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September 2, 2012

3

Guildpact: Izzet Gizmometry Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

 

Our last go in Guildpact and Ravnica block as a whole, we’re off to test the madcap engineers of the Izzet guild. Joining me at the table is Sam, who’s ready to put Gruul Wilding to work. Will the Izzet be able to build themselves a win, or will they be smashed to pulp by the guild that always leads with the blunt end?

Game One

Our opening tilt gets off to a very sluggish start as Sam and I trade land drops for a few turns. Finally, on turn 4, Sam begins building an army off of an Indentured Oaf- not the best creature to play against the Izzet, but a body nonetheless. I come right back with a Petrahydrox. Next turn Sam adds a Streetbreaker Wurm, while I take the opportunity to drop an Izzet Boilerworks.

Now turn 6 , Sam bestows a Fencer’s Magemark onto her Wurm, letting her turn it sideways to smash into me for 7. With me having taken damage, she’s next free to play a Bloodscale Prowler with bloodthirst, though I Runeboggle it. With no open mana, it’s as good as a hard counter, and draws me a card besides. Once it’s back to me, I then Vacuumelt away both of her creatures to reset the board. I attack with the Petrahydrox for 3, then pass. Next turn Sam predictably replays the Wurm and passes. I play a Train of Thoughtreplicating it twice, and throw a pair of Islands into the graveyard to get down to seven cards in hand. Having a surplus of lands to start with, it’s a genuine improvement.

A Gruul Guildmage touches down on turn 8 for Sam, who then attacks in with the Wurm. Using the Guildmage to pump it +2/+2, I now find myself down to 5 life. Back to me, I salvage the Vacuumelt from my graveyard with an Izzet Chronarch, then use it to Unsummon Sam’s Wurm. With the path again cleared, I send in the Petrahydrox for another 3. Sam then replays the Wurm- the Izzet are better at delaying rather than solving big problems like the 6/4- then enchants it with Fists of Ironwood. This not only gives it trample, but also gives Sam a pair of 1/1 Saprolings as well that are genuine nuisances with a Gruul Guildmage in play.

But it’s the Guildmage itself that’s the real threat, and it doesn’t take Sam long to realise that it’s got me dead to rights. Though she burns lands to do it, I can’t answer the damage and soon fall to the Guildmage.

Game Two

This time we get things moving right off the bat- or, at least, one of us does. I lead with an Island, Sam with a Scorched Rusalka. After a 1-point swing, she then adds the hated Gruul Guildmage. Skarrg, the Rage Pits is next on turn 3, and Sam comes in with both bodies for 3. She uses Skarrg to boost the Rusalka, but I manage to set the damage back somewhat by Repealing the Guildmage.

Now turn 4, I continue to play land and pass. Sam attacks for 1 with the Rusalka, pumping it up with Skarrg to leave me at 15. Next turn I play Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind and pass. Sam attacks for 1 more, then plays a Dowsing Shaman. I simply Convolute it.

With Sam tapped out, I use the opportunity to get around Skarrg and kill her Rusalka with a Rain of Embers, with her unable to even sacrifice the Rusalka to itself to ping me on the way out. Back to Sam, she replay the Guildmage and passes. That’s my next target, as I play a triple-strength Pyromatics to kill it, too. Again thwarted, Sam then resolves a Gatherer of Graces, slapping a Fists of Ironwood on it to boot.

Wee Dragonauts

Now turn 8, I play an Island, an Izzet Guildmage, and then pass. Sam swings for 4 thanks to the Gatherer and accompanying pair of Saprolings. A Peel from Reality bounces back the Gatherer (and my Guildmage), leaving me taking only 2. She then looks to build on her advantage with a bloodthirsted Bloodscale Prowler, but I Convolute that as well. My next turn is a blank, then Sam replays the Gatherer. She then adds a Beastmaster’s Magemark to it as a sign of defiance. Her Saprolings come in for another 2, and I’m down to 10.

