MTG Modern Izzet Underworld Breach Deck Guide

Mill yourself to a win with this complex combo deck.

Hi everyone! My name is Jesse, and I’m a midwest-based writer and Magic player. This past weekend, I placed 6th in the Modern $5K at SCGCon Indianapolis with a “Legendary” combo deck: Izzet Underworld Breach Combo.

This deck is an absolute blast to play for anyone who likes intricate and synergistic gameplay, drawing lots of cards, graveyard recursion…and most importantly, a “Splinter Twin”-style combo finish. It’s also, in my opinion, a legitimate contender in the post-Lurrus Modern format.


Izzet Breach

Market Price:$799.94

Maindeck, 60 cards

Sortsort deckCreature (13)

  • 4Dragon’s Rage Channeler
  • 4Emry, Lurker of the Loch
  • 4Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
  • 1Thassa’s Oracle

Sorcery (4)

  • 4Expressive Iteration

Instant (5)

  • 1Galvanic Blast
  • 4Unholy Heat

Artifact (13)

  • 1Aether Spellbomb
  • 3Grinding Station
  • 4Mishra’s Bauble
  • 3Mox Amber
  • 1Shadowspear
  • 1Springleaf Drum

Enchantment (4)

  • 4Underworld Breach

Land (21)

  • 2Arid Mesa
  • 2Flooded Strand
  • 1Island
  • 2Mountain
  • 1Otawara, Soaring City
  • 4Scalding Tarn
  • 2Spirebluff Canal
  • 3Steam Vents
  • 4Urza’s Saga

Sideboard (15)

  • 2Alpine Moon
  • 3Engineered Explosives
  • 2Hurkyl’s Recall
  • 1Pithing Needle
  • 1Pyrite Spellbomb
  • 3Spell Pierce
  • 2Tormod’s Crypt
  • 1Urza, Lord High Artificer

So, how does this deck work?

The combo itself is fairly simple. You need a Legendary creature, Grinding Station, Underworld Breach, and a 0-Mana Artifact (ideally Mox Amber). The combo works as follows:

  1. With a Legendary creature in play, tap your Mox Amber for mana.
  2. Activate your Grinding Station, sacrificing your Mox Amber and targeting yourself. Mill three cards.
  3. Cast Underworld Breach. Use the three cards you’ve milled for the escape cost to re-cast your Mox Amber from your graveyard.
  4. When Mox Amber enters the battlefield, Grinding Station will trigger. With the trigger on the stack, tap your Mox Amber for mana again, then sacrifice it to the Grinding Station.
  5. Rinse and repeat this process until you have 0 cards in your library. At some point in this process, you will mill over your Thassa’s Oracle. When your library is empty, cast Thassa’s Oracle from your graveyard with Underworld Breach.
  6. Win the game.

Why This Deck? (And Why Now?)

This deck has a lot going for it in the current metagame. The biggest factor in its favor is one that anyone who glances at the decklist for 10 seconds will notice: we’re playing playsets of some of the most powerful Magic cards printed in recent years. Our list includes Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Urza’s Saga, Expressive Iteration, Dragon’s Rage Channeler, and Underworld Breach. Your curve is low, topping out at 2 mana pre-board (well, if you factor in the cost reduction for Emry, Lurker of the Loch), and you have 12 powerful turn 1-2 threats in your creature package. This enables a lightning fast start in a format that is unforgiving of early stumbling.

Consider the following opener that happened during my tournament run in Indy.

Game 1 versus Izzet Murktide, my turn 1 was “Land, Mox Amber, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Springleaf Drum, Emry.”

The combo in this deck is also fast enough to race the more linear strategies like Tron and Living End. It’s fairly common to win on turn 3, and it’s even possible to win by turn 2 with the right sequence of cards.

The speed of the combo, combined with the strength and efficiency of your threats, puts your opponent on the back foot right out the gate. They are often forced to delay their own gameplan in favor of holding up interaction for your combo, thus dying to the onslaught of Red one-drops and Saga tokens, or over-commit resources to prevent the aggro assault and die to the Underworld Breach you’ve been holding in your hand, waiting for the right moment to strike.

