Izzet Good Enough?

Alex Stephenson
Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 13:00

Return to Ravnica is on the horizon and a new standard awaits us all. We will soon be in the wake of the best standard environment I’ve ever played in competitively, which means Return to Ravnica has a lot to live up to. Now that the full spoiler is available, it’s an awesome time to speculate on decks that will effectively compete in this brand new environment. I’m writing to show you something I’ve been thinking about, but as of yet have not gotten a chance to playtest. That being said, take this list as a work in progress and as an indicator of the direction I would like to go after release:
4x Vexing Devil
4x Delver of Secrets
4x Snapcaster Mage
2x Thundermaw Hellkite
4x Searing Spear
2x Bonfire of the Damned
4x Izzet Charm
4x Pillar of Flame
2x Flames of the Firebrand
4x Brimstone Volley
4x Thunderous Wrath
4x Steam Vents
4x Sulfur Falls
9x Island
5x Mountain
3x Mark of Mutiny
4x Essence Scatter
2x Annihilating Fire
2x Pithing Needle
4x Judge's Familiar
In my opinion, hyper-aggro is the strategy to play in a new environment. The reason for this is mostly due to players not having a solid fine-tuned strategy and just being unaware of how to maximize the new cards they’re playing. In previous standard, Timely Reinforcements kept the Red Deck Wins strategy in constant check. It was nearly impossible to kill a control player before he could make it to three mana and play Timely, and it was almost surely defeat for the burn player after the Timely resolved. Thragtusk is sort of the new Timely, however I don’t believe that Thragtusk will have as much impact against the burn strategy as Timely did. First of all, it’s five mana, so it takes longer to play, and second of all it’s a creature so Essence Scatter is a sideboard option. Granted, this is a Cavern of Souls environment, which makes Essence Scatter a much less attractive option, but it still is a legitimate answer to Thragtusk. It is an excellent question as to whether Delver is going to perform nearly as well in this new environment. I think everybody expects Delver to continue to perform just because of how much impact it has had in every format, however the foundation of the original U/W Delver deck was capitalizing on Gitaxian Probes, Gut Shots, Vapor Snags, and Ponders. All of these cards are now gone and have to be replaced. I’ve chosen the imperfect but effective burn suite that’s in standard to couple with Delver. Maindeck choices like Pillar of Flame will be good against the Golgari Zombie strategy, which is sure to be very popular, as well as powerful. Vexing Devil may finally get an opportunity to shine, and couples amazingly well with Brimstone Volley. Four mana and two cards for nine damage? Seems good. You’ve probably noticed that Izzet Charm is the only Return to Ravnica card (as well as Steam Vents) that made the list. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t find enough use for the other blue and red cards in the new set, but I still think this deck looks very strong without them. Izzet Charm is an excellent card and should prove very useful in this deck to help filter out unnecessary lands and cards like Thunderous Wrath and Bonfire, which are mostly in the deck to be Miracled and not hardcast. The charm’s versatility will be very useful, and should serve as an excellent tool for burn because the strategy usually doesn’t have access to cards like this. Keep in mind, if you draw two discard two on your opponent's turn you get another opportunity to miracle Bonfire and Thunderous Wrath. Sticking a turn one Delver is integral, so the list needs to be heavier in blue mana sources than red. Steam Vents will be an essential land as it will allow for both turn one Delver, and turn two Miracle Thunderous Wrath for flipping Delver. To really sum up why I think this deck will shine is because Timely Reinforcements is gone, people aren’t used to a new environment and could be totally caught off guard by how fast this deck can potentially perform, and thirdly shock lands are back! This means they will not only be highly played, but played with a shock attached to it. Opponents shocking themselves is always going to be good for the burn player. I’d love to hear about what you’re thinking of playing, or what you think of a strategy like this in a new environment. Leave a comment, I’d love to talk


Hey man! Love your draft videos!

One comment about this decklist, While Vexing Devil looks great on paper a lot of time it's simply going to eat removal and not be worth it. i was going to suggest Guttersnipe, As it makes all of your Instants/Sorceries Shocks. But it is 3CMC.

As sad as it sounds i'm going to be playing a Defender/Turbofog Mill deck. It looks pretty sweet on paper :D but it'll probably fold pretty hard.

I disagree. I think Vexing Devil is gonna be huge, but I totally agree with you about Guttersnipe & your Defender/Turbofog Mill deck sounds like a blast.
Here's hoping I'm right about Vex : )

Alex, I think your deck is very cool. Tons of potential, but my Vexing Devil deck just got some new toys. Now I just need to build it - lol

Thanks guys :)

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