Hey there, and welcome to today's Planeswalker Duel Deck!

You probably know the drill by now, but if not, it's not too late to catch up! See my intro article linked below to get started.

I've always found Ral Zarek to be a fascinating character in MtG lore. Was he an agent for Nicol Bolas? Well, yes...but he didn't exactly know that his actions would doom Ravnica, and he tried to make it right once he figured that out. Does he work for Niv-Mizzet? Yes...but maybe he's trying to figure out how to scheme his way out of it? Although there's some respect and everything, too? Anyway, it's complicated. The important thing here is that Ral Zarek is an agent of the dragon wizard Niv-Mizzet, and that's a fine starting point. 

Back in the day, most sets used to have a creature that was either Blue or Red. This creature would have very underwhelming stats—we're talking a 3-mana 1/1 or a 4-mana 1/2 or some such. But this creature could tap itself to do damage to creatures or players (hereby Pingers), and this creature would invariably be one of the top commons in the set for Limited. Always high picks for a draft. 

Since the various Niv-Mizzets (the UR ones anyway) are really just gigantic pingers, and since Ral's Plus ability works very well with pingers, Ral Zarek seemed like a fine host for a Pingers theme. How many Niv Mizzets are there again? And are they expensive?

Asking for a friend...

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Ral Zarek by Andy Hurst

'Ral Zarek' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $44.37

Cards

Aetherplasm

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13651_200w.jpg

Whenever Aetherplasm blocks a creature, you may return Aetherplasm to its owner's hand. If you do, you may put a creature card from your hand onto the battlefield blocking that creature.

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Aura of Dominion

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/11942_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
{1}, Tap an untapped creature you control: Untap enchanted creature.

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230467_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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Dive Down

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145743_200w.jpg

Target creature you control gets +0/+3 and gains hexproof until end of turn. (It can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.)

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Chainflinger

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/9456_200w.jpg

{1}{R}, {T}: Chainflinger deals 1 damage to any target.
Threshold — {2}{R}, {T}: Chainflinger deals 2 damage to any target. Activate this ability only if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.

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Repel

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/9373_200w.jpg

Put target creature on top of its owner's library.

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Experimental Aviator

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122922_200w.jpg

Flying
When Experimental Aviator enters the battlefield, create two 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature tokens with flying.

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Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.58

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/139999_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius deals damage to a player, you may draw a card.
{U}{R}: Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius deals 1 damage to any target.

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Lightning Diadem

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216480_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
When Lightning Diadem enters the battlefield, it deals 2 damage to any target.
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2.

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Crimson Mage

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161772_200w.jpg

{R}: Target creature you control gains haste until end of turn. (It can attack and {T} this turn.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/masters-25/crimson-mage

Ancient Crab

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/129519_200w.jpg

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/amonkhet/ancient-crab

Sentinel of the Pearl Trident

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219587_200w.jpg

Flash
When Sentinel of the Pearl Trident enters the battlefield, you may exile target historic permanent you control. If you do, return that card to the battlefield under its owner's control at the beginning of the next end step. (Artifacts, legendaries, and Sagas are historic.)

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Bloodlust Inciter

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/130197_200w.jpg

{T}: Target creature gains haste until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/amonkhet/bloodlust-inciter

Skyline Cascade

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/105378_200w.jpg

Skyline Cascade enters the battlefield tapped.
When Skyline Cascade enters the battlefield, target creature an opponent controls doesn't untap during its controller's next untap step.
{T}: Add {U}.

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Razorfin Hunter

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/8020_200w.jpg

{T}: Razorfin Hunter deals 1 damage to any target.

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Searing Touch

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/5716_200w.jpg

Buyback {4} (You may pay an additional {4} as you cast this spell. If you do, put this card into your hand as it resolves.)
Searing Touch deals 1 damage to any target.

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Ral's Outburst

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188344_200w.jpg

Ral's Outburst deals 3 damage to any target. Look at the top two cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the other into your graveyard.

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Izzet Signet

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.74

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212343_200w.jpg

{1}, {T}: Add {U}{R}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2020/izzet-signet

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.34

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212325_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever you draw a card, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deals 1 damage to any target.
{T}: Draw a card.

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Izzet Boilerworks

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212420_200w.jpg

Izzet Boilerworks enters the battlefield tapped.
When Izzet Boilerworks enters the battlefield, return a land you control to its owner's hand.
{T}: Add {U}{R}.

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Omenspeaker

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226647_200w.jpg

When Omenspeaker enters the battlefield, scry 2. (Look at the top two cards of your library, then put any number of them on the bottom of your library and the rest on top in any order.)

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Stinging Barrier

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/6718_200w.jpg

Defender (This creature can't attack.)
{U}, {T}: Stinging Barrier deals 1 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/mercadian-masques/stinging-barrier

Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.72

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230465_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Calcite Snapper

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/34344_200w.jpg

Shroud (This creature can't be the target of spells or abilities.)
Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may switch Calcite Snapper's power and toughness until end of turn.

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Quicksilver Dagger

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161813_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has "{T}: This creature deals 1 damage to target player or planeswalker. You draw a card."

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/masters-25/quicksilver-dagger

Dismiss

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/121807_200w.jpg

Counter target spell.
Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/conspiracy-take-the-crown/dismiss

Magewright's Stone

Market Price: $3.53

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13891_200w.jpg

{1}, {T}: Untap target creature that has an activated ability with {T} in its cost.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dissension/magewrights-stone

Pemmin's Aura

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $12.54

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/10871_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
{U}: Untap enchanted creature.
{U}: Enchanted creature gains flying until end of turn.
{U}: Enchanted creature gains shroud until end of turn. (It can't be the target of spells or abilities.)
{1}: Enchanted creature gets +1/-1 or -1/+1 until end of turn.

