Deck Doctor: Izzet Pinball (Part 2 of 2)

Posted in Building on a Budget on June 19, 2006

By Ben Bleiweiss

Welcome back to Building on a Budget, Deck Doctor edition! Last week, I took Yesterdays Fate's U/R Pinball decklist and turned it from this:

Pinball v1.0

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into this

Pinball v3.0

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Before I continue along with the deck doctorin', I'd like to address a couple of concerns I've had from readers regarding last week's columns.

Question: Is this deck budget?

Answer: Absolutely! Remember, all prices are based on the going rates using Magic Online. Island, Izzet Boilerworks, Mountain, Gelectrode, Dwarven Patrol, Compulsive Research, Dream's Grip, Quicksilver Dagger, Reminisce and Twiddle can all be had for a song and a dance. Remand can be found at half a ticket each. Curiosity can be found at half a ticket each. Opt can be found at two for a ticket as well.

Niv-Mizzet is the sole rare in the deck. I checked the trading message boards, and found dozens of Niv-Mizzet at three to four tickets each. The total cost on this deck? Eleven tickets! As a spoiler, I go up to four Niv-Mizzet (still the only rare in the deck) by the last build of Pinball. The cost of that version of the deck tops out at seventeen tickets – still well within my thirty ticket budget constraint.

Question: Enough with Extended! Can we get back to Standard?

Answer: The Magic 8-ball says definitely so. It's been a fun jaunt into Extendedland, but I'll be heading back to Standardnation again next week.

Game #1: HanG21 (R/W Aggro)

Han gets down Slith Firewalkers on turns 2 and 3, and I am without any Twiddles or Dream's Grip. A Jitte on the fourth turn ensures a losing board position, as my pingers suddenly become ineffective, and I don't have a way to keep Niv-Mizzet on the board long enough to combo HanG21 out.


Although it's sometimes frustrating to lose to Jitte, my deck definitely had ways to come back from this game. If I had drawn any Twiddle/Dream's Grip, I could have kept his Slith Firewalkers tapped down long enough to get Gelectrode onto the board, and then used Gelectrode to shoot his Firewalkers multiple times. Unfortunately, I kept a hand with multiple pingers and few fast effects, so I got outraced this time.

Game #2: Omchizen (Enchantress)

Enchantress's Presence
Omchizen drops a quick Enchantress's Presence, followed with Heartbeat of Spring and Loxodon Warhammer. I draw double Gelectrode, and kill every creature I see, untapping the Gelectrodes multiple times with Twiddle and Dream's Grip. With two Gelectrodes on the board, one Twiddle equals five points of damage (the initial two shots, plus the two untap triggers from playing an instant, plus the untap from Twiddle itself). Omchizen is unable to get an offense going, and I get Niv-Mizzet enchanted with Curiosity for the instant win.


One reader asked if it would be better to run Shock in this deck, rather than Twiddle/Dream's Grip. Shock is decent, but Twiddle has more uses in this particular deck, plus Twiddle fits this deck's theme better. Twiddle allows me to draw extra cards when I have a pinger enchanted with Curiosity. Dream's Grip lets me tap down my opponent's land at the end of turn, which can spell the difference between getting Niv-Mizzet on the board past countermagic, and losing a game. Shock is definitely a solid spell, but it doesn't combo with Curiosity and Quicksilver Dagger as well as Twiddle.

Game #3: Death Jezzter (Mono Green)

Death Jezzter has a 130 card deck, and has troubles drawing enough mana to play a fair match. I get a Dwarven Patrol, enchant it with two Quicksilver Daggers, untap it multiple times with blue spells, and draw into the Niv-Mizzet/Curiosity combo for the win.


Game #4: CyKnide (Cloudstone Curio)

Here's how this game went, on his side of the board.

Turn 1: Windswept Heath, Breeding Pool.
Turn 2: Temple Garden.
Turn 3: Windswept Heath #2, Foil Hallowed Fountain, Cloudstone Curio.
Turn 4: Temple Garden #2, Loxodon Hierarch.
Turn 5: Temple Garden #3, cast Mystic Snake in response to my Gelectrode, bouncing his Loxodon Hierarch.

