A Stoneforge Mistake? Pyromancer Ascension in GP Dallas

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You can read Part 1 of my Trip Report here: A Most Magical of Weekends.

Welcome back to The Brewery! It's certainly been a while since I've written for Quiet Speculation, and it sure feels good to write again. πŸ™‚

This past weekend was a busy one with Grand Prix Dallas marking my first Grand Prix since Atlanta in 2004 and my first major live event since Pro Tour Columbus in 2005.

I woke up with just enough time to make my way to the convention center and find the last few cards I needed to borrow (thanks Corbin!). A quick vender exchange for Darksteel Axe, Combust, and Jace's Ingenuity brought a couple of odd comments from the other guys in line, but I knew it would be pretty sick.

I suppose it's time for the decklist!

Pyromancer Anew

For reference, here is my posting on the deck from the day before the Grand Prix and here are Chad Havas' posts on the deck.

Round 2, Lance Liberto, U/W Control

Game 1 was never even close. My opponent was playing a U/W Control deck with no Squadron Hawks or Stoneforge Mystics, instead playing Tumble Magnets, Wall of Omens, and Sea Gate Oracle. Basically, the best game 1 matchup I could have possibly found in this entire room full of people. Arc Trail and Burst Lightning each did 8 damage to him this game.

Game 2 was a long battle, and I thought I drew into the win on my final turn. Two times two minus one. And again. And three times two minus one.

β€œYou're at 11?”


Two times two minus one. Three. Again. Three more. Three times two minus one. Five. Three plus three plus five. Eleven. And my opponent, who spent his last turn exploding and tapping out for Sun Titan, would be helpless to stop me. Kor Firewalker had done a number on me this game, but I was going to win this game.

β€œBurst Lightning, targetting you. Pyromancer Ascension triggers.”

β€œI'll gain two life.”



How did I miss that? The answer is I didn't. Kor Firewalker only triggers off of playing a Red spell, not from copies. I should have known this, and I think on some level I did. I completely melted down, sending a Bolt and its clone to the Sun Titan (I was at 6 life), and a doubled Burst Lightning to take out his Sea Gate Oracle. My tapped out opponent was at 11, and I just sent 14 burn damage to kill of his team. Punt.

To make matters worse, I misplayed a critical turn the midgame. My opponent had a Kor Firewalker and a Sea Gate Oracle to go along with an animated Celestial Colonnade. I had an active Pyromancer Ascension and a Burst Lightning in hand and 15 life. I kicked the Burst Lightning at the Colonnade, but instead of hitting the Oracle for the other half and cutting my opponent's clock from 5 turns to 8, I got greedy and sent 4 at his face (combining with Kor Firewalker to deal just 2 damage*). Lesson learned and applied the rest of the day.

After losing game 2, there were just minutes left on the clock. I boarded in the Shape Anew package, assuming it would be my only way to get a win and that it would be unlikely to cost me the game. I shuffled up faster than I knew I could, presented, and waited in agony as my opponent shuffled calmly and relaxed. Time was called three turns into the game, and Lance offered the draw assuming we were both drawing dead. I declined. The board was mostly empty, with 3 lands each. I would have the first extra turn, and I already had a Shape Anew in my hand.

I had to draw naturally into Darksteel Axe + land in that order on Turn 1 and Turn 3, resolving Shape Anew on Turn 3, and drawing Into the Roil on Turn 5 for his 1/2 [card Squire]blocker[/card].

Turns out drawing three running outs is hard to do. After this game, I was pretty steaming though. Valeri talked me off the ledge between rounds.

*Yeah, I know. Sigh.


Round 3, Mikaela Mielke, Darkblade

Game 1 I got hit with a Sword of Feast and Famine once, and her life total went from 19 to 15 to 9 to 3 to dead. Pyromancer Ascension again made for an easy game 1 against Blue-based Control.

Game 2 she boarded in Flashfreeze which I somehow let snag a Pyromancer Ascension, but Combust was huge in this game and let me stick around. After a few turns of Draw, Go, we each had about thirty lands in play. I drew into Jace's Ingenuity into nothing, and she had Sun Titan (I think. I played against four different Stoneforge Mystic decks and a U/W Control, and they all started blurring together.) In either case, I lost.

Game 3 ended with me at 6 and her at 18. She said she punted the win, and I think she may have been right. Round 2's draw felt really wrong, but this one felt like a bit of a blessing. Still, starting out 1-0-2 isn't much better than 1-2.


