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A Look At Explorer Izzet Phoenix After the Bans

Expressive Iteration took one for the team in Explorer just because it was deemed to be too good in Pioneer. It was perhaps the 100th most played card in the format and definitely not a problem one by any means. Unfortunately, it was a key card in Phoenix, where it helped make land drops, made sure you basically never ran out of gas and, most importantly, helped you triple spell in one turn to bring back Phoenix. 

Is the deck now dead or is there anything we can use to replace it? If we learned one thing in the past six or so months, it’s that if you add Fable of the Mirror-Breaker into pretty much any deck, it’s gonna make it better. So let’s see what we can do here:

 

 

 

 

Explorer Izzet Phoenix by Martin Juza

 

After playing a few games with it, here are some things I like: 

  • Fable fits nicely into the curve where the deck previously didn’t have any three-drops at all. This made sense, as Expressive Iteration was effectively a turn three play to get the most value out of it. 
  • Fable will also help you make land drops and fill the graveyard nicely for Crackling Drakes. I’m imagining a slower deck that isn’t necessarily all-in on bringing Phoenixes back as soon as possible and just uses them as extra value, sort of like playing Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger in a Rakdos Midrange deck. 
  • Crackling Drake is a juicy target to copy with the Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. Not only do you get to draw an extra card in long games, but most of the time you will be able to just one-shot people. 

Things I don’t like:

  • Without Expressive Iteration, Finale of Promise gets a lot worse. I thought it would be great in a deck with Fables, but there just simply don’t seem to be enough good sorceries. 
  • Expressive Iteration made sure the deck rarely ran out of gas. Fable is just not the same card because it takes a turn to draw into more action. 

The deck seems perfectly reasonable to me and with value cards like Fable, Phoenix and Crackling Drake, it should have a decent fight against Rakdos Midrange. Crackling Drake is also amazing against any kind of graveyard hate. I think it’s going to struggle against Azorius though, especially cards like Narset, Parter of Veils and Farewell

Overall, I do think it’s worth working on, but I wouldn’t put the deck in Tier 1 just yet. 

 

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