Cubism: Who Izzet? Aaron Paquette March 3, 2017 Cubism This week I’m talking about the next guild paring on the list – Izzet. All the cards do the same thing. Is that bad? Probably not. Just a lack of more interesting options. Another color pairing that doesn’t take much from each other. Unlike Rakdos, I think Izzet is a very good pair in cube. ‘Counter Burn’ is one of the oldest archetypes around and everyone enjoys playing it. The only thing that bugs me about it is the lack of multicoloured options. Typically, the meat of the deck is blue with a handful of effective burn spells out of red with maybe a Flametongue Kavu or Thundermaw Hellkite to end the game. Red lets them pick off any wieners that slip through and slam cards like Inferno Titan and the previously mentioned Thunderdad. On the other side of the pairing, aggro decks love being able to splash Treasure Cruise… but not much else That’s not to say blue has little to offer, more that red is a very linear colour. Just like last week, I’m going to go over all the most commonly played Izzet cards. Whenever I evaluate gold cards, I look for unique and enticing spells making you want to play that colour combination or splash for an effect. Dack Fayden The fist of our growing Izzet Planeswalker options, Dack Fayden is the top of the list. Originally introduced in Conspiracy, the greatest thief in the multiverse has been a topic of debate since, but we’ll get to that later. Dack Fayden is an aggressively priced Planeswalker with interesting abilities. [+1] : Target player draws two cards, then discards two cards. Not necessarily the effect you want for Izzet, but not a bad effect to say the least. Easily fitting into any reanimator strategy and various artifact or combo-y decks looting narrow or potentially dead cards into new ones but not the best effect you want if we’re talking pure Izzet but at least being able to trade in extra lands or niche cards for new ones late game is a good option. [-2]: Gain control of target artifact. A powerful but sideboard-able ability in powered and non-powered environments, this effect is good in both. Swords and mana rocks are premium targets with this effect and can be found in 95% of cube lists. Because of the flexibility of both of his first abilities, finding a reason to play Dack main never seems hard to justify. Trading him for a Faithless Looting and soaking up some damage isn’t the worst deal, but sometimes he gets to steal a turn 2 signet or sword to change the pace of the game. [-6]: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast a spell that targets one of more permanents, gain control of those permanents”. The dream, but not why we play (most) Planeswalkers. A neat effect that Izzet can take advantage of but hard to get to, especially with Dack not being able to protect himself. Dack’s effects are fine but he’s not a role player or an effect you’re looking for (other then in reanimator stratagies). It doesn’t protect itself and it doesn’t generate card advantage without some help from your opponent. Not the best case to be made for Dack, but just being a Planeswalker presents big enough problem for you opponent. Just the potential of looting into constant spells creates a need to remove target for your opponent but that’s not exclusive to Dack, leaving any Planeswalker alone is never the right choice (what about Tibalt?). 3.5/5 Dack’s Duplicate A fun variation on clone, Dack’s Duplicate having haste makes it slightly more interesting then straight up Clone, but being the Izzet player, you’re rarely on the aggressive. Gaining haste doesn’t make up for 4 mana unfortunately, especially with Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph running around. A fun option but not your best choice. 2/5 Electrolyze The first of many similar effects, Electrolyze has been a premium Izzet card for years. Electrolyze is the bread and butter of what Izzet wants to do, sling a couple damage here and there while replacing itself. Now a days, its 3 mana cost is starting to show its age but still a great card today. The ‘upgraded’ Fire/Ice from long ago still performs today and is still one of my favourite Izzet spells. 4.5/5 Fire/Ice The original premium Izzet spell, Fire/Ice was a great card for a long time, but as Wizards keeps printing different variants of it; Fire/Ice has lost its allure. Twin Bolt and Enervate aren’t playable by any means, having the option to play either isn’t the deal it once was. Not bad, but not the staple it once was. 2.5/5 Goblin Electromancer Even before Baral came out to take away its spotlight, Goblin Electromancer wasn’t much to look at. Similar upside to Baral letting you play multiple counter spells or tricks in the same turn, its 2/2 hard to cast body leaves much to be desired. Not an interesting card or a reason to splash, Goblin Electromancer never really fit the bill. He’s okay if you want to push storm (you don’t want to push storm). 1/5 Izzet Charm All 3 modes of this card are Izzet through and through and the best example of an Izzet feeling card. Its low mana cost lets you interact with creatures early, Spell Pierce when needed and loot if necessary. 