Round 4, Gale Carter-Jeffrey, Boros

Game 1 got closer than I would have liked, since my opponent ended the game with two clearly telegraphed Lightning Bolts sitting in hand. I was at 8 life. Arc Trail was huge here, killing two creatures on turn 3 and dealing him 8 damage later on (as well as killing multiple creatures each time!).

Game 2 was never close. I boarded in the Blightsteel Colossus, and my opponent bemoaned his dead sideboard cards to his buddy after getting hit for 11 poison counters.


Round 5, Jeff Zandi, Mono White Mystic Control

Game 1, he surprised me with a maindeck Kor Sanctifiers to blow up a Pyromancer Ascension. Knowing his deck had zero reach, I fell to 5 before blowing him out with Pyromancer Ascension from 14 life. Sun Titan (retrieving Pilgrim's Eye) hit the board multiple times, and Into the Roil kept me out of true danger. Emeria, the Sky Ruin was his turn 1 land but he ended the game with six Plains.

Game 2


Most of my opponents were pretty awesome to play against, but I think Jeff may have been the best. He was clearly having a good time and it showed. It turns out his deck was probably the MWC deck from GP Barcelona.


Round 6, Ron?, U/W CawBlade

If I could pick any round to replay on video, it would be this one. Multiple times in game 1 I thought I would have the win, but Gideon + two Swords made quick work of me in two attacks. Into the Roil kept me alive for a couple of extra turns, but I couldn't deal with the 6/6-turned-10/10. I'm not sure how tight I played this round. I mulliganed to 5 in game 1, and the 5 I kept wasn't stellar against his deck.

Game 2 was brutal and not very close. His sideboard plan, as I saw after the game, was pretty strong against me. It looked like he brought in 3 Leyline of Sanctity, 2 Celestial Purge, and 2 Revoke Existence. Midway through the game I realized he didn't play any Counterspells, but by then it had been too late to take advantage of. Ron was also the only opponent all day to aggressively go after my lands with his Tectonic Edges. Kudos to you, I hope you did well!


Round 7: Sara Tucker, U/B Tezzeret Forgemaster

This is the first deck I played against all day long that played neither Squadron Hawk or Stoneforge Mystic (in retrospect, Round 2 had neither as well). Game 1 went long, with her Tezzeret getting up to 9 Loyalty before I bounced it the first time. Two Kuldotha Forgemasters, Blightsteel Colossus, Wurmcoil Engine, and a Mindslaver all hit the board for her before I won with a flurry of copied spells.

For game 2, I audibled into a slightly different sideboard plan than I would have anticipated the night before. She had so few creatures but a ton of spells, and I didn't see Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Into the Roil in game 1, so I brought in Spell Pierces and the Blightsteel package for Arc Trails, Burst Lightnings, and Pyromancer Ascension.

It turns out she had Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but I was able to use Jace Beleren as a pseudo-shroud for Blightsteel and she had no answer.

Highlight of the round: Game 2 Memoricide naming Pyromancer Ascension. Good luck finding any. πŸ™‚


Round 8: Genesis Garcia, Eldrazi Green

I was in a position to win out and make day two, and I won an easy game 1 against Eldrazi Green. His life total went from 20-17-8-0, and I didn't drop below 19.

Flashback three days ago. I'm playing one of my only test matches with the deck on MTGO, and this time it's in the 2-man queues against Eldrazi Green. Game 2, I boarded in Blightsteel Colossus and won the turn before his Mystifying Maze became active. Hmm. That card makes Blightsteel pretty bad, doesn't it?

So of course, I board in Blightsteel for game 2 (a quick affair when Terastodon takes out 2 of my 3 lands on his turn 4) and don't notice the error until he played his Maze naturally in game 3. At this point, I'm pretty sure I was drawing almost dead to a win. Keeping sketchy one-landers in games 2 and 3 didn't help, either.


I dropped from round 9 to spend some extra time with Valeri. It was 8:15, and stores in Dallas apparently stop selling beer at 9:00PM, so we booked it over to Wal Mart and picked up a couple of 12-packs for our hotel room. Wal Mart was run like a well-oiled machine, and it took us 10 minutes to get in and out as if by incompetent boobs and it took us almost an hour to buy our beers. Valeri and I started pregaming while we waited for the Grand Prix to finish, and it wasn't until we were 11 beers deep into the first 12-pack that people starting coming back to the hotel room. At some point between then and when we all left the room, the seven of us finished off the remaining 13 beers and set off to stroll down Commerce St. in downtown Fort Worth.

