Guilds of Ravnica previews are coming in hard and heavy. In the last two days, I've seen roughly fifteen new cards ranging between busted powerhouse and solid draft common. And luckily for me, a few of those cards are of the Izzet guild!
Last week , I talked about Firemind's Research and how we could build around Primal Amulet given the right tools. In just the last two days, we've already gotten some real nice goodies to try out. I'm still hesitant to build decks, because things will be changing at a rapid pace over the next few days, but I'm going to do my best to provide y'all with some cool decklists featuring some of these new cards, as well as some gold nuggets that got better with the rotation.
And while I'll be focusing primarily on red and blue cards today, that doesn't mean I'm only going to be building Izzet decks! There are some goodies coming out of the woodworks that could spur on new archetype by themselves!
First up is a card I think will see play in multiple archetypes.
What an awesome card. First of all, this is effectively a 2/2 creature for two mana, so long as you cast any red spell on the following turn. If you're a Mono-Red deck, this will only get bigger as you play out the rest of your hand. But here's the kicker: if you're playing a bigger red deck, it's only going to let you explode as the game progresses. While we're losing Glorybringer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, I'm sure there will be replacements. The sheer fact that it allows us to double-spell on the right turn is fantastic.
Runaway Steam-Kin also gives us some value with mana-sink cards in our Mono-Red deck. Banefire and Fight with Fire are two great examples of ways for us to use the excess red mana generated by Runaway Steam-Kin. And while Banefire might be a little too expensive, I would love to see a Fight with Fire kicked when fueled by Runaway Steam-Kin as the game goes long. By itself, Fight with Fire is a solid removal spell for any Mono-Red deck, giving you an answer to problematic large creatures like Lyra Dawnbringer or Steel Leaf Champion. But if you ever get to kick it, the game is probably over.
There are multiple ways to build a deck around Runaway Steam-Kin. If you want to continually use the mana ability, building a spell-heavy deck centered around jump-start or other "spin the wheel" type effects (Tormenting Voice) is an option. These are my favorite type of decks because they allow you to dig for specific things as the game goes late. However, it is clear that those types of decks would be better suited as Izzet instead of mono-red because blue allows you to draw more cards, which in turn allows you to keep the juice flowing. But if we're playing blue, we need most of those blue cards to be Izzet based to keep Runaway Steam-Kin flowing.
The other (easy) way to build around Runaway Steam-Kin is to play Mono-Red Aggro, using it as a cheap creature that will eventually turn into a 4/4 threat while also producing mana at the right time for removal, larger threats, or fueling mana sinks. And while I might personally like the Izzet deck a bit more than Mono-Red Aggro, I think the Mono-Red Aggro deck might be the place to be in the first few weeks of Guilds of Ravnica Standard. But can't Mono-Red Aggro just splash blue for something?
Definitely a sweet card. I could see plenty of Izzet decks using this instead of a counterspell that required two blue mana. If you're more red-based, having your counterspells be easier to cast is a good thing. And if we're more red-based, dealing damage to the opponent can also be a worthwhile effect.
Back in the day, Undermine was a big part of Standard. Ionize draws some obvious similarities. But where Undermine ended up dealing some chip damage which was largely irrelevant due to the color combination lacking in aggression, I could absolutely see an aggressive red deck sideboarding (or potentially maindecking) Ionize as a tool to protect themselves from Settle the Wreckage or another big sweeper effect. Ionize is incredibly easy to splash thanks to both Steam Vents and Sulfur Falls. And if the rest of our lands are all Mountains, the odds that any land enters the battlefield tapped is pretty low.
- 4 Daring Buccaneer
- 4 Dire Fleet Daredevil
- 4 Fanatical Firebrand
- 4 Legion Warboss
- 3 Rigging Runner
- 3 Rowdy Crew
- 4 Runaway Steam-Kin
- 2 Captain Lannery Storm
It may seem odd to be playing Runaway Steam-Kin in a Pirate-based Mono-Red Aggro deck, but that's because Pirates inherently give us the best one-drop creatures, which are important for fighting against all forms of control. If we can get under them early, we might be able to overload their removal spells. And if we're lucky, our powerful follow-ups can help us win the game after getting hit with something like Settle the Wreckage.
