Ikoria is here!!!

Ikoria Lair of Behemoths has brought over 200 new cards to standard. As previews of the set went live, I began to see cards that might revitalize one of the most successful decks in standard and modern in 2019, Izzet Phoenix. The deck lost favor last year as more powerful decks rose and because key cards from the standard version of the deck rotated last fall. Below is my first take on revitalizing the deck.


CREATURES (14) (14)
Arclight Phoenix
Crackling Drake
Sprite Dragon
Rielle, the Everwise

INSTANTS (23) (23)
Thrill of Possibility
Discovery / Dispersal
Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor
Radical Idea
Cathartic Reunion

LANDS (23) (23)
Temple of Epiphany
Steam Vents

SIDEBOARD (15) (15)
Mystical Dispute
Disdainful Stroke
Lava Coil
Niv-Mizzet, Parun
Improbable Alliance
Narset, Parter of Veils

The key to the Izzet Phoenix deck is getting Arclight Phoenix into the graveyard and casting three instants or sorceries spells in a turn to get Arclight Phoenix out of the graveyard and onto the battlefield. This was easier in the past because of the instants that were available before rotation. Ikoria brings several instants to the deck that will help increase the decks consistence. The two additions are Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor and Cathartic Reunion.

Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor is the perfect removal card for this format. With all of the large creatures in the format, a two mana removal spell in red is a great value play. Usually by the time an opponent can get a large creature into play, you will have half a dozen instants and sorceries in the graveyard. The flexibility that Blitz offers helps because it can kill a creature or a planeswalker. Many removal cards only affect creatures or planeswalkers, so having the ability to take out either will help win a game.

Cathartic Reunion is a reprint from Kaladesh. It was never available for the original standard version of the deck but represents a better version of Thrill of Possibility. Drawing three cards for two mana is a good rate and the cost of discarding two cards is part of what the deck wants to do to get Arclight Phoenix into the Graveyard.

Another addition to the deck is Sprite Dragon. Its ability makes it ideal for the deck. When you cast a noncreature spell, put a +1/+1 counter on Sprite Dragon. The key here is that the counter is given when a spell is cast, so it doesn’t matter if the spell is successfully resolved. On many turns, you will cast at least three noncreature spells to get Arclight Phoenix out of the graveyard. This will make Sprite Dragon a large creature very quickly. What makes Sprite Dragon a better threat is that it has flying and haste making it evasive and potentially explosive late in games when you can cast it along with several other noncreature spells.

The final key addition to the deck is Rielle, the Everwise. Like Sprite Dragon Rielle benefits from casting instants and sorceries. She gets +1/+0 for each instant and sorcery card in your graveyard. Also, she helps you race through your deck because whenever you discard one or more cards for the first time each turn, draw that many cards. With Cathartic Reunion, that means you get to draw five cards when she is in play.

I wrote this before the set went live on area, so I have not had a chance to play the deck myself, but I did see the deck on several streams that I watched during the early access event. It looked like a strong deck in the format. The sideboard will need work, but I provided a good start for anyone looking to take the deck out for a spin early in the format. Time will tell if it has the power to be a top tier deck.

Until next time, good luck finding your win condition!