General: Melek, Izzet ParagonCreatures:Goblin ElectromancerHypersonic DragonGuttersnipeTalrand, Sky SummonerGalvanothEnchantments:Leyline of AnticipationArcane MeleeDream HallsArtifacts:Darksteel IngotGilded LotusCoalition RelicThran DynamoSol RingChromatic LanternMirariSphinx-Bone WandSorceries:Shattering
SpreeDevastation TideKnowledge ExploitationMizzium MortarsTime SpiralBonfire of the DamnedMana GeyserEpic ExperimentRite of ReplicationPersonal TutorMystic RetrievalBlatant ThieveryShattered PerceptionWheel of FortuneTemporal MasteryBlast of GeniusDeep AnalysisWindfallConcentrateFlame WaveReforge The SoulMerchant ScrollSpelltwineInstants:Grab the ReinsReverberate OpportunityProphetic BoltRuneflare TrapCapsizeCounterfluxReins of PowerCyclonic RiftLong-Term PlansMuddle the MixtureTwincastForkFact or FictionIncreasing VengeanceSudden ImpactFiremind’s ForesightSpelljackEvacuationBrainstormWild RicochetMystical TutorReiterateHinderCerebral VortexHigh TideSeething SongTurnaboutBlue Sun’s ZenithLands:Volcanic IslandSteam Vents Command Tower Sulfur FallsShivan ReefBoseiju, Who Shelters AllHalimar DepthsScalding TarnIzzet Guildgate Reliquary TowerTolaria WestIzzet BoilerworksDesolate LighthouseCascade BluffsEvolving WildsTerramorphic Expanse10 x Mountain10 x Island
Izzet has been a constant struggle for me in the past when it comes to EDH. I’m not the biggest fan of red in the format when it comes to the usual suspects – goblins dragons, direct damage, land destruction – but the fringe stuff that falls nicely in line with blue always draws me in. (Think Fork or Wild Ricochet.) This area of misdirection and tinkering with spells feels like the most interesting design space for me, which is likely why quite a bit of my three-color deck design tends to feature these two colors.
The big issue in the past was trying to figure out how to run a dedicated two-color Izzet deck that would work in our unique little “casually competitive” environment. The balance between way over-powered and hated out to sheer crap has traditionally been two extremes with nothing in the middle:
-Jhoira: It’s the Obliterate/Eldrazi deck. Kill that guy.
-Niv-Mizzet 1.0: He’s gotta be running Curiosity. Kill that guy.
-Tibor and Lumia: Hey…quit laughing!
-Nin, the Pain Artist: Stiff breeze, meet awkward draw engine.
For someone like me who usually wants to build a deck that will feature the general in a meaningful way, these do not offer strong options.
Niv-Mizzet 2.0 was a good step in the right direction. The “fixed” Niv should have provided a nice middle-ground for a red/blue deck to thrive without being combo-riffic, and it did do that to a certain degree. I went in on Imshan’s storm list, which was detailed both here and on Commandercast, and it was good for the most part. The two big problems I’ve had with it are that people still view Niv 2.0 as a huge threat and kill it as soon as possible, and also that it only really matters to the deck insofar as it is a draw engine. It just seems to be there in spite of the deck, instead of as a part of it.
At first glance, Melek should be a general that I don’t like. He’s on the expensive side, and suggests a pretty narrow focus at face value. Looking deeper, though, it works for me. He captures the exact essence of what I enjoy about red and blue, and has the ability to either play a supporting role to any deck that has instants and sorceries in it, or he can be the center of a dedicated build.
Now, I originally simply removed Niv 2.0 from the storm deck and placed him at the helm. This is fine, and really is probably the strongest use for him; if the deck wants to ramp into enough mana for a decent-sized Epic Experiment, getting free copies of Seething Song (or Epic Experiment for that matter!) is a great way to ensure things go off. In fact, the deck wants to copy a big Epic Experiment, and Melek serves to take a big chunk of the extra work involved out of that picture.
