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Against the Odds: Irencrag Stompy (Standard, Magic Arena)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 210 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had our second all–Throne of Eldraine Against the Odds poll, and Irencrag Feat ritualed its way past the field for a commanding win. As such, we're heading to Standard today to see if we can win some games by using Irencrag Feat to slam some massive threats as early as Turn 3! Does Irencrag Feat have what it takes to compete in Standard? What are the odds of winning with something massive put into play early in the game with Irencrag Feat mana? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Irencrag Stompy

The Deck

Irencrag Feat is a surprisingly tricky card to build around in Standard. One of the biggest challenges is actually another card that exists in the format: Fires of Invention. If the goal of our deck is to repeatedly cast big things, Fires of Invention is (more or less) strictly better than Irencrag Feat since it generates so much mana each turn. On the other hand, Irencrag Feat does have one big advantage over Fires of Invention: in the right deck, it is much, much faster. While I considered various plans for building around Irencrag Feat, including some weird style of Storm deck or trying to copy it with something like Ral, Storm Conduit, we ended up with the simplest and likely best of the options in Irencrag Stompy, which looks to go all-in on the speed of Irencrag Feat to hopefully land a massive threat as early as Turn 3 and then ride that threat to victory.

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Irencrag Feat is a powerful effect, essentially giving us three extra mana. Of course, this power comes with a meaningful downside in that we can only cast one more spell on the turn that we cast Irencrag Feat. Thankfully, this downside is fairly easy to build around by filling our deck with a bunch of threats that cost seven-ish mana. 

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The most powerful thing we can do with Irencrag Feat is cast it on Turn 3, followed by one of our big finishers. For this plan to work, Irencrag Feat needs help in the form of a mana dork to get us to four mana on Turn 3. For this, we have a bunch of different options in Gilded Goose, Incubation Druid, and Paradise Druid, all of which are basically the same card as far as our combo is concerned, adding one extra mana to speed up Irencrag Feat by a turn. The other upside of playing a bunch of mana dorks is that they give us a backup plan in games where we don't draw Irencrag Feat, as we can simply ramp into our big threats and cast them fairly on Turns 4 or 5, which isn't as exciting as Turn 3 but still fairly effective in a pinch.

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So, what massive things are we planning to cast on Turn 3? Here, we have three different options. First is Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, which happens to cost exactly seven mana, making it a perfect post–Irencrag Feat finisher. Thanks to its ability to send three or four damage at our opponent's face (along with some of their creatures or planeswalkers), Drakuseth, Maw of Flames can kill our opponent in just two attacks on most board states, which means if we can cast it off Irencrag Feat on Turn 3, we should be able to kill our opponent on Turn 5. The downside is that it tends to get wrecked by cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns (turning it into a sad 3/3 Elk) and Teferi, Time Raveler (bouncing it back to our hand). This is where Rhythm of the Wild comes into play. While it slows down our plan by a turn (since we need to spend Turn 2 or 3 casting Rhythm of the Wild), giving our Drakuseth, Maw of Flames haste not only allows it to dodge Okos and Teferis but also makes Drakuseth, Maw of Flames a great way to kill our opponent's planeswalkers. Apart from Drakuseth, Rhythm of the Wild is fine with any of our creature-based finishers while also giving us a way to get a +1/+1 counter on Incubation Druid without spending five mana to adapt it.

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Our second finisher is Chandra, Awakened Inferno. While only costing six mana is a bit of a downside since one of our Irencrag Feat mana will go to waste, a Turn 3 Chandra is still more than good enough to win a lot of games in Standard. Chandra, Awakened Inferno is especially good if our opponent happens to have planeswalkers to answer Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, and along with killing our opponent by making a bunch of emblems, Chandra is also one of our primary removal spells, sweeping away aggro with her 3 and killing bigger threats with her X ability.

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Finisher three is Cavalier of Flame. While technically just five mana, it actually works surprisingly well with Irencrag Feat since for seven mana, we can both play it and activate its haste-plus-pump ability, giving us a huge burst of surprise damage. While not enough to kill the opponent by itself, the ability to loot away extra lands and mana dorks to find more copies of Irencrag Feat and more finishers is a nice bonus. Plus, Cavalier of Flame helps to solve another problem with Irencrag Feat: sometimes, we have our ritual in hand with no big finishers to cast. In these situations, we can always cast Irencrag Feat and use the mana to pump our team a bunch of times with Cavalier of Flame, allowing us to get in a huge amount of damage and possibly even close out the game.

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Finally, we have Hydroid Krasis, which is powerful but a bit awkward with Irencrag Feat. Since Irencrag Feat only makes red mana, we can't actually cast Hydroid Krasis on Turn 3. Instead, we need to wait until we have at least six mana on the battlefield, cast Irencrag Feat with four of it, and then use our leftover mana to make the green and blue we need for Hydroid Krasis. Thankfully, the upside of drawing cards and gaining life makes it worth the trouble, allowing us to stabilize against aggro and match control with card advantage.

The Matchups

While certain cards (like Teferi, Time Raveler and Oko, Thief of Crowns) are annoying for our deck to deal with, in general, Irencrag Stompy isn't as much about what our opponent is playing and more about our draws. The deck is very powerful but can also be very inconsistent. Making three red mana for Irencrag Feat is occasionally a problem, and we sometimes run into the issue of drawing all ramp and rituals and no finisher, or (even worse) all finishers and no ramp. As such, in our losses, it often feels like our deck beats itself, rather than our opponent beating us.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches with Irencrag Stompy and won two, giving us a 40% match win percentage and making Irencrag Stompy somewhat below average for an Against the Odds deck. While we did some super-explosive things with Irencrag Feat itself, which in turn allowed for some free wins, the natural inconsistency of the archetype also came back to bite us in some matchups. It's mostly unfortunate that both Oko, Thief of Crowns and Teferi, Time Raveler are so good against Drakuseth, Maw of Flames. Ritualing out our game-ending Dragon on Turn 3 feels good, until our opponent plays a three-mana planeswalker that deals with it almost by accident. Basically, Irencrag Stompy is extremely explosive—perhaps one of the most explosive decks in Standard—but will probably never be a top-tier strategy thanks to its inconsistency. Still, the good games with Irencrag Stompy are really, really good.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Next week we'll get back to normal on the Against the Odds poll, but today we have one more all-Throne of Eldraine poll, but with a twist: rather than playing the winning card in Standard we'll be taking it to Modern! Which card should we build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.

 


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