In last year’s Standard format, there was a threatening deck that got two cards banned earlier this year – UR Taking Turns. The deck used Galvanic Iteration and Alrund’s Epiphany to take 2-6 turns and win in place.
As quoted by the announcement, spells that let you take extra turns are mostly predatory for mid-range decks because they don’t usually interact on the stack. Alrund’s Epiphany in particular with its Foretell ability can dodge the interaction as a discard. Additionally, they can negatively affect gameplay as it leads to repetitive actions and usually one player waits for the other to finish – similar to Modern’s Krark-Clan Ironworks ban.
One might wonder why there is no such deck in Pioneer when you have all the pieces. The answer is simple – Temporal Trespass. There’s no point in playing a 7 mana Time Warp effect when you can only do it for 3. However, as I was going down the rabbit hole analyzing the old game Izzet Turns, I had an epiphany : what is the format that does not Trespass, but still has access to all the powerful pieces played in the Standard version? Explorer! So, after a few hours of thinking, deck tweaking, and deck reading, here’s the decklist I’m currently on:
(E) Izzet Towers
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. The deck revolves around its high-end combo-esque finisher in the form of a copy of Alrund’s Epiphany with a galvanic iteration. In practice, you predict Epiphany at some point, often on turn 2, and once you’ve accumulated 8 mana, you cast Epiphany Iteration. This results in you getting 4 flying birds and performing the next two turns. From then on, you would preferably have something to do in the next round to prepare for the second and final extra round. An example of such a setup would be to dig deeper for more Time Warp effects so you never let your opponent make another move. If you find another Epiphany, you can use flashback on Iteration to get two extra turns. At that point, the game should be over. You will close it by attacking with the Birds and/or the Hall of Storm Giants.
I classify this deck as a combo control because it’s not trying to run to the finish line. On the contrary, it prolongs the game to the point where the game can close easily. The difference between this and the classic control is that once this window is opened, the game will end immediately, not giving the opponent a chance to escape.
I play a ton of elimination to make sure I can ease the early pressure. Five single target suppression chunks and four mass suppression spells ensure I don’t get trampled by a flurry of hasty little creatures. Eight main deck counterspells help against other control decks, planeswalkers, or push through our win condition later. Dividing by zero requires a bit more care because its effect is quite unique. First, it bounces a spell from the stack or a permanent off the battlefield, which is already a testament to its flexibility. In addition, the learning ability allows us to loot unwanted cards or take a lesson from the board. Keep in mind that it cannot bounce a token!
Earlier I mentioned getting to 8 mana, but getting that many land drops is a tough task. In order to help with this, I present to you Big Score. Previously, this was an unexpected bargain, but a better, less color-restrictive version has been printed. The two treasures he creates make it so much easier to leave early. The best situation is that you have Big Score on turn 5, untap on turn 6, play a land, and can immediately leave. If you roll Big Score on turn 6, you can even discard Galvanic Iteration and then use flashback on turn 7.
What I love about the bridge is its flexibility and it was built with that in mind. Some spells can be played as lands, six spells can be cycled if not needed, Fire Prophecy allows us to filter cards, just like Divide by Zero, and Big Score allows us to cast unwanted cards. At no point do we really have a bad half-problem – something that interactive decks typically struggle with.
Last but not least – the tricks with galvanic iteration. While this is of course our combo piece, it also serves as a utility. A kind of Snapcaster Mage.
A funny case when it came up – I cast Iteration then Wrath of the Gods to effectively clear the board.
You may find yourself copying Expressive Iteration in the late game, Divide by Zero for multiple counterspells or when you want to counter one thing and bounce another, or copy Big Score to draw 4 and get 4 treasure. In the late game, when you’re low on gas, a flashback iteration can make your top deck twice as good.
Note – if you want the deck to be more combo-focused, feel free to add the fourth Galvanic iteration.
Matchups and buffet guide
They are very interactive against creatures that we do not play (beyond the 1 of Lier, Disciple of the Drowned of course). We’re dumping a ton of their cards in this match-up, so we just have to make sure we don’t die at the mid-beat creatures.
We are full of counter-magic. Although theoretically we can’t rule out the whole withdrawal, that’s not a problem as they’re playing Shark Typhoon anyway. Besides that, going to Sweltering Suns isn’t a big deal because there’s biking.
In this match, remember to take full advantage of Galvanic Iteration as a card advantage spell, such as casting it before Big Score, forcing them to have two counters. Then you can untap and play Link or Epiphany.
Mono Red Agro
You’re a complete control deck here with occasional extra turns. Your card advantage generated by Expressive Iteration and Galvanic Iteration will lead you to victory. If you wish, you can play a number of Steaming Eggs on the board for this match as an additional threat and early blocker. If you see them playing more small creatures like Foundry Street Denizen, you can get into Cinderclasm.
Mono Blue Spirits
Again, you are playing control. Since this is an aggro deck with counter magic, you don’t want to rely on the combo too much. If your buffet is more hateful against this deck, feel free to cut even more combo pieces such as Big Score. A single resolved mass removal spell should be extinguished. They may not be expecting a quadruple wrath effect on the main deck.
With your five copies of Instant Speed 3 Damage Spell, it’s relatively easy to kill all Greasefang, Okiba Boss. The post-edge lanterns help a lot with making them unable to spawn fangs with Can’t Stay Away potential or the vehicles themselves.
Since they don’t usually play counter magic, you can make sure that once everything is under control, you can easily leave. Wrath of the Gods can come in handy thanks to the exile clause, but mass removal that doesn’t remove Angel tokens isn’t stellar.
Tips and tricks
Let’s start first with galvanic iteration tips:
- If you have resolved multiple iterations, the spell after will be copied once for each iteration that was cast, for example if you cast an iteration then its flashback, the next spell will be copied twice.
- If you copy a spell with modes (no such spells in this version, but you can play one), the modes are copied and cannot be changed.
- If you copy a spell with an X in the cost, the spell is copied with the same X.
- If you copy a spell with additional costs such as Big Score, the copy will be do not require you to pay that cost again.
- Even if your opponent counters the spell you wanted to copy, it’s still copied. In other words, the spell that triggers the iteration is seen by the iteration.
- You can play MDFCs outside the Exile of Expressive Iteration, such as Spikefield Hazard or Jwari Disruption.