Izzet Dragons Strixhaven Standard Deck Guide: Izzet Finally Tier 1?
Hello everyone! Today Dany and I are bringing you an archetype that didn’t quite make it in Kaldheim, but looks like it has serious chops with Strixhaven: Izzet Dragons (Snow). Izzet Snow was first popularized in the beginning of Kaldheim standard as a tempo deck that also had a gross late game with Goldspan Dragon, Shark Typhoon, and counterspell backup. The deck was good, but the main issue was that it didn’t have enough late game pieces to be a real contender in Standard. If you didn’t find a Goldspan Dragon in your top 15 cards or so, the odds of you winning plummeted. Obviously an overreliance on a single card is never a great sign for a deck’s longevity, so it very quickly fell out of favor.
However, just when we thought Izzet was down for the count, Strixhaven swooped in to save it from the brink of death. With an abundance of new cards and Huey Jensen’s deck building ability, the archetype has been spawned anew. Let’s take a look at Huey’s list from the last CFB Pro Showdown.
Izzet Control (Snow) by William Jensen – CFB Pro Showdown April 2021 (End Boss)
Generally I would talk about how my list would differ from the base, but come on, this is Huey we’re talking about, of course this list is as crisp as a kettle cooked chip. Although Strixhaven didn’t have the most impact on Standard, we can’t say the same for Izzet in particular.
Galazeth Prismari was one of my favorite cards coming out of Strixhaven, but it needed a few conditions for it to truly shine. You need to play it in a deck with both a lot of spells and Goldspan Dragon. Well, I think it’s safe to say that Izzet fits the bill. It turns all your treasures into mana rocks which can keep accruing value as long as Galazeth is out which is an extremely underrated ability.
Expressive Iteration is the silent all star in both this archetype and Strixhaven. In the early game this works as a way to draw a card and play a land, which is already insane for 2 mana. In the late game though, this is functionally a Divination that also lets you functionally scry 1 for one mana cheaper! The downside of Iteration is that it doesn’t pair the best with counterspells, but Huey made sure to not play as many to help mitigate that when possible.
Magma Opus has seen a lot of play in Historic, but it was only a matter of time until it found its way into Standard. The versatility of Magma Opus really makes it shine as you can make a Treasure early that can either work well with Galazeth or Goldspan, or simply be ramp, and then it’s a busted spell in the late game.
With that, Izzet has definitely changed a lot since the Kaldheim days. Instead of focusing on the Control aspect, this iteration looks to keep windmill slamming powerful spells while also having a decent suite on interaction in Brazen Borrower, Bonecrusher Giant, Frost Bite, Fire Prophecy, Saw It Coming, and Mystical Dispute. For a deck with a lot of heavy hitters, it’s nice to have access to so many interactive tools. Furthermore, the sideboard is looking great as there’s a bunch of situational yet extremely powerful answers to the various decks in Standard. From Ashiok’s Erasure for Koma to Ox of Agonas for Rogues, this deck has a lot, if not all, of it’s bases covered.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
|+2 Mystical Dispute||-2 Brazen Borrower|
|+2 The Akroan War||-2 Magma Opus|
We have a lot of cards that could be situationally good for this matchup, but I think it’s prudent to not overboard here. Brazen Borrower isn’t great against Temur as most of their cards can accrue value if bounced back to the hand, but having a miser copy for a rainy day can be helpful. Magma Opus is a great card, but definitely a bit hard to resolve against a deck with a lot of Mystical Dispute. Having Disputes ourselves can really help to force through our high impact spells and the Akroan War is just a powerful defensive and offensive tool against Temur. Keep their Edgewall Innkeeper in check and try not to let anything too impactful stay on the board for long.
|+3 Fire Prophecy||-3 Brazen Borrower|
|+2 Mystical Dispute||-1 Alrund’s Epiphany|
|+3 Ox of Agonas||-4 Magma Opus|
Rogues can definitely be a tough matchup as we have a lot of expensive spells we’d like to resolve, something Rogues loves to see. That being said, unlike something like Sultai Ultimatum, we have a lot of powerful spells that need answering rather than one specific one we really want to resolve so this deck can tax their interaction pretty heavily. Coupled with a lot of removal for their Rogues and Ox out of the sideboard, this matchup isn’t as bad as it looks. Keeping their board clear and trying to keep them off resolving Into the Story will be the key factors to getting your win in this matchup.
