Modern: Izzet Murktide Deck Tech & Sideboard Guide
Izzet Murktide is Modern's current best deck, but it's also challenging to play it masterfully, as it severely punishes your bad decisions while gradually rewarding your good plays.Edit Article
Modern, where I'll bring news about deck techs, Metagame reviews and issues related to its health or diversity whenever necessary. To start this new journey, I decided to start with what we can currently consider the best deck in the format —
What is Izzet Murktide ?
Tempodeck that runs powerful low-cost threats with an extremely efficient backup of control and protection. Your goal here is to cast a must-answer threat, and protect it while accumulating card advantage and hindering your opponent from establishing their own game plan. Like many of the best decks in a variety of competitive formats, it also fits into one of the most successful deckbuilding theories in Magic: The Gathering -
Ledger Shredder or Dragon's Rage Channeler?
too muchand usually save a removal in case you Dash it — creating a negative Tempo for them, while you can just keep attacking from the air and saving your resources for more proactive plays. Ragavan is also incredibly useful on late-game and one of the best top decks you can have when both players have run out of spells, since the extra mana and "draw" it provides can completely turn the game in your favor. Another creature that also fits into the “removals magnet” category is Ledger Shredder as normally the first copy will never live to tell the tale or even trigger if cast on turn 2. One of the reasons I play with three copies is precisely to force the opponent to spend resources that could be more important on other threats and/or late-game, while the second copy will normally come coupled with a Connive trigger and/or with a protection of backup. As mentioned above, Dragon's Rage Channeler is the best option when we have the need to pressure unfair decks while holding you back from advancing your game, and no early-game creature does this job as well as it does.
force the opponent to play around it, a psychological aspect that leads many players to avoid doubling their bets and try to play their most impactful pieces too soon fearing a Spell Pierce spoiling their plans, especially the Combo decks — and that gives us a turn or two where we virtually capitalize on their dread.
SideboardOne of Izzet Murktide's advantages is that you have access to a plethora of mighty Sideboard options, making it occasionally difficult to fit everything you want into the fifteen slots. In my Sideboard, I considered the most played spells, while trying to expand the variety of options according to the situations we currently find in the Metagame.
absurdly powerfulagainst creature archetypes: Humans, Hammer Time, Golgari Yawgmoth, and random decks like Affinity, Boros Taxes, Merfolks and anything else geared towards filling the board with small threats will be an easy target for a free pseudo-sweeper.
Mulligan and Stances
needto consider what you're playing against at all times - the ability to play your role in the match will define if your keep is really worth it, or if you'd better Mulligan in the search for a more appropriate hand. My general rules for a keep or mulligan against an
unknown opponentwith Izzet Murktide are: • You can keep a one-lander if you have more than one cantrip and one-drop (Ragavan or Channeler) because this will usually grant you the second land drop. Channeler is better than Ragavan for this, basically because I doubt he'll survive to attack the next turn. • Don't keep too reactive hands against unknown opponents—your initial proposition is to be the beatdown and then control the game as your creature sets the pressure. • Murktide Regent is not as well-positioned as it once was. Today, many decks have Teferi, Time Raveler and other spells that can return it to your hand or kill it. I don't recommend relying solely on it as the main threat, unless you're on the play and are sure you can cast it on turn 3 with Spell Pierce backup, or that opponent's removals won't be efficient against it.
StancesAs I've mentioned, Izzet Murktide seeks to take advantage of the low cost of its spells to pressure the opponent while delaying their game plans, but we can change that stance as needed and keep alternating between being Aggro or Control — and the choice of which stance to take varies after, literally, every decision made by both players. One of the main advantages of this archetype is precisely how well it switches between each plan. The bottom line is that, normally, we don't want to stay in the same stance for too long: if I start out as the beatdown on turn 1, probably from turn 2 or 3 onwards, I assume the control stance while continuing to attack with my creature. If I started with the control stance, I want within the next two or three turns to change and start improving my board since, normally, I will have exhausted some resources on the other side. This need to quickly switch between postures forces us to have a very broad knowledge of how each of the games works, since our
unknown opponentcan be identified as soon as on turn 1, and know how to pilot this deck as that match demands is one of the main keys to victory, often forcing you to change postures in the next turn. In the end, I concluded that Izzet Murktide gives you
everything needed to win any game— but you need to understand the nature of each matchup and your general knowledge of the format you're playing, how the matches unfold and the archetype will help you A LOT to get good results.