Another major selling point for this deck is its ability to act as an Emry control deck versus certain decks like Hammertime, Living End, and Dredge. These decks all fold to Emry looping powerful artifact sideboard cards such as Engineered Explosives and Tormod’s Crypt. This axis is something other Izzet decks do not have access to, and it’s a big reason why Breach is heavily favored versus all three of these decks.

All in all, this deck is a massive headache for your opponent to combat. In my experience, most players simply do not know how to play against it. Many don’t even fully understand how the combo works, let alone how to effectively break it up. I used my opponents’ unfamiliarity with my deck to full advantage throughout my Top 8 run in Indy.

A Disclaimer 

A common critique of the Breach combo is that virtually every single sideboard hate card that people commonly play is good against you. …There is some truth to that. Whether it’s graveyard hate, artifact hate, enchantment hate, Urza’s Saga hate, creature removal, discard spells, storm hate, noncreature spell hate, cheap spell hate…the list goes on. If it’s found in a Modern deck’s sideboard, it probably has some game against you.

At this point, you might be asking me, “Now hold on. If that’s true, then why should I play this deck over something more difficult to hate out — like Murktide — in my next tournament?” 

The answer is twofold. First of all, just because your opponent has upwards of 10 to 15 good sideboard cards for you, that doesn’t mean your opponent should dilute their own gameplan by bringing in 10 to 15 sideboard cards against you. At a certain point, they have to make some concessions to something you’re doing for the sake of winning the game themselves.

Secondly – and crucially – this deck attacks your opponent from multiple disparate angles. Did your opponent bring in Force of Vigor and Boseiju, Who Endures? Great — you’re attacking them with a Ragavan, and a 3/3 Dragon’s Rage Channeler while your Emry draws you an extra card every turn with Mishra’s Bauble. Did they overload on creature removal to kill your turn 1 one-drop? Well you’ve followed up that one-drop with an Urza’s Saga and started making constructs. Have they tapped 2 mana on turn 4 to Dress Down away your two 5/5 Construct tokens? Sounds like it’s time to go to your second main phase and drop Underworld Breach with Spell Pierce backup, therefore comboing them out of the game.

Card Choices

Now that I’ve hopefully sold you on the strengths of the deck, let’s break down a few of the key cards that make the deck function.

Emry, Lurker of the Loch

Commander: Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty | Rare

Emry, Lurker of the Loch - Commander: Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty - magic

Emry, Lurker of the Loch is the engine that makes the deck run. Its ability to generate card advantage by re-casting combo pieces, drawing cards off of Mishra’s Bauble, filling up your graveyard for Underworld Breach, looping sideboard artifacts, and even enabling delirium are all incredibly valuable to the deck. 

Emry is also your best card against Living End (which has been gaining popularity — it made up 3 of the other 7 decks in the Indy Top 8), simultaneously advancing your own gameplan while often milling over creatures to put into play when your opponent resolves Living End.

Dragon’s Rage Channeler

Modern Horizons 2 | Uncommon

Dragon's Rage Channeler - Modern Horizons 2 - magic

Dragon’s Rage Channeler serves as early pressure, filters your draws to your combo, and synergizes well with an Underworld Breach in play. This deck runs a lot of cards that make terrible draws (redundant copies of Grinding Station and Mox Amber, lands, sometimes interaction or redundant Legends). This guy helps dump those into your yard as fuel for Underworld Breach and finds the cards that actually matter in a given circumstance. Delirium is also trivial to achieve in this deck, so DRC will be a flying 3/3 attacker with very little effort on your part.

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

Modern Horizons 2 | Mythic

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer - Modern Horizons 2 - magic

Market Price: $42.96

I know it’s going to be difficult for me to sell you on the strength of this card, but let’s see if I can give it a try:

Ragavan is efficient and powerful, generates treasures, pressures your opponent on the very first turn of the game, and most importantly, Ragavan is a Legend. This deck is also the best “Dashed Ragavan” deck in the format, since you make better use of the treasures than any other Ragavan deck. In a vacuum, you’re trying to count to 5 mana to combo kill your opponent, so dashing the monkey to generate mana is an excellent play a lot of the time.

