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Here’s The Secret To Drafting Izzet In Ikoria

The trophies don’t lie! Ryan Saxe has cracked the Izzet code in Ikoria Draft, and he’s sharing the picks that got him to Victory Lane!

Pyroceratops, illustrated by Jason A. Engle

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In my last article, I gave a little teaser for this article with the following deck:

Don’t worry. Having a companion isn’t the secret to Izzet. But this is neither a spells deck nor a cycling deck, which are the archetypes expected for Izzet in Ikoria. This deck utterly destroyed my opponents. I mulliganed almost every game, but the play-pattern was the same: cast a Frenzied Raptor and attack my opponent five times. After the League, a light bulb went off in my head.

These four common three-drops are all capable of singlehandedly winning the game. They each do it in slightly different ways, but with four commons it’s clear that getting multiples is easy. I immediately decided to try to draft the deck again. My next two drafts were both Izzet decks in this fashion, and both went undefeated. One is the draft we will go over today.

But wait, there’s more!

The secret about the cycling deck is out and people are fighting for it. This means that players are not only cutting each other out of red, but they’re also prioritizing different red cards. The cycling deck would rather take Drannith Stinger or Prickly Marmoset than Rumbling Rockslide, but this deck would rather have Rumbling Rockslide. I’m wheeling great red cards for this deck frequently. I got a great version of the deck on Tuesday, and in that draft a Flame Spill wheeled. Too many people got cut out of red in Pack 1 and then the other red drafter took a Reptillian Reflection instead. Here’s the final product of that deck:

Now that you have a good idea what the archetype looks like, let’s dive into a draft!

Pack 1, Pick 2

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

My take!
This is the classic dilemma. Blood Curdle is a better card than Essence Scatter, but Essence Scatter is in the same color as the rare in the pool. What’s correct?

I think this pick is close and can’t fault anybody for disagreeing with me. I took Essence Scatter. I have a color preference for blue and red over black, and Essence Scatter is a great follow-up to Mythos of Illuna. I would certainly take Blood Curdle over Essence Scatter Pack 1, Pick 1, but I do think the texture here lends itself to taking Scatter.

Pack 1, Pick 3

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

My take!
Go for Blood and Flame Spill are great removal spells. Flame Spill is a much better removal spell than Go for Blood, but cycling makes Go for Blood much better than it looks. Still, I believe Flame Spill is a better card than Go for Blood. Note that in certain versions of the cycling deck, Go for Blood is a higher pick. But it’s too early to draft in that manner just yet.

I still believe Of One Mind is the best blue common. Casting this card for one mana is just absurd and Divination is a great fail-case. But it doesn’t compete with Pollywog Symbiote. Pollywog Symbiote creates some of the most explosive draws in the format and is also a great defensive body. I take it over every common Pack 1, Pick 1, but do I take it over Flame Spill?

Yes. I take Pollywog Symbiote over Flame Spill Pack 1, Pick 1, which means that with two blue cards in the pool, I believe this is a very clear Pollywog Symbiote.

Pack 2, Pick 5

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

My take!
Proud Wildbonder is a card I struggle to evaluate. Ikoria Draft is all about synergy and the trample deck doesn’t come together enough for the Wildbonder to qualify. It’s a pretty strong combo with Monstrous Step to one-shot people, but outside of that it’s just a well-statted creature. I would rather take Footfall Crater for cycling or Forbidden Friendship for mutate and/or spells. And remember —the Izzet decks are all about three-drops, not four-drops. In fact, Pyroceratops is worse than Frenzied Raptor in this archetype for that reason.

How good is Gust of Wind? The answer sits in the ceiling: flyers. In a deck with lots of flyers, Gust of Wind is phenomenal. However, at four mana the card is lackluster. It’s a fine on-curve piece of interaction to push Otters and Raptors through, but I rarely want more than one. Once I have a Sprite Dragon or two, I start taking Gust of Wind highly.

This leaves the two synergy-driven red cards: Footfall Crater and Forbidden Friendship. With zero cycling payoffs, Forbidden Friendship is what I took. It pieces a lot of little synergies together that make the card worth a lot more than is intuitive. My favorite interaction is with Of One Mind, as that one-two-punch of commons plays smooth as butter!

Below is the deck as well as the draft log. It’s exactly within the archetypal framework I’ve described and the deck played just like I drew it up!

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