Although The Guilds of Ravnica standard season is wrapping up, there is still more magic to be played before the release of Ravnica Allegiance, and if you’re interested in learning how to win in standard for the remaining portion of the current meta, then you’ll likely want to learn Izzet Drakes. With a combination of cheap spells, recursion, and one of the best creatures printed in years, Izzet Drakes makes a strong argument for the best deck in standard. Here are four reasons you should be playing Arclight Phoenix in any remaining competitive, or casual, magic tournament left in the current standard meta.
In a previous article at the beginning of the season, the top cards of Guilds of Ravnica were predicted to focus mostly on Golgari, which has been a strong deck and for many is still a contender for the best deck in standard. In hindsight, however, Arclight Phoenix and Niv-Mizzet should have found their way on to that list, and this deck gets to play both. Izzet Drakes decks tend to also run a large number of Crackling Drake, which aren’t particularly strong by themselves but synergize incredibly well with the rest of the deck, providing yet another win condition for this powerhouse deck. With such a stacked lineup, this is definitely a standard MTG deck you should consider playing.
The great Guilds of Ravnica additions to this archetype pose an incredible challenge for almost every other deck in the format, thus enabling Izzet Drakes to succeed in a myriad of match-ups. Against control, the deck pushes repeatable damage with Arclight Phoenix, only to then resolve an un-counterable creature once the board has been stabilized. Against midrange, the built-in evasion of flyers evades go-wide strategies, while Crackling Drake can end the game in a few short turns. Finally, aggro decks are shut down by a reoccurring blocker and the ping damage from Niv-Mizzet, in addition to the potential of the one-of Murmuring Mystic taking over the game. No deck can dominate every match, but the substantial advantage the Izzet Drakes list conveys is certainly an additional reason to classify it as the best deck in the format.
Although Arclight Phoenix is expensive at the moment, the rest of the cards are extremely cheap, making Izzet Drakes on of the more affordable standard decks in Magic. Unlike in Modern, the lands are not exorbitantly expensive, and virtually every other card in the deck is a common or uncommon. Even Niv-Mizzet, the all-star sideboard card against control, can be purchased for under $10 dollars. Additionally, buying a playset of Arclight Phoenix could turn into a profitable investment even after Allegiances changes the meta, as many of the best MTG decks in Modern use Arclight Phoenix as well.
Izzet Drakes is moderately difficult to learn, but after even modest play-testing the best lines of play become fairly obvious. Because Arclight Phoenix comes into play from the graveyard, and because cards with the Jump-start mechanic can be played even after being discarded, using spells and discarding cards to draw through your deck is virtually always the priority. Identifying the appropriate target for removal is certainly important, and remembering triggers and the Goblin Electomancer cost reduction can be a deciding factor in a match, but overall the deck is very forgiving of mistakes and simply gets exponentially more powerful the longer the game goes.
Izzet Drakes is a powerful deck, one that not only has a myriad of answers to your opponent’s threats, but also controls the game with its own aggression and effective win conditions. The deck scales with the length of the game in both raw damage potential and card selection, and has neither an unmanageable skill requirement nor an insurmountable price tag. If you’re wondering how to beat Izzet Phoenix, the answer, this author would assert, lies in the timeless adage: if you can’t beat em’, join em’.