Now, at this point Valeri and I are both extremely drunk. I had been subsisting on snack foods all day, and a fairly scant amount of them at that, so the beer was hitting me quite hard. She insisted she was fine, but we were both stumbling down the street as we walked.

β€œYou! You guys! You have to try this burger. I am from Switzerland, and this is the best burger I have ever had in America.”


Sitting outside of a restaurant/bar on what would have been a patio if it wasn't the sidewalk was a group of two or thee Europeans finishing off a meal. Well, at this point, everyone is at least a little tipsy if not full-on drunk, so what could be better than a hamburger and some beer?

Just to be sure, I accepted this kind Swiss man's offer to try his food. The french fry was quite delicious. At some point, he said something about cutting up his burger into quarters, but I'm not really sure what he was referring to. Maybe it's some strange Swiss way to honor your food.

We all ordered some food and a beer (if you're counting, I'm 8 beers in at this point), and I feasted. It was probably pretty dirty to watch.

I have no idea how I managed to walk all the way back to the hotel room. Shortly thereafter, Valeri ran out of batteries on one of the beds, and I joined her a few minutes later. I woke up the next morning still tipsy, and the hangover lasted until midway through the 4-hour drive back home! It was worth every second. πŸ™‚

On Jace Beleren:

This card was insane. All day long. In 7 rounds, I had one killed in combat and one Legend ruled by Jace, the Mind Sculptor (Ban! Ban! LOL). Every single other Jace Beleren I cast resolved and drew me at least 3 cards (or won me the game first). Twice on the day, I use Jace Beleren to draw three cards and then play another Jace Beleren immediately.

On Arc Trail:

This card was also insane. At times, it reminded me of a much more versatile Searing Blaze. The most common use of it for me was to kill an x/1 or x/2 and sending the other half to my opponent's face. The ability to 2-for-1 just makes it even sweeter. The full compliment of Arc Trail is part of the reason why Jace Beleren was so easy to play and abuse.

On Into the Roil:

Perhaps the most useful 4-of in the deck outside of Pyromancer Ascension. Rarely was I disappointed to see this card, and often I was drawing to it as an out. It dealt with Gideon Jura, Sword of Feast and Famine, Mindslaver, Blightsteel Colossus, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Wurmcoil Engine... I likened this card to Time Warp months ago on The Brewery, and now that CawBlade has taken over, its resumed its role as a Pyromancer Ascension SuperCard.

I lost a two games at the Grand Prix where I had an active Pyromancer Ascension. I never lost a single game where I cast a copied Into the Roil.

Insanity Roil
2UU – Instant
Return up two target nonland permanents to their owner's hands. Draw a card for each permanent returned.

That would never, ever, ever see print.

Good thing it doesn't have to. πŸ™‚

On Jace's Ingenuity:

This card was obviously powerful every time I resolved it. I believe I cast it four times on the day, winning two of the games, losing one, and running it into a Mana Leak in the fourth (before later winning). Instant speed was relevant when compared to Foresee, but the extra mana cost was also relevant. I'll be testing Foresee again in this slot, but Jace's Ingenuity may prove to be correct.

On the Blightsteel Colossus plan:

Aside from round 1 where I boarded in Blightsteel for round time considerations, I boarded it in for game 2 against Boros, Mono White Stoneforge, and UB Tezzeret, winning each game easily. For a deck that already may have the best game 1 win % in the format, having such a strong sideboard misdirection plan is not gimmicky in the least.

I saw opponents bringing in Celestial Purge, Flashfreeze, Memoricide, Kor Sanctifiers... The one card more than any other that is scary is Revoke Existence. There are not many cards in Standard that can deal with both a resolved Pyromancer Ascension and a resolved Blightsteel Colossus, but Revoke Existence is one of them.

I misboarded the Shape Anew package against Eldrazi Green and lost both games 2 and 3 of that match.

Thanks again to Chad Havas for the original decklist. In fact, he took the deck in the complete opposite direction that I had been (less burn, more card draw, more counterspell effects), and it appears to work quite well.

