Standard Izzet Epiphany Deck Guide: Standard’s Tier 0 Deck

Alrund's Epiphany Art by Kieran Yanner
Alrund's Epiphany Art by Kieran Yanner

Hey everyone! I figured with the World Championship coming up this weekend it would be a good time to review some of the Standard decks that the best in the world decided to bring. Since the release of Midnight Hunt I’ve played a lot with various Izzet variants, so I’m going to focus on breaking down the five lists being played at Worlds, any changes I would consider making, and which version I think is the best for general ladder play and for the Arena Open next weekend.

I’d recommend playing one of these Izzet decks if you’re seriously interested in performing your absolute best at upcoming events. I could always be wrong, but at the moment I simply think Izzet is the best deck in Standard. I know everyone is already getting sick of Alrund’s Epiphany, but on the bright side, a lot of these lists are very different from each other so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that caters to your preferences and play style. DoggertQBones covered Grixis Epiphany already, so be sure to check that out as well.

Let’s dive in, starting with the creature-less Izzet lists that are solely focused on casting Time Stretch over and over!

izzet turns
51.1% global win rate
12.54% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs mono-black control
84.8% win rate
46 tracked matches
vs izzet delver
83.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs esper control
81.8% win rate
11 tracked matches
worst against
vs temur aggro
28.0% win rate
25 tracked matches
vs simic aggro
22.2% win rate
9 tracked matches
vs bant aggro
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches

Czech / Arne Izzet

Burn Down the House Art by Campbell White
Burn Down the House Art by Campbell White

Of the five lists that were brought, Stanislav Cifka and Ondřej Stráský brought the same version, with Arne Huschenbeth reaching a similar consensus on how to build the deck considering he brought a near identical version to theirs:

Izzet Epiphany by Ondrej Strasky – Magic World Championship
by Terence
Standard
Control
best of 3
6 mythic
18 rare
18 uncommon
18 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (25)
3
Fading Hope
$0.75
2
Test of Talents
$1.98
4
Divide by Zero
$1.00
2
Demon Bolt
$0.50
2
Memory Deluge
$13.98
Sorceries (12)
Lands (23)
5
Island
$1.25
7
Mountain
$3.43
2
Field of Ruin
$0.50
3
Frostboil Snarl
$16.47
60 Cards
$221.5
15 Cards
$122.71
Izzet Epiphany by Arne Huschenbeth – Magic World Championshi
by Terence
Standard
Control
best of 3
5 mythic
18 rare
21 uncommon
16 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (26)
3
Fading Hope
$0.75
2
Burning Hands
$1.18
2
Test of Talents
$1.98
4
Divide by Zero
$1.00
1
Demon Bolt
$0.25
3
Memory Deluge
$20.97
Sorceries (11)
Lands (23)
6
Island
$1.50
6
Mountain
$2.94
2
Field of Ruin
$0.50
3
Frostboil Snarl
$16.47
60 Cards
$209.74
15 Cards
$125.39

I feel like I’m missing something here because I was very underwhelmed when I tried both of these lists. Unexpected Windfall was awful game one against other Izzet Turns list because of how brutal it is to have it get hit by a Divide by Zero or random counterspell. Without Smoldering Egg or Goldspan Dragon it also felt very difficult to find any sort of way to go under the opponent in the mirror. That means that you’re forced to rely on resolving multiple Alrund’s Epiphany in a matchup where your opponent is bound to have a lot of  permission and counterspells for all three games. Sure you can set up one of those brutal double Epiphany turns with Galvanic Iteration, but by that point your opponent can be ready to answer it with their Malevolent Hermits and other counters. Most versions of Izzet also lack ways to answer four toughness creatures, so it’s pretty common for an unchecked Smoldering Egg or Goldspan Dragon to easily run away with the game against this version.

The dragons versions have four Dragon’s Fire as a way to deal four, but the lists that are creature-less game one are forced to rely on a copy or two of Demon Bolt or Thundering Rebuke as their only permanent answers to these two super powerful dragons. As expected, I struggled a lot against the red dragons throughout my matches. Malevolent Hermit was also a major issue to slog through, so I really like the second Spikefield Hazard in the board in order to help counteract that. Having the dual purpose of being a land in the mirror makes it a fantastic board decision in my eyes. Smoldering Egg also has the added benefit of being a great blocker post-board against an opponent who is trying to nickel and dime you to death with the four Hermits they brought in, so that’s yet another point in favor of the Egg!

