I have recently completed my Izzet Phoenix deck and took it to a casual FNM event. Let me post my card choices, results, and my thoughts.
As for creatures, I believe going below 12 is risky as they are your only win-cons. Even though you draw a lot of cards in your deck, you want to have enough creatures to push past a removal-heavy deck. I have made a 2-2 split between Crackling Drake and Monastery Swiftspear. I believe 3+ copies of Crackling Drake clogs down the deck. Monastery Swiftspear is a good early threat, but there are some disynergy with a flipping TiTi. I feel that is mitigated when you can drop her again after being bounced for some hasted-damage.
All the instant and sorceries are 1-2cmc, so as to maximize the returning of Arclight Phoenix and the flipping of Thing in the Ice. I’ve removed clunky spells like Fiery Temper because it was too conditional. I am playing 3 copies of Izzet Charm because it is quite versatile in our mainboard. I am trying out 1 Mission Briefing as it is technically 2-spells-in-1.
Round 1: Burn 2-1
This was a dousy. Burn bro did what burn bros do and got my life down real fast. I dropped 2 early TiTi and walled up against his Goblin Guide. That did not matter much as his burns spells got me down to 3 with 1 card left in his hand. With some fetches and helix, he was sitting at a comfortable 20 life. I had to win next turn so I bolted his Goblin Guide EOT. On my turn, I played three more spells, flipping my 2 TiTis, looted a Arclight Phoenix into my yard and used a desperation Thought Scour to bin one more burd. The Lightning Chickens came back and I swung in for a perfect 20 damage. GG.
For countering annoying burn spells and Abrade against his Eidolons
I kept a really dodgy hand with 1 Pain Land, I kept it cause I had Serum Visions and some removal. Sadly I never saw any lands, and when I did it was already too late.
I took out a spell pierce because I saw an Exquisite Firecraft
This game was pretty nuts. I turn 3’d a flipped TiTi and brought back a burd. He did not have any Path to Exile and he called GG.
Round 2: Cheerio 2-1
I boarded in a lot of interaction for his combo pieces. I took out the Drakes because they cost too much and we cannot afford tapping out without holding mana for a counterspell or removal spell. I took out 1 burd in anticipation for some sort of graveyard hate.
Game 2 was intense. It was a game of chicken as neither of us played anything in the first few turns. I played TiTi with mana open and my opponent went for it. Luckily I had abundant removal in my hand and he was only able to draw one card from his Puresteel Paladin. He failed to hit critical mass and my Awaken Horror finished him off.
SB: no changes
He mulliganed to 5 and the flow of the game was similar to the previous one. I did not have as many removal so one of his Puresteel Paladin remained on the board. With like a gazillion equipment on it, he managed to block my Awaken Horror with ease. I took out the Knight following up an attack with an Abrade. We were both in top-deck mode. I targeted him with Thought Scour, milling a Sram and Retract. He tried to Noxious Revival the Retract but I Dispel’d it. That was game as my TiTI finished him off.
Round 3: Mono-Red Prison 0-2
He managed to turn 1 Blood Moon with Monkey Mana and Ritual. I landed an early Monastery Swiftspear and chipped away his life. I had Faithless Looting in hand, which I hoped to use to dig for a basic Island. Suddenly, my opponent proclaimed he forgot to de-sideboard after the last round went to time (against Martyr Proc lol). He inquired if we can start over, I agreed because it was the right thing to do. Sadly my gesture was not repaid in kind…
Game 1 (again):
He managed to turn 1 Chalice of the Void on 1 with Monkey Mana (he told me he had actually sided out last round) then another Chalice on 2, followed by a good ol’ Goblin Rabblemaster. I looked at my terrible hand and hard-casted a Lightning Burd. I conceded as I could not race against his goblin army.
Game 2 :
My opponent tried to turn 2 Chalice on 1, but I managed to counter it with Izzet Charm. He proceeds to play another Chalice on the following turn, which I responded with another Izzet Charm. Unfortunately he tapped his third land and exiled a Monkey Mana to pay for it. The game was basically over then with my entire hand made of bolts and cantrips. He dropped Sarkhan and Chandra and I conceded.
The deck is fun and explosive. It requires a few early turns to set up like pitching your Arclight Phoenix and casting a Thing in the Ice, but your explosive turns are amazing and not many decks can make huge swings like this. With so much card draw and selection, you never feel like you’re out of the game. The deck can play between being aggro and control depending on matchup.
In addressing the deck’s weakness, I can definitely see it being soft to Prison-style decks, especially cards like Chalice of the Void, Ensnaring Bridge and Blood Moon. Even though I was completely BTFO in the last round, we have to keep in mind he drew very well and managed to have Multiple Chalices in his opening hand. We also did not see any of our SB cards like Abrade at all. Another point of interest is that you can still bring back your Phoenixes with Chalice in play, as your spells are cast and countered.
In terms of card choices, Izzet Charm really performed as a counterspell and removal. The best part is the instant looting effect. If you left mana up on turn 2, you can still discard your Phoenixes at opponent’s EOT and chain 3 1cmc spells the next turn to bring it back. Mission Briefing was decent but it was always the first card to cut. Same applies to Chart a Course. Abrade is absolutely amazing as I found myself siding it in almost every game to increase our creature interaction spells and dealing with pesky artifacts. I believe the creature package ratio can still be tweaked. Besides 4-of Arclight Phoenix and Thing in the Ice, people are putting in varied amounts of Crackling Drake, Monastery Swiftspear and even Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. They all have merits and demerits but I definitely feel like the deck cannot go too low on creatures.
I would definitely recommend this deck. More and more people are starting to realize its potential and it is rising in popularity. This inevitably will bring a shift in meta, which may lead to a change in our mainboard and sideboard. But until then, have fun recurring lightning chickens and smashing face with some eldritch horror!