Izzet Time to Draft Yet?



I apologize to those looking for my comments on the assignment from my first limited article and were looking for the article on signalling. That article will be delayed until I can talk about signalling and GP.

IZZET Time to Draft Yet? A Rav/Rav/GP Drafting Article

The Izzet are mad scientists, the inventors of Ravnica. They like to invent spells and artifacts, and then copy them over and over and over. Repitition is fun, right?

Yup, it is. 'Cause the Izzet have come to the the Limited format, and they can be insanely strong if drafted right.

I. Izzet Strategy and Crucial Cards

So what does the Izzet strategy resolve around? Here, take a guess now.

Instants and Sorcerires

You see, the Izzet use instants and sorceries to boost their other spells, and they can multiply the power of their own instants and sorceries via the replicate mechanic. Of course, the need for these two types of spells makes the good instants and sorceries from Rav much better if you plan on going Izzet.

BUT WAIT you cry! Only one of the cards you showed up there is a common!

Ah, but the key to a successful Izzet draft is not the silly Wee Dragonauts (although they help), but the son of Anarchist and Scrivener. That card? Izzet Chronarch.


Lets look at what the Chronarch can do.....
A. Recur Removal
This one is a no-brainer. The Chronarch allows you to recur Devouring Lights, Lightning Helixes, Last Gasps, Disembowels, and whatever removal you got in Rav. Since of course you no longer get a third pack of Rav to grab removal, you need to compensate. The Chronarch allows you to do so by recurring your removal spells after you use them, which is quite nice.
B. Reactivate Instant and sorcery triggers from cards.
The Chronarch allows you to repower up your weirds or faeries.
C. Lock an opponent with bounce spells
Enter Peel from Reality and Vacuumelt. With these cards, you can bounce the opponent's creatures and your Chronarch, allowing you to recur the cycle again. With Vacuumelt this series can get insane. Note that repeal and other bounce spells allow you to recur your Chronarch and get back another useful card from your grave if needed.

As such, the Chronarch can be a good card in the izzet decks.

II. How do you Draft Izzet-

So how does one actually draft the Izzet Guild? After all, you only get one pack full of GP. So how do you draft the guild effectively?

Well, of course, your drafting in GP should be determined by your drafting in Rav. So how should one draft for an Izzet draft?

There are two ways.

Method 1:
First, you need to go either WR (Boros, taking special care to take flyers or trumeters while ignoring cheap weaker cards as you don't need a very aggro deck) or UB (dimir, drafting as if you were going dimir aggro) starting out. To decide, Id reccomend you make this decision based on metagame and based on the removal spells you see early in the draft. If you see Last Gasp and Ribbons of the Night, the UB route is correct and etc.. Note when drafting this way you should focus on the Blue or Red side (depending on whether you go RW or UB) rather than the non-Izzet color. Furthermore, should you see a good card of the other Izzet color you should indeed go and draft it. So if you have solid Blue flyers and a few Black removal spells and a Viashino Fangtail comes your way, taking the Fangtail is the right way to go.
Using this method you'll come to GP with a strong base of colors.

Method 2:
You see, UR was a draftable archetype in Rav, it just happened to be a little risky since you had no mulitcolor support. So go about drafting UR from the begginning in Rav, though remember that from a UR base splashing White and Black for removal is not that difficult due to bouncelands and signets. So if you see a Last Gasp in pack 2, don't be afraid to take it if there's nothing really good in UB (Like a Char for example).
Using this method you'll come to GP with a strong base of colors.

Wait a second, both methods seem to have the same result, right? Well the second method ends up giving you a stronger base of blue and red but is much riskier due to a lesser chance of adapting if your colors close up in the 2nd pack of Rav and the GP pack. Using the 1st method, it is possible to draft another guild in GP if needed, though it still isn't preferable, but can be done as a last resort.