My turn 10 is another blank, though as Sam has learned for the Izzet that’s not a sign of any distress, but rather distress to come as so many of my plays can take place on her turns instead of mine. She swings in with the team, and again I bounce the Gatherer- this time with a Repeal. Down to 8 life, Sam goes for a knockout blow with Borborygmos. I Frazzle it. Next turn I find my Gelectrode with a Telling Time, and pit it into play immediately. Sam sends in the Saprolings to keep the beats coming, putting me at 6. She then drops a bloodthirsted Skarrgan Skybreaker– trouble!

Now turn 12, I ping a Saproling with my Gelectrode to kill it. Then after Vacuumelting the Skybreaker, I ping and kill the second Saproling. I next play an Izzet Chronarch, letting me get the Frazzle back to my hand. Back to Sam, she replays the Skybreaker- this time without the bloodthirst bonus. Next turn, I ping Sam with the Gelectrode, then play a quadruple-strength Pyromatics to burn out the Skybreaker and throw a point in Sam’s direction. I finally mount my first attack with the Chronarch for 2, dropping Sam to 17. For her part, she plays a pair of Gatherers of Graces and passes, leaving me to ping her again at the end of her turn.

I play a second Chronarch on turn 14, retrieving the Pyromatics. Sam swings in with a Gatherer, and I gangblock with my Chronarchs. Sam uses Skarrg to pump up the Gatherer, so it’s a one-for-one trade to keep my defenses thinned. I ping her again, and her turn passes. Back to me, I ping the remaining Gatherer, then play Train of Thought replicated twice. That lets me untap the Gelectrode, and I kill off the wounded Gatherer. Another 2-point attack puts Sam at 13. Her turn passes without incident, and she can feel the momentum slipped away. At the end of her turn, with only two extra mana up I go ahead and trigger Nivix, and score a hit with a Telling Time- what luck! This means the Gelectrode was able to ping twice, and momentum is now firmly on my side.

I attack again with the Chronarch on turn 16 before playing a Petrahydrox, while Sam draws and passes. I send in the troops for 5 on turn 17, ping Sam, and close her out with a Pyromatics for the victory.

Game Three

Sam’s second-turn Gatherer of Graces is the game’s opener, and next turn she finds her Skarrg again.. She attacks for 1 with the Gatherer, then adds a Dryad Sophisticate. I continue to play land.

Now turn 4, Sam then looks to add a Beastmaster’s Magemark on her Gatherer, but I Runeboggle it. Undeterred, she swings for 3 and I’m left at 16. I play an Island and pass. Back to Sam, she sends in the troops again, pumping up the Gatherer with Skarrg. At 12 life, I use a Pyromatics to kill off her Gatherer and end my turn.

A turn-6 Beastmaster’s Magemark on the Sophisticate lets Sam hammer in again for 3, leaving me at 9. An Izzet Chronarch lets me fetch the Pyromatics back and ready for reuse. Sam swings in again on turn 7, putting me at 6. I then topdeck a Mountain, just the thing I need to triple-Pyromatics her Sophisticate to kill it. I’m thwarted, however, when Sam flashes a Wildsize, keeping her creature alive.

Now turn 8, this game is quickly getting away from me. Sam attacks for another 3 with the Dryad, cutting me in half. She then adds a Gatherer of Graces before passing. For my part, I summon a Petrahydrox to stall for time. A next-turn Gruul Scrapper draws a Convolute, and so long as Sam can’t pump anyone with Skarrg I’m safe for the moment. Back to me, I play a Train of Thought, replicated once.

Sam again looks to bring the game to a quick end with a Fencer’s Magemark on her Gatherer, but I Convolute that, too. Back to me, I play Train of Thought, declining to replicate it but wanting to dig for an answer. Sam sends in the Sophisticate, hoping to at least draw a trade and trim my defense Instead, she finds a pair of 3/3 Weird tokens off of a Thunderheads, and off goes the Dryad. Freed of the worry over the Dryad, I’m able to deploy my Nixiv, Aerie of the Firemind at last. I then attack in with the Petrahydrox for the first bit of damage from me for the game. I follow with a Wee Dragonauts and pass.

