Izzet is an exciting new Standard deck, and the best news is that while it will crush your opponents, it won’t crush your wallet! It’s a spell-heavy U/R tempo deck that is a unique blend of speedy, nimble, and powerful.
I know… “budget deck” is such a nasty, dirty word in tournament Magic. It brings to mind thoughts of decks that replace great mythic rares with sub-optimal cards and are thus worse versions of good decks. This is not the case with today’s deck. The core of the deck is built around efficient commons and uncommons. It simply doesn’t need or want mythics.
In a sea of great Standard decks that are all built around expensive mythics, there is something to be said for a deck that can hold its own without breaking the bank. In particular, this is a great Standard deck to break into MTGO with, since the shocklands are even cheaper online than IRL.
Today’s list comes courtesy of RIW’s resident Pauper Guru Jon Wilkerson, who was kind enough to share it with me. He started with a true budget list he saw on SaffronOlive’s stream and has been tuning it for a couple of weeks on MTGO, where he has had sustained success with the deck.
I’m willing to accept that a deck might be decent when a trusted friend says, “I’ve been doing well with my new deck.” But I become very interested when I see the same person a week later and they say, ““I’ve continued to work on that deck I was telling you about last week and I’m still crushing with it.”
This was exactly the case with Jon’s U/R Wizard deck.
As is the case with most well-built Izzet decks, this is secretly a storm deck.
It’s kind of a strange thing to say, considering there are no storm cards in Standard, but you are going to cast a ton of cheap spells and generate value in the margins by doing so (which is how the storm mechanic rewards players).
One way or another, all of these cards are payoffs for chaining cheap spells and cantrips together at various points in the game. Instead of getting free copies of spells, your payoff translates to bonuses in combat and thus extra damage.
We also get to play the best Dark Ritual in the format:
“I’ll have a manawhich please. Delicious.”
For those of you too young to get the reference—you’re not missing much. For those of you who have never untapped with an Electromancer—you’re truly missing out.
Goblin Electromancer can enable a flurry of spells in a single turn and counts as a Wizard toward multiple “Wizards-matter” bonuses. The Goblin is a bonafide must-kill whenever it hits the board because if it’s not, the game spirals crazily out of control.
“The chain gang.”
The jump-start cards are also impressive in this deck as they provide a couple of important functions. First, they give you a way to avoid flooding out with too many lands. Second, they give you more options, since they extend your options by expanding the size of your hand.
In particular, Risk Factor is a brutal card to play against in this deck since either option will be devastating. It’s easily one of the best cards in the deck in terms of overall power level and may well turn out to be one of the best cards in Standard.
I like Jon’s sideboard as well. There are options to slow down the game against other aggressive decks with cheap removal. You also have ways to sustain pressure against control decks to ensure that you keep those wheels turning and the threats coming.
I also enjoy the interaction between Experimental Frenzy and jump-start:
Experimental Frenzy says you cannot play cards from your hand, but you can still discard to pay the cost of a jump-start card in your graveyard!
Speaking of getting value from jump-start, keep in mind that you can pitch Phoenix to pay the cost and then cast two more spells to return the Phoenix to the battlefield. I’ve been particularly impressed with the jump-start synergies in the deck and it is worth mentioning that Jon has also been tinkering around with cards from the Maximize cycle:
I wouldn’t go too crazy, but one or two of these spells in the flex spots add value and it isn’t even clear which one is better. Both have upsides in different scenarios. Obviously, allowing a Lavarunner or Electromancer to jump over a ground stall is nice, but the downside is that you already have six main deck flyers and four more in the board.
Maximize Velocity will really shine as a turn-5 play with a Wee Dragonauts. You can play the Dragonauts and Maximize twice, and swing for 7 damage in the air. After sideboard, Velocity can also send a beefy Crackling Drake directly into the red zone. In a deck that makes every mana count, every single turn, this is a cheap red spell that utilizes basic Mountain draws, especially early in the game when you are trying to bring back Arclight Phoenix.
I like the way that Jon has shifted the core of the deck to be an air force capable of flying over the midrange mess on the ground, which is why a card like Viashino Pyromancer is notably absent, but don’t forget that it is an option. Also, Exclusion Mage seems like a decent option to answer problematic, giant, flying Doom Whisperers out of the sideboard.
The deck is a lot of fun to play. It’s aggressive. It’s nimble. It draws a bunch of cards. And, it wins! Not too shabby for a budget-friendly brew.