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Budget Magic: $77 Izzet Delver (Standard)


Merhaba, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're starting our budget exploration of our new Standard format with one of the most exciting reprints from Innistrad: Midnight HuntDelver of Secrets—in a burn-heavy Izzet Delver shell! The idea is simple: hopefully play Delver of Secrets on Turn 1, pray really hard to the Magic gods that it flips into a 3/2 flier (there's a 40% chance it will flip on any given turn in the dark, and we have a couple of ways to help set it up), and chip in for as much damage as possible with Insectile Aberration before it inevitably dies. At this point, we can finish off the game with burn spells or with some of our backup threats, like Smoldering Egg or Thermo-Alchemist. The best part? The deck only takes 14 rares / mythics to build on Magic Arena and costs just $77 in paper! How good is Delver of Secrets in our new Standard format on a tight budget? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Izzet Delver

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The Deck

Izzet Delver is a tempo-y burn deck. In fact, when I set out to build the deck, it was originally going to be a Mono-Red Smoldering Egg Burn deck. But while I was brewing and testing the deck, it ended up feeling right to move into blue for Delver of Secrets and some extra card draw like Expressive Iteration. The idea is to chip in for as much damage as possible with our creatures in the early game before finishing the game with direct damage from cards like Magic Missile, Play with Fire, and Roil Eruption.

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Our namesake reprint Delver of Secrets is the centerpiece of our deck. Ideally, we'll play it on Turn 1, quickly flip it into a 3/2 flier (we have 24 instants or sorceries in our deck, which means our odds of flipping Delver of Secrets in the dark is 40%), and start smashing in for damage in the air. We're fully expecting that Delver of Secrets will die eventually, but that's fine—we don't need to deal the full 20 points of damage with Delver. Instead, we're hoping to get in six or nine points of damage before it dies and then close out the game with out backup threats and burn spells.

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As far as our non-Delver creatures, we don't have a ton—Delver needs a lot of spells to function. But the ones we do have play really well with our spellslinger theme. Smoldering Egg is a decent blocker against aggro in the early game, and once we cast at least seven mana worth of spells, it flips around into a very powerful 4/4 flier that Shocks whenever we cast a spell, which often allows us to kill our opponent in just a turn or two with direct damage. 

Magmatic Channeler offers a key source of card filtering, allowing us to discard extra lands to dig for threats in the early game as well as burn to finish off the opponent in the late game. Plus, thanks to the number of spells in our deck, it quickly becomes a 4/4 for two, which is a pretty above-the-curve stat line for Standard.

Finally, we have Thermo-Alchemist, which offers a lot of direct damage if it sticks on the battlefield since we can untap it to ping again whenever we cast an instant or sorcery spell. This allows us to have some pseudo-Storm-style combo turns where we chain card-draw spells like Expressive Iteration and Consider to turn Thermo-Alchemist into a weird creature-y Grapeshot that sits out on the battlefield. 

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Our last non-instant or sorcery in the main deck is Rowan, Scholar of Sparks. While we do occasionally play the Will, Scholar of Frost backside to draw cards, the MDFC planeswalker is in the deck because of Rowan. The idea is that we can get Rowan, Scholar of Sparks on the battlefield quickly and run toward the ultimate (which only takes two turns) while also chipping in for some damage. It becomes hard to lose if we can ultimate Rowan, Scholar of Sparks since we can copy burn spells like Play with Fire, Roil Eruption, and Magic Missile to throw a ton of damage at our opponent's face or quickly refill our hand with Consider and Expressive Iteration. Rowan, Scholar of Sparks is especially good against midrange and control, which have a hard time attacking down its loyalty before it ultimates. And if we run into a dedicated aggro deck, we can always sideboard it out for more removal and burn.

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As far as the spells in our deck, they are all either card draw or burn. For card draw, we have Consider and Expressive Iteration. While Consider doesn't technically add an extra card to our hand, it's still quite powerful in our deck, filling the graveyard to turn on Magmatic Channeler, untapping Thermo-Alchemist, helping to flip Delver of Secrets, and filtering our draws, all for just a single mana. Meanwhile, Expressive Iteration has already proven its power in eternal formats, essentially being a draw-two for two mana if we play it at the right time.

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As far as burn spells, we're mostly focused on things that can hit our opponent's face and help us close out the game, although we do have some Demon Bolts to deal with four-toughness creatures like Goldspan Dragon, Old-Growth Troll, and Smoldering Egg, which is pretty important in our current Standard format. Play with Fire offers a Shock that is surprisingly synergistic with the rest of our deck because we can play it on our opponent's end step, targeting their face, and then scry a spell to the top of our deck to flip Delver of Secrets, making it one of the few ways we can actively try to set up our Delver flips. Roil Eruption isn't especially efficient, although three damage is three damage. Plus, it can flip Smoldering Egg all by itself if we manage to kick it since Smoldering Egg cares about the amount of mana we spend on a spell, not its mana value. Finally, Magic Missile can occasionally be a two- or even three-for-one against some creature decks, while being uncounterable gives it some upside against control.