Now turn 12, Sam brings out an Indentured Oaf. At the end of her turn, I again roll the dice on Nivix with only two remaining mana, and again mise a Telling Time! A Leyline of Lightning follows once it’s my turn proper, followed by an attack from the Dragonauts. Sam tries again for a Dowsing Shaman, but just as in the previous game it draws a counter (this one a Frazzle). I pay the extra mana to channel a ping through my Leyline, and Sam’s down to 15. Back to me, I send in the Dragonauts in the air, then replay the Izzet Guildmage- again pinging Sam through the Leyline.

Third try’s the charm for Sam, however, who finally sticks a Dowsing Shaman on turn 14. It doesn’t stick around for long, however, as I Repeal it at the end of her turn (along with another ping). After attacking with the Dragonauts, Sam’s down to 11 life and fading fast. She plays a Sparkmage Apprentice next turn, letting her set up bloodthirst on a Burning-Tree Bloodscale and leaving me at 2 life. At the end of her turn, I trigger Nivix but come up with an Island. Back to me, I kill her Gatherer of Graces with an Electrolyze, then send in the Dragonauts. Between them and the Leyline, I’ve now reduced Sam to 7 life.

Now turn 16, she replays the Dowsing Shaman and passes. I find a Frazzle with Nivix, which I can’t cast, but then I topdeck a Pyromatics which I can. And replicate six times. For the win.

Thoughts & Analysis

The degree to which you enjoy Izzet Gizmometry largely depends on how well you can stomach those decks that don’t do much of anything for a number of games, but set a match to a canister of rocket fuel when everything comes together. We’ve termed these ‘glass cannons,’ and the Izzet are very much the model. Comparatively little of the deck is an actual win condition, but it excels at stalling and sandbagging until it’s able to find them. Even then, its wins tend to be fairly grindy affairs- rather than going off on a mighty combo (like a sacrifice deck might), you instead lock down your opponent and carve off life total with a card like Wee Dragonauts.

Vacuumelt

This means in games where you can’t find one of your few killing strokes, you’ll be essentially delaying the inevitable over successive turns. Of course, when the deck finds its tools, it’s a ton of fun- provided you’ve managed to develop your manabase. With the guild mechanic of replicate, clearly the more mana you have at your disposal the steonger your cards will be. Although there can be an efficiency loss (see: Pyromatics), being able to duplicate effects multiple times can be a game-changer, particularly in the case of cards like Thunderheads and Vaccumelt.

The deck certainly has its flaws in terms of what it’s able to handle. As mentioned above, larger creatures that can get past its low-level burn damage can often be bounced, stalled, or delayed, but the deck doesn’t have a lot of ways to deal with them on a more permanent basis. It’s mana-hungry nature means that mana screw can be particularly crippling. But taken on the whole, this is another one of those fun creature-light, spell-heavy decks we enjoy seeing from time to time.

Hits: Incremental card advantage means that the deck picks up pace the longer the game goes on; challenge of trying to establish board control and grind out a win over your opponent is a fun one

Misses: Lots of delays, but fewer permanent answers; heavy mana needs makes the deck very hard to steer if you get stalled on land

OVERALL SCORE: 4.25/5.00

 

 

 

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Icehawk
    Sep 3 2012

    Sweet review. Let’s see if the Duel Deck improved upon this deck.

    Reply
  2. Sep 3 2012

    The problem is that the “weaknesses” of Gizmometry that you mentioned aren’t really weaknesses a lot of the time. Incremental advantage is probably the strongest overall strategy in Magic, especially in a setting like preconstructed deck matchups.

    Interesting article overall.

    Reply
    • Sep 3 2012

      I think you rightly dialed in on an important aspect of the deck when you qualified it with “a lot of the time.” There’s certainly no denying the power of incremental advantage, but you also need effective win conditions and the consistency to find and employ them. Just today I lost a game where I stuck a Steel of the Godhead on a Scroll Thief on turn 4, drew a ton of cards off it over the course of the game… and still lost.

      Izzet’s weakness is that it’s a deck that has the propensity to “durdle,” shuffling pieces around the board (so to speak) without accomplishing a whole lot. When the right cards line up for it (like Wee Dragonauts), it clicks into gear and zooms forward… otherwise, it sits in idle mode until the opponent has the mercy of killing it. Personally, I love these sorts of decks, though they’re not for everyone.

      Glad you enjoyed, and thanks for the comment!

      Reply

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