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Article Top > Column > UR Pyromancer Deckguide

UR Pyromancer Deckguide

2018/02/09 00:00 

    • Peter Vieren
    • Column

Hello all! I am Peter Vieren, a Gold Level Pro from Belgium, and this is my first article for Hareruya.

Last weekend was Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan in Bilbao, where my younger brother Pascal had an incredible 3rd place finish after being undefeated in the Swiss rounds. I am super happy and proud of him! While he will tell you about his experiences in a separate article, I will focus on the deck we played at this tournament : UR Pyromancer.

In this article I will talk about how the deck came to be and try to explain the reasoning behind the list. Next I will provide a sideboard guide which should come in handy for those who want to try out the deck.

Through the BreachEmrakul, the Aeons TornPestermiteKiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Madcap ExperimentPlatinum Emperion

I started my testing with the various UR or Jeskai shells with a combo in them: either 《Through the Breach》/《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》, 《Pestermite》/《Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker》 or 《Madcap Experiment》/《Platinum Emperion》. Having a controlling gameplan combined with a combo seemed very appealing to me, as in Modern there are so many different angles of attack that you need to have a proactive gameplan in addition to any reactive cards you play. In testing the various combo decks, I learned a few things:

Opt

1) Opt was great. I loved the way decks with 4 《Serum Visions》, 4 《Opt》 and 4 《Snapcaster Mage》 played. Finding the right piece of interaction is critical in Modern, and these decks were great at it.

2) Every combo was clunky and fairly easy to interact with. In addition, they all required you to resolve a rather expensive spell, which meant you needed to have enough lands in play to begin with. In short, it took a lot of time and resources to assemble your combo, while you had the risk of having dead pieces in your hand, and then you would often be forced to just run it out and hope they couldn't answer it because you were too far behind at that point.

3) I liked the tempo aspect of Pestermite. Having a beatdown plan is great in decks that can just 《Lightning Bolt》/《Snapcaster Mage》/《Lightning Bolt》 your opponent. However, 《Pestermite》 itself wasn't necessarily great. While it was good in the early turns, tapping something down for a turn is quite weak later on, and a 2/1 flying for three is not a great rate. This was also the combo that actually happened the least, and Kiki-Jiki is a strain on your manabase (as you want to fetch Islands often).

My conclusion was that, instead of a combo as the proactive plan, I would rather have a cheap creature to combine with 《Lightning Bolt》 and 《Snapcaster Mage》 for a beatdown plan. When you think of a cheap creature that is big for its cost and can act as a standalone threat, you think of 《Tarmogoyf》. So next I built a UR/G deck with 《Tarmogoyf》 and some 《Tireless Tracker》. From this deck I learned:

1) 《Tireless Tracker》 was nice. Having a source of true card advantage gave the deck the necessary power in longer games. In the final build, 《Ancestral Vision》 would take this role.

2) The plan with 《Tarmogoyf》 as a cheap threat worked well. However, one problem with it was that the deck became quite soft to 《Relic of Progenitus》. People would already board it in against a Snapcaster deck, but it wasn't too hard to play around. However, with all your 《Tarmogoyf》 also potentially being blanked by the threat of activation of a Relic midcombat, the card suddenly became quite hard to beat.

Thing in the Ice

So I looked for another threat, and that's when I found 《Thing in the Ice》, a card I have good experiences with. I tried it and it outperformed 《Tarmogoyf》 easily. Besides not requiring a third color, it's absolutely insane against any creature-based deck, while still being a decent clock in other match-ups. It also gives you a plan to steal games against decks that were previously virtually unbeatable in game one, like Dredge or Boggles.

