Standard Izzet Dragons Deck Guide: The Villain of Standard

Galazeth Prismari Art by Raymond Swanland
Galazeth Prismari Art by Raymond Swanland

Hello everyone! Today I’m going over one of the most contentious decks in Standard. Whether you love (playing) it, or hate (facing) it, it’s a deck you’re going to need to be really familiar with: Izzet Dragons.

izzet dragons ️
50.4% global win rate
10.37% metagame share
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best against
vs golgari control
91.7% win rate
12 tracked matches
vs boros aggro
72.2% win rate
18 tracked matches
vs orzhov midrange
71.4% win rate
7 tracked matches
worst against
vs gruul aggro
35.7% win rate
14 tracked matches
vs selesnya aggro
33.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs rakdos midrange
22.2% win rate
9 tracked matches

Izzet Dragons has been an on and off archetype since the introduction of Kaldheim. With the foretell mechanic, snow support, and most importantly Goldspan Dragon, players realized that you could play a psuedo control deck with a lot of interaction that also had an excellent top end with a giant Dragon that constantly accrues mana. With the release of Strixhaven though, the deck received two more key pieces to elevate it even further: Expressive Iteration and Galazeth Prismari. The deck was really starting to shape up, but unfortunately for it, Standard was simply too strong to reasonably support it beyond a few good tournament weekends for it.

However, with none of the key components rotating out, Dragons was poised to take the new metagame by storm. Even with the introduction of Standard 2022 many players believed that it was a solved format and Izzet would dominate. Surprisingly enough, even though it kept most of it’s core, it still wasn’t enough to be the best deck. Actually, forget it being the best deck, it was a mid tier 2 option! In fairness to Izzet, controlling decks always perform better in Best of 3 environments, but it seemed that Izzet wasn’t a deck to be taken too seriously. Well, that was true until Innistrad released.

Innistrad wasn’t going to be a spell heavy set and mostly focus on tribal themes which led me to believe that Izzet wouldn’t get any reasonable support (or any at all). Imagine my surprise when the best possible card I could even conceive for Izzet Dragons got released: Smoldering Egg. Let’s quickly recap what Izzet’s problems were: it could struggle to early aggression, it didn’t have enough proactive plays, it had few threats to win the game. So what does Smoldering Egg do? It’s an early proactive play that can block nearly anything against creature decks then flip into a game winning monster. Well that’s convenient! Functionally all of Izzet’s blind spots were filled by just this one card and the deck is performing scarily well because of it. So how do we construct the list incorporating it? Here was my first take on it.

Innistrad Izzet Dragons
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
13 mythic
11 rare
8 uncommon
28 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (12)
4
Smoldering Egg
$13.96
4
Goldspan Dragon
$199.96
Instants (14)
4
Frost Bite
$1.00
3
Dragon’s Fire
$0.75
4
Saw It Coming
$5.96
Sorceries (9)
Lands (25)
3
Faceless Haven
$28.47
4
Volatile Fjord
$3.96
60 Cards
$456.5
Sideboard
2
Negate
$3.98
2
Burning Hands
$1.18
4
Heated Debate
$1.00
2
Crush the Weak
$0.50
15 Cards
$21.71

I thought this list covered all the bases reasonably well. I wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, just cut some chaff, make sure I had enough spells, threats, and lands and I should probably be good to go. For the sideboard I wanted to hedge against the mirror, small creature strategies, and green decks so I just included a bevy of interaction for each of those matchups.

I’m sad to admit though, I think I really screwed up the deck’s construction. As I played, I knew it was going to need a major overhaul for it to get where it needed to be. Let’s take a look at where I ended up.

Izzet Dragons
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
13 mythic
11 rare
8 uncommon
28 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (12)
4
Smoldering Egg
$13.96
4
Goldspan Dragon
$199.96
Instants (14)
4
Frost Bite
$1.00
3
Dragon’s Fire
$0.75
4
Saw It Coming
$5.96
Sorceries (9)
Lands (25)
3
Faceless Haven
$28.47
4
Volatile Fjord
$3.96
60 Cards
$456.5
Sideboard
3
Negate
$5.97
3
Burning Hands
$1.77
4
Heated Debate
$1.00
15 Cards
$19.55

There we go! So much better! Jokes aside, the list felt very clean and unsurprisingly I just needed to adjust a few board slots to better compensate for the matchups I was seeing. Now that the deck has 12 real threats in it, it has felt extremely powerful.

NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS

Suspicious Stowaway Art by Jake Murray
Suspicious Stowaway Art by Jake Murray

Consider

Consider is a fine card and all, but I see that a lot of players are just jamming 4 copies into every Blue deck. If you have room in your Blue deck or you need to play a lot of cheap spells, go for it, but this deck definitely doesn’t have room.

Suspicious Stowaway

I wouldn’t play this main deck, but this could be a really cool board card for the slow matchups in theory as the flipped side is so potent. Realistically, this contests the same slot as Malevolent Hermit so it probably won’t see play, but I wouldn’t completely count it out.

