Cyclops Strike

Posted in Feature on July 2, 2013

By Sam Black

Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a Pauper deck I called Izzet Smash. At the time, I didn't take it seriously as a deck that could be ported to Standard, but as we've seen many times in this column, the deck managed to make the transition from one format to another thanks in part to contributions from AJ Sacher; Greg Hatch; and, most publicly, Travis Woo. Bryan Holthouser took his version of the deck to the second day of Grand Prix Miami.

Nivix Cyclops

Without Kiln Fiend, the deck turns to the less-explosive Guttersnipe as its supplemental creature, but it also takes advantage of the cross-format all star Geist of Saint Traft.

Boros Charm is at its absolute best here, as the double-strike mode makes killing in a single hit with Nivix Cyclops surprisingly easy, and without the Cyclops, it still protects Geist of Saint Traft or offers excellent reach with Guttersnipe.

The trick to winning with Geist of Saint Traft has always been finding good ways to get in through opposing blockers. As long as the opponent can't block, 6 functional power for three mana is hard to race. This deck uses Feeling of Dread, Artful Dodge, and Faith's Shield to make sure blocking will be an ineffective strategy for any opponent.

The biggest hurdle is often finding one of the creatures in the first place (and really, you'd rather not have to lean on Guttersnipe), and this is where Faithless Looting does double duty, both as a cheap flashback spell to trigger Guttersnipe and Nivix Cyclops or as an easy way to dig to find one of these threats.

One direction that Bryan didn't go that I find intriguing is sideboarding Burning Vengeance. While it doesn't trigger off every spell you cast, it's also harder to kill than Guttersnipe and it can hit creatures. With Artful Dodge, Feeling of Dread, Faithless Looting, and Thought Scour to find them, the deck already has a number of flashback spells (and a few more could easily be added). While Burning Vengeance is definitely too slow for Game 1, when you can win most easily by never giving the opponent a chance, I'd imagine that there could be a number of matches where I'd want an engine that was harder to disrupt, or a reusable source of creature removal.

Bryan Holthouser's Nivix Aggro

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