A Few notes on specific cards in Rav need mentioning:
1. Peel from Reality-Peel enables you to return a Chronarch and an opponent's creature for 2 mana at instant speed. This makes it far more valuable than it used to be. Don't be hesitant to pick Peel if there really isnt anything inspiring in the pack, and it is definitely worth taking it if it tables.
2. Glimpse the Unthinkable Previously, reusing Glimpse required Sins from the Past. Now with the Chronarch, a single Glimpse that you can transmute for can become lethal really quickly. Even though it'll likely be your only mill card, having that alternate kill in your deck can turn games around suddenly and let you win games you have no business doing so.


and...now its time for the GP packs:

What should we pick in the GP packs? Well let me introduce you to the Master list of Izzet Drafting
The Izzet draft Master listMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
// The Bomb Rares
1 Invoke the Firemind
2 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind


Invoke is the most insane card for an izzet draft. The ability to draw 5 or more cards is insane as is any red X burn spell in limited. Throw in the ability to recur it with the amazing Chronarch makes it far better than Niv Mizzet. That said, you wont be finding both of them in the same pack any time soon.
Notice that Tibor and Lumia doesnt make the list, since its just mediocre and isnt really a big helper to the strategy.

The Izzet draft Master listMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
// The Unbelievable Uncommons
3 Gelectrode
4 Vacuumelt

Note that a choice between these two would be incredibly close, and if certain circumstances were evident, this order could be reversed.

Gelectrode is insane. A pinger for 3 is good in any format and considering you'll be using and reusing instants and sorceries; well, i think he'll be a huge factor in games he comes out in.

Vacuumelt is also insane, as with enough mana (6 to start) you can start bouncing multiple creatures for a huge tempo boost, or just bounce 1 of your opponents creatures and one of your Chronarchs. Recast the Chronarch to repeat. Once you've hit 9 or more mana, this trick gets better, bouncing two Chronarchs and an opposing creature or bouncing 2 of an opponent's creatures and a Chronarch. Worse comes to worse, should you really need a used spell, you could always bounce your Chronarch and use it to recast that used spell.
This card is never dead, and can be cast in early game if needed, but in late game, it gets insane enough to compete with Gelectrode for the #3 spot in the Izzet pick order.
The Izzet draft Master listMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
//Commons and other less powerful cards:
5 Izzet Chronarch
6 Electrolyze
7 Pyromatics
8 Repeal
9 Goblin Flectomancer
10 Ogre Savant
11 Wee Dragonauts
12 Torch Drake
13 Steamcore Weird
14 Schismotivate
15 Leap of Flame
16 Gigadrowse


Some comments on these choices.

The Chronarch is of course a must have addition to the deck for the reasons detailed before.

Electrolyze may (or may not) be a Constructed worthy burn spell, but in Limited it's just generally a cantripping burn spell that can sometimes 2-1 and draw you a card. It is certainly the best burn spell available to Izzet, but unfortunately it is uncommon.

Despite its lack of value in constructed, Pyromatics is a high quality burn spell in Limited. One would not belive that this seemingly overcosted card is worth its weight, but in a Limited deck, the replicate ability makes it quite worthwhile. Whether it's burning down a few Saprolings at once, taking down a large creature your opponent plays late game, or softening up your opponent's creatures for your Gelectrode, Pyromatics is clearly a fine card to have. I have on occasion, picked it OVER the Chronarch, knowing the Chronarch would come back.

Repeal takes the eight spot. Sure it costs a lot of mana to return big threats, but it triggers your instant/sorcery triggers while replacing itself. If needed, you could use it to bounce a chronarch to get another more useful instant or sorcery from your graveyard.

The 9 spot goes to a very interesting card, an uncommon, Goblin Flectomancer. Sure he costs URR, a very annoying mana cost to get out on turn 3, but this guy is actually a card you'll love casting midgame or later. He makes it impossible for your opponent to play a removal spell, as you can change the target of that removal spell to one of his own creatures. Not to mention his effect on other spells that target creatures. This guy is a fine 2/2 who prevents others from tampering with instants and sorceries as you do. Flex's ability.
NOTE: Flecto's ability will only work with one object on the stack, so if your opponent cast a Four times replicated Pyromatics (for a total of 5 copies), you would be restricted to only changing the target of one of the copies.
Anyhow, despite being in the uncommon slot with greats like Vacuumelt and Gelectrode, Flecto is not quite a better pick than the 3 top commons, so dont fall for the shiny silver symbol's allure when you open one, and instead look in the rest of the pack for those nice commons.

