Ravnica is one of my favorite blocks in Magic: the Gathering‘s history. It provided a flavorful plane with lots of versatile deck ideas and all sorts of interesting guilds based on pairings of colors. So when Return to Ravnica was announced at PAX East, I pretty much lost my face. With the spoilers we’ve been seeing of the expansion, which hits next month, my glee is pretty justified. But while the Azorius guild is in my primary colors of white and blue, and a good deal of my cards from the previous block set in that plane appear to be from the sadistic playground of Rakdos, I’ve always considered myself Izzet at heart. Why?
Izzet is the red and blue guild. Blue is a color of mind games and control, featuring counterspells, illusionary creatures, and using an opponent’s cards against them, while red’s fast-paced flavor leans towards direct damage, fast creatures, and big flashy finishes like dragons and laying an unstoppable smackdown with a single card. When combined in the Izzet guild, the result is the magical equivalent of super-science. Izzet mages experiment with electricity, flight, spell manipulation, and time shenanigans. Why? Because they can!
Ravnica features a great deal of inter-guild politics and scheming, from Dimir spies lurking in the shadows to Golgari agents stealing undesirables for use in their experiments. Izzet certainly has its share of secrets, and if any of the guilds were to be working on some sort of doomsday device, it’d probably be them. However, it’s hard to imagine them working from a truly malicious angle. Again, for Izzet, it’s all about pushing the boundaries of Magic, trying new things no matter how dangerous, and letting the mind dictate one’s limits.
I like this very much because I’ve never been one to straight up copy deck lists from other players. I may get ideas from other lists, and I of course am curious about things like Maverick or The Rock, but I won’t be throwing down cash to simply run a deck someone else is running, regardless of how much that deck wins. For me, a good portion of the fun in Magic is the theorycrafting. Rather than being confident that I’m going to win every match I play, I’ve gone into events wondering how well or how badly the deck will run in competition. As much as it sucks to lose, especially when most “top” players tend to run the same deck, i.e. whatever the best pro players are playing, the experimentation does have rewards in and of itself. You learn about your own playstyle, you figure out what works for you, and you decide what you don’t want to do.
I think that’s where Izzet’s appeal lies, for me. While no two-color combination necessarily locks a player into a particular style of deck, red and blue together can go heavily for control, lean entirely towards aggression, or rest anywhere in between. It lends itself towards the very experimentation that keeps me going back to my favorite local comic & gaming store every week.
And it’s run by a genius dragon. That’s pretty much the cherry on it.
If you play Magic, are you excited for Return to Ravnica? Have you chosen your guild? I’d love to hear about it!