Oddly enough, I don't know if Goblin Chainwhirler will make it through to the maindeck in most Mono-Red Aggro decks. Sure, the card is great in the mirror, but the strength of the card inherently lies with how many one-toughness creatures will be running around. And now that Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Bomat Courier are rotating, the odds of actually killing something with the ability is pretty small.
This is not the best R/X Aggro deck for the first week of Guilds of Ravnica Standard. This is simply a placeholder to show you that Runaway Steam-Kin (and Ionize on splash) can be used as an aggressive threat that gives you some added benefit as the game goes long. Cards like Rowdy Crew help keep your hand stocked up while creatures like Dire Fleet Daredevil give you a way to use that extra mana generated by Runaway Steam-Kin's ability.
As we get deeper into Guilds of Ravnica, I'm sure these red decks will get better tools to work with, and Pirates probably won't be the staple creature-type, but we'll just have to wait and see. After all, we have quite a few Goblins that might end up in the running. Legion Warboss is quite good alongside Goblin Warchief, after all.
I've been through this song and dance a few times before. Baral, Chief of Compliance almost tricked me into thinking it was good in an Izzet deck a year or so ago. And while that effect is certainly sweet when it comes in a package like Primal Amulet, the cost reduction is just a side benefit as opposed to the main attraction. Goblin Electromancer is awesome in Modern Storm decks, but I don't think it'll see much play in Standard, though I would love to be wrong!
If we're going to go full-on spin the wheels, which I do love so much, then Goblin Electromancer might just fit the bill. We just need a little bit of help...
I actually love this card, as much as some people have gone off about hating it. No, it's not Young Pyromancer, Monastery Mentor, or even Talrand, Sky Summoner, but I think it still might be pretty good. The five toughness is pretty stout, meaning it can block most early aggressive creatures, which is more than I can say for the others. And because it has five toughness, it dodges a lot of damage-based removal as a result.
If we're going the route of playing Goblin Electromancer and/or Runaway Steam-Kin, a card like Murmuring Mystic might just end up being bonkers. Any permanent that greatly rewards you for playing a bunch of instants and sorceries needs to be taken seriously, because it might just end up being the best card in the deck! And while Goblin Chainwhirler might end up making this card a lot worse, thanks to creating a bunch of 1/1 fliers, it doesn't seem like it would be that difficult to recoup that army at a moment's notice when you get to untap again.
One card that I'm going to love pairing with Murmuring Mystic, assuming it's good, is this insanely good jump-start card.
Is this better than Glimmer of Genius? Probably not, but that's mostly because the scry is awesome and energy was a busted mechanic, but there were plenty of decks that ended up playing Glimmer of Genius without any way to actually spend that energy. While Chemister's Insight is a little slow and doesn't have an alternate method of cycling, ala Hieroglyphic Illumination, it will end up being the engine to a lot of control or spell-based decks, simply because it will offer some lasting card advantage and card filtering as the game progresses. If you can keep your opponent's threats in check, Chemister's Insight will start to bury your opponent. Like most card advantage spells, what you really need is time.
I'm a huge fan of jump-start alongside cost-reducing permanents like Goblin Electromancer or Primal Amulet, and especially so when you start to combine those with stuff like Murmuring Mystic or another permanent that rewards you for spinning your wheels. That's what Izzet is all about, baby!
Here's a first look at Primal Amulet with what we have so far!
Okay, I know what you're thinking. This deck looks pretty bad, right? Well, you might be right. But we still have a lot of cards to come, and a good chunk of them will be blue and red. We could get access to a lot of answers for problems that this deck might have. For example, Carnage Tyrant is basically unbeatable for us, but what if we got a counterspell that exiled a spell on the stack? Or what if we got a big sweeper like Blasphemous Act that could deal with large creatures that didn't need to target them?
Decks like this rely on the supporting cast to work. That's one of the reasons it's so difficult to build these types of decks in the opening weeks of the format. We don't know what people are going to play just yet, but we can bank on a few things:
1) Aggressive decks will show up, and we need enough removal to clear their threats.
