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Pursuit of Knowledge – Izzet
How would you feel about paying one mana to draw six cards and get six 5/5 fliers with haste? Insane, right? This is what happens when you cast Alhammarret’s Archive and on the battlefield. Mind you, I am not too fond of four card combos. So how about a two card combo? naming Insect to draw your whole library? Best make sure you have a way to stop drawing cards (or a in play) because that enchantment doesn’t have a “may” trigger! Or maybe you prefer a one-two punch with and Ashnod’s Altar to generate infinite mana and Insect tokens. This, and more, is the power of .with ,
For this installment of the Pursuit of Knowledge series, we will explore the realm of Izzet, using the ranking of cards from EDH gameplay data to build a deck around a commander from this guild. I have been working hard these past few weeks to enter new gameplay data from last fall’s MTG Muddstah, Commander Clash, and Game Knights matchups. We now have data from over sixty new games, which means we have better rankings overall and a more diverse card pool.
EDHREC database flourishes with 11,770 Izzet decks from 22 different commanders. The pool of cards that can be ranked with the augmented Command Zone gameplay data covers 596 spells and 137 lands. The original Command Zone gameplay data contained 29 games featuring an Izzet commander, withat the helm eight times. With 1,247 decks, , our pick for this article, is not the most popular commander on EDHREC ( has about 50% more decks than the Locust). However, the mixture of chaos and tempo that lends itself to brews best exemplifies the Izzet.
creates a 1/1 blue and red Insect creature token with flying and haste every time we draw a card. The more cards we draw, the more tokens our fearless leader pumps onto the battlefield. With this token army, we can swarm our opponents, or leverage their presence to generate mana, play more cards, and trigger ETB abilities that lead us to victory.
can also loot, and does not require to tap to do so, which means we can perform this action any number of times, as long as we can fulfill the mana requirement. If we can find a way to generate infinite mana, we will be able to draw cards from our library until we find the tools we need to close the game.
The most effective way to draw cards is with “wheel” effects. Coined after the iconiccard, a wheel effect usually requires players to discard their hand, then draw a number of cards. In the case of , that number is seven, but in some cases, like , the amount varies. With on the battlefield, playing amounts to seven cards and seven 1/1 fliers with haste, all for just three mana. Not bad! With additional enhancers, this can get pretty nasty. Imagine having a in play. These 1/1 fliers transform into 6/6 fliers, enough to dispose of a player on the spot.
As we normally do in this series, we will look at the usual categories, ramp, card advantage/filtering, disruption, mass removal, and lands. We will also add two new categories, specific to this commander: ‘core synergy: wheels’ and ‘core synergy: swarm.’ We will select the cards for our deck based on the gameplay data card ranking, ensuring that we maximize the synergy between the cards to leverage our commander’s abilities.
The average card type distribution of a deck with
The cards that we select for our deck will be shaded with a colored background in each table. The card rank will also be identified beside the card name. A card with no rank is a card that does not have enough presence in the gameplay data to rank. We need to use our best judgment to select unranked cards. The tables presented in this article can be used as templates to build future Izzet decks.
With no access to green, we mostly rely on mana rocks for ramp. Since our commander has a high casting cost of six CMC, and since our commander’s presence is important to our game plan, we add more mana ramp than usual.
|Wayfarer’s Bauble (3rd)||(24th)||(47th)||(107th)|
|(6th)||(26th)||Ashnod’s Altar (48th)||(109th)|
|(7th)||(50th)||Azor’s Gateway (129th)|
|(14th)||(29th)||(71th)||Cultivator’s Caravan (141st)|
For the first time in this series,makes the cut. While in decks that have access to green, it is not rated very high, in Izzet, it sits at a very respectable 19th position. Hooray for !
If there is a card that deserves attention for ramping in this deck however, it is
To make more effective, we need to ensure we have enough mana rocks in play. We include eight of them in our deck.
Ashnod’s Altar and enable some of the combos in our deck.not only provides us ramp, but also makes our swarm of Insect tokens more dangerous, doubling their power and toughness.
This category presents the best of the card draw, card filtering, and card tutoring available in Izzet. This deck wants to draw cards, so there will be strong focus on this category.
|(1st)||(31st)||Tamiyos’s Journal (62nd)||(104th)|
|(9th)||Mind’s Desire (36th)||(78th)||(114th)|
|Sensei’s Divining Top (11th)||(45th)||(80th)||(119th)|
|(18th)||(52nd)||(92nd)||Blue Sun’s Zenith (197th)|
|(24th)||(57th)||Smuggler’s Copter (96th)||(390th)|
|Tezzeret’s Gambit (30th)||Alhammarret’s Archive (61st)||(103rd)|
Blue and red do not feature as many good tutor cards as black and green, so we have to work a bit harder to get the pieces from our combos. As mentioned in the introduction, Ashnod’s Altar provides us infinite mana and Insect tokens. To help us find these two cards, we added , and . may help us find two of these three tutors.
If we have enough Locust tokens on the battlefield, bringing into play at instant speed with may cause lethal damage. is another good target for .