Tips and Tricks• The essence of Turbo Xerox is that your cantrips exist to find what you need when you need it. So don't use them blindly unless your game plan calls for a fast clock with your creatures and/or an early-game cast from Murktide Regent. This is critical, especially with Expressive Iteration, which gives you card advantage and the reach of up to three top cards. • Remember that Murktide Regent gains counters when any Instant or Sorcery leaves your graveyard — this means that a second copy of Murktide Regent or Unlicensed Hearse can increase the power of a copy who is already on the battlefield. • Remember that Dragon's Rage Channeler, when on Delirium,
attacks each turn it is ableand there are some times when you may prefer not to attack with it, so you don't lose your creature like, for example, if your opponent has Endurance on the battlefield. • There are a dozen micro-interactions with Mishra's Bauble. The most important of these involves knowing when it's opportune to crack your Fetch to clear the top, or crack it at your opponent's draw step to find out what they drew. • Ledger Shredder triggers before any second spell resolves. This means you can cast Unholy Heat, discard something to activate Delirium, and then deal 6 damage to the chosen target.
any playercasts their second spell — in such a mana-efficient format as Modern, it's not uncommon for you to loot on your opponent's turn. • Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer's Dash helps protect you from Prismatic Ending, Supreme Verdict, Wrenn and Six, Fury and any other sorcery-speed removal. • If you draw multiple copies of Ragavan, you can choose to cast one instead of dashing him to usually eat a removal from the opponent's hand as people, for some reason, fear him more than they should. • Just because you
canuse Ragavan's Dash doesn't mean you
should: we're still talking about a bigger investment in mana that generates a negative board position at the end of the turn and can end up generating a total of zero value, plus an extra mana that won't always be useful. Relying solely on this albino monkey's function doesn't always advance your board state well enough. • This is kind of easy to forget, so I'm putting it in this part: Otawara, Soaring City's ability costs one colorless mana less for each legendary creature you control. That is, it costs three mana with a Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer in play. • Archmage's Charm takes control of the Germ tokens from Batterskull and Kaldra Compleat, and they will remain equipped until their controller attaches the equipment to another creature. • Every card in your deck has an extremely flexible role and/or ability, so try to avoid overextending your spells just to trigger a Ledger Shredder or enable Delirium if you don't need to.
extremely complex deck to master because its position in each game depends on factors that change every turn, so although I give an overview of my experience with these games, absolutely everything depends on your own interpretation and reading of the matchup and even the way we use our sideboard can change as the opponent's deck presents itself. These factors will only be aligned in your mind with a lot of training, so my main recommendation is that you play several games with this archetype whenever you can to understand it in depth.
awfulagainst so many effective blockers, and they have few useful cards for us, and Spell Pierce because we're dealing with a creature base, and added more board interaction, as well as means to delay or simply counter the combo while maintaining our strategy of trying to attack from the air.
very strongagainst Izzet Murktide. We need to be careful with a dozen cards here, but we also need to have a clock because their late-game can easily outrun ours, as everything they do generates a 2-for-1. So try to avoid extending the game too much or being too reactive, as even Murktide Regent can be easily resolved with Brazen Borrower. As in several other games, here we will be rewarded for carrying out micro-interactions that allow us, in the long run, to establish our advantage and stay ahead of our opponent — there's not much of a standard
meansto do this because this is an extremely fickle game. Post-Sideboard, we need to maintain the same posture while we have better options to deal with them. However, the matchup is still difficult as they also add other good cards against us and the current Temur Footfalls decklist seems built to beat our deck.