By Brandon Scott on April 18th, 2022
Longtime readers will know that I’m a big fan of the Arclight Phoenix deck. It’s popular and powerful in Historic on Arena and I use it to grind ranks. Getting lots of practice in has led me to make tons of tweaks and even a few deviations from any list you’ve probably seen. Mine’s faster than normal builds, able to burst down even Reanimator before they can go for their combo. In Bof1—which is what this deck is made for—it’s not uncommon for the opponent to die never having hit you for more than a few points of damage. Even in the mirror match, it often outpaces normal lists.
So, let’s go over my additions, notable exclusions, and slightly less common choices. For those that are newer to Arclight Phoenix decks, I recommend reading my previous guide HERE (and HERE) for an overview of the archetype. It explains how I’ve gotten to Mythic before, and though some of the finer points have changed, the basic idea is still the same. For those already familiar, here are the major alterations.
Longtime Arclight Phoenix players will find this to be the oddest choice. It’s such a weak card by itself and doesn’t even draw cards. And while this is true—it’s not being used by itself.
Strike It Rich has two major functions. The first is it lets you play Stormwing Entity on turn two. It even fixes your mana if you happen to only have red sources. Opponents rarely are prepared for this, and Stormwing dodges Fatal Push, Shock, and usually early Drown in the Loch. I’ve forced concessions with this trick.
The other thing it does is extend spell flurries. It’s essentially a free spell and helps boost Stormwing Entity, Sprite Dragon, and makes it easier to use Arclight Phoenix and one other creature later on this list. You can pair it with Finale of Promise for many shenanigans because Strike It Rich is a sorcery. If you need to, you can even Flashback it to get in one more spell for the turn. It’s rarely a dead card and be very cautious about pitching it to Faithless Looting.
Another card that people never see coming. You can almost always cast this card for one or free, and then it’s a menace on the following turns. A strong opening is to play the above Stormwing combo on turn two, then turn three cast Finale on Strike It Rich, play some other spell off the treasure, and drop Demilich. If you can somehow set up even further tricks from there, your opponent will not live long.
Even if you can’t abuse Demilich that hard all the time, it’s still powerful. You can’t use its attack ability to set up Phoenixes directly, but the copies boost Stormwing and Sprite Dragon. It also lets you draw more cards by recurring Consider or Opt or blast creatures with a removal spell that would’ve blocked.
And then there’s how it can come back from the graveyard. This deck has a surprising capacity for attrition. If you recur Demilich, just think through what cards you’re removing. Your graveyard is a valuable resource.
I’m lumping these together because they both fulfill extremely niche options. Otawara can remove a blocker, and Den is for when you’re out of cards. Those little goblins keep damage going while you wait to draw into something stronger.
Don’t value these cards too highly, though. If you need to discard something to Faithless (especially if you can turn on Delirium) or have to shuffle something away with Express Iteration, they’re prime fodder.
Sometimes you need to discard a Phoenix. These are both here as a backup if you don’t have Faithless Looting. Use the Ax to kill annoying blockers that hinder damage. Use Reunion to clean up land flooding, turn on Delirium, or pitch two Phoenixes.
I love this card, but its cost is too high for this blisteringly fast build. I kept it in because sometimes you need to get a land or dig for a specific answer. Don’t cast this card early. Discard it ruthlessly, and just recur it later if you have the extra mana.
I tried to make this card work. Compared to the other things this deck can do, it’s too slow, and a 3/3 isn’t dealing enough continuous damage. The Phoenixes at least come back—usually with friends. Putting this in means cutting removal, card draw, or combo extenders, and those are all more important. I’m willing to be wrong about this, but I would never run a playset.
Come back on Wednesday to see what the decklist looks like with all these changes, learn about a few matchups, and see what cards from Streets of New Capenna might go in later versions.
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