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Paul Hagan's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
Type II Red / White Isochron
- 5.12.05

Hey all, and welcome back to the deck garage! This week, we’re heading back into the realms of Type II, or Standard, with a Red / White Isochron Scepter deck. The e-mail I received is below.

my deck works good right now but i was wondering how to improve it. this deck is based around my isochron scepters, once one of them with a holyday on it is out that usually means game over for who ever i am playing. it is a completely creatureless deck. here is whats in it. i am on a limited budget.

4-isochron scepter
4-lighting blast
4-holy day
4-barbed lighting
2-lava axe
2-awe strike
1-tower of eons
1-granite shard
1-planar portal
1-nuisance engine
2-welding jars
1-darksteel forge
1-blessed reversal
2-volcanic hammer

4-cloud posts


It looks like our contributor is off to a decent start, but we have a bit of work to do.

Kicking things off, I’m looking at the deck and seeing a number of cards that seem out of place. Darksteel Forge just costs too much for what it does, as are both Pyrotechnics and Lava Axe. Tower of Eons has close to the same problem, as its activation cost is too high to be of any real use. Planar Portal is sitting on the edge, with a 6 casting cost and a 6 activation cost. I’m going to play it safe and get rid of the Portal as well. My reasoning is that anything that has a converted mana cost of 6 or higher should be helping you win the game, not going to get the cards that help you win the game.

-1 Darksteel Forge
-2 Lava Axe
-1 Planar Portal
-2 Pyrotechnics
-1 Tower of Eons

Now that we’ve cleared out the deck a bit, we can review what cards can be played on Isochron Scepter. Shock and Holy Day are the two major spells, as mentioned in the e-mail. Hallow, Blessed Reversal, and Awe Strike are also hanging out to help deal with some of the damage coming at the deck’s pilot. Finally, we have a lone copy of Shatter hanging out to deal with artifact threats.

I’m going to start by cutting out Hallow and Awe Strike. Hallow is really only decent against a couple of spells, most of them red, so it can probably be cut, or at least be shoved in the sideboard. Awe Strike is really just doubling up on the job that Holy Day is doing, so we can afford to get rid of it. In their place, I’d like to add another way to deal some damage and prevent creatures from doing damage, so in goes Raise the Alarm to help make either cheap attackers or cheap, fast blockers.

-2 Awe Strike
-2 Hallow
+4 Raise the Alarm

The same things that I said above about Awe Strike can be applied to Blessed Reversal. With this in mind, why don’t we change the sole copy of Blessed Reversal into another copy of Shatter, helping stop some of the artifacts that are still floating around in the Type II environment.

-1 Blessed Reversal
+1 Shatter

I don’t really see a good reason to play Lightning Blast, especially with the Isochron theme of this deck. Why not run another burn spell that can be used on Isochron, even at the cost of slightly less damage? Magma Jet might be the best burn spell in Type II right now, if only because the attached Scry ability can help you find the cards you need.

-4 Lightning Blast
+4 Magma Jet

To help maximize the amount of good burn spells drawn over the course of any given game, let’s add a couple more Volcanic Hammer – I guess you can’t argue with three damage for two mana. To make room, I’m going to cut Granite Shard – which is too slow for this deck – and Nuisance Engine, which is somewhat irrelevant since we added in Raise the Alarm.

-1 Granite Shard
-1 Nuisance Engine
+2 Volcanic Hammer

OK, so as it stands now, we have eighteen spells that can be attached to Isochron Scepter, so it should be seeing plenty of use. However, I’m not satisfied with Barbed Lightning, and we have four more slots to fill – six if we lower the land count in this low casting cost deck.

I think this might be a deck where a full set of Leonin Abunas is warranted. Isochron Scepter is the key to victory, meaning an opponent with several artifact-removal spells could be a *huge* issue. Leonin Abunas helps solve this problem, and provides the deck’s pilot with a large blocker if necessary. Let’s replace Barbed Lightning with the somewhat more relevant Abunas.

-4 Barbed Lightning
+4 Leonin Abunas

I mentioned replacing a few land earlier, and here’s why – if you look at every card in the deck thus far, aside from Leonin Abunas, everything costs one or two mana. Twenty-four lands seem like a bit much for that mana curve. Let’s cut two land in favor of two more Welding Jars, which will help protect the Isochron Scepters a little bit more.

-2 Cloudpost
+2 Welding Jar

Since we have four slots left, and aside from small burn spells we have no big way to win, I want to add one more win condition. With a single Isochron Scepter on the table, you only really need two mana per turn, assuming you don’t have another spell from hand to play. With this in mind, why don’t we include a creature that is somewhat mana intensive? Furnace Whelp fits that bill.

+4 Furnace Whelp

Again, we have a low mana curve in this deck. This means that Cloudpost is probably unnecessary, so let’s cut that. In its place (and in the place of a couple of basic lands), we can add yet another way to deal damage – Blinkmoth Nexus.

-2 Cloudpost
-2 Plains
+4 Blinkmoth Nexus

The last change I want to make is to swap two Plains for two Mountains, just to smooth out the mana and to provide the pilot with enough red mana to power Furnace Whelp.

-2 Plains
+2 Mountain

I think that about wraps up work on this deck. Here’s what it looks like…

4 Furnace Whelp
4 Leonin Abunas

4 Holy Day
4 Isochron Scepter
4 Magma Jet
4 Raise the Alarm
2 Shatter
4 Shock
4 Welding Jar
4 Volcanic Hammer

LANDS (22):
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
12 Mountains
8 Plains

Hope that helps, and good luck!

I’ll see y’all next week.

-Paul Hagan


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