Not-So-Random Stat:

I won game 1 in 6 out of 7 tries.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this weekend so amazing. πŸ™‚ Ryan, Corbin, and everyone from OK who roomed with us. It was nice to meet you all! And of course, to Valeri for being more supportive than anything I could imagine. <3 I had a blast, and I'm already planning my trip to GP: Providence. I hope to see some of you there! Dylan Lerch @dtlerch on Twitter

16 thoughts on “A Stoneforge Mistake? Pyromancer Ascension in GP Dallas

  1. DUDE! Great write up. I did want to come find you and punch you when reading about some of the punts, but this gives me some great insight on the deck. I look forward to hearing if you end up liking foresee, the main reason for me, is i want all my sorceries to cost 2 or 1, instants to spend on their turn as i please (ie draw/counter) . that game 1 stat is awesome! I'd stopped playing this deck a little so i'm not to burnt out for PTQ season, but i really want to try it with your Jace beleren advice, sounds like it was a stud.

    1. Thanks Chad πŸ™‚

      I was rather happy that all of my misplays were so tame, and the thing that hurt me the most was the differences between MTGO and real-life. 50 minutes goes by so quickly when you have to shuffle so often! All in all, that's pretty easy to fix for next time. πŸ™‚

      Great deck, and it would have made a better player Day 2 for sure.

      Thanks again for the kind words. πŸ™‚


  2. I've been playing Pyro ascension for a while and really like your list! I've beaten most versions of caw blade, but U/W is a 50/50 one. I also like your sideboard transformation. I'll have to try it out later! Nice article sir.

    1. Hi TOm,

      Thanks for reading and responding! What's your Ascension deck been looking like? I'd love for there to be more discussion about the archetype.


  3. Good write up indeed, and Saturday was quite a bit of fun, even though I understood about two words European dude said. His fries were indeed delicious, though.
    Also, obviously a great deck choice and Memoricide naming Ascension is delicious. I judge tournaments around here with Jeff Zandi occasionally, so I'll make sure to rub it in next time I see him.

    1. Hah, thanks Corbin! πŸ˜› So excited for GP: Providence…

      He also gave me a couple dice after the match. Jeff: If you read this, thanks for being awesome πŸ™‚


  4. Nice article. I think I might sleeve the deck up and try it out but I have a couple questions. Would JTMS be better than beleren? Or did you run him just because he comes down a turn sooner so you would have the first jace out?

    1. Hi Michael,


      I've never tested JTMS here, but in theory he should be much worse. Jace Beleren is already sketchy enough costing 1UU in a deck that really wants another U or 1U card draw/cantrip spell. However, coming down a turn earlier than JTMS makes a big difference. πŸ™‚

      I think it's worth testing out, but I would not be surprised if Jace B were better in most situations.


    2. I agree with dylan on this one. the more spells you cast with this deck, the more likely you are to win. In long games JaceB helps that cause, but in most matchups, even he hurts there. If it wasn't for JTMS, i dont think even JaceB would be playable in this deck

  5. Was a good time had a blast with you guys, btw thanks for leaving me out on that borrow cards list…kerk! j/k man I still cant believe she held her beer all night, next time Corbin you wont be so lucky! And on the European dude, I thought he was saying it was the worst burger ever, hence why he was giving it away…guess I misjudged that one hard lol. Anyway great deck writeup and good choice had a blast and cant wait to do it all again.

    1. Hah, my bad! I credited you in the other article, don't know how I missed it here πŸ™‚ Hell, I wouldn't have even made the drive if it wasn't for your Tweet saying you could get me the deck!

      And yes, Valeri is quite awesome (at holding beer and many other things)

    1. Glad it's been working out well πŸ™‚ Please don't be shy about posting here if you make any changes to the deck! I'd love to hear your experiences with it against the Tier 1 matchups especially.

      Thanks for reading and responding!


      1. Hey Dylan,

        Just a quick inquiry, have you tried playing Nuerok Commando in lieu of Jace B. for card draw power? I know you feel that Jace is better than ever with the buffed up suite of burn to protect him from aggro, but I've heard alot of people having nothing but good things to say of the Commando and it's versatility in many match ups. Give her a shot I say. I'd love to hear your opinion if you did. Thanks.

        1. Hi Tyler,

          I haven't tried it, though I'm not opposed to giving it a spin on MTGO for a few games to see what I think. πŸ™‚ In theory though, I love what Jace Beleren does for the deck. I've got an article in the works extolling the virtues of the less expensive Jace. πŸ™‚

          I'll give it a try and get back to you. Thanks for reading, responding, and for the suggestion!


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