I also found that I was getting run over pretty really easily by Mono White and Mono Green Aggro when I was playing this version. The Czech version felt especially soft to Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and even moreso Reidance, God of the Worthy. You have so little spot removal for cheap creatures and relying on wrath effects to clear the board was pretty ineffective once Reidance and Elite Spellbinder got thrown into the mix. This creature-less version is just so weird to me because it doesn’t kill particularly quickly, but also doesn’t have many ways to answer the vast array of threats that the opponent could be throwing at you. It’s tough having to worry about so many threats while just lacking the free wins from casting Smoldering Egg or Goldspan Dragon into Epiphany. Personally, I would steer clear of this version. I’m definitely playing it worse than Stan, Ondřej. and Arne, but even so I’m worried about how they’ll fare against the mono colored aggressive decks and the mirror. This also isn’t my usual play style, so maybe I’m just not keeping the right hands or properly executing my game plan for these matchups. Still, not playing Smoldering Egg is a real head scratcher to me, but we’ll see how it pans out this weekend!

There’s one last issue with this list that I need to address. In my opinion, there is no bigger sin than playing three Expressive Iterations in your Izzet lists. Unfortunately, because this list has such a high curve and with so much card draw, it’s only able to play three Expressive Iterations. In this version, I like only three Iterations because you already have so much of this sort of effect. However, Iteration is one of the best cards in standard and if my current version of Izzet can’t comfortably support four, then I feel like I failed somewhere in the deck building process. Iteration smooths out your awkward draws, secures land drops, and is a great top deck in the late game. Ensuring that as many of your draws as possible are above functional is going to drastically improve your win rate, and I believe that Iteration helps accomplish that. I simply wouldn’t leave home without four in my Izzet lists.

Sato Izzet

Smoldering Egg Art by Simon Dominic
Smoldering Egg Art by Simon Dominic

Next, there’s Keisuke Sato’s list, which is less all in on taking all the turns and is banking on Smoldering Egg to crush the creature decks of the format. Here’s the list:

Izzet Epiphany by Keisuke Sato – Magic World Championship XX
by Terence
Standard
Control
best of 3
6 mythic
19 rare
18 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (4)
4
Smoldering Egg
$13.96
Instants (23)
2
Fading Hope
$0.50
1
Negate
$1.99
1
Into the Roil
$0.25
2
Burning Hands
$1.18
2
Cathartic Pyre
$0.50
1
Saw It Coming
$1.49
3
Divide by Zero
$0.75
1
Demon Bolt
$0.25
1
Prismari Command
$13.99
2
Memory Deluge
$13.98
Sorceries (11)
Lands (22)
6
Island
$1.50
5
Mountain
$2.45
1
Field of Ruin
$0.25
1
Prismari Campus
$0.25
1
Frostboil Snarl
$5.49
60 Cards
$250.38
15 Cards
$36.27

I really liked the general game plan of this version and I am obviously a major Smoldering Egg fan. It feels awkward to turn on the fight effects from Mono Green, but you steal so many wins with this in the mirror and against creature decks by flipping it early. It’s also a fantastic blocker which is exactly what you need since the overall game plan for this deck against fast creature decks is to just buy enough time until you can Epiphany once or twice, take over the board, and then take over the game.

Sato filled his version to the brim with spice, but there were some cards that consistently underperformed for me while I played his version. First and foremost, the Prismari Campus felt absolutely horrible; you should play Frostboil Snarl or just a basic over it because this deck is already filled with enough tap lands. There was also not a single game where I was even tempted to scry with it. Den of the Bugbear isn’t bad or anything, but it felt worse than Hall of the Storm Giants in pretty much every game and matchup. You always have so much to do with your mana when it comes to Izzet, so when you’re activating your manlands it’s usually because you need to close the game after taking some extra turns. Hall of Storm Giants is way better at accomplishing that than Den of Bugbear is. It’s also a surprisingly great blocker when you pass with all your mana open. Just the threat of activating it is often enough of a deterrent!

