Pteramander and Arclight Phoenix in the Legacy Landscape

Those of who follow my Legacy content (ChannelFireball videos, articles, and streams) know how much I tried to make Pteramander work. I tested many versions of U/R Delver, and wasn’t successful with any of them.


I knew I wanted to play Wasteland alongside Daze and Delver of Secrets, and I knew that was the best shell for Pteramander.

I also tried Light Up the Stage, but the card was underwhelming, both because it required a successful attack in order to be Legacy playable, and because you could just flip some bad spells that you were not willing to cast.

Light Up the Stage

Last weekend at the SCG Open in Syracuse, Blue-Red Delver came in 1st and 5th, putting up a great performance for a brand new deck in Legacy.

You might argue that Blue-Red Delver has been around forever and that this isn’t anything new, but seven cards from the latest set in a Legacy main deck isn’t something you see every release.

On top of that, we’re used to seeing Blue-Red Delver without Wasteland and with a Burn theme. Rich Cali and Austin Collins came up with a version of Blue-Red Delver that is very similar to Grixis Delver, with Young Pyromancer, True-Name Nemesis and four Wasteland, basically swapping Gurmag Angler with Pteramander.

Blue-Red Delver

Rich Cali, 1st Place SCG Open Syracuse, 3/2/2019

1 Mountain
2 Island
4 Wasteland
3 Volcanic Island
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Polluted Delta
1 Bloodstained Mire
4 Pteramander
2 True-Name Nemesis
4 Young Pyromancer
4 Delver of Secrets/Insectile Aberration

3 Light Up the Stage
1 Vapor Snag
1 Preordain
4 Ponder
4 Daze
4 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
3 Chain Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt

2 Abrade
1 Grafdigger's Cage
3 Flusterstorm
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Forked Bolt
1 Sulfuric Vortex
1 Null Rod
2 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast

Just two match wins away from Rich there’s Austin Collins, who played a very similar list but with some minor and very important changes: Austin does not play Light Up the Stage in favor of three copies of Spell Pierce.

Spell Pierce

I have not been impressed at all with Light Up the Stage in a deck with Daze, Force of Will, and Surgical Extraction. I’m just too afraid of putting a maybe 1-mana, maybe Divination card in my deck.

On top of that, what if you play against a deck with lots of removal for your cheap creatures and you draw multiples of Light Up the Stage? This isn’t a blue spell that you can easily pitch like it was Treasure Cruise. Sure, Treasure Cruise is obviously better, but the reason to play multiple copies of your situational card in Legacy is because you can always pitch them to Force of Will, or shuffle them away with Brainstorm.

I’m definitely keen to try Light Up the Stage more, since it has the most potential in Ravnica Allegiance outside of Pteramander.

Another card that dominates non-rotating formats is Arclight Phoenix.

Arclight Phoenix

While Blue-Red Phoenix is the best deck in Modern, it doesn’t quite cut it for Legacy.

The most successful shell for the deck has been with Buried Alive. When Guilds of Ravnica came out, I covered all the possible Legacy playables, identifying this as a for-fun combo. It turns out the deck is real and it put two people into the Top 16 of the SCG Open in Syracuse.

Buried Phoenix

Ryan McKinney, 10th place at SCG Open Syracuse 3/2/2019

1 Island
1 Swamp
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
1 Badlands
4 Arclight Phoenix
1 Bloodstained Mire
4 Dark Confidant
3 Young Pyromancer
4 Preordain
2 Forked Bolt
4 Thoughtseize
4 Ponder
4 Polluted Delta
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Buried Alive
4 Brainstorm
4 Dark Ritual
3 Lotus Petal

1 Goblin Cratermaker
2 Abrade
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Rakdos Charm
2 Izzet Staticaster
2 Flusterstorm
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Echoing Truth
2 Tormod's Crypt

After ewlandon—the best Legacy player on Magic Online—put up a bunch of 5-0s and tweeted about it, the Grixis Phoenix version with Dark Confidant and Lotus Petal has been the go-to version for the archetype.

Dark Confidant

I strongly advise against putting Dark Confidant and Gurmag Angler in the same deck, because you’re already pushing it with four 4-drops and four 3-drops.

Dark Confidant is a great source of card advantage, especially if it hits play on turn 1 thanks to the three copies of Lotus Petal.

Lotus Petal

Lotus Petal is also important to enable some turn 1 “combos.” It can also let you “go-off” without Dark Ritual.

I’m still unsure whether this deck is here to stay or just a fluke, but at this point I’ve seen it performing well for a while and it might indeed be here to stay.

Finally, if you love brews and weird decks, you’re going to love this next one. I couldn’t let this one go. It’s probably crazy enough that it deserves to be recorded in a Legacy VEEDEO in the near future.

Reanimator Phoenix

David Raczka, 19th place at SCG Open Syracuse 3/2/2019

1 Swamp
1 Island
2 Tropical Island
4 Polluted Delta
1 Bayou
1 Volcanic Island
3 Underground Sea
4 Arclight Phoenix
2 Bloodghast
3 Thing in the Ice/Awoken Horror
4 Thought Scour
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Manamorphose
4 Ponder
1 Thoughtseize
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Careful Study
4 Entomb
4 Land Grant
4 Brainstorm
3 Force of Will

1 Assassin's Trophy
1 Sentinel Tower
3 Abrupt Decay
1 Memory's Journey
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Thoughtseize
2 Ancient Grudge
4 Accumulated Knowledge

There’s so much crazy stuff going on in this list!

Land Grant and Manamorphose are great ways to play your first free spell for Arclight Phoenix. David cut the Buried Alive + Dark Ritual package and brought Entomb instead, which is 1/3 of a Buried Alive but it can also tutor for Bloodghast or Cabal Therapy in the main deck, as well as Ancient Grudge and Memory’s Journey in the sideboard.

I’m not sure why you would play this version over the previous one, as you’re missing the explosive Dark Ritual + Buried Alive start.

Accumulated Knowledge

Accumulated Knowledge from the sideboard gives you another angle of attack against the control decks and you can even Entomb one into the graveyard to draw an extra card, but I’m not sure if that’s considered “value play.”

Overall, this is a crazy deck, and I love to see these kind of decks do well in large events!

Legacy after the Deathrite Shaman ban hasn’t been the same, and there hasn’t been a best deck yet. I love to see that these new sets are shaking the format up a little bit.


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