The Evolution of Fires of Invention

Fires of Invention is a rule-breaking card that’s already re-writing its own rules!

Fires of Invention – Week Two

We looked at a Jeskai Planeswalker deck last week that used the Fae of Wishes / Fires of Invention engine last week. Mike thought the combo was cool… But might be more funny than good.

One week in, and the combo is playing alongside Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead!

One of the key differences given the shift in archetype is that the Golos version wants to keep playing its lands. Previously, a deck that topped up on five or six mana might not have an incentive to play additional lands. After all… It’s not using lands to cast any spells. That would allow a Jeskai Planeswlker deck to use excess lands to bounce Fae of Wishes for more and more uses of front-side Adventure, Granted.

Fae of Wishes gives you a dump for mana you’re not otherwise using, as well as something to do with excess lands.

But in a Field of the Dead deck, you actually want to keep playing lands! That’s how you get more and more 2/2 Zombie tokens (especially in the mirror match or pseudo-mirror).

Check Out this Cool Fires of Invention Play Pattern…

All the Golos / Field of the Dead Ramp decks are capable of big and powerful plays. But there’s big… And then there’s Big. What about this? [With Fires of Invention already on the battlefield]:

  1. Play Granted for 0 mana. Go and get Planar Cleansing.
  2. Fire off Planar Cleansing. You’ve now spent nine mana worth of cards but haven’t actually tapped any lands. You’ve also just destroyed your own Fires of Invention.
  3. Hard-cast Hydroid Krasis! This is a great use of lands you weren’t otherwise going to tap and you simultaneously unlocked your ability to cast more than two cards in one turn. If you’re really lucky, your giant Hydroid Krasis might have just given you another copy of Fires of Invention. At the very least, you have the biggest — if not only — creature in play and probably a whole new hand.

Limitations and Opportunities of the Fires of Invention Sideboard

The joke about Fae of Wishes / Fires of Invention setsups is that, while they can access a great many options to win Game One… They tend not to be able to sideboard very much. The deck that finished second at last weekend’s Open, for instance, had fourteen distinct sideboard cards… Most of which stayed in the sideboard in between games. Sure, you might want to shave a Deafening Clarion or three… But most of the time? You don’t sideboard much with this archetype.

Another subtle area of opportunity for the archetype is that much of the sideboard is constructed as if you already had both Fae of Wishes and Fires of Invention already in play. So… Tons of sweepers. Tons of cards that are difficult if not impossible to cast the old fashioned way.

Patrick in particular believes that the deck might get a little better if it had access to more cards that assumed Fae of Wishes, but not necessarily the powerful red enchantment.

The Best of the Rest…

This week’s podcasts includes but is not limited to…

  • Other Golos decks
  • Fun tricks with Kenrith, the Returned King
  • Teferi or Oko?
  • Infinite aggro

… And, honestly? Quite a bit more. What are you waiting for?

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In for Doom Foretold Esper

Believe it or not, Patrick thinks Doom Foretold is better than The Abyss!

Doom Foretold has drawn some tall comparisons…

  • Is it kind of like a Smokestack? Sure… The same total casting cost, but in this case it can’t manascrew an opponent the way Smokestack did. Still, the comparison is apt.
  • How about The Abyss? Doom Foretold has some different limitations, but it can at least act like The Abyss… And incidentally, it’s more flexible against more types of permanents.
  • When you lose your Doom Foretold, it’s also like a mini-Cruel Ultimatum. A little of this, a little of that; your opponent loses a little something more… Payoff!

There are multiple possible homes for this card; Michael is toying with the idea of putting it in a deck with creatures like District Guide that produce cardboard. Patrick would try it in an Orzhov Knights deck for all the obvious synergies.

But most of all, Doom Foretold is an enchantment for Esper, allowing that strategy to win with Dance of the Manse. Teammates like Wishclaw Talisman and Golden Egg can also help fill out the 4/4 line.

Doom Foretold is increasingly good against increasingly good cards

By contrast, it seems to be less effective against fast Red Deck creatures.

But if you are up against Planeswalkers? Few of them have very good answers to this enchantment. What will Teferi, Time Raveler do? Bounce it?

