Thanks for the help, guys. @Gentry
Your idea with the Path of Light is pure genius... just have to second that.
The speed of the Phoenix included the Feat "Fast Flyer" it's listed in the Stat Block but I didn't pointed that out in the speed entry. Sorry. It will most likely be kicked out to save XP. As is Regeneration I... another thing I had my mind set to and wouldn't want to give up... but your are right, it seems silly on a Phoenix.
The chosen spells on the other hand - taking a cue from Morgenstern here - will be swapped out from weaker to stronger ones... mostly because I play in a group where in combat no punches are pulled... and the phoenix is ultimately and hopefully my panic button if the group is caught between a rock and a hard place.@Sletchman
I think you talk about the specialized caster classes... when it comes down to taking classes. The normal Mage has 5 Bonus Feats and at least 7 normal feats - depending upon campaign qualities... his circle of power ability isn't influenced by it. Nevertheless the Phoenix will be quite likely loose some XP overall, since I had time to sit down and work out the complete background for the char.@Morgenstern
The idea to introduce several fixed tiers of advancement for an Animal/Beast NPC is awesome. I'll have to talk to the guys to see if it flys with them.@Paddyfool
I would go out on a limb here and say that I would - just me, mind you - limit the Wits Spell for the Phoenix to ONLY WIS. Seeing as it would fit into the whole Simurgh mythology, in which he is believed to impart insight... it could help while negotiating with a bullheaded or stubborn crowd/person or helping by shaking off outside influences.
Just ignore also the fact that I add in some very heavy duty spells into the phoenix for very selfish reasons and rule of cool (Tiny creature of unspeakable doom).
The Familiar Basics Feat - per GenCon Preorder - allows you to share a spell with your Familiar and it conveys some advantages upon the familiar. I don't know more than that.
And your Young Phoenix makes it into my Monster Manual... just have to talk with the guys how the little guy should advance step by step.
I tip my hat to all of you guys for all the help.