Originally, this deck started out as a Grixis build, which I'd been playing for several months ever since BFZ came out. Ever since OGW's release though, I decided to drop Black in favor of an Izzet Build, which allowed me more room to play amazing cards like Kozilek's Return and the oft-underrated
. Now, finally, with a ton of tweaking, I think this deck has finally reached a point of strong viability.
For those who are curious, the previous iterations of this deck can be found here and here, though it should be noted that they play very differently from this one.
The first several turns are very tempo-based. On the first turn, try to get a Blue mana source on board, or failing that, a Mage-Ring Network. The second turn, one of the strongest set-ups is to play the land you didn't have so that Mage-Ring Network is live, and to hopefully have a
in-hand to sit on in case they summon, or to charge the Mage-Ring Network until they do, building up your land base along the way.
Through hundreds of play-tests, I have determined that it is more often than not better NOT to play your creatures while you have counter-spells in hand. It is far better to take a few points of early game damage and slow down your opponent's game, as you will be aiming for your win cons around Turn 8 or so.
To make this more achievable, cast Herald of Kozilek ASAP. Again, you should generally not do this before you are out of counter-spells, though one of the best plays is to cast Herald and have one blue mana open with a
in and. Truly a cruel set-up. After Herald, try to get
out and use him as a blocker/reckless attacker to get him in grave ASAP to cycle through your deck, fill grave for Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, or of course, cheat out lands/Herald/another
By Turn 4, regardless of your hand or board state, it is usually best to cast Thought-Knot Seer to get an idea of what their hand is looking like and how you should start playing your future turns. The big body on Seer means that whatever weenies they have managed to slip through won't be much of a threat for long. This might also be a good time to clear away the board with
or Kozilek's Return, if need be.
By Turn 5, if you've been able to charge your Mage-Ring Network(s), you should be able to cast Oblivion Sower or Conduit of Ruin a turn early, and getting that kind of ramp at this point can make the game run a lot smoother for you. If you know you can cast a Titan by the next turn, it's worth stacking it with Conduit, especially if you already have a land to drop during the next turn. If not, Breaker is a solid back-up plan, clearing the board and slowing down the game to make your win cons easily achievable. Breaker of Armies often serves as a board wipe on opponents' established board states. Even if he dies in the process (which happens less than you might think), his magnet blocking makes all your other stuff essentially unblockable, making way for an easy win. Alternatively, if you weren't able to cast a Turn 4 Reality Smasher, Turn 5 is as good a time as any.
Finally, by Turn 7 or 8, you should be able to cast a titan, or perhaps even Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (who serves as another board wipe), but even if you can't your utility lands (Mage-Ring Network/Tomb of the Spirit Dragon) can help keep you in the game and give you a good place to dump your mana until a win-con presents itself.
Some of my favorite combos in the deck is
dying and pulling out another copy of himself or Herald of Kozilek, but even just an extra land is nice ramp on its own.
Another favorite is the impressive ramp the deck has. Casting Herald of Kozilek Early makes Conduit of Ruin live earlier, which in turn lets you search a titan, which is then a 7- or 5-drop next turn, (Turn 6) assuming your board state remains unscathed.
Use the Kozilek's Returns and
s sparingly. Only use Kozilek's Return when you need to pop your
s or clear a problematic Ally or Token field. Save the Expulsions for big stuff that has gotten out of hand, to counter uncounterable spells (I'm looking at you Overwhelming Denial and Sphinx of the Final Word), or to exile/prevent the ult of an unsuspecting Planeswalker. Exiling small stuff from board is always helpful too, or even big stuff that's blocked that turn.
I keep wavering on whether or not to keep Kozilek in the deck or to replace him with another Ulamog. Ulamog serves as a more potent win condition, and not only removes two threats from the board, but puts the opponent on a very short 2-turn timer, and is indestructible to boot. Kozilek almost always makes it to the board, and his countering ability is more useful than I'd expected (what with all the 3- and 4-drop cards in the deck), but he simply doesn't put the pressure on an opponent in the same way. More than anything, I view him as a cheap and easy-to-cast draw spell, as the deck does tend to run out of cards by turn 8. For now, he stays.
Oh, and a super-fun combo is to return something to the hand with Brutal Expulsion, only to then Exile it with Thought-Knot Seer (usually only achievable with 2 Herald of Kozilek out.
I'd really like any advice you have to offer. Specifically, I'm in great need of Sideboard suggestions, as Jeskai Prowess constantly gives this deck a tough time, seeing as Swiftspear often hits the board before Horribly Awry is ever even live.
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