Return to Ravnica Set Review – Izzet


5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].

4.0: Format staple. [card]Bonfire of the Damned[/card]. [card]Thragtusk[/card].

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card]. [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].

3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Intangible Virtue[/card]. [card]Gravecrawler[/card].

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Think Twice[/card]. [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card].

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Naturalize[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important.)

1.0 It has seen play once. [card]One with Nothing[/card]. (I believe it was tech vs Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)


5.0: I will always play this card. Period.

4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.

4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.

3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.

3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)

2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)

2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)

1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)

1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)

0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)

0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)

Chemister’s Trick

[draft]Chemister’s Trick[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

As long as nobody gets tricked into playing this, I’ve done my job.

Limited: 2.0

As tricks go, this is a decent one. It’s going to be a slightly risky 1-for-1 a good amount of the time, since if they have removal for whatever you intend to battle with, you do get blown out. Still, it is going to work as cheap combat trick more often than not, and in a crowded board can be absolutely amazing. Multiples do get progressively worse, as they contribute to you having draws that don’t contain enough guys to make this worthwhile. There are also some matchups where this is absurd, and others where it’s almost a blank.



Constructed: 2.5

While countering multiple spells is not likely to come up in Standard, being the last word in a counterwar is definitely appealing. Though I still think that a UR control deck is likely to opt for [card]Dissipate[/card] right now, if counters end up being much better than anticipated, or if the deck is particularly soft against other control decks, Counterflux may be the counter of choice. In older formats, it does provide a hard answer to Storm, but at four mana, I still think you are better off with [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card].

Limited: 1.5

In a straight UR deck (which I’m sure is going to be a rarity), this is basically [card]Cancel[/card]. Cancel isn’t that excellent to begin with, and adding 2 irrelevant lines of text in exchange for a much worse casting cost isn’t doing anyone any favors.

Epic Experiment

[draft]Epic Experiment[/draft]

Constructed: 2.0

Any card this epic deserves consideration, and I can definitely see going off with this in a format with rituals (which basically means Modern). If you can keep going, it’s pretty sweet, though it is awkward that Epic Experiment flipping Epic Experiment is quite the nombo. In Standard, you could try to use this as a pseudo-[card]Tidings[/card] in an all-spell deck, but that seems a bit difficult to pull off. Of course, Conley wants to try his hand, and he even wrote about his initial impressions here.

Limited: 1.0

While this might only get played a small percentage of the time, when it does get played, it’s undoubtedly awesome. You have to not only have a ton of spells, they need to not be too situational, not have too many with overload, and you have to survive until you hit seven or eight mana. Sounds like a challenge to me, one I gladly accept.

Essence Backlash

[draft]Essence Backlash[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

When this card says “equal to that spell’s power”, are we talking on 1-10 scale, or what? How do I tell which spells are truly powerful? Maybe they use my set reviews? I better give it a 1, just to be safe.

Limited: 2.0

If you are ahead, this is one of the best cards you can play. Not only do you keep your lead, you punch them for even attempting to get back in the game. [card]Remove Soul[/card] + [card]Lava Spike[/card] is a surprisingly good combination, and sure to end plenty of games. It also means that if you have a game locked up, don’t play a creature that will cause you to die. The downside of this card is that it’s a four-mana counterspell. If your opponent sees it coming, or you aren’t ahead, it really isn’t that impressive. You have to have enough early drops to support it, and once you do, it becomes a potent weapon.

Firemind’s Foresight

[draft]Firemind’s Foresight[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

Look, I’ll go a long way for a [card]Tidings[/card], or even a [card]Compulsive Research[/card], but seven mana is asking a bit too much. It is cool that the three cards are always going to be spells, but it’s less cool that they have to be. If your one-mana spell isn’t good in whatever board state you happen to be in, you just paid seven mana for a glorified [card]Inspiration[/card]. Unless a sick combo pops up that requires the use of this combination of casting costs, it seems unlikely that you are getting the right amount of bang for your buck here. Even in older formats, where such combos do exist, paying seven just isn’t realistic. I’ll stick with [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], myself.

Limited: 1.5

If you have multiple good targets at each casting cost, go for it. Otherwise, have the foresight to realize that paying seven mana to draw two mediocre cards might not be the path to victory you seek.

Goblin Electromancer

[draft]Goblin Electromancer[/draft]

Constructed: 2.5

I’m very surprised to see this at common, just because the effect is a somewhat rare one. I remember how awesome it was to play [card]Sunscape Familiar[/card] in [card]Mind’s Desire[/card], and this Goblin might just be good enough to make the cut in that fashion. The power level is definitely here, and even if you aren’t going for broke, this could just be good enough value in a UR Standard deck. Goblin Electromancers, [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s, [card delver of secrets]Delvers[/card], and spells could generate enough value/tempo to get there.

