The upcoming set, Strixhaven: School of Mages, brings us five colleges bearing enemy colors. Although these resemble Ravnica guilds, not only do they have different names, they also perform different roles. This time around, the Izzet counterpart, Prismari, is more about big spells than about tempo-oriented ones. I believe that both Standard and Historic might benefit from this. Even Modern may find solace in a single card, maybe two, although that is debatable. Wizards of the Coast seem to have realized that the power level of some recent sets went a bit too far. Because of that, chances are that, similarly to Kaldheim, we'll finally get to see a bit less of the broken stuff. Or maybe not.
So far throughout history, blue-red decks have most often played a tempo role. One of them isn't even all that unfamiliar, and that is Izzet Spells. Much like its Modern Prowess counterpart, it has some of the best threats possible in Sprite Dragon and Stormwing Entity, but everything else was lacking. It may very well still prove lacking, but at least Expressive Iteration sure isn't.
Getting two cards for two mana is quite the rate. Note that the card says "play." So if you find a land within the top three cards and haven't dropped one this turn yet, you don't need to spend any extra mana for the two-for-one.
Of course, this wouldn't be a Prismari spotlight without Magma Opus, the premier Prismari card. It can easily turn the game around by itself, preferably if cast for free. Unfortunately, Efreet Flamepainter seems a little unreliable as a method of doing so.
This only leaves the option to cast the eight-mana spell the hard way, although ample Treasure generation can make the hard way quite manageable. We're talking Prismari Control here, and fortunately enough, Corey Baumeister piloted this exact deck in his VS Live! show several days ago. His version is similar to what I've had in mind and showcases a bunch of Prismari cards.
|Corey Baumeister's Prismari Control|
There's not much to say about most of the deck's older cards. We've seen many of them in action before. However, both Galazeth Prismari and Torrent Sculptor // Flamethrower Sonata are spicy additions. While the Elder Dragon can't compare to the absolute powerhouse that is Goldspan Dragon, it at least can work alongside it.
The other new addition, besides being a solid threat on its own, can act as a decent removal spell. Its back side can filter your hand while clearing away an opposing threat. I really like how the two sides go well with one another. If you get to time it right, thanks to its ward ability, perhaps playing just one as a creature will suffice.
Finally, although the Prismari double-faced planeswalker seems a bit disappointing at first glance, its second half works well in a control shell.
Although this is far from being my preferred format, the possibility of combining Magma Opus with Torrential Gearhulk prevents me from not talking about it. Finally, here's a huge instant that ends up in the graveyard all by itself.
Tapping just five lands (and sacrificing the Treasure created earlier) to put 9 power onto the battlefield, burn something, tap something, and draw two cards is no small thing. Mizzix's Mastery even enables Opus on turn three! Here I have tweaked an existing Izzet Control list and put a Prismari spin on it. But one could conceivably go further, go all in on the combo approach, and add Creative Outburst as a secondary "reanimation" target.
|Prismari Spell Reanimator|
Draconic Intervention also looks like a good addition, with all those Sacrifice decks roaming the format, not to mention Elves.
Another card from Strixhaven's Mystical Archive that will be legal in Historic is Faithless Looting. While I doubt it will be as insane in a format without dredge as it was in Modern, it certainly will push Arclight Phoenix through the roof.
While not nearly as flashy as in Historic, Torrential Gearhulk plus Magma Opus is an option in Modern as well, if sadly without Mizzix's Mastery. I'm much more interested in Expressive Iteration. Paying two mana for a cantrip seriously hurts, but it may still prove itself to be worthy of a few slots in Blue-Red Prowess specifically. This deck typically doesn't care whether a cantrip is an instant or a sorcery. In fact, if you're going to dig up an additional Monastery Swiftspear or Mutagenic Growth, you're better off doing that before combat. This is the exactly where the problem with Light Up the Stage lies. Forcing you to deal damage to your opponent first can easily steal a much-needed prowess trigger.
Does this mean that Expressive Iteration is strictly better? Absolutely not. It still costs two mana, which, even though it makes for a better topdeck, is pretty awkward. Nevertheless, it's a pretty good early-game option when, for example, you have exactly Soul-Scar Mage or Swiftspear in your opening hand. Sometimes you just don't want to deal too much damage with only one creature if you know that you're going to need more of them to win. Meanwhile, running a full playset of Light Up the Stage has proven overkill, and people have started to go to three copies as the optimal number. Perhaps Expressive Iteration will work well as an addition rather than a replacement. This is something I'm willing to give a try:
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