The secondary threat, and now the deck's namesake (I understand that UR Thing would just sound weird), was actually the last addition to the deck. Similar to Thing, it is a cheap threat that can get in play early and snowball if unchecked. While it doesn't offer the incredible tempo advantage of a Thing transformation, it shored up some of 《Thing in the Ice》's weaknesses, like Liliana, an early creature swarm, or a cheap threat with 4 or more power. While it might seem at first that the two creatures have some non-synergy (Thing flip destroying all your Elemental tokens), this is not really relevant. If you ever get into a position where you lose a lot of Elementals this way, it should mean you are winning anyway. (Also, be aware that in this case you do get to keep the Elemental token from your last spell if you stack the triggers correctly.)

The final card I need to talk about is one that is not in the deck at all: 《Blood Moon》. I started testing with a pair of them in the maindeck, and soon moved one to the sideboard. This was the configuration for a lot of the testing process. While the card wasn't bad, it wasn't exactly pulling its weight either. Even against the big mana decks, it was a bit of liability.

Tron could often resolve an 《Oblivion Stone》, which would mean that not only would they eventually get rid of your Moon, it prevented you from putting a creature in play to pressure them. You don't mind trading one for one with an O-Stone, but having to commit two cards to it is bad. Also, in post-board games, both Valakut and Tron players had enchantment removal ready, forcing you to counter spells you weren't that well set up to counter (for example, 《Ceremonious Rejection》, 《Disdainful Stroke》, 《Mana Leak》 and 《Remand》 are all really bad versus 《Nature's Claim》). And if they got rid of the Moon, it had no lasting effect - their Tron pieces or Valakuts are intact and ready to go.

On the other side was 《Field of Ruin》, a card that had been performing very well. It's a much stronger card than people realize. Using this as nonbasic land-hate meant its effect was always permanent, it worked better with counterspells, and it didn't even use a spell slot. Once 《Young Pyromancer》 was added to the deck, the 《Blood Moon》 got removed completely to maximize the number of instants and sorceries. In testing we soon realized people were playing around Moon anyway. Tron players would have useless 《Nature's Claim》 in hand, and the 3-color decks like Grixis Shadow fetched their basics as soon as they saw a pair of Islands on our side:which made our Fields that much better!

Sideboard guide

The sideboard is built with many cards that overlap against various archetypes. With a deck like this, I don't think you can afford to play a bunch of “hard nukes” for just one archetype, because chances are you'll never use them, and you will have bad cards in your deck in other matchups. Instead it's all about adjusting your threats, removal and counterspells. As a reactive deck, against most of the decks you will be more favored in post-board games.

Below I will list all the matchups I considered when building the sideboard. While it's not every deck in Modern, it is still a huge list. These are just my pre-tournament plans, they won't be perfect, but they will give you an idea of what to do in each match-up. As always, you need to adjust on the spot to the specifics of your opponent's deck. There are also variations on play or draw, but I just made general plans to keep it manageable.

Grixis Death's Shadow

Thought ScourDeath's Shadow黄金牙、タシグル

This is a very swingy match-up, as whoever can stick a creature is very advantaged. 《Stubborn Denial》 is the most important card to always keep in mind.

VS. Grixis Death's Shadow

Out

Spell Snare Abrade Electrolyze

In

Dispel Dispel Relic of Progenitus

Storm

Baral, Chief of CompliancePast in FlamesGrapeshot

If you are on the draw in game 1, you will need to evaluate if your hand is good enough to stop their combo in a longer game. If not you may just need to play your threat, hope they don't go off, and then disrupt them long enough. After sideboard you have all the interaction to keep them from doing much, so I consider this matchup favorable.

VS. Storm

Out

Cryptic Command Cryptic Command Roast Roast
Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice

In

Negate Spell Snare Dispel Dispel
Abrade Relic of Progenitus Vendilion Clique

VS. Jeskai Tempo

Out

Roast Roast Cryptic Command Cryptic Command
Electrolyze Young Pyromancer

In

Negate Spell Snare Dispel Dispel
Abrade Vendilion Clique

Gx Tron

Urza's TowerUrza's MineUrza's Power Plant

Early on you can disrupt their mana with 《Field of Ruin》 and/or counterspells. In some games you will then decide to stop countering their enablers, let them have mana and just counter their relevant spells, while in others you will keep them off Tron completely (usually when you have a clock). This is a good matchup, especially postboard.

