This article is part 8 of a 10-part series covering the Singleton Guild Wheel Project, a 10-deck project where there is only a single copy of any non-basic land among the 10 decks. Each deck uses the color combination of a different Ravnican guild. The methodology is introduced here and expanded upon each week by featuring a deck formed using part of the Wheel. Since the deckbuilding process is iterative, expect featured decks to change in between articles. For the complete introduction to the project, see my first article.
NEW SET TIME EVERYONE! Everyone loves this time of year, because there always seems to be something for everyone when a new set is released. Standard players try to figure out what hot new decks will emerge, Modern players are drooling over Harsh Mentor (or at least I am. Seriously, this card is legit!), and us EDH players are jazzed to see what awesome/ludicrous cards are will enable some awesome/ludicrous plays in our format. Then the prelease too! I routinely make it back to the shop where I started playing Magic (Hurley’s Heroes for those that must ask. Check them out!) lo those many years ago, for some midnight adventures. Everyone gets to play with new cards that they’re not really sure what they do. Naturally you almost always wind up playing the token new player in round one. The advice I always give those people?
Not that I have EVER cried nervously or anything, but prereleases might be my favorite time to play Magic. Not only do you get to see some cool new cards, you get to play with those awesome new cards. That said, I decided to prematurely update my Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deck with some sweet new toys. The past few blocks gave us a few just nutty cards, so I’m incredibly excited to see how they play together in my combo-happy Izzet deck.
Since I am not an Izzet player, naturally I decided to keep the deck fairly combo heavy with loads of ways to keep your opponents from doing much of anything. Board control, counterspells, card draw, you name it. I like to think that my deck is the blue/red deck for people who don’t normally play blue/red decks: draw lots of cards and play powerful spells. When you don’t have to worry about stacking four different interactions and timing your spells “perfectly”, you end up with a deck that turns into a choose-your-own-adventure book.
Okie dokie, let’s take a gander at Niv-Mizzet, the Fireminds EDHREC page for those signature cards people love.
So it seems like a recurring theme here is card draw. This is understandable considering Niv pings down people every time you draw anything. The fun part about these Curiosity effects is that they go infinite with this specific incarnation of Niv-Mizzet. Since Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deals damage whenever you draw a card, and Curiosity draws you a card whenever the enchanted creature deals damage, you create a two-card combo to win the game pretty much instantly. If you’ve read my past articles you know I love combos that only need a few cards. Therefore, while we do keep Curiosity and a few other saucy pieces, a few of these guys get the ax. It’s fun winning, but if I have to win, I like to do it using several different ways as opposed to the one-trick-pony type of deck.
Unlike last week’s incredibly cookie-cutter deck, notice that the further down the list of cards Niv-Mizzet decks contain the inclusion percentages plummet. Cards range anywhere from 40% all the way down to 11% and still make the top-played cards list, which is a sign that people don’t have any one way to play with this specific commander. Sure, Brainstorm is a great Magic card, but I don’t think it’s exclusively great to Niv-Mizzet either.
Finally, Wheel of Fate effects. While yes, wheel effects are great and all, I personally don’t enjoy them a ton. This deck specifically looks for certain cards to combo off with others or it just wants pure card velocity through the deck, not necessarily discarding a card that specifically is in the deck to combine with another. If all I cared about were card-draw triggers for Niv-Mizzet, then I would certainly play more. Currently, I only want a few, not dozens.
This is a perfect deck for one of my favorite artifacts of all time: Isochron Scepter. That’s a snap keep if you ask me. There are very few times playing Magic that I genuinely had a bad time, and almost all of those experiences involve going against Isochron Scepter. Whether it’s imprinting a Counterspell or a kill spell under it, nobody gets to have fun. Sometimes we just put a Brainstorm under it and just draw/bolt our opponents to death with it.
While I may not know blue decks very well, I do know that Blue Sun’s Zenith is a heck of a Magic card. Triple blue mana might not the be most convenient, but being able to cast it time and again for growing numbers means that we always have a way to trigger Niv-Mizzet, along with having a grip full of cards. It also conveniently doubles as one of our backup win-conditions once we make copious amounts of mana.
There are some cards in EDH that just are insanely powerful regardless of the deck. Consecrated Sphinx is one of those cards. It’s a top played card according to EDHREC in pretty much any blue commander, and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind is no exception. Some games you just have to throw down a hammer and draw more cards than the whole table. It’s nothing personal against the table, I just happen to like having more cards than everyone else.
So, this is where I get excited. We know that Paradox Engine is potentially bannable, and we know that Sheldon Menery, the progenitor of EDH, briefly mentions that he’s fairly high on another crazy artifact in Oracle’s Vault. So why not put them into a deck together? Everyone loves casting free spells, after all, so why not just churn through your deck until it’s all on the battlefield? This wonderful setup lets us play a good number of mana ramp to hopefully go crazy with any of our new chosen win-conditions. The fact that these cards are going to be in Standard together completely blows my mind.
With the knowledge now that we are a Paradox Engine deck, we need to do things to take advantage of constantly untapping our nonland permanents. Again, lots of mana rocks plays well with this gameplan, giving us copious amounts of mana to net with each spell we cast. What better to combine with spells that make you mana? Buyback! It doesn’t take much to cast infinite Capsizes and keep the board locked down. If your opponents decide to do something awesome themselves, we can Reiterate an unlimited amount also. Mana ramp? I’ll have seven thank you! Tutoring up your best card? Don’t mind if I do! Surely your turn is my turn and soon all those extra turns will be my turns too!
Another new card coming out with Amonkhet has already made quite the impact outside of EDH, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it makes waves here too. As Foretold outright cheats mana, and we know that cheating mana is a powerful effect. It might be a tad slow going in a non-proliferate or counters deck, but I’m excited about it nonetheless. If Wizards of the Coast had to change the way that certain rules interactions work because of a card, I’m sure that there are going to be PLENTY of ways to abuse it. It’s already made cards like Lotus Bloom and Wheel of Fortune go up in price, so I’m sure that it’s got potential.
Commit // Memory tickles my fancy as well. Yes, I know I said I wasn’t a huge fan of wheel effects in this deck, but this one is too good to pass up. I’m mainly interested in being able to tuck away pesky spells or permanents with the fallback into a wheel later than I am just the drawing. I imagine plenty of Niv-Mizzet players will play this for the opposite reasons. I’m not playing very much removal in the deck so having this as a safety valve will probably come in handy.
How did my foray into the Izzet guild go? Is there anything routinely great that I missed somewhere along the way? Feel free to let me know, I promise it won’t hurt my feelings. Probably. Thanks everyone!