Caw Caw Zap: Arclight Phoenix in Modern

Welcome again loyal readers,

Today we will look at another card from Guilds of Ravnica that has been showing up in many decks in Modern – Arclight Phoenix.

Fire burds have always been a staple for Red in Magic. Being known for their ability to resurrect, this mechanism is shown in Magic by the ways of them dying and returning either into your hand or play. Sadly, Phoenix’s constructed-playability has always been questionable due to their cmc or resurrection costs being too high or stats being underwhelming.

Recently, Flamewake Phoenix has become a staple in Modern thanks to the emergence of Hollow One Archetypes. This little burd is rarely cast but acts as discard fodder. Even though it’s only a 2/2, its ability to come into the battlefield directly from graveyard, with the lowly investment of a single R whenever you have a Hollow One, Gurmag Angler or pumped Flameblade Adept in play, makes it a very resilient threat.

Using a similar analysis, people are starting to warm up to Arclight Phoenix. Its 4cmc is too high to be cast from your hand. However, it can be brought back into play directly from the graveyard as long as you’ve played 3 instants and/or sorceries on your turn. Instead of a creature-heavy build like Hollow One, today we will look at spell-based build, and of course it is in everyone’s favourite spell-slinging colors – IZZET!


Izzet Arclight Phoenix

Mainboard Sideboard
Creature 12
4x Arclight Phoenix
4x Bedlam Reveler
4x Thing in the Ice

Instant 18
4x Izzet Charm
4x Lightning Bolt
3x Fiery Temper
4x Manamorphose
3x Thought Scour

Sorcery 12
4x Faithless Looting
4x Serum Visions
4x Chart a Course

Land 18
4x Steam Vents
2x Sulfur Falls
4x Spirebluff Canal
2x Island
2x Mountain
4x Shivan Reef
Creature 2
2x Crackling Drake

Enchantment 4
2x Alpine Moon
2x Firemind's Research

Instant 6
3x Abrade
3x Dispel

Sorcery 3
3x Anger of the Gods

Creature package

4x Arclight Phoenix

4x Thing in the Ice

3-4x Bedlam Reveler

Besides the Phoenix, we are playing 4 Thing in the Ice. This eldritch horror can flip quite consistently on turn 3 and 4 with the number of low-cost spells in our deck. He acts as a wall for early aggro and is a literal nightmare for creature decks. The 7/8 closes out games quickly.

Bedlam Reveler refills your hand and can stay on the board as it does not get bounced by Thing in the Ice.


Spell package

The loot:

4x Faithless Looting

2-4x Izzet Charm

2-4x Chart a Course

Adding Blue allows for more card-drawing and card-looting effects that are vital in getting rid of the Phoenix from our hand. Besides the essential Faithless Looting, we have Izzet Charm and Chart a Course. Izzet Charm’s looting option is strictly worse than Faithless Looting but being a modular spell, it can offer us utility (Negate/Mana Leak or Shock to a creature). Chart a Course is the other option, and gives us the ability to discard a Phoenix before combat or draw 2 cards after attacking with a hasty burd.


The cantrips:

4x Serum Visions

4x Manamorphose

2-4x Thought Scour

We have chosen Serum Visions over other cantrips such as Opt because we are playing most of our spells on our turn anyway. The ability to scry 2 to set up a looting spell is great. Being able to dig 5 cards with just 2 mana (Serum Visions followed by Faithless Looting) can help find our Phoenixes and the third spell to bring it back.

Manamorphose is a must as it’s a free spell and cantrip. It works very well with Arclight Phoenix and Thing in the Ice when both want to chain multiple spells in one turn.

Thought Scour is a bit of a gamble as you may not know what you’re going to mill into your graveyard. The best case scenario is obviously Arclight Phoenix. The drawbacks of milling something good is mitigated as we play many copies of the same card and milling spells is still fuel for Bedlam Reveler.


The burn:

4x Lighting Bolt

3-4x Fiery Temper

The 4 Lightning Bolt can deal with pesky creatures, cast directly at your opponent’s face or be used as a 1cmc spell to chain the flipping of Thing in the Ice or resurrecting Arclight Phoenix.

Fiery Temper can often be cast with the madness cost due to our abundance of looting spells.


Maybe Spells

Gut Shot

I find it sometimes we struggle with getting the third or fourth spell in one turn without Ritual spells like Desperate Ritual. Gut Shot may be good in this scenario as it is ‘free’ to cast.


Mission Briefing

Mission Briefing is not Snapcaster Mage, but this card is better-fitted in this deck. The combination of Bolt-Brief-Bolt can bring back a Phoenix. Together with a Manamorphose, it can even flip a Thing in the Ice. The Surveil is also relevant to bin Phoenixes from our library too.



The deck is quite color-intensive as we want to play a lot of 1cmc spells from both Blue and Red. Therefore we run a lot of dual lands such as Spirebuff Canal and Steam Vents. For the budget-conscious we have replaced Scalding Tarn with Shivan Reef, which is not too bad of a downgrade because we are only playing 2 colors.


Sideboard options

Alpine Moon: we cannot run Blood Moon due to the high amount of non-basics we run. Alpine Moon is the next best thing in stopping Tron.

Firemind’s Research: This is a spicy SB card. We play a lot of spells so it shouldn’t have problem accumulating counters. Side this in against removal-heavy match-ups where you need to grind it out.

Abrade: Bloody artifacts gotta blow them up

Dispel: Low cmc, good against control, especially against their Cryptic Commands

Ceremonious Rejection: For artifact decks, eldrazis and Tron.

Anger of the Gods: For creature decks like Human and Spirits. Just be careful if you have an Arclight Phoenix in play

Crackling Drake: A new Izzet Drake that replaces itself and grows to threatening proportions the longer you keep him alive. It is a good SB option to increase your threat count.



Tip #1: When using Manamorphose, be careful what color you are selecting. The general rule is to add U and R but when you’re going to cast Faithless Looting, madness-ing a Fiery Temper, remember to add RR instead.

Tip #2: If you have Arclight Phoenix and Thing in the Ice, ready to be flipped, in play, the Burd can return to your hand, and as long as one of the 3 spells you cast this turn is a looting spell,  the Burd will come back from the graveyard, ready to attack with your Ice Horror.

Tip #3: The deck is tempo-based, you can be aggressive and flip an early Thing in the Ice to apply pressure, or play it safe and use Izzet Charms to protect your threats. Don’t feel the pressure to rush your opponents but you should also seize the opportunity to attack when its present.


Thank you as always for reading and I’ll catch ya next time


Brew City

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