Beating the Pioneer metagame with Izzet Phoenix

Alessandro Carvallo
05/11/2022 · 11 min read

Introduction

Hi everyone, it's Alessandro Carvallo again.

I've been working hard for the past few weeks to find a deck that I'm comfortable with and can succeed with in the current Pioneer metagame. I believe the requirements for success in Pioneer are as follows:

  • Above 50% win rate vs. Aggro decks
  • Above 65% win rate vs. Rakdos Midrange
  • Above 50% effectiveness vs. Mono Green // Abzan Greasefang

After careful analysis, I've decided that Izzet Phoenix is the best deck for the current Pioneer metagame . I've played enough Leagues with different decks to know that Izzet Phoenix has what it takes to compete at the highest level.

Izzet Phoenix lists that currently exist are very similar and have the same plan; perhaps this is the reason why Izzet Phoenix is no longer the powerful deck it used to be last season. However, I believe that with the right modifications, Izzet Phoenix can be a force to be reckoned with.

I believe that the following 75 cards are the best configuration for playing Izzet Phoenix in Pioneer.

Izzet Phoenix. Builder: Cabezadebolo.MTGA - Magic Arena
Other in 05-Nov-2022
Maindeck (60)
Creature [10]
2  Crackling Drake   $0.35
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $24.99
4  Arclight Phoenix   $6.99
Instant [19]
1  Galvanic Iteration   $2.99
1  Spikefield Hazard   $0.69
1  Fires of Victory   $0.25
2  Spell Pierce   $0.25
3  Lightning Axe   $0.25
3  Fiery Impulse   $0.69
4  Opt   $0.25
4  Consider   $1.49
Sorcery [11]
1  Temporal Trespass   $25.99
1  Strangle   $0.25
2  Pieces of the Puzzle   $0.25
3  Chart a Course   $0.79
4  Treasure Cruise   $0.25
Land [20]
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $17.99
2  Island   $0.01
2  Hall of Storm Giants   $2.29
3  Stormcarved Coast   $17.99
4  Steam Vents   $19.99
4  Riverglide Pathway   // $8.99
4  Spirebluff Canal   $16.99

Sideboard [15]
1  Jaya, Fiery Negotiator   $1.99
1  Chandra, Torch of Defiance   $7.49
1  Crackling Drake   $0.35
2  Abrade   $0.25
2  Fry   $0.35
2  Unlicensed Hearse   $16.99
2  Disdainful Stroke   $0.25
2  Mystical Dispute   $1.49
2  Aether Gust   $0.79
Buy this deck:

$343.03 Tix @cardhoarder   $8.58 / Week @cardhoarder   $398.52 @tcgplayer   $483.45 @cardkingdom  


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How it works

Izzet Phoenix could be considered a pseudo-midrange deck. It has the ability to develop our game from different angles and also to play at a very high speed, depending on the strategy we decide to take. This makes it a very versatile and powerful choice for any gamer looking to get an edge on their opponents.

The deck is quite simple, is divided into 3 types of Cards:

  • Card Draw Spells
  • Creatures
  • Cheap Removal

The debate about running Fable of the Mirror Breaker

Every Izzet Phoenix player has their own skills and style of playing. In my opinion, the correct way to pilot this deck in this metagame would be to be reactive in the early turns (T1, T2) with cheap removal or counterspells like Spell Pierce. The goal is reaching a stable board in T3 to cast our most proactive card in the deck: Fable of the Mirror Breaker. There has always been a discussion about the inclusion of Fable of the Mirror Breaker in decks like Izzet Phoenix, comparing its power against Pieces of the Puzzle. The million dollar question would be: Which one is better to play on Turn 3?

Pieces of the Puzzle
0.02 Tix
$0.25
$0.39

I think that Fable of the Mirror Breaker is a powerful card in the current metagame because it's a 2 x 1 by default. The Goblin token it creates is also very annoying for our opponent, and he will usually want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Additionally, Chapter 2 allows us to do a free Faithless Looting, which is great for this kind of deck, as it needs to fill its graveyard quickly and discard copies of Arclight Phoenix. Finally, Kiki-Jiki + Crackling Drake is an auto win if we can get both of them on the board.

Temporal Trespass & Galvanic Iteration

One of our most powerful lines of play is Galvanic Iteration + Temporal Trespass - a very powerful interaction in G1. Usually, both copies are removed post-sideboard, either because of graveyard hate or because we want to focus the game in a different plan post-sideboard.

Temporal Trespass
1.47 Tix
$25.99
$28.02

At this moment, the style of playing must be more focused on winning in the midgame - trying to stabilize the board as soon as possible, and then playing our threats efficiently.

My current version

Today we'll be taking a look at a deck that's designed to beat Rakdos midrange - making it a favorable matchup. The deck tries to make the most of cards that are 2-for-1s, which gives it a big advantage in this match. Additionally, our removal spells are also extremely efficient against midrange decks, and we're running cards like Treasure Cruise which are grossly unbalanced.

Treasure Cruise
0.31 Tix
$0.25
$0.4

With that said, taking the victory will only depend on our ability to play the deck well. It's a deck that requires a skilled hand to get the most out of, and we must carefully choose the order of our spells. There are moments when we must take certain risks and also moments when we must be more conservative. For that reason, we must always analyze the board state very well to take the right path. This will be key to improving our winrate.

Card choices

DRAW SPELLS

Here we have the classic set of card-drawing spells : x4 OPT x4 CONSIDER x4 TREASURE CRUISE, they're the core engine of our deck, of course they're irreplaceable and they'll always be part of every Izzet Phoenix list.

