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Mastering Izzet Creativity in Pioneer

Skura
14/03/2024 · 13 min read
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The Decklist

The combo control deck Pioneer has been waiting for

Indomitable Creativity is a card adored by Pioneer and Modern players alike. I am no different with my love for the card extending to both formats. While I have already spoken about its Modern counterpart, today we will delve deeper into the younger format with a wholly different payoff.

This is the list I’ve been playing recently.

Izzet Creativity. Builder: Skura.MTGA - Magic Arena
Other in 13-Mar-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [8]
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $20.99
4  Torrential Gearhulk   $0.79
Instant [25]
4  Spell Pierce   $0.59
4  Deduce   $0.35
3  Fiery Impulse   $0.69
4  Magma Opus   $5.49
3  Prismari Command   $0.99
3  Voltage Surge   $0.35
4  Make Disappear   $0.59
Sorcery [4]
4  Indomitable Creativity   $3.49
Land [23]
1  Hall of Storm Giants   $3.49
1  Island   $0.01
4  Mountain   $0.01
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $27.99
4  Riverglide Pathway   // $9.49
1  Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance   $6.49
4  Steam Vents   $17.99
4  Stormcarved Coast   $3.49
3  Thundering Falls   $9.99
Sideboard [15]
2  Aether Gust   $0.35
2  Anger of the Gods   $0.59
2  Ashiok, Dream Render   $0.99
3  Rending Volley   $2.29
2  Hullbreaker Horror   $4.49
2  Narset's Reversal   $9.99
2  Shark Typhoon   $5.99
Buy this deck:

$154.23 Tix @cardhoarder   $3.86 / Week @cardhoarder   $293.15 @tcgplayer   $378.79 @cardkingdom  


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While there have been many different versions like Atraxa or Xenagos Wurm, which wants to one-shot the opponent, I believe this version is the perfect blend between having its own proactive plan and being able to switch to a control plan.

As far as my testing goes, it has performed really well for me.

Let’s dive in!

Card Choices

The Combo

Let’s address the combo in question. The trick is to discard Magma Opus and create a Treasure. Then, you target that Treasure with Indomitable Creativity and thanks to it not being a creature it’s removal proof. The only creature in the deck is Torrential Gearhulk so you’re 100% to hit it. Gearhulk flashes back Magma Opus. Profit.

While it does not actually end the game on the spot, the main mindset to take up is that it doesn’t have to! If you do it on an empty board, you’re far enough ahead that you’re going to win anyways, albeit a couple of turns later. On top of that, it might not be a way to insta-win but rather to stabilise from an otherwise losing position. If you play against aggro, you get to kill 2-3 creatures and present two huge blockers.

There are also more ways to get to the same outcome. You can discard Magma Opus to Prismari Command, you can target different tokens with Creativity, you can hardcast Hulk into Opus. Even if you don’t have the perfect curve, you can do some nasty stuff.

Remember that you can play Creativity with x greater than 1. It has two applications

  1. You want to put multiple Gearhulks into play at the same time
  2. You’re playing around removal. If the opponent removes one of the target, it will still resolve for the other targets

Last but not least, bear in mind that sometimes it’s fine to Hulk your Prismari Command or even Fiery Impulse. There will be games and matchups where an early 5/6 creature backed up by a removal spell is just enough to stabilise or even outright win.

Removal

This shell is a combo control strategy so it has to be able to interact with what the opponent is doing. I have found that six one-mana removal spells hit the sweet spot of drawing at least one in the opener to impede the opponent’s early aggression.

A typical UR deck in Pioneer plays four Fiery Impulse and it’s usually where one-mana removal ends. It’s often coupled with Volcanic Spite that allows you to put a card back into the deck. What I’ve found is that two-mana removal is infinitely clunkier than one-mana. For one, it gets really awkward with multiples as two Volcanic Spites are super tough to unload compared to two Fier Impulses. On top of that, Spite is not a great removal spell on its own at that rate - its main value is in bottoming the card. Here with Prismari and Fable we’ve got enough card selection to be able to eschew Spite.

