Izzet Flash – Standard Deck Guide
Hi everyone! Today’s deck guide is for a Tier 1 deck after my own heart. We’re going to be going over how to play Izzet Flash in Best of 1. Enjoy!
Izzet flash is a Tier 1 deck that is finally allowed to exist in the meta now that Oko and Veil of Summer are gone. It’s a traditional control deck for the most part, but it takes a couple of queues from the Simic Flash deck in the previous standard, utilizing the ever-growing Brineborn Cutthroat along with adventure creatures and typical control tools to steadily take over the game.
The win condition of the Izzet Flash deck is to control the board while sticking one or two threats that will steadily clock your opponent and close out the game one attack at a time. The key threat in the deck comes in the form of the aforementioned Brineborn Cutthroat. We run a full playset of the card, and it is a pretty ideal two-drop for the deck. This card really does it all. Having flash allows us to hold up all of the instant spells in our hand until the very last second and drop down a threat that requires instant-speed removal, and as most people know the Cutthroat grows every single time you cast a spell on the opponent’s turn. This ever-growing aspect of the card basically forces aggro decks to use burn or trade aggressively into it before it becomes too big to deal with, while letting it eventually trade with or defend against large midrange creatures as well as pose a giant threat to control decks.
Brineborn Cutthroat pairs extremely well with our other two main threats – our adventure creatures. Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower both have instant-speed adventures attached to them that swing the board state in our favor while leaving us with threats to put on the board after the fact.
Bonecrusher Giant is a 4/3 for 3 with sometimes-relevant bonus text, but it’s also a two-mana shock that stops all damage prevention. The giant is an interesting card because it actually provides us with card advantage as well as a sizable threat at a premium price. An all-star against aggro decks, Bonecrusher Giant’s stomp is able to kill most of the creatures in mono-red and similar strategies, then deploy itself as a blocker afterwards. Against control it’s a real threat at 4 power, and punishes the opponent for targeting it with removal as well.
Brazen Borrower is an interesting beast in that it’s a tempo card and a game-ending threat. Typically the downside of playing inexpensive tempo spells like Unsummon is that you’re trading card advantage in exchange for mana advantage. Brazen Borrower skirts that downside by allowing us to cast a 3/1 flying threat after using its bounce ability, providing us with tempo without sapping our card advantage! Plus, as if that wasn’t enough, the 3/1 flying body has flash so we can hold up countermagic or use it to buff up our Brineborn Cutthroats!
I mentioned that Izzet Flash was a bit of a traditional control deck and I wasn’t kidding! This deck runs a slew of countermagic to keep the opponent at bay. Since two-thirds of our threats have flash we’re able to hold the countermagic up on most turns while still threatening to end the game.
First off is probably my favorite spell in all of Standard at the moment: We have 4 copies of Ionize. This is an all-purpose counterspell for 3 mana that also shocks the opponent’s face. Having a cost of 1UR instead of 1UU makes it a little easier for a dual-colored deck to cast, and the extra two damage it provides can help to slowly whittle the opponent down to allow our threats to close out the game a little earlier. It is not uncommon to have the opponent on such a low life total that an Ionize or two would be lethal and you’re just waiting for them to cast a spell so that you can counter it.
3 copies of Quench also make their way into the list. Quench is an all-star in aggro matchups where you just need to counter a questing beast or a Nissa that’s cast on or ahead of curve. Quench loses a lot of its value as the game goes on, and once your opponent has more mana than they need to cast their most expensive spells it’s nearly useless, so use it aggressively in the early game and take any small amount of value you can get out of it late.
2 copies of Negate round out our suite of countermagic. Negate is always good to have against planeswalkers, and can turn away a piece of removal or a board wipe when we’re against a more controlling matchup. Often times Negate will be nearly a dead card in aggro matchups, so against aggressive decks make sure to negate any adventure spells you can, as negating an adventure will cause the creature to go to the graveyard, effectively taking that creature away from them as well.
The Rest of the Deck
Most of the deck is made up of threats and counterspells, but as you might have noticed we have a few gaps. We fill in these gaps with instant-speed card draw and burn, plus one last creature that we’ll talk about in a minute.