|+1 Ashiok’s Erasure||-1 Fire Prophecy|
|+2 Mystical Dispute||-4 Frost Bite|
|+2 The Akroan War|
This matchup was traditionally great for Izzet which explains why the board plan against Sultai seems a bit light. Ashiok’s Erasure performs double duty at potentially locking the opponent out from casting Emergent Ultimatum or Koma, Cosmos Serpent if they happen to play that. Mystical Dispute is of course an all around great card to have against Sultai as well. The Akroan War may look like a weird option, but I like it for two reasons.
One, the Fire Prophecy and Frost Bite are functionally dead in this matchup so we need something else. Two, this can be a surprisingly effective answer to cards like Elder Gargaroth and Koma, Cosmos Serpent. We do act as a control deck, but this list is also great at getting in incidental chip damage which can add up over time making Akroan War a death blow in some scenarios. Obviously I’d prefer if these were counterspells or something more impactful for this matchup particularly, but I think they’re rather decent.
|+1 Annul||-3 Alrund’s Epiphany|
|+3 Fire Prophecy||-4 Magma Opus|
|+3 Redcap Melee||-2 Mystical Dispute|
|+2 The Akroan War|
Monored is fast and punishing so we have to lean the deck down as much as possible so we don’t get run over in the early game. Thankfully, we have an absolute excess of removal and interaction so keeping pace with them is definitely realistic. Keep their board clear as much as possible and try not to get blown out by an Embercleave.
|+3 Fire Prophecy||-2 Alrund’s Epiphany|
|+3 Redcap Melee||-4 Magma Opus|
|+2 The Akroan War||-2 Mystical Dispute|
. The Winota matchup in both sideboarding and play patterns is very similar to the Monored matchup. You need to keep Winota off the board at all costs as even hitting one creature off the trigger could be too much to overcome, but you can alternatively just kill all their non-humans instead. The bright side about Winota is that beyond Winota, the deck isn’t as fast as Monored so you’ll generally have more time to set up a winning board state.
That being said, do your best to figure out at what points you should commit to the board and when you should hold back in case they have a Winota. When in doubt and the opponent wouldn’t necessarily win if a Winota comes down, I would say commit to the board and hope they don’t have it.
|+3 Fire Prophecy||-3 Magma Opus|
|+2 The Akroan War||-2 Mystical Dispute|
Monowhite isn’t as fast as Monored, but they play to the board a bit harder and have stickier permanents (Selfless Savior, Seasoned Hallowblade). We still want to try and keep their board clear, but the larger spells are a good deal better as Monowhite is worse at killing out of nowhere. Alrund’s Epiphany is excellent here as it gives 2 free chump blockers and a free turn so don’t undervalue it in this matchup.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Be mindful about when you’re casting Bonecrusher Giant. Against Monored in particular a lot more players have been privy to Bonecrusher their creature in response to an opposing Bonecrusher. Keep this play in mind when timing your Stomp.
- Galazeth Prismari can only tap Artifacts (in our case, Treasures) to cast Instants and Sorceries. Make sure you use this mana first if you want to play multiple spells.
- This is on the card, but Galazeth makes it so ALL artifacts you control become a mana rock. If this list ever branches into Soul-Guide Lantern or Tormod’s Crypt or cards of the like, this would be a good incentive to do so
- The Arena UI doesn’t make this obvious, but Treasure tokens tap themselves before sacrificing for mana. That means you can’t tap your Treasure with Galazeth then sacrifice it afterwards. Furthermore, Galazeth and Goldspan Dragon’s abilities don’t directly synergize as Goldspan needs you to sacrifice the treasure
- You can only Foretell cards from your hand so keep that in mind when choosing your cards off of Expressive Iteration
- This is extremely situational, but Redcap Melee and Frost Bite can function as a pseudo-ritual if you target your own Goldspan Dragon. This does come up more often than you’d think.
Thank you for reading!