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Playing Pauper: Izzet Blitz

Hello Playing Pauper fans and welcome back to another week in our exploration of the Pauper metagame!

This week, we're showing off a well-known aggressive deck that goes big instead of wide with respect to board state development. And not large like Affinity's 4/4s — large like 10/2 double striking, trampling Kiln Fiends attacking on Turn 3. Izzet Blitz uses the power of Kiln Fiend and Nivix Cyclops paired with zero- and one-mana spells to attack for huge chunks of damage as soon as the opponent lets their guard down.

Check out the matches, then read the discussion below. If you enjoy Playing Pauper and other video content by MTGGoldfish, be sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel to keep up on all the latest.

Izzet Blitz Intro

Izzet Blitz vs RUG Tron

Izzet Blitz vs Affinity

Izzet Blitz vs Izzet Blitz

Izzet Blitz vs Affinity

Izzet Blitz vs Rakdos Control

The Deck


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Kiln Fiend and Nivix Cyclops are the stars of the deck, but Delver of Secrets is often important as well. An early unanswered Delver getting in for 3-9 damage over the first few turns makes it much easier to attack for lethal with the other creatures.

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Cheap spells are what makes the deck run smoothly. Most decks in Pauper run some creature removal and giving an opponent multiple chances to remove yours is a bad idea. The moment a window of opportunity arises, this deck can cast a flurry of spells, charge up its creatures to an incredible power, and end the game on the spot. This deck highly incentivizes not playing spells until the turn in which Kiln Fiend or Nivix Cyclops is ready to attack.


The Sideboard


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Powerful countermagic in the sideboard including Dispel, Counterspell, Hydroblast, Pyroblast come in to stop your opponent from stopping your game plan. The idea when sideboarding is not to become a control deck and settle down for the long game. The point is to find the earliest safe opportunity to attack for twenty with a Kiln Fiend.

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Often, having only four Lightning Bolts in the main deck isn't enough. These sideboard slots exist to help round out the removal suite to keep it relevant against any kind of threat.

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These last three slots are more varied than our other sideboard material.

Flaring Pain is for punching through Circle of Protection: Red, Moment's Peace, Prismatic Strands, and whatever other Fog variants you may run into. 

Stormbound Geist is for upping the creature count versus removal heavy opponents.

Eldrazi Skyspawner is an efficient flyer that gives you two bodies for blocking when not blocking isn't an option. It's mostly useful against Stompy and Goblins.

The Matchups

Izzet Blitz's biggest weakness is its reliance on its creatures. If your opponent removes your first two Kiln Fiends and/or Nivix Cyclops's, your chances of winning go way down. It's very rare that a lone Delver of Secrets will deal all the damage you need to win. Any deck that's low on removal are often easy prey for Izzet Blitz. Variations of RUG Tron, Stompy, Bogles, are all light on removal. Even Mono Blue Delver can be a good matchup. If you can sneak in a Kiln Fiend without it being countered, the only spell you often need to worry about is Snap.

On the other side of the coin, decks packing lots of removal (especially Mono Black Control) can be a nightmare. One of the hardest spells to defend against is Chainer's Edict. It's a Sorcery so it can't be Dispelled, and it also can't be prevented with Apostle's Blessing. Use Gitaxian Probe to check what your opponent has and try to use Nivix Cyclops as your preferred creature when your opponent is playing a Lightning Bolt deck.

Beating Izzet Blitz

If this deck isn't your preference, and you'd rather know how to beat it than pilot it, try these tips:

  • If at all possible, kill Kiln Fiend and Nivix Cyclops quickly and do it on your turn. 
  • Leave back two different colors of creatures to block to play around Apostle's Blessing
  • When choosing between deploying a creature and holding up mana to pretend you have a kill spell, remember Gitaxian Probe and realize bluffing is much worse if your opponent can see the contents of your hand.
  • Life gain is nice (especially when attached to a blocker like Lone Missionary), but Izzet Blitz can deal you 30+ damage over a turn or two if necessary. Do not expect a single Nourish to buy you loads of time.
  • Pay attention to how your opponent scrys and shuffles with Preordain and Ponder. It may help you guess what your opponent has and when they're going to go for the kill.


I really enjoyed piloting a deck that can sometimes win on Turn 3 and can always strike fear into the heart of our opponents with the scariest two-drop creature in Pauper (perhaps second to Atog). I don't think this is the best deck in the format, but it's clearly good. 

Playing Pauper is only a success if the readers think it is, so reach out and tell me what you think! Leave a comment below, or on the YouTube channel, or on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG with any feedback you have and what you want to see in the future.

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