Izzet Drakes with Pteramander Might Be the Best Deck in Standard

While everyone was busy trying the new cards and new guilds in Ravnica Allegiance, Brad Carpenter decided to take a deeper look at one of the best archetypes from Guilds of Ravnica Standard. It didn’t gain much, but enough to perform in a field with Hydroid Krasis, Wilderness Reclamation, and Light Up the Stage.

He went 9-0 on Day 1 of SCG Open Indianapolis, and proceeded to Top 8, losing in the quarterfinals against White Weenie.

Izzet Drakes

Brad Carpenter, 6th place at SCG Indianapolis 27/01/2019

Just a few weeks ago, Team Italy played Izzet Drakes at the World Magic Cup. This list differs only by a few cards from that one, but with one very important addition: Pteramander.


I wrote about this card in the Legacy environment, and how you could exploit it in a format where you have access to a huge quantity of cheap spells to turn this into a 5/5 flyer for just 2 mana. But in Standard, you have as many cantrips as you do in Legacy—more expensive though they may be—that will easily make your Pteramander a 5/5 later in the game.

It’s also a turn-1 play that enables raid on Chart a Course on turn 2, turning a good spell into a great one. Since Izzet doesn’t play Arclight Phoenix anymore, you aren’t interested in discarding cards—every spell and every land matters.

Pteramander has overperformed for me thus far, and I’m sure it’ll turn an already good deck into a great one.

How is Izzet Drakes Positioned in the Metagame?

Izzet Drakes is actually the best deck in the format right now.

It has a great matchup versus mono-red, since your threats line up well against their answers. You can kill them in two attacks, but don’t expose your Pteramander to their burn spells.

This deck is also favorable versus Golgari Krasis. I’ve had huge success playing the matchup from the Izzet side, and I’ve lost a lot playing from the Golgari side. Golgari is now even lighter on interaction, and their sorcery speed removal (Hostage Taker and Vivien Reid) matches up so badly against Dive Down and Spell Pierce.

Some decks, like the Online PTQ Winner’s list, have even moved away from Wildgrowth Walker, which seems like heresy to me, as it would make the matchup even better for the Drakes deck.

Control decks are close matchups. You are probably unfavored game 1, but then post-sideboard Niv-Mizzet will help. You need to select your draws well with your cantrips to avoid drawing burn spells or too many lands. You might just resolve a Drake, protect it, and one-shot them later in the game, but I would say it’s a 50/50 matchup.

Against combo, like TurboFog or Wilderness Reclamation, you have access to a bunch of countermagic and a lot of pressure. In the Top 8 of the World Magic Cup we did defeat the Australian team and their TurboFog deck. You need your cantrips to dig for interaction and you only need to ride one Drake to victory.

The only bad matchup that I can think of is versus White Weenie, which is in fact the deck that defeated Brad in the Top 8.

At the World Magic Cup we played four Raptor Hatchling and two Fiery Cannonade to deal with Boros, and I don’t see why you shouldn’t now. Sure, you give up some slots, but Hatchling + Dive Down is how you win there, not with Shivan Fire.

This is the list I’m playing right now on stream. You need to be ready for White Weenie with your sideboard.

Izzet Drakes

If you want to play best-of-one, this deck is pretty good and super cheap—there are no rares other than the dual lands, which is kind of insane.

The metagame is full of mono-red, which you stomp on, as well as Golgari Krasis. You won’t have a sideboard to help you versus Weenie and control, but those aren’t 0-100 games. Your deck is solid and not worse than 40-60 in those matchups in game 1.

I’m excited to see where this deck is going, as I think it’s one of the best out there at the moment.


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