get upwards of a 6/6 to an 8/8 for only 3 mana, then be able to cast it again before attacks on the following turn with Finale. This too can be a surprising amount of damage that comes out of nowhere, but also is a way that we can deal with damage based sweepers that could be holding down our tokens.

Sideboard Plan.

So here's the thing about our deck. We aren't running a ton of removal in the main deck at all. So instead, we have to supplement removal with our sideboard for when we absolutely need it. That said, we are running 2 Beacon Bolt and 3 Fiery Cannonade. Beacon Bolt is a fantastic way for us to deal upwards of 6 or 8 damage to problematic creature. What's even better about this card is that even as we exile our cards with Finale of Promise, this card doesn't care, it will continually deal more and more damage to our opponent's threats. We sometimes take a bit of time to get setup, so our 3 Fiery Cannonade is what we bring in against fast aggro decks like Mono Red, Mono White, or RB Aggro. This can be a great way for us to just wipe the board of our opponent's things and could potentially combo with some additional cards that we have in our sideboard to deal even more damage than just the 2 to each creature. Another great archetype to bring this in against could be Mono Blue Tempo or GW Tokens lists that are banking on producing a ton of smaller creatures.

We are running a bit of counter spell backup here as well with 3 Negate and 1 Lazotep Plating. The Negates are pretty self explanatory. We want to stop our opponents from playing planeswalkers. We want to stop them from resolving board wipes. So Negate is a great way for us to do that. Lazotep Plating on the other hand can be brought in to fizzle activated abilities or enter the battlefield abilities, and can even stop things that target us vs. just our permanents. It is also important to note that this can be a surprise 2 blockers if we have a Saheeli out as well. I'm not 100% sold on it, but I definitely think its worth trying it out for a bit.

I am also running an infinite combo in the sideboard. This may be a bit greedy, but it can potentially win us the game. Regardless, the pieces by themselves are just good on their own, and if you don't want to try out the combo, there are a few upgrades we can consider for a card or two.

We are running 2 Expansion // Explosion, 2 Doublecast, and 2 Ral, Storm Conduit in our sideboard. I feel like with the amount of our card draw, we'd have the ability to be able to find all of our pieces. This is basically how the combo works:

We get down a Ral, Storm Conduit and -2 to copy our next spell. We can then combo by casting an Expansion in response to another spell, and then cast a second Expansion copying the first, which then copies the second, which then copies the first, etc. This will combo by pinging our opponents to 0 with Ral's static ability. We can also cast Doublecast, getting a copy of it. We let that copy resolve (pinging our opponent in the process) and then cast Expansion copying the original Doublecast. We then get a copy of Expansion that then targets the first Expansion and continue the process that way as well. Its a pretty sweet way to win the game against durdley decks or decks that take a little while to get going. It is also important to note that Explosion is an option for card draw and to some extent removal, but we often want to be casting more spells for fewer mana and utilizing our graveyard, so we may use this as a final "got you," but most often we'd be using Expansion to either copy our card draw spells or copy our opponent's removal, etc. unless we are trying to go off with our combo.

The other fun thing about Ral, Storm Conduit is that it can be a way for us to copy versions of our draw spells, allowing us to just flood our hand with action. We can also copy something like a Finale of Promise to cast upwards of 5 separate spells for just 4 mana (not to mention we also get a copy in there for a total ping of 6). Pairing this up with Electrostatic Field and a

Saheeli copying an Electrostatic Field can be an amazing way for us to win (that one line can do 16 points of damage, not even including if we hit a Heartfire which can do a total of 20 damage right then and there.)