When Eli Kassis won Grand Prix Oakland at the turn of the new year, the story was of Arclight Phoenix 's rise from a new rogue strategy to the top-tier. Last weekend the story was of Arclight Phoenix 's sustained dominance, and a very strong argument that it's the best deck in Modern. One of the biggest strengths of the Izzet Arclight Phoenix deck is the sideboarding phase.
Sideboarding might seem like a very scary time for a deck based around abusing the graveyard, which is historically one of Magic's most hosed strategies. The trick is that while these cards are effective against the deck, it's designed to not rely on the graveyard.
Izzet Phoenix is a flexible deck with multiple angles of attack, so it doesn't simply fold to graveyard hosers, and often fights through them quite easily by outright ignoring them. Thing in the Ice acts like a giant Tarmogoyf.
True to a midrange deck, Izzet Phoenix also improves during sideboarding with access to a suite of powerful hosers and flexible disruption to put a stop to whatever the opponent is doing. Sideboarding with Izzet Phoenix can be described as the opponent fumbling to fight against Izzet Phoenix with graveyard hosers that aren't as good as they think they are—or at least not as good as they typically are against graveyard decks—but that they can't afford not to have because Arclight Phoenix is so busted.
At the same time, the Izzet deck will be bringing in its own hosers and disruption, while sideboarding to pre-empt the opponent's hosers and minimize its reliance on the graveyard! This is the sort of edge that was enjoyed by Splinter Twin Combo and Birthing Podor any other deck that hybridizes a combo finish into a midrange deck, and it leaves the opposition with no easy solutions.
Making the most of Izzet Arclight Phoenix means mastering the sideboard phase. I've put a lot of work into the deck, and today I'll share what I've learned. I'll cover sideboarding strategy against all of Modern's current major matchups, with a focus on explaining the general theory behind battling different strategies and the keys to each matchup.
I'll also include sideboarding plans. I first wrote plans using Michael Bernat's decklist, which is very close to what I have been playing, but I was uncomfortable with some of the finer numbers. Instead I've decided share my current decklist and my real sideboard plans I've developed over weeks of play, which can be adapted to whatever list you're playing. The best matchups for Izzet Phoenix are those where its creature removal elements are turned on.
When Thing in the Ice is more than just a large threat but also a Plague Wind that disrupts the opponent's core strategy, they will have a really hard time. These decks are also susceptible to Lightning Bolt and Lightning Axe as creature removal, and worst of all is when a deck has good targets for Gut Shot.
This strength against creature decks means Arclight Phoenix has significantly disrupted the metagame, and dramatically lowered the metagame share of Bant Spirits, which before Arclight Phoenix was the most popular deck. Sideboarding against creature decks is straightforward, which boils down to adding more creature removal.
Arclight Phoenix in Standard
MTG Salvation. Sign In Register. Wizard Mentor. It's a very powerful card and this is a deck capeable of a abusing it.
While Arclight Phoenix is the namesake and a very powerful engine in the deck, most of the games are won by Enigma Drake and Crackling Drake. With a ton of cheap cantrips, those two hit very hard indeed and one is often a 3 turn clock on it's own. The ability to protect such a threat with Dive Down means the deck can steal wins against anyone. As of yet, there is no consensus on the best build although most stick to UR with Goblin Electromancer.
Our Drake's 4 toughness make it especially backbreaking clearing the opponent's side and granting Lifelink to win nearly any race. Ixalan's Binding is the perfect answer to Niv-Mizzet, Parun which has become Jeskai Control's wincon of choice and a mirror breaker. It's also great against Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and any other problematic permanents. These lists are a good representation of the top preforming versions.
They vary from Instants and Sorceries and lands. Last edited by Voltage : Dec 1, Private Mod Note :. Rollback Post to Revision RollBack. I've been getting a lot of Arena Competitive s with the deck lately. Several Pros said they felt Electromancer was the weakest card in the deck and without it, the decks built around it can be too clunky. Running maindeck Deafening Clarion makes it even more of a liability. So, I've cut it and went with more Drakes and 1 mana cantrips instead of some of the 2 mana ones.
