Expanding Minds to the Point of Explosion
Ravnica: City of Guilds is all wrapped up, after I spent four articles discussing the Golgari, Boros, Dimir and Selesnya guilds. So now it’s time to move on to Guildpact, starting with one of the craziest and most unique guilds in Ravnica: the Izzet. I like the Izzet. They’re a lot easier to identify then most of the other guilds, due to their wacky combinations of mad scientists, deranged chemists, and weird pets. Now let's see if I can be the first person ever to write an entire article about the guild without making a single Izzet pun.
Mechanically, the Izzet are supposed to be focused on instants and sorceries (a.k.a. fast effects). Sometimes the Izzet take existing spells and make them do crazy things. Other times, they simply use these spells to give themselves additional power. And, of course, they're best known for turning one small spell into a much bigger spell. Obviously, not every fast effect originates with the Izzet, but if other spells are affected by the very existence of these fast effects, there's a good chance that that spell is controlled by the Izzet.
Flavorfully, the Izzet are a very unique bunch. Most of their members are scientists who have wild hair and crazy outfits. Goggles are an extremely popular accessory among the Izzet, presumably to keep the explosive chemicals out of their eyes, but quite possibly because that's just the sort of fashion statement that the Izzet like to make. Izzet outfits are commonly some combination of red and blue and also use a lot of gold (the metal, not the color), perhaps to conduct electro-magic through their own bodies. Even outside of the appearance of the guild, the Izzet mark is made in the names they assign to things. Goofy spliced-together words like Schismotivate, Pyromatics and Vacuumelt are sure signs that Izzet scientists had a hand in their creation.
The Izzet, being the assigned scientists of Ravnica, have a lot of responsibilities and dabble in a lot of different areas of magic. Maintaining the city's water works is one of their primary duties and makes its way onto both the rare and common guild lands. The Izzet also are the leading authorities on any "electric" magic that runs through the city, despite the fact that electricity really only exists as a magical concept. Although I'm not sure if the city approves, the Izzet also enjoy dabbling with temporal magic. Leaping through the time stream might be an unintended consequence of some Izzet experiment, but it certainly happens quite frequently for their mages.
In addition to having a strong membership of wizards, the Izzet are also home to the unique creature type of weird. Presumably, weirds are some sort of experimental products that now help with the guild's gruntwork. They look like translucent bluish blobs surrounding a fiery core. Other creatures finding a home with the Izzet include goblins, ogres and drakes. The Izzet also have special soldiers, who are pictured in some Izzet art, despite not having a specific card assigned to them. Finally, two of the strongest members of the guild are Niv-Mizzet, the dragon leader and the ultra-powerful replicating Djinn Illuminatus.
Overall, the very unique appearance and flavor behind the guild should make other members very easy to identify, unlike those pesky Selesnyans. So let's get right down to business and find the Izzet members hiding in the unguilded ranks.
Rune + Boggle = two unrelated words that together make a pretty crazy-sounding counterspell. The Izzet are typically the ones spending the most time pursuing knowledge to fill up their minds. Although it doesn't seem very Izzet to turn this knowledge into a weapon, perhaps the countering effect just happens when a normal person attains the typical knowledge of an Izzet mage.
Again, most Izzet magic is not very aggressive in nature, but the flavor text on Parallectric Feedback implies that the damaging results are an unintended consequence to overused magic. Again, this spell combines two unrelated words (parallel and electric), as is common in Izzet mageoclature. The second half of parallectric, in addition to the word "feedback," also support the Izzet claim, since they are the most adept at handling electricity-based spells.
In constructed Magic, Char is one of the best burn spells around, perfect for aggressive no-holds-barred decks that want to win as fast as possible. In Ravnica, Char is the effect of some Izzet mage trying to find out just how big he can make a ball of fire before he gets burned. And it seems that he went a bit too far.
Frazzle is yet another example of Izzet magic backfiring on its controller. The name, art and flavor text all imply an experiment gone awry, resulting in a toasted device and a potentially brain-fried goblin.
Flight of Fancy
Of course not every Izzet goblin is going to get cooked for the sake of science. Most, but not all. Flight of Fancy features a generic blue ability, but the art reveals that it clearly got targeted towards an Izzet goblin. No other goblins in Ravnica wear glasses and flowing robes, so this Izzet assistant gets to enjoy the fruits of a successful venture. Of course, he may only enjoy them until his wings get disenchanted while he's in the air.
