Izzet Phoenix with Throne of Eldraine

irencrag pyromancer art

Arclight Phoenix has been a favorite of ours ever since it was released. It's had its time in the spotlight at the top of both Standard and Modern at various times, and the release of Throne of Eldraine looks like it is going to place Izzet Phoenix back at the top of the Standard metagame. The strategy gains access to two key new cards: Improbable Alliance and Irencrag Pyromancer.

Improbable AllianceIrencrag Pyromancer

Improbable Alliance is perhaps a card that many were underrating at first, but in this deck it pretty strongly resembles the extremely powerful card Bitterblossom, and even has some more upside. The power of Irencrag Pyromancer is clear the first time you sit across the table from it piloting a creature deck and don't have a removal spell immediately. It basically acts like a Planeswalker that can't be attacked, and can even sometimes be activated on your opponent's turn. Either of these cards benefit from simply drawing Thrill of Possibility or just any two random cantrips like Opt and Radical Idea.

Izzet Phoenix with Throne of Eldraine

4 Improbable Alliance
4 Irencrag Pyromancer
4 Thrill of Possibility
4 Opt
4 Radical Idea
4 Shock
1 Bonecrusher Giant
1 Beacon Bolt
2 The Royal Scions
4 Arclight Phoenix
2 Winged Words
1 Merchant of the Vale
4 Crackling Drake
4 Steam Vents
4 Temple of Epiphany
7 Mountain (343)
6 Island (335)

Izzet Phoenix (Arena Formatted Decklist)

4 Improbable Alliance (ELD) 193
6 Island (ANA) 62
4 Irencrag Pyromancer (ELD) 128
4 Thrill of Possibility (ELD) 146
4 Opt (ELD) 59
4 Radical Idea (GRN) 52
4 Shock (M20) 160
1 The Royal Scions (ELD) 199
1 Winged Words (M20) 80
1 Merchant of the Vale (ELD) 131
4 Crackling Drake (GRN) 163
4 Steam Vents (GRN) 257
4 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253
7 Mountain (ANA) 59
4 Arclight Phoenix (GRN) 91
4 Lava Coil (GRN) 108

There's a lot of cards from Throne of Eldraine in here, so let's break them down.

The Royal Scions

The Royal Scions is a sweet new planeswalker from Throne of Eldraine. Similar to Oko, it is a 3-mana planeswalker that semi-protects itself early simply by virtue of having an incredibly high loyalty to mana ratio. The ability to loot for free each turn lets you trigger your key "2nd draw matters" cards on your turn and save your cantrips to trigger them again on your opponent's turn. The second ability can be useful on a Crackling Drake if your opponent has flying blockers, but it can also just contribute chip shot damage for your random Faerie tokens, which is useful in a deck that is looking to close the game with Arclight Phoenix damage. This is a strategy that can also often get into races against opposing creature strategies, and your opponent will have to invest a significant amount of damage into attacking this to get it off the table.

Thrill of Possibility

This deck probably would not be anywhere close to strong enough without the printing of Thrill of Possibility. Tormenting Voice was a staple in this strategy and is no longer in the format. But the instant speed upgrade on this card is a huge gain. Tormenting Voice suffered from being a bit weak to counterspells, since the discard was part of the cost. At instant speed, we can leave mana open and cast it if the shields are down. More importantly, this card gives us a simple 2-mana solution for triggering Improbable Alliance and Irencrag Pyromancer on our opponent's turn.

Bonecrusher Giant

Bonecrusher Giant is simply such a good card that we have to consider playing it in any red deck. It lets us keep our spell count high for Arclight Phoenix while also giving us some more threats. Izzet Spells is not typically a deck that struggles to have things to do with its mana, but if Shock is a good removal spell then this card is certainly fantastic.

Merchant of the Vale

Merchant of the Vale draws mixed opinions on whether it deserves a slot in this type of deck. If you don't value the relatively weak creature side of the card, it's a far below-rate cantrip. We already have a critical mass of ways to discard Arclight Phoenix between Thrill of Possibility, The Royal Scions, and Radical Idea, but having more 1-mana spells that let you put the Phoenix in the bin does help it come back faster. However, the activated ability on the creature half is most likely being underrated, as it does exactly what this deck wants and could let you trigger your key cards twice per turn cycle in the late game. It's not a card that you want in large quantities, but 1 or 2 copies is certainly worth considering.

Crackling Drake

We've included 4 copies of Crackling Drake in this list since it still fits so perfectly into what we are doing. Enigma Drake is no longer in the format, but Crackling Drake was always the more heavily played option anyway. It's quite elegant that the card advantage that is tacked onto this amazing creature plays perfectly into our gameplan of drawing two cards per turn.

Winged Words

Winged Words is not a card that has been proven as a staple in Arclight Phoenix strategies (partially because it did not yet exist when Izzet Phoenix last dominated the format), but it seems like we have a critical mass of flying creatures in this list to make it a strong option. It sort of resembles Chart a Course in that it is playable in its worst form but can easily be upgraded into a 2-mana draw-two. Having access to a card that can put us up on actual pieces of cardboard is useful, since it makes it much easier to chain spells together in the late game when we are topdecking but have access to jump-start options.

Aside from the usual cantrips and smattering of cheap red removal spells, that's the deck! It's very possible to build this as an Izzet-spells deck without Arclight Phoenix that just focuses on the "drawing two cards matters" aspect. However, with so much access to easy discard outlets, we still think that the free recursion creature is the way to go. It's looking like a strong possibility that this format will involve the graveyard enough that people will be forced to attack it with their sideboards, so it's nice that our other two main payoff cards do not require the graveyard.

Check out our video playing with this Izzet Phoenix deck here:

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Michael Schuller