Take Control of Modern with Izzet Murktide

Immanuel Gerschenson


As had to be expected, Modern Horizons 2 came into Modern and completely changed the format. Many still argue if those changes are for the good or the bad of Modern, but instead of participating in those arguments, I rather just play and enjoy.

The latest results suggest that one can play in Modern whatever pleases them. I was one of them and tried a variety of decks, but in the end, I decided to stick to one deck: Izzet Murktide.

Murktide Regent

I believe Izzet Murktide to be a contender for the best deck in Modern currently and have tremendous fun playing it.

Deck Basics and Flex Slot

Let’s just dive in and start, with what I believe to be the core of the deck:

Izzet Murktide

Click to Wide

These are the 56 cards I would not change ever (never say never…), which leaves room for 4 flex slots.

I change those 4 slots around quite frequently, as they depend on the meta you expect to face. As an example, I had 1 《Engineered Explosives》 in the mainboard, as a hedge against Hammer Time and Rhinomania.

Engineered ExplosivesArchmage's Charm

I personally like to have at least 4 counters mainboard in such a list, which is why I usually have one 《Archmage’s Charm》 in one of those 4 slots. It costs 3 mana, but the upside of being able to draw cards or stealing a permanent are quite good currently. Most games tend to go longer, so having a card that is good on turn 3, but as good on turn 9 is helpful.


A card I just recently decided to try is 《Fire/Ice》. The ability to kill multiple things is great and from time to time you just need to tap something to do your thing. So far, this card has been good.

Brazen Borrower

A card that has impressed me so far is 《Brazen Borrower》. From being an out to random main board hate to just a flash beat stick, the Fae does it all. I tried up to 3 at some point, but that did not go well, so the correct number probably is somewhere in between 0 and 2.

I could go on with some more cards that one should try, but as you can see, I strongly prefer cards that have multiple options at hand and in the end, those slots depend on what you expect to face and your personal preference. Same goes for the sideboard, for which I believe some slots are not up for discussion and some are.


Here is my latest list for now:

Click to Wide

Match Ups

Let’s look at some match ups, shall we?

Hammer Time

One deck that used to be quite popular, but recently has fallen of: Hammer Time

Colossus HammerSigarda's Aid

Game 1 is quite bad for Izzet Murktide, because your 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》 are mostly useless, as are your 《Counterspell》. Ideally you want to start with a 《Dragon’s Rage Channeler》, a fast and big 《Murktide Regent》 and somehow win, while not dying. Your way to win game 1 is in the air. 《Archmage’s Charm》 can steal their equipment and creatures, so use it wisely.

Engineered ExplosivesAbrade

Postboard the story is a different one. I usually board out all 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》 and 《Counterspell》, to bring in more removal, like 《Engineered Explosives》 and 《Abrade》. You should try to play 《Engineered Explosives》 on 0 or 1, as that number will kill the most permanents. Be careful and do not just slam 《Engineered Explosives》 into play, as your opponent might have 《Prismatic Ending》. It is important to understand that in this matchup you are playing like a control deck, do not try to go for a quick win.

vs. Hammer Time


Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
Counterspell Counterspell Counterspell


Engineered Explosives Engineered Explosives Engineered Explosives
Abrade Abrade
Archmage's Charm Force of Negation


A new deck on the rise and to have in mind is Elementals.

Risen ReefOmnath, Locus of CreationFury

Looking at the list, it looks like a deck that has been made to beat up on Izzet Murktide. It had approximately 10 free spells in creatures like 《Fury》, 《Solitude》 and 《Endurance》, which can get out of hand together with 《Ephemerate》.

CounterspellBlood MoonTorpor Orb

Game 1 you should try to win as fast as possible and to have 《Counterspell》 up, as evoking an Elemental means you can counter these.

As with every multicolor deck, their mana comes with a prize. Board in 《Blood Moon》 for a few point-removal.

A new card I am currently trying, specifically for this matchup, is 《Torpor Orb》 in the sideboard. So far it has delivered, but 《Blood Moon》 felt as if it has a stronger impact on the game.

vs. Elementals


Counterspell Counterspell Counterspell
Archmage's Charm Brazen Borrower


Blood Moon Blood Moon Blood Moon
Torpor Orb Torpor Orb


Shardless AgentCrashing Footfalls

Another very interesting matchup and strong deck is Rhinomania. Rhinomania is currently undergoing a lot of changes, so it is very hard to say how you want to approach this matchup with Izzet Murktide.

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

A turn 1 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》 is quite good, obviously, but not as good as against other decks. The reason is that you do not want to cast most of their spells, so 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》 is basically only ramping your mana.

This in hindsight means, you should not try to fight for your 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》, just let it go. Imagine you counter a 《Fire/Ice》 and afterwards your opponent manages to resolve a 《Crashing Footfalls》. Now not only your 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》 is useless, they also can pressure you.

