I’m in the midst of writing a lengthy post on how to manage Magic‘s bonkers-fast release schedule on a budget. I promise. However, “researching” that post required me to dive back in to Magic Arena, and I have yet to find my way out.
Reader, I’ve fallen in love with the latest version of Izzet Phoenix.
Because I don’t spend any money on Arena, I use my wildcards conservatively. I like to see how a format shakes out before crafting a new deck, because I want to MAKE SURE I’m crafting something that a) is fairly competitive and b) I’ll enjoy.
While I liked the previous iteration of Izzet Phoenix, that deck did not play well in best-of-one. Aggro decks sometimes went under it, and control decks almost always went over the top of it. With no way to fix both problems, I decided to set the deck down and continue playing Mono-Red instead.
However, War of the Spark provided Phoenix with a few new tools – the most important of which is Finale of Promise.
Against aggressive decks, Finale reads “cast the two best removal spells in your graveyard, return Arclight Phoenix to the battlefield.” Against control, it reads “draw a bunch of cards, return Arclight Phoenix to the battlefield.”
Of course, those are best-case scenarios which assume you’ve already done exactly what Phoenix wants to do in the early game. But Finale is always a two-for-one spell, allowing Phoenix to regain some of the tempo it’s spent churning through spells on turns one through three. When WAR first released, Izzet mages played two to three Finales. Now, they’re playing four, and the deck hums as a result.
I straight-up stole my current list from Andrew Jessup, who placed second at SCG’s Summer Championship event. I ended up swapping two Tormenting Voices for two Radical Ideas – not because I think they’re better, but because last week’s Pauper event ran me out of Common wildcards. (Okay, I’m not THAT conservative.)
I chose to run Jessup’s list because I liked that he played Augur of Bolas and God-Eternal Kefnet instead of Goblin Electromancers. Augur serves as a decent blocker against aggressive decks, while Kefnet can take over games against midrange and control decks. Basically, Jessup and WAR solved Izzet Phoenix’s previous problems – which is why I’m now having a blast with the deck.
If you’ve been itching to spend your WAR wildcards, and you like a deck that plays somewhere between midrange and tempo, I highly recommend building Izzet Phoenix. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to casting Finales.