Niv-Mizzet is just insane with them and untapping with it is often GG vs many decks so I moved one to the main.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 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. 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.
Quick TiTi draws leave opposing creature decks walking on dangerously thin ice, especially if they are relying on Lightning Bolt for interaction.
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. 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. Modern Deck Spotlight - Izzet Phoenix. Leave a comment. Buy a Deck X. Pteramander . Thing in the Ice . Arclight Phoenix . Crackling Drake . Faithless Looting .
Gut Shot . Lightning Axe . Lightning Bolt . Opt . Serum Visions . Thought Scour . Izzet Charm . Manamorphose . Breeding Pool . Flooded Strand . Polluted Delta .
Scalding Tarn . Spirebluff Canal . Steam Vents . Island . Mountain .Hey y'all, I'm Donald, the lead designer for this year's Challenger Decks. You might know me from registering Wily Goblin at the World Championships in or, perhaps, leading the last year of Challenger Deck design alongside Allen Wu.
I'm here to give a little background and behind-the-scenes insight on the decks we've designed for this year. I want to give a shout out to Michael Majors and the whole Play Design team for giving feedback and building these decks with me. One of the biggest reasons for the success of last year's Challenger Decks is that they were authentic. Those decklists were modeled after lists that placed highly in premiere tournaments at the time, and my goal was to recreate that authenticity with this round of Challenger Decks as well.
However, there was a unique challenge presented by Ravnica Allegiance. These decks were designed around the time of Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnicaso we wouldn't know exactly how Ravnica Allegiance would shake up the format. Even without considering all the powerful cards Ravnica Allegiance has introduced into Standard, the "shock lands" Blood CryptBreeding PoolGodless ShrineHallowed Fountainand Stomping Ground would open up countless three-color combinations for Standard!
Actually, there are only ten three-color combinations, but, regardless, we decided to stick to guilds and known decks from Guilds of Ravnica. These decks are meant to be competitive out of the box, so the risk of guessing on a guild or three-color combination that Ravnica Allegiance enabled was too high. Something as simple as misjudging the optimal curve and playing too many three-drops could cause a deck to not function. Now let's break down each decklist!
There were a lot of different options when we were building "United Assault," the mono-white deck. As the metagame evolved after the tournament, we also saw these numbers change. We decided to model "United Assault" off Luis Scott-Vargas's 2nd-place deck from Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica because it minimized the amount of guesswork we had to do in terms of the metagame at the decks' release.
Luis Scott-Vargas's build was the most self-contained and cohesive build of White Weenie and the least sensitive to metagame pressures. If you're looking to modify the deck, Tithe Taker and Unbreakable Formation from Ravnica Allegiance have been doing great work to fight against control decks! Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants and Venerated Loxodon have been popular options for White Weenie decks, and I encourage you to try different configurations of one-drops, such as more Hunted WitnessSnubhorn Sentryor Rustwing Falcon if you're running into Goblin Chainwhirler s.
Adding either blue or red as a secondary color is also a viable option. Blue gives access to Deputy of Detention and counter spells for more interaction, and red lets you play Heroic Reinforcements for explosive attacks. However, we knew that the powerful spectacle cards and the new guilds would make an impact to the archetype. To avoid misjudging the optimal configuration of spells which people are still debating and potentially ruining the deck, we decided to stick to the tried-and-true Wizard's Lightning and Runaway Steam-Kin plus Experimental Frenzy packages.
If you're looking to try out different cards for this burn deck, I recommend Light up the Stage, Skewer the Criticsand Risk Factor first and foremost.
Then you can explore adding green or black to the deck. Much like the mono-white Challenger Deck, we went with the self-contained explore package— Wildgrowth Walker and their friends, Merfolk BranchwalkerSeekers' Squireand Jadelight Ranger. Outside of that, we looked to showcase the different options the deck has.