Limited: 2.5

Assuming the mana cost isn’t a huge burden, I like this guy. He’s a solid 2-drop, and even if he saves you only one or two mana, that’s still quite good. Often, casting a spell a turn early is actually saving you 4+ mana, especially if you weren’t going to do anything otherwise, and some decks are going to really be able to abuse this.

Hypersonic Dragon

[draft]Hypersonic Dragon[/draft]

Constructed: 2.0

While I do think we’ve moved past essentially vanilla guys like this being good enough, 4 points of hasty flying damage is still something to keep in mind. I don’t think the rules text goes all that far, but it is a nice bonus from time to time.

Limited: 4.0

Hypersonic Boom! It doesn’t take much to get them dead with this thing, though I probably wouldn’t play it unless I had at least five sorceries to upgrade.

Izzet Charm

[draft]Izzet Charm[/draft]

Constructed: 3.5

This is easily the best of the Charms, and I anticipate playing with and against it all the time in Standard, with some spillover to Modern as well. I absolutely love the flexibility this has; it gets to answer any type of card, and loots for two when it’s dead. Granted, dealing 2 damage or making them pay two more mana isn’t [card]Terminate[/card]/[card]Counterspell[/card], but even a [card]Shock[/card]/[card]Spell Pierce[/card] split card is something to respect, and the last choice makes this much more than that. Izzet Charm is the best argument I’ve seen against giant spells like [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card] or [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], mainly because the Charm is so efficient and flexible that many decks are likely to play it.

Limited: 3.5

In Limited, this probably loses out to [card]Selesnya Charm[/card], but you still are getting a great deal. The effects aren’t so earth-shattering that I’d take this over a bomb, but it’s a hugely efficient removal/counterspell, and protects you against late-game mana flood.

Izzet Staticaster

[draft]Izzet Staticaster[/draft]

Constructed: 2.5

[card]Cunning Sparkmage[/card] was influential in Standard for its entire term of office, and this isn’t too far behind. The main difference is that [card]Basilisk Collar[/card] isn’t around and easily tutorable, since that was what really leveled up the Sparkmage. In Staticaster’s defense, it guns down tokens way more efficiently, and those are a big game right now. Not being able to hit players isn’t irrelevant either, so I don’t expect a ton of play out of the Staticaster unless tokens becomes much larger than it is currently.

Limited: 3.5

A pinger is a pinger, and even though this potentially hits your own guys and can’t directly shoot the opponent, it’s still a pinger. It coming down and instantly shooting means that you should get at least one good shot in, even against decks without many 1-toughness guys. I don’t expect this to get very far in draft, for good reason.

Mercurial Chemister

[draft]Mercurial Chemister[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

As mercurial as the Standard format is, it still is unlikely to get to the point where this is part of a winning formula. Five mana guys that require you to untap and only have three toughness are not generally regarded as excellent, or even playable.

Limited: 4.0

Conley opened two of these at the prerelease we were spellslinging at, and I got to battle a few games with his deck. There’s a reason they call him Lucky Conley; this card is not remotely beatable if you actually get to start activating it.

Nivix Guildmage

[draft]Nivix Guildmage[/draft]

Constructed: 2.0

Despite there not being an infinite combo with this UR Guildmage, it actually does provide a fair bit of value. I have played [card]Azure Mage[/card] before (after giving it a 1 in a review, no less!), and this is a reasonable approximation. Looting for three mana is decent, and if you are playing a ton of cheap spells and/or [card]Goblin Electromancer[/card]s, copying spells should be both doable and powerful.

Limited: 3.5

It’s going to take a lot for a Guildmage to be bad in Limited. As just a Looter, this isn’t the best, but I find it hard to believe that a UR deck won’t have a couple good copy targets. Plus, your opponents won’t know how good or bad it is in your deck, and are likely to use a good removal spell on it regardless.

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius

[draft]Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius[/draft]

Constructed: 3.5

Fun fact: the original [card niv-mizzet, the firemind]Niv-Mizzet[/card] got Paul Cheon on to the Pro Tour. Paul played at Northern California Regionals back in 2006 (I was already qualified, so I actually was one of the three total judges at the event), and his deck of choice was UR Niv-Mizzet control. The deck was awesome, playing Niv-Mizzet, [card keiga, the tide star]Keiga[/card], [card]Tidings[/card], [card]Compulsive Research[/card], [card]Disrupting Shoal[/card], and other sweet stuff. Until you’ve dropped Niv-Mizzet and Shoaled their [card yosei, the morning star]Yosei[/card], you haven’t lived. He made Top 4, Q’ed for Nats, and was soon the National Champion.