2 and a half good options are more then enough to play this card. 4/5 Keranos, God of Storms Keranos is big and flashy, but does he do anything? Keranos is a heavy 5 mana investment that doesn’t really affect the game for more then a turn or two. Keranos is a fine control card against most decks but it needs the right game state to be good. Generally you trade back and forth with your opponent hopefully giving you a window to resolve him when the storm clears. If you ever manage to stabilize with Keranos in play, the game’s over, it gives you a additional cards and Lightning Bolts every turn to help you keep control of the board while not being too difficult to animate. An alternative to a Planeswalker, being much harder to remove but much less predictable, Keranos is an interesting Izzet card that entices people to play Izzet or splash for him. Keranos might not be the most efficient card, but definitely exciting and powerful enough to earn its spot. A friend once described this card having ‘Suspend 3: Win the game’, I think it’s a pretty accurate description. 4/5 Ral Zarek The second Planeswalker on the list and easily the most common, Ral Zarek is our next on the block. The most common debate in Izzet is which Planeswalker is better: Ral or Dack (Dack is the easy answer here). Before we get too into it, lets go over the abilities. [+1]: Tap target permanent, then untap another target permanent. Powered environments give this ability a lot more leverage when you can untap artifact mana, but without them its ability is almost a nothing. In unpowered cubes this ability has very little interaction, giving Izzet access to an additional mana on their turn or getting rid of a blocker aren’t effects you want or really care about. Without the big mana artifacts, this ability is sad. [-2]: Ral Zarek deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Easily the best ability and the reason to run Ral Zarek. Ral Zarek is most often a great Flametongue Kavu clone leaving a Planeswalker behind threatening to do it again next turn. It’s hard to deny this is almost reason enough to play it. [-7]: Flip five coins. Take an extra turn after this one for each coin that comes up head. Wow flipping coins how fun! Generating big stories but probably 2 extra turns, it’s not a bad ability but Izzet might have a hard time finding something to do on the extra turns. Powerful enough and not hard to take advantage of, Ral’s ultimate isn’t a bad one. Ral Zarek and Dack Fayden both aren’t role players or something you actively look for, but the Planeswalker card type is powerful enough to earn a spot. The argument between the two is neither do a whole lot, but Ral at least bolts creatures. Ral is a fine card, but its +1 ability is so much of a nothing without cards in the powered environment; it’s hard to get over how useless it is. Dack at least has 1 and a half abilities opposed to Ral’s only 1 ability. You could make an argument for one over the other in powered or non-powered lists, but I still give the nod to Dack every time. At the end of the day, both cards don’t serve a specific purpose other then being Planeswlakers, so either is a fine addition. Ral is a fine FTK replica, it isn’t exciting but you know what your getting every time. Dack is a little more interesting, but harder to possibly generate value out of. 3.5/5 Stormchaser Mage A great tempo creature fitting into the ‘spells matter’ theme along side creatures like Guttersnipe, Thing in the Ice, Wee Dragonauts and pals, I’m still not convinced this strategy is good. More playable at a bigger cube size I think Stormchaser Mage type cards don’t translate well to a limited environment. 2/5 Turn/Burn Another Fire/Ice variant, it suffers from the same shortcomings as it. The upside is you can take down 1 very big creature for 5 mana instead of trading it in for a new card and tapping it down a turn. I honestly like it a little more but not enough to play either. 2/5 That wraps up the most commonly found Izzet cards, and I’m sure you can see a running trend with them; Electrolyze, Fire/Ice, Izzet Charm and Turn/Burn are all some variants of the same card. All offering some amount of cheap damage or card draw its up to you which ones you want to play. For a long time my Izzet section was made up of almost all these cards making the entire section feel identical and boring. I’ve never felt bad about running any of these cards, but it didn’t give Izzet the colour identity I want to offer in gold slots. Eventually Dack/Ral and Keranos mixed it up a little to make drafting R/U at least a little more interesting and more worth splashing. They add to the colour identity I want to provide in Izzet. The pairing will always be heavily blue focused but like I mentioned earlier, that’s mostly on red (and a bit of blues) linear design. What do you run in your Izzet section? Did I miss a card? Let me know what you think in the comments! Also be sure to check out my cube on Cubetutor: http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/56212 I got most of my information from MTGSalvation and Cubetutors Average Cube page. 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