Urza’s Saga

Modern Horizons 2 | Rare

Urza's Saga - Modern Horizons 2 - magic

Market Price: $26.88

Urza’s Saga is admittedly a little bit clunky in this deck. You often need to use your mana early, so you can’t always afford to spend turn 3 making constructs. It also only finds 1 piece of your 4-card combo. However, the pressure it’s able to generate single-handedly is a major component to the aggressive squeeze this deck wants to put its opponent in. The tutor chapter also isn’t irrelevant, as you’ll find yourself tutoring for Mox Amber or Springleaf Drum a decent amount of time, to give you the mana you need to begin the combo.

Underworld Breach

Theros Beyond Death | Rare

Underworld Breach - Theros Beyond Death - magic

Market Price: $10.94

Earlier this week, my friend Cass (@DevotedDruid on Twitter) said to me, “Realizing this deck was a Snapcaster Mage deck was a big level-up moment for me.” Underworld Breach is not just a combo card; it’s also an obscene way to generate value in the mid-game. It’s very common to fire off a Breach on turn 6 to draw 3 cards, put a threat in play, and Unholy Heat one of your opponent’s creatures. Underworld Breach is by far the best card in the deck. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Expressive Iteration

Strixhaven: School Of Mages | Uncommon

Expressive Iteration - Strixhaven: School of Mages - magic

Aside from Underworld Breach, Expressive Iteration is one of the main reasons why this deck is good. In non-linear matchups (essentially, any matchup where every card counts), you should be holding onto your Expressive Iterations for as long as possible. The ideal hit off of Expressive Iteration should be as follows: “Threat to play this turn, Underworld Breach or another Expressive Iteration in hand for a future turn.” It’s usually a bad play to cast Expressive Iteration on turn 3 looking for a land, especially if you have a land in your hand already. I only cast the card on turn 3 if I have plenty of gas in my hand, no lands, and the choke point for the game is hitting my land drops.

Lightning Bolt or Galvanic Blast versus Unholy Heat

I am a big believer in Unholy Heat as the primary removal spell in the deck, but a lot of my very smart friends prefer Lightning Bolt or Galvanic Blast. Their logic is that either one helps with the aggressive gameplan, and that killing big creatures is not as big of a priority for this deck as the ability to point your burn at your opponent’s face is. 

Lightning Bolt and Galvanic Blast are admittedly great with an Underworld Breach in play, since you can escape the same spell multiple times to burn your opponent out of the game. I played one copy of Galvanic Blast in Indy, but I think that going forward I’ll switch to two copies of Lightning Bolt instead. Despite being an artifact deck, it’s actually harder than you might think to achieve Metalcraft.

What about Cantrips?

At the moment, I don’t believe cantrips (Consider, Serum Visions, etc.) are necessary for this deck. Rather, they could even be an active hindrance. This deck really can’t afford to play any cards that are dead air. The more time you spend spinning your wheels without doing anything to meaningfully impact the board, the more time your opponent has to set up and disrupt your combo — which is easy for them to do if the combo is the only thing they have to worry about. That’s why I believe that the card selection that you already play (DRC + noncreature spells, Bauble + fetch lands, and Expressive Iteration) is sufficient for digging for relevant cards while also synergizing with the other 52 cards in your deck.

White/Green Splash?

I’ve considered white splashes for Teferi, Time Raveler, Lavinia, Azorius Renegade, and Prismatic Ending quite a bit. I’ve also tinkered with a Temur build that played Wrenn and Six to rebuy Urza’s Saga (even playing it at MTGVegas back in November!). However, I believe anything more than potentially a very light splash for Prismatic Ending makes the mana too difficult to support Urza’s Saga. It’s possible that the white cards are better than Saga, but at this time I believe the powerful MH2 card is more important to the functionality of the deck than the combo protection that Teferi offers. 

That said, Teferi does synergize incredibly well with Breach. After you’ve escaped 3 or 4 cards off of Underworld Breach, you can tick down your Teferi to return it to your hand, in order to combo with it down the road. If you really want to make Teferi work, you might have to shave down to 2 or even 0 copies of Urza’s Saga. If that’s a direction you’re interested in going, I encourage you to try it! But keep in mind Teferi also raises your curve, so there is some added cost associated with his inclusion.

