Is Izzet Dragons Now The Deck To Beat In Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Standard?

With the World Championship XXVII results in, what’s the deck to play in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Standard? Worlds competitor PVDDR and four more SCG creators share their picks.

Goldspan Dragon, illustrated by Andrew Mar

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the conclusion of Magic World Championship XXVII, many are unsure what they’d play in Standard. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Standard event.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Izzet Epiphany

Last week, I chose to play Mono-Green Aggro❄ at the Magic World Championship XXVII. I still think it’s a strong deck, and better than its results might tell you. Still, given our abysmal record with it (I went 2-4 and Sam Pardee went 2-5 outside of the mirror), it should be no surprise that I’m not willing to run it back this week. The metagame might develop in a way that is beneficial for Mono-Green Aggro❄ but I’m still a bit scarred at the moment.

Instead, I would play what I thought was the best deck from the event — the Izzet Epiphany list played by Stanislav Cifka, Ondrej Strasky, and Arne Huschenbeth (more specifically Cifka’s and Ondrej’s since Arne’s was a bit different, though the principle was the same). The main draws towards this deck, to me, are the four copies of Unexpected Windfall and the four copies of Galvanic Iteration. Those let the deck function like a true combo deck — a “Splinter Twin” if you will — where you’re just trying to assemble Galvanic Iteration + Alrund’s Epiphany as quickly as possible. 

Galvanic Iteration as a four-of is uncommon, but in this list it makes perfect sense. Not only is Unexpected Windfall an incredible card to copy (on Turn 6 you can go Iteration + Windfall and on Turn 7 you have eleven mana, which means you can flashback the Iteration and still cast Alrund’s Epiphany), but the deck also has several copies of Demon Bolt, which means it’s going to be easy to cast Galvanic Iteration for value. A very common sequence of plays should be to Foretell Demon Bolt on Turn 2 and then on Turn 3 cast Galvanic Iteration and Bolt, killing their two creatures, and then the Iteration is still there in the graveyard to provide value later on.

I haven’t had a chance to play with the deck yet, only against it, but my instincts tell me that, even though they didn’t win, this will become the standard Izzet Epiphany list moving forward, and it’s my choice for a tournament this weekend.

Shaheen Soorani — Dimir Control

If you’re looking for an interesting take on Dimir Control, look no further than Dan Jessup’s list posted above.  The gameplan intrigues me, moving away from the traditional control decks that you see me championing and going big with some unique win conditions.  We have seen some Lier, Disciple of the Drowned in the various Grixis Epiphany lists and its power level is just as strong in control.  Giving all instant and sorcery spells in the graveyard flashback is game-winning, but the lack of protection Lier has is its biggest downfall.

Jessup gives it some defense with Fading Hope and Divide by Zero.  I’m going to try this list as is; however, I would be nervous about not having true countermagic over Divide by Zero.  Between now and this weekend, I will test Negate and Saw It Coming in some capacity here, but I really like where he was going with this.  The real zinger in the deck is Xanathar, Guild Kingpin, which I have yet to play with in Constructed.  I can see it getting out of hand very quickly and end the game if not killed the turn it hits the battlefield.

Kudos to Dan, and I look forward to trying a different flavor of Dimir Control this week!

Todd Anderson — Izzet Dragons

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Against the best players in the world, Yuta Takahashi took the whole thing down as the lone Izzet Dragons pilot. I was a big advocate of this deck a few weeks ago, as I thought Dragon’s Fire was the best removal spell in the format. The fact that it can regularly kill Esika’s Chariot or other four-toughness creatures at instant speed meant it was the right tool for the job against all manner of large monsters.

I also noted that Smoldering Egg was one of the better ways to put Lesson cards to good use, as their overly high mana value was offset by the fluid nature of the mana spent on transformation. Cards like Environmental Sciences are much more forgiving when you’re adding two counters to your Egg or dealing two damage with Ashmouth Dragon. Smoldering Egg was not a mainstay in most of the Izzet Epiphany decks, which I thought was a huge mistake. There are many lines that end the game with Smoldering Egg, including a single resolved Alrund’s Epiphany. The fact that Yuta won the tournament and had four copies of Smoldering Egg maindeck isn’t a coincidence.

One big downside to playing Izzet Epiphany as opposed to Izzet Dragons is how many free wins you get against some of the creature-based decks just by playing Goldspan Dragon. Casting a Goldspan Dragon and then using the two mana to kill a creature, counter a spell, or just ramp up for an Alrund’s Epiphany on the following turn helps you actually turn the corner and win the game. Against aggro decks, it’s much harder to gain the time or life to cast Galvanic Iteration and Alrund’s Epiphany in the same turn.

Going a little more slowly, or just putting a permanent onto the battlefield before casting Alrund’s Epiphany, is the “easy” way to win. Galvanic Iteration into Alrund’s Epiphany was much better for the mirror matches because it was hard to stop the extra turn from happening. With the introduction of Grixis and discard spells, you couldn’t just sit on your hands and wait for eight or more mana to go off.

If you want to do well this weekend, you could do a lot worse than choosing the champion’s winning list. Goldspan Dragon go brrrrr.

Cedric Phillips — Mono-Green Aggro❄

PVDDR and Sam Pardee may have not gotten the finish they were looking for at Magic World Championship XXVII, but I’m still a believer in Esika’s Chariot, Blizzard Brawl, and Faceless Haven. Mono-Green Aggro❄ is unrelenting in its aggression, its ability to play a long game is impressive, and I continue to like the tools it gets access to after sideboard.

Speaking of the sideboard, one thing I would keep track of his how Izzet Dragons and the Epiphany decks continue to trend. If they pick up in the wake of Yuta Takahashi’s huge victory this past weekend, it may be time swap out Blizzard Brawl for Snakeskin Veil entirely. This is a risky move since it makes you significantly worse against the mirror and other creature-based decks, but it’s something the blue-based control decks will not be ready for at all.

There’s still plenty of innovation left in this archetype. Don’t give up hope just yet!

Brad Nelson — Izzet Dragons

I know, very original of me to choose the deck that just won Magic World Championship XXVII. I sure am sticking my neck out on this one, aren’t I?

Honestly, I thought this deck choice was bad going into the tournament. Don’t get me wrong, the deck was fantastic when the format was brand new. It’s just that Izzet Epiphany came out shortly after which looked to be the better deck, and I never really reevaluated my opinions once that happened.

The truth is, Izzet Epiphany was the better deck until the metagame evolved to beat it. All of the Storm the Festival strategies, the Mono-Black Control❄ decks, and other nonsense got pushed out by the creatureless version, leaving only the tough matchups. Soon Mono-Green Aggro❄, Mono-White Aggro❄, Temur Treasures, and other Alrund’s Epiphany decks were left, making it much more difficult for Izzet Epiphany to do its thing.

I now realize that Izzet Dragons is just the better-rounded strategy in a metagame that has already reacted to Alrund’s Epiphany. Now it’s just not the time to be completely reactive, as there are fewer maindeck removal spells ready to sit idle in an opponent’s hand while you set up turn after turn after turn. I’m not sure Izzet Dragons will continue to be my favorite choice, but it’s for sure the deck I’ll take a closer look at going into this weekend’s Arena Standard Challenge. I think you should too.