I am a Nivix Guildmage preparing for the Epic Experiment of a brand new season with new Constructed formats. Wizards of the Coast is actively pushing guilds these days so I'm going to speak a bit about them before getting to actual Magic cards. If you're not interested in flavor musings just Ctrl+F "Epic Experiment" (but honestly don't do it).
As I said I'm Izzet. Izzet is the most popular guild and has even been stated as "too mainstream" but I'm fine with that because I knew I was Izzet long ago and without any quiz. I started playing Magic two years after Ravnica left Standard but I investigated it due to my interest to Extended and was very impressed by the set's flavor. When I saw the guilds' descriptions for the first time I was sure that I was Izzet.
I am a research engineer so it's very predictable that I associate myself with the guild of engineers. It's not about the guild's colors (because I play stupid green aggro more often than any sort of control deck); it's about who I am. The Izzet in me is fueled by curiosity (yes like the Martian rover) and that's why I'm a red Izzet not a blue one. I have no great plot; I just want to know everything for my own pleasure not for my own purpose. It's like a Goblin with a grenade— honestly this is how half of the Izzet guild works.
I've done the Guild quiz twice because they translated it into Russian a few days after its release in English and many people had different results in their native language. Both my quizzes stated that I'm Izzet but the English one said that my other possibilities are blue guilds while Russian one said that about red ones (so the native test was probably better). I looked at overall statistics and found that all four blue guilds occupy the top slots; Rakdos and Gruul are at the bottom. I was surprised that Gruul isn't popular but then I found that the problem is in the nature of the quiz. It asks "Which guild are you?"
The key to playing Dungeons and Dragons is to "separate yourself from your character." I've seen some very smart people brilliantly playing stupid barbarians; I've seen very kind people playing nasty villains. There are many examples of a person playing someone far from their real identity and those of you who play DnD or other role-playing games can probably easily remember one or two.
The keywords of the previous paragraph were "smart people." Yes for the most part DnD Magic and other tabletop game players are smart. That's why blue—the color of intellect—dominates Ravnica guild quiz asking "Which guild are you?" I would be afraid of a person who is 100% Azorius according to the quiz (boooooring!) or person who is Rakdos (dangerous!). Simultaneously I have nothing against a person who likes playing pure Rakdos in DnD or building Plow Under control decks. Note that the most perverted deck I've mentioned is based on a green card so any guild can find the appropriate tools in any color.
For example I'm Izzet if we're speaking about my real life identity but I normally play decks which are far from the U/R color combination. The last U/R deck I can remember playing was RUG in Zendikar-Scars Standard and it was all about raw power. I'd clearly be Gruul according to my deck preferences but in fact it's just a part of being a red Izzet. If a locked door can't be jimmied it must be demolished. Playing Valakut or RUG is like surfing on the lava flow; it's dangerous but fast fun and quite interesting if you know what to investigate. I've heard it said that properly playing a very simple beatdown deck requires far more intellect than the average control deck and I think is that is correct.
Since my Izzet investigation has become too long to keep my attention I'm just going to report these results to Niv-Mizzet Dracogenius and start talking about actual Magic cards—Epic Experiment doesn't wait. Unfortunately the card itself won't good in Standard or in Modern. Its main weakness is that it in contrast to Mind's Desire it can't hit its second copy Pyromancer's Swath or Guttersnipe. This means that you can't chain Epic Experiment Effect without using your graveyard or multiply Grapeshot's damage. Achieving a storm count of twenty is unrealistic so there is no way to build a Storm deck with it dodging graveyard hate (the most important problem to be solved with the partial change of the deck's engine).
Epic Experiment is also a sort of overkill in general in the Modern Storm deck with Past in Flames and/or Pyromancer Ascension. I've cast it with X=38 during my testing but I'd probably have won that game with a Thought Scour of Faithless Looting instead of Epic Experiment. The card could oust Pyromancer Ascension from Storm decks if Abrupt Decay becomes too popular but I doubt it will happen; Modern still has many important expensive threats (like Restoration Angel and Karn Liberated).