Unfortunately, my slow draw couldn't compete with his 88 tickets worth of cards this game, and I lost. This was definitely a winnable match, I just kept a hand that didn't have enough action again. Since this happened two games in a row, I made a note to myself that I need more Shazam! in the early game.


Game #5: Penguinhhj (B/R Beatdown)

He gets Stinkweed Imp, and I match it with Gelectrode. He casts Cruel Edict, kills my only creature, and then uses Reckless Charge to turn his Imp into a 4/3 beater. I dig further into my deck with Compulsive Research, and he answers with Barbarian Bully. Dwarven Patrol comes down to make sure the Bully doesn't take all my lunch money, and Twiddle deals with the flashbacked Reckless Charge on the Imp. Niv-Mizzet hits on turn 6, lives through the turn, and then wears the Curiosity cap. Twenty cards and damage later, the curiously strong Niv-Mizzet wins the game.


Although a main focus of the deck were the Dwarven Patrols, I found that they weren't really working out all that well in this deck. They don't untap from multi-colored Red spells, meaning that Gelectrode, Niv-Mizzet, Quicksilver Dagger, and Razorfin Hunter left the Patrol tapped. Without Quicksilver Dagger, Dwarven Patrol was just a 4/2 dork with a major drawback.

I also wanted to get the deck up to four Niv-Mizzet, since Niv-Mizzet was doing a majority of the killing in my endgames. If it's the #1 killer in my deck, I want to have the best chance I could of drawing the big ol' lizard every game. Last, I wanted to speed the deck up a little, so I brought my Razorfin Hunter count up to four, added in a couple of Remands, and took out the Opts. The Opts were great with Dwarven Patrol, but sans Patrol they were just another cantrip. Since I didn't want to be left with one Opt, I took it out in favor of another Compulsive Research.

In: 1 Compulsive Research, 2 Niv-Mizzet, 1 Razorfin Hunter, 2 Remand
Out: 3 Dwarven Patrol, 3 Opt,

Pinball v4.0

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Game #6: Scorpio Draconis (R/U Shattering Spree/Lattice)

This deck looks familiar! Scorpio Draconis added Djinn Illuminatus to the deck, and uses the Djinn to replicate Lava Spike seven times, the turn after he Sprees away all of my permanents. I came one turn away from comboing him out with Niv-Mizzet/Curiosity, but was one tap-effect short of denying him the Lattice mana via Twiddles and Dream's Grip.


Game #7: Red Rain (U/G/W Crystal Shard/Sunken Hope)

I get down Gelectrode, and Red Rain drops Crystal Shard. I happily plunk down Curiosity on the Gelectrode, and proceed to draw six extra cards over two turns off of the slap-happy timster thanks to Twiddle and Dream's Grip. Red Rain gigs my Gelectrode with Duplicant, and then returns his Duplicant with his Shard.

I bait a pair of Absorbs with Compulsive Researchs, and then drop Niv-Mizzet. He casts Duplicant, killing my Dragon Legend – but this is according to my plan! I drop a second Niv-Mizzet, enchant it with Curiosity, and then cast Dream's Grip on an Izzet Boilerworks to get exactly enough mana to cast Compulsive Research for the win.


Thieving Magpie
Right about here is where part one of Pinball went live on I received quite a few suggestions for the deck, and made a few changes to the deck based on reader feedback.
  1. I traded Reminisce for Mnemonic Nexus. The one mana difference between the two is negligible, since the purpose of reshuffling my graveyard into my library is to give Niv-Mizzet/Curiosity more fuel should my opponent have more life than I have cards. Being able to restock my library mid-Curiosity is key.
  2. I was short a little on offense, and more than a few people suggested adding Thieving Magpie to the deck. Thieving Magpie draws cards whenever it damages the opponent, so if it is enchanted by Quicksilver Dagger, I'd draw two cards per shooting. Without any enchantments, Thieving Magpie still swings for a card a turn.
  3. Although I didn't want to run Shock in the deck, Lava Dart was another story. Lava Dart flashes back for no mana (only the sacrifice of a Mountain), making it the perfect direct-damage compliment to Gelectrode. Twiddle allows Gelectrode to shoot twice – Lava Dart does the same for the cost of , sacrifice a Mountain.

