Ice Cream Scepter – A Delicious Modern Brew by Jeff Hoogland

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Isochron Scepter in Modern

GP Detroit has come and gone, Theros has entered the standard card pool, and yet I still can’t help but have modern on the brain! The format is very diverse and I feel that so long as you are playing a powerful combination of cards you are going to be able to win plenty of matches.

One card I’ve also been enamored with is Isochron Scepter . This card has a powerful effect that you can easily abuse if you build your deck correctly. The first step to this abuse is building a deck that can survive in the current metagame.

Are you aware of how hard it is to play a deck based on a two mana permanent in a format that contains Abrupt Decay? Here is a dirty little secret – it isn’t if you are doing it right. Let me introduce you to my little friend:


Boros Charm doesn’t care that Abrupt Decay “can’t be countered”. You know what else Abrupt Decay can’t do? It can’t destroy things that are indestructible.

With that in mind I’d like to talk about two deck lists today that utilize Isochron Scepter and Boros Charm.


First – the name. The name comes from what I am assuming was an auto-complete error a friend of mine made while messaging me about the deck list. I was amused by it, so it is staying as such.

Now – on to the actual cards! I really enjoy this deck because it can assume one of a few different roles depending on your draw. Sometimes you play a Delver of Secrets on turn one, flip him to a Boros Charm on two and then Remand or Mana Leak your opponent’s relevant spells until they die.

Other times, you are just a burn deck. We sport a whopping forty-eight points of reach in our main deck – not counting our three Snapcaster Mage. Once your opponent shocks themselves or fetches a few lands, it is not hard to close out a game. I do not think I have ever lost a game with this deck where my opponent had an active Dark Confidant – because while it is drawing them more cards, it is also getting them dead faster!

Finally, we can assume a more controlling role – this is where the Scepters really shine. Our nine main deck pieces of counter magic combined with twelve pieces of spot removal can make it extremely difficult for opposing decks to maintain a board presence. Once you get to four mana you can slam an Iscochron Scepter and attach a Boros Charm or Lightning Helix to it. There aren’t many decks in the format that can keep up with a six point life swing every turn that doesn’t cost you any cards!

Don’t have a Lightning Helix? How about we just dome our opponent for four damage every turn with a Boros Charm? No charms around either? Slide a Magma Jet onto that Scepter and ensure you will almost never draw a bad card for the rest of the game while you kill small creatures or chew away at your opponent’s life total.

That leaves me with just three other cards I’d like to touch on before I get to the side board. First we have a couple more pieces of Scepter protection:

bless skite

Spellskite is a modern powerhouse that really doesn’t need further introduction.

Apostle’s Blessing is a card that sees far less play. Blessing is a card that can easily save either our Delver of Secrets or Isochron Scepter for just a single mana. Unlike the Spellskite which sits on the table, Blessing forces our opponent to pull the trigger on trying to kill our threat, and then blows them out.

The last card I’d like to mention is Demonic Tutor, err, Muddle the Mixture :


Need a Scepter to strap that sweet spell onto? Transmute your Muddle and go find one. Already have a sweet spell, but need a Scepter to put it on? Transmute Muddle for one! Already have both pieces of your combo are you are worried your opponent has a removal spell? Transmute Muddle for an Apostle’s Blessing. Your opponent is trying to kill your Delver with a Lightning Bolt? Counter it with Muddle.

It slices, it dices, and it gets us whatever we want in our deck full of awesome two drops.

The sideboard is still a work in progress, but I’ll share my logic on why the slots currently are what they are.

We start with three additional methods of protecting our Scepter from removal:

red spell shield

That gives us nine protection spells post board – this should be far more than any deck has in terms of removal for our scepter.

Next we supplement our main deck counter magic:


As well as improve some of our removal for decks with fat/resilient creatures:

magma path

Lastly, we play a few hate cards for Robots and Tron – popular decks online:

wearing salt

At this point I’ve played a couple of daily events with this deck list as well as a number of two/eight man queues. From my experience I would evaluate its matchups against the more popular decks in the field as follows:

Good Matchups:

  • Robots
  • Pod
  • Fish
  • BGx decks
  • Creature Decks

50-50 Matchups:

  • UWR
  • Twin
  • Living End

Bad Match Ups:

  • Tron
  • Storm

This next deck list is a bit less tested than the UWR Scepter deck, but I think it also has a few fairly powerful things going for it. The first is the ability to lock our opponent out of drawing cards by strapping a Funeral Charm to our Isochron Scepter. A second is the sweet interaction that we had in standard for a few months:

grave vault

So on top of our Scepter providing us a constant flow of action we will have a steady stream of zombies beating down on the ground.

It is very possible that this deck want some number of Young Pyromancer since using the Isochron Scepter counts as “casting” a spell. I am worried about getting too gummed up with two drop permanents with Dark Confidant, Isochron Scepter and Young Pyromancer.

I’ve yet to put together a sideboard for this list, but if I were to do so it would start with filling out the set of Path to Exile and at least a couple more pieces of hand disruption.

Wrap Up

I hope you enjoy activating Ischron Scepter as much as I do. I definitely think the UWR version of the deck is competitive and from the few games I played with it, the BWR version might have something to it as well.

My next major modern event is the TCGPlayer Invitational 50k at the beginning of November – it is split standard/modern formats. I’m heading to Cleveland this weekend though to battle it out in standard and legacy at the Starcity Open. If you see me there, feel free to say hello.



~Jeff Hoogland

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Jeff Hoogland

@JeffHoogland     -     Email     -     Articles
Jeff Hoogland plays as much constructed Magic as the midwest allows. SCG events and Grand Prix are his two favorite ways to spend a weekend. He enjoys attacking new and established formats from unexplored angles. His Magic resume currently includes numerous SCG Open top eights, an SCG Invitational top eight, and a GP top 16.
Jeff Hoogland


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    • Justin on October 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm
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    Are you streaming any of these decks?

    1. I switch back and forth between streaming the UWR Scepter and UR Delver on my modern night (Wednesdays nights).

    • Mike on November 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm
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    Jeff, I’ve been wanting to try out a Scepter deck for Modern for a long time. I’ve focused in builds with Orim’s Chant/Silence and Unsummon in them for the soft locks they provide in addition to the burn and counters you’re using. Would appreciate your thoughts on them from your testing. Thank you.

      • Jeremy on November 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm
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      Orim’s Chant is not modern legal.

    • McDonold on May 8, 2015 at 12:50 pm
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    Hey, as this article is a little older I was wondering if the streams were ever uploaded somewhere. Also What do you think of the decks now?

    1. Don’t believe the streams for this were ever archived. I think this might still be a reasonable choice now that TC and Dig are banned. Anticipate with Scepter also seems very good.

    • Blackhawk23x on June 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm
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    Any chance on an updated list? Also how do you feel about silence, it would improve the storm matchup and be a decent soft lock against some decks until they draw instant speed removal for our sceptre. Also Azorius Charm and Boros Charm plus Boros Reckoner is infinite life. Is that too cute for modern? Is Narset good here?

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