Dimir mages like me tend to spend much of our time dabbling in other guilds. So many of the guilds are a blast to play, and that’s the best way to know your opponent. Lazav lets our secret slip in the excellent flavor text on Dimir Guildgate: “Every guild dreads infiltration. I should know—I’ve been a member of all of them.” And among the other nine guilds, I relish drafting Izzet the most. Counting to twenty with weird tempo decks makes for an entertaining puzzle.

At the prerelease, however, you can pick a guild to play. I hit up a short-form midnight event to get my Dimir guild pack, but chose Izzet when I got to play a full four-round event on Sunday. It happened to be my birthday, so perhaps that’s how I got rewarded with this:

I was eleven packs into Guilds of Ravnica with no mythics. As I picked up the last pack of my Izzet pool, I figured it had to be good. And sure enough, Ral, Izzet Viceroy popped his head from the back of the pile. The rares had been good to me, however. Connive // Concoct is ridiculous, and Expansion // Explosion plays even better than it looks.

And then there’s Chromatic Lantern, which I think is underrated. You can’t rely on it to fix your mana, but it was perfect for my deck to enable the black-mana halves of the two Dimir split cards. The hybrid halves of all of these cards are almost worth playing on their own, so I expect a lot of decks will “splash” the other half off a few five-color fixers or guildgates. As my pool only offered one Dimir Guildgate, the Lantern saved me from having to play swamps.

Mana is crucial in Ravnica all Limited formats. Guild cards tend to be double-colored by definition, which reduces the ratio of colored to generic mana that you need to cast your spells on curve. This is why you want guildgates in your dedicated two-color decks: to make sure you have nine or ten sources of each color in your guild. In the two prereleases and two drafts I’ve played so far, that has proven true. Playing and tapping lands to cast spells is crucial, and you often find yourself pinched on one of your colors with multiple cards you want to cast of that color in hand.

Because of this, I chose in this Izzet experiment to leave my powerful Dimir cards in the sideboard. Artful Takedown and Notion Rain look like perfect cards to splash this deck, but I’d have to play some swamps to be able to cast them reliably. I also had three copies of Dead Weight, but did not want to ruin my mana for an enchantment. That card is strong though—many 2/2s and 3/2s that you must kill. Like House Guildmage, which also didn’t make the cut.

Izzet has to be picky about its creatures, too. I chose not to play Goblin Cratermaker. Like with Dead Weight it takes out all sorts of guildmages, Goblin Electromancers, and such. But 2/2s feel essentially interchangeable so far, and Izzet decks can’t play the attrition game with their creatures. You need them to survive and attack while you tempo away the opposition. My other cuts were Muse Drake and Electrostatic Field. The drake is an amazing value card, but Izzet wants to cut it for Radical Idea—which is kind of a radical idea. The Field looks a lot worse than my old favorite Lobber Crew because it doesn’t tap for an extra damage every turn, but it seems decent if you need to block.

The card that impressed me the most was Discovery // Dispersal. Surveil two and draw a card is exactly the sort of cheap card draw you want in Izzet decks, despite this being Dimir. It also gets a lot better with Goblin Electromancer. The “evoked Dinrova Horror” side of the card is good as well, especially against giant convoke creatures out of Selesnya. It doesn’t target, so it even gets around hexproof. (If you’re playing Selesnya against blue, you should keep a land in hand to protect yourself.) But I almost always cast the cheap side as soon as I could. It did wonders to set up Ral, and can also feed Beacon Bolt and Crackling Drake.

Over four rounds this deck was powerful and consistent. I lost round two to the double-Aurelia deck, though I did manage to steal her with Connive before dying anyway. Izzet feels real, even if prerelease decks get supplemented with the seeded guild pack. You probably won’t have the perfect mix of synergies in your normal sealed pools, but the color pair feels more powerful than usual. Jump-start does a lot of work by increasing your spell count without having to play five creatures in your forty.

So you could say I enjoyed my time with the Izzet mages. Not bad for an inferior guild.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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