With Throne of Eldraine in the mix, it has become possible to attack with Arclight Phoenix on turn one…in Standard!
Caleb Durward brewed up the deck on his stream, and then Ondrej Strasky took it for a spin as well.
Other players found themselves on the receiving end of a turn-1 Phoenix.
Did you know Modern is available in Arena? pic.twitter.com/fF800XRi4x
— Lucas Berthoud (@bertuuuu) September 29, 2019
It’s a real deck, and it’s a blast to play. Here is my build.
R/G Adventures in Standard
8 Forest (347) 6 Mountain (343) 4 Stomping Ground 2 Fabled Passage 2 Castle Embereth 4 Edgewall Innkeeper 4 Lovestruck Beast/Heart's Desire - Showcase 4 Bonecrusher Giant/Stomp 4 Rosethorn Acolyte/Seasonal Ritual 4 Merchant of the Vale/Haggle 4 Arclight Phoenix 4 Once Upon a Time 4 Shock 2 Lava Coil 4 Thrill of Possibility Sideboard 3 Shifting Ceratops 2 Veil of Summer 2 Questing Beast 2 Thrashing Brontodon 2 Lava Coil 1 Fry 1 Claim the Firstborn 1 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer 1 Domri, Chaos Bringer
4 Bonecrusher Giant (ELD) 115
6 Mountain (ELD) 265
4 Merchant of the Vale (ELD) 131
4 Edgewall Innkeeper (ELD) 151
8 Forest (ANA) 60
4 Lovestruck Beast (ELD) 165
4 Rosethorn Acolyte (ELD) 174
4 Once Upon a Time (ELD) 169
4 Arclight Phoenix (GRN) 91
4 Shock (M19) 156
2 Lava Coil (GRN) 108
4 Stomping Ground (RNA) 259
2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
2 Castle Embereth (ELD) 239
4 Thrill of Possibility (ELD) 146
2 Veil of Summer (M20) 198
3 Shifting Ceratops (M20) 194
2 Questing Beast (ELD) 171
1 Fry (M20) 140
2 Thrashing Brontodon (M20) 197
1 Claim the Firstborn (ELD) 118
2 Lava Coil (GRN) 108
1 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer (WAR) 234
1 Domri, Chaos Bringer (RNA) 166
You will get a first-turn Phoenix in about 5% of games
Of course, I ran the numbers.
On the play, there are basically three ways to get there:
- An opening hand with at least 1 untapped green land, 2 Rosethorn Acolyte, 1 Merchant of the Vale, and 1 Arclight Phoenix.
- An opening hand with at least 1 untapped green land, 1 Once Upon a Time, 1 Rosethorn Acolyte, 1 Merchant of the Vale, and 1 Arclight Phoenix.
- An opening hand with at least 1 Once Upon a Time and three of the four combo pieces (i.e., untapped green land, Rosethorn Acolyte, Merchant of the Vale, and Arclight Phoenix) where you have to hit the missing combo piece in the top 5.
- On the draw, the possibilities are the same, except you have seen one more card.
On the play: 3.77%
On the draw: 6.28%
When play/draw is randomized, the average is 5.02%. In other words, you can expect it to happen once per 20 games on average. And this doesn’t even consider mulligans. That’s not bad!
Tips and tricks
- Lovestruck Beast needs either Heart’s Desire or Edgewall Innkeeper to attack, but he can always block.
- Haggle is a “may” ability, so you can cast it to trigger Arclight Phoenix but decline to discard if your hand is perfect.
- If your adventure doesn’t resolve, the spell isn’t exiled and you can never cast the creature. So be careful not to Stomp when your opponent can sacrifice the target to Ayara, First of Locthwain.
- Stomp says that damage can’t be prevented, which means that a Cerulean Drake that is blocking a red creature will die to combat damage.
- Seasoned Ritual is a sorcery. Don’t try to fix mid-combat to activate Castle Embereth because that doesn’t work.
- Sometimes it’s better to not cast anything on turn 1 to set up for Arclight Phoenix recursion on turn 2 or 3. For example, when you hold Rosethorn Acolyte, Thrill of Possibility, and Arclight Phoenix. Or when you hold Merchant of the Vale, Lovestruck Beast, and Arclight Phoenix. Then holding on to Once Upon a Time until turn two will pay off.
- While sideboarding, don’t overboard. You can’t cut too many synergy pieces because then the engine falls apart. What I often did was cutting 2 Rosethorn Acolyte, adding 2 cards, and leaving it at that. Even though Rosethorn Acolyte is necessary for turn-1 Phoenix, it’s low-impact otherwise and probably the worst card in the deck. Only against control decks or planeswalker decks where Shock and Lava Coil must be removed did I board more than a handful of cards.
- Don’t add Lucky Clover to the deck. This card is great with the black adventures, but the red ones are not really worth copying.
Red-Green may not be the best Adventure build, but it’s the spiciest
After playing around with the deck a little bit and winning a fair amount, I definitely think R/G adventures is competitive. I liked how Once Upon a Time always found more spells to trigger Arclight Phoenix. I also liked how well the adventure creatures matched up against Teferi, Time Raveler because opponents never wanted to bounce them.
Nevertheless, I fear that R/G adventures is not consistent enough to be tier 1. I had a lot of fun playing it, and the crazy starts are memorable, but when you draw an opening hand with a bunch of lands and 2/3s for three, you wonder if you didn’t accidentally submit your draft deck.
The adventure mechanic is for real, however. Edgewall Innkeeper and Lovestruck Beast are a match made in heaven, and the inherent card advantage from all adventures helps keep up with your opponent. Looking at the 8 decklists submitted for this week’s Sapphire Division of the Magic Pro League, I counted 12 Edgewall Inkeepers and 12 Lovestruck Beasts.
So the pros put their faith in the adventure mechanic, although their lists used either white (for Faerie Godmother and Giant Killer) or black (for Foulmire Knight and Murderous Rider) instead of red. Those versions are probably more consistent and well-rounded, but they can’t live the dream of attacking with Arclight Phoenix on turn one!