Postboard you want to have access to 《Engineered Explosives》 and some more counter magic, boarding out cards like 《Lightning Bolt》. Boarding out some numbers of 《Counterspell》 itself is fine, as you upgrade those with better countermagic. Just be careful and pay attention on how many evoke elementals your opponent is packing postboard, you might want to bring back some 《Counterspell》.

vs. Rhinomania


Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Counterspell Fire+Ice
Thought Scour Murktide Regent


Dispel Engineered Explosives Engineered Explosives Engineered Explosives
Flusterstorm Flusterstorm
Archmage's Charm Force of Negation

Dimir Mill

Hedron CrabRuin CrabTasha's Hideous Laughter

A deck that did not profit from Modern Horizons 2 but gained a very important card in Dungeon’s & Dragons is Mill. Most people hate playing against it and try to just not think about Mill, but fact is, that from time to time you will face it.

In my opinion Mill is a pretty good matchup, as you just do your thing and interact with them when needed. Just play a creature, kill their crabs, try to keep your Counterspell for 《Tasha’s Hideous Laughter》 and it should be smooth sailing.

Murktide RegentThought Scour

The reason why this matchup is so good in my opinion is 《Murktide Regent》. You should be able to slam those very early, which makes 《Drown in the Loch》 and 《Visions of Beyond》 look terrible. If possible, try to not use your 《Thought Scour》 on yourself, as you do not want to help your opponent. Postboard you do basically the same, just backed up by more countermagic.

vs. Dimir Mill


Thought Scour Thought Scour Thought Scour Thought Scour


Flusterstorm Flusterstorm
Archmage's Charm
Force of Negation


Modern is still moving and every week sees a new deck rise to the top. There are too many different decks to make a sideboard guide, so I will give you just some more tips to help you build and play Izzet Murktide.

How to Use 《Mishra’s Bauble》

Mishra's Bauble

Quite some time ago I wrote an article about how to use 《Mishra’s Bauble》 in a 《Death’s Shadow》 deck. This deck is not too different in its options to use 《Mishra’s Bauble》, so I would suggest go and read that article.

Just to add to the article and specifically for this deck: keep in mind, that you are using Delirium actively, so try to not exile 《Mishra’s Bauble》, as you only have those for the type “Artifact”.

Another nice trick is, if you have 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》, you can have a look at your opponents’ library and decide if you want them to draw that card or not.

《Thought Scour》

Thought Scour

《Thought Scour》 can also target your opponent, do not be afraid to do so! I probably do it around 25% of the time.

《Dragon’s Rage Channeler》

Dragon's Rage Channeler

《Dragon’s Rage Channeler》 surveilles for you! If you are looking for a specific card, you can also 《Thought Scour》 your opponent. Besides that, any spell together with the surveil trigger could potentially turn on the delver-mode of 《Dragon’s Rage Channeler》, keep that in mind if you want to pressure your opponent or have good blocks.

As an example, you have 《Mishra’s Bauble》 and land in your graveyard, play 《Lightning Bolt》 on one of your opponent’s attackers and surveil 《Serum Visions》 into your graveyard.

《Murktide Regent》

Murktide Regent

Your second 《Murktide Regent》 triggers the first one in play, so most of the time it is correct to slam precombat.

Fetch Land

Scalding TarnFlooded StrandPolluted DeltaMisty Rainforest

Split up your fetch lands, do not just play 4 《Scalding Tarn》 and 2 《Polluted Delta》. You need only blue fetch lands, as you play only 《Island》. You do not want to randomly get caught by a 《Pithing Needle》.

《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》 has “Dash”! I usually only dash Ragavan after turn 3 or as soon as I can cast at least an additional spell after I dashed 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》.

Offense or Defense?

Try to identify which role you are going to play in each game, as this will help you with sideboarding and using your cards correctly.


Hurkyl's RecallInvasive SurgeryEntrancing Melody

The format keeps changing, go with the flow and do not be afraid of trying out some new cards. I top 4ed a Modern Challenge on MTGO having 《Hurkyl’s Recall》, 《Invasive Surgery》 and 《Entrancing Melody》 in my Sideboard, just to give you an example of how deep one could go.


That’s it for today, hope I was able to provide you with a peak at Izzet Murktide. I am definitely going to work some more on this deck, as I am currently having too much fun playing it.

Got any questions or crazy ideas for this deck? Do not hesitate to contact me, I am happy to talk about this deck and Modern in general.

Take care and until next time,

Immanuel Gerschenson (Twitter)

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Immanuel Gerschenson Immanuel is skillful at Constructed formats and took trophies at GP Madrid 2014 (Modern) and GP Seville 2015 (Standard). He run a spicy Traverse Shadow list with 《Delay》 and went 14th place at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan with an impressive 9-1 Constructed record. In addition, he was the runner-up of Austria Nationals 2018 it made him to be a Gold Level Pro. Read more articles by Immanuel Gerschenson

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