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Izzet Me You're Looking For?


Lately I've been playing the ur Nexus of Fate deck that I wrote about a few weeks back. It's been very enjoyable for me (not so much for my opponents though), and I think I'm leaning towards playing an Izzet deck when Guilds of Ravnica releases. As such, I went to tappedout.net to try to find some interesting Izzet-based builds to use as a starting point and I'd like to share my findings with you this week.

Izzet Burn

The first deck I have is primarily a burn deck that includes a wizard theme. Let's take a look at the deck.

Of the creatures in the deck, only Guttersnipe is not a wizard. Having that amount of wizards will make casting Wizard's Lightning easier to cast the majority of the time. But Guttersnipe not being a wizard isn't necessarily a bad thing. Dealing 2 damage to your opponent just for casting an instant or sorcery spell makes Guttersnipe a creature I'm anxious to play. It's great to know that those 2 points of damage will go through whether the opponent counters the spell or not. You can really abuse this ability after your opponent has already taken some damage during the game, and it can allow you to win out of nowhere.

I also like the full playset of Risk Factor in this deck. Wizards of the Coast has been getting better about creating good "punisher" effects (effects that punish your opponent based on their choice of two options presented on the card). It's a trend that started with Torment of Hailfire and continued with Demanding Dragon. With Risk Factor, you're probably more likely to be able to draw three cards than deal 4 points of damage to the opponent, but by doing so you set yourself up to cast Risk Factor again by using its jump-start ability since you're likely to have drawn a card you won't mind discarding. I like the full playset because I definitely want to draw a couple of these during the game, and drawing two is basically like being able to play four.

Izzet Wizards

The next deck I have for you loses the Guttersnipe in favor of becoming a full-on wizard-tribal deck. Let's take a look at Izzet Wizards.

By making this a dedicated wizard deck, you're able to utilize the pseudo prowess ability that Adeliz, the Cinder Wind provides. That ability is one reason this deck is so difficult to play against. And it's something you'll definitely want to take advantage of. Your opponent will never know if you're holding an instant or two once you've declared your attackers. What once looked like a simple creature to block can suddenly grow in size and become more of a threat than your opponent prepared for. Use the ability to act as removal for your opponent's blocking creatures and use it to deal extra damage when your creatures attack unimpeded.

The creator of the deck has a comment on the decklist wondering if they should swap out Vedalken Mesmerist for Omenspeaker and Wee Dragonauts for Aven Wind Mage. In my opinion, I think bringing in the Omenspeaker would be a good thing. Not only does Omenspeaker help you find the cards you need (like Adeliz, the Cinder Wind) faster, but it also reduces your vulnerability to Goblin Chainwhirler and other cards that deal 1 point of damage. I'm not as certain that swapping out Aven Wind Mage over Wee Dragonauts is a good thing. Wee Dragonauts has the potential to become a bigger threat than Aven Wind Mage does, and since both have flying I'd rather take the bigger threat even if it's slightly more difficult to cast based on its mana color requirements. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on these potential changes.

Izzet Control

The next deck I have is an Izzet control deck featuring the newest version of Ral Zarek. Let's take a look at it.

Both Nezahal, Primal Tide and Niv-Mizzet, Parun act as great finishers for this deck. Nezahal's ability to allow you to draw cards whenever your opponent casts a noncreature spell ensures that you'll likely be able to protect him (?) in the event that your opponent has a removal spell. Nezahal also pairs nicely with Niv-Mizzet, Parun, allowing Niv-Mizzet to deal a point of damage every time your opponent casts a noncreature spell. However, it's unlikely that you'll have both Nezahal and Niv-Mizzet on the battlefield at the same time and not be able to win the game within a turn.

This deck also runs a full playset of Risk Factor, which I talked about above. This card is especially good when Niv-Mizzet, Parun is on the battlefield, as you are guaranteed to deal 4 points of damage when Risk Factor is played, no matter what option your opponent chooses. The best case scenario is that your opponent allows you to draw three cards as you will not only get those cards, but you'll also draw another simply for playing Risk Factor (thanks to Niv-Mizzet) and be able to deal 1 point of damage for each of those cards you've drawn for a total of 4 points of damage (again, thanks to Niv-Mizzet).

Since this deck is mainly about controlling the battlefield until you're able to play one of your uncounterable creatures, you might find yourself in a position to cast Ral, Izzet Viceroy onto an empty battlefield. If you're not that lucky, you can use Ral's -3 loyalty ability to remove nearly any threat. Once the battlefield is clear, use Ral's +1 loyalty ability each turn until you're able to ultimate him. His -8 loyalty ability is truly bonkers in this deck since it features 28 instants and will take massive chunks of your opponent's life total away whenever you cast any of those instants. Don't forget, you have the ability to cast a counter spell on a spell you've cast, so you can deal 8, 12, even 16 points of damage out of nowhere.

Jeskai Control

The final deck I have for you this week takes Izzet and adds a bit of White mana to it. Let's take a look at Jeskai Control.

It has been assumed that Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will continue to be a good card even after Guilds of Ravnica is released. He pairs up nicely alongside Search for Azcanta in any control deck as both cards allow you to find your counter magic easier. With this deck, you're able to see just how nicely he pairs up with Niv-Mizzet, Parun as well. By using Teferi's +1 loyalty ability, you're able to draw a card which triggers Niv-Mizzet's ability to deal 1 point of damage to any target. You're then able to capitalize on the lands that are untapped (still thanks to Teferi's +1 loyalty ability) to be able to cast an instant spell, which triggers Niv-Mizzet's ability to draw a card, which then triggers Niv's ability to deal damage again. It's a nifty cycle of effects that your opponent will come to hate.

I really like the inclusion of Cleansing Nova in this deck. The versatility it offers in this deck is amazing. Since you're not running any enchantment-based removal spells (like Ixalan's Binding), you'll have full access to either of the modes that this spell offers. That can be especially important if you find yourself up against a knight-themed deck and are staring down lethal damage thanks to your opponent's History of Benalia... Or if your opponent is Mono-Red and casts The Flame of Keld... Or, if you're up against a new deck featuring Sai, Master Thopterist (hey, a guy can be hopeful, right?) that has a bunch of artifacts on the battlefield. It's nice having the options that Cleansing Nova offers, especially at this time when we're not sure what new decks will be created after the fallout that Standard rotation causes.

Wrapping Up

I love the possibilities that Red and Blue combine to create. The Izzet Guild is all about experimentation with spells, and I think all of these decks showcase that experimentation very well. Which one is your favorite? Let me know by leaving a comment below or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com. And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

-- Mike Likes

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