Mining for Fish

Posted in Reconstructed on July 15, 2014

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Here's a riddle for you. What happens when you make a game that combines the talents of Markus "Notch" Persson, the creator of Minecraft, and Mike Neumann, the creative director of Borderlands?

Okay! Now hold that thought for a moment.

Two weeks ago on ReConstructed, I asked you all to submit decks built around one of the Magic 2015 outside-designer cards. With fifteen choices, there were plenty of exciting decks based around different themes—but one option stood above the rest.

Okay. Still have that mental image in your head? Are you imagining what blocky Borderlands or weaponized Minecraft looks like?

Well, I'd like to introduce a true Notch-Neumann combination project:

Itou Kazunari's Izzet's Jet Stream Attack

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The Battle Plan

There's a lot going on here, so let's break it down a little bit.

At first blush, this is kind of a disruptive Izzet deck. It has some cheap threats, a few tricks, and some strong options if the game goes long.

One particularly strong interaction comes straight from both Notch and Mike Neumann's cards, since they play so nicely together. Fueling a Chasm Skulker can take time normally—but with Aggressive Mining, you can build it up extremely fast. If you have a Mining and play a 1/1 Skulker, you can sacrifice a land on your turn, a land on your opponent's turn, and then a land on your turn again, making it an 8/8 before you ever even attack with it! That kind of creature is sure to make a, well...notch on your opponent's life total.

There are a few other tricks going on here, too. Riptide Chimera lets you pick up your Aggressive Mining, letting you draw a bunch of cards and then ensuring you can play lands just fine. Izzet Charm can give Chasm Skulker +2/+2 right away for only two mana—and at instant speed! And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The thing I'm going to be looking at the most in improving this deck is increasing its focus. Right now, it's trying to do some enchantment action with Riptide Chimera, but also some spell action with Young Pyromancer. What is this deck about? Enchantments? Instants? Planeswalkers? Let's start rebuilding it and find out!

Deck Breakdown

What cards can stay and what ones should be sent to the borderlands? Let's go through the deck card by card and talk about each choice!

Chasm Skulker

This is one of the key cards that this deck is built around. While it's only a 1/1 to start, it can quickly grow out of hand. This Izzet deck has a few good ways to draw cards, whether late or early in the game, that pump up this card. Most importantly in Standard right now, it's resilient: with all of the removal running around in decks like Mono-Black Control, having a strong dies trigger goes a long way. I couldn't imagine cutting a Skulker from this deck.

Riptide Chimera

There's a big choice to be made with this deck that will dictate a lot of the upcoming decisions. Either it keeps Riptide Chimera and focuses a bit more on enchantments, or it keeps Young Pyromancer and focuses more on instants and sorceries using cards like Spite of Mogis. As is, it's really hard to find room for both sides and they don't really work that well with each other; you have to draw all of your cards in the right order to make it matter.

I'm going to fall slightly more on the enchantment side here. While I love Young Pyromancer and the potential it brings with Aggressive Mining of chaining a bunch of cheap instants and sorceries together, the Chimera has more natural synergy with the deck since it can get you out from under your own Aggressive Mining. Let's go down the Chimera path!

Goblin Electromancer

Electromancer is a completely reasonable card, but with our directional shift away from instants and sorceries it's no longer a great fit for this deck. Farewell, Electromancer!

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius

Normally, in a deck like this I wouldn't mind having some kind of finisher—but with the deck's propensity to sacrifice lands, a six-mana threat that's even more mana hungry isn't what I'm looking for.

Instead, I'm interested in Keranos, God of Storms. He costs a little less, keeps producing his effect without any additional mana investment, and is even an enchantment. Two copies of Keranos is just what I was looking for.

Aggressive Mining

Another one of the key cards of this deck. It ensures you always have gas to cast at any point in the game—provided you have enough mana to make everything work out. It's important to not slam this too early or you risk setting yourself back pretty majorly. The way you want to play it is as a card that refuels you when you're low on action. If you just run it out there on turn four, you're going to mess up your game plan a lot of the time.

With all of that said, the card is a strong source of card advantage, provided you can keep it under control. Riptide Chimera is going to be your all-star here, making sure that you can return it to your hand.

I'm moving down to three copies because you don't want to cast it right away, and you also don't really want to draw multiples. But make no mistake: it is still a cornerstone of this deck. Please mine responsibly.

Izzet Charm

There aren't many instants and sorceries I want to keep around while on the Riptide Chimera side of things—and Izzet Charm is one of the chosen few. Whether keeping creatures under control, digging you to what you need while also growing Chasm Skulker, or countering a removal spell at just the perfect time, Izzet Charm is a great fit for this deck. I want to keep all four.

Turn and Burn

Turn and Burn is a great card, and certainly plenty strong enough for this deck—but with the shift toward enchantments I can only keep so many instants and sorceries. Izzet Charm was good enough to stay—but this one isn't quite going to cut it. Goodbye, Turn and Burn!


