Moved to Established after December GP, and SCG Success, Primer Under Construction.
What is the deck?
UR Phoenix is an aggressive deck that is leveraging multiple spells per turn, with Faithless Looting to flip Thing in the Ice, and bring back Arclight Phoenix presenting a two turn clock if unanswered as early as turn 3, or in some scenarios with multiple Phoenix, Turn 2.
The deck does this by utilization of a higher than average cantrip package, with a combination of Opt, Serum Visions, and Thought Scour, to supplement the engine of Faithless Looting, and Arclight Phoenix.
The card's with the most explosive potential however are Thing in the Ice, and Manamorphose, which are what enable significant Turn 3 attacks.
As the deck did not exist until the printing of Arclight Phoenix, the core is still heavily in Development, however lists are running a strong core of the following.
The ideal creature suite is still being worked out. If you are operating in a fast meta, and often find yourself in a position where you must race, Monastery Swiftspear has been found to be the ideal card at this time. It functions powerfully within our cantrip package, has haste, and can be the turn 1 threat that the deck was missing in the early Mono-R and UR builds.
Other alternatives as mentioned are Bedlam Reveler at the top end, though if your meta has high levels of GY hate you will not be able to cast this very easily, Soul-Scar Mage is another turn 1 option that has been tested in extremely aggressive builds that also run additional Phyrexian cards, such as Mutagenic Growth and lean into the Bloo type builds. Kiln Fiend is another option if going that extra aggressive path.
As an additional discard outlet and utility, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was in initial builds, and still is seeing play successfully as a 1-2 of.
Casting high numbers of spells is what we do. Faithless Looting is a key card in the strategy, as is Manamorphose, however after that we see some flex between Opt, Serum Visions, and Thought Scour.
Regardless you will want to be running as many as 20 cantrips.
Shelldell posted this on page 3, in terms of discussion around the cantrip suite.
Thought Scour vs Sleight of Hand has been a contentious point of conversation. Here I will summarize the Pros and Cons for each.
Thought Scour - an Instant that improves the chances of hitting our best plays by helping us to bin additional copies of Arclight Phoenix / Faithless Looting and grow Crackling Drake. As a trade-off, Scour replaces itself with a random card.
At best, a play like T2 Manamorphose + Thought Scour + Faithless looting lets you dig 6 cards down for a 35% chance of hitting another Phoenix. Combined with a Phoenix in hand this could lead to an extremely aggressive start. What kind of performance can we expect from Scour on average?
23.0% Drake +1 Power (Scour Only)
50.7% Drake +2 Power
26.3% Drake +3 Power
Overall most likely scenario for a single given cast is to bin 0 Phoenix/Looting and give Drake +2 Power.
However, over 4 rounds, assuming 1-2 ("1.5" avg) casts of Scour per game and 2.5 avg games per round, you will typically mill 2 copies of Phoenix and 2 copies of Looting into the GY.
In some cases, having that extra Phoenix in the grave or 1-2 points of power on the Drake will make the difference between a game win and a game loss. While that sounds small, those games might determine their respective matches, which could tip your overall placement.
One philosophy is that Modern rewards players that proactively build around and hit broken nut draws. Having more "hot" hands is more important than having more "keepable" openers. Therefore, strengthening our nut draws with Scour is the most sensible way to fill our flex slots.
Sleight of Hand - a Sorcery that focuses on improving the deck's performance through added selection and consistency. As a trade-off, it doesn't raise the ceiling of the deck's best-possible plays.
Improved selection helps in many core aspects of the deck:
A 1-lander with Sleight is potentially keepable on the play and comfortably keepable on the draw. A 1-lander with Scour is probably not keepable either way. By increasing our pool of keepable hands we effectively improve the number of nut draws we can access while also decreasing the number of non-games we encounter.
Sleight of Hand also improve our odds of successfully chaining spells to rez Phoenix. Scour has a 50% chance of replacing itself with another Instant/Sorcery compared to Sleight's 75% chance. There are also situations where you have the necessary three spells in hand but need another land to cast them all -- Scour can find the land 31% of the time, while Sleight finds it 50% of the time. This performance difference can be less pronounced in the mid game when our hand is full of spells, but in the late game -- as our grip thins -- Sleight's selection is more likely to make the difference in enabling a successful Phoenix-rez / Thing-flip.
While Sleight doesn't instantly bin spells in the graveyard, its improved ability to draw into more spells can also effectively translate into larger Drakes. And once the Drake is large enough to one-shot the opponent, any extra size is superfluous.
Unfortunately, Scour's ability to bin Phoenix and Looting are dependent upon the graveyard -- and thus vulnerable to GY hate. Sleight's improved selection remains constant in games 2/3.
Finally, improved selection means a better ability to dig for cards you need -- extra threats, answers, or valuable SB cards. This selection becomes more valuable the longer the game runs and the more fluid your role selection needs to be.
Although our deck aims to be on the offense as often as possible, our ~T4 clock demands that we offer some small amount of interaction and stay ready to fluidly shift between offense and defense. Sleight and Scour help this in different ways. Sleight's selection lets you dig for the cards you need to support your current role -- maybe you need that 1-of Lightning Axe on defense or really need a Drake to turn the corner. Conversely, Scour doesn't help you find these cards, but by being an Instant it allows you to keep your "shields up", holding mana open for interactive spells and then potentially Scouring EOT.
In summary, both spells effectively improve our number of nut draws and help us to maintain role flexibility, although in different ways.
Thought Scour utilizes the GY to further turbo-charge our offensive nut draws, while also complementing our other instant speed interaction.
