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Budget Magic: $83 (33 tix) Izzet Drakes (Standard)


Swastyastu, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Guilds of Ravnica is finally here, bringing along with it rotation, which means it's time to start exploring our new Standard format! However, we've got a bit of a twist: Guilds of Ravnica was released early on Magic Arena, which means that for the very first time ever here on Budget Magic, we're playing on the newest digital Magic client! This is perfect in some ways, since Arena just went into open beta, which means if you're interested in testing it out, you don't need a code or anything else. You can just make an account and start playing! On the other hand, the early release of Guilds of Ravnica on Arena featured only best-of-one (no sideboard) matches, which are a bit strange. We'll use best of three if we play more Arena in the future, but for this week, the upside of getting to play Guilds of Ravnica (hopefully) outweighs the downside of not having a sideboard.

Anyway, our deck today is pretty sweet. One of the most exciting cards from Guilds of Ravnica is Crackling Drake, which combines with Enigma Drake to gives us the foundation of a powerful spellslinging Izzet deck built around the massive fliers. Throw in some burn spells and some of the new card-draw spells from Guilds of Ravnica, and we've got the makings of an awesome budget deck! Can Izzet Drakes compete in Guilds of Ravnica Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Izzet Drakes (Standard)

The Deck

Izzet Drakes is basically a weird mashup of a spellslinger deck and a midrange-ish Izzet Aggro build, with some light Wizard synergies to boot. The main plan of the deck is to stock the graveyard at lightning speed to make our Drakes as big as possible as quickly as possible and hopefully kill our opponent with a couple of massive flying threats!

The Drakes

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Enigma Drake has always had potential, but it lacked the right support cards in past Standards. While it's fairly easy to build it into a 5/4 or even 10/4 flier for just three mana, the problem has been that if the opponent can deal with one or two copies of Enigma Drake, the entire deck would fold. However, this all changed with Guilds of Ravnica and the printing of Crackling Drake, which is essentially another Enigma Drake, except it costs an additional mana and comes with the upside of drawing a card when it enters the battlefield. This gives us a total of eight Drakes, which makes the plan of going all-in on filling the graveyard with instants and sorceries to make our Drakes into massive threats a lot more practical. Even if our opponent manages to kill one or two copies, there's always another one around the corner, and with plenty of cheap cantrips to stock the graveyard, it doesn't take long to find another. As such, the plan of our deck is to draw a Drake or two, back up our Drakes with burn to finish the game as well as some protection, and hopefully use our massive fliers to close out the game in just an attack or two.

Filling the Graveyard

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Apart from our Drakes, the most important cards in our deck are cheap cantrips, which help us fill our graveyards with spells and stack the deck while also helping make sure we have a consistent flow of threats to pressure our opponent. Opt gets the fun started on Turn 1, putting an instant in our graveyard while also helping to improve our draws. Meanwhile, Discovery // Dispersal is perfect for our deck, potentially putting three instants and / or sorceries in the graveyard thanks to surveil. While we mostly use the Discovery half of the card, there are rare occasions where we can use Dispersal to bounce our opponent's biggest threat and maybe even make them discard it, if they are empty-handed. 

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Chart a Course and Chemister's Insight are similar to Opt and Discovery // Dispersal, in that they give us additional spells to get in our graveyard and power up our Drakes, but instead of just cantripping, they actually generate card advantage. Chart a Course is great since it offers flexibility. If we need to power up our Drakes, we can cast it precombat to discard another instant or sorcery to up our Drakes' power, but if we need cards, we can wait until after we attack and have a two-mana Divination. Meanwhile, Chemister's Insight has some additional value, since we can surveil it into the graveyard (or discard it to Chart a Course) and then jump-start it from the graveyard.

Other Creatures

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Apart from our Drakes, we have two additional creatures—both Wizards—to support our Drake plan. Goblin Electromancer is insane with our card draw, making both Discovery and Chart a Course one mana, allowing us to cast several copies in the same turn to fill our graveyard (and pump our Drakes) super quickly. Meanwhile, Siren Stormtamer protects our Drakes from targeted removal from the battlefield. While having four toughness means that our Drakes dodge some removal (like Lightning Strike and Wizard's Lightning), cards like Lava Coil, Vraska's Contempt, and Assassin's Trophy give our opponent ways to answer our Drakes. Siren Stormtamer can eat a targeted removal spell instead, keeping our Drakes around to beat down, while also providing some incidental damage in the air.