Ogre Savant is the next card of the list. Now you may look at me crazy. After all, Steamcore Weird is a similar bleed spell that costs one less, and can kill creatures or burn the player for 2. So why is the Savant this high?
First, Izzet isn't the best guild for racing, so burning is less useful than you'd think. Plus the savant manages to give set back the opponent's tempo greatly if you use it to bounce an opponent's creature and you get a 3/2 body which is not bad in itself (better than a 1/3 body.).
Of course, the Savant can also be used to bounce your own creatures, like Vedalken Dismisser, or that other card that we discussed earlier. What was that card again? Oh right, Izzet Chronarch. So you see, the versatility of the Savant makes it far more useful than the weird it resembles.
(Note for Limited analysts. If we assume that 2R was the mana cost for the 3/2 body (which would be a nice mana cost for it if you think about it), then the additional 1U on top to bounce a creature doesnt seem so bad now does it? Sure it's no Man-o-War, but Wizards has already said that the Squid was a bit too overpowered.)

11- Wee Dragonauts. A 3 mana 1/3 flyer is always playable, but one that increases power when you play instants or sorceries? In an Izzet deck? Sign me up! I love an airforce of these guys.

The 12 spots and 13 spots are close, but i went with Torch Drake first after my experiences. Of course, I'd understand if you disagreed and these could easily be switched around:

The 12, Torch Drake is a 2/2 flyer for 4. That's always Limited playable (See Screeching Griffen in Rav, a card that selesnya would never mind playing...), but the ability makes this card more comparable to Snapping Drake. A single Torch Drake in the early game can handle bigger flyers in late game, and in late game when you've established control, a single torch drake can fly in for 5-6 points of damage and finish an opponent off. I never mind playing one of these.

The 13, Steamcore Weird we've talked about already. The reason the Weird isnt higher is because even in early/mid game you're often just playing the Weird for the ability to deal 2 damage to target creature or player. Two damage for 4 that isn't an instant/sorcery is kind of mediocre, and im not really happy drawing these cards in the late game.

The 14 and 15 cards might generate some dispute. After all, Leap of Flame can be game breaking, as can Schismotivate. Unfortunately, they're all condtional, and they're both spells that you dont want to play your game around. NOTE the two cards are around equal (Schis's effect can handle bigger creatures, while leap can handle swarms), but Schis is an uncommon, so it takes a higher slot since you're likely to see less of them. Dont get me wrong, I'll play Leap of Flame willingly, but it's certainly not worth picking over the other 12 spots, and frequently it will table.

16. Gigadrowse is a nice spell at slowing down an opponent, something that's nice in the early game. Unfortunately, in the early game Gigadrowse won't be triggering any effects from Gelectrode or the Faerie Dragonauts and thus isn't quite as useful. Not to mention the fact that it's very Blue mana intensive. While I won't mind playing Gigadrowse, it isn't the most effective way to stop an opponent, and I would only like to play it if I'm lacking in early defense.

III. A Draft, Izzet Style.

So now you know how you draft Izzet. But knowing isnt the same as following along, so lets go through a recent draft i played.


And the first pick steers me into a UB rhythm. The Moroii is a fine 4/4 flyer for 4. Of course if it's Pilloried it'll hurt but otherwise, I'm always very happy to 1st pick Moroii, especially as nothing else in this pack is that impressive. At this point i hope that the Aqueduct will table, as Black may not be my main color and a little bounceland will definitely help if it ends up being a splash.


And here we have a choice. Move into UR by taking the Arc or stay with Black by taking the double black Brainspoil. Both pieces of removal are restricted by sorcery speed. The rare was taken out of this pack, so its hard to tell what is being signaled. That said, I like the Arc. Using it would put me into izzet, but it keeps my options open, whereas taking Brainspoil would mean a much bigger devotion to Black already.
A note should be made that the Src is the worst removal for Izzet as it's not an instant or sorcery. Still, its removal. Removal is good.


The guy in front of us has passed two Fists of Ironwood in a row, and also now a Civic Wayfinder. I doubt he's really into Green. On the otherhand, this pack lacks Black. Is that a sign? Anyhow, the Tidewater is a very nice card, functioning as a 4/4 wall with the ability to recharge your Fangtail or Gelectrode. Hell, it can actually attack in the late game if you need an extra attacker. Im never unhappy to take him.