This is the most open-ended deck in terms of how you can modify it. Midnight Reaper occasionally shows up in all versions of this archetype. Hydroid Krasis and Hostage Taker have convinced many players to splash blue in the deck, which also opens up the ability to play counterspells in the sideboard. There is also an undergrowth build of this deck that takes advantage of Molderhulk which pairs perfectly with Memorial to Folly and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed.
We decided to go with a much more controlling build with main deck Niv-Mizzet, Parun and Murmuring Mystic for archetype diversity between the Challenger Decks.If you've been playing or paying attention to competitive Magic at all since Guilds of Ravnica was released, you know that Arclight Phoenix has risen to become the most important card in the set.
It quickly proved itself as a Standard staple and spawned a deck built around it, but the bigger story has been its ascension to one of Modern's premier strategies.
Last weekend the Izzet Arclight Phoenix deck won Grand Prix Oakland in its biggest finish yet, and is now in position to become an even bigger presence in Modern as it converts more players. With its place in Standard and Modern secured, the next format for Arclight Phoenix to burn is Legacy. In theory, a format like Legacy with an even bigger cardpool than Modern should have a ton of tools to support Arclight Phoenix.
There are already players working on the project — I find it pretty cool that last Sunday while Arclight Phoenix was on its way towards winning the Grand Prix, it also earned its best finish yet in Legacy, reaching the Top 8 of the Magic Online Legacy Challenge for the first time.
This deck first appeared around three weeks ago after the same pilot WhiteFaces put up a league finish, followed by another a week later. A top 32 Challenge finish last week was then followed up with a Top 8 this week — the sky's the limit for what's to come next. The idea behind the deck is to use Buried Alive to put three Arclight Phoenix in the graveyard, together which represent nine damage a turn and a kill within a few turns.
Mix in some spells to trigger Arclight Phoenix — like Dark Ritual to speed things up to as early as turn one — and winning becomes pretty elementary.
The deck is built very much in the mold of a combo deck, and in fact is actually quite similar to Storm in construction and uses essentially an identical spell base of blue card selection and black discard. Cabal Therapy excels in the deck — it's a great spell for enabling Arclight Phoenixwhich also makes great sacrificial fodder. The discard is also important to put Arclight Phoenix in the graveyard — this deck doesn't play Faithless Looting or any other looting effects, so the discard spells are the main way to get it into the graveyard beyond Buried Alive.
Cabal Therapy is particularly well-suited for the job because it hits even multiple copies at once. The deck turns to Young Pyromancer as an alternate win-condition for when Arclight Phoenix needs help or is hosed by cards like Surgical Extractionand it makes Cabal Therapy even better.
This deck doesn't play Force of Will or other Counterspell s beyond a couple Dazeso the discard is quite important for slowing down the opponent and buying time to win the game.
This deck is built like a combo deck but it doesn't win immediately like a true combo deck and takes a couple turns to close out the opponent, so having access to discard — especially the multiple discard of Cabal Therapy — is crucial.
The deck is quite similar to Dredge in that it puts together a clock that is difficult to meaningfully interact with and will inevitably win the game within a few turns but is susceptible to other decks going over the top with their own plan. Having access to the free discard of Cabal Therapy that can be enabled by free creatures gives the deck ability to consistently put a stop to what the opponent is doing. Playing against Dredge means not only dealing with their creatures for planning for having your hand ripped apart by Cabal Therapyand I imagine playing against this deck will feel similar.
The deck uses a very strong and proven core of cards, so it's no stretch to use them to enable Arclight Phoenix. It's appealing because it doesn't make any deckbuilding sacrifices beyond including the main combo piece of Buried Alive. Arclight Phoenix has plenty of utility without Buried Alive because it can be enabled by other cards, or simply cast. The deck also has a robust back-up plan in Young Pyromancerespecially when that comes with its own miniature combo with Cabal Therapy dismantling the opponent's hand.