VS. Gx Tron

Out

Roast Roast Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice

In

Disdainful Stroke Negate Ceremonious Rejection Ceremonious Rejection
Vendilion Clique Crumble to Dust Molten Rain

Humans

AEther VialThalia, Guardian of ThrabenMantis Rider

Game one is a bit rough because your counterspells are useless. After sideboard the matchup feels quite good.

VS. Humans

Out

Mana Leak Mana Leak Remand Remand
Logic Knot

In

Electrolyze Abrade Anger of the Gods Anger of the Gods
Vendilion Clique

Eldrazi Tron

Thought-Knot SeerReality SmasherEndbringer

This is the one matchup that is almost unwinnable.

VS. Eldrazi Tron

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Spell Snare Electrolyze Young Pyromancer

In

Abrade Disdainful Stroke Ceremonious Rejection Ceremonious Rejection
Vendilion Clique Crumble to Dust Molten Rain

Burn

Lightning BoltGoblin GuideEidolon of the Great Revel

A close matchup, where cheap interaction is key.

VS. Burn

Out

Ancestral Vision Ancestral Vision Remand Remand
Electrolyze

In

Negate Spell Snare Dispel Dispel
Abrade

Affinity

MemniteCranial PlatingArcbound Ravager

Another matchup that improves a lot with sideboarding (it's good to be the interactive deck). Overall I like this matchup.

VS. Affinity

Out

Remand Remand Mana Leak Mana Leak
Cryptic Command Young Pyromancer Young Pyromancer Young Pyromancer

In

Anger of the Gods Anger of the Gods Ceremonious Rejection Ceremonious Rejection
Abrade Electrolyze Vendilion Clique Spell Snare

VS. Dredge

Out

Roast Roast Mana Leak Mana Leak
Abrade Ancestral Vision

In

Negate Spell Snare Anger of the Gods Anger of the Gods
Relic of Progenitus Electrolyze

VS. Abzan

Out

Abrade Lightning Bolt Thing in the Ice

In

Relic of Progenitus Electrolyze Spell Snare

UR Breach

Snapcaster MageThrough the BreachEmrakul, the Aeons Torn

I generally like the matchup against UR decks. Thing in the Ice is hard to kill and you can even threaten to disrupt their combo with it.

VS. UR Breach

Out

Roast Roast Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Abrade Young Pyromancer

In

Negate Spell Snare Dispel Dispel
Electrolyze Vendilion Clique

UW Control

Celestial ColonnadeDetention SphereDragonlord Ojutai

This is generally a good matchup, but if they play 《Emrakul, the Promised End》 like the version we ran into at the Pro Tour, that's a problem.

VS. UW Control

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Roast Roast Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice
Abrade

In

Negate Spell Snare Dispel Dispel
Molten Rain Electrolyze Disdainful Stroke Vendilion Clique
Abrade

Mardu Pyromancer

Young PyromancerBedlam RevelerFaithless Looting

Settle in for some long, grindy games. The matchup is pretty even.

VS. Mardu Pyromancer

Out

Roast Abrade Spell Snare

In

Relic of Progenitus Anger of the Gods Electrolyze

Lantern

Lantern of InsightCodex ShredderEnsnaring Bridge

With a lot of cheap counterspells, I think the matchup is quite good after sideboarding.

VS. Lantern

Out

Electrolyze Spell Snare Roast Roast
Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice

In

Negate Dispel Ceremonious Rejection Ceremonious Rejection
Relic of Progenitus Abrade Vendilion Clique

VS. RG Valakut

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Abrade Thing in the Ice

In

Molten Rain Disdainful Stroke Negate Spell Snare
Crumble to Dust Vendilion Clique

Blue Living End

Striped RiverwinderAs ForetoldLiving End

Mostly a control mirror, but the matchup is tough because they have even more 《Ancestral Vision》, and a 3 mana card that wins the game if it resolves.