How to Beat Your Opponents’ Interaction

I’ve alluded to this a couple times so far in this deck guide, but the thing about the combo of Underworld Breach with Grinding Station is… it really isn’t very powerful. 

Grinding Station itself is borderline unplayable on its own. If your goal every time you shuffle up and play a game with this deck is to combo your opponent out, you will find yourself having a bad time. The combo is fragile, it’s kind of clunky, and as I said in the “Disclaimer” section, your opponents will have plenty of sideboard cards for it. 

What the combo undeniably does do, though, is win the game – sometimes out of nowhere. The best way to set yourself up to do that, versus a deck packed with interaction, is to force your opponent to care about things that are not your combo. Your goal should be to make the board state as awkward as possible for your opponent. You have to execute a kind of squeeze, pressuring them from multiple angles and forcing them to answer each of your must-answer threats: Emry, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and Urza’s Saga. Reload with Expressive Iteration, hit your land drops, and eventually run your opponent out of answers. Sometimes the threat of the combo is even more valuable than the combo itself, since your opponent will have to make the difficult decision between leaving up mana to disrupt the combo or using their mana to answer your on-board presence.

Post-board, your opponent will have even more ways of interacting with you. It’s in these spots where I often like to sidestep, boarding lower on my combo in favor of disruption and pivot plans. 


This deck can operate from a very low land count. What it usually can’t operate on is a very low threat count. If you don’t have a turn 1 or 2 threat in your opening hand, you should probably mulligan. If you have a one-land hand but can play a threat on turn 1, then take a moment to step back and think. How likely are you to draw a land or Mox that makes this hand keepable?

Take, for instance, an opening hand I had on the draw in the dark, Game 2 Round 8 of the Indy $5K: Steam Vents, Emry, Bauble, Breach, Breach, Iteration, and Galvanic Blast. Would you keep this hand?

I thought about it for a solid minute, calculating the number of cards I could draw within the first two turns to make this hand good. Basically, what I needed to draw was one of the following cards: a second land to cast Emry on Turn 2, a 0 mana artifact (ideally a Mox Amber) to cast Emry on Turn 1, a Ragavan to cast on Turn 1 and hopefully connect to make a treasure token on Turn 2, or (at the very least) a 1 mana artifact to help reduce the cost of Emry to 1 to cast her on Turn 2. 

I did the math, and calculated that I had 33 cards that were good draws out of the 53 cards still in the deck. In other words, I had a greater than 50% chance to draw something good this turn, and if I didn’t draw it on Turn 1 I could still draw it on Turn 2. I kept the hand, drew back to back lands in my first two turns, and won the game.

What About the Sideboard?

Let’s talk sideboarding. I could just lay out a sideboard guide here and call it good, but I’d much rather talk about my sideboarding philosophy in general with this deck. I’ll also break down each card in my board from Indy and explain exactly why it was there.

Tormod’s Crypt x2

Tormod’s Crypt is better than Soul-Guide Lantern because it’s 0 mana. It helps accelerate Emry, and against the decks you want graveyard hate for, you’d rarely be drawing a card with the Lantern anyway. You can also combo with Crypt as a 0 mana artifact in a pinch.

Engineered Explosives x3

Engineered Explosives is lights out against Hammertime, and very good against Death’s Shadow decks. It’s also the only way for this deck to permanently answer Rest in Peace, albeit inefficiently. I play 3 because in the matchups where looping EE with Emry is game over, I want to see it every time. I don’t always board in all 3 though; it’s fine to bring in 1 or 2 to hedge against your opponent’s enchantment-based sideboard hate.

Pithing Needle x1

You’re an Urza’s Saga deck. You should be playing this card.

Pyrite Spellbomb x1

I’m not sold on this card, but it’s good with Emry and kills Sanctifier En-Vec, which may or may not matter. I could see replacing this with something else until Sanctifier starts seeing more play again.

Spell Pierce x3

I really can’t overstate how good this card is in Modern right now. With Lurrus of the Dream Den gone, people are putting more and more high-cost cards in their deck. Spell Pierce punishes this at the hyper-efficient rate of one Blue mana. It protects your combo, it answers your opponents’ own gameplan, and even the extra 2 mana it forces your opponent to play contributes to the goal of “making things awkward” for your opponent. I bring this card in quite a lot.