In goldfishing the deck, it’s that good. This thing has the capability of being built with enough fast mana, redundant tutors, and counter protection to be a very strong contender anywhere.
What I realized personally, however, was that I didn’t play Niv 2.0 much in practice, because it felt like a combo deck. (Which is good, because it is a combo deck, but just not an infinite one.) I didn’t want to end up taking one big turn on the table at some point to take the whole game down every time I shuffled the deck up, and I didn’t want to immediately represent a large threat and draw large hate every time either.
The current revision of Melek got a maiden voyage last night at Worlds Apart. In the interest of full disclosure, it did win, and in a fairly one-sided fashion. To be fair, I know some of the other decks at the table were stalled out and would have had a drastically different game if they weren’t in bad-draw hell. Still, I was able to table Melek and realize his potential fairly quickly.
Seething Song makes ten mana with Melek on the board. Mystic Retrieval is twice as valuable right off the bat. Even something like a kicked Mizzium Mortars turns into a fairly inexpensive (and cheap!) Plague Wind. And ask Mr P about the joy of facing down a doubled-up Gather Specimens. (Actually, maybe you shouldn’t.)
It’s pretty incredible how good the most insignificant card becomes when it doubles its effect.
What I did to the deck was to pull some of the combo-slanted cards in order to load up on stronger options for a longer game. I included more spell-based win-conditions, such as Runeflare Trap and Cerebral Vortex, to add to the existing threats (such as Guttersnipe and Talrand, Sky Summoner.)
Fast mana was changed up in favor of consistent mana, which meant pulling Moxes for Arcane Melee. Mind’s Desire and Mana Severance came out in order to add more draw and extra removal. This gives the deck extra staying power, while still retaining the ability to get out to a solid start and keep adding value.
Epic Experiment stayed in the deck, as it simply is too cool to pass up. Without Mana Severance and the abundance of acceleration in the deck before, it doesn’t have quite the kick it used to, but it can still do some pretty ridiculous things from time to time. Some of the enablers for that strategy stayed as well, such as Firemind’s Foresight; the ability to get a package like Seething Song, Muddle the Mixture (to transmute for Experiment), and Brainstorm to put Seething and Experiment on the top of the library in order to take full advantage of Melek is too synergistic to not have on tap.
Overall, the deck is pretty smooth, and has enough of an instant-speed presence that I don’t feel like I’m not having a say in things. I can be as aggressive as I need to, with the knowledge that I can sit back and wait for things to develop without a fear that the game is completely out of my hands.
It’s in a giant pile on my desk undergoing a tune already, so here’s the rough current list (a few cards heavy, as I’m not totally sure what was in last night and what I pulled out to add today):
It’s really a value proposition deck. Find some way to make things cheaper or find some extra mana, gain advantage through the general, and eventually set up shop under a won-condition and ride it all the way with ample protection. It can make some big mana if it needs to through High Tide and Mana Geyser, but it really wants to gain advantage and get to a place where it can cast Sudden Impact and Fork with Melek in play. I specifically left out any sort of recurrable Time Walk effects, and only added in Bonfire of the Damned and Blue Sun’s Zenith on top of Epic Experiment as far as X-spells go. This deck isn’t designed for ruthless kills; it’s trying to be a serious role-player instead.
For the record, Sphinx-Bone Wand is absolutely amazing in this deck. I think I’ve averaged dealing about sixty damage per game with it over the last few games I’ve played.
Looking forward, I need to take things back to a place that takes better advantage of Melek. I need to add top-of library manipulation to the deck past Brainstorm; Sensei’s Divining Top, Scroll Rack, and the like will probably make this a better deck. We’ll see if that’s where I want to go with it.
Anyway, I just wanted to get this out to you all. Melek is the real deal. Coming up in the near future, I’ll take a look at what I would do (or re-do) in order to make this more competitive.
Am I missing anything in specific that would have a good home here? I’d love to hear some suggestions as to what I could add.
See you all next week-