Reborn from the Ashes
Izzet Phoenix is a deck that dominated Pioneer back in 2021. Since then, it struggled a lot with bans and changes that put it in a very unfavorable spot, but that changed recently, and this deck is once again popular.
Wilds of Eldraine changed Izzet Phoenix. With the release of this set, this deck got backup in the shape of Sleight of Hand, and can now play with up to 12 cantrips. We've also had Picklock Prankster, which advances our game plan even faster.
Let's analyze the list we chose for this article.
This deck's main plan is to place your Phoenixes in the graveyard so you can then bring them all back to the battlefield all at once and finish the game with one or two strikes.
This list is well-equipped with tools to create card advantage and keep your gas during the match, while your plan develops. The 12 1-mana cantrips allow us to depend less on Delve spells (which are heavier and make this deck slower), besides easily enabling the Phoenixes while they create advantage. Each one acts in their own way, and I don't recommend you use less than twelve.
Pieces of the Puzzle lost a lot of space in this deck, precisely as it is a less efficient spell that only went in slower lists, as they really depended on Delve spells.
As for Treasure Cruise, it is still a very powerful card in Pioneer, and fits this list quite nicely.
Removals are always the subject of debate when we talk about Phoenix. Red might not have the best removals in the format, but they do their job well.
Impulse and Spikefield Hazard can deal with smaller threats, whereas Lightning Axe deals with the rest. The inability to deal damage directly to your opponent or target a planeswalker is a weak spot, but this deck has other ways to make up for this downside.
To give your main plan some support, this deck also counts with Temporal Trespass. It allows you to use one extra turn to open up a window for a final blow, and Galvanic Iteration can create an infinity of interesting plays.
Spell Pierce is a very underestimated card, but it has conquered its space in Izzet Phoenix lists, and is no longer just a sideboard card. Izzet Charm is another card that deserves its space in this deck due to its versatility, considering it provides one option out of three effects that really do a lot for this archetype.
Mana Base and Mulligan
To guarantee a solid plan, we need a mana base that guarantees speed. Eighteen lands is a good number, considering this deck has a low curve and uses several cantrips, which will allow you to recover well from mulligans.
You won't want to start with the Phoenixes in your starting hand, nor with too many Delve spells. A good starting hand should look like the following:
Pioneer is a format with countless hate options to fight against the graveyard and strategies that focus on the graveyard. With that in mind, besides adjusting to several matchups that can become complex in different ways, Phoenix's sideboard focuses on mostly fighting against hate cards and giving this deck a different line of play. That being said, let's head straight into the sideboard guide.
Vs. Rakdos Midrange
One of the things that was responsible for Phoenix's downfall in the past was the Rakdos Midrange ascension in Pioneer's metagame. Rakdos Midrange can deal with Phoenix's threats well and has powerful cards for this matchup, such as Graveyard Trespasser and Go Blank.
The plan here is to go for speed, wrinkling out your opponent's threats and opening up some space for lethal plays.
Vs. Mono Green Nykthos
Killing Nykthos' turn 1 elf will delay your opponent a bit, but this is a very complicated matchup, and it really depends on your ability to make the best decisions possible in each play, because your opponent can win the game literally from nowhere.
Vs. Boros Convoke
This matchup is a race. The plan is to stay alive long enough to finish your opponent before they finish you. Removals work a lot in this game. Post-side, we have Brotherhood's End to clear the board.
Vs. Azorius Control
This match is slightly favorable to Izzet Phoenix. The plan, once again, is to guarantee speed in game 1 and interact as best as you can with your opponent's answers. Azorius uses several removals that exile cards, besides The Wandering Emperor, which can be quite problematic.
In some situations, you can be forced to use your removals on one of your Phoenixes to protect them, so have in mind that you must use your resources in the best way possible. Drake and Saheeli are great for a post-side plan and work well against this list.
Vs. Izzet Phoenix
We'll finish this guide with the mirror, which is a complex match, full of decisions that can change the game entirely. Pay close attention to which version of this deck your opponent is using; it might be the version with Thing in the Ice or a version that is closer to your list.
We've reached the end of another article. Izzet Phoenix is still a powerful contender in the metagame and should remain so in the future. This deck still needs better removals and more tools that really help it enable the Phoenixes faster and more consistently, but it is still a deck that should be respected, and has become an excellent option for Pioneer currently.
I hope you liked this article! If you have any suggestions or questions, leave them in the comment section.
See you next time!