As for Standard Epic Experiment has no chance. Any control deck will have too much land and cards that require proper timing (nice Counterflux!) and both available combo deck win conditions (Guttersnipe and Burn at the Stake) suppose that you have some creatures in play and want more.
Available win conditions… Yes a Storm-like combo deck is not a total joke even if it's one good Ritual away of playability. The issue is that both Burn at the Stake and Battle Hymn require creatures while Infernal Plunge decreases your creature count. Luckily there is Goblin Electromancer (who is effectively a Ritual with a body attached) and Deranged Assistant (who is simultaneously mana acceleration Infernal Plunge fodder and graveyard filler). Augur of Bolas (proposed by Gerry Thompson) is another interesting option but I'm not sure that 24-28 instants/sorceries are enough to justify him.
I finally came to this list after testing briefly. It's rough and will likely never see any serious tournament play but it's fun and worth playing at the kitchen table or even at FNM.
Judge's Familiar is nice enough to protect your combo or even your development. Cutting Infernal Plunge and Reforge the Soul to three copies seems right to me. Plunge is necessary evil for the deck and Reforge could easily be bad on turn 3 or 4 when you haven't assembled everything for the combo. I didn't catch the situation when I looked at a topdecked Reforge the Soul and preferred to discard it to Wild Guess rather than it cast for two mana but I can easily imagine the appropriate game state.
Wild Guess is a controversial card because Faithless Looting is considered an auto-include. All our creatures are worthless in the graveyard so there is no sense in filling it. This is the reason I think that Faithless Looting is far worse here than in average Storm and worse than Wild Guess.
Setting Wild Guesses and semi-casual decks aside the most promising Izzet deck for first weeks of new Standard is U/R Delver. There are still no cheap cantrips in the set so we will probably have to rely on a high instant/sorcery count to have Insectile Aberration in play. U/R Delver also gives Guttersnipe a chance to shine. The little angry Goblin may be cheaper than Talrand Sky Summoner in the proper deck and could save it from mana screw problems (I'm still shocked to see 3-4 Talrands in eighteen-land decks).
Looking at this list I definitely like the idea and can't wait to try it after Return to Ravnica is released (and I recommend trying it at SCG Open Series: Cincinnati). My passion for this experiment is even stronger than my usual objection to Delver of Secrets. I'm not sure about the correct spell suite but you probably get the idea. We're going to make our spells better due to cheaper cost additional damage or reusability and then just deal as much damage as possible.
The deck has some problems if forced to attack into big creatures (say Loxodon Smiter or Wolfir Silverheart) so Brimstone Volley could also be viable choice. Pillar of Flame is the MVP against the expectedly popular Zombies so I will not be surprised to see it as a maindeck card. Another way to deal with these cards is potentially sideboarding into a more controlling deck with Tamiyo the Moon Sage but this will require a significant rebuilding of the entire deck starting with the slight land count increase.
Another idea I have is to try to improve the deck with a splash—honestly for any color. Black would give us the very flexible Rakdos Charm and Dreadbore to deal with problematic creatures; green adds Quirion Dryad; and white offers Azorius Charm and Detention Sphere as a ways to deal with fatties. Nevertheless each splash has its own problems. Green should probably wait for Gatecrash with its Simic and Gruul cards; blue requires a full reconsideration of the deck (or maybe just another U/W/R Delver deck); and black probably creates more problems with mana than solving anything (Cyclonic Rift and Unsummon are already good against fatties in this deck).
That's all Izzet experiments I want to share for now. The last thing I want to note is Grand Prix Moscow which finally took place. I still don't know final results (because I'm submitting this article at early Sunday morning) but the capital of Russia somehow gathered 869 players a hundred and half of whom were from abroad! They all proved that visa issues and other potential problems are overrated while a GP in a fresh location is great reason for travel!
So if you thought about attending but didn't do it just don't hesitate next time. The previous GP Moscow was in 2001 but I hope that the next one will be much sooner. While my own tournament didn't go well this Grand Prix was still a great step ahead for the whole Magic community of Russia.
May your Epic Experiments be successful!
Valeriy Shunkov Nivix Guildmage from the Ravnica district of Moscow