Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind; art by Svetlin Velinov
Izzet is the blue/red guild of Ravnica, obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge above all else, mad scientists who study for the sake of studying. Your challenge this week is to design a card for the Izzet guild. It must be blue and/or red, though it can be any type aside from legendary (as legendary is reserved only for the guild leaders themselves).
Method to Madness
More than anything else, Izzet loves science. Er, make that Science! But a close second is instant and sorcery spells. If prowess had existed when Ravnica or Return to Ravnica was printed, Izzet is the guild that would have used it most. But prowess on its own isn’t enough weirdness for Izzet. Even now that prowess exists Izzet would still keep using creatures with different triggers for casting instants and sorceries, like Gelectrode untapping itself or Nivix Cyclops changing from a small defender to a huge attacker. Another particular favorite of Izzet is copying their instants and sorceries, giving them a little extra flexibility and a little extra use out of them.
Izzet also embraces its experimental nature another way, by using cards which are weaker on their own but become stronger when combined with other cards. The best example of this is how Izzet handles damage. Most of Izzet’s cards deal damage do 1 or 2 points at a time and only by combining those effects can Izzet destroy larger creatures. Here, any design which can act as part of a greater whole will work, either by creating some resource or using that resource. And I’m using the word resource loosely here, resources can be Petrahydrox being a blue and red spell a player can cast multiple times for Tibor and Lumia or Mindmoil creating a large number of draw triggers for Niv-Mizzet, the Fire Genius.
And supporting all of this is Izzet’s great card selection. Part of experimentation is iteration and improvement, so it’s only natural that Izzet should also have the best way to filter cards to get to the pieces it needs to finish its experiments. This can be straight card draw, with or without discarding cards, or it can get stranger as well. Cards like Firemind’s Foresight gives players a lot of choice, as long as they build their deck a very certain way. Or Epic Experiment allows players to get all of their instants and sorceries, some of the time.
Izzet’s first mechanic is replicate, which allows it to copy an instant or sorcery spell by paying its cost multiple times. While the replicate cost could be different than the card’s normal cost, all of the existing cards with replicate use the spell’s cost for the replicate cost to help with its complexity, and you should do the same. As for the design of the card itself, replicate works particularly well with effects which combine with themselves. Pyromatics dealing damage is the perfect example of this, since the damage can be combined to destroy a larger creature.
Izzet’s second mechanic is overload, which allows it to pay extra mana to make a spell which normally affects one target affect everything instead. Something to note is that overload cards are all worded so that the beneficial effects only affect the caster and the negative effects only affect the opponents, so that overloading is always good. There are a few more possible effects using overload with effects that could affect everyone equally, but generally your overload designs should follow suit.
Fitting with the Izzet’s love of instants and sorceries, this design began with the idea of copying instants and sorceries in some way. But, that didn’t feel weird enough on its own. Looking at other things that the card could copy, I found the card Panharmonicon and the answer was clear. Instead of copying the instants and sorceries directly, the card instead copies triggered abilities from casting instants and sorceries, doubling abilities like prowess and replicate and providing a weird but powerful piece of a potential Izzet deck which rewards clever thinking. Here is Temporal Expansion:
Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas for your own Izzet designs, and I am eager to see the wild and crazy designs you come up with.