The reason I bring this up is that the second coming of Niv-Mizzet is much stronger. Not only is it a 5/5 instead of a 4/4, it’s a combination of [card]Masticore[/card] plus [card]Train of Thought[/card] on demand. While you no longer have [card]Disrupting Shoal[/card] to protect it, the effect this has on the board is incredible, and it seems extremely hard to lose if you untap. See, I don’t mind expensive creatures that flat-out win the game on untapping; just compare this to [card]Archon of the Triumvirate[/card] and you will see what I mean. You could hit with Archon for three turns, get it [card]Murder[/card]ed, and easily lose from there. If that was Niv-Mizzet, there’s no way they live for three turns, much less mount a comeback against the seven extra cards you’d have drawn.

Niv-Mizzet seems awesome, and is on the long list of cards I’m looking forward to building with.

Limited: 4.5

The only reason this isn’t a 5.0 is that it’s a six-drop that dies to removal, and with a fairly prohibitive casting cost at that. It’s still not remotely close to being passable, and as long as you are one of the two colors, I’d recommend a pack 2 switch for sure. Pack 3 might not be doable, but I’d probably still even try. You don’t need to be a dracogenius to figure out that this card isn’t beatable (if it lives).



Constructed: 1.0

Awesome name, irrelevant effect. This is a worse [card]Overrun[/card], in colors that wouldn’t want Overrun to begin with (and Overrun isn’t really a Constructed staple anyways).

Limited: 3.5

This is somewhere between [card]Dance of Shadows[/card] and [card]Overrun[/card], but that just means it’s between “very good” and “insane bomb”. It even has the option to cast it for two in a pinch, which is certainly relevant. I don’t know how often Izzet is going to have the board presence necessary for this, but even if it isn’t often, this makes a great splash in an aggressive Rakdos deck. This is going to be the last spell cast in a great number of games.



Constructed: 2.0

I thought instant-speed card draw wasn’t a thing anymore, and all of a sudden five different options flare up. I still see [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] being the ultimate winner, but this offers a pretty good amount of cards for a reasonable amount of mana, and is much easier on the colored symbols. There are decks that will play this, just not many that could cast Revelation instead.

Limited: 4.0

From the makers of Tidings comes Tidings 2: the Reckoning. Half the times I used to cast Tidings I’d discard a card or two anyway, so this is barely a downgrade. Adding instant speed to it isn’t hugely relevant, but does play well with various tricks/counterspells. I recommend taking this whenever you can, and splashing it as necessary.

Blistercoil Weird

[draft]Blistercoil Weird[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

I feel like I’m missing some weird interaction, possibly a way to go infinite in some manner. Barring that, the damage output here isn’t close to being enough to make this a viable deck, especially given that [card]Kiln Fiend[/card] was a tough sell.

Limited: 1.0

Even if you cast a spell every other turn, this is pretty bad, and that’s an incredibly optimistic rate of spells. You don’t want to be casting spells on turns two and three, after which a 2/2 gets outclassed very quickly. There may be times when this is legitimately good, they just won’t be very numerous.

Frostburn Weird

[draft]Frostburn Weird[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

This weird cycle just doesn’t have what it takes to see Constructed play, despite sharing a name with a very powerful set of gauntlets.

Limited: 3.0

I was very impressed with this card at the prerelease. Multiple games it was excellent, serving as anything from a 1/4 to a 4/1, with all points being relevant. Getting that much flexibility for so little mana is quite the bargain.

Nivmagus Elemental

[draft]Nivmagus Elemental[/draft]

Constructed: 2.0

Here’s something you can build a deck around. Permanent +2/+2 is quite a sight different from +1/+1 until end of turn, even if it requires that you devour the spell in question. It doesn’t take much to make this a beast, and if your spells are getting countered, there isn’t even a cost. It’s sadly too late for this to pair with Phyrexian mana spells in Standard, but at least the Phyrexian mana spells are gone!

Limited: 2.0

You don’t need to feed this much to make it good, and even though it costs you a card each time, it still is a big threat. Don’t take it as an excuse to throw a bunch of garbage spells in your deck, and feel free to sideboard it out against opponents with a lot of removal.

Geniuses Only

As you may be able to discern, [card niv-mizzet, dracogenius]Niv-Mizzet[/card] is the card I’m most excited to play with from this guild, though there are a couple of hits. [card]Goblin Electromancer[/card] looks pretty sweet, [card]Izzet Charm[/card] is insanely good, and even [card]Thoughtflare[/card] seems like solid value. For just the guild cards, that’s a great conversion rate, and I expect Izzet to be one of the strongest guilds in that regard.

In honor of Selesnya Week, tomorrow I’ll be reviewing all the green cards and Selesnya cards—which I’ve grown to appreciate.


Share this


Scroll to Top