• Feb 14, 2019
  • by Myrtle Beach Games

Izzet Phoenix

by Logan Chestnut (Monday Night Modern 2/11/2019)  

About the deck:

Izzet Phoenix: Ride the wave of cheap cantrips until your opponent gets smacked by a 2-mana 7/8 and a bunch of free, hasty Snapping Drakes!

Faithless Looting is a filthy, disgusting, absolutely broken Magic card--and I’m finally playing it! Arclight Phoenix decks did not take long to make it onto the scene in all the competitive constructed formats after the card’s printing in Guilds of Ravnica, but the persistent little redbird has been making its deepest impressions in Modern.

The list has three interlocking components: cantrips, removal, and threats. The cantrips, cards that replace themselves at low cost like Serum Visions and Opt, provide consistency and discard outlets for the phoenixes, while enabling the chain of instants and sorceries that Thing in the Ice and Arclight Phoenix need. The removal is necessary interaction and reach to stunt opponents’ development and close out games. The threats… well they are the sweet part of the deck.

Arclight Phoenix is the central source of card advantage in a deck that hemorrhages card parity through spells like Faithless Looting and Lightning Axe. By providing “free” cards to discard and returning quickly and consistently they enable explosive starts and grindy late-games alike. Despite all that Phoenix does, my limited seat time in this deck has led me to an even greater respect for Thing in the Ice. Between Manamorphose and Gut Shot, the deck has many ways to follow the advice of one of the great philosophers of our age and “put your thing down, flip it, and reverse it” by turn 3. Quick TiTi draws leave opposing creature decks walking on dangerously thin ice, especially if they are relying on Lightning Bolt for interaction.

While the deck has a high velocity (the ability of a deck to dig through its library looking for particular cards), you can’t spend all your time spinning wheels in a format like Modern and some additional threats are needed. Crackling Drake has been the relative “old standard” (considering its first printing is still in Standard) since the deck appeared. It is an odd duck of a drake at four CMC in this format of turn four Ulamogs and Splinter Twins Primeval Titans, but it does help you refuel for an explosive Phoenix turn and often can kill in one attack, even on turn 5. Pteramander is the newest addition to the deck, and the little lizard dude has put in work. He can come down early and easily as a Flying Men, and in the mid-game is already a 5/5 flyer for two blue mana on an installment plan! Monastery Swiftspear, Young Pyromancer, and more Crackling Drakes have all been in these slots, but I think the new guy is the man.

The sideboard is mostly self-explanatory. There is a Breeding Pool in the main for Ancient Grudge post-board, and while the card is clearly excellent against artifact heavy decks I am not sure that Ceremonious Rejection and more Abrades is not a preferable place to be. Young Pyromancer provides a different angle of attack and payoff for the cantrips that dodges the graveyard hate that people (wrongly) bring to bear in large numbers against the deck. Surgical Extraction is a powerful one-sided tool against dedicated graveyard decks and in the mirror, especially when you typically board out the Gut Shots in those matchups and want to maintain a critical mass of free spells for quick Phoenixes and Thing in the Ice transformations. I believe I want to make room in the board for a Chandra, Torch of Defiance or the more traditional Ral, Izzet Viceroy for grindy games, probably at the expense of Pia and Kiran Nalaar.

This deck is powerful, consistent, and fun, and I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a rising star of a modern deck. It’s also a wonderful jumping off point for anyone hoping to get into the true powerhouse of the format, Cryptic Command decks!


Main Deck:

Pteramander

[2]

 Thing in the Ice

[4]

Arclight Phoenix

[4]

Crackling Drake

[2]

Faithless Looting

[4]

Gut Shot

[3]

 Lightning Axe

[2]

Lightning Bolt

[4]

 Opt

[4]

  Serum Visions

[4]

Thought Scour

[4]

  Izzet Charm

[1]

 Manamorphose

[4]

 Breeding Pool

[1]

Flooded Strand

[1]

Polluted Delta

[1]

Scalding Tarn

[4]

Spirebluff Canal

[4]

Steam Vents

[2]

Island

[3]

Mountain

[2]

 

Sideboard:

Ceremonious Rejection

[2]

Dispel

[1]

Spell Pierce

[2]

Surgical Extraction

[3]

Young Pyromancer

[3]

Pia and Kiran Nalaar

[1]

Abrade

[1]

Ancient Grudge

[2]