Why Voltage Surge and not cards like Play with Fire or Torch the Tower? Being able to deal 4 damage in a pinch is actually better than one would think. It kills Preacher of the Schism, Righteous Valkyrie (and a lot of other cards from Angels deck), a connived Ledger Shredder, a grown Amalia, Crackling Drake, Chrome Host Shark, and many others. I could easily see going 4-2 with the split but that’s going to be meta dependent.

Overall though, I have liked six one-mana removal spells and I’d keep this ration.

Countermagic

Oh my beloved. I always try my best to see whether I can squeeze in some Spell Pierces. Here not only was I able to add them in, but they also proved to be fundamental! Creativity decks have suffered from being incredibly clunky with two-mana removal in Volcanic Spite, 4 mana draw in Big Score. I am going super lean with 10 one-mana pieces of interaction!

As far as I’m concerned, Spell Pierce is *the* reason this deck is so good

Spell Pierce allows you to protect the combo very easily but also tap low and still have defenses up. It’s proved incredibly useful against Amalia which wants to resolve Chord of Calling or Collected Company.

My favourite curve is turn two Magma Opus, into Fable of the Mirror-Breaker with Pierce backup.

As far as I’m concerned, Spell Pierce is *the* reason this deck is so good.I’m happy to have gone all in and tried full four.

Make Disapper is a flex-ish slot that could be multiple other cards like Negate, maybe Impulse, or just trimmed down completely to play more removal. However, turn two is crucial and I’ve liked the play pattern of being able to hold up Deduce and Make Disappear at the same time.

On top of that, casualty 1 comes up a good bit as you can sacrifice Shark Typhoon, Goblin Shaman, and in dire spots Torrential Gearhulk itself.

Card Draw

This section is super important,as it includes the cards that make the deck tick.

It’s the best shell for Fable, dare I say

The best card in Pioneer, contended only by Treasure Cruise at this point. It’s won four Pro Tours to date, between Pioneer and Modern. But is there a reason to play it in this deck just because it’s *good*? Oh, absolutely. It’s the best shell for Fable, dare I say.

First, it creates game objects that can be Creativitied. It makes the deck work on a fundamental level. On top of that, Treasures cannot be targeted by removal so it makes our Creativity more reliable.

Moreover, the second chapter allows us to ditch Magma Opus, removal against control, or Spell Pierces against aggro. It really smoothes out the draw.

The last chapter turns it into a creature that’s creativifiy-able but also provides a powerful end game option, as it can keep copying Hulks every turn.

All in all, it’s all one could hope for in a card for a deck like this.

Prismari Command is usually going to read Make a Treasure + Draw 2 Discard 2. It’s a turn three enabler to go off on the subsequent turn. However, don’t tunnel vision on that usage. You can destroy artifacts, kill a creature, deal two to the opponent, and a mix of all of those. Against creature strategies, I’d often kill a threat and loot/make a Treasure. Its strength lies in that exactly - it’s an instant speed enabler that can double up as interaction.

It’s also an excellent bait spell to make it opponent overreact on their end step for us to then untap and combo off.

A fresh addition to the deck that made me go back in the first place. How good is a glorified Think Twice? Very.

I’ve said it a lot already but having creature-removal-proof Creativity targets is invaluable. With Deduce we hit that critical mass that we don’t have to worry about removal altogether.

In longer games, it’s a straight up draw 2 which recoups cards we may have mulliganned away or had to discard to Prismari Command, which is fundamentally card negative.

Tips and Tricks

Fable Discard

However trivial it may sound, do consider discarding 0 cards to Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. There are no graveyard interaction besides Hulk itself so you don’t get extra value for having a bigger yard - compared to if you’d played Dig Through Time.

Stacking

If you get multiple Hulks at the same time and one of them flashes back Prismari Command, put Prismari on the stack first so it resolves last. This way you will have drawn with Deduce or Magma Opus and will have a wider choice of cards to discard from with the Prismari.