Alpine Moon x2

Previous Breach players have played Spreading Seas, which I think is terrible in this deck. You want something efficient more than you want something that draws a card. I don’t know if you care enough about Urza’s Saga decks that these are necessary, but they’ve been good for me so far!

Hurkyl’s Recall x2

Eh. I don’t think this card is necessary. The thought process was that it’s good against Hammer and Affinity, while sort of answering artifact-based hate for your combo, but I literally never brought it in all day. Going forward, I’ll replace these with 2 copies of Defense Grid, which are pretty self-explanatory. Notably, Grid powers up your defensive Spell Pierces when you go for your combo.

Urza, Lord High Artificer x1

Urza, Lord High Artificer is a powerful card. I included one copy as a sideboard pivot plan, further diversifying the angles of attack for this deck. It also ignores graveyard hate quite nicely. I like Urza versus interactive decks, and against any deck that you have to take out Ragavan against (such as Hammer and Yawgmoth) as a way to boost your Legend count.

Other Cards to Consider

I mentioned Defense Grid already, but a few other cards I have considered for the sideboard are Flusterstorm for Cascade decks and winning counterspell fights, Fury for faster aggro decks, Prismatic Ending (splashed for off a single Sacred Foundry) to answer enchantments and other problematic permanents, Aether Gust to beat the green hate spells and Titan, and Saheeli, Sublime Artificer as an alternative pivot card over Urza, Lord High Artificer.

Matchup Breakdown

Now let’s go over how I approach playing against a few of the other top decks in the format. Please note that these are guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules of engagement. Different circumstances may call for you to think on the fly and adjust your game plan – a crucial skill to learn both for Magic in general and especially for this deck, since every turn provides you with so many different potential plays.

I’ve also included a sideboard plan for each matchup. I’ll be using the decklist I have posted at the end of this deck guide, which is slightly different than the deck I registered in Indy.

4-Color Yorion

I believe 4-Color Yorion to be the best deck in Modern right now. Companion is a fundamentally broken mechanic, and any deck that can make the most of them will have an inherent advantage against a largely Companion-less field.

Fortunately for us, our deck is favored against 4-Color! The Yorion deck is historically soft to Combo, and unless they draw one of their Lightning Bolts, it has a serious problem dealing with our Emry early in the game without tapping too low on mana to interact with Breach. This is a classic example of us executing our “Squeeze” strategy. Mulligan to a turn 1 or 2 threat, follow it up with an Urza’s Saga, and come at them from enough angles that they don’t have time to set up an Omnath in play to generate mana. You will find a window to resolve your Breach, and they are unlikely to have an answer. 

Post-board, you need to be cognizant of Force of Vigor, but they are an 80 card deck and generally only play 2 copies. Try to analyze their play pattern to see if it’s likely that they’re holding onto a Force, and see if you can force them to cast it on something like an Urza’s Saga or a big construct token. Alternatively, you can cast one Breach as bait and then cast the second one the following turn when they’ve burned resources to answer your first one.

Sideboard: -1 Mox Amber, -1 Aether Spellbomb, -3 Unholy Heat, -1 Grinding Station +3 Spell Pierce, +1 Pithing Needle, +2 Defense Grid

Izzet Murktide

This is one of the tougher matchups for Underworld Breach. If the game goes too long, your odds of winning begin to plummet. They have plenty of red removal for Emry, countermagic for our combo, and a fast clock of their own to end the game.

The first 3 or 4 turns of the game are crucial. Get on board early and put the screws to them. You should either have a turn 1 play with a turn 2 follow-up or a heavy Urza’s Saga draw where you overwhelm them with Construct tokens. 

Post-board, your opponent will likely have shifted to a more controlling gameplan. Therefore, some of your removal is superfluous, and your combo will be even more difficult to execute. My current plan for this is to bring in Defense Grids to force through our combo, since Murktide operates on such a low land count.