The Sprite fulfills an early game role for an Izzet deck, which I'm looking at right now, by filling the 2 spot with a 1/1 flyer. Most often he'll be used to chump block, but even then I can draw a card. In the late game, he's another flyer that can help me kill my opponent in the damage race.


There's a clear choice here between Lurking Informant and the Research, but the Research takes the cake here, as it's a sorcery that can help fuel our Izzet madness. It's not like we'll be milling anyhow, so the informant's stock really isn't that high.


I must say, now that GP has arisen, Terraformer's stock has as well. The ability to fix mana in Blue has never been more useful, and the grey ogre body isnt too bad. Thus terraformer gets the vote instead of Consult the Necrosages, as I'd rather not splash for too much Black.




Dimir Aqueduct, Terrarion, Voyager Staff, and Boros signet make up notable late picks.




The Question here is, what removal are we going to splash for? Helix? Or Putrefy? Considering Red is going to be a bigger part of our deck than Black, which we want itself as a splash. So Putrefy, despite being better removal, is most likely going to be harder to play, as it requires splashing TWO colors. Meanwhile in our late picks last pack we already got a Boros Signet which'll help splash the Helix, and the life gain from the Helix will help us overcome the weak early game Izzet can have, especially seeing our lack of Drift of Phantasms.


Disembowel on the otherhand is a nice removal spell in a color we are already splashing for Moroii. Its clearly the best pick here. NOTE, Two Overgrown Tombs in a row. You wouldnt see one of those passed in a real paper draft.


Nothing really here for our deck. So i took a land i probably wont use due to the fact that im going to be a 2 color 2 splash deck. In reality Tattered Drake would've been a better pick, but it probably wouldnt have made the deck.


This was a gamble here, as the Glaze requires a decent amount of creatures, something an Izzet drafter might not get due to drafting other types of spells high in GP. I was probably wrong to play the Glaze and instead here i shouldve drafted the Dimir Signet to help with splashing.



Once again nothing in this pack was really interesting. We may play the Goblin, but probably we won't do so. We're not drafting Boros, after all.


Consult is not quite a card we really want, as the Black in its cost is kind of annoying. Still, its abilities may make it playable in this deck if we need.



Err what have we here? A Snapping Drake made it to us 8th pick? This is indeed confusing, as the quality of the Blue cards in this pack has not been great. So what couldve been picked over the drake? I dont know, but Ill take the Drake happily.


Pick 10:
* R Sabertooth Alley Cat (3 cc)

Pick 11:
* R Surge of Zeal (1 cc)

Pick 12:
* R Smash (3 cc)

Pick 13:
* U Flow of Ideas (6 cc)

Pick 14:
* W Dromad Purebred (5 cc)

Pick 15:
* M Woodwraith Strangler (4 cc)

So our deck so far is decent, but not particularly special. If we could get some chronarchs in GP and some more removal, then our deck would suddenly be a lot better.

And so....its time for Guildpact!



Follow the pick order people. Gelectrode it is. We can pray that the Chronarch tables, but we shouldn't count on it.
NOTE: Izzet Guildmage wasnt on the list for a reason, as you will usually lack spells it can copy meaningfully. Most of the time the spells you can copy are like Pyromatics, in otherwords: it's cheaper to replicate. As the only spell we could copy is Lightning Helix, i think taking the pinger will gain us more life (or prevent more damage, anyway), and recurring the Helix will work better for us than copying it. This is why i never really pick Izzet Guildmage high unless my draft is weird (like say 3 Last Gasps) and the pack isnt very good (say, nothing above 12 on the pick order).


The Pick order is fun! Vacuumelt will combo with any Chronarchs we find, and is a fine bounce spell. Nothing else here is particularly inspiring so the only thing we can hope tables is the Torch Drake or the Weird (preferrably the drake).


Repeal is another nice bounce spell which manages to make up for the high mana cost with a cantripping effect. As the pick order tells us, it is higher than Leap of Flame, the only other spell here on the list. Looking at the list, you might be curious about why Petrahydrox doesnt make the list. The reason is that your 4 mana slot should be full of Fangtails, Snapping drakes, Torch Drakes, or Steamcore Weird. Meanwhile, the Hydrox is a Hill Giant which can be bounced fairly easily by an opponent, so despite its ability to dodge removal, its effect isnt exactrly spectacular.



