Izzet Snow Kaldheim Standard Deck Guide: Move Over Rogues, There’s a New King of Tempo

Saw It Coming Art by Randy Vargas
Saw It Coming Art by Randy Vargas

Hello everyone! It’s about time I made a deck guide on easily the most popular deck coming out of Kaldheim, Izzet Snow. I was hesitant at first since I firmly believed the deck wasn’t very good, and in a lot of ways, I was right. The deck was untuned, the sideboard was messed up, and it had an overreliance on drawing Goldspan Dragon. I didn’t want to write the deck off, but I wasn’t entirely sure how to fix it myself. However, between viewing updated lists and input from my good friend Chris Kvartek, I got the deck to a point that not only does it feel viable, it feels very good. Let’s take a look at my take on Izzet Snow.

 

Creatures (15)
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Brazen Borrower
3
Gadwick, the Wizened
4
Goldspan Dragon
Spells (18)
3
Shatterskull Smashing
4
Frost Bite
1
Disdainful Stroke
2
Essence Scatter
2
Negate
3
Saw It Coming
3
Behold the Multiverse
Enchantments (4)
4
Shark Typhoon
Lands (23)
4
Fabled Passage
1
Faceless Haven
4
Riverglide Pathway
8
Snow-Covered Island
4
Snow-Covered Mountain
2
Volatile Fjord
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
1
Disdainful Stroke
1
Negate
3
Scorching Dragonfire
4
Mystical Dispute
2
Ashiok's Erasure
4
Ox of Agonas

It’s not like the deck is exceedingly different, but the power of it was radically increased with the addition of a single card: Gadwick, the Wizened. Before I sing his praises, I’ll talk about all the card choices in general.

CARD CHOICES

ColinBoyer_Gadwick_theWizened_1200x

4 Bonecrusher Giant

It’s Bonecrusher Giant.

4 Brazen Borrower

Brazen Borrower hasn’t felt that good in awhile, but it’s the perfect card for this deck. Bouncing something for 2 mana is very annoying when it can be followed up with a Flash Flier. We generally don’t want to tap out on our turn for threats which is why Borrower gets the 4 of treatment over Bonecrusher Giant in the main deck.

3 Gadwick, the Wizened 

My huge contention with the first version of Izzet was that the deck felt bad if it didn’t draw a Goldspan Dragon in a timely manner. Shark Typhoon is great and all, but it didn’t have the same back breaking capabilities in most matchups like Goldspan did. Furthermore, the deck was very prone to flooding even with great mana sinks like Behold the Multiverse and Shark Typhoon. For both of those issues, Gadwick fixes them easily. Gadwick is an extremely powerful late game play that both uses your extra mana extremely efficiently and has a huge impact when it enters. It’s not as good as Goldspan Dragon on turn 5, but every land drop after that Gadwick becomes more threatening, easily bordering game winning territory when you start drawing 3+ cards. Since a lot of the spells in the deck are also very cheap, you can easily hold up two mana when casting a Gadwick and you’ll likely have a follow up play if you wish. 

4 Goldspan Dragon

Goldspan Dragon is gross, plain and simple. Any card that reminds you of Nissa, Shakes the World is something you definitely want to be playing. This deck is designed with a lot of 1-2 mana spells so even when you tap out for Goldspan Dragon, you still can cast a spell the same turn anyway. The main thing you’ll have to be careful of is to not run this into a counterspell as tapping out with this deck can be brutal.

3 Shatterskull Smashing

Having flexibility on your cards is nice and if this deck didn’t need Snow mana, this would easily be a 4 of.

4 Frost Bite

One of the most efficient removal spells we’ve had in awhile. A Shock is good enough for the first few turns of the game, but it’s very often a Lightning Bolt turn 3 and onward which really pushes the card. Gone are the days you have to be afraid of a Kazandu Mammoth!

1 Disdainful Stroke

A powerful yet narrow counterspell, Disdainful Stroke is great against slower decks with the risk of being dead against faster ones. With that, most of the faster decks do play targets for this so having one main generally isn’t too much of a liability.

2 Essence Scatter

Essence Scatter is simple and does it’s job well. 2 mana to counter a creature is a great rate and you’ll always be happy to play a few.

2 Negate

More 2 mana counterspells to synergize with Goldspan Dragon is always appreciated, and it’s very rare Negate is just a dead card in any matchup.

3 Saw It Coming

Having some universal counter spells is always nice and the ability to Foretell this on turn 2 when you have nothing else to play is really nice. Furthermore, Foretelling this combines really well with Goldspan Dragon and also has the niche application of hiding it from hand disruption.

3 Behold the Multiverse

Glimmer of Genius was a powerful card back in its Standard tenure, and Behold the Multiverse is nearly strictly better. The ability to Foretell this has all the same benefits as Saw it Coming, but unlike Saw it Coming, Foretelling this isn’t mana negative which is quite a nice bonus to an already powerful card.

