Pioneer Deck Tech: Izzet Phoenix

Winston Atkinson
January 31, 2023


Guilds of Ravnica was a high-impact set for Magic: The shocklands reprinted in the block has kept two color decks highly consistent, Assassin's Trophy has been premium removal in every format it's been printed in, and there's a number of staples for Commander. But one of the most interesting additions to Magic's history is in Izzet colors and Pioneer format: Arclight Phoenix.


Phoenix has been a staple of the format since the inception of Pioneer. Izzet was hugely impactful during the standard season of the block, and with support of many powerful blue cards such as Treasure Cruise and Chart a Course. Phoenix is a tempo deck based around the titular beater. Arclight Phoenix is a 4 mana investment for a constant, evasive, and hasty body that can recur through casting spells. The mana cost is slightly above the power printed on the card, but the ability to trade and return the phoenix to the board ensures that you'll have a constant threat. Aside from Phoenix, all lists run some combination of Ledger Shredder and Thing in the Ice. Shredder is usually at 4, and can Connive on your second spell cast. Binning an Arclight means you only need 1 more spell to recur the Phoenix, and you also get +1/+1 on your evasive Shredder. Thing in the Ice is more of a defensive option, acting as a board wipe in two colors that struggles with mass removal.

Consider (MID) 

Aside from the landbase, Izzet Phoenix is unique in that the only permanents are the creatures. Tempo and spellslinger archetypes run hand-in-hand, and Pioneer has no lack of impressive spells to keep the pressure on. There's a handful of removal options to help keep the board in check while developing your Shredders and Arclights. With Consider and Pieces of the Puzzle, you can move cards to the grave while keeping gas in hand. Excess cards in the grave funnel into a Treasure Cruise to refill, or buy an extra turn with Temporal Trespass. The spell package of Izzet Phoenix is a bit of a toolbox, moving cards to grave for value and using removal when trading your Phoenix isn't an option.


The lands are fairly expensive, split between various dual lands and some of the NEO Channel lands. These work similarly to Spikefield Hazard, with a powerful spell-like effect that can be activated when a land is a dead draw. Hall of Storm Giants is a blue man-land that hits in with an impressive seven power to close out games. The landbase is relatively straightforward, but the sideboard features a collection of other tool-box options that can be exchanged for some of the draw spells.

Lowering the deck's consistency can be traded out for more impactful options to punish your opponent for playing more greedy strategies. With a selection of so many blue and red spells in the format, the best suggestion is to know your local meta or the currently popular decks on ladder. The draw engines bring your threat online, and as such you can sideboard much more aggressively with less slots needing to be dedicated to game-ending threats.