The True Inheritor of Splinter Twin
... Does not seem to be my Simic Fling deck.
Last weekend rolled along, and with it, the full release of Strixhaven on Magic: The Gathering Arena. So, I did the only thing a remorseless brewer might: I cashed in hella Mythic wild cards for Body of Research and freerolled most of the uncommons.
I didn't have enough actual Rare wild cards for the mana base, so had to suffice near-term with the odd Ketria Triome or Temple of Mystery. Temple of Mystery was not too bad (and actually pretty good teaming up with Eureka Moment); and Ketria Triome was actively good (being an Island for Castle Vantress).
I started off 3-0 or so in Platinum and came pretty close to Tweeting that and retiring the deck undefeated.
My first several opponents were either Izzet decks (which we'll talk about in a second) or some kind of Ultimatum... All of which were destroyed easily by the medium counterspells and heavy Ramp of the Simic Fling deck. Then, when they were forced to tap mana main phase... Boom! Head shot!
The party didn't roll on forever. Because then came the aggressive opponents.
I felt like I would have won every single match against White aggro or Red aggro if I had just had one additional turn. But, of course, I didn't get one additional turn, and I would go down with all my mana tapped but a Fling in my hand; or salvation's Ugin, the Spirit Dragon one untap from, you know, saving me.
The greatest indignity may have been stabilizing against a Boros deck, losing Ugin to a Shatterskull Smashing, and then losing to my own Koma via Song-Mad Treachery. Consecutively off the top, of course.
Scratch that. The greatest indignity was any matchup against Dimir Rogues. I feel like if the only thing I had to do was buy exactly one turn against straight aggro, I'd recruit Quandrix Cultivator for the four-to-six leap, soak up at least four points of damage, and have a path. But Dimir don't play.
Against Mono-Red you can often buy legitimate time or get not-too-bad of trades with the front side of Tangled Florahedron... But not Rogues. Rogues is so cheap and so high impact you just never have time to get there. Plus, they can randomly Mill your one Mountain, which obviously makes combo recovery tight, if not impossible.
Still hovering around the middle of Platinum right now; mostly beating up Yorion, Sky Nomad decks but losing to fast ones.
Whatever Level Izzet
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Prismari:
The original Ravnica Izzet had a crazy, madcap, look at . Prismari seems much more focused at the baseline. In particular their theme seems to be around making Treasure tokens.
... Their Elder Dragon Legend even does it, right?
Actually, that's nowhere near the most interesting thing going on here. It's not just making the Treasure token... It's how the Prismari make that token that matters.
The Strixhaven school seems to have a sub-theme of digging expensive stuff back out of the graveyard for profit. Getting it there is half the battle, but at least doing so can get you that Treasure.
Certain options out of the initial Prismari decks can take advantage of all these things at once:
Prismari | STX Standard | air_vengeance, 5-0 MTGO Standard League
Lots of cool stuff going on there... In particular the interplay between expensive cards in the graveyard for Torrent Sculptor... And having Torrent Sculptor as the only creature eligible for a Draconic Intervention own goal seems pretty tight.
Galazeth Prismari opens up for Goldspan Dragon four-into-five nicely; especially after sideboarding, when the setup Treasure can power out a Mystical Dispute or Negate to protect a tapped out dragonlord.
But is it the true inheritor to Splinter Twin?
Take a look at this Prismari take:
Prismari Tempo | STX Standard | LukasDusek, 28th Place MTGO Standard Challenge 4/18/2021
- Sorceries (2)
- 2 Shatterskull Smashing
- Enchantments (4)
- 4 Improbable Alliance
- Lands (21)
- 2 Mountain
- 4 Island
- 1 Field of Ruin
- 2 Fabled Passage
- 4 Frostboil Snarl
- 4 Raugrin Triome
- 4 Riverglide Pathway
Same color combination... Totally different take on Izzet! Err... Prismari.
While it doesn't discard for Treasure and expensive spells value, LUKASDUSEK's deck is all about discarding stuff. The Planeswalker duo (or is it trio?) of Teferi, Master of Time and The Royal Scions discard hella Escape creatures to make Improbable Alliance go Go GO.
