Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind – Guildpact
Date Reviewed: January 11, 2024
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Niv-Mizzet has always caught eyes, regardless of his exact game text and stats, and his first card was no exception. It might lack some of the spectacular elements of some recent cards, but it has all the subtlety you expect from the guild he leads (and the color combination in general!). This card is often thought of as a combo card, though it actually does reasonably well in more “fair” or straightforward applications – he’s actually a good countermeasure to Howling Mine analogues, now a staple of group hug decks in Commander. I think some people overlook this card just because it’s old and/or we’ve been trained to look for key phrases like “enters the battlefield”, or things that are equivalent to drawing a billion cards, but there’s nothing at all wrong with it. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Constructed: 2.5 (he was actually reasonable in Standard way back when, but hasn’t been too well positioned in Extended or Modern)
Limited: 4.5 (4/4 flier plus a couple of extra cards wins)
Commander [EDH]: 4
Before going too far, I think the most important thing to mention with Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (the original Izzet guild leader) is that he has a pretty infamous infinite combo associated with him. Curiosity, when enchanted to this Niv-Mizzet, will immediately machine-gun down the entire table as soon as you draw a single card, since Curiosity only cares about damage being done and not how it was done. This kill combo was legal in Standard, actually, though the other half of the combo was Ophidian Eye from Time Spiral, which more or less did the same thing.
That’s long been the most infamous feature of everyone’s favorite dracognius, but he’s not terrible outside of that. He does have a pretty color-heavy mana cost, which makes him a bit of a hard splash in decks that aren’t devoted to the Izzet gameplan. And even without his instant kill enabled, he’s both a free card each turn and at least two damage across the board, which can add up very quickly. He’s sadly not really good enough to make it in Modern or deeper formats, but he’s certainly a casual threat that can blow a game open in either fair or degenerate ways.
As an aside, his original flavor text is a cute little reference to Niv-Mizzet being Very Smart, and while it hasn’t been a constant on printings of it since, I’d be remiss to not mention it.
Multiplayer: 4 (he’ll kill with his combo all the same, but the question is if you can get it online)
Commander [EDH]: 4 (his third iteration is usually preferred for the kill combo approach, but the original is fine enough redundancy and a good value engine on its own)
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