In order to make room for the reader suggestions, some cards need to go. Reminisce obviously gets cut, since it is swapping one-for-one for the more desirable Mnemonic Nexus. Compulsive Research has always been a thrown-in for the deck, and Thieving Magpie also allows me access to card-drawing, so they can swap as well. Last of all, I have had games where I get all Twiddle and no action. Eight Twiddle effects are too many, so I can afford to give up a couple of those in favor of Lava Darts – especially since both are designed mainly to play teammate to Gelectrode.

In: Mnemonic Nexus, 3 Thieving Magpie, 3 Lava Dart
Out: Reminisce, 4 Compulsive Research, 2 Twiddle

Pinball v5.0

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Game #8: Goblin361 (B/G)

Quicksilver_DaggerI get turn 3 Gelectrode and turn 4 Curiosity. I shoot for six cards over two turns with untap spells, until the Curiosity gets taken out by Sundering Vitae. Thieving Magpie joins the party, and draws into Quicksilver Dagger. The Dagger gets hit with Naturalize, but this leaves Goblin361 open for another Curiosity on the Gelectrode. Multiple Twiddle and Lava Darts later, the game is over.


The great thing about Curiosity/Quicksilver Dagger on Gelectrode is that it enables me to draw into more ways to untap Gelectrode. Twiddle, Dream's Grip and Lava Dart all cost only one (or zero) mana to cast. If I have six mana available on a turn, I can do close to a full twenty damage: Shoot with Gelectrode (1), untap six times with three Twiddle/Dream's Grip (7), cast Lava Dart three times (13, three from the darts, and three from Gelectrode), and flash back Lava Dart three times (19). With one Curiosity, I'd draw thirteen extra cards during that turn. With two, I'd draw twenty-six.

Game #9: DragonNW (Wake)

DragonNW opens the game with Darksteel Pendant and Worship, but I drop three early pingers, and sit behind two Remands. He eventually taps five mana to cast Mirari's Wake, which earns a Remand. I cast Twiddle to tap his last land, and then drop Niv-Mizzet/Curiosity for the win.


Please note that putting Curiosity on Niv-Mizzet is not an instant win – I still need to draw a card to get the Niv-Mizzet/Curiosity loop going. In the above game, one of my Razorfin Hunters was enchanted by another Curiosity – so since I dropped Niv-Mizzet/Curiosity, I shot my opponent with the Hunter to get the combo online.

Game #10: Bkrieg73 (Power Conduit)

The only card I see is Power Conduit, as Bkrieg73 is stuck at three mana. I get my combo and win on turn 7.


Game #11: Bkrieg73 (The Rematch!)

Bkrieg73 isn't happy with the last game (understandably so!) and asks for a rematch, which I am more than happy to oblige. Bkrieg73 gets a lot of mana acceleration on the board, including multiple Pentad Prisms. I get down three Tims, and shoot him down from twenty to zero. After the game, he shows me that his win mechanism was Lunar Avenger plus Doubling Season. If he had drawn an Avenger, I would have had trouble this match – but since he did not, I had no problems winning.


Game #12: Bolamagic (B/G)

Bolamagic opens with Nezumi Graverobber, which tastes both Lava Dart and graveyard in one fell swoop. My Razorfin Hunter gets his spirit consumed by Consume Spirit, and we trade putting Gelectrode and Stinkweed Imp on the board. Two turns of swapping a point a turn later, I draw and play Curiosity, and shoot him for half-a-dozen plus cards with Gelectrode and untap effects.

Bolamagic doesn't like this turn of events, and casts Chainer's Edict to kill Gelectrode. I drop Niv-Mizzet, and it gets Edicted as well. I follow up the next turn with a second Razorfin Hunter and a second Niv-Mizzet, and Bolamagic's answer is a second Stinkweed Imp. I shoot one Imp with Niv-Mizzet thanks to my normal draw, and kill it with the Hunter. I do the same again next turn, and beat him to death with Niv-Mizzet in the red zone – a first for this deck!


