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Hullbreaker Horror Art by Svetlin Velinov

Standard Izzet Control Competitive Deck Guide – Small Creatures Beware

Standard Izzet Control Competitive Deck Guide - Small Creatures Beware by DoggertQBones

Hello everyone! I’m back with another competitive deck guide and this time I’m doing Izzet Control! Despite my love for proactive strategies, I constantly gravitate back to Izzet as I just find the deck to be super powerful! With a bevy of great interaction, awesome top end, and an excellent sideboard, you always feel that you have agency which is extremely nice for me in particular.

Bo1 Izzet Control
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $181.77
Standard
Control
best of 1
4 mythic
22 rare
18 uncommon
16 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (9)
3
Smoldering Egg
$2.97
4
Goldspan Dragon
$75.96
Instants (23)
2
Fading Hope
$4.98
2
Cinderclasm
$0.70
4
Dragon’s Fire
$1.00
1
Saw It Coming
$0.35
Sorceries (6)
1
Crush the Weak
$0.35
Artifacts (1)
1
The Celestus
$1.49
Enchantments (1)
60 Cards
$251.74
Izzet Control
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $189.72
Standard
Control
best of 3
4 mythic
19 rare
19 uncommon
18 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (6)
4
Goldspan Dragon
$75.96
Instants (27)
2
Fading Hope
$4.98
1
Negate
$0.25
1
Abrade
$0.25
2
Cinderclasm
$0.70
4
Dragon’s Fire
$1.00
1
Saw It Coming
$0.35
1
Memory Deluge
$0.39
Sorceries (5)
1
Crush the Weak
$0.35
Artifacts (1)
1
The Celestus
$1.49
Enchantments (1)
60 Cards
$248.62
Sideboard
3
Smoldering Egg
$2.97
1
Fading Hope
$2.49
1
Negate
$0.25
2
Cinderclasm
$0.70
2
Burning Hands
$0.70
1
Test of Talents
$0.35
15 Cards
$16.53

Although piloting the deck itself can be quite difficult, the game plan is inherently simple: control the board, land a threat, ride it to victory. To accomplish that, we have a staggering 24 pieces of interaction and 9 more pieces of card draw. This may seem inherently overkill, but this strategy only works because of the strength of our threats. Both Goldspan Dragon and Hullbreaker Horror will win the game by themselves most of the time if you get to untap with them. With that type of card quality, dedicating the rest of your deck to interacting and finding these threats is a reasonable measure.

On top of that, considering small creature decks are surging again in popularity, this deck gets to play multiple cheap wraths main (Cinderclasm and Crush the Weak) as well as slightly bigger wraths as well (Burn Down the House and Battle of Frost and Fire) to further aide in those matchups making this a relatively well positioned option as well.

The main issues with Izzet have been the same since the deck’s inception: playing it well and having the right list. For the first issue, beyond our threats, Izzet has very few bail out mechanisms. If you use interaction on the wrong threat and now you can’t answer a different one, it’s going to be tough to win. This may feel brutal for those who are just learning the deck, but that’s the reality of playing Control without (many) hard reset buttons. Second, since we don’t have flexible answers that Black and White are afforded to, having the proper deck construction is probably more important here than anywhere else. Forget using the wrong removal on the wrong threat, you need to have the right piece of removal first!

These points may seem like I’m talking down Izzet, but I’m absolutely not. What I love about Izzet is that the interaction is much cheaper and the threats substantially better than it’s White or Black counterparts which is very appealing to those who are strong enough pilots for this deck. All in all, if you want to feel like you have the maximum amount of agency when playing, this is the deck for you.


MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Ashmouth Dragon Art by Simon Dominic
Ashmouth Dragon Art by Simon Dominic

NAYA RUNES

INOUT
+3 Smoldering Egg-1 Disdainful Stroke
+1 Fading Hope-2 Cinderclasm
+2 Burning Hands-1 Prismari Command
-1 Behold the Multiverse
-1 Memory Deluge

Unfortunately this is the one matchup we would really like to have the ubiquitous removal more than any others. Since most of their creatures scale, it’s not unreasonable that they scale past your removal and then you have to find a way to kill them before they kill you. We do have a decent amount of cheap interaction to help prevent this, but it’s far from a surefire thing. This boarding helps as much as we reasonably can, but if you want to make your Runes matchup even better, adding more Abrade to the sideboard would be a good way to accomplish that. Try to kill every creature you see on sight so they can’t out scale you.

