Standard on a Budget: Izzet Spells

Sprite Dragon Art by Gabor Szikszai
Sprite Dragon Art by Gabor Szikszai

Hello everyone! Getting into Standard can be difficult with the amount of wildcards you need and how fast the metagame changes. It can be demotivating as there is extremely little content on how to break into competitive formats, but I’m hoping I can help out. I started this series with Historic Cycling, but it’s time to do it for a Standard deck. Similar to the Historic version of this article, I’ll post different iterations of the same deck at 3 different degrees of expense (Completely Budget, Partial Budget, Purely Competitive). Mind you the first two decks are designed for Best of 1 Play. The purely competitive deck will be designed with Best of 3 in mind, but will be just as viable in the Bo1 queue. Lastly, I’ll write out Tips and Tricks for each build of the deck as well. Make sure to read each tips and tricks section as I won’t repeat most tips from deck to deck in order to not clutter up the article.

Do you love jamming three times as many spells as your opponent? Do you like winning with 2 mana cards while your opponent is fumbling with cards that cost 5 and up? Well do I have the deck for you! Izzet Spells has been on the precipice of playability for quite awhile utilizing a mix of cheap spells and synergistic creatures to quickly finish off the opponent. One of the best aspects of this deck is that since nearly all your spells are extremely cheap, you always have a lot to do at every point in the game. It’ll be extremely rare where you can’t do anything so these styles of decks naturally help mitigate inconsistency. This style of deck was one of my favorites when I was first exploring Constructed many years ago and I’m sure this would appeal to many of you as well!

COMPLETELY BUDGET

Academic Dispute Art by Manuel Castanon
Academic Dispute Art by Manuel Castanon

For the completely budget version of a deck, I try to use as few Rares and Mythic wildcards as possible while still making a functional deck. It’s not always possible to get away with literally no Rares or Mythics, but I’m happy to say that Izzet is one of those happy cases. Let’s take a look.

Budget Izzet Spells 

Creatures (14)
4
Heartfire Immolator
4
Rimrock Knight
4
Sprite Dragon
2
Kinetic Augur
Spells (21)
4
Spikefield Hazard
4
Academic Dispute
4
Crash Through
4
Opt
4
Shock
1
Stern Dismissal
Enchantments (4)
4
Riddleform
Lands (21)
10
Island
7
Mountain
4
Swiftwater Cliffs
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Fractal Summoning
1
Mercurial Transformation
1
Expanded Anatomy
1
Spirit Summoning
1
Start from Scratch
1
Elemental Summoning

Nothing more satisfying than a decent deck at a premium price! This is a great starting point for anyone looking to break into Standard as this list will only set you back 24 Uncommon Wildcards and 26 Common Wildcards. Not too bad of a deal!

As mentioned before, the deck is designed to play as many cheap spells as possible (21 one mana spells, 25 if you count Boulder Rush on Rimrock Knight) and creatures that care about spells such as Sprite Dragon, Heartfire Immolator (who doubles as removal), Kinetic Augur, and Riddleform. Since this deck is designed for Best of One play, we also get to take advantage of the Lesson board which we use to full effect.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Try to keep hands that have a nice mix of lands, creatures, and spells. Hands with just lands and spells tend not to do well as you can’t gain any traction without creatures. However, hands with lands and creatures are generally quite good as many of your spells cantrip (cantrip meaning drawing a card) which can allow you to find more spells
  • Although there are a lot of 1 mana spells, generally it’s better to hold them until after you play a creature that cares about casting spells so you can get the full value out of it.
  • Generally speaking, try to develop as many creatures as you can before casting your spells as the more pressure you have, the higher impact each spell will be
  • Be careful when using the Boulder Rush part of Rimrock Knight if your opponent has mana open, if they kill the creature you’re targeting, you’ll lose your Rimrock Knight as well!
  • Although you’ll generally want to hold Spikefield Hazard as a spell, if it makes your curve better, don’t be afraid to use it as a land
  • Academic Dispute is great at killing pesky creatures, but you can also cast it on your own creature to give it Reach to block something, or just to get a lesson from the sideboard! Furthermore, if you don’t want a lesson from the sideboard, you can also discard a card and draw a card (known as rummaging) with your Learn cards instead

PARTIALLY BUDGET

Magmatic Channeler Art by Bryan Sola
Magmatic Channeler Art by Bryan Sola

For the partially budget version of the deck, we’re still trying to preserve the budget nature of it, but begin to upgrade it using cards that will ideally give the deck a huge power boost and also be useful in other archetypes. Let’s take a look.

Izzet Spells Partial Budget 

Creatures (15)
4
Heartfire Immolator
3
Magmatic Channeler
4
Sprite Dragon
4
Bonecrusher Giant
Spells (20)
4
Spikefield Hazard
3
Academic Dispute
3
Crash Through
4
Opt
4
Shock
2
Expressive Iteration
Enchantments (4)
4
Riddleform
Lands (21)
2
Frostboil Snarl
9
Island
6
Mountain
4
Riverglide Pathway
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Environmental Sciences
1
Fractal Summoning
1
Mercurial Transformation
1
Expanded Anatomy
1
Spirit Summoning
1
Start from Scratch
1
Elemental Summoning

Now we’re starting to up the power of the deck. By adding in 13 Rares, we’re definitely making the deck significantly more powerful. Say you want to use some of these Rares, but not all of them. What order should you craft these in?