Burn

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The other reason to have Goblin Electromancer and Siren Stormtamer in our deck is that they are Wizards, which allows us to play Wizard's Lightning and know that we'll have access to a Lightning Bolt in Standard at least some percentage of the time. Combine this with Lightning Strike, and Izzet Drakes has a ton of reach in the mid- to late game. Plus, cheap burn spells are even better in our deck than most, since along with killing creatures and reducing our opponent's life total, they give us more cheap spells in our graveyard to grow our Drakes. 

Meanwhile, Fight with Fire is in our deck primarily to deal with big creatures, with Lyra Dawnbringer being especially problematic, but it does have some strange upside. While it probably seems unlikely that our 22-land deck will ever be able to kick it, it does happen on occasion when we have multiple copies of Goblin Electromancer on the battlefield. Because our Drakes are such powerful threats, some opponents are forced to leave Goblin Electromancer alive and focus their removal on our massive fliers, and in these matchups, we can occasionally get a surprise win by throwing 10 damage at our opponent's face.

Wrap-Up

While our record is a bit complicated this week due to the nature of best-of-one matches, we technically went 6-4 in 10 games. We manages to beat a lot of powerful decks along the way, with our most problematic matchups being hardcore control with tons of removal. However, these matchups should get better in best-of-three matchups, since our sideboard is focused primarily on beating control. We can take out some of our not-great burn spells and replace them with cards like Negate and Firemind's Foresight for repeatable card advantage. 

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As far as changes I'd make to the deck now that we've played some games, as much as I hate to admit it, Risk Factor is probably great in Izzet Drakes. During spoiler season, I mostly wrote off the card as another bad punisher effect, but I've been extremely impressed with its power in decks with fast clocks and burn spells to pressure the opponent's life total. Next time I play the deck, I plan on swapping out Chemister's Insight and playing Risk Factor instead. While I still think that Risk Factor is bad in most decks, there are some exceptions to this rule, and aggressive Izzet decks are near the top of the exceptions list. Another possibility is Arclight Phoenix, which can be pretty scary in an Izzet spellslinger shell, giving us some additional reach to close out the game, although I'm not really sure what to cut to make it fit.

All in all, Izzet Drakes feels like a really solid budget option for Guilds of Ravnica Standard. It's extremely consistent thanks to all of the card draw and cantrips, and the Drakes themselves are extremely powerful. If you like drawing tons of cards, slinging spells, and eventually finishing the game with massive fliers, Izzet Drakes might just be your perfect budget deck for Guilds of Ravnica Standard!

Getting Izzet Drakes down under $50 is super easy: we cut Steam Vents and add in the fourth Izzet Guildgate and some more basic lands, and we're good to go! In theory, this makes the deck slightly less consistent, since we're down three dual lands and one tapped land, but in reality, it shouldn't have a huge impact on gameplay. While you'll be slightly more likely to be color-screwed (and should pick up Steam Vents anyway, since the shock lands are going to be essential for Standard for the next two years), the ultra-budget deck should play fine if you are waiting for prices to drop before picking up your shock lands.

The non-budget build of Izzet Drakes still isn't all that expensive but does get a handful of new additions. First, as we talked about in the wrap-up, Risk Factor replaces Chemister's Insight, giving us a combo card-draw and burn spell that takes advantage of our fast clock and pile of burn to minimize our opponent's ability to choose. If we can get our opponent down under 10 life—which is sometimes just one Drake attack—our opponent is more or less locked into letting us draw three cards for three mana or else risk getting burned out. The other changes come in the mana base and sideboard. Drowned Catacomb and Dragonskull Summit help us splash the Dispersal side of Discovery // Dispersal and comes at a pretty low cost, since they should always enter untapped after Turn 1. Meanwhile, Ral, Izzet Viceroy and an additional Ionize help to improve the control matchup from the sideboard, while Goblin Chainwhirler gives us a good option to fight against decks like Selesnya tokens and Mono-Red Keld by wiping away the board. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Guilds of Ravnica Standard seems awesome, and I'm super excited to keep exploring! 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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