Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are the Best Phoenix Creatures in Magic: The Gathering?
In Magic, the phoenix subtype represents a rare group of creatures who specialize in graveyard revivals. Phoenixes are weak in battle, but their flying trait lets them soar over ground blockers while haste lets them attack or tap immediately. As of this writing, phoenixes are exclusive to the red faction, so pack in some mountain lands if you plan on using them.
10 Best Phoenix Cards
With only a few dozen mythical beasts available, they're uncommon but leave a big impact when they hit the field due to their continuous rejuvenations. But which flaming legends reign supreme? These are the ten best phoenix cards in Magic: The Gathering!
- Ashcloud Phoenix
- Bogardan Phoenix
- Flame-Wreathed Phoenix
- Worldheart Phoenix
- Warcry Phoenix
- Arclight Phoenix
- Akoum Firebird
- Chandra's Phoenix
- Flamewake Phoenix
- Rekindling Phoenix
10. Ashcloud Phoenix
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
For a moderate cost of four mana, Ashcloud enters with 4/1 power and toughness, meaning he packs a punch but is pitifully frail. Thankfully, he bears the flying, and when he dies, you return him to the field as a face-down creature.
Like other face-down creatures, Ashcloud will now possess 2/2 stats. You can turn him face-up for his morph cost, but this requires six mana, so it's rather pricey. Still, when you do so, Ashcloud also inflicts two damage to each player. He's an interesting unit, but I wish his morph was cheaper and his burn effect only singed your opponent.
9. Bogardan Phoenix
Bogardan Phoenix costs a substantial chunk of five mana, but he's about as straightforward a phoenix as you'll find. His stats are lukewarm at 3/3, but of course he has flying, and when he initially dies, you revive him from your graveyard with a death counter.
However, when Bogardan dies with a death counter, you exile him. Thus, his revival only works once, but it's free and doesn't require any extra mana or conditional field states.
8. Flame-Wreathed Phoenix
When he enters the field, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix presents an opponent with a tough choice. His tribute 2 effect means they may place two +1/+1 counters on him when he arrives, boosting his decent 3/3 stats to a fierce 5/5. If your opponent elects not to ramp him, his maintains 3/3, but also gains haste and bounces back to your hand when he dies, letting you recast him and force the choice all over again.
While he's a bit unpredictable since your opponent determines his fate, you're attaining either a fierce 5/5 beatstick or a swift warrior who will return to hand when defeated, both useful units.
7. Worldheart Phoenix
Worldheart Phoenix belongs in a rainbow deck that utilizes all five mana colors. You can cast him in a monored build, but there's little reason considering he enters as a weak 2/2 with nothing other than flying to justify his price.
However, you may also cast Worldheart from your graveyard by spending one mana from each color. This taxes your resources a bit more, costing five mana instead of four, but not only does this revive him, it places two +1/+1 counters on Worldheart. Use red or black mills and discards to move Worldheart from your deck or hand to graveyard and enable his boosted casting.
6. Warcry Phoenix
Warcry mimics Worldheart's four and puny 2/2 stats. However, he adds haste to flying, letting him swing immediately, and he enjoys a nice revival. When you attack with three or more creatures, you can spend three mana (one being red) to recover Warcry from your graveyard and place him tapped and attacking, augmenting your assault.
This revival actually lowers Warcry's price, making him another prime candidate for discard or mill abilities, and helps ensure you always have a usage for your turn's leftover mana.
5. Arclight Phoenix
Arclight shares Warcry's four mana cost, flying, and haste, but he's a bit stronger at 3/2. His revival is free, but to attain it, you need to cast three or more instants/sorceries before your combat phase in a single turn, at which point Arclight returns from the graveyard.
Having enough mana (and cards) for three spells isn't easy, but red's array of cheap removals like "Lightning Bolt" can help meet your mark. Overall, though Arclight's rebirth is a bit tricky, his higher base stats make him worth your attention.
4. Akoum Firebird
With both flying and haste, Akoum makes a strong aerial warrior, especially with his nice 3/3 power and toughness. However, as a downside, he must always attack when able, so you can't restrict him even if you know he'll perish in battle.
Still, he's a comparatively stronger warrior, and his landfall ability can revive him later in your match. By spending a whopping six mana, you can revive Akoum from your graveyard when a land enters the field under your control. Certainly not cheap, but helpful if you have nothing else to do in the late-game, and Akoum's haste will let him swing immediately as soon as he rejoins the action.
3. Chandra's Phoenix
Famed red planeswalker Chandra lends her firebird, and it's an impressive unit, costing only three mana while carrying 2/2 stats, flying, and haste. In addition, whenever your opponent is damaged by a red instant, sorcery, or planeswalker you control, you return Phoenix from your graveyard to your hand.
This gives plenty of options for recovering your unit, and though it only returns to the hand (meaning you'll have to recast it), this makes him one of the best discard fodders in the game; use Phoenix as fuel for discard spells, then simply recover him by charring your opponent with effect damage. I've used this birdbrain to great effect in a variety of structures, and he remains a personal favorite thanks his cheap price tag, often costing less than a single dollar!
2. Flamewake Phoenix
Flamewake resembles Chandra's Phoenix with his mana cost, 2/2 stats, flying, and haste. However, he shares Akoum's berserk nature, meaning he'll have to attack every turn when possible.
Luckily, Flamewake compensates for this downside with a fantastic revival: at the beginning of combat on your turn, if you control a creature with four or more power, you can pay a single red mana to revive Flamewake from your graveyard. A single mana for this guy? Yes, please. Plus, four power really isn't hard to achieve; in fact, you can even use . . .
1. Rekindling Phoenix
Rekindling Phoenix lacks haste (at first), but he's the strongest phoenix yet, harnessing an impressive 4/3 stats (and flying, of course). Beyond that, he's painstakingly difficult to permanently remove, as when he dies, you create a 0/1 red elemental creature token. At the beginning of your next upkeep, you sacrifice the token to revive Rekindling from your graveyard, now giving it haste as a bonus!
Thus, even if Rekindling dies, you just need your token to survive until your next turn, where it'll rejuvenate your monster for free. And even if your opponent manages to kill it, you still caused them to spend an extra removal. Rekindling remains one of my favorite red cards who has won me several games, and you can tell he's strong by his $25 price tag.
How to Use Phoenixes in Magic
Since they're rare, phoenixes don't yet have much in the way of subtype support, but that doesn't mean you can't combo them with other cards. These birds make great fuel for sacrifice or discard spells, negating your card loss by bouncing back to the field or hand with their revivals. Phoenixes also add a potent blend of flying to red's normally land-based goblins, helping you defend against aerial assaults even before you can afford red's high-cost dragons.
From hasty airborne strikes to supports for other effects, phoenixes remain a versatile set that I hope to see evolve in future releases. But for now, as we eagerly await Magic's next expansion of immortal birds, vote for your favorite phoenix and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on October 18, 2018:
You're very knowledgeable about this franchise too! Well done, Jeremy.