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As far as the mana, Spikefield Hazard is surprisingly solid in our deck as a land that can flip Delver of Secrets, grow Magmatic Channeler, and untap Thermo-Alchemist. While coming into play tapped can be annoying, all of the other synergies make it more than worth the cost. Speaking of coming into play tapped, I have a love/hate relationship with Prismari Campus. The primary reason it's in our deck is for budget purposes—as a common, it's super cheap both in paper and on Arena. Our deck really wants to curve out, so taking a turn off-curve to play a tapped land is especially painful. But in the late game, the scry-one ability does have some upside, allowing us to control the top of our deck to flip Delver of Secrets. While I don't think this is enough to keep it in non-budget builds of Izzet Delver, it is worth taking advantage of in the budget build, at the very last.

Playing the Deck

The most important aspect of playing Izzet Delver is understanding the plan: our goal is to get in enough damage with our creatures early in the game so that we can close out the game with burn later. We're fully expecting Delver of Secrets, Thermo-Alchemist, Magmatic Channeler, and friends to die. We're just trusting that they'll do their job in the few turns they are on the battlefield.

As a general rule, you shouldn't keep hands without a threat. Since we have so many spells in our deck, we'll occasionally get hands that are all burn and cantrips. Even even if they offer a good mixture of lands and spells, I think these hands are always a mulligan. We really want at least one creature on the battlefield by Turn 2. If our hand doesn't offer that, it's usually better to ship it back in search of a threat.

As far as Delver of Secrets, we're mostly just praying really hard to the Magic gods that it will flip naturally since there aren't a ton of good ways to control the top of our deck in Standard, although as I mentioned before, a Play with Fire at the opponent's face or a Prismari Campus activation will allow us to scry one, which can be helpful in turning Delver into Insectile Aberration. 

Wrap-Up

Record-wise, the deck felt really solid. We went 4-1 at the top of Diamond on Magic Arena, with our only loss coming to Izzet Dragons, where we got wrecked by Goldspan Dragon and Alrund's Epiphany, which is a thing that occasionally happens in Innistrad Standard. 

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck now that we've played some games with it, I'm really happy with where the build landed. That said, Smoldering Egg wasn't as impressive as I had hoped without having many expensive spells to speed up the flip. It's good against aggro, where a 0/4 wall on Turn 2 can soak up a lot of damage, but I can see an argument for moving it to the sideboard in favor of more burn spells in the main deck. It's also worth mentioning that Rowan, Scholar of Sparks basically is a flex slot. While I like Rowan in the deck, it's not 100% necessary, so feel free to experiment with other options or cut it altogether to play another common or uncommon (like a playset of Magic Missiles in the main), as a way to get the budget down even more.

So, should you play Izzet Delver in Standard? I know this is the first Budget Magic we've had for the new Standard, but I feel pretty confident that Izzet Delver is one of the most competitive budget options for the format, if not the most competitive. So I think the answer is clearly yes, if you're looking for a budget deck that actually has the power to compete with the top-tier decks of the format. While I'm sure there can be some improvements around the edges of the deck, in general, it felt super solid. And if you like tempo-y spellslinger-style decks, it's also a blast to play with!

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Getting Izzet Delver down under $50 in paper and to just four rares on Arena is pretty easy. We drop Rowan, Scholar of Sparks for more copies of Magic Missile in the main deck. We turn Smoldering Egg into Umara Mystic (which not only grows from all of our spells but also takes advantage of the fact that both Delver of Secrets and Magmatic Channeler are Wizards, so they trigger it as well) and replace Riverglide Pathway with Evolving Wilds. The last change is—by far—the most problematic. With Evolving Wilds, Spikefield Hazard, and Prismari Campus, more than half of our lands come into play tapped, which isn't ideal, especially for a tempo deck. If you decide to start with the ultra-budget build, I'd look to upgrade to Frostboil Snarl and Riverglide Pathway as quickly as possible.

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Finally, the non-budget build of Izzet Delver mostly gets mana-base upgrades, with Frostboil Snarl giving us another land that (hopefully at least sometimes) comes into play untapped, while Sea Gate Restoration and Shatterskull Smashing give us more untapped lands that can also flip Delver of Secrets. Otherwise, we trade two copies of Smoldering Egg for two more Magic Missiles, and we're good to go!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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