Alchemy and Ice in Standard

The Pro Tour showed us what Standard is capable of, from summoning Emrakul, the Promised End to ultimate’ing Liliana, the Last Hope, but there were some things that the massive event left out as well. There was a lot to take in, and hopefully you were able to watch at least some of the games, as there were some amazing moments.

One deck that you didn’t end up seeing during the Pro Tour Eldritch Moon coverage is the one I’m going to talk about today, complete with things like Fevered Visions, Thermo-Alchemist, and Thing in the Ice. The deck looks like nothing else in Standard right now, but it does remind me of some older decks from Magic’s past. Take a look.

UR Burn

This version was piloted by Magic Online user TheHighlife5 to a 5-0 finish in a Competitive League. The deck looks awesome and I was actually surprised that it wasn’t more well-represented at the Pro Tour outside of Pedro Carvalho’s 9-1 finish.

The two main win conditions are Thermo-Alchemist and Thing in the Ice. Thermo-Alchemist reminds me of Lobber Crew/Nettle Drone, and the entire deck brings back memories of the old Nivix Cyclops deck—most blue/red decks of this nature do. They always have this subtle combo feel where, instead of trying to assemble a bunch of cards for a combo, you’re trying to “assemble” 20 damage in a more unconventional way.

As far as ways to accomplish this task, you have the following spells:

These all provide significant chunks of damage, and you’re able to add 1 or 2 points to each with Thermo-Alchemist. Dealing 1 with Alchemist, 3 with Fiery Temper, then another 1 with Alchemist is a lot of damage. Keep in mind that Thermo-Alchemist can also redirect his damage to planeswalkers, so in conjunction with Collective Defiance, you can deal 5 or 6 to a planeswalker, which should give blue/red the damage it needs to remove most of them from the equation.

While it still sees a low amount of play, color restrictions aside, Fevered Visions might be the best Howling Mine ever printed, and it can be pretty discouraging to play against one, let alone multiples. The damage and card advantage it accrues begins to snowball out of control, with one of the best parts being that you always draw the first card, unlike actual Howling Mine. Being a dedicated source of damage—a win condition—that can deal upwards of 2, or 4 damage a turn in multiples. gives the card so much more depth, especially in a deck like this that constantly wants cards to throw out. You’re even able to discard Fiery Temper for its madness cost if your hand ends up too full.

Dispel is one of my favorite counterspells ever, and I like sneaking one into my main decks. For one thing, it costs 1 mana, which is amazing, and for another, it’s one of the best ways to protect your threats. This might not be as true in the current age of sorcery-speed removal and planeswalkers, but the fact that you have 2 in your main deck here makes total sense. The creatures in your deck are extremely important and you don’t have many of them. Being able to protect your Thermo-Alchemist from a Grasp of Darkness, or your Thing in the Ice from an Ultimate Price (this sentence needs to go directly into the Magic: The Gathering Rap Hall of Fame) is invaluable when your deck is so reliant on those creatures surviving. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Dispel interacts favorably with both of those creatures, untapping Thermo-Alchemist and removing a counter from Thing in the Ice. One final defense of Dispel is that no one enjoys tapping 5 lands to attack with a Wandering Fumarole, only to have it killed with a 2-mana instant.

The one thing red decks are usually concerned with is running out of gas, and that’s always been one of the benefits of supplementing a “burn” deck with blue cards. That’s no exception here, of course, with the addition of 2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, but it’s also interesting to note that red actually has 4 copies of a card draw spell in Tormenting Voice. Combine those 6 with Fevered Visions, and it seems unlikely you’re going to run out of cards. You also have 1 copy of Geier Reach Sanitarium, and keep in mind that it’s also possible to escalate your Collective Defiance in order to recycle your hand, potentially pitching a Fiery Temper or two in the process.

If you were able to watch any of the coverage this weekend, you might have seen how grindy some of the games can get. There’s very little life gain in the format right now and a good deal of planeswalkers, so I would assume that this deck is fairly well-positioned right now!

One final perk of this deck? It’s cheap! The most expensive cards in the deck are the 2 copies of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Everything else is basically under a couple dollars. In a Standard world comprised of expensive cards such as Liliana, the Last Hope and Ishkanah, Grafwidow, it’s kind of refreshing to see a deck that you can likely pick up right here on ChannelFireball for under $200.

Well, that’s all I have. Thanks a ton for reading. I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the list and I’ll catch you later!

[Editor’s Note: This article originally failed to mention Pedro Carvalho’s 9-1 finish with the deck at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon.]


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