Sideboard: -1 Mox Amber, -1 Lightning Bolt, -1 Grinding Station, -1 Emry +2 Defense Grid, +1 Saheeli, +1 Urza

Amulet Titan

Game 1 of this matchup is a bit of a race, but with some wrinkles. Both you and your opponent have a main deck card that interacts with your opponent’s linear gameplan. In your case, it’s Unholy Heat, answering a Primeval Titan for a single mana. In your opponent’s case, it’s Boseiju, destroying your Underworld Breach on the turn you try to combo.

The main difference is that your opponent doesn’t have much going on that impacts the board before they drop their game-ending card, whereas you do. Leverage this to your advantage, building a board presence while you look for a good window to combo. Keep in mind, even getting Boseiju’d isn’t the end of the world. The card provides you with an additional mana, which you can use to hold up Heat on their turn and utilize down the road the next time you go for your combo. 

Game 2, your opponent will also have Force of Vigor. This is where your ability to attack from multiple angles will come in handy. You are the beatdown in this matchup.

Sideboard: -2 Lightning Bolt, -1 Aether Spellbomb +1 Pithing Needle, +2 Alpine Moon

Living End

I’ve mentioned this already, but Emry is an all-star in this matchup. Your opponent’s key cards against you in Game 1 are Force of Negation and Grief. It can be really tricky to navigate this matchup, but unless you are on the play with a turn 3 win (or the rare turn 2 win), you need to expect to have to execute your combo after your opponent has resolved Living End. With that said, you should be trying to put creatures in your own graveyard — especially Emry. You can usually afford to take 1 hit from their board after their Living End, but you don’t have much time to mess around. Saga tokens and Monkey beats will not get the job done in game 1.

Post-board, Spell Pierce and Tormod’s Crypt go a long way to swing the matchup in our favor. If you can set up a loop with Emry +and Crypt, or put the pressure on with creatures and Spell Pierce the first Living End, you should be in good shape. Keep in mind that your opponent can Force of Negation your Tormod’s Crypt, which may lose you the game on the spot if you haven’t planned for it. Watch out for Endurance from Turn 3 onward, but don’t play scared.

Sideboard: -2 Lightning Bolt, -2 Unholy Heat, -1 Aether Spellbomb,  +2 Tormod’s Crypt, +3 Spell Pierce


I would choose to play against this deck every round if I could. In Game 1, you have enough removal to disrupt their game plan and they have absolutely no way to prevent yours.

Post-board, you can transition into an Emry control deck, looping Engineered Explosives over and over again. Watch out for Pithing Needle, but beyond that you should be golden. I board out Ragavan in the matchup and bring in my alt-win cons to keep my Legend count high.

Sideboard: -2 Mox Amber, -4 Ragavan, -2 Dragon’s Rage Channeler +3 Engineered Explosives, +1 Pithing Needle, +2 Alpine Moon, +1 Saheeli, +1 Urza

Rakdos Midrange

This matchup can be tough. They pack a ton of discard spells, and often play the new Saga from Neon Dynasty, Hidetsugu Consumes All. They also generally have Alpine Moon and Fury, which are both good against your non-combo gameplans. I think Dragon’s Rage Channeler is particularly weak against them.

It is, however, difficult for them to disrupt your combo. Kolaghan’s Command and Red removal generally aren’t’ enough to stop you from going off if you have enough mana at your disposal. 

Sideboard: -1 Mox Amber, -1 Aether Spellbomb, -4 Dragon’s Rage Channeler, +2 Engineered Explosives, +2 Spell Pierce, +1 Saheeli, +1 Urza

Creativity Combo

I played Creativity Combo for my win-and-in in Indy. I think the matchup is pretty good, just don’t get blown out by Wrenn and Six and Fire//Ice. They’re not particularly good against your combo, nor are they great at withstanding the aggro game plan since they deal themselves so much damage with their own lands. Their deck also plays a lot of cards that don’t do much at all, like Hard Evidence, Remand, and Archon of Cruelty.

Emry is my favorite card in the matchup, as it’s difficult for Creativity to keep up with the card advantage that she provides.

Keep in mind you have until their 8th land drop before they start hard casting Archons and effectively putting the game out of reach.

