I think we've all had our fill of Izzet puns over the last couple months, so I'll avoid making all the obvious jokes here. Despite its groan-inducing name, the guild of mad science has some great tools to offer up for Standard. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius seems to be a very good finisher for a control deck, with the ability to close out games fairly quickly, kill off small threats, and draw extra cards to keep answers at the ready. Izzet Charm is similarly versatile, giving you a way to deal with fast creatures, counter important spells such as planeswalkers, and dig through your deck a little. Using these and several other Izzet cards, I put together a control deck with a fairly reasonable price tag.
Sphinx of Uthuun is a decent secondary win condition. Although it's undoubtedly less powerful than Niv-Mizzet, it still gives you some of that all-important card advantage when it enters the battlefield. Having another pair of creatures in the deck ensures that you'll be able to draw a second one when your opponent is able to kill the first, and it prevents you from being gutted by a single Slaughter Games.
Although Izzet Charm is somewhat below par on each of its individual modes, the complete package is more than worth it. It gives you options, and options are extremely important in a control deck. More than that, each of its modes is an effective answer for a particular kind of problem. Fast creatures eating at your life total? Have a Shock. Big spell threatening to swing the balance in your opponent's favor? Have a Spell Pierce. Having mana problems? A Faithless Looting should help sort those out. When the three modes are combined, you have a solution for a staggering number of potential situations. Although Izzet Charm may not be the coolest kid on the block, it always does exactly what you need it to.
Dissipate gives you a hard answer to your opponent's spells, letting you counter almost anything, no matter how large or how small, for just 3 mana. Like Syncopate, it exiles the countered spell rather than put it in the graveyard, preventing your opponent from taking advantage of flashback on spells such as Lingering Souls, Unburial Rites, and Snapcaster Mage.
The inclusion of Counterflux is essentially a few extra copies of Dissipate. Although it doesn't stop flashback, it does prevent your opponent from answering your answer, which can be remarkably relevant against other control decks. The overload ability will rarely come into play, if ever, but it's really just a little bonus tacked onto an already solid card.
Cyclonic Rift helps you deal with anything that slips between the cracks of your counterspells, halting progress momentarily and giving you another shot at Dissipating the problem. It also wreaks havoc on exalted creatures, especially Sublime Archangel, often acting as almost a Time Walk against an opponent who walks into your trap.
Thoughtflare is a card I've been eager to test out. Although more expensive than what you'd usually expect from a card-drawing spell, four extra cards is a lot, even if you have to dump your two worst ones. Like Think Twice, Thoughtflare is an instant and gives you an effective way to spend any unused mana at the end of an opponent's turn.
Pillar of Flame is your best answer for fast creatures such as Rakdos Cackler, Diregraf Ghoul, and Gravecrawler. It lets you trade with them one for one—a card for a card and a single mana for a single mana—before they start dishing out damage. It also deals with creatures such as Avacyn's Pilgrim that threaten to jump your opponent ahead of you in terms of mana production.
Mizzium Mortars deals with most creatures in the format and for only 2 mana. Restoration Angels and Loxodon Smiters can be shot down quite easily, and you can even take out a Wolfir Silverheart if you get rid of its friend with something such as Cyclonic Rift. When overloaded, Mizzium Mortars accompanies Cyclonic Rift in fulfilling the sweeper function that's often lacking without white to give you access to Supreme Verdict and Terminus.
Izzet Staticaster is an amazingly powerful weapon against Lingering Souls, wiping out any number of Spirit tokens at instant speed for only 3 mana. It also has enough toughness to block smaller ground creatures indefinitely, and it can be used to eliminate mana-producing creatures as well, although not until slightly later than you'd like.
Negate stops important spells such as Sphinx's Revelation and Jace, Architect of Thought from resolving, and it can even take down more ambitious spells such as Door to Nothingness and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. It also costs only 2 mana, making it easier to cast another spell and still leave mana open.
Searing Spear comes in for Pillar of Flame for matchups in which the extra damage is important or in which you want another instant-speed burn spell. Although it costs twice as much, saving yourself from a bunch of exalted triggers from Sublime Archangel or from the double-strike-giving power of Silverblade Paladin can often be crucial to survival.
Naya Midrange – Game 1
I drew a Mountain and played my Evolving Wilds before passing the turn. My opponent played a Plains and cast Farseek, fetching a Temple Garden. He ended his turn, and I sacrificed my Evolving Wilds for a Mountain.
I drew another Izzet Charm, played my Mountain, and passed the turn. My opponent played Kessig Wolf Run and cast Centaur Healer. I countered it with Syncopate, and he cast Farseek to find a Mountain before ending his turn.
I drew a Desolate Lighthouse, played it, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Sunpetal Grove and cast Garruk, Primal Hunter, which I nailed with Counterflux. He played an Avacyn's Pilgrim and ended his turn.
I drew a Mountain and ended my turn. My opponent cast an Avacyn's Pilgrim before passing back, and I activated Desolate Lighthouse during his end step. He cast a Restoration Angel in response, and I drew Thoughtflare, discarding my Mountain.
