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Against the Odds: Izzet March (Standard, Magic Arena)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 180 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had some weirdness on the Against the Odds poll. Apparently, someone figured out a way to hack the poll and vote a bunch of times for Mirror March. While we are playing Mirror March today, the only reason why is because, even after throwing out the fraudulent votes, I'm pretty confident that Mirror March still has the most votes. The first-place option on the poll typically finishes with somewhere between 1,300 and 1,500 votes, while Hand of the Praetors only had 1,181 last week. As such, after much deliberation, Mirror March was declared the winner, but please don't hack the poll. If it happens in the future, we'll have to figure something out.

Anyway, as for the deck itself, we're playing Izzet March: a deck that's planning to get a Mirror March on the battlefield and then (hopefully) win some coin flips. While we have a lot of good value creatures that work with Mirror March, the spiciest combo piece is Timestream Navigator, which can give us a bunch of turns in a row if we manage to win a coin flip or two. Can Mirror March compete in Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Izzet March (Standard)

The Deck

Mirror March is tricky. Thanks to its love of coin flipping, an amount of variance on some level is built into the card that is impossible to overcome in deck building. No matter how we build our deck, there's always a chance that we'll just flip badly and our namesake enchantment will do nothing. As such, building around Mirror March is mostly about trying to make sure that when we do win a flip or two, we get enough that it makes up for the times when we lose the flip. 

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When Mirror Match won the poll, I spent a while testing different builds, from three colors up to five colors, most overflowing with value creatures and some with Prime Speaker Vannifar to keep tutoring up creatures to trigger Mirror March multiple times each turn. But none of these builds felt quite right. They were either bad or boring, in the sense that they felt like a normal Prime Speaker Vannifar deck with Mirror March thrown in for value. Part of the problem was that my main focus was creatures with good enters-the-battlefield triggers to potentially double or triple up with Mirror March. While enters-the-battlefield triggers do work well with the enchantment, in the end, the card that finally made the deck work happened to be a former Against the Odds all-star that doesn't have an enters-the-battlefield trigger at all...

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Timestream Navigator might be the best card in Standard to win a Mirror March flip with, since winning the flip essentially gives us a string of extra turns. Since Mirror March costs six mana, by the time we cast Timestream Navigator with a Mirror Match on the battlefield, we will have enough mana that if we win the flip, we can immediately use the hasty token copy to take an extra turn. And then, we can use the original copy of Timestream Navigator during the extra turn to take a third turn in a row. While this doesn't win us the game directly, taking three turns in a row is often enough that we can piece together a victory with our random creatures and Mirror March value. 

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Wily Goblin and Sailor of Means do three important things for our deck. First, they allow our Izzet deck to ramp into Mirror March thanks to the Treasure tokens they produce. Second, the Treasure tokens help make sure that we hit the city's blessing for our Timestream Navigator (which is important, since we can't activate Timestream Navigator to take extra turns without the city's blessing). Third, in conjunction with Treasure Map, Wily Goblin and Sailor of Means give us steady sources of card advantage, since we can keep cashing in extra Treasures to draw cards. While not exciting, both cards are solid with Mirror March as well, potentially dumping a bunch of Treasures on the battlefield if we can win a flip or two.

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Goblin Chainwhirler and Burning Sun's Avatar are two of our best creatures with Mirror March. If we can win a few flips, it's possible that a single copy can kill our opponent by dealing a bunch of damage with their enters-the-battlefield triggers and sweep away our opponent's board, allowing us to attack with all of the hasty token copies to finish off the game.

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Meanwhile, Mesmerizing Benthid and Siege-Gang Commander allow us to get around the fact that any copies we manage to make with Mirror March get exiled at the end of our turn by leaving behind a bunch of tokens. With just a single coin flip win, Siege-Gang Commander gives us six Goblins along with the Siege-Gang Commander itself, which is a lot of creatures for attacking and blocking and potentially a lot of direct damage, if we can start throwing Goblin tokens at our opponent's face. Meanwhile, the Illusion tokens from Mesmerizing Benthid are great on defense, locking down big attackers for multiple turns while we try to value our opponent out of the game with extra turns and Mirror March.

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Rowdy Crew rounds out our rowdy crew of creatures. Similar to Panharmonicon, one of the more powerful things we can do with Mirror March is use it to draw extra cards. While complicated by the drawing and discarding at random, the end result of a Rowdy Crew entering the battlefield is that we do end up with an extra card in our hand, which means with some coin-flipping luck with Mirror March, we can potentially refill our hand with just a single Rowdy Crew

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Last but not least, we have Treasure Map and Lava Coil. Treasure Map is great in our deck, filtering in the early game and drawing us cards later. Plus, we almost never run out of Treasures to sacrifice thanks to Wily Goblin and Sailor of Means. Meanwhile, Lava Coil gives us a cheap removal spell to deal with creatures in the early game that also takes down bigger threats like Crackling Drake.

The Matchups

Izzet March is really good at slogging through midrange matchups—in our matches, we feasted on various builds of Golgari and Sultai along with Izzet Drakes. On the other hand, we can be weak to combo (like Nexus of Fate) and aggro as well since we don't really have any way to gain life, which means it's possible a Mono-Red opponent can get in enough early-game damage that they can finish us off with burn spells even after we stabilize the board. As for control, it's mostly about Treasure Map and sideboard cards. If we can resolve and flip a Treasure Map, we can draw enough cards to keep pace with control, while The Immortal Sun, Niv-Mizzet, Parun, and counterspells improve the matchup after sideboarding. Of course, the big upside of playing Mirror March is that if we can ramp into the enchantment quickly enough, we can beat just about anyone if we get lucky enough with our coin flips.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches and won four, giving us an 80% match win percentage, while also winning nine of 12 games, good for a 75% game win percentage, making Izzet March very much above average for an Against the Odds deck. On the other hand, we have another set of odds to look at this week, and here we didn't fare as well. Across the course of our matches, we only won 41% of our 29 coin flips with Mirror March, which is pretty rough, and even worse when you consider that five of our wins came with a single Wily Goblin. If you disregard our one lucky Wily Goblin Mirror March, we only won a horrid 32% of our other flips. Apparently, I'm just not very good at flipping coins, although it is a testament to the power of Izzet March that we ran somewhere between bad and horrible with our namesake card and still managed to win all but one match (although our one loss to Nexus of Gates would have been a win if we didn't lose every single coin flip in that match). 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

This week, we have two holdovers in Hand of the Praetors and Finest Hour along with some sweet new options for both Modern and Standard. What 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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