Sideboard: +3 Spell Pierce, +1 Pithing Needle -1 Mox Amber, -2 Lightning Bolt, -1 Grinding Station


I lost to Yawg in the Top 8, but I still think the matchup is decent. Their deck has only two cards that will kill you: Grist, Hunger Tide and Yawgmoth itself. They will, however, have multiple ways to disrupt your combo, between Force of Vigor, Endurance, Outland Liberator, Thoughtseize, and Necromentia.

Your Ragavans are also very bad against them. Your plan should prioritize taking over the board with DRC and Construct tokens and holding the threat of the combo over their head all game.

Sideboard: -1 Mox Amber, -1 Aether Spellbomb, -4 Ragavan +2 Tormod’s Crypt, +1 Engineered Explosives, +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Saheeli, +1 Urza

Azorius Control

You’d think this matchup would be worse for Breach, but I have found it surprisingly good. Yes, they play boatloads of disruption for our combo, but they don’t provide any form of clock on their own. It’s pretty straightforward to poke and prod them with your creatures, forcing them to make a move, and then combo them with Breach on turn 5 or 6.

Post-board, the only card that’s really great against you is Rest in Peace, because it forces you to bring in Engineered Explosives (which is otherwise bad against their deck). I also think cutting some number of Dragon’s Rage Channelers  might be correct against them, but I’m not sure about it. The card is fairly low impact in that matchup, especially if they’re attacking your graveyard.

Sideboard: -1 Mox Amber, -1 Aether Spellbomb, -1 Shadowspear, -2 Lightning Bolt, -1 Unholy Heat, -2 DRC, -1 Grinding Station +1 Engineered Explosives, +1 Pithing Needle, +3 Spell Pierce, +2 Defense Grid, +1 Saheeli, +1 Urza


This is an excellent matchup. Your manabase is relatively painless, they struggle to beat your combo, and you’re an Urza’s Saga deck, which means you have access to main-deck Shadowspear.

Postboard, watch out for Smash to Smithereens and Sanctifier En-Vec, but as long as you play smart, your opponent shouldn’t be able to give you any trouble. Personally, I like to board out some creatures, to make Searing Blaze worse.

Sideboard: -4 Dragon’s Rage Channeler, -1 Emry +3 Spell Pierce, +2 Engineered Explosives


I think this matchup is very difficult. Two 4/4 Tramplers on turn 3 is a fast clock, and they play lots of interaction that’s effective against you — think Force of Negation, Force of Vigor, Endurance, Fury, Stomp, Fire//Ice, Brazen Borrower, and more.

You will find it difficult to combo against them, so instead, I recommend dragging them down to your level. If you can’t execute your gameplan, why should they? Clear Rhinos with Engineered Explosives or Emry loops, blow them out with Spell Pierce, and try to keep their board as clear as they’re keeping yours. 

Sideboard: -2 Mox Amber, -1 Ragavan, -2 Lightning Bolt, -1 Unholy Heat, -2 Grinding Station +3 Engineered Explosives, +3 Spell Pierce, +1  Saheeli, +1 Urza


I think this matchup is pretty favorable. Race them with your combo. Leave in some number of answers to Karn, the Great Creator. Watch out for Boseiju.

Sideboard: -1 Aether Spellbomb, -1 Shadowspear, -3 Unholy Heat, -1 Emry +3 Spell Pierce, +2 Alpine Moon, +1 Pithing Needle

Things to Remember

I won’t sugarcoat it: this deck is complicated to pilot. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the many matches I’ve played with this deck, both in paper and on Magic Online. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind so you can avoid learning them the hard way:

