Last weekend I was invited to play in a Team Unified Modern event, and it’s been a while since I last played in one.

I teamed up with Edoardo Annunziata, Top 8 Mythic Invitational competitor, and Yuri Candelu, a friend of ours.

Edoardo wanted to play Mono-Green Tron, and Yuri’s pet deck was Mono-White Death & Taxes, so I had free reign to play Izzet Phoenix, which is the most popular Modern deck that I still have never played in real life.

I looked around and I saw multiple deck guides between MTGO Trophy Leader Naisirc and SCG Cleveland Classic winner Tariq Patel. Usually when I pick a deck for the first time, I don’t play it without studying it first. I’m a disciplined player, and I prefer to follow some guides before starting to put my ideas on top of others who have had success with that deck.

Because the event was a Team Unified Modern, which meant that Noble Hierarch and Inkmoth Nexus would be more popular than they normally are, I brought back Gut Shot, a piece of technology completely forgotten by everyone despite being a key part of Izzet Phoenix in Modern for a while.

Set Adrift

I sometimes see Echoing Truth, Boomerang, or Set Adrift, usually as singleton, in order to gain an edge against Ensnaring Bridge , Chalice of the Void, and Pyromancer Ascension. I decided not to run any as I didn’t expect many Whir Prison or Lantern Control decks. I definitely would play one (probably Set Adrift) if I had a regular Modern event.

Izzet Phoenix

Andrea Mengucci, Top 4 Magic Warrior Mestre 14 April 2019

3 Island
2 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Steam Vents
2 Polluted Delta
4 Arclight Phoenix
2 Crackling Drake
4 Thing in the Ice/Awoken Horror
2 Gut Shot
4 Faithless Looting
1 Lightning Axe
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Manamorphose
4 Sleight of Hand
3 Pyromancer Ascension
4 Serum Visions
2 Surgical Extraction
4 Thought Scour

Sideboard
2 Abrade
1 Beacon Bolt
2 Blood Moon
3 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Dispel
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
3 Ravenous Trap
2 Spell Pierce

My personal record mirrored my team’s. We went 4-1 in Swiss, which put us in 4th place in the 24-team event.

Then we got paired against GP Bologna winners and got annihilated as our Death & Taxes got wrecked by U/W Control, our Tron killed instantly by Infect, and my Izzet Phoenix was slowly grinded to dust by Lantern Control.

I managed to go 4-1 in the Swiss, losing to the mirror in round 1 and then defeating Tron, U/B Control, Dredge, and Eldrazi Tron.

Gut Shot

Gut Shot was awful and I wished I’d played Set Adrift over it, but on the other hand Ceremonious Rejection was incredible and I can’t see myself playing fewer than three when the most popular, and probably best, deck involves Urza’s Tron lands.

I enjoyed playing Izzet Phoenix a lot. Pyromancer Ascension is a super fun card to play with. It makes you take very strange lines and make unconventional decisions with Faithless Looting, as well as scry with Serum Visions + Thought Scour.

Surgical Extraction is a weird one. Playing two main is good versus the mirror and graveyard-based decks, but I hate the Thought Scour + Surgical Extraction play.

I see some players keeping Surgical Extraction post-sideboard versus Tron, and I believe that’s very wrong. Giving up the ability to mill yourself for two in order to try to get lucky and basically Blood Moon them forever (playing Surgical Extraction on any Urza’s Tron land) is not something I’m happy to do.

Cards in your graveyard have a huge upside between Arclight Phoenix and Pyromancer Ascension (Crackling Drake will be boarded out), and I’m not willing to give up on that to mise a Tron land.

Surgical Extraction - Buy-a-Box Promo

Surgical Extraction does have some cool interactions with your Crackling Drake and is good in some matchups, but overall I hated it, and it made me truly appreciate Gitaxian Probe.

Sure, it’s cool to have main deck hate versus Dredge and Arclight Phoenix, but Modern is such a broad format that those strategies take up a small part of the metagame and I prefer playing main deck cards that are solid all around.

With that being said, I don’t think you can ever cut down to less than two copies of Phyrexian mana cards, and since Noble Hierarch is at an all-time low it might be better to play two copies of Surgical Extraction over Gut Shot.

At the event I played Sleight of Hand over Opt, mainly because my teammates  (Javier Dominguez and Anthony Lee) instructed me to do so, despite other players opting for the latter. I was unimpressed with Sleight of Hand and I’d rather have played Opt, especially since I chose up to three copies of Ceremonious Rejection, and it came up a couple of times versus Tron and Eldrazi Tron that I had to pass the turn with Sleight of Hand in hand and didn’t cast Ceremonious Rejection on their turn, wasting a mana, which is super important since this deck wants to be very mana efficient.

Molten RainBlood Moon

The last question was: Molten Rain or Blood Moon?

I believe Blood Moon is superior in this slot, mainly because I board out Surgical Extraction against decks that don’t interact with the graveyard (and that play Relic of Progenitus), but mostly because Blood Moon does shut off other decks as well (Eldrazi Tron, Amulet Titan, Whir Prison).

Sure, Tron will board in Nature’s Claim (which also interacts with your Pyromancer Ascension), but you’ll gain enough time to get in a good position and find yourself with Ceremonious Rejection for their Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or Wurmcoil Engine after their Nature’s Claim.

Team events are great and I enjoy competing in them, though I’ve been starting to dislike Team Unified Modern. I would have preferred regular Team Modern so that our Tron wouldn’t have needed to make sacrifices to its mana base and sideboard, and so that we could play whatever deck we wanted.

I’m super happy to see that GP Ghent will be Team Modern non-Unified, and I can’t wait to compete in that event with my two good friends Javier Dominguez and Zen Takahashi!

This Friday, I’ll leave Senigallia to join Javier and the rest of the team in Valencia for MC London preparation! It’s going to be exciting to practice for a tournament that’s totally different, like MC London. Among its changes: the new London mulligan, deck lists will be public, and the Limited portion is a prerelease!