Into the Roil was fine but unexciting. I’d probably just look to play another Divide by Zero over it because you should probably be playing four if you’re already devoting three sideboard slots to making the card good. It’s also just a nice game one catch-all that you can comfortably trim post board depending on the matchup. The Rowan, Scholar of Sparks was also pretty underwhelming for me. I assume that you want this for the mirror, but your opponent will often bring in dragons post board, which means that this will incidentally get pressured. It’s also just a really low impact card unless you ultimate it and combine it with an Epiphany. I could definitely be missing something here though because I’m sure that Sato has his reasoning for it!

Takahashi Izzet

Goldspan Dragon Art by Andrew Mar
Goldspan Dragon Art by Andrew Mar

Finally, there’s Yuta Takahashi’s more traditional Izzet Dragons list that most of us are familiar with from the last standard season. This is my favorite version of Izzet because I just love beating down and having access to multiple game plans! Here’s the list:

Izzet Dragons by Yuta Takahashi – Magic World Championship X
by Terence
Standard
Control
best of 3
11 mythic
18 rare
15 uncommon
16 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (8)
4
Smoldering Egg
$13.96
4
Goldspan Dragon
$199.96
Instants (19)
1
Fading Hope
$0.25
1
Negate
$1.99
4
Dragon’s Fire
$1.00
1
Dissipate
$0.25
2
Divide by Zero
$0.50
1
Saw It Coming
$1.49
1
Prismari Command
$13.99
4
Memory Deluge
$27.96
Sorceries (13)
Lands (20)
7
Island
$1.75
4
Mountain
$1.96
3
Frostboil Snarl
$16.47
60 Cards
$466.52
Sideboard
1
Fading Hope
$0.25
2
Cinderclasm
$0.58
3
Burning Hands
$1.77
1
Test of Talents
$0.99
1
Heated Debate
$0.25
1
Prismari Command
$13.99
15 Cards
$39.03

Takahashi was not kidding around with this version. With a couple more counterspells main, the four Memory Deluge, and the eight dragons, I really like his spot against the mirror and the field that showed up. Having four Dragon’s Fire that are often able to deal four is such a huge boon against Mono Green and Adeline, Replendent Cathar. In addition to that, it offers you way more answers to opposing Smoldering Eggs and Goldspan Dragons.

I do have a couple issues with Takahashi’s list though that I recommend you try out and consider changing as well. Most importantly, this version is too land light for my liking. You have so many spell and creature lands so flooding out has rarely been an issue for me. Plus you can always just Flashback a Memory Deluge if you find yourself running out of gas in the late game. Missing one of your first five land drops is an absolute nightmare with this deck and it seems relatively free to add another land, so that’s the biggest change I’d make. I’d probably add another Mountain to help out those Frostboil Snarls and to help ensure that I can land Smoldering Egg on turn two and Goldspan Dragon on turn five. Sure Shatterskull Smashing is a red source, but there are also going to be games where you want to use it as a spell instead of a land, so that’s another reason why I like adding a Mountain. It’s also really smart that he’s playing four Smashing because of how good they are following the turn you hit with a Goldspan Dragon. Plus, they’re great at flipping Smoldering Egg!

Also, I hate that darn Dissipate. This ain’t 2011, Get that garbage out of here and at least throw in a Saw it Coming over it. There really aren’t a ton of graveyard relevant cards being played right now besides Memory Deluge, and holding up Saw it Coming with Goldspan Dragon is way too brutal to not give it the nod over Dissipate. Besides that, maybe I could see squeaking in the fourth Epiphany somewhere because of how important it is to your game plan, but that’s just nitpicking. When playing his list on ladder it felt fantastic and very well built!

I’m really happy that this list (and none for that matter) are playing Galazeth Prismari. The card is just way worse than Goldspan and Egg whole, while also being a liability against the green fight spells in addition to being way too small-ball in the Izzet mirror. Maybe they’ll be good someday, but that day isn’t today. I also like including Teachings of the Archaics when I’m playing four Divide By Zero, but I really like that Takahashi excluded it since he’s only got two copies main and you’re usually just getting Environmental Sciences or Mascot Exhibition anyway.