  • You need 5 mana to combo from an empty board (assuming 0 opponent interaction). You need 4 mana if you already have a Legend in play, and 3 mana if you have a Grinding Station.
  • Ragavan doesn’t help you cast Thassa’s Oracle off of Mox Amber mana, but it does help you cast Springleaf Drum during your combo, which can then filter a Red mana into a Blue mana to cast Emry and begin generating mana that does cast Oracle.
  • You don’t need to have your whole combo in play when you start going off. You can start your combo with any 0 mana artifact, eventually switching to Mox Amber whenever you eventually find it. Similarly, you don’t need a Legend in play right away. Once you mill one over, you can cast it from the graveyard and then begin generating mana with your Mox. Grinding Station is trickier to dig to, but still possible with DRCs and Emry loops.
  • Because Emry mills 4 cards upon entering the battlefield, it pays for its own escape cost. You can therefore sometimes dig for a Grinding Station when you have an Underworld Breach by looping 2 copies of Emry and 2 copies of Mox Amber. 
  • Along the same vein, if you have 2 copies of Emry, 2 copies of Mox Amber, and 2 Dragon’s Rage Channelers, you don’t even need the Grinding Station to go off. The same is true if you don’t have Emry and instead have 3 Dragon’s Rage Channelers and either 2 Mox Amber or a Mishra’s Bauble (although you won’t be generating mana).
  • Make the most of Grinding Station’s untap trigger. Even if your Grinding Station is untapped, an untap trigger will still go on the stack after you cast Mox Amber. Float the mana with the trigger still on the stack, then tap your Station to sacrifice the Mox Amber. Then let the untap trigger resolve. Your Grinding Station will be untapped at the end of the loop, so if something goes wrong, you can trade in one of your other artifacts lying around (or even the Station itself!) for an extra 3 cards in your graveyard.
  • If you suspect your opponent has a way of destroying your Underworld Breach mid combo (such as Boseiju, Who Endures) and you have the mana and another copy of Breach in your graveyard, then the very first thing you should do after your Breach resolves is immediately cast the other Breach from your graveyard. Your opponent won’t have a window to destroy your Breach before you do this.
  • Any permanent destroyed by your opponent (aside from Breach itself) is nothing more than a temporary setback while you’re comboing, provided you have enough mana. You can always use Breach to escape your Legend or your Grinding Station if they get destroyed prior to your victory.
  • Post board, try your best not to exile your Spell Pierces in your graveyard while going off. You can use them to protect your combo. Remember: you can escape an instant at instant speed!
  • You can cast Oracle as a blocker or as a way to dig to a combo piece versus decks that don’t play exile-based removal. You can always Bolt or Unholy Heat your own Oracle mid-combo to recast it from the graveyard when it’s time.
  • Against interactive decks, it’s almost always better to wait on your combo and prioritize your aggressive gameplan first. The combo should punish your opponent’s interaction, not enable or reward it.
  • Feel free to board out combo pieces (Mox Amber, Grinding Station, or even some number of Legends) if you feel your opponent is very good at disrupting it. Never board out Underworld Breach, as the card is still great as a value spell.

Going Forward

Given what I learned during my run in Indy and in the conversations with friends afterward, I’ll be playing the following deck build going forward:


Izzet Breach

Market Price:$810.01

Maindeck, 60 cards

Sortsort deckCreature (13)

  • 4Dragon’s Rage Channeler
  • 4Emry, Lurker of the Loch
  • 4Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
  • 1Thassa’s Oracle

Sorcery (4)

  • 4Expressive Iteration

Instant (5)

  • 2Lightning Bolt
  • 3Unholy Heat

Artifact (13)

  • 1Aether Spellbomb
  • 3Grinding Station
  • 4Mishra’s Bauble
  • 3Mox Amber
  • 1Shadowspear
  • 1Springleaf Drum

Enchantment (4)

  • 4Underworld Breach

Land (21)

  • 2Arid Mesa
  • 2Flooded Strand
  • 1Island
  • 2Mountain
  • 1Otawara, Soaring City
  • 4Scalding Tarn
  • 2Spirebluff Canal
  • 3Steam Vents
  • 4Urza’s Saga

Sideboard (15)

  • 2Alpine Moon
  • 2Defense Grid
  • 3Engineered Explosives
  • 1Pithing Needle
  • 1Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
  • 3Spell Pierce
  • 2Tormod’s Crypt
  • 1Urza, Lord High Artificer

The deck is easily one of the most intricate decks I’ve ever piloted, but it’s also some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing Modern. If you’re a lover of the various Blue/Red Combo decks from the days of Modern past, you’ll love the thrill of telling your opponents, “I’ve now demonstrated a loop. I will be milling over my entire deck, eventually casting Thassa’s Oracle to win the game with an empty library. You are therefore entitled to look at my whole deck if you’d like! Except for the cards still in my hand. Those are a secret.”