Sleight of Hand offers a reduction of non-games, better Thing-flip / Phoenix-rez chain rates, overall better dig power, and resistance to GY hate.
We have enough data to suggest that both spells are viable, and there may not be a "correct" spell to run. In making the choice yourself, ask
(1) In terms of play-style, am I "all-in" (Scour) or "flex" (Sleight) oriented?
(2) Are my average games running shorter (Scour) or longer (Sleight)?
(3) Am I encountering moderate GY hate (Scour) or heavy hate (Sleight)?
At this point card numbers are getting tight, and we have little left to play an interactive game. Options include cards like Fiery Temper, Flame Slash and Magma Spray (as mirror tech care of cfusionpm) but the most common configuration has about 8-10 Removal spells.
With the last few flex slots, most are holding onto a singleton Izzet Charm, or Chart a Course. Chart is utilized in the Standard version along with Tormenting Voice, but both are inferior to Faithless Looting in terms of pitching Phoenix in the yard.
This will depend on your meta however UR is weak to a few things, and so certain cards have been common across several decks.
The deck was formed out of the brewing of a number of individuals with early adoption by holydiva in Mono-Red versions, getting the attention of Pro's and SCG Grinders who iterated further on the deck. These early decks were based on Faithless Looting, Runaway Steam-Kin, Risk Factor, and Arclight Phoenix, as well as other powerful cards that either enable self Discard, or share synergy with it, such as Bedlam Reveler and Fiery Temper
The most successful UR Lists to date (Mono-R is a slightly different deck) take after Ross Merriam's shell, which was itself based on the early work by h0lydiva and with the first SCG event showing the deck by Evan Moughon, at 16th Place, at the SCG Open, Oct 20th, 2018.
Its still early in the development of the deck, but its clearly at an appropriate level of power for Modern.
Ross Merriam (1st Place) at SCG Baltimore Dec 1 2018 with an identical 75 by Justin Gebing taking 6th Place at StarCityGames.com Invitational on 12/7/2018 played the following list.
Thanks for the list and big props for the results. I been playing the monoR version "Runaway Arclight" or "Runaway Red", so I have a sense of which SB cards to bring in for certain MUs, but not sure what to take out in your deck. Do you have some SB notes/guide?
Hi everyone, I've been playing around with this deck -- mostly just goldfishing atm -- and I've been thinking about building it out in paper. I find the role-flexibility provided by Thing in the Ice and SB interaction to be more fun than the "all-in" mono-red Steam-Kin approach, even if I'm not sure that it's "better".
From the perspective of a Thing in the Ice fan, this deck really seems like the best possible shell for it. The high density of cantrips help to consistently flip Thing, even in the late game, and the abundance of reach via burn spells and Phoenix solves the old issue of swinging in once with Awoken Horror and then getting chump blocked repeatedly while they come back into the game.
So far ~1 Mission Briefing and ~1 Noxious Revival have seemed like good additions which increase the selection and speed of the deck, although they are also GY-dependent.
I would prefer more general use SB counterspells rather than Dragon Claws and Traps.
I think the remaining points of optimization are:
1) How does the deck do against GY hate? What is the best SB strategy against RIP? Against Leyline? Currently I'm thinking of just cutting a couple Revelers G2/G3 and boarding in some counterspells and/or non-GY-dependent threats like Young Pyro / Vendilion Clique / Crackling Drake. Running 3 Revelers main instead of 4 might even be correct (!), as I frequently pitch early Revelers, the deck has so many cantrips (and Noxious Revival) to find a Reveler by the time it's online, and this could help us hedge against GY hate.
2) Along those lines, what is the ideal blend of SB counterspells? How many counterspells can we bring in before the deck becomes too clunky? This is meta-dependent, but a good starting point might be to look at successful UR Wizard Tempo SBs:
2x Disdainful Stroke
2x Ceremonious Rejection
3) What is the optimal ratio of Thought Scour, Chart a Course, and Izzet Charm?
Thought Scour provides Phoenix, Thing, and Reveler with the most velocity but becomes "air" in the face of GY hate, its GY-filling is random, and it can't help discard spells in hand. Overall high ceiling, low floor, lots of variance.
Izzet Charm seems to be most commonly used for its looting mode, which is worse than either Faithless Looting or Chart a Course. I'm not sure yet how much value to place in the flexibility of its "Creature Shock" or "Spell Pierce" modes. Bolt + Temper provide a high enough density of X/3 removal that the "Creature Shock" doesn't seem too valuable, but I could imagine scenarios where having a MB Spell Pierce (even at 2 CMC) might help to protect an early Phoenix or Thing. Anyone have experience on this?
Chart a Course is kinda clunky as a 2-CMC spell that won't impact the board, but is a better Looting card than Izzet Charm, and the best top-deck of the three.
I really like the addition of Noxious Revival in this deck. Titi is like the only way to beat Affinity G1, and it's always sad to see it die to Galvanic Blast.
Revival also works the same way it does in Storm, it's an easy way to grow the Storm count.
I also dislike Izzet Charm, Chart a Course is better imho. I think the deck can actually play 0 Charms and possibly work better. The issue is playing too many 2-drops.
Private Mod Note
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
Standard - GBx / Drakes Modern - Humans / UR Phoenix Legacy - Grixis Phoenix / Death & Taxes
Hey everyone. I've been running Jeskai Thing Ascension recently against a friend, it's been great fun but this deck seems to be an upgraded version. I'll be looking forward to its success and probably be joining once I get my hand of 4x Arclight Phoenix.