  1. Riverglide Pathway
  2. Frostboil Snarl
  3. Magmatic Channeler
  4. Bonecrusher Giant

Crafting lands is always a no brainer, especially when they’re going to live post rotation. Riverglide Pathway is considered the more powerful of the two dual lands so that will get the nod as the top pick for a craft. Magmatic Channeler doesn’t see too much play right now, but it is a rare that works excellently in this style of deck and will also survive rotation. The final card I recommend crafting is ironically the best of the bunch. Despite how powerful Bonecrusher Giant is, even he can’t beat rotation. Bonecrusher is used in a variety of decks right now so if you have an excess of rares and may want to branch out into other decks, it’s a solid craft, but otherwise it may be wise to save your wildcards.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • You really want Magmatic Channeler to get as large as possible as soon as possible so don’t be afraid to aggressively use it’s ability.
  • If you can make Magmatic Channeler a 4/4 instant speed, use the opponent’s lack of knowledge to try and surprise them in combat
  • A very common play in Standard is to hold up 2 mana for the Stomp half of Bonecrusher Giant, if your opponent looks to Stomp one of your creatures, consider killing it yourself if possible to kill the Bonecrusher Giant or even use your own Bonecrusher Giant to kill your creature
  • Expressive Iteration is a 2 drop, but you really don’t want to play it on turn 2. Aim to play this as late as possible as it shines later in the game.

PURELY COMPETITIVE

Stormwing Entity Art by Caroline Gariba
Stormwing Entity Art by Caroline Gariba

You have plenty of wildcards and you want the best possible Izzet Spells list. Don’t worry, I got you covered. Let’s take a look at the best build for Spells I can come up with.

Izzet Spells 

Creatures (20)
4
Magmatic Channeler
4
Sprite Dragon
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Brazen Borrower
4
Stormwing Entity
Spells (19)
1
Shatterskull Smashing
4
Crash Through
4
Opt
4
Shock
4
Expressive Iteration
2
Mystical Dispute
Lands (21)
4
Frostboil Snarl
8
Island
5
Mountain
4
Riverglide Pathway
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
3
Redcap Melee
2
Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor
1
Cinderclasm
1
Negate
2
Test of Talents
2
Mystical Dispute
2
Prismari Command
2
Ox of Agonas

The final form of Izzet Spells so to speak. Now we’ve spared no expense including a few Mythics like Brazen Borrower and Ox of Agonas in the sideboard. Furthermore we added more rares that the other version was eschewing like the 4th Magmatic Channeler, Stormwing Entity, the full set of Frostboil Snarl, and 2 Prismari Command in the board.

Stormwing Entity is an excellent addition to this deck as it can frequently be cast on turn 3 and absolutely run the opponent over if left unchecked. The issue is, it’s rotating soon and this is the only deck to play it (and Izzet Phoenix in Historic) so crafting it for the partial budget version didn’t make much sense. Brazen Borrower is also a very powerful card, but it’s less ubiquitous than Bonecrusher Giant, a Mythic, and is also rotating out of Standard in a few months. The rest of the additions are just filling out the deck from the room left by the Learn package and making the manabase marginally better with a full set of Frostboil Snarl.

For Standard decks, I would argue that 6 Mythics and 26 Rares is actually a pretty good rate. Most Standard decks are completely packed with Rares that make it hard to break into, and although this isn’t negligible, it’s still pretty reasonable and most of the cards transfer to other decks or for future decks rather nicely.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Most of the time you want to hold Brazen Borrower for a really high value turn, but that’s much less important in this deck. Unlike most other decks, the 3/1 body is more useful to us so don’t be afraid to fire this off on 2 if it seems like a good play or it fills your curve.
  • Try to save a spell to cast before your Stormwing Entity. The card is a pretty bad rate at 5 mana, but excellent at 2. This is only applicable if you already have one in hand mostly as you’ll want to use your spells to keep pushing damage when possible. However, if you’re considering using a spell to very little effect, then you can consider holding it for a future Stormwing
  • Generally you never want to play Expressive Iteration on turn 2, but if you’re desperate to find something, don’t discount it as an option.
  • Mystical Dispute main is mostly a hedge for the Blue decks, but a bad Convolute against other decks isn’t that bad. That being said, I wouldn’t stymie developing your game plan in lieu of holding up Mystical Dispute most of the time unless you’re quite sure you can hit something excellent or you can afford to hold open mana
  • When you’re sideboarding with this deck, be mindful not to take out too many spells as the deck can start struggling to function if it dips too low. Don’t be afraid to trim something like Magmatic Channeler for room or trimming a few creatures and a few spells.
  • Be mindful how you order your lands as you want a Basic land in hand for Frostboil Snarl, but you also generally want to play your Rivergilde Pathway last so you can decide which color you want. It’s a balancing act for sure.

Thank you for reading! Do you like these types of articles? Let me know in the comments!

DoggertQBones

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

2 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    How does this fair rotation wise? Will this deck still be playable ~6 months from now?

    • DoggertQBones says:

      We lose most of the threat suite so it’s hard to say. We do get Demilich now and keep Channeler so if there’s enough cards that synergize with spells its definitely possible.

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