Time for one last change to the deck. Although one of the reasons I ran Twiddle/Dream's Grip in this deck was to untap Izzet Boilerworks in a pinch, I found that the Boilerworks just weren't working out as planned. I almost never wanted to play a land tapped, since the deck could maximize use of mana each turn. In addition, I was finding myself short on early Red mana that didn't come into play tapped, and Lava Dart needs Mountains to come back from the graveyard. The mana needs of the deck had evolved from the beginning builds, and so the mana base of the deck needs to evolve as well.

In: 3 Mountain
Out: 3 Izzet Boilerworks

Pinball v6.0

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Game #13: Last Tragic Hero (Draw-Go)

Sword of Light and Shadow
Last Tragic Hero gets down Isochron Scepter with Fire // Ice, proceeds to draw a half-dozen cards with Ice, Boomerangs a bunch of my lands, drops and flips Erayo, and then beats me to death with a second Erayo, Sword of Light and Shadow, and multiple Stalking Stones. Due to mana denial and the Fire // Ice on the Scepter, I was never really in this game at all. Maybe the deck could use a bounce spell or two, for board positions such as these?


Game #14: JJJim007 (G/R Gruul)

For today's final match, I'll leave you with a full accounting of the game. This will show just how explosive a deck Pinball has evolved into over the past two weeks! Good job and thanks again to Yesterdays Fate for the concept.

Opening Hand: Island, Island, Mountain, Gelectrode, Curiosity, Remand, Remand
My turn 1: Island
His turn 1: Forest

My turn 2: Draw (Razorfin Hunter). Play Mountain, Razorfin Hunter.
His turn 2: Play Mountain, Tin Street Hooligan.

My turn 3: Draw (Quicksilver Dagger). Shoot Tin Street Hooligan with Hunter. Play Mountain, Gelectrode
His turn 3: Play Forest, Trophy Hunter.
My turn 4: Draw (Mountain). Play Curiosity on Gelectrode, shoot Jjjim007 (20-19). Draw (Lava Dart). Play Mountain.
His turn 4: Mountain, attempt to cast Blanchwood Armor on Trophy Hunter (I shoot it with Razorfin Hunter, then Lava Dart it, then shoot it with Gelectrode).

My turn 5: Draw (Razorfin Hunter). Shoot with Gelectrode (20-18). Draw (Mountain). Play Mountain.
His turn 5: Play Burning-Tree Bloodscale. I shoot JJJim007 with Razorfin Hunter at end of turn. (20-17).

My turn 6: Draw (Curiosity). Put Curiosity #2 on Gelectrode. Shoot JJJim007 (20-16). Draw (Lava Dart, Gelectrode).
His turn 6: Attempt to cast Moldervine Cloak on Burning-Tree Bloodscale. I shoot it with Razorfin Hunter, and flash back Lava Dart to kill it. At end of turn, I shoot JJJim007 with Gelectrode (20-15). Draw (Mountain, Razorfin Hunter).

My turn 7: Draw (Island). Play Island. Play Razorfin Hunter.
His Turn 7: Play Streetbreaker Wurm. At end of turn, I shoot JJJim007 with Razorfin Hunter (20-14). I shoot JJJim007 with Gelectrode (20-13). Draw (Lava Dart, Mountain). Cast Lava Dart on jjjim007 (20-12). Shoot JJJim007with Gelectrode again (20-11). Draw (Dream's Grip, Mountain). Cast Lava Dart on JJJim007 (20-10). Shoot JJJim007 with Gelectrode a third time (20-9). Draw (Island, Island). Cast Dream's Grip on Gelectrode. Shoot JJJim007 with Gelectrode with Dream's Grip on the stack.(20-8). Draw (Quicksilver Dagger, Thieving Magpie). Shoot with JJJim007 with Gelectrode for a fifth time (20-7). Draw (Island, Twiddle).

My turn 8: Draw (Niv-Mizzet). Play Island. Shoot JJJim007 with Razorfin Hunter (20-6). Shoot JJJim007 with Razorfin Hunter (20-5). Shoot JJJim007 with Gelectrode (20-4). Draw (Island, Quicksilver Dagger). Flashback Lava Dart at JJJim007 (20-3). Shoot JJJim007 with Gelectrode (20-2). Draw (Island, Island). Flashback Lava Dart at JJJim007 again (20-1). Shoot with Gelectrode for the win.


Until next week, this is the Deck Doctor signing off!

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