MONO WHITE

INOUT
+3 Smoldering Egg-1 Disdainful Stroke
+1 Fading Hope-1 Negate
+2 Cinderclasm-1 Saw it Coming
+2 Burning Hands-2 Behold the Multiverse
-1 Memory Deluge
-2 Unexpected Windfall

For Mono White (and it’s aggregates) it’s a very simple plan: keep good threats off their board, hit land drops, play good threat. Cinderclasm and Smoldering Egg are your MVPs and can easily win these matchups if you get to play them at good times. Keep hands with a good amount of interaction and this should be an easier matchup barring they have a disgusting start.

ORZHOV MIDRANGE

INOUT
+2 Malevolent Hermit-1 Dragon's Fire
+1 Negate-1 Abrade
-1 Prismari Command

There’s a lot of flavors of Orzhov now so you want to adjust your boarding as needed, but in general, you want to be less reliant on spot removal and more so on wraths to help clean up their small creatures then ideally ride over the top with one of your threats. If they are the removal heavy version, this will be harder to accomplish as they can answer your threats for 2 mana, but you’ll just have to be more patient with your timing to compensate.

SELESNYA RAMP

INOUT
+2 Smoldering Egg-2 Fading Hope
+2 Malevolent Hermit-1 Abrade
+2 Disdainful Stroke-2 Cinderclasm
+1 Negate-4 Dragon's Fire
+2 Burning Hands-1 Crush the Weak
+1 Prismari Command

Selesnya is probably one of our best matchups and we have a huge amount of stuff to board in as well! They can only start beating you with their more expensive threats so as long as you can manage the expensive cards you can easily take this matchup. The one thing to be wary of is attacking a Goldspan Dragon into open mana as they do play 4 The Wandering Emperor, but beyond that, your interaction should be enough to deal with their threat base.

RAKDOS ANVIL

INOUT
+3 Smoldering Egg-1 Disdainful Stroke
+1 Negate-2 Fading Hope
+2 Cinderclasm-3 Dragon's Fire
+1 Prismari Command-1 Saw it Coming

Not only is Anvil becoming more popular as the list is becoming more refined, I would argue it’s another great matchup for Izzet. The small board wipes are exemplary against their deck as they only play small creatures so it just comes down to how fast they can drain you with Oni-Cult Anvil. Thankfully we also have a decent amount of artifact interaction to help keep it off the board so they’re going to have quite the hard time beating this when we can cover a lot of their angles.

IZZET/JESKAI

INOUT
+3 Smoldering Egg-2 Fading Hope
+2 Malevolent Hermit-1 Abrade
+2 Disdainful Stroke-2 Cinderclasm
+1 Negate-1 Prismari Command
+1 Test of Talents-1 Crush the Weak
-1 Burn Down the House
-1 Battle of Frost and Fire

The boarding here is easy as we take out our bad interaction and put in good interaction/threats, but playing out this matchup is anything but easy. Like any classic Control mirrors, hitting your land drops is the most important thing. You generally don’t want to be the one to “blink” first, but with Smoldering Egg and Malevolent Hermit, we can pretty safely play them on 2 and hope the opponent can’t answer them immediately. Once both players hit 4+ mana, the staring contest is going to begin. Try to make them tap out for something then absolutely punish them for their impatience if that’s an option afforded to you.


TIPS AND TRICKS

Goldspan Dragon Art by Andrew Mar
Goldspan Dragon Art by Andrew Mar
  • Hitting your land drops is the most important thing for this deck so if you need to use an MDFC to do so, don’t feel bad about it. On that note, I tend to run them out really early and save my untapped lands for later.
  • Generally try prioritizing interaction over card draw unless your interaction isn’t saving you significant amounts of life which could be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. Good if their threat is small so you can give up the life for card advantage and bad if you’re close enough to dying that removing that threat in lieu of looking for a bigger answer would be a mistake.
  • Unlike most other decks, there aren’t many great tips that’s going to instantly make you better at playing this as most of the cards are single function. The real trick to improving at this deck is becoming better at understanding your game plan, know what you need to win, know what your opponent needs to win, and then executing. This encompasses what removal to use when, when to give up some life for information and/or advantage, and when you need to jam spells and hope for the best.

Thank you for reading!

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DoggertQBones
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.

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