Poppet Stitcher

Poppet Stitcher has been generating some buzz as players realized that playing Alrund’s Epiphany with Stitcher out is pretty nuts as you hit the token threshold to flip Stitcher on the extra turn. Is that good enough for this deck? Probably not, but it’s something to think about.

Memory Deluge

The Behold the Multiverse/Memory Deluge debate has been raging strong and it’s still hard to tell which deserves the slot more. Behold works way better with Goldspan Dragon as it can be cast for 2 mana and it being a Foretell card makes it harder for the opponent to accurately predict which Foretell card you played. However, Memory Deluge can be cast later in the game for even great effect. Right now, I think Behold the Multiverse is still better, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s supposed to be a split or Deluge wins out eventually either.

Graven Lore

Card is pretty solid and could be a reasonable 1 of over something like the Iymrith, Desert Doom. Obviously I like Iymrith more, but I think this is a pretty reasonable option.

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned

I’ll mention this card as I’ve been asked about it a few times. I think this card is too slow to be impactful and it makes ALL spells uncounterable, not just your own which also doesn’t work with this deck.

Play with Fire

Would you want to play both Frost Bite and Play with Fire? Almost certainly not. However, I don’t think it’s terribly unreasonable to move away from the Snow package if you want the mana base to be cleaner. Since we’re playing Frost Bite, we can’t play Snarls, Den of the Bugbear, Hall of the Storm Giants, or more MDFCs. If the 3rd damage on Frost Bite is relevant, I’d say that’s a worthy trade, but if that stops being the case it may be an opportunity to move away from the snow package. Right now, that third damage still seems good so I would hold off.

Crush the Weak

Great board card. I only cut it as I was seeing functionally no small creature decks.

Moonveil Regent

I think Regent is a bit overkill when we already have draw spells and Galazeth Prismari, but I also wouldn’t be against shaving a Galazeth for one Moonveil or something along those lines.

Inferno of the Star Mounts

If the mirror becomes extremely popular, this is a great hedge against it as it’s functionally unkillable.

Galvanic Iteration

There’s merit to playing this as it’s so ridiculous with Alrund’s Epiphany while still being solid with removal or draw spells. I wouldn’t know what to cut for it, but it’s probably worth a try at some point.

Prismari Command

Command can be good and when it can help destroy an Esika’s Chariot or accelerate into an early Goldspan Dragon it feels great. However, my issue with the card is that it seems to only be good in those scenarios. It’s a fine and versatile card so if you want to play a few copies feel free, I personally don’t love it.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Malevolent Hermit Art by Daarken
Malevolent Hermit Art by Daarken

MIRROR

INOUT
+2 Malevolent Hermit-3 Galazeth Prismari
+2 Negate-4 Frost Bite
+2 Disdainful Stroke-3 Dragon’s Fire
+4 Heated Debate

The boarding plan is pretty simple. Take out the cards that are dead, bring in ones that aren’t. I wouldn’t say Galazeth Prismari is dead in this matchup but it gets outclassed by both Goldspan Dragon and Smoldering Egg which I think justifies cutting it. Heated Debate is going to be your best friend as it can guarentee a kill against Smoldering Egg or or Goldspan Dragon. Malevolent Hermit is quite potent as the opponent is likely to board out most of their removal making this a pain when he likely sticks around.

MONOWHITE AGGRO

INOUT
+3 Burning Hands-4 Saw it Coming
+4 Heated Debate-2 Behold the Multiverse
+1 Thundering Rebuke-2 Alrund’s Epiphany

Unsurprisingly this matchup is all about just trying to stay afloat. We have so much removal and Smoldering Egg to help us do that. There really isn’t much to play around barring Guardian of Faith if they even have that, so just keep hands that can defend well early and your late game should very easily outscale theirs.

MONOGREEN AGGRO / GRUUL AGGRO

INOUT
+3 Burning Hands -3 Galazeth Prismari
+4 Heated Debate -1 Saw it Coming
+1 Thundering Rebuke -3 Behold the Multiverse
-1 Alrund’s Epiphany

Monogreen is an even matchup, but can seem challenging as they can present large threats relatively quickly. We have a good amount of interaction to help stop them from running us over, but you have to be mindful with how you spend it. Esika’s Chariot is by far their most threatening card so try to save a piece of interaction for it if possible. Like many other matchups, you’re relying on one of your Dragons to carry you to victory after you stalled them for long enough.

GRUUL WEREWOLVES

INOUT
+3 Burning Hands -4 Saw it Coming
+4 Heated Debate -3 Behold the Multiverse
+1 Thundering Rebuke -1 Alrund’s Eipihany

Honestly, I’m not a fan of this board plan but I can’t see how else to navigate the matchup. All the cards you would normally wait to cast are atrocious in this matchup as it allows them to get to Night where all their cards become that much more threatening. The challenging part is that Esika’s Chariot and Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope are so threatening you really want counters for them, but not casting a spell on your turn leads you to get run over by their own board threats and casting a spell likely taps you out for them anyway.