This season, Pieces of the Puzzle has come under fire for its risk of failure. The card can be a hero or a villain, and for me it worked out between average and good. I only played two copies because I prefer Fable of the Mirror Breaker on Turn 3.


Chart a Course is a great card to have in this version, as it gives you a chance to draw two cards. It's also common to mix it with Strategic Planning, but in this case I prefer to just play Chart a Course, as card advantage is more important in this metagame.

Chart a Course
0.03 Tix
$0.99
$0.43

It can be difficult to provide specific instructions on when to play each card, as it largely depends on the state of the board. Something very common is that in early turns a Opt and Consider are used to find removal spells and also to fill the graveyard to be able to cast a Treasure Cruise when needed.

It is also very common to keep 1 land hands with some cantrips (opt + consider), these are some of the difficult decisions the deck has, in this situation we will have to analyze if we really should keep or mulligan.

REMOVAL SPELLS

Izzet Phoenix removal spells are both cheap and effective, and they are key to the deck's success. The exact number of copies will depend on the expected metagame. I think that 8 removal spells and 1 Spikefield Hazard is the right amount for a diverse metagame.

Spikefield Hazard
0.02 Tix
$0.69
$0.55

Strangle vs Fiery Impulse

In this case, Fiery impulse takes the crown, solely because it is Instant speed. It is crucial for our game plan to be able to play with open mana and have the flexibility of casting spells during our opponent's turn.

As creatures like Sheoeldred become more popular in Pioneer, it's important to have removal spells that can deal with them effectively. Lightning Axe really shines at that. I'm still testing Fires of Victory, and while I like its design, it doesn't always come in handy. So for now, I'm sticking to just one copy.

THREATS

Fable of the Mirror Breaker is a great addition to this deck, and it's probably one of the best Pioneer cards  at the moment. So why not take advantage of it? It has a lot of synergy with our game plan, and it's the perfect drop-3 card.

Crackling Drake has fallen out of favor recently, as cards like Ledger Shredder and Thing in the Ice have been taking its place because they're lighter drops.

Ledger Shredder
26.26 Tix
$27.99
$20.67

Right now, with the current Pioneer meta, it's a great time to play Crackling Drake. I really like to interact early on and play Crackling Drake on turn 4. It's a card that can win the game on its own, and now, with the abundance of Rakdos Midrange decks, it's a premium card.

There are many matches where you can easily get Fable of the Mirror Breaker + Crackling Drake on the board. When you make this play, it's very likely that you'll close out the game that same turn. So take advantage of it while you can.

Sideboard Guide

Rakdos Midrange

OUT :

  • 2 Spell pierce
  • 1 Temporal Trespass
  • 1 arclight Phoenix
  • 1 Fiery Impulse
  • 1 Galvanic Iteration

IN:

  • 2 Abrade
  • 1 Chandra
  • 1 Jaya
  • 1 Crackling Drake
  • 1 Aether Gust

The game plan for this matchup is to stabilize in the early turns. Our opponents will be aggressive, and we need to prolong the game until cards like Pieces of the Puzzle or Treasure Cruise are effective. We will win this matchup by generating card advantage while dealing with our opponent's threats.

Mono Green

IN:

  • 2 Disdainful Stroke
  • 2 Aether Gust

OUT:

  • 1 Fiery Impulse
  • 1 Lightning Axe
  • 1 Temporal Trespass
  • 1 Galvanic Iteration

This matchup is quite complicated because we have to take very risky decisions. It will depend a lot on our skills reading our opponent since we should almost always play with mana open to be able to counter their threats. In early turns, we should deal with their Llanowar Elves/Elvish Mystic. Then our plan will be to generate card advantage until we reach a point where we can be proactive playing cards like Fable of the mirror breaker or Crackling drake with mana open for Spell pierce or Disdainful Stroke.

Mono White Humans

IN:

  • 2 Abrade
  • 2 Fry
  • 1 Chandra Torch of Defiance
  • 1 Crackling Drake

OUT:

  • 2 Spell Pierce
  • 1 Galvanic Iteration
  • 1 Temporal Trespass
  • 2 Pieces of the Puzzle

In this matchup, it's important to play removal at the right pace. I really like the strategy of playing T1 removal, T2 removal, and then Fable of the Mirror Breaker on T3. This will give you a huge advantage and almost feel like you're almost winning when you cast it in a semi-stabilized board.

Abzan Greasefang

IN :

  • 2 Unlicensed Hearse
  • 2 Abrade
  • 2 Fry

OUT:

  • 2 Spell Pierce
  • 1 Temporal Trespass
  • 1 Galvanic Iteration
  • 1 Arclight Phoenix
  • 1 Chart a Course

This matchup looks quite favorable because we have a lot of tools to counter Greasefang Okiba-boss. On most turns we'll always try to play with 1 mana open and then develop our plan without any problems. I really like our list against Abzan Greasefang because we have proactive tools that are cheap to cast, which will always give us the opportunity to play with open mana on our opponent's turn.

That's all for now! Hope you enjoyed this article and see you next time!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Modern Izzet Murktide Tips Tricks & Sideboard Guide By Mogged, Choosing your plan: How I won the Modern Challenge with Goblins, Oops All Spells cheatsheet and sideboard guide, Getting ready for the Vintage Superqualifier: Vintage Simic Fair Primer, Reading and Bluffing Opponents on MTGO

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Alessandro Carvallo
MTGO Grinder
Alessandro Carvallo, better known as Cabezadebolo on MTGO, is a very well-known grinder and deckbuilder on MTGO. Carvallo has been playing Magic: The Gathering for many years and has been involved in the competitive scene since a long time.

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Published: 2022-11-05 00:00:00
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