Alhammarret’s Archive is our own special , doubling any effect that would take place when we draw a card, like creating Insect tokens.
requires special attention. Naming Insect and playing a cantrip with in play will force us to draw our entire library, and lose the game. However, our deck is built with responses that should allow us to win the game before we draw our last card. The inclusion of ensures we can cast any of , , or along the way. can also be played to break the drawing loop by countering ‘s triggered ability at any time. What if or are in the graveyard? We can always use to flash them back, or if all else fails, we can discard (with ‘s loot ability) to shuffle back our graveyard into our deck and continue the drawing process until we find what we need, creating Locust tokens along the way. We just have to set aside enough mana to implement our plan.
Another combo that lets us draw our entire library and create a bunch of mana is the combination of Ashnod’s Altar or . Sacrificing one of our Locust token to an Altar with in play will allow us to draw a card, which will create a new Locust that can be sacrificed. Rinse and repeat.and
could be viewed as a card draw doubler. Since our tokens have some form of evasion in flying, for each card we draw, gives us a good chance to draw another card the same turn by dealing damage with one of our brand new Locusts.
‘s presence in the deck is mostly there to help bring back the cards we need from the graveyard to our library.
Left unchecked,will create a swarm of Insect tokens. Playing a wheel card with this critter in play puts us in a very good position to win. Combined with , a wheel effect might be enough to clinch the game.
Most disruption that we include in the deck is meant to protect our game plan.
|(13th)||(51st)||(97th)||Baral’s Expertise (147th)|
|(22nd)||(67th)||(110th)||Umezawa’s Jitte (156th)|
We have already talked about the role of
is a nice safeguard to avoid an opponent disrupting one of our combos.
Mass removal spells have been selected to leverage the wheel and swarm flavor of our deck.
Core Synergy: Wheels
Several wheel effect cards are present in this deck. These cards allow us to draw chunks of our deck at reasonable cost, creating a bunch of Locust tokens and at the same time letting us find the tools we need to win games. Wheels can also disrupt opponents by making it harder for them to assemble the pieces they need to win on their terms.
|(136th)||(424th)||Teferi’s Puzzle Box|
and can really hurt our opponents. This deck is all about drawing cards, so, with in play, damaging our opponents every time we draw a card can be devastating. Playing a wheel effect cards forces our opponents to draw cards, so is bound to be effective in damaging our opponents. brings both disruption and wheel effect.
Ashnod’s Altar, , and .is an all-star in this deck. Sure, if we end up with all the pieces of a winning combo in hand when Arjun is in play, we’ll be out of luck, but the upsides are so good. With in play, Arjun adds a number of Locust tokens equal to our hand size every time we cast a spell, a nice bonus. It should not take long before we flood the battlefield with Insect tokens. In addition, Arjun lets us sift through our deck to find one of our numerous finishers: , , , ,
Core Synergy: Swarm
We do not need to rely solely on combos to secure a win. We will likely generate several Locust tokens that can simply swarm our opponents. This category highlights the tools that we can use to attain this goal.
and give us another set of finishers. Every card drawn will translate into direct damage to each opponent. can also be used to pump our creatures.
Playing copying doubles the number of tokens created on card draw.
brings some resilience to our board state. A board wipe with in play may get rid of our Locust tokens, but these will be replaced with new tokens when dies.
Do we really need more win conditions? What if we have drawn our whole deck and still have not find a way to win? How about?
As mentioned above, we include
Standalone spells are spells that do not fit any of the above categories and work well on their own or in concert with the commander.
|(20th)||God-Pharaoh’s Gift (82nd)||(124th)||Saheeli’s Artistry (163th)|
There is one outstanding standalone spell that we can leverage in our deck to complement our game plan:
Another standalone spell that we add to complement our game plan is . This spell provides us an answer in case we ever play and want to cast one of our creatures (like ) before we draw our entire library.
We tailor our land package to provide the necessary mana fixing and add a few tools that help us with our game plan.
The presence ofand adds some ramp to our deck.
and help us in our game plan of drawing cards to create Locust tokens. lets us keep all the cards we draw in our hand, which could make for an impressive or .
Lands with Cycling ability, such as and , work well with , but I have left them out to avoid lands that come into play tapped. They could be added depending on your playgroup’s power level.
and may help us retrieve the cards from the graveyard that might have been wheeled earlier.
Putting It All Together
With the help of our extended gameplay data, we have been able to put all the pieces together that, while never knowing for certain what to expect, should allow us to pull key elements from our bag of tricks that should turn us into legitimate contenders in most games. In the process, we have come up with a list of templates per category that could be used to build many more Izzet decks. If you are not into combos, it is possible to tone down the deck, replacing cards like Ashnod’s Altar, , and with ramp alternatives like , , and Swarm alternatives like or .,
How do you feel about combos? Are they banned in your playgroup?
Which is your preferred Izzet commander? Any inclusion in your Locust God deck that you find especially effective?
The Wheels Are Turning
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In our next installment, we will take a look at Orzhov. Ravnica Allegiance brings us fresh material for the Orzhov guild. Lets see if any of these cards make it in to our build.