The Pioneer version of Izzet Phoenix is able to present an almost identical gameplan to the Modern version of the deck that once dominated the format. The banning of Faithless Looting brought the Modern version down to a more reasonable level, but in Pioneer its power level seems incredibly high. It has the early results to back this up, putting three copies into the top 8 of the first Magic Online Pioneer Challenge including a second place finish.
Izzet Phoenix Decklist (Pioneer)
4 Arclight Phoenix 4 Thing in the Ice/Awoken Horror 2 Merchant of the Vale/Haggle 4 Opt 4 Chart a Course 2 Strategic Planning 4 Treasure Cruise 4 Fiery Temper 4 Izzet Charm 4 Lightning Axe 4 Wild Slash 4 Island (335) 2 Mountain (343) 4 Shivan Reef 4 Spirebluff Canal 4 Steam Vents 2 Sulfur Falls 3 Abrade 2 Anger of the Gods 1 Brazen Borrower/Petty Theft 2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance 1 Fry 2 Mystical Dispute 1 Spell Pierce 3 The Royal Scions
This deck is a Thing of beauty, only playing the two signature overpowered Izzet creatures as threats. Thing in the Ice was not-so-secretly the reason that the Modern version of this deck was so good, and that continues to be true in Pioneer. It's a combination that we're going to see in any format that this card is legal alongside Arclight Phoenix, as they both demand the same shell to set up but present their attacks on a very different axis.
Lightning Axe is a great inclusion in this list, as without a card like Faithless Looting we definitely need access to some premium ways to discard Arclight Phoenix. Lightning Axe is one of the few efficient and reliable ways to deal with bigger creatures, notably Felidar Guardian out of the Saheeli Rai combo decks. Izzet Charm is not quite Faithless Looting, but as a modal card it does give us much more interaction. This lets us run a critical mass of both discard outlets and cheap removal while even gaining access to a counterspell in our Arclight Phoenix deck. Chart a Course and Merchant of the Vale round out our Arclight Phoenix plan.
Since we want to go so hard on the discard options anyway, Fiery Temper gives this deck exclusive access to playing a reliable Lightning Bolt variant in Pioneer. Wild Slash is the best variant available after that, though since it's much less useful at going face it will be the first thing to sideboard out against many opposing strategies. However, because we have such a high count of cheap burn spells we have a great matchup on decks relying on smaller creatures.
It's somewhat egregious that it's taken us this long to mention Treasure Cruise, but yep, we get to play four copies of Ancestral Recall in this deck. It's quite likely that these overpowered delve spells will make it onto the banned list whenever Wizards gets around to giving the fetchlands some company, but until then we're going to have fun drawing too many cards.
We round out the deck with some more cantrips, Opt being the only real 1-mana blue card selection spell in the format. Strategic Planning is an interesting inclusion since it simultaneously digs for copies of Arclight Phoenix extremely well and provides additional fuel for Treasure Cruise.
This deck is one of our top picks for the format, given its incredibly high power level and how fun it is to play. It will take a hit if Treasure Cruise is banned, but it would still be a strong strategy and is not likely to disappear.
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