Downsize is not a particularly strong card, and was really only there as a one-mana spell that could be used with Young Pyromancer. (And even then, I'd rather have Quicken or something.) With that need eliminated, these can go as well.


With Young Pyromancer there was a bit of a cute strategy where you could build up tokens and then rely on your singleton Teleportal to break through and kill your opponent. Without that angle, Teleportal isn't nearly strong enough—so it can go as well.

Jace, the Living Guildpact

Planeswalkers and enchantments perform similar functions: they stay in play, providing continual advantage. Does it also have space for Planeswalkers?

Both Jace, the Living Guildpact and Ral Zarek are great role-filling cards. However, neither of them are absolute must-haves for this deck—and at that point, I would rather cut them to make room for some more enchantment-themed cards.


I keep talking about these enchantments I want to add. What's the deal with those? Well, I gave them their own section because they kind of all deserve to be talked about together in context.

The first cards I think of pairing with Riptide Chimera are cheap enchantments that "cantrip"—meaning they draw you a card when you play them. For example, take Dragon Mantle: it costs one mana, draws you a card, and provides a small effect.

However, if you're returning it to your hand every turn, that means you get to draw an extra card for just one mana each turn! This can start to mount up quickly once you add Chasm Skulker into the equation as well. Stratus Walk and Fate Foretold provide similar effects, while also adding their bonuses; giving something like Chasm Skulker flying is particularly strong in this deck.

From there, I start to lean toward two other enchantment-themed cards. The first is Forgeborn Oreads. While this card usually seems to be right outside the cusp of what I would want to play in Constructed, it finally has a home here: with all of the enchantments you're chaining together from drawing cards and using Riptide Chimera to recast each turn, you can pretty systematically disassemble your opponent's army with a bunch of pings.

Finally, with all of these enchantments and targeted Auras comes another great enchantment reward: Meletis Astronomer.

This card works perfectly with all of the cheap cantripping Auras. It helps you quickly filter through your deck, drawing cards and finding more enchantments. It can dig you to cards like Forgeborn Oreads, and then once you're there you can keep enchanting it with your Auras, drawing a card off the Aura, and also looking at your top three cards and taking an enchantment—meaning you can keep pinging over and over again!

When you bring it all together, the deck looks something like:

Gavin Verhey's A Notch in my Neumann

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Who knew than cantripping enchantments could be so dangerous?

There are a lot of ways this deck could have gone—and I'm excited about the direction it did. With that said, if the Young Pyromancer angle excited you more, it's still definitely a route worth going down and giving a try.

If you were to try that, I'd use a lot of cheap removal and as many one-mana spells as possible to maximize your Pyromancers. I'd also consider Bident of Thassa with all of those tokens you have! Void Snare is a great card that is both a cheap sorcery that can also bounce your own Aggressive Mining so you don't get locked under it.

Either way, hopefully you enjoyed this unique team-up of external designer cards! It's always fun to pull two unique cards together to synergize—and especially so when they're cards made by two external designers who put their own cards into the game. Who knew that Notch and Mike Neumann would synergize so well together—perhaps there's a collaboration game in their future...

Honorable Mentions

What were some of the other great designer card decks sent in this week? Let's take a look!

Richard Loveland’s Genesis Ramp

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Alex Cohen’s Sir-Squids-a-Lot

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Darth Thulhu's Comin' Through!!!

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Brett's Biodeath

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Andrew McLaren’s Genesis Ramp

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Justin Rogers’s White Warden

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Wil Blanks’s Simic Genesis

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Tarao Fuguta'sOne Mana for One Mana Creatures

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Instant (8)
4 Bile Blight 4 Hero's Downfall
Land (22)
22 Swamp
Other (3)
3 Thougtseize
61 Cards

Gabe Magee’s Chords of Yisan

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Naoto Horiguchi's Aggressive Karametra

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Dai Kasahara's Master of Predicaments

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Portland Preparation

In just a little over two weeks, the first-ever Pro Tour for a core set will be here! Happening in Portland, Oregon, and featuring the brand-new set, it's sure to shake up Standard—so let's talk competitive that week!

Format: Standard
Restrictions: Your decks should be aimed at competitive play. (Submitting sideboards is optional.)
Deadline: July 21, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Submit all decklists by emailing me at Please submit decklists using the following template. (The specific numbers below are arbitrary, so please don't feel a need to use them—it's just how an example of how a decklist should look when laid out.)

Yourname's Deckname
Format: Standard
20 Land
20 Land
4 Creature
4 Creature
4 Other Spell
4 Other Spell
4 Planeswalker

Also, take note that for this week, please send your decks to There is currently a bug that is causing difficulty with me seeing your decklists sent to my Wizards address.

I'm excited to see what you all send in—Magic 2015 adds several potentially format-defining cards into Standard. Let's see what happens next!

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or comments on this article, feel free to send me a tweet or ask me a question on Tumblr and I'll be sure to take a look! I always enjoy hearing feedback of any kind.

I'll be back next week when I take a look at some Magic 2015 Modern! Talk with you all again then!


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