With multiple angles of attack, the deck is more resilient to hosers than something like Storm, but it does make sacrifices in giving up raw power and ability to truly go off and win the game in one turn.
What's exciting is that the deck is still a work in progress and has plenty of room to improve. One new addition since earlier iterations of the deck is Bedlam Revelerwhich makes sense in a deck with so many spells, and it's also a nice discard outlet for Arclight Phoenix. Another discard outlet is Liliana of the Veilwhich I imagine is included because it's a great alternative play with Dark Ritual and can be a backup condition.
Earlier versions of the deck included Liliana, the Last Hope too, but it doesn't seem quite synergistic enough. There are plenty of more possibilities, and in time they will reveal themselves.This week's banned and restricted announcement of "no changes" means Arclight Phoenix will fly onwards in Modern.
Magic Online has been swarmed with Arclight Phoenixand league results show that players have been getting very creative with ways for beating the bird. Players are finding ways to play maindeck hosers against Izzet Phoenix, and they are doing so in some unique decks.
Today I'll cover some new decklists that are clearly designed with beating Arclight Phoenix in mind. One of the very best cards against Arclight Phoenix decks is Chalice of the Voidwhich is very hard to beat if resolved on turn two. It's one of the biggest reasons why the Whir Prison deck has been on such a meteoric rise.
The deck's foremost expert Michael Coyle used the deck to win the Modern Challenge last weekend, and it's the first place I'd look if I wanted a top-tier deck that can beat Izzet Phoenix consistently. Another key prison element for beating Izzet Phoenix is Ensnaring Bridgewhich efficiently stops any number of Arclight Phoenixalong with Thing in the Ice and Pteramander.
This package forms of the core of most prison decks in Modern, another version of which is Mono-Red.
UR Arclight Phoenix - Standard Deck - MTG ARENA / Феникс Дуги Света - Смогёт? / Коронавирус уходи!
Using a red base for a prison deck provides the powerful Blood Moon as another lock piece, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance as a great win condition.
A new variation of that deck that dips into black has recently appeared, and with multiple league finishes it might be a legitimate strategy. Black adds Liliana of the Veila great hand and creature hoser, one that is especially adept at picking off Thing in the Ice on curve. The hand-and-creature-hoser role is also filled by a playset of Collective Brutalitywhich can help beat the Lightning Bolt burn element of Arclight Phoenix decks.
It's most valuable against Burn itself, which has been on the rise and is typically one of the tougher opponents for prison decks. Bedevil adds a versatile removal element best for killing planeswalkers, and Kolaghan's Command is a source of value, along with being another maindeck way to destroy artifacts. An aggressive approach to Chalice of the Void is Eldrazi, which has quietly been having some success online. This deck makes the most of Chalice of the Void with Serum Powder to help find it, and Gemstone Caverns to help accelerate it into play.
A piece of tech in the deck I don't remember seeing before is Zhalfirin Voidwhich adds a bit of extra consistency. The biggest challenge facing clunky creatures like Eldrazi is Thing in the Icewhich is why this deck packs a full set of Dismemberalong with a Warping Wail to pick off the 0-power creature.
Another version of Eldrazi plays white, which opens up Thalia, Guardian of Thraben as another hoser against Izzet Phoenix's spell-based strategy. For a more controlling route, one Chalice of the Void deck that has been proving itself lately is Mono-White Control.
The deck backs up its 13 planeswalkers with seven Wrath of God effects, making this something of a nightmare for creature opponents.
Settle the Wreckage is particularly useful for exiling Arclight Phoenix I'm excited by the eight Wasteland effects, which puts pressure on land decks like Tron and Amulet Titan. In recent years the deck has taken on an aggressive slant, but recently a more controlling version with a blue splash put up a league This deck has prison elements of its own, like Ghostly Prison itself, which can help slow down Arclight Phoenix.