Chronarch! YAY! We can hope for the Ogre to table, but i doubt it. A thing to note is that Hatching Plans is probably the 2nd worst rare in GP.


Dragonauts are nice, but the Chronarch is better. And considering we are unlikely to draw any more removal at this point, any way to recur the removal we already have is definitely worthwhile.



Speaking of the worst rares in GP, there it is: Earth Surge. Man is it bad. Unfortunately, since this is pick 7, we're likely to be stranded with it. Oh well. Oh yeah I took the Drake. Pick order man.



And the chronarch wheels past everyone and returns to us! How nice. Four Chronarchs should give us a great chance to recur our spells.





And now im hatedrafting. A bad card. Still its not like Hatching Plans will make our deck


This is actually playable.


Bad rares are bad. And this one is just plain awful.

So Howd the deck turn out?
DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Moroii
1 Galvanic Arc
1 Tidewater Minion
1 Surveilling Sprite
1 Compulsive Research
1 Terraformer
1 Vedalken Dismisser
1 Lightning Helix
1 Disembowel
1 Peel from Reality
1 Snapping Drake
1 Gelectrode
1 Vacuumelt
1 Repeal
4 Izzet Chronarch
2 Torch Drake
1 Leap of Flame

1 Terrarion
1 Boros Signet

1 Dimir Aqueduct
2 Swamp
6 Island
6 Mountain
2 Plains



So How'd the deck do? In the match I played I went 2-0, winning game 1 on the basis of a Chronarch/Vacuumelt lock vs. a deck that got started real slowly, and game 2 on the back of a Gelectrode and recurring instants.

But this deck is actually a rather medicore Izzet deck. The limits of the mana base as well as the lack of Pyromatics really hurts this deck, and as such it is only the strength of the Gelectrode, Vacuumelt, and 4 Chronarchs that make this deck run.

IV Conclusion-Is it worth Drafting Izzet?

As this was an admittedly mediocre Izzet deck, is it possible for an Izzet deck to be successful? Yes.

There are a few reasons why this deck was mediocre. First, Red was being cut off for sure in both directions in Rav. And as Red is so lacking in depth in Ravnica, the lack of quality Red cards coming later than 2nd pick really hurt this draft. This also explains the absence of Pyromatics in GP.

But it is possible to cut off Blue and Red in Rav if done carefully and reap the benefits in the 2nd pack, giving you a strong core from which to start building your Izzet deck around in GP. If you think R/U isn't open in pack 1 and Izzet is being drafted in front of you, you can switch in GP to another guild involving one of your splash colors.

Take the example draft. We could've decided to draft Orzhov in that pack of GP, and splashed the red into a UBW deck (making it a UBWr deck). Would it have been as successful? Probably not. But if you feel that UR was cut off in pack 1, you can certainly switch out into another guild in packs 2 and 3. Dont be afraid to do so.

That said, Izzet seems to be like the Boros decks in Rav/rav/rav. An Izzet draft can go extemely well and be impossible to beat or it can blow up in your face and be absolutely bad. The difference between the two archetypes is two fold.
1. In Rav/Rav/Rav, Boros can switch to a Selesnya deck in pack 2, but it will have to abandon most of its choices in pack 1, causing it to have an inferior deck.
In Rav/Rav/GP, An Izzet deck can switch to an Orzhov or guild strategy with a splash and will not have to abandon most quality cards you have already drafted.

and

2. A mediocre Izzet deck CAN win games and matches , and can take a draft by surprise. In Rav x3, Boros decks could not be mediocre or they would lose horribly.


In closing, I hope to open your eyes to the possibilities of the Izzet in RRG drafting. No matter how good the Izzet deck you draft is, you'll always have fun. Trust me.

Props:
Bateleur, GamerMK, Tahn and the others from the limited subforum for arguing with me over picks. Its really helped me up my drafting skills.

The great editors who deal with my long articles.

Votan and Nex3 for the picture and the banner respectively.

SorryGuy for being a fun person to draft against
Slops:

Sorryguy for drafting 5 Legionnaires in 2 packs of Ravnica.
People who draft 3 Crash Landings and play them all.
Dr. Tom for being a Maryland Terapins Fan.
WOTC for not displaying Draft decks from PTQs.

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