VS. Blue Living End

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Abrade Roast Roast

In

Negate Spell Snare Dispel Dispel
Relic of Progenitus Electrolyze Vendilion Clique

GR Land Destruction

Utopia SprawlStone RainMwonvuli Acid-Moss

Quite similar to other ramp decks, except 《Lightning Bolt》 is actually good.

VS. GR Land Destruction

Out

Spell Snare Young Pyromancer Young Pyromancer Young Pyromancer
Abrade

In

Molten Rain Electrolyze Disdainful Stroke Negate
Vendilion Clique

Abzan Counters Company

Devoted DruidVizier of RemediesCollected Company

This matchup is fairly easy, as their combo creatures are weak. Just don't let them resolve 《Collected Company》.

VS. Abzan Counters Company

Out

Spell Snare Young Pyromancer Young Pyromancer Young Pyromancer
Remand

In

Anger of the Gods Anger of the Gods Dispel Dispel
Electrolyze

Jund Death's Shadow

TarmogoyfDeath's ShadowLiliana of the Veil

Like all BGx decks, the matchup is not great, but certainly not unwinnable.

VS. Jund Death's Shadow

Out

Electrolyze Abrade

In

Relic of Progenitus Spell Snare

Eldrazi&Taxes

Leonin ArbiterThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThought-Knot Seer

Small creature decks are generally good matchups. Make sure to use fetches first, so you don't get hurt by 《Leonin Arbiter》.

VS. Eldrazi&Taxes

Out

Cryptic Command Cryptic Command Remand Remand

In

Electrolyze Abrade Anger of the Gods Anger of the Gods

Jund/Black-Green

ThoughtseizeDark ConfidantKolaghan's Command

Same as other BGx decks.

VS. Jund/Black-Green

Out

Abrade Lightning Bolt

In

Relic of Progenitus Spell Snare

Ad Nauseam

Lotus BloomAd NauseamLightning Storm

This matchup feels really hard to lose after sideboard.

VS. Ad Nauseam

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Roast Roast Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice
Electrolyze

In

Dispel Dispel Ceremonious Rejection Ceremonious Rejection
Molten Rain Abrade Disdainful Stroke Negate
Vendilion Clique

GW Company

Voice of ResurgenceKnight of the ReliquaryRamunap Excavator

This is a much harder matchup than the combo-based Abzan deck, as you need to keep their value creatures off the table.

VS. GW Company

Out

Young Pyromancer Young Pyromancer Young Pyromancer
Remand Remand

In

Abrade Dispel Anger of the Gods Anger of the Gods
Electrolyze

BR Hollow One

Burning InquiryHollow OneFlamewake Phoenix

I don't have much experience with this matchup, but I suppose it will become more popular now.

VS. BR Hollow One

Out

Cryptic Command Electrolyze Mana Leak Spell Snare

In

Relic of Progenitus Abrade Anger of the Gods Anger of the Gods

Conclusion

A lot of Pros were unhappy about having to play a Modern Pro Tour. Initially, I was also in this camp. My last experience playing Modern was at the World Magic Cup in 2016, and while that tournament was a success for us, I didn't think the format was healthy or enjoyable at that point. The linear decks were simply too strong. Since then the format has shifted, and decks with a high degree of interactivity have become stronger.

If you like playing interactive matches, UR Pyromancer is one of several viable options to do so in the current Modern format. While playing this deck, I had interesting games full of decisions almost every time. Playing this deck made me appreciate Modern, and I hope the format will remain as healthy as it is now.

If this is a style of deck you enjoy playing, I definitely recommend trying out the above list. It's challenging and rewarding to learn, and Pascal has showed the world its power.

Peter Vieren

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