For a while now, we've had a plethora of wizards in the format that almost seem to have made it into the meta. They always seemed to be Blue Red, and the closest we had to a tier wizards list was Mono Blue tempo. But, with the help from #MTGWAR, we've gotten some interesting additions that could help push this deck into a more competitive list.
Let's start with how we decided to build the deck. Before, players would try to win with more of a spell slinger deck. Instead, we are going to try to win the tempo game by abusing enter the battlefield effects. Naban, Dean of Iteration is going to be our main engine for the deck. Everyone who played during Kaladesh remembers the unique and fun card Panharmonicon. Basically, it copied the enter the battlefield effects of creatures and artifacts you controlled. Well, Naban, Dean of Iteration does the same thing, but for Wizards you control!
So, let's break down our creature package. We are going to be playing a ton of tempo cards in this list; its going to be how we break through our opponent's lines. We'll be starting our curve at 2 mana with a full playset of Naban himself. While he's only a 2/1 for 2, Naban is going to be a lightning rod for removal so we will want to run as many copies of him as we can to keep him on the battlefield. To round out our 2 drop slot for creatures, we'll also be running a full play set of Viashino Pyromancer. If resolved, this creature can deal 2 damage guaranteed, and with a Naban out, up to 4 damage! Not to mention, he's an aggressive body as a 2/1 for 2. Pyromancer has seen plenty of play in mono red aggro lists, and there is a reason. He has a great effect and can continually put in damage or trade up so long as he is on the battlefield.
We now move on to our 3 drop creatures. This is where the majority of our tempo comes into play. We'll be running a full play set up Deputy of Detention. This card is extremely powerful and is a great way to deal with planeswalkers, enchantments, artifacts, creatures, and token's especially. You basically get to exile all copies of a nonland permanent until he leaves play. This card has seen play in Esper control decks, but I have yet to see him be played along side Naban (which is a real shame). Being able to double up this effect, and exile 2 creatures or 2 planeswalkers can be extremely important. It is also one of our first ways of clearing room to get in to deal damage to our opponent.
We also are running a full play set of Exclusion Mage. The only thing more annoying to a player than exiling their creatures, is to return them to their hands. We are running some counterspells in this deck, so being able to bounce a couple creatures to slow our opponent down can allow us to catch their big baddie on the way back down with a counter. For even more tempo control, we are running another play set of Watertrap Weaver. If you can't bounce your opponent's board, then tapping them down for a turn or two seems like a great alternative.
Lastly, we are running a new Wizard spoiled from War of the Spark. Elite Guardmage is a 2/3 flyer for 2WU that has the enter the battlefield ability of "Gain 3 life and draw a card." Woah! What an incredibly powerful effect! Imagine doubling that up with Naban. We would be able to gain 6 life and draw 2 cards. That tempo play puts us right back into the game if we were ever behind. This is going to be a powerful combination of cards that can feel really oppressive to our opponents if we curve out right.
Given that we are Wizard tribal, we do need some spells to cast. We will be running full play sets of both Wizard's Lightning and Wizard's Retort. With all of the new planeswalkers floating around, we are going to want additional ways to deal with them. Both Wizard's Lightning and Wizard's Retort do just that. Not to mention, they get the cost reduction tact on to them if we control a Wizard, effectively turning them into Lightning Bolts and Counterspells.
Speaking of counterspells, we will also be running 2 copies of Dovin's Veto in the main deck. This card is extremely powerful. For WU it is basically an uncounterable Negate. Again, we want to be able to answer our opponent's planeswalkers or their counterspells, and Dovin's Veto is going to be an excellent piece to run, not to mention it can stop removal spells on our wizards.
Lastly, we'll be running a full play set of Chart a Course. For those who have been playing Standard for a while, you'll know the power of drawing 2 cards for 2 mana. This card is just that. Given its extremely low casting cost and the upside of drawing to cards with out any negative so long as we attack is amazing. This along side Elite Guardmage is going to make for a really fun deck.
Our mana base is an interesting one. We are running full play sets of Steam Vents, Hallowed Fountain, and Unclaimed Territory. We are playing base blue, so we will want to run lands that allow us to consistently hit our blue mana base. So, in that thought, we are also running 2 Sulfur Falls, 3 Glacial Fortress, and 3 Basic Island. We'll want some basics in here if we get up against an Assassin's Trophy. To round out our land package we'll also be running a copy of the new Blast Zone as a means to mass sweep dangerous nonland permanents away. And since a lot of our creatures will need to target creatures, we'll be running a Detection Tower in the main deck as well to be able to hit creatures that have hexproof (or gain hexproof from things like Dive Down).
Our sideboard has some interesting spice in it for sure. To continue to capitalize on the enter the battlefield effect doubling, we'll be running 3 copies of Ajani's Welcome as a means to stabilize against hardcore aggro if we fall behind in tempoing them out. Also against aggro (and midrange) we are running 2 copies of the new Chandra, Fire Artisan, an extremely interesting planeswalker that continually flips the top of our library with her +1, gives us an ability to dig 7 cards deep and play any of them that turn on her -7, and sits there with a static ability that says whenever a loyalty counter is removed from Chandra, we get to ping our opponents down.
Speaking of planeswalkers, I'm also trying out 2 of Dovin, Grand Arbiter. We have a lot of tempo in this deck which will allows us to get in for damage which will allow us to quickly pump him to his ultimate. Not only that, but he does also give us blockers or attackers on his -1, and his ultimate gives us a better dig through time, finding 3 cards we need from the top 10 of our library. Really quite powerful stuff. Along with Dovin, we are running 2 more Dovin's Veto to finish the play set.
Lastly, we are running 3 Expose to Daylight to control the pestky enchantments and artifacts we don't catch with counter magic. We are able to get a scry out of the deal, so it allows us to fix our next draw after casting it. Lastly, we have 3 Merfolk Trickster to either flash out against control, to lower our curve on our current creature package, or to provide even more bodies against a tough aggro list.
All in all, I think the deck looks like a lot of fun. I've opted to run some of the more "fun" cards in this list, so if you want to upgrade, consider things like Dive Down and maybe even Curious Obsession. Curious Obsession is a little worse in our deck than it is in mono blue, but we do have plenty of times to be swinging in freely by tempoing away all of our opponent's blockers.
Really though, this is just a starting shell for the deck, and I'm sure once more cards are spoiled from #MTGWAR we will be able to better tune it to hit the right notes. But for starters, this seems like an extremely fun deck to pilot, just don't forget your triggers!