Sacrifices

You cannot use a Treasure to pay for Voltage Surge *and* sacrifice it to its ability.

Spell Mastery

When you flash back spells, keep track of your spell mastery. You might accidentally turn off Fiery Impulse.

Another Route

Prismari Command dealing 2 to the opponent can be useful if you need to close games fast.

Triple Red

If unsure, play Riverglide Pathway on red. You need RRR for Indomitable Creativity.

The Bottleneck

When you don’t know whether to sacrifice Clue or Treasure tokens to Creativity or Voltage Surge, ask yourself what is your bottleneck in that specific game - cards or mana? If cards, sac Treasure. If mana, Clue.

Gearhulk Voltage

You can sacrifice Torrential Gearhulk to Voltage Surge.

Mental Games

You can bait your opponent into tapping out on the end step with Prismari Command or removal spells to then untap, discard Opus, and immediately follow up with Creativity. Opponents are more likely to tap out when there is no Opus in the grave so you can sandbag it and use it only when you go for it.

Another Angle

With Creativity, you can target opposing permanents as well to get rid of them. You can also combine it and play Creativity x=2, targeting both your and opponent’s permanents.

Soft Permission

Remember that you can combine soft permissions spells Spell Pierce and Make Disappear to actually counter a spell, even if it costs you two cards.

Savings

You don’t have to pay for Amalia ward if you cast Rending Volley, as it cannot be countered.

Sideboard Guide

Izzet Phoenix

I know it might look weird that I cut noncreature interaction against a deck that wants to only play noncreature spells. However, I don’t want to counter cantrips and these are the cards that they will most often play. When it comes to the real big hitters like Treasure Cruise or Temporal Trespass, they will be able to pay for them against my soft permission. That’s why I side in Reversal - to combat those top end spells.

Rakdos Vampires


The primary countermagic targets are Sorin, Fable, and Copter. They are all vulnerable to Spell Pierce and trade down in an extremely favourable fashion for us. Make Disappear is much less impressive.

Typhoon and Horror are sided in to increase the threat density.

Azorius Control

Games here are going to be pretty difficult, as it’s a cat and mouse game. You have to be able to navigate it so that they need to start tapping low at some point. Spell Pierce is your best friend but keep it for when it truly trades up like The Wandering Emperor, Teferi, or Farewell.

Don’t overextend on the board with like 3 Hulks, as they can be swept away with Supreme Verdict.

Lotus Combo

We need to get the game over with as soon as possible. Tapping permanents with Magma Opus is great if you get to Hulk on their upkeep - beware Mystical Dispute though.

Aether Gust is great against Dromoka and Ashiok against all the tutors.

A fast Fable, preferably with Pierce backup, is definitely one of the better sequences.

Amalia Combo

Is it controversial to cut Make Disappear but keep Spell Pierce? I don’t think so. We don’t care about most of the creatures so we can kill the relevant ones. When they fall behind, they need to resolve Chord, Collected Company, or Return to the Ranks - and this is where Spell Pierce strikes. Pierce just allows us to be more proactive while Make Disappear ties up too much mana on our part.

Conclusion

And this is all you need to know to sleeve up Creativity! This deck is super interesting, has some complex lines, but its powerful draws can ride you to victory on its own. It’s an excellent blend of powerful and interactive. It’s truly the combo control deck Pioneer has been waiting for.

And remember to hold my hand and pass the turn together. Cheers!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Breaking Standard: UR Artifacts Ramp guide, Pauper Mono-blue Faeries Deck & Sideboard Guide, UB Terror Tips Tricks & Sideboard Guide By Mogged, Modern Eldrazi Tron In-depth & Sideboard Guide

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Skura
Skura - IslandsInFront
Skura, also known as IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, started his career a decade ago and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches, creates written and video content, and is a mainstay caster on the European scene, casting the LMS series (GP equivalent), Eternal Weekend, and many other. He's passionate about game theory, decision making, and a methodological approach to Magic

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Published: 2024-03-14 00:00:00
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