A New Day for U/R Prowess

day's undoing with text

When Day’s Undoing was first leaked, the hype-o-meter was off the charts and its median price on TCG was above 25 dollars. Now, it is all but forgotten, and the price to acquire this beautifully illustrated Mythic Rare is a meager 2.50, which is pretty much the floor for a Mythic. While most still agree that this card is potentially busted (its semblance to a certain Power 9 card is uncanny), so far no one has been able to break it in any format, and it seems as though Wizards may have gotten away with reprinting Timetwister in Standard scotch-free. But not so fast–this card has been waiting to be broken for long enough, and I submit that Izzet Prowess in Standard may just be the deck for the job.

My newest version of UR Prowess utilizes Day’s Undoing, not simply as Treasure Cruises 5-7, but as Timetwisters 1-3. That is to say, it provides a unique and dynamic function to the deck that goes way beyond refueling. Of course, since the deck dumps its hand so quickly it functions fantastically as another refueler; but it also does much more.

First, it adds another layer of consistency to help ensure we draw the right combination of cards, limbering up the deck’s Achilles Heel. If you don’t have what you need, you can cast it to find the missing pieces. I once kept a hand against a more-than-competent opponent piloting Dark Jeskai that was 4 lands, a fiery impulse, and 2 Day’s Undoing, and I won that game by Undoing on turn 3 to draw a new hand. Jace does a great job of achieving consistency, but Day’s Undoing lends him a welcome hand toward mitigating the dissonant draws that often plague this deck.

Second, it shuts down graveyard strategies: most notably and importantly, it makes Rally start all over again in building up to their haymaker, buying precious time that our Prowess creatures excel at making the most of to end the game before Rally hits the fan. But even beyond foiling the best deck in the format, it prevents Delving, while eliminating value from Jace, Dark-Dwellers, Den Protector and more card-advantage engines that power top-tier decks like Jeskai, Mardu Green, Esper Dragons, 5-Color Bring to Light, and more.

Third, it disrupts the opponent’s gameplan. People sequence their turns based on the information in their hand, and if you catch your opponent at the right time, you can really derail them from their plan. This strategy is most effective after your opponent has been sculpting their hand. For example, if you cast Day’s Undoing after an opponent cast Dig Through Time, they just lost those cards, essentially negating the spell. Moreover, players in Standard typically aren’t used to playing with Timetwister, and it can seriously disrupt their thought-process. They will not be ready for the first Day’s Undoing, and once they know you have it, they might begin casting their spells more aggressively, trading down to make sure you don’t get ahead on the board then bust it right open with another Day’s Undoing. This attitude can play right into your hands as well.

This next one really goes without saying, but I’ll mention it anyway: card advantage. If your opponent had 4 cards in their hand and you had 1 when you Undo the Day, then you just gained Ancestral Recall over them. The ceiling on this type of leverage is extremely high and busted because the more cards the opponent has than you, the more you gain from the spell–Day’s is often a 1 for 7. It can absolutely pulverize mid-range and control decks, especially if you have Dispel to ensure it resolves uncontested.

Beyond all that, it often just wins you the game on your next turn–after drawing seven new cards, you usually have all of the tools you need to end the game and the mana to cast them after untapping, putting them on a 1-turn clock. 8 low-cost, hyper-efficient creatures with haste will be in your deck when you cast Day’s Undoing, even if they were killed earlier because it shuffles your yard back into your library. The chance of drawing them becomes higher and higher every time you play a permanent, or fetch a land, or delve away a card you don’t need. In addition to these, we have of course the full suite of 1-drop pump/evade/removal spells to ensure a lot of damage. Casting Day’s Undoing is usually a foreboding death sentence that most mid-range and control decks simply cannot escape.

Finally, as just mentioned, it also allows us to recycle creatures from the graveyard, something this deck can’t do otherwise without playing Kolahgan’s Command, which is just too slow. With only 12 aggressive creatures populating the deck, it is not unheard of for UR Prowess to simply run out of threats in grindier matchups or against Sphinx’s Tutelage decks. That is no longer a problem.