2) Planeswalkers might be too much to handle, and it might be good to have Negate maindeck or some other answer for once they enter the battlefield.
3) We might need a big threat or two in the early turns to actually apply pressure to the control decks, but we're going to have to wait and see what else comes out of Guilds of Ravnica.
My biggest hope is that all the pieces come together and fit into this style of deck, because I think Primal Amulet might be a huge piece to this puzzle.
In previous builds in different Standard formats we had Pyromancer's Goggles, which had always looked "too cute." But it took a solid surrounding cast of spells and threats to make it work! Once Thing in the Ice was printed and we actually explored the archetype a little, we started to find some hidden gems.
Did you know that Fall of the Titans was actually supposed to be Avacyn's Judgment? We were using Fall of the Titans as a proxy for Avacyn's Judgment, and one of the times I drew it I would have been able to deal sixteen damage or so while killing two creatures. And at that moment, things just started to click into place. Hell, Pyromancer's Goggles wasn't even in the original iteration of the deck! I just thought about trying one of them and the first time I drew it, the deck went ballistic.
When it comes to brewing with powerful cards like Pyromancer's Goggles and Primal Amulet, these decks are always going to need a little bit of fine-tuning. After all, the numbers on each type of effect are hugely important. Do we play eight total Chart a Course and Tormenting Voice? Is seven enough? How about six? Do we really need all four copies of Fight with Fire? If we end up burning one early to kill a creature, it might be better to have all four so we can find one easier in order to finish the job!
Is 22 lands enough? Too many? It's literally all conjecture at this point. The testing process will begin soon enough when we have more cards from Guilds of Ravnica to work with.
And lastly, I have a few words for some of the more expensive cards from the Izzet Guild.
We get it. Niv-Mizzet must cost six mana and it has to draw some cards and deal some damage. But why such a restrictive casting cost? The previous iterations of Niv-Mizzet didn't see much Standard play, and I honestly don't expect this one to see much play either. Though, if I'm being honest, nothing would make me happier than playing a fat Dragon legend and having it be competitive.
The one key note here is that Niv-Mizzet, Parun triggers on any player casting an instant or sorcery spell. That means you're drawing a card if your opponent is killing Niv-Mizzet, Parun most of the time, though there are already quite a few answers that won't allow you to draw a card, and that stinks. If you get to untap with Niv-Mizzet, Parun, I don't think you can possibly lose the game... but that's basically true of most six-mana rares printed in the last few years.
I freaking love this card. I don't know if it will end up being a Standard staple, but it has so much going on that you just have to respect it. Flash, flying, bouncing a non-land permanent, and surveil 4. All solid abilities, though I expect surveil will end up being one of the harder mechanics to put a finger on. It took us a while to figure out that scry was absurdly powerful, and surveil is arguably better.
I wish this card had a little bit higher toughness, if only because I want to jump in and eat more creatures during combat. It being a 3/4 might have been too good, though. I don't love that it dies to Lightning Strike.
But what I do love is how this card changes the shape of a game. Much like Mistbind Clique before it, Dream Eater is a huge tempo swing when it comes down at the right time, bouncing the right permanent, and then going on the offensive. You get to do all that on your own terms because it has flash, and that allows you to play an entirely different game than your opponent is prepared for. The problem is finding the right home for a card like this. We don't have Bitterblossom or a host of other flash creatures to pair with it, so it might be difficult to justify as the top-end spell in a control deck, but we still have quite a few cards to get through before Guilds of Ravnica Standard is here. If there ends up being a "Flash" deck of any sort, I assure you that Dream Eater will be in that deck.
Well, that's all for our look at Izzet this week in Guilds of Ravnica Standard. Tell me what you think about these decks and all the Izzet cards previewed thus far! Did I miss something? Is there a new card that came out today that should definitely make it into the Primal Amulet deck? Let's talk about it! My goal over the next two weeks is to build the best Primal Amulet deck possible, if only to see if I can resurrect the good ol' days of Pyromancer's Goggles. I've been chasing that dream for two years now. Let's see if we can make it a reality! Help me do it!