Izzet The Real Life or Izzet Just Fantasy? – Commander Deck Tech
I would make excuses for why there was a month in between this and the last article but the truth is that I’ve just been playing Commander with my playgroup and have been sinking quite a lot of time into World of Warcraft (Legion is awesome).
So I was halfway through an article about my sweet [card]Jalira, Master Polymorphist[/card] deck when a specific card was spoiled from the new set, Kaladesh.
Now I’ve been a big proponent of playing mono-Red decks in Commander with Daretti not only one of my favourite generals of all time but also one of my favourite cards (probably top 5) but recently I’ve been playing a lot more control based strategies using generals like [card]Kruphix, God of Horizons[/card] and [card]Mizzix of the Izmagnus[/card] to control the board before landing a big haymaker that either stops the other players from doing much ([card]Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur[/card]) or simply killing everyone in one big explosion of fire and Izzetness ([card]Fall of the Titans[/card] is phenomenally fun when you have upwards of 10 experience counters).
Of these two decks I’d say that I’ve been having more fun playing Mizzix because of the sheer oppressiveness of the Kruphix deck that I have and this card is a perfect fit for the deck allowing me to make huge dudes thanks to all of the X costed spells.
This should be the part where I talk about this and [card]Inexorable Tide[/card] have the same cost, how neither give experience counters when played, and therefore contest for the same spot in the deck, but honestly I think that they’re both powerful enough to get away with running both (and really [card]Inexorable Tide[/card] proliferates so it kind of does give counters in a round about way).
As you can probably tell by now, this article is going to be about my Mizzix deck, how sweet it is, what could be changed and just generally me raving about how awesome the Izzet colour combination is.
While this deck is great fun and has a lot of interesting interactions it is not for everyone! If you enjoy crashing in with huge dudes and keeping up that pressure this deck is definitely not for you. This deck plays as a powerful control deck countering spells and bouncing permanents until you’re in a powerful enough position to start going on the offence. If you want to smash faces I recommend [card]Omnath, Locus of Rage[/card] he’s incredibly brutal to play against and gets out of hand very quickly.
So how does this deck play? As mentioned above it’s definitely a control deck. Your early turns will normally be:
- Play a land
- Play a mana rock (optional)
This will continue until you can play Mizzix with mana for protection (normally a counterspell). Your next step will be to stack up as many experience points as you can before playing a one turn win like [card]Comet Storm[/card]/[card]Epic Experiment[/card] or something that gets you insanely far ahead ([card]Expropriate[/card] is always a good one).
I just want to take a moment to talk about experience counters a little bit. Depending on the card there are arguments that experience counters are either completely broken (normally [card]Meren of Clan Nel Toth[/card] or Mizzix) or that they’re a fair mechanic that really doesn’t make a huge impact ([card]Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas[/card] falls under this category). I’m kind of on the fence here, because while I feel like they can be an incredibly powerful resource it can also be fairly easy to limit how many a player can get; whether it’s bouncing their general or simply not giving them a chance to play them.
I’ve been playing with experience counters (I have played Mizzix for a long time and a member of my usual playgroup has been playing Meren for even longer) and I can say after all of these games that while experience counters are incredibly powerful other decks can still play around them and keep that player from getting too out of hand.
Building The Deck
I don’t know if this is the right way to go about building the deck, but I have a very specific approach to choosing cards to put into my Mizzix deck. Thanks to her experience counter ability I tend to look at cards and ignore their generic mana cost. What I mean by this is I’ll look at a card like [card]Cryptic Command[/card] as having a UUU mana cost and a card like [card]Overwhelming Intellect[/card] as costing UU. This is actually the reason why I cut Cryptic from this deck because I felt like [card]Overwhelming Intellect[/card] would be easier to cast in most situations and I would most likely draw more cards.
That leads me onto the next element of building this deck, card draw. It’s all well and good having a million experience counters but if you have 5 Islands in your hand then you’re not going to have much interaction with the other players. Luckily some of the most powerful card draw spells include the Dredge keyword meaning that they have a lot of generic mana in their CMC. This makes cards like [card]Treasure Cruise[/card] and [card]Dig Through Time[/card] some of the best card draw options for the deck as well as having incredibly high CMCs to add more experience counters. The fact that [card]Ancestral Recall[/card] is banned in the format and [card]Treasure Cruise[/card] can be likened to it shows how much this card should not have been printed.
