Blue-Red Wizards in Modern

Parker Ackerman
June 05, 2018
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Spellslinging has been a favorite pastime of mine for almost as long as I’ve played magic. Unfortunately, there hasn’t really been a good spellslinging tempo deck for as long as I’ve played, at least not in the way I’ve been looking for. We’ve had Jeskai Geist and other similar decks, but something about them always felt off to me. Thankfully, the release of Dominaria has allowed a new deck to take shape. World, meet UR Wizards. UR Wizards, world.


UR WizardsParker Ackerman Ghitu Lavarunner Snapcaster Mage Soul-Scar Mage Stormchaser Mage Grim Lavamancer Scalding Tarn Polluted Delta Spirebluff Canal Steam Vents Island Mountain Lightning Bolt Opt Thought Scour Wizard's Lightning Serum Visions Electrolyze Curious Obsession Abrade Blood Moon Dispel Electrickery Negate Spell Pierce Dismember Magma Spray Smash to Smithereens

    This particular list (stolen from here), which is the last of the ones I’ve tested, has definitely been my favorite so far. The combination of creature-based aggro, burn, and turbo-xerox has me really excited for this deck. And maybe the best part is just how customizable it is to the meta just by changing around the interaction suite. Before we talk about variations in the list and color combinations, let’s take a little dive into what we have here.

     

    Our first creature is Ghitu Lavarunner, an unassuming one-drop that is a lot more powerful than it looks. It may not have the raw power that something like Delver of Secrets can bring, but it is a lot more consistent in this deck. Lavarunner is easy to enable by turn two, allowing us to use him as a 2/2 on turn 2 or later, and play as a Goblin Guide without downside later in the game. Next we have Soul-Scar Mage, another creature that doesn’t look very impressive, but plays out quite well. The prowess here is huge, and the -1/-1 counter effect allows our Bolts to be even better by shrinking them to a point where our creatures can take them on. Grim Lavamancer gives us some reach and repeatable removal, and has the added benefit of interacting positively with Soul-Scar. Stormchaser Mage is a nice aggro card that’s evasive and benefits from us casting our spells, and Snapcaster is a spell-based deck staple that also happens to be a wizard, making it an auto-include in the deck.


    For our spells, we have Lightning Bolt as our removal of choice, which takes care of our opponent’s creatures and can go straight to the dome to speed up our clock. We also have Wizard’s Lightning to act as Bolts 5-8, and in this deck, they almost always are. Opt, Thought Scour, and Serum Visions serve as cantrips and filtering, and Electrolyze gives us the opportunity to 3-for-1 (spend 1 card, kill a creature, kill a creature, draw a card) while still not putting us down a card even if we just use it on the opponent. Curious Obsession is probably the most interesting include here, but as a  1-mana aura buff that can give us a constant stream of cards, it feels really good. It’s been an include in some Spirits lists for a while, and having played it here I can see why. Our lands are really simple, using fetches, shocks, and a handful of fastlands and basics to get our colors and make sure we can cast everything on time.

    Out of the sideboard, one of the most notable cards we have is Abrade. This card has been overlooked for quite a while, but people seem to slowly be coming around to it. And for good reason. It takes care of any opposing artifact while also acting as a Lightning Strike to deal with our opponent’s creatures. The options the card gives are really good, and as a two mana instant, it’s obvious why this card belongs. Blood Moon can completely shut down some decks, and all we really need to function in this deck is a single blue source, which is not too hard to come by. Dispel helps against other spell-based decks like control and storm, and Electrickery can take out a board full of small creatures while not touching our board at all. Notably, it interacts with Soul-Scar’s ability to turn damage into -1/-1 counters. Negate helps in some of the same places as Dispel while also dealing with pesky enchantments, artifacts, and planeswalkers, and Spell Pierce serves a similar purpose. Dismember gives us extra removal for bigger creatures like Hollow One and Gurmag Angler, and Magma Spray gets rid of recursive threats that we otherwise couldn’t deal with. Finally, Smash to Smithereens can help us tempo-out artifact-based decks by destroying part of their board and bolting them.


Tips:

  • Against an unknown opponent, it almost always feels correct to play a threat rather than cantrip. All of our one mana threats benefit from us playing spells on our second turn, making it beneficial to hold back spells for then.
  • Try to avoid exiling instants and sorceries with Grim Lavamancer’s effect if you can help it, since exiling them makes it so you can’t get use out of them with Snapcaster Mage.
  • In a similar vein, remember that you can use Lavamancer to exile a card targeted by Dire-Fleet Daredevil. This is only really relevant against, Humans, but given the popularity of Humans, it seems like an important thing to keep in mind.
  • Thought Scour is one of your best cantrips when you have a snapcaster in hand, since it can read “draw 3” if you hit two spells off of it.

Extra Spice:

  • Merfolk Trickster is a killer card. It helps against Meddling Mage, Thalia, and Mantis Rider in humans, Wurmcoil Engine against Tron, Signal Pest, Etched Champion, Master of Etherium, and so many other cards, and any other single creature that represents lethal. The card is stellar on its own, and with the wizard synergy, seems fantastic.
  • Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy might belong in a slower version of the deck where we like the looting ability more than attacking. However, the -3 is always nice to have access to, and the +1 can help win combat in a lot of situations.
  • Wizard’s Retort is a sweet potential addition, since it gives us Counterspell as long as we have a wizard out.
  • If we want to dip into white, we can grab Reflector Mage, which is a fantastic tempo card made even better by the tribal synergy.
  • Naban, Dean of Iteration is an interesting option that I’ve seen a lot of wizards people excited for, but I’m personally not too high on it without a critical mass of ETB triggers.
  • Adeliz, the Cinder Wind is a 2/2 flying haste for three that buffs our team when we cast an instant or sorcery. It’s certainly got a home in some sort of Wizards deck, but I’m not sure ours is it.
  • Voidmage Prodigy is hilarious, turning all of our on-board wizards into counterspells. The biggest issue I have with it is that the deck isn’t huge on sacrificing, but having the option is certainly appealing.
  • Meddling Mage shuts off a lot in this format, and its power can be seen in Humans. Again, we would have to dip into white for this, but I think the effect might be worth it.
  • As I’m sure many of you have seen by now, Thunderous Wrath can be played to hilarious effect in this deck. Its default case is terrible, but ripping it off of Miracle is a game breaking upside. 

    This deck is incredibly customizable between both the creatures and the spells we can play. Almost any color combination starting with blue can build some sort of functioning deck, thanks to wizards having so many different effects stapled on them and being playable with any assortment of instants and sorceries. The deck is a lot of fun, and will only continue to evolve into something even better and more fun as time passes thanks to the large amount of interest Dominaria has generated for the deck.

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