Here is my most recent version of the list, which has won me 1st place at the only two tournaments I’ve taken it to so far, a Friday Night Magic and a Gameday, both at Mox Mania in Madison:

U/R Prowess

4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Abbot of Keral Keep
4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
4 Stormchaser Mage
1 Dispel
4 Slip Through Space
1 Magmatic Insight
1 Expedite
4 Fiery Impulse
3 Wild Slash
4 Titan’s Strength
1 Roast
1 Day’s Undoing
4 Treasure Cruise
1 Wandering Fumarole
4 Shivan Reef
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Polluted Delta
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Sunken Hollow
2 Island
3 Mountain

Sideboard

1 Rending Volley
2 Dispel
1 Temur Battle Rage
2 Roast
2 Disdainful Stroke
4 Radiant Flames
2 Day’s Undoing
1 Murderous Cut

A few notes about this list and how to pilot it:

First of all is rule number one: NEVER cast Day’s Undoing against Atarka Red or the mirror match. You will just lose, for obvious reasons. I would probably not cast it against RB dragons either in most cases. It is such a liability against those decks that I only run 1 in the main. If you draw it, just try to loot it with Jace for profit. Despite this dead card for the matchup, this list is significantly more favorable against Atarka Red than others because of the 7 shocks in the main and 4 Radiant Flames in the board.

Speaking of, running 7 shocks in the main has exceeded all expectations. We definitely want Fiery Impulse to remove blockers Alyi, Mantis Rider, Sylvan Advocate, Reflector Mage, and Catacomb Sifter just to name a few. But Wild Slash is also great since it can go to the dome, ensuring there is always a target for using it as an instant-speed Prowess trigger, which can save creatures from sweepers or burn, or function as a combat trick. It also often results in 4-8 damage when pointed at the dome with Prowess creatures to close the game quickly. Having all 7 shocks means we can dominate early tempo, which is exactly what this deck needs to get ahead. Later in the game, trading two Shocks for a big creature like Siege Rhino or Kalitas is usually fine because we should have more cards than our opponent thanks to Treasure Cruise and cantrips, plus we get two prowess triggers while feeding our graveyard for more Delving.

Although the shocks do serious work, I have been trying to make room for a single copy of Temur Battle Rage in the main, and I’m considering cutting a shock for one. To be honest, I think TBR is overrated in this deckĀ  because it is expensive to cast and completely dependent on at least 2 other cards (a creature to target and a spell to pump that creature). Since it is a dead draw unless these conditions are met, I would not play more than 2 in the 75. That being said, one copy in the main would make the deck more dangerous, so I’m looking for a card to cut. Another option would be to swap the Roast in the main with the Rage from the board. I also might shave a single Radiant Flames from the board to make space for another Rage.

It is worth noting that Expedite is more powerful in this list than those without Day’s Undoing. It ensures we can cast and flip Jace to flashback a spell or swing with Abbot the turn after casting Day’s, which will often be just enough to close the game. I also love using it to save prowess creatures from burn spells, or busting it on Jace before he should be able to tap. It is an all-around solid, instant-speed utility card that cantrips for 1 mana. Good deal.

Magmatic Insight also gains more value after reloading with Day’s Undoing by letting you chuck extra lands, especially fetches, for even more cards while of course triggering prowess and rebuilding your yard for Treasure Cruise and Jace. As anyone who has piloted the archetype knows, it has a high propensity to flood out, even with as low a land count as 20, so Magmatic Insight is nice for mitigating this problem.

I’ve stopped listening to arguments on why to play Boiling Earth; Radiant Flames is the real deal. It is better against Atarka Red because it bypasses the pump of Atarka’s Command to ensure you sweep those goblin tokens, while also killing 2-toughness threats like Swiftspears and Bellstrikers–you really can’t afford to let any of their creatures survive. It also has applications outside of that matchup against the mirror, Rally, and token-generators like Sorin and Gideon, while Boiling does not. I’ve written about Radiant Flames in previous articles and everything I wrote still stands. It’s a one-sided sweeper that can be cast for 1, 2, or 3 damage as needed consistently. Wiping your opponent’s board while triggering Prowess and attacking is a huge swing. All of this is well worth the one extra mana to cast it. It has won me so many games that Boiling Earth would have simply fell short in or have sat in my sideboard hogging space as a dead card that only has the potential to serve a very limited purpose. I would never sleeve up this deck without Radiant Flames; it’s just too powerful, versatile, and synergistic.

I think U/R Prowess still has lots of room for improvement, but I suspect that Day’s Undoing and Radiant Flames will be huge pieces of the puzzle necessary to elevate this deck from tier 2 to tier 1. Thank you for reading, don’t hesitate to let me know what you think, and may all your bad Days be Undone!

 

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