Even better for that job is Runed Halo which shuts all of them down entirely. Nevermore adds a different lock element, one that is useful against Izzet Phoenix but best of all in combo matchups where it can shut down a key part of the opponent's plan. The blue splash helps support the deck's disruption and prison strategy by adding Detention Sphere as a catch-all removal spell.
Meddling Mage in the sideboard supports Nevermore and allows the deck to really lock out opponents.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben has become better than usual against Izzet Phoenix since players have been trimming Gut Shot in favor of maindeck Surgical Extraction. Recently there's been an uptick in Humans, the classic Thalia deck, but it plays a part in other aggressive white decks. There's a new Abzan Aggro deck that looks very promising. Beyond shutting down Snapcaster Mage and Pyromancer Ascensionit makes sure Faithless Looting won't be cast from the graveyard.
The little hatebear is at its best against the other bogeyman of the format, Dredge, where it also shuts down Conflagrate and Life from the Loam. Surprisingly I can't find a definitive ruling on this anywhere online, but I'm also pretty confident that it should stop Creeping Chillwhich would make it a huge play in the matchup. This Abzan Hatebear-style deck goes further down the graveyard hoser rabbit hole with three Anafenza, the Foremostwhich directly stops Arclight Phoenix in a way few other cards can.
It shuts down the creature element of Dredge, without which they have a very difficult time winning, an impossible one with Dryad Militant helping.Arclight Phoenix with Drowned Secrets has always been one of our favorite strategies since the cards were printed, but Theros Beyond Death gives the deck access to the extremely broken Underworld Breachgiving it an incredible power boost.
Arena-Formatted Phoenix Breach Decklist. The core of the deck is the same as we've discussed in previous articles. Drowned Secrets is by far the most important card and is worth mulliganing passable hands to dig for it.
Merfolk Secretkeeper plus Unsummon gives us a ton of blue spells to cast, as well as some early gameplay when we are lacking our key enchantment. This package also gives us a critical mass of 1-mana spells in order to easily return Arclight Phoenix early.
Underworld Breach is one of those cards that everyone instantly knows that it's broken when they read it. It's sure to find a home in combo decks in nonrating formats, but it's also great in Standard.
It's obviously at its best when you can fill your graveyard, which this deck does every single game. It's also great when your key cards are a bunch of one mana spells or you rely on a specific card, as you can get more value out of it.
It can be played on five mana to simply get back Arclight Phoenix with three one-mana spells, or it can be played to return one or more copies of Drowned Secrets to the battlefield, setting you up for future turns. Considering the fact that we used to run Mission Briefing in this type of deck, we're happy to have such a massive upgrade.
Sweet Oblivion and Glimpse of Freedom are a couple of sweet new tools from Theros as well. Escape cards are obviously busted when the graveyard cost is trivial. However, we haven't opted to run too many copies of them in this build, as we mill so many cards from our deck that we only need a copy or two in order to find access to them regularly. Glimpse of Freedom makes it very difficult to flood out in a longer game, and Sweet Oblivion gives us just enough extra juice that we can always get our engines running even in games where we are missing Drowned Secrets.
Creeping Chill has always been worth the slot in this deck due to its combined ability to keep us alive against aggro and speed up our clock, but Narcomoeba is a card that we've been back and forth on. Underworld Breach and the escape cards seem to give us so much consistency and flexibility that it seems fine to run the extra "dead" cards, but if more testing proves that they are a liability then they can be trimmed or cut for more card draw or interaction.
One minor but important interaction worth noting is that they provide a free creature on the battlefield that could be the difference between being able to reanimate Phoenix or not if you have copies of Unsummon or Maximize Altitude that you would be otherwise unable to cast. Lastly, how could we fail to mention Thassa's Oracle? We may have won more games through this creature's trigger than through normal damage since Theros with our addiction to brews using this card, but it works great in this deck as a backup plan.
While we usually just kill through Phoenix and Creeping Chill damage, a single copy of this card effectively five copies due to Underworld Breach means that we can simply win the game in those weird situations where the damage plan doesn't work.
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