Return to Ravnica: Izzet Ingenuity Review (Part 2 of 2)
Jimi’s back, and ready to roll with Golgari Growth and awaiting me at the other side of the table. The objective: to put Izzet Ingenuity through its paces, to see how well it performs under battlefield conditions. Can the spell-centric guild hold its own against its nemesis from the most recent Duel Decks?
Now turn 3, Jimi swings in for the game’s first bit of damage before adding a Walking Corpse. I counter with a Guttersnipe. The beats keep rolling in next turn as both Jimi’s 2/2′s are sent in to leave me at 14, after which she deploys a Daggerdrome Imp. This opens the way for my Guttersnipe to attack, after which I play a second Guttersnipe.
Now turn 5, Jimi relentlessly turns her army sideways, sending in the team for 5 and going up 1 life in the process. Seeing the writing on the wall, I know I’ve lost the luxury of time. Forced to act, I use Mizzium Mortars to blast Jimi’s Imp, dealing her 4 damage of blowback from the Guttersnipes. Next turn, I Blustersquall a Beetle during her upkeep to prevent it from attacking, looking to dish out another 4 from the Goblins. Jimi thwarts me, however, by sacrificing it to a Launch Party, and killing off one of my ‘Snipes. She then attacks in for 4, and I trade the remaining Guttersnipe for the Walking Corpse. Down to 7 life, I buy time with a Runewing after drawing my fourth land.
Scavenge makes its first appearance on turn 7, as Jimi exiles a Drudge Beetle from the graveyard to put a pair of +1/+1 counters on the other one. This lets her turn it sideways for 4, and I chump the Runewing for a free card. Back to me, I replace it with a Cobblebrute. Next turn, Jimi deploys the Korozda Guildmage, using it to give her Beetle +1/+1 and intimidate to get in for 5. I’m on the ropes, though a topdecked Downsize lets me overload it to buy myself one more turn, but it’s to no avail. I scoop on turn 9.
Jimi and I trade opening-turn land drops, then get down to business. Jimi’s second-turn Drudge Beetle is followed by my Welkin Tern, but Jimi doubles down with a second Beetle on turn 3.
Now turn 4, I swing in with the Bird to level us at 18. Jimi attacks with the Beetles for 4, then adds a Slitherhead and Walking Corpse. At the end of turn, I pick off the Slitherhead with Electrickery, knowing that while that’s a ticket to a free +1/+1 counter, it’s still helpful to keep her forces concentrated and she doesn’t have a lot of 1-toughness creatures.
Next turn, I attack for 2 in the air, then deploy a Blistercoil Weird. As expected, Jimi scavenges the Slitherhead and adds the counter to the Corpse. She then daggers me with an Acidic Slime, picking off my only Mountain. A 7-point attack follows, and I’m cut in half. All I can do on turn 6 is attack with the useless Bird and hope for the best, but it never arrives. Chumping with the Weird buys me a turn, but little more. I concede on turn 7.
Again we drop land and pass for our opening turn, after which I stick a Goblin Electromancer. Jimi then opens with the sturdy and dependable Drudge Beetle. Next turn I add a Guttersnipe and pass, while Jimi taps out for a Dreg Mangler to lead a 5-point charge.
Now turn 4, I counterattack for 4 with the Goblin duo, then add a Runewing. Jimi again throws her beaters across the table for 5, and I accept the Bird-for-Beetle trade, a swap that gives us both some added value. Jimi then follows with the Corpsejack Menace, though it draws a next-turn Mizzium Mortars straightaway. With the bonus damage from the Guttersnipe, the Goblin counterattack leaves Jimi at 10. I conclude with a Blistercoil Weird and pass. Again Jimi’s Acidic Slime finds me with just one Mountain in play, and blasts it to oblivion.
Now turn 6, I attack with both Goblins and the Weird after drawing a replacement Mountain. Jimi blocks the Guttersnipe with her Mangler, but I overload a Downsize to keep it alive. This not only pumps and untaps the Weird, but it adds another 2 points of damage to the pile to leave Jimi at 4. For her part, she plays a Daggerdrome Imp. I follow with a Cobblebrute, and Jimi keeps the buildup going with a Golgari Longlegs.
I play a Mountain and pass on turn 8. Looking to stabilise, Jimi kills off the dangerous Guttersnipe with a Launch Party, popping her Dreg Mangler and blasting me for 2. Back to me, it almost feels like an anti-climax when I simply rip an Explosive Impact from the top of my library and burn Jimi out of the game.
Thoughts & Analysis
The strategy insert writeup for Izzet Ingenuity promises that ‘when you win, you win big.’ Reading between the lines, you might just as well conclude that left unsaid is ‘…but more often, you’ll just lose.’ It certainly felt that way, with two losses followed by a fairly unconvincing win. The saving grace for the deck was the pre-game friendly, the match we always open with that doesn’t get recorded but simply gives us a chance to get used to the decks (as well as determine who gets to choose play/draw for Game One). As it happened, I managed to stick a pair of Guttersnipes early, then rock Jimi over and over with instants and sorceries until only a smoking crater remained.
In some ways, this is very much reminiscent of Izzet Gizmometry, the first Izzet deck. That deck was very much swings and roundabouts for most games, as you durdled about looking to string together a few explosive plays to snatch at victory. Unlike Gizmometry, however, there was less of that “mad scientist” feel that gave that deck such flavour. Playing it could often feel like you were a mad Izzet scientist, adding volatile droplets into boiling beakers and running around a smoke-filled laboratory. Most of the time it just fizzled and you lost, but sometimes you were able to string the right sequence of plays together and the deck would just ‘go off.’
Ingenuity can do the same, but on the whole it feels a bit more generic, perhaps in part to the larger number of creatures in the deck. This has the added effect of making the losses feel both more pedestrian as well as preventable. Put another way, Gizmometry felt like it lost a lot because it embraced a feast-or-famine win condition. Ingenuity feels like it loses a lot because a lot of the cards just aren’t all that great.
We give the deck some credit for trying a novel win condition- land a bunch of token weenie creatures then use spells to get them through for damage. Unfortunately, that seems a bit like a subtheme here, given the paltry number of key cards (Blustersquall, Teleportal)- in that regard, a bit like the discard package in Rakdos Raid. The deck also asks a lot of your manabase, with a large number of expensive cards (especially when you’re looking to overload tyhem). And regardless of how “defensively” the deck asks you to play them, cards like Cobblebrute and Tenement Crasher feel somewhat generic. Although it has some high points (the solid burn suite, for instance), there’s more potential here than is realised and the deck overall was a disappointment.
Hits: Solid burn package, especially welcome considering the removal-light environment; promising ‘unblockable swarm’ subtheme; Guttersnipe is a superb option to give the deck additional reach
Misses: Feels a bit less intricate and more plodding than an Izzet deck should feel, particularly when compated to Izzet Gizmometry; a number of poorer card selections give the deck a somewhat underwhelming feel
OVERALL SCORE: 4.00/5.00