July 21, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Lightning-themed creatures have been hurtling across battlefields and devastating opponents since Alpha, and that’s just the ones that don’t have a way to return to play. Lightning Phoenix is particularly well-positioned, because its condition is something that a red deck with haste creatures should be doing regardless of anything else – and also because it’s so open-ended. It triggers if you deal the damage, but also if it was just between two opponents and you weren’t directly involved at all, and even if they damaged themselves with painlands and the like. It’s not the most efficient in terms of stats, but I suspect that constructed decks will at least consider it, just because not all opponents will be mentally prepared to interact with a burn deck’s graveyard.
A little lightning bird able to swoop early and often, the upside of Lightning Phoenix is that it can keep coming back if you can keep doing damage…and three damage is conveniently Lightning Bolt’s rate of return. The Phoenix does less damage and has to wait a turn (and can’t block), but you’re still underpaying for an evasive creature from the graveyard. And even a hard-cast Lightning Phoenix isn’t completely pointless, as three mana for a hasty flier is something red rarely has access to. It’s not an all-star, but I think it does a good job of punching above its perceived weight class and refusing to stay dead.
Constructed: 3 (I can see a home for it, somewhat, but it’s definitely a hard sell in Legacy)
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