Probably the most important part of this deck are the spells with X in their mana cost, this is for a number of reasons. Let’s take [card]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/card] for example. Thanks to the way that the experience counters work we can take all of the text away from [card]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/card] and rewrite it to ”Draw cards equal to your experience counters. Add an experience counter”, for UUU that’s a very powerful card that only gets better the longer the game goes on. This can go for any X costing card as they will always increase how many experience counters you have even if you play X as 0.
Now I could totally see this deck being built entirely around Mizzix and a bunch of Instants or Sorceries, but there are some enchantments, artifacts and creatures that have a huge impact on how the deck runs. The most important enchantment in the deck is definitely [card]Inexorable Tide[/card]. Thanks to the fact that experience counters are something related to a player they are able to be proliferated (yay!). This means that when you have [card]Inexorable Tide[/card] in play and you play your cantrips on turn 20 of that 7 player game you’ll still get to next yourself an experience counter. More importantly it means that when you have 4 experience counters you can cast [card]Capsize[/card] for UU with buyback and skyrocket your experience. The majority of artifacts in the deck are mana rocks however I have also included [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] (because it was a hilarious mistake from R&D) and [card]Alhammarret’s Archive[/card] in my list, because they simple assist the deck with what it wants to do.
In terms of creatures this deck runs a few utility creatures and some that can simply win the game. [card]Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy[/card] has been the topic of more discussions on his power level and usefulness than I’ve had hot dinners, and so all I really have to add is that he’s very useful if you are starved of mana or if you’re flooded. My list then also runs [card]Goblin Electromancer[/card] (for flavour) and [card]Curious Homunculus[/card] as semi-mana dorks. In terms of creatures that can win you the game, the list currently runs [card]Docent of Perfection[/card] and [card]Kozilek the Great Distortion[/card] but I am looking at dropping Kozilek for [card]Metallurgic Summonings[/card] because– to put it simply –I just never play him.
Paul’s “Pro” Tips
As mentioned above there are some cool interactions with Mizzix (and just generally the other cards in the deck).
- If you have 0 experience counters and you cast a 1 mana spell ([card]Ponder[/card]/[card]Preordain[/card] for example) you can respond to Mizzix’s experience counter trigger with a 1 mana instant ([card]Brainstorm[/card]/[card]Lightning Bolt[/card]) which will allow you to net 2 experience counters without using any 2 mana spells.
- Experience counters pay for Buyback and Overload. This means you can play cards like [card]Capsize[/card] and [card]Cylonic Rift[/card] very cheaply even when using their alternative costs.
- Don’t forget to shuffle [card]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/card] back into your deck, like I do… all the time.
Changes I Will Be Making
I do feel that my list is powerful at the moment but I will be making some changes to it soon. I will be cutting the following:
- [card]Beacon of Tomorrows[/card] for [card]Time Stretch[/card] as it gives you more extra turns.
- [card]Call the Skybreaker[/card] for [card]Metallurgic Summonings[/card] since the tokens will probably be bigger due to the X cards that are in the deck as well as the ability to recur [card]Expropriate[/card] and [card]Time Stretch[/card] for multiple uses.
- [card]Kozilek, the Great Distortion[/card] is going to be dropped for [card]Fanning the Flames[/card] due to the fact that it will be a much more consistent win condition and a way to grind more and more experience counters.
- Finally I will be dropping [card]Mizzix’s Mastery[/card] for [card]Fuel for the Cause[/card] so that I have access to another counterspell and more proliferate.
There will be a copy of my decklist below if you wish to have a look at it.
Should YOU Play This Deck?
Do you like the look on your opponent’s face when you counter their [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] or their general for the sixth time? Y/N
Do you like doing awesomethings with awesome spells? Y/N
Do you like Goblin Wizards? Y/N
If you answered ‘Y’ to one or more of these questions then yes, this deck is for you. A powerhouse of control spells and burn that meld to make a monster scarier than [card]Brisela, Voice of Nightmares[/card] herself. Whether you’re casting [card]Capsize[/card] for the seventh time that turn or killing the table in one fell swoop with [card]Fall of the Titans[/card] this deck lends itself to shenanigans of the highest order!
A copy of my decklist can be found here for those who wish to have a look at how I’ve built my Mizzix deck, and hopefully it can help you build yours!
Thanks for reading this article and I hope it has given you an insight into the life of an Izzet mage. I will begin working on my deck building tips & tricks 3 article soon and I hope that this was a nice break for you guys (also I’ll finish off that Jalira article at some point too).
Thanks for reading!
- Commander Deck Building Tips & Tricks 1 – Generals
- Commander Deck Building Tips & Tricks 2 – Creatures
- Politics in Commander