Izzet Razor-Burn

I have been trying to find a creatureless or nearly creatureless control deck to neutralize Crypt Incursion decks (Dimir Mill) completely.  The natural win condition without creatures is currently Razortip Whip since it is a repeatable source of damage.  Outside of countering it, there are no main-deck answers to it amongst popular decks.  Thus, the race will be on!

razortip whip

A Rakdos creatureless control deck joined my queue a few weeks ago and it seemed sweet, but without access to counterspells I was able to overrun him with creatures and card advantages spells eventually.  Once Gywned’s showed that Izzet was able to compete, I knew I just had to make a few changes and it would crush.

Gwyned got 2nd in the MPDC 23.07 event with a pretty rogue deck.  His list can be found here.

The following is my version of an Izzet Control deck.


Izzet Razor-Burn

Lands (22)

10 Mountain
8 Island
4 Izzet Guildgate
Creatures (4)
4 Archaeomancer

Spells (34)

4 Annihilating Fire
4 Lightning Strike
4 Cancel
4 Essence Scatter
4 Razortip Whip
4 Chandra’s Outrage
4 Shock
4 Divination
2 Explosive Impact

Sideboard (15)
4 Frostburn Weird
2 Electrickery
1 Smelt
1 Wild Celebrants
1 Essence Backlash
2 Negate
2 Dispel
1 Disperse
1 Thassa’s Bounty

Niv-Mizzet New Art - Izzet vs Golgari Duel Decks

Mono-Black has been the most difficult match-up for me ever since I got 2nd place in MPDC 23.03.  My list (or a similar variation) has been featured by many players in subsequent Top 8s every single week for the last 5-6 weeks.  My build wasn’t earth-shattering but it has been pretty consistent.

I haven’t played Mono-Black since that week in an effort to be creative, which is what the formats needs in order to grow.   I saw someone’s attempt to break the Mono-Black mirror while also controlling graveyard recursion like March of the Returned and Midnight Recovery was to include 2 Crypt Incursion in the main.  This furthered my resolve to find a creatureless control deck.

For reference again – Gwyned’s Izzet Turtle-Power



4 Nivix Cyclops and 4 Minotaur Skullcleaver:

While these creatures can pack a hasty and huge punch, they are awful in the deck.  Most decks you face will have plenty of removal to deal with these.  With so few other creatures in the deck you are essentially turning on your opponents removal spells.  Eight creatures is also a lot when it comes to gaining life from Crypt Incursion (24 max) and that is something my deck wants to minimize.

4 Inspiration:

Two cards is not worth four mana, even if it’s flexible to play it at the opponents end of turn.  I can see this card going into the Dimir Mill deck since you can target the opponent at the end of the game to put them down two more cards, but even then, just play Tome Scour and your own draw spells like Plifered Plans and Thassa’s Bounty should cover it.

2 Unknown Shores:

I like 24 land decks when you have access to Read the Bones.  I find it easier to lose a game in Standard Pauper from flooding that from mana screw, so I tend to error on a lower land count and hope the card draw with help you hit the gas pedal while finding the additional land drops.

Side note – I do not believe Unknown Shores is a playable card.  I never want to Sphere of Resistance myself and it is awful in any opening hand of 1 or 2 lands where you need both colors.  Most other situations it is moot, but my deck has so many double color requirements that I can’t risk a colorless one ruining the ability to cast spells on time.



4 Archaeomancer:

You might notice that the Dimir Mill deck runs this as its only creature.  That’s because he is perfect in an all spell deck.  He gets you back whatever fits the situation you are currently in and the 1/2 Squire body is incredibly relevant.  He can trade with many early creatures like Rakdos Shred-Freak and Foundry Street Denizen.  Chump blocking for a turn is sometimes all you need to win the race.  All I know that if Read the Bones isn’t going to be in my deck then I need to cast Divination more times than my Mono-Black opponent to get up on cards.  Read the Bones is a virtual card advantage machine of a 4 for 1 at best, so we have to keep up somehow.  Aggro would also be pretty tough for us game 1 with Frost-Burn Weird on the sidelines but an opening of Shock in the first 4 turns followed by a turn 4 Archaeomancer + Shock can grind their assault to a halt quickly.


4 Divination:

The “strictly better” Inspiration for our deck.  We have two less lands, so we often need to cast this on turn 3 in order to hit lands.  This is usually not a critical turn for our opponents, since we can likely kill whatever they resolve with a red burn spell the following turn.  When digging this back with Archaeomancer we enjoy the fact that our draw two only costs 3 mana, since that allows us to hold open Essence Scatter or Cancel more easily.

explosive impact

2 Explosive Impact:

The card name tells you exactly what it does – BOOM.  Not many see this coming in the main and it is a beating.  The flexibility to hit their face or the likes of Nessian Asp or an Omenspeaker bestowed with Nimbus Naiad gives it the nod over Lava Axe.

Sideboard Explained

4 Frostburn Weird:  Most decks will side out their removal.  FBW can brick tons of 3-power attackers and doesn’t concede to Stab Wound

2 Electrickery: Potential card advantage, X/1 removal

1 Smelt:  Razortip Whip, and you can get it back with Archaeomancer for killing more Whips

1 Wild Celebrants:  More Razortip Whip hate.  Huge creatures on most boards

1 Essence Backlash:  Additional Essence Scatter than can hit for some damage to edge a race in our favor.

2 Negate:  Against other counterspells, Bestow creatures, and card-advantage spells like Read the Bones or Divination

2 Dispel:  Against other counterspells and Gods Willing/Ranger’s Guile

1 Disperse:  Bounces a problem permanent that can hopefully be countered on it’s way back down.  We can’t deal with a resolved artifact or enchantment any other way

1 Thassa’s Bounty:  Control decks, when we know we have time to get to a late, grindy card-advantage game-state


The deck performed quite well in the SPDC 19.37 event tonight – good enough for a 2nd place finish.  If I were to play the deck again I would run the main the same but trim the fat in the sideboard.

Essence Backlash is a win-more and isn’t worth its cost.  Disperse was meant for Ethereal Armor/Bestow decks but I just scoop to those Hexproof decks anyway.  Stalling it for one turn could make the difference in a race with multiple Razortip Whip cracking at them, but it’s just too weak.

To replace these two cards I would add 2 Nephalia Seakite.  It’s removal for 2/2s that can’t be hit with Dispel or Negate.  Most removal is boarded out so bringing in creatures that act as removal spells and speed up the clock seems perfect.

Congrats to GodZo for the win @ SPDC 19.37 – his UW aggro deck seems not very well positioned IMO against many popular decks, so I gotta give it up to him for that superior play-skill, because I think I would have gotten crushed had I played that deck.  Maybe he has good match-ups that I don’t know about.

I was able to save my Game IDs from the SPDC event so that I can review the replays.  I’ll see if I can figure that out this weekend and do a recap/analysis of the SPDC 19.37 tournament.

Thanks for stopping by.
Stay classy.
Thx fr stppng by.
But mainly, stay classy.



Standard Pauper Players Clan Blog


Can’t wait for Anchorman 2…


3 thoughts on “Izzet Razor-Burn

    • Ya, it’s really good against other control decks. I feel like Read the Bones (blue should have Foresee!) is the only card this deck is really missing, since Divination doesn’t allow for card selection, so you will flood or brick on 3 lands every now and again. Look forward to seeing your Izzet variation.

  1. Pingback: Gold Medal Cyclops.dec (1st place SPDC 20.02) | The Draft Brewery

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