Flow of Ideas
If any guild embraces the idea of overloading one's brain with knowledge, regardless of the consequences, it's the Izzet. On top of that the flavor text comes from an Izzet mage, the art clearly shows an Izzet mage in front of some steam vents or boilerworks, and the name relates to movement of water, clearly an Izzet specialty.
Here's another card that shows off that Izzet dedication to the pursuit of knowledge. For the Izzet, research is almost a disease, as they compulsively seek out any information they can get their hands on. Of course, it also works mechanically since a lot of that information is going to get lost in the shuffle. Finally, we can add in the art and flavor text, which also support this card's Izzet affiliation.
Telling Time and Quicken
Both of these cards fall into the Izzet's philosophy of mastering the temporal arts. Telling Time helps them foresee and change the future, while Quicken allows them to get a lot more done before the future arrives.
Eye of the Storm
Almost every card so far as been either an instant or a sorcery, which makes sense for the guild focused strongly on each. But now it's time to add an enchantment. Of course, this enchantment happens to work really well with instants and sorceries, making it fit right in with the Izzet philosophy. The predominantly red and blue art further supports this claim.
When you have a vanilla artifact creature, there's not much to go on other than name, type, picture, and flavor text. In retrospect, that's actually quite a lot to go on. The name says he's made of glass. Only two other cards in the block mention glass, one of which is figurative. The other is the previously-guilded Quicken, which mentions sand through an hourglass. Not much to go on there. Next, I see that he's a golem. There are four other golems in Ravnica, all artifact creatures, and only one (Walking Archive) belongs to a guild. Not much help there, either. The picture is a bit foggy, but the creature is definitely made of a bluish glass, similar to the as-of-yet unguilded Halcyon Glaze. If he were gooier, I'd say it could be a weird. Finally, we look at the flavor text, which reveals a strong Izzet link. I'll take it!
Now that Glass Golem is on board, it's easier to find a relation with other unguilded golems. Junktroller's ability doesn't particularly fit any guild, except perhaps the Golgari, but flavorfully, he's a long way from fitting in there. The art and flavor text imply that there's a better chance that he's picking up used parts for new experiments as opposed to harvesting dead bodies for replanting.
Leashling and Bronze Bombshell
Leashling and Bronze Bombshell are just the sort of weird backwards creatures that only an Izzet mage could conceive. I suppose the Simic might think of something like them, but they'd be more careful to include biological parts. Overall, I think the Izzet is the most likely guild to be activating and operating mechanical creatures, so they acquire these two artifact creatures.
The only other djinn in Ravnica is also an Izzet contributor. Although this guy's controllish ability seems more appropriate for the Azorius, his blob-like blue body very closely resembles a weird.
Although mechanically, it seems to effectively fit in with the empty-handed strategies of the Rakdos, everything else pulls this card in the Izzet direction. The art features a likely Izzet mage and the flavor text comes from a chronarch (a uniquely Izzet occupation) who reveals that the loss of knowledge is simply the result of an overload of new information. Even mechanically, the card fits an Izzet theme by replacing itself once the turn ends.
Here's a card that makes the guild based on mechanic alone. Since the art is too hard to identify, we must look at which guilds are capable of completely turning the entire plane of Ravnica on its side and then rebuilding it. The Boros are much too orderly to try something like this. The Gruul and Rakdos would both probably like to try it, but lack the sheer magical power and intelligence that would go into such an endeavor. Besides, why would they bother trying to rebuild later? That leaves the Izzet, who would most assuredly try something like this just to see if it's possible.
Yet another mechanic-based sorting, this card shows how the Izzet deal with problems. Getting shot at by a Selesnyan archer? The Boros would shield the arrow and counter attack. The Gruul would attack without worrying about getting hit by the arrow. The Rakdos would get hit by the arrow and then just kill the closest thing to them. On the other hand, the Izzet would simply take that arrow and return it to the sender.
Yet another card that exemplifies the Izzet need for knowledge overload at any cost. In this case, the cost is the caster's previous knowledge. The art and flavor text also support this relation, clearly featuring an Izzet headache-mage accompanied by a quote by an Azorius senator criticizing the Izzet's unique way of attaining knowledge.
And that wraps things up for the previously-unguilded Izzet cards. They gain 19 new spells, including 11 new instants and sorceries to play around with. I hope it's been fun because next time, things will move on to one of the most serious guilds in Ravnica.
References and other Helpful Websites:
Creative Differences by Mark Rosewater
Yes It Iz by Aaron Forsythe
An In-depth Look At The Izze- Hey, Look At That!
Signing Onto the Guildpact by Rei Nakazawa
The Italicized World of Guildpact by Doug Beyer