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Playing Pauper: Izzet Drake

Welcome back to Playing Pauper, and welcome to the newest bane of Pauper's existence: Peregrine Drake and the most popular new deck it has spawned: Izzet Drake. If you can't beat them, join them. And this week we're Ghostly Flickering our way to victory and teaching you how to do it as well.

Check out the matches, then read the discussion below. If you enjoy Playing Pauper, subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel! It helps us draw more people to the channel, and it helps you to never miss any of our great video content.

Izzet Drake Intro

Izzet Drake vs White-Red Tokens

Izzet Drake vs Izzet Blitz

Izzet Drake vs Angler Delver

Izzet Drake vs Green-Red Madness

Izzet Drake vs Izzet Blitz

The Deck

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This deck revolves around the combo of resolving Peregrine Drake and Archaeomancer, then targeting them with Ghostly Flicker, generating free mana and getting back the Ghostly Flicker. This loop creates infinite mana and infinite draws combined with Sea Gate Oracle or Mulldrifter, and the deck eventually finds and pulls off an arbitrarily large Rolling Thunder for the win. The threat of this combo is real and powerful, but the deck can also win just as a Blue-Red control deck playing powerful spells.

Among those powerful spells is Counterspell which can protect our combo or neutralize a threat.

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Sea Gate Oracle and Mulldrifter are efficient creatures that can help us find the tools we need to win.

Preordain and Compulsive Research don't come with creatures attached, but they are very powerful draw engines for filtering through our deck.

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Our red burn-based removal is very efficient, and helps control the board while we wait to get to five mana to start deploying our flying threats. Since Rolling Thunder can be retrieved from the graveyard with Archaeomancer, it's acceptable to use it to remove a creature or two instead of saving it for the infinite mana combo.

The Sideboard

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Electrickery is a pseudo board wipe against Mono Blue Delver, Elves, and tokens decks.

Gigadrowse can be used to tap out a control opponent to next turn execute your infinite combo without fear of countermagic.

Gorilla Shaman is incredibly good against Affinity.

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Hydroblast and Pyroblast are super-efficient sideboard cards that are good in the current Pauper metagame (including the Izzet Drake mirror match).

Relic of Progenitus can slow down an opposing graveyard from being filled, while not touching our own.

The Matchups

Against decks without countermagic, the game plan is simple. Use removal to survive until you reach five mana, then cast all your Peregrine Drakes, then cast a Mulldrifter.  At this point, you can take control of the board and win slowly with two-power flyers, or go for the infinite combo. Big threats like Gurmag Angler and Ulamog's Crusher are the biggest problems since we can't cleanly remove them with one spell.

Against decks with countermagic (or lots and lots of creature removal), you have to conserve your threats and make sure you can protect them. Once both your Archaeomancers or all your Peregrine Drakes are dead, the game gets much harder. If you can find an opportunity to get ahead on board, even if it's just with two Sea Gate Oracles, then sit on your Counterspells and wait for your opponent to make the first move. Analyze your hand and know when to let your opponent counter a Peregrine Drake and know when it's important to wait until it can survive.

Beating Izzet Drake

Here's some tips for conquering this combo deck until such time as it ends up banned:

  • Kill Peregrine Drakes before your opponent gets a chance to Ghostly Flicker them. The amount of mana that it generates gets out of hand quickly.
  • The blockers in this deck are small. If you can remove them, you can sometimes outpace your opponent's removal spells.
  • Save Bojuka Bog and Nihil Spellbomb until you can't wait any longer. You're goal is to exile one or more of Ghostly Flicker or Rolling Thunder.
  • When in doubt, be aggressive. The longer the game goes on, the more card draw Izzet Drake is going to find. The advantage they have will usually only grow over time.


Izzet Drake is a fun deck to pilot, but in my opinion it's one that doesn't belong in Pauper anymore due to its power level being too high. The options to interact with the combo are too low. If Peregrine Drake isn't banned in the Kaladesh update, I'll be surprised. That being said, I still recommend it as a good choice until then. Just be aware that you may have to switch decks after September 26.


Viewer submissions are open! I'll still be playing known decks occasionally, but I'll mostly be playing:

  • Decks submitted by viewers
  • Decks created from viewer challenges (e.g. build a deck around Horned Kavu)
  • Decks created by Jake (especially ones comprised of cards from new sets such as Eldritch Moon)

Email me at or Tweet to me @JakeStilesMTG with your decklist or challenge, and I'll give you a shout-out if I use your submission!

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