Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys is one of the cards that feels so powerful when it works, but can't seem to find a solid fit in the meta. This is mostly due to its weakness to the omnipresent chaos monsters of the format. Historically, Roberto Martinez's Shonen Jump New Jersey 2005 deck placed well with the fiery fowl, but Phoenix has yet to see that sort of success again. Players like Kenny Hughes still believe in the bird, though, and this belief is what drove him to pilot a Sacred Phoenix deck in today's event!
Sacred Phoenix decks will usually sport two or three Apprentice Magician, which search out either Hand of Nephthys, or silver bullet answers like Old vindictive Magician or Magician of Faith. Hand is the strategy's primary way to special summon Sacred Phoenix, which is then (hopefully) ridden to victory. Though some players have combined this shell with other powerful strategies, like Goat Control (see Funky5's list from GFC13), A deck that focuses exclusively on Phoenix is rare, likely because of its weakness to the banish effects of chaos monsters that are so popular in Goat Format. Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer and Solemn Judgement are often included to try and prevent Chaos monsters from banishing Phoenix. Because Hand's need to tribute a monster in order to activate its summoning effect, Scapegoat is often played alongside the spellcaster. This allows for powerful spells like Enemy Controller and Creature Swap to also make appearances.
Hughes's list in this regard is quite unconventional. Unlike most Phoenix players we've seen before, he has opted not to shoehorn the Phoenix shell into another strategy (maybe a pinch of Monarchs), but instead play an actual Phoenix "cookie cutter" list. Despite this, he is sporting only a single copy of Apprentice Magician, No solemn or Kycoo, and a single Scapegoat. Brain Control gives some opportunity to tribute summon his bird off of opposing monsters, and Spirit Reaper sticks around for easy tributes, too. He's also opted for a massive draw package, including full sets of Jar of Greed as well as Upstart Goblin.
Hughes's list is interesting to say the least. With so many one-of cards, it might be hard to see what exactly he's aiming for when he plays. Thankfully, he was kind enough to sit down and explain it all for us, and it seems there's a bit more thought that goes into the deck than one might initially think.
Honestly, it all came down to the power of a few spell cards. I recognize how powerful control effects are and Brain Control happens to be at three. I am playing a couple of those with the intention of either attacking for game, Metamorphosis'ing their monster, or tributing it for Phoenix/Mobius/Zaborg. I also utilize the powerhouse that is Last Will will several targets that can turn the tide of a game - Cyber-Stein, Injection Fairy Lily, Spirit Reaper, etc. I regret the number of trap cards played in this deck - overall it needs some reworking, but the foundation is solid.
Despite a not-so-great showing, Hughes is obviously thinking towards the future and how to improve the deck for next time. Considering their long break from the game, this is quite commendable, and we can only hope to see him bring an updated version of the deck to a future event!
The event went about as expected. I took a solid 6-7 month hiatus from Goat Format while moving halfway across the US. I found out about this event last night and registered with the newest deck I had crafted earlier last year. I do not regret my decision as the deck has some amazing interactions.
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