I have considered boarding in Malevolent Hermit as a way to hedge against the scary non-creature cards while still being proactive , but that feels a little weak to me. My best advice is to kill everything you can on sight, try not to let them get to night time, hope to dodge their scary 4s, and beat them to death with a dragon. However, a saving grace is that if it is night time and they cast Arlinn, 99% of the time they’re going to 0 it which allows you to respond with Heated Debate or Burning Hands to kill it.

ORZHOV MIDRANGE

INOUT
+2 Negate-2 Dragon’s Fire

You want really light boarding as your main deck is pretty well suited for them already. The issue is Skyclave Shade in the post board games can be a real pain to deal with, but we do have a good amount of x/4s to help defend against them. Be really conservative with your counter spells as the main way you’re going to lose this matchup is them resolving a Planeswalker, not so much them resolving something like an Elite Spellbinder.

DIMIR CONTROL

INOUT
+2 Malevolent Hermit-4 Frost Bite
+3 Negate-3 Dragon’s Fire
+2 Disdainful Stroke

Boarding literally couldn’t get easier for this matchup, take out your removal, put in counter spells. The game plan is relatively simple as well: hit your land drops, try to force action with small spells while holding out counter magic for a play on their turn, resolve something important if/when they tap out or low.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Frost Bite Art by Caio Monteiro
Frost Bite Art by Caio Monteiro

Remember unlike other similar cards, Smoldering Egg cares about the amount of mana spent on the spell for it’s counters, not the amount of spells or even the CMC of the spell.

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 out to use artifacts this is a helpful interaction.

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 situational, but 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.

If you connect with Iymrith, Desert Doom, while the draw trigger is on the stack you could foretell a few spells if it gets you below two cards to get extra draws out of it.

Always ensure you have 3 snow lands out if you’re expecting 3 damage off of Frost Bite. Is this obvious? Yes. Have I messed this up multiple times assuming I had 3 snow lands? Also yes.

Unless you’re extremely confident you need to hold open interaction, it’s ok to foretell your cards somewhat aggressively. You’re never getting back wasted mana.

Thank you for reading!

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.

15 Responses

  1. noobnoob says:

    I’ve been waiting for this guide. Appreciate it!
    Any tips on tweaking this deck for bo1? It’s kinda scary to go into bo3 sometimes… 😀

    • DoggertQBones says:

      The list should work as is for Bo1 or you can sub out a Behold and Epiphany for 2 Heated Debate if you’re facing a lot of creature decks. However, if you’re looking specifically to improve, I do recommend making the plunge into Bo3.

      • noobnoob says:

        Maybe you’re right about that making the plunge part. Maybe I should, yeah. Thank you!

        • DoggertQBones says:

          It all depends on what you want out of Magic. I was a Bo3 player only for a really long time and when Standard 2022 came out I tried out Bo1 thinking I’d hate it. I ended up really enjoying my experience and finding it could be even more fun than Bo3! If you want maximum fun and that’s why you play, that’s amazing and do whatever maximizes your enjoyment. If your enjoyment is derived from winning and improving, then I would say Bo3 is your best bet.

          • noobnoob says:

            I really appreciate you took your time to leave me a kind reply coming from your own experience.
            As a matter of fact I’ve been away from mtg for 16 years and came back last month(hence, noob x 2) and your guides and articles, which never really existed back then, help me a ton and that’s why I decided to sub.

            Yes there was no bo1 16 years ago as far as I remember and coming back into standard 2022 kind of spoiled me, or not I’m not sure. 🙂

            Thank you again and I’ll keep supporting you guys. Please keep dumping me all those guides cause I really enjoy and learn a lot from them!

  2. Peech4 says:

    I have to say, you guys run an EXCELLENT website. As soon as I can swing it, I will be subscribing with premium. That being said I actually have been playing 2x Hall of the Storm Giants. We still have 19 snow permanents to help with frost bite and the Hall has saved me so many times. Thoughts on played 2x Hall?

    • DoggertQBones says:

      That’s extremely appreciated! 2 Hall is pretty reasonable. It will lower your incidence of early Frost Bite which may be a bit suspect in a format writhe with a lot of x/3s but will pay huge dividends if drawn later or in the control matchup. So it’s really a function of how much do you like your aggro matchup versus how much you want to shore up the mirrors?

  3. veritek says:

    Is there a reason Test of Talents isn’t discussed in the inclusion/exclusion list? Seems like it’d be at least on par with the Negates in the sideboard.

  4. Peech4 says:

    I have been getting SMASHED lately. Is there another counter spell that is better than saw it coming? I just think its too late and takes too long to cast.

  5. Peech4 says:

    Appreciate it Bones!