First, the burn. 2 copies of shock make their way into the list to help deal with aggressive decks’ early creatures. Not much to say about it here. Shock is an early-game 1-for-1 trade designed to give you something to do against aggro’s turn 1 plays and preserve your life total. This is important since the deck runs no sweepers.
The next burn spell is the perfect segue between our burn and our card draw. It’s Ral’s Outburst, of which we cram 3 copies into the list. Ral’s Outburst does 3 damage to any target at the steep cost of 4 mana, but it replaces itself with your choice of one of the two cards from the top of the deck. These cards aren’t restricted to being a non-creature or anything like that which also means you don’t have to reveal the card you pick, allowing you to bluff something even if you only find lands.
Next we have 4 copies of Opt. Opt gives us another turn 1 play besides just shocking something and performs double-duty in this deck. First, it does what Opt always does which is give us card selection, but it also serves as a very cheap way to power up our Brineborn Cutthroats. This can be used as a combat trick, or just to speed up the clock on a control opponent.
The last non-land card in the deck is a little bit different. We run 4 copies of Gadwick, the Wizened! This is a card that I definitely slept on when I first saw it, but it turns out he just does everything. Gadwick’s primary function is to refill our hand when we’re behind. It’s not abnormal to cast him for 6 or 7 mana and draw 3 or 4 cards. Looking past the card draw, however, the creature itself has quite a bit of utility. Gadwick taps down a nonland permanent the opponent controls each time you cast a blue spell. Well in this deck nearly every single spell is blue! This lets us slow down aggressive decks or tap down blockers to swing through with our Bonecrusher Giants or Brineborn Cutthroats, and because he refills the hand as he’s cast you’re very likely to have two or three blue spells in your hand after casting him. When the set was spoiled I barely gave Gadwick a second thought, but playing with him has definitely changed my mind. This is one of the most important cards in the deck, which is why it gets a full playset.
Being a control deck, this deck runs a whole ton of lands – 26 to be exact. The deck doesn’t need too much red mana but it’s important that we get it, so we’re running a ton of ways to find whatever type of mana we need. We have full playsets of both Steam Vents and Temple of Epiphany and 2 copies of Fabled Passage. It’s not typically super important that we have untapped lands until turn 3, so we don’t mind too much if our first land enters tapped. Because of all of the card draw and card selection available to us we’re not too worried about flooding out, and extra lands can just help us refuel with Gadwick. It’s very important, however, that we don’t miss land drops.
This deck, like many control decks, can be pretty difficult to mulligan with. As a general rule I’d advise against keeping any 7-card hand that has two or fewer lands in it. It can be tempting to keep it since we have so many lands and so much card draw, but this deck really relies on hitting its land drops and having two blue and one red mana on turn 3. Prioritize hands that have at least 3 lands and some number of Opt and Temple of Epiphany so that you can filter through and find the cards you want for the matchup you end up in. Adventure creatures are a pretty safe keep as well since they represent both useful spells in aggro matchups and relevant threats in control matchups.
Who’s the Beatdown?
It can be tough to figure out whether you’re the beatdown when playing this deck. In general you’ll be the beatdown in matchups against control decks where your creature density allows you to land quite a few threats, but you’ll definitely be the control deck against aggro and midrange decks that are looking to land threats.
Against the control matchup the idea will be to wait to play a threat until you can protect it with countermagic and just steadily whittle the opponent down with one creature at a time. Against aggro you’re just controlling the board first and waiting until the aggro deck is more or less out of cards before you worry about landing your threats and attacking.
With Oko finally out of the meta the field is actually pretty diverse, and I am super excited that a more traditional U/R deck like Izzet Flash is able to make waves. It was played at the most recent Mythic Championship to pretty decent effect, and it’s definitely a deck worth taking onto the ladder.
Deck 4 Ionize (GRN) 179 4 Steam Vents (GRN) 257 10 Island (GRN) 261 4 Mountain (GRN) 263 3 Quench (RNA) 48 3 Ral's Outburst (WAR) 212 4 Brineborn Cutthroat (M20) 50 2 Negate (M20) 69 2 Shock (M20) 160 4 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253 4 Brazen Borrower (ELD) 39 4 Gadwick, the Wizened (ELD) 48 4 Opt (ELD) 59 4 Bonecrusher Giant (ELD) 115 2 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242 2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244