GN Unplugged: MtG Izzet Ingenuity Intro Pack Review


posted 11/23/2012 by Jeremy Duff
other articles by Jeremy Duff
Platforms: Multiple
GN Unplugged is an article series here at Gaming Nexus which takes a look at the world of gaming outside of consoles and PC’s; this is meant to highlight those offerings within the gaming culture that don’t require a joystick or mouse / keyboard. We will look at various toys, movies, and comics tied to the video game industry as well as various table top and card games. If you have any recommendations for products that we should look into please send an e-mail to or leave a comment below.

Author’s note: this article is written assuming you have basic knowledge of the mechanics behind the Magic: the Gathering card game and will use terms and phrases contingent on that knowledge.

This past 2 months have brought a very troublesome time to the world of Magic the Gathering. Although we have to deal with it each and every year, Block Rotation always seems to find some way of throwing a wrench into all of our favorite decks. Thanks to the launch of the Return to Ravnica block, both the entire Scars of Mirrodin block and the Magic 2012 Core Set have been removed from the Standard format. We lost a lot of good cards with the current rotation, such as Mana Leak, Phantasmal Image, and Doom Blade. Then again, we also got a lot of classic cards returning from the original Ravnica block, so I guess you win some and you lose some!

With the launch of the new set comes a variety of new (actually, returning) mechanics as I covered in my Ravnica primer a little while back,. As with each new set, one of the quickest ways to less experienced Magic players to get the hang of the new style and mechanics of a given set is by looking at the Intro Packs that Wizards of the Coast releases alongside of them. While these aren’t competition level decks, they will certainly teach you a thing or two about the strategies and tactics that will come into play with the new set(s). Recently, I have been looking closely at the Izzet Ingenuity intro deck that launched with the Return to Ravnica block, running it through the paces of some casual and Friday Night Magic play. If you are just dipping your toes into the world of multi-colored decks, which the new block practically forces you to do, then this isn’t a bad starting place.

Izzet Ingeuity is a deck built around the tactics of the Izzet League, one of the 5 guilds that take center stage in the first set of the new block. The Izzet are an impulsive group, obsessed with experimentation thanks to their creative minds. With a focus on blue and red cards, decks and strategies usually involve manipulating your opponents into positions where you can pile on the hurt. That is exactly what this deck aims for; when it “works” (and players know exactly what I mean) it works well, devastating your opponent offensively.

The roster of the deck consists of the following:

12 x Mountain 12 x Island 1 x Izzet Guildgate
2 x Blistercoil Weird 1 x Welkin Tern 2 x Goblin Electromancer
1 x Nivix Guildmage 2 x Guttersnipe 3 x Runewing
3 x Cobblebrute 1 x Hypersonic Dragon 1 x Tenement Crasher
1 x Blustersquall 1 x Downsize 2 x Electrickery
2 x Krenko’s Command 1 x Mizzium Mortars 1 x Pursuit of Flight
1 x Teleportal 1 x Wild Guess 2 x Izzet Keyrune
2 x Annihilating Fire 1 x Chandra’s Fury 2 x Goblin Rally
1 x Thoughtfire 1 x Explosive Impact  

The key to this deck is to strategically overwhelm your opponent. With individual creature drops, your arsenal doesn’t look like much, but as soon as Instant and Sorceries begin reigning down, the your battlefield instantly grows in number and strength. The key card in this deck is your Hypersonic Dragon, a five-mana, 4/4/ creature who will instantly make your deck the bane of your opponent’s existence. Once you get him onto the field, you will have the ability to cast Sorceries at any time during the game, as you would normally do Instants. Because a majority of your creatures are buffered with each spell casting, this will allow you to turn the tides of battle in an instant (pun intended).

A lot of the non-creature spells included in the deck also take advantage of this block;s Overload ability. This means that spells that would normally effect a single target can be spread to all targets with a small price of mana. This mechanic will turn some cards that I would normally classify as effective into devastating, like Electrickery. Let’s take a look at 3 sample hands and their first 3 draws using this deck (assuming that you  play first, sans initial draw, this results in playing 4 turns):

Game 1 Hand:

Goblin Rally
Blistercoil Weird
Pursuit of Flight
Draw 1: Mountain
Draw 2: Mountain
Draw 3: Downsize

This is a very promising hand! Thanks to a couple of basic lands and low mana spells, you can establish a presence on the battlefield early. After playing an Island, I would cast Blistercoil Weird, which can be played with either a single Island or a Mountain. Right out of the gate, I have a 1/1 creature on the board who will buffer with any Instants and Sorceries that I play (which we be plenty) before I even draw my first card.

After the first draw, I would then play one of my Mountains, giving me 2 lands for my mana pool. Since my Blistercoil Weird is eligible for attack this turn, and my opponent either has a very weak creature on the table, if an creature at all, I would tap 2 and cast Pursuit of Flight on him. He is now a 3/3 with the ability to tap a single blue mana tand gain flight for a turn if necessary. I am sending him out for attack this turn, which will result in either 3 damage to my opponent or the death of the weak creature they have on the field.

The next turn would start with the casting of another Mountain, allowing me to play my Guttersnipe. This is another potent creature, coming out as a 2/2, who will also benefit from any Instants and Sorceries that I play. Suddenly, the threat of my non-creature spells are becoming evident and the strength of this deck is shining through. Once again, I would send my 3/3 Blisteroil Weird to attack; they likely won’t have the creatures to destroy it yet or may be forced to take another 3 damage.

