Standard Izzet Dragons Deck Guide: The Villain of Standard
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 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.
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.
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.
Table of Contents
- NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS
- MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
- TIPS AND TRICKS
NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|+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.
|+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
|+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.
|+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.
|+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.
|+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
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!
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