It was really tough deciding between the different strategies as I really liked Sato’s and Takahashi’s approach to the deck. If I was forced to choose for a tournament tomorrow, I would go for an updated version of Takahashi’s deck, however Sato’s approach was excellent as well.

Tweaked Takahashi Izzet Dragons
by Chris Kvartek
Standard
Control
best of 3
12 mythic
17 rare
14 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (8)
4
Smoldering Egg
$13.96
4
Goldspan Dragon
$191.96
Instants (17)
1
Fading Hope
$0.25
1
Negate
$1.99
4
Dragon’s Fire
$1.00
2
Divide by Zero
$0.50
1
Saw It Coming
$1.49
1
Prismari Command
$13.99
3
Memory Deluge
$20.97
Sorceries (14)
Lands (21)
7
Island
$1.75
5
Mountain
$2.45
3
Frostboil Snarl
$16.47
60 Cards
$474.06
Sideboard
2
Cinderclasm
$0.58
4
Burning Hands
$2.76
1
Test of Talents
$0.99
1
Prismari Command
$13.99
1
Memory Deluge
$6.99
15 Cards
$46.51

Matchups and Sideboarding

Malevolent Hermit Art by Daarken
Malevolent Hermit Art by Daarken

Since I liked both versions so much, I’ll give you the sideboard guides for both!

Updated Takahashi Version

Mono Green

InOut
+4 Burning Hands-1 Negate
+1 Prismari Command-1 Saw it Coming
-2 Memory Deluge
-1 Goldspan Dragon

Mono White

InOut
+2 Cinderclasm-3 Memory Deluge
+1 Prismari Command-1 Negate
+4 Burning Hands-2 Divide By Zero
-1 Saw it Coming

Dragon Izzet

InOut
+4 Malevolent Hermit-2 Thundering Rebuke
+1 Memory Deluge -1 Prismari Command
-1 Fading Hope
-1 Dragon’s Fire

Izzet / Grixis Turns

InOut
+4 Malevolent Hermit-2 Thundering Rebuke
+1 Memory Deluge -1 Prismari Command
+1 Test of Talents-1 Fading Hope
-2 Dragon’s Fire

Sato’s Version

Mono Green

InOut
+2 Burning Hands-1 Disdainful Stroke
+1 Cyclone summoner-1 Behold the Multiverse
-1 Saw it Coming

Mono White

InOut
+2 Burning Hands-1 Negate
+2 Cinderclasm-1 Saw it Coming
-1 Memory Deluge
-1 Behold the Multiverse

Izzet / Grixis Turns

InOut
+1 Rowan, Scholar of Sparks-2 Cathartic Pyre
+2 Test of Talents-1 Burn Down the House
+3 Malevolent Hermit-1 Prismari Command
+1 Memory Deluge-2 Burning Hands
-1 Demon Bolt

Dragon Izzet

InOut
+1 Memory Deluge -2 Cathartic Pyre
+2 Test of Talents-1 Burn Down the House
+3 Malevolent Hermit-1 Prismari Command
-2 Burning Hands

I’m a huge Izzet fan and I would highly recommend that you try out any of the following versions and see which feels the best to you. Simply put, I think it’s the best deck in the format and that shouldn’t change unless a B&R announcement has a thing or two to say about Epiphany in the coming weeks.

My assessments could always be wrong, but you can only be so wrong when you’re siding with Goldspan Dragon. Best of luck with learning the archetype and hopefully this article will help you get fluent enough with the deck before the next Arena Open. Unless Epiphany gets banned, then it’s back to the drawing board in the search for the best deck!

Thanks for reading!

Chris Kvartek

While Chris Kvartek technically kicked off his career in 2012, he burst onto the scene in 2019 like few before him. With an early season Top Finish at Mythic Championship II and narrow miss for his second at Mythic Championship IV, Kvartek earned invitations to two more Mythic Championships through online qualifiers. He secured his second Top Finish of the season at Mythic Championship VII, and now this rising star must prove he can stay among the elite of professional Magic.