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Niv-Mizzet, Parun

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $1.86

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175582_200w.jpg

This spell can't be countered.
Flying
Whenever you draw a card, Niv-Mizzet, Parun deals 1 damage to any target.
Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery spell, you draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/guilds-of-ravnica/niv-mizzet-parun

Neko-Te

Market Price: $3.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/12313_200w.jpg

Whenever equipped creature deals damage to a creature, tap that creature. That creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step for as long as Neko-Te remains on the battlefield.
Whenever equipped creature deals damage to a player, that player loses 1 life.
Equip {2}

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/betrayers-of-kamigawa/neko-te

Bonesplitter

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227385_200w.jpg

Equipped creature gets +2/+0.
Equip {1}

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-legends/bonesplitter

Spikeshot Goblin

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161539_200w.jpg

{R}, {T}: Spikeshot Goblin deals damage equal to its power to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/masters-25/spikeshot-goblin

Fiery Intervention

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/164770_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Fiery Intervention deals 5 damage to target creature.
• Destroy target artifact.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dominaria/fiery-intervention

Highland Lake

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196578_200w.jpg

Highland Lake enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {U} or {R}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2019/highland-lake

Ral Zarek

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.81

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196539_200w.jpg

+1: Tap target permanent, then untap another target permanent.
−2: Ral Zarek deals 3 damage to any target.
−7: Flip five coins. Take an extra turn after this one for each coin that comes up heads.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2019/ral-zarek

Vithian Stinger

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128598_200w.jpg

{T}: Vithian Stinger deals 1 damage to any target.
Unearth {1}{R} ({1}{R}: Return this card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step or if it would leave the battlefield. Unearth only as a sorcery.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-masters-2017/vithian-stinger

Aquamorph Entity

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92855_200w.jpg

As Aquamorph Entity enters the battlefield or is turned face up, it becomes your choice of 5/1 or 1/5.
Morph {2}{U} (You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for {3}. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/duel-decks-speed-vs-cunning/aquamorph-entity

Cunning Strike

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/95290_200w.jpg

Cunning Strike deals 2 damage to target creature and 2 damage to target player or planeswalker.
Draw a card.

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Hypothesizzle

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175584_200w.jpg

Draw two cards. Then you may discard a nonland card. When you do, Hypothesizzle deals 4 damage to target creature.

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Traumatic Visions

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/121922_200w.jpg

Counter target spell.
Basic landcycling {1}{U} ({1}{U}, Discard this card: Search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/conspiracy-take-the-crown/traumatic-visions

Izzet Guildgate

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196572_200w.jpg

Izzet Guildgate enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {U} or {R}.

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Prodigal Sorcerer

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118449_200w.jpg

{T}: Prodigal Sorcerer deals 1 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eternal-masters/prodigal-sorcerer

The Game Plan

So the game plan: use pingers to control the opposing board until one or more Niv-Mizzets show up to put the nail in the coffin. Our creatures are...not inspiring. Their stats—excepting the Rares—are almost all atrocious. But that's okay! We're not paying for the bodies. We're paying for the pinging. The ability to simply tap to deal damage anywhere is extremely powerful, and well worth the fragile bodies. And any of the Niv-Mizzets are enough to take over a game by themselves, to say nothing of multiples. 

In terms of removal, between the Pinger Squad and a few spot removal spells, we're in fantastic shape. We can take down most creatures if we have a bit of time. If we're worried about artifacts or enchantments...well, that's a bit of a problem. But we do have a few counterspells available. Traumatic Visions in particular is pretty helpful, since our Niv-Mizzets have very color-centric requirements, and it might help us fix our color to land the haymakers. 

The Rares

Ah, the original Niv-Mizzet. Fantastic flavor, especially with the OG version and the flavor text at the bottom, and a fantastic pinger. We aren't playing the Curiosity/Ophidian Eye to totally combo with Niv, as it felt a little too cheap, but that's okay. We won't need it. On its own, Niv is a house and will pick apart an opposing board in short order. 

Funnily enough, the weakest of the Nivs was the one I almost couldn't play! Thankfully, Modern Masters delivered a downshift from the original Mythic Printing and we were able to unite the whole bunch. Its ability is weaker than OG Niv, but the size makes up for it. 

This represents the most difficult to cast of all the Nivs, but the considerable power more than makes up for it! If we untap with this fella, losing becomes a difficult proposition. This Niv will deal a minimum of 2 extra damage, and likely lots more. As mentioned above, any of the Nivs can totally wreak havoc, but the Parun here is the Gold Standard. 

Every once in a while, we'll be up against a deck with formidable creatures and none of the stubborn old Nivs will show up for work. In those instances, Neko-Te will be extremely welcome. This equipment allows our pingers to serve as board control for the creatures too large to simply shoot down. 

Unsung Hero

Aetherplasm isn't a card so much as a question. With Aetherplasm on the board, we're simply asking our opponent, "Do we have Niv-Mizzet?" If the opponent dares to think that the answer is no, then and only then can they attack. If the opponent has any hesitation at all, then Aetherplasm becomes quite an effective wall despite its rather anemic stats. Blue creatures have never been great in combat, and maybe Aetherplasm isn't exactly great in the red zone, but it is a pretty good trick.