On my turn I drew Pillar of Flame, then overloaded a Mizzium Mortars to get rid of my opponent's creatures. My opponent passed the turn with no play, and I drew Think Twice before doing the same. He played a Sunpetal Grove before ending his turn, and I cast Thoughtflare, drawing a Cyclonic Rift, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius, and two lands. I discarded a Mountain and a Pillar of Flame, then untapped and drew a Mountain for my turn.
I drew an Island, played my Mountain, and dropped my opponent to 17 with Niv-Mizzet. I drew Think Twice from the Dragon's ability and killed the Huntmaster with Izzet Charm before ending my turn. My opponent played a Cavern of Souls, naming Angel, then attacked with his token, pumping it to a 5/2 with Kessig Wolf Run. I killed it with Niv-Mizzet, and he ended his turn.
I drew another Mizzium Mortars and overloaded it to deal with my opponent's creatures, then attacked for 5 with Niv-Mizzet. I drew an Izzet Guildgate, played it, and ended my turn. My opponent cast another Thragtusk, gaining back the 5 life. He ended his turn, and I shot him once with my Dragon, drawing another Guildgate.
I drew Evolving Wilds for my turn and attacked with Niv-Mizzet, drawing an Izzet Charm. I killed the Thragtusk with Mizzium Mortars, played the Guildgate, and ended my turn. My opponent attacked with the Beast token, pumping it up with Kessig Wolf Run, but I simply bounced it away with Cyclonic Rift. He ended his turn, and I shot him twice with the Dragon, drawing another Dracogenius and a Sphinx of Uthuun.
On my turn, I swung in for 5 with Niv-Mizzet, then finished off my opponent with the Dragon’s ability.
My opponent played a tapped Sunpetal Grove and attacked for 1 before ending his turn, at which point I sacrificed my Evolving Wilds for an Island. I drew Dissipate, played my other Evolving Wilds, and ended my turn.
My opponent played another Cavern of Souls, naming Angel this time, and cast Centaur Healer. He passed the turn, and I cracked my Wilds for a Mountain. I drew Izzet Guildgate, played my Island, and ended my turn.
My opponent flashed in a Restoration Angel with Cavern of Souls protection, then untapped and attacked for 7 with his creatures. I took the damage, and he played a Forest, cast Avacyn's Pilgrim, and ended his turn. I bounced Centaur Healer with Cyclonic Rift during his end step, then drew Mizzium Mortars for my turn. I played an Island and passed.
My opponent attacked with everything, dropping me to 4. He then cast his Centaur Healer again and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played my Mountain, and cast an overloaded Mizzium Mortars. The Pilgrims and Centaur Healer died, but my opponent saved his Restoration Angel with a Selesnya Charm. I ended my turn.
I drew Thoughtflare and ended my turn. My opponent cast Borderland Ranger, searched for a Forest, played it, and cast Farseek, grabbing a Temple Garden. He ended his turn, and I cast Think Twice, drawing an Izzet Guildgate.
I played the Guildgate and passed the turn. My opponent played a Sunpetal Grove and attacked with everything. I cast Izzet Charm in Shock mode on a Borderland Ranger, and my opponent pumped it with Selesnya Charm in response. I dropped to 6, and my opponent passed the turn. I flashed back Think Twice during his end step and drew Desolate Lighthouse.
I drew Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius for my turn, then played the Lighthouse and passed. My opponent attacked with everything, pumping up Avacyn's Pilgrim with a Selesnya Charm to make it lethal. I overloaded a Cyclonic Rift to return everything to his hand, and he recast a Borderland Ranger, finding a Plains and playing it, then recast the second Ranger along with two Avacyn's Pilgrims to put lethal damage on the board again.
I drew Think Twice and cast it, drawing a Mountain. I played it, then killed a Borderland Ranger with Izzet Charm. I ended my turn. My opponent dropped me to 2, then cast another Borderland Ranger and passed the turn. I flashed back Think Twice, drawing Mizzium Mortars.
I drew a Mountain, played it, and cast Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius. I passed the turn. My opponent attacked with Angel of Serenity, and I blocked with Niv-Mizzet, pinging the Angel for the last point of damage and pinging my opponent to draw a card. I drew Sphinx of Uthuun, and my opponent put his Rangers back in his hand. He cast all of them and passed the turn.
I drew Searing Spear for my turn and figured out that my only means of survival was to cast the Sphinx and hope my opponent put a Searing Spear, Mizzium Mortars, or Cyclonic Rift in the same pile as a basic land. Unfortunately, my opponent saw through my plans and made sure that the Cyclonic Rift and the Island I found in the top five were in two different piles. I died to Rangers on his turn.
Although I lost the match, the deck performed fairly well, despite having some difficulty with Cavern of Souls. The troublesome land certainly makes things tougher for this deck, but it is possible to fight through it, provided your opponent can't make every creature uncounterable. If Cavern of Souls isn't prevalent in your area or if you just want to kill your opponents with the great Niv-Mizzet, take this deck for a spin.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @MTGCannon, or simply leave a comment below.