After casting my remaining Mountain onto the field on my next turn, I have a couple of options: I can play my Cobblebrute or Downsize. The first choice would throw another creature on the table, and in this case a powerful beast with weak defenses. On the other hand, my opponent is likely reeling from my previous attacks so Downsize appears to be the best option. Not only will it deplete any possible defenders, thanks to the Overload option, that they have standing but it will also drastically buffer my offense this hand. With the cast of Downsize, I immediately do 2 more damage to the opponent, possibly taking them down to 12 life, and suddenly have both 4/4 and 2/2 creatures ready for attack. Those two are either going to hit their target and deplete my opponent to 6 life or wipe out any blocking creatures that have had their attack power depleted by Downsize. At this pace, this game could be wrapped up within the next couple of turns in my favor!

Game 2 Hand:

3 x Mountain
Krenko’s Command
Hypersonic Dragon

Draw 1: Island
Draw 2: Goblin Electromancer
Draw 3: Guttersnipe
This hand is starting out a bit differently than the last one. Once again we have a healthy dose of mana, but the spells that support that mana are a little more varied. All that you can really do here is play a land, in which case I am going to cast a Mountain. My reasoning behind this is so that I immediately have the mana to cast Electrickery should it be necessary to take out some weaker creatures; the Overload bonus is also within reach as I will have more mana on the table on my next turn

Normally, pulling a land this early would be a good thing, but with this hand I would have liked to draw something else. That doesn’t make this unplayable though! I would play my Island and cast Krenko’s Command; now I have two 1/1 Goblin tokens on the field which could be used either for cannon fodder or quick attacks should my opponent have a barren battlefield.

After my second draw, I can throw a third land down in the form of a Mountain and cast the Goblin Electromancer right away. Now I have a 2/2 creature on the field and he reduces the cost of any Instant or Sorcery spells. I still have a mana in reserve to launch Electrickery to take out some small creatures that may be on the field to clear the way for my Goblin tokens to strike.

After placing one of my remaining Mountains onto the field after the third draw, I can easily cast Guttersnipe. If I haven’t had any creatures destroyed, I now have 4 creatures on the field, two of which benefit my future spellcasting. Plus, drawing aside, my next hand will allow me to get my Hypersonic Dragon on the field which is both a devastating attacker and allows me to cast all of my Sorceries as if they were instants (even during my opponent’s turns). This game has moved nearly as fast as the first one, but things are looking promising at this point. All that I would have to hope for is the pull of a couple of more potent spells, preferably non-creature, that will allow me to take advantage of my creatures’ non-attacking abilities.

Game 3 Hand:

Izzet Keyrune
Krenko’s Command
Blistercoil Weird

Draw 1: Teleportal
Draw 2: Hypersonic Dragon
Draw 3: Island
It is sort of funny how this hand appears to be a combination of the first two hands; I just hope it plays as well as they have! I would throw down my Island to start my mana pool and cast Blistercoil Weird so that I have a presence on the battlefield very early on.
After draw 2 and the play of a Mountain, I have a couple of choices that I can make. With 2 lands available for tapping, I can play either Teleportal or Krenko’s Command. Teleportal would give my Blistercoil Weird a slight buffer, which could potentially make him a 3/3 (the effects of Teleportal plus his own ability). On the other hand, casting Krenko’s Command will buffer him as well and add two 1/1 Goblin tokens onto the field. I believe in safety in numbers, therefore I would pick the second option. My opponent may very well be taking two damage this turn.

The next draw draw puts me into a position that I haven’t seen yet: a serious lack of mana. I am now stuck with a hand full of spells and only two mana to tap. The only card in this hand that I can play is Teleportal. Whether or not I would play this would really depend on what my opponent has put onto the battlefield thus far; I would only choose to play it out of necessity as I would prefer to hold it until I could pay it’s Overload cost so that all of my creatures would receive the +1/+1 buffer.

The third draw allows me to get a third land into my potential mana pool and gives me access to both my Guttersnipe ot my Izzet Keyrune. The best choice here, assuming I don’t need to get another blocker on the field, is the Izzet Keyrune since it can be tapped for mana as well on my next turn. This will ensure that my Runewing hits the field on my next turn and puts me one step closer to casting that Hypersonic Dragon.

Once again I have a hand that might now be as fast paced as my original hand (above), but I am sitting in a decent position for the rest of this game. At this point, as with many Magic games, it all lies in the draws at this point. However, knowing the remaining cards in my library, things are very promising as this deck is very well balanced and gives you many options regardless of the tactic(s) you are imploring.

As usual, you will want to outfit this deck with some additions once you get the hang of its mechanics. There are a variety of additions that you can make to the lineup here to enhance its effectiveness. I don’t usually care for the recommendations that Wizards makes on their promotional materials for these decks but I will make an exception in this case; the insert included with the deck highly recommends utilizing cards from the Innistrad block with the flashback mechanic. When combined with creatures in this deck such as the Guttersnipe and the Blistercoil Weirds, you will constantly be chipping away at their life points and buffing your own creatures each turn.

The inclusion of Krenko’s Command in the base deck makes Krenko, Mob Boss a great addition to the deck. By simply tapping this card, you can double the amount of goblins that you have on the field with the addition of multiple 1/1 goblin tokens. This will provide you with an incredible amount of blockers and / or cannon fodder. The other big addition that I would consider is Arcane Melee, which reduces the amount of of mana that you have to pay for Instants and Sorceries. I don’t really need to explain why this would be beneficial; your deck is almost endlessly enhanced with the casting of these non-creature spells and this one card will drastically reduce the amount of mana that you have to spend to cast them.

Overall, I enjoyed playing Izzet Ingenuity. I will be making some adjustments to it and keeping it in my regular rotation of casual and standard decks. When it works, it works REALLY well, however, there are other times when I found myself falling flat on my face. It seemed as though I either won big or got destroyed during my time with it, there really wasn’t a middle ground. With the right tweaks and adjustments however, I think that can be fixed.
Page 4 of 1