I actually love this version because it's so out there. The enormous loyalty of The Royal Scions is almost something to build around on its lonesome. Phoenix of Ash and Ox of Agonas just reveal additional angles of attack while ostensibly playing the straightforward Awesome Blossom game.
... But neither is this the true inheritor to Splinter Twin.
That One Time I Lost to Riverglide Pathway
I bragged above that I did a lot of winning with Simic Fling against all manner of and Ultimatum decks.
That is, except the one time I got my tail handed to me by Next Level Izzet.
The opponent was on the play.
At the end of my turn they discarded Magma Opus to make a Treasure.
Sacrifice the Treasure, and...
Now is this the true inheritor to Splinter Twin?
I think: Hard maybe.
I realized I had already lost at that point, and that it was just going to be a humiliating avalanche of card advantage and fancy napkins from that point.
They swung in with the Efreet Flamepainter.
Boom. One. Ouch.
Re-buy Magma Opus. In addition to the one (ouch) I took the full four. I obviously had no relevant interaction at two mana... But if I did it wouldn't have mattered: Magma Opus tapped my two open lands. That's not all, though. Sure, there was a 4/4 in play now, too.
But drawing those two extra cards? Brutal.
DID YOU NOTICE EFREET FLAMEPAINTER HAS DOUBLE STRIKE???
Second discard. Second whole Magma Opus sequence. Abject humiliation.
Let's break it down:
- Efreet Flamepainter gains an incalculable amount of value from going first. Like Robber of the Rich, the above described play sequence thrives on the opponent being a little off-balance. In many games the opponent's second land might come into play tapped, for instance.
- The two-card combo sets itself up. You need the Treasure to accelerated Efreet Flamepainter onto the battlefield ahead of schedule. But getting such a card into the graveyard is exactly what Efreet Flamepainter wants once it is already there! Combo!
- Because Efreet Flamepainter is red, this is a very difficult 4-drop to interact with on turn two. You can't, for instance, Mystical Dispute it.
Once on the battlefield, Efreet Flamepainter doesn't suck. I tried to imagine Mono-Red in that spot. Redcap Melee is a sideboard card. That four toughness is a killer. You either have specialized removal - right then and there - or it is very likely to put you way behind with some kind of Prismari Ultimatum.
Magma Opus was probably the flashiest thing my opponent could have done; but it's not like a "free" Creative Outburst - especially using that powerful dig ability in combination with double strike --is going to do anything but bury you.
So, what was the point of mentioning the LUKASDUCEK build? It's on a completely different theme, isn't it?
Remember who I said I couldn't beat with my own first swing with a Splinter Twin wannabe in Standard? Rogues. Heck, a well-placed Thieves' Guild Enforcer can wipe the smug look off your Efreet Flamepainter, first strike or no. Four toughness? Ha! Meet deathtouch, etc.
I would envision a deck of this order sideboarding very aggressively for the Rogues matchup. Having played a lot of Mono-Red the past run, I can tell you that Rogues does not like to play against multiple Phoenix of Ash and / or Ox of Agonas... Main deck or sideboard. You can just take out your fancy stuff in that one matchup, and answer the question Who's the Beatdown?
Surprisingly you're the beatdown in Game 1; but just happen to be a kind of beatdown that Rogues is very good at interacting with. In Game 2, you benefit from them bringing the game to you; but would be capable of attack, whether your Phoenix cost three or four.
Lastly, How is This a Real Card?
Isn't that just a bad Efreet Flamepainter?
Well... Not really. Instead of getting multiple swings at big card draw, Torrent Sculptor just becomes big. It's a faster - if far, far less flashy - Body of Research on four (or three, with a Treasure assist). 6/6 for four seems perfectly in-range, and will be key in holding off certain fair opponents.
That's not even why the card is so exciting in Prismari, though.
How do you think your Flamepainter would like to flash back Alrund's Epiphany? It's funny you ask; because Flamethrower Sonata is a perfect card to help get the Efreet through, especially so early. Again, your removal is doing double duty: It's also giving fuel to your next play.
What do you think?
Have we found Standard's de facto Splinter Twin combo?