4 Shark Typhoon

In a deck that’s looking to hold up disruption, Shark Typhoon is the perfect complement to that strategy. Try to save this as long as possible for the largest Shark you can manage, but don’t forget about casting this card either. In certain matchups, such as Rogues, if you resolve this they’ll have an extremely hard time winning. That being said, more often than not it’s correct to just cycle this at some point.

23 Lands + 3 Shatterskull Smashing

SIDEBOARD

1 Disdainful Stroke

For when you’re facing a deck with a lot of expensive spells.

1 Negate

For those pesky decks with a lot of non-creatures.

3 Scorching Dragonfire

Dragonfire is a great answer to Skyclave Shade and other pesky small creatures.

4 Mystical Dispute

You should expect a lot of mirrors, thus you’ll need a full set of Mystical Dispute.

2 Ashiok’s Erasure

This piece of technology from the 8 Shark days is coming back to aid us now. A lot of players have caught on that Koma, Cosmos Serpent is unbeatable against this deck, as assumption that’s mostly correct. However, we can strike back with Erasure since it cleanly answers it and prevents them from casting another one. The main thing you’ll have to be wary of is Binding of the Old Gods can kill Erasure so try not to let that happen is Koma is underneath. Furthermore, Erasure can be good against slow decks that don’t play Blue like some Yorion variants or Food.

4 Ox of Agonas

Ox is our main piece of anti-Rogues technology, but you can also board in a few copies in really grindy matchups.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Ox-of-Agonas-Theros-Beyond-Death-Art

GRUUL / NAYA

INOUT
+1 Negate-4 Brazen Borrower
+3 Scorching Dragonfire

This matchup is going to be fought on two fronts. First, you need to stop them from running you over. This is going to be more of an issue with Gruul than it is with Naya, but both decks can have surprisingly fast starts. Second, you can’t let them get more card advantage than you. The Great Henge is easily the most frightening card in the matchup, but beyond that, their their card advantage engines aren’t as scary as Gadwick. I want to add an addendum to this that this is very general boarding and you certainly can change this around depending on the list. You may want the Disdainful Stroke or Ashiok’s Erasure if they have a lot of pricey spells like Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate or Ox of Agonas. You could board out Shark Typhoons if they have a lot of Giant Killer. You can consider Ox of Agonas if the matchup feels really grindy against their build. You’ll have to be very flexible in this matchup if you’re looking to win it.

ROGUES

INOUT
+1 Negate-4 Brazen Borrower
+3 Scorching Dragonfire-3 Gadwick, the Wizened
+4 Mystical Dispute-2 Behold the Multiverse
+4 Ox of Agonas-1 Disdainful Stroke
-2 Essence Scatter

This matchup will be determined in a similar way to Gruul and Naya, can you stop their early onslaught and then counter their card advantage. For what it’s worth, stopping Rogues seems easier as their creatures get easily dismantled by Frost Bite and you really only have to stop Into the Story after that. Furthermore, with 4 Ox of Agonas, them milling us can be a huge liability as the game drags on.

MIRROR

INOUT
+1 Negate-4 Bonecrusher Giant
+4 Mystical Dispute-1 Gadwick, the Wizened
+1 Ox of Agonas-1 Disdainful Stroke

The mirror will be like a traditional control mirror, making land drops and waiting for the moment to strike will be the most important aspect of the matchup. Try to not be the player who’s running their expensive spells into cheap counterspells first. Frost Bite is a weird card for the mirror, but I feel like a lot of players are going to leave their Bonecrusher Giants in and you don’t want to take out all of your removal just to get run over by them. If you find they aren’t keeping in Bonecrusher Giant, you can bring yours back in and maybe catch them off guard if they boarded out a lot of removal.

RAKDOS

INOUT
+3 Scorching Dragonfire-4 Frost Bite
+2 Ashiok’s Erasure–1 Disdainful Stroke

Rakdos has felt very even in my experience and will come down to their list and how they board. Gadwick is a huge addition to this matchup as they don’t have any card that can turn the game around quite as well as Gadwick, but they do have Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger. To help combat that, Brazen Borrower and Ashiok’s Erasure really help to keep Kroxa off the table and if they can’t Kroxa you, you have a good chance of winning. As a note, if they seem to have a lot of early game creatures, you can keep in some amount of Frost Bite to avoid being run over, but they generally should go for the grindy game plan against you.

SULTAI YORION

INOUT
+1 Disdainful Stroke-4 Bonecrusher Giant
+1 Negate-4 Frost Bite
+4 Mystical Dispute
+2 Ashiok’s Erasure

Yorion decks really don’t want to face something like Izzet, but they think they have a one up on us with Koma, Cosmos Serpent. As I said, Ashiok’s Erasure makes quick work of Koma and even if you don’t have Erasure when they have a Koma, Brazen Borrower is a great tool to stall it for a few turns as it’s not like you just instantly lose when it comes down. Counter all of their relevant spells and ideally dodge a resolved Koma and you’ll be fine.

That’s all that I have for today! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Have a great day!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.