Welcome to the Land of Opportunity

Posted in Feature on January 19, 2006

By Brian Rogers

Wow! This really is the land of opportunity. Who would have ever thought that I would ever be here, writing articles about Magic: The Gathering for Wizards of the Coast? In a world where literally anyone has the opportunity to break out and be a star, I truly feel like I have made it, because I now have a chance to introduce all of you to another land of opportunity.

This land is a little different from where I live, here in the nether reaches of the universe, West Virginia. This land is found in a great city on a different plane of existence. The city is called Ravnica, and soon you will all have a chance to explore a lot more of it than any of us has seen up to this point. With the release of the newest expansion for Magic, Guildpact, we will finally get to meet three more of the guilds that inhabit this world, the Gruul, the Orzhov, and the Izzet. Guildpact offers new ways to experience this world and introduces many new characters and places to us. But the specific land of opportunity I get to introduce to you is a great spire built by one of the smartest creatures to ever breathe fire in Ravnica, Niv-Mizzet. It is Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind, a place of great learning and eternal chaos.

The Izzet are the intellectuals of Ravnica, yet they are not the most stable group on the plane. Though brilliant thinkers and the only ones in Ravnica who truly understand the nature of magic, the mages of the Izzet guild severely lack focus. Within the halls of Nivix, they are free to perfect their craft, only fine tunings are not what they normally set about to do. Within Nivix lies unending knowledge about countless topics, and these distractions are the allure that is the true focus of the Izzet guild.

Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind is a land designed to give a mage access to some of the powerful spells within his or her library. Yet it is focus that this land lacks. Sometimes Nivix will reveal a secret that will lead a mage to victory; other times, it will lose a key card from a spellbook that could have been a pendulum upon which the entire game could swing. Playing with Nivix is much like playing with fire: you can quickly find yourself burned if the flames and the fates turn against you.

Blue is known for countermagic and control, red for burn spells and aggression. In the past, these two colors have emerged with some very powerful multicolored instants. With this new land, there is now a new way to take advantage of this crossover. Combining Nivix with cards like Sensei's Divining Top from the Champions of Kamigawa expansion will help to tame some of the chaos this card may create. This combo will essentially allow you the option of playing any instant or sorcery in the top three cards of your deck. You can keep a counterspell near the top of your deck and then activate the Nivix in response to one of your opponent's power spells. At the very least, this allows you to choose one of the cards on top of your deck that you don't need, like a late game land card, or a second Top, and remove it from the game forever.

Use of the Nivix requires a lot of mana. You have to spend four more mana in addition to tapping the Nivix itself to use this ability. This card will not work well with the small, aggressive creatures that are commonly associated with the goblin hordes of the mountains. Instead, it is best used in a slow controlling deck, more akin to those played by many blue mages. However, by combining red into the deck, many more interesting ways of removing harmful permanents from the game begin to present themselves.

There is very little cost of putting one or two Nivix into your deck. There is no mana cost to pay to play it; the only drawback is the loss of a colored mana source in your mana curve. This, along with the requirement that you have both blue and red mana available in your deck and utility instants hidden in your library, make this a card that is seriously worthy of some consideration in your deck.

Thank you all for the opportunity to share this preview card with all of you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as you will enjoy testing out this new land of opportunity on January 21st and 22nd at the Guildpact Prerelease near you. If you happen to have the opportunity to stop by the prerelease in Columbus, make sure you say "hi."

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