GRN Cube Set Review: Izzet

Izzet time to review Izzet in Guilds of Ravnica? It is! (I promise I won’t use that joke again). Let’s get into it!

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Erratic Cyclops

Out of all the cyclops they have printed, this one packs the biggest punch. A butt as big as 8 is very hard to get through and casting something like Wildfire with this out is devastating for your opponent. Delve spells pair fantastically with this card, and a line such as Treasure Cruise, Char, and then Fireblast is 25 damage in a single turn! As cool as that might be though, this card isn’t really fantastic, and while a 0/8 is very good at blocking, it’s not going to effectively change the board state. However, it can lead to interesting turns where you pass, and your opponent just simply can’t attack due to the fear of instants. If aggro has gotten a little too good, and you want to support Izzet spell slinging really hard, this card fits the bill very well. Grade B

Expansion // Explosion

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Sphinx’s Revelation is one of my favorite cards to cast, so hearing that an Izzet variant exists is really exciting. 4 colored sources to cast Expansion is really difficult, but by the time you are casting it, colors should hopefully not be a problem. Getting to deal X damage to a target is better than gaining life typically, but this comes at the expense of drawing 1 less card for the same amount of mana meaning the damage this will deal may not be enough sometimes. However, as a split card, this is more than just a draw spell. Fork by itself is not very playable in cube, but when it’s tacked onto Ral’s Revelation, it might just be able to make the cut. Definitely worth testing. Grade B+

Firemind’s Research

Firemind’s Research defines build around cards to a T. It tells you exactly what it wants you to be doing, and will reward you for doing it. Is the reward worth the cost, however? A 2 mana do nothing enchantment that requires more mana to be put into it to have an effect doesn’t sound really good, but I believe that in the right environment it could do really well. There are 2 decks that could utilize this card, those being Storm and Flashback. Storm is all about building a massive amount of mana and spells and would put a ton of counters on this, and still give you something to do if your combo starts fizzling. Flashback, on the other hand, is really good for accumulating charge counters. Without a mechanic like Flashback, getting counters is just too hard, but Flashback ensures a constant stream of spells and therefore charge counters. It’s still pretty niche, but might be amazing given the right environment. Grade B-

Goblin Cratermaker

Abrade was heralded as one of the best new cards for cube and has been seeing play in almost every format. Turns out that a Shatter with upside is really important to have, and Goblin Cratermaker is looking to be Abrade 2.0. This card is exactly what you need when you need it, and being able to target colorless permanents instead of just artifacts brings this to the next level! Blowing up an Ugin has never felt so good, and at it’s worst it’s either a creature or a shock which is still very playable. Even just playing this turn 2 and forgetting about it really puts your opponent in a tight spot where they can’t even play a Gilded Lotus without fearing for its eventual demise. More versatile Shatters is something I am always excited to see. Grade A+

Ionize

Cancel with upside is typically playable in cube (See Dissolve, Sinister Sabotage, Disallow). If you can get the effect right, it can do an excellent job of slowing your opponent down and giving you the edge you need. Ionize is an entire archetype imagined in a single card, and that is Counter-Burn. Being able to stop your opponent while still advancing your clock is great to have, and will always feel great to do. This loses a lot of equity outside of Counter-Burn and Tempo decks, however, as the 2 damage usually isn’t worth missing out on the Scry or flexibility of cards like Disallow if you are playing a harder style of control. If you are interested in pushing your U/R archetype in a very specific direction, Ionize does a pretty good job of that, but if you want to play more versatile cards it might just be too narrow. Grade B-

Niv-Mizzet, Parun

What a powerful card! And what an awful mana cost. Niv-Mizzet is a very powerful card that is almost guaranteed to draw you at least 1 card and deal 1 damage. If you can untap with Niv and cast a Brainstorm, you can just absolutely wreck your opponent. But getting there is incredibly difficult, and UUURRR is almost impossible to cast unless you draft literally all of the fixing available. As much as I like Niv-Mizzet, this version just seems far too difficult to cast reliably. Play Consecrated Sphinx instead. Grade C

Ral, Izzet Viceroy

Following in the footsteps of Ob Nixilis, we have yet another planeswalker with a +1 to draw, and a – to kill something, with an ult that wins you the game. The draw on Ral is better than Ob Nixilis, not costing you life and giving you some selection. The kill half of Ral is much worse, however, requiring your gameplan in the early turns to just be Instants and Sorceries. Sometimes, your deck may just not line up well and you’ll be staring down a creature that Ral can’t kill. Considering such a low floor, with only a mediocre ceiling, Ral won’t be making the cut for me. Grade C+

Risk Factor

I’m conflicted about this card. On one hand, both halves are incredibly powerful effects that burn decks would love to play. On the other, punisher effects are something that almost no deck wants to play. Giving your opponent a choice means they will always choose the worst option available to you. If they are at 20 life, they will take the damage no sweat and you just cast a bad Boros Charm. If you top deck this and they are at 4 life, it just becomes an instant speed draw 3. On its own, the card doesn’t do enough, but the fact that it has Jump-start really makes me intrigued. A potential of 8 damage, 6 cards or 4 damage and 3 cards for the price of one is incredible. Letting your opponent choose is really unfortunate, but if all of the options are good for you is the upside worth it? I’m interested to see this card in action. Grade C

Sonic Assault

As a tempo card, nothing quite compares to this. Tempo is defined by slowing down the opponent while advancing your own gameplan and this card enables that role incredibly well. Tapping down their biggest creature and shocking them, then doing it all over again from the graveyard gives you 2 whole turns where you burn them and fog them. Slowing them down for this long is incredible when you are ahead and can buy you plenty of time to draw an answer when you are behind. I really like this card for Pauper cubes, and may even give it a shot in my more powerful cube to support U/R Tempo. Grade B+

Runaway Steam-Kin

Runaway Steam-Kin is a very unique card that is surprisingly very flexible. Because the text simply says “if you cast a red spell”, both Storm decks and aggro decks will be interested in this card. Storm will absolutely adore this card when they are comboing off, and Mono-Red aggro will play a 2 mana 4/4. Being able to slot into both strategies is very interesting, as these 2 strategies typically don’t intersect. While this card may be worse in its specific setting than other cards (such as Pyretic Ritual in Storm, and Kari-Zev in aggro) the fact that it fits both archetypes and potentially more is really appealing. Grade A-

Chamber Sentry

One of the cool things about cube is being able to enable any strategy you feel like. 5 color good stuff, however, is typically a strategy you want to avoid in cube as it can lead to everyone drafting the same decks that don’t rely on any synergy. I really like Chamber Sentry, however. One of the reasons I like it so much is that if your cube is designed well, 5 color good stuff should be a difficult deck to draft, and Chamber Sentry is an incredible reward if you can get there. If not, 3 color decks are still heavily played in cube, and casting this as a 3/3 is perfectly acceptable. A signpost card for an underplayed draft strategy that can still comfortably slot into decks not trying to abuse it is awesome to have and can lead to some really sweet decks. It may not be the most powerful card, but it’s one of the coolest in the set for me. Grade B+

And there you have it, my review of Izzet in Guilds of Ravnica. Izzet is bringing us a lot of sweet new toys this time around, and almost all of them are where we would least expect. Commons such as Sonic Blast, and Uncommons like Goblin Cratermaker look incredible, and others such as Runaway Steam-Kin fit so many different archetypes. And while Chamber Sentry isn’t necessarily an Izzet card, it fits their idea of exploring ideas in a brand new way. Tomorrow I will be discussing Dimir, and what they have to offer to us. Thanks for reading, and have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!

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