You’ll probably just re-play the Doom Foretold and eat their hapless Teferi.

Generally speaking, the more, and expensive, cards in the opponent’s deck, the more Doom Foretold can punish them.

The Best of the Rest

With tons to talk about driven by the early MTGO results, we couldn’t focus on just one card. How about…

  • The ferocious Red Deck with Cavalcade of Calamity.
  • “The Patrick Chapin All-Stars” … Basically all his favorite cards from the last couple of weeks, all in one deck.
  • Cauldron Familiar + Witch’s Oven. Boom. (aka “the best Forcefield ever”)
  • Jeskai with Fae of Wishes… Is it more funny or just flat-out good?
  • An actual Simic Flash deck with Wildborn Preserver

What are you waiting for?

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The Great Henge and Other Great Cards from Throne of Eldraine

The Great Henge

  • 7GG
  • Legendary Artifact
  • This spell costs {X} less to cast, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.
  • {T}: Add {G}{G}. You gain 2 life.
  • Whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on it and draw a card.

How Cheap Does The Great Henge Have to Be Before You’re Into It?

This Legendary Artifact is clearly powerful.

It’s reminiscent of top end threats like The Immortal Sun… A big artifact that helps you out with mana and makes your guys bigger and draws you extra cards. But then again, it’s nine — nine — mana at retail cost. Luckily you can get it for less mana… If you do the work.

Mike thinks The Great Henge is “stupid” at four mana.

What if all you did was cast this card on turn three?

If you play Lovestruck Beast on turn three, you will have a five power creature in play already. That discounts The Great Henge from nine mana to four… Which is how much mana you will probably have the next turn!

Boom!

Now go ahead and tap for Good Game and run out something like this… With an extra +1/+1 counter, even!

Barkhide Troll is durable with one +1/+1 counter on it… But two?

The Henge gets really powerful in the middle turns, where you can use its mana production to Ramp, rather than just make a two drop. It’s not out of the question to lay out a 5/5 Questing Beast (or so) the turn The Great Henge hits the battlefield.

So Many Great Cards from Throne of Eldraine

  • We already thought Throne of Eldraine was pushing Adventure creatures… And then we met Brazen Borrower. Wow what a future teammate to Nightpack Ambusher!
  • We finally have the context to talk about Edgewall Inkeeper and Lucky Clover. Will Adventures-linear be a thing?
  • Who would have thought that in a set this big and flashy that a common Island would be the cross-format All-Star? Mystic Sanctuary could be a problem with, like, fetchlands; Crucible of Worlds; Cryptic Command… You know, all the cards Azorius Control decks already want to play in Modern.

Check it all out now!

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So Much Brewing With Throne of Eldraine

Nobody’s Making You Tap Castle Locthwain

Castle Locthwain is a nuanced, powerful, but not obvious new tool.

Castle Lochtwain is already splitting the community.

“It’s not that good,” say some. “You’re just going to take, like, eight damage.”

Well… Did you think maybe you’re supposed to take eight?

The reality is that you don’t have to tap it. It’s relatively low cost to get into your deck, but presents a lot of useful options.

  • If you’re in topdeck mode, Castle Locthwain from Throne of Eldraine is pretty great. You’re only going to take one and you’re going to dig past your opponent.
  • Some strategies — like Death’s Shadow — actually reward you for losing life. You’re welcome.
  • Subtly, this is a way you can generate card advantage — at the end of your opponent’s turn, no less — even if they’ve got Teferi, Time Raveler in play!
  • Whatever Esper! It’s probably just great in black-red decks.

Castle Vantress is an Expensive Way to Do It

Castle Vantress offers an ability we all want… But it kind of costs a ton.

Don’t expect this member of the Throne of Eldraine “castle” cycle to be super popular. “It could be okay to play one” says our beloved Pro Tour Champion, but it’s essentially five mana to not actually draw an extra card.

Probably effective in slow, grinding, matchups; though.

Castle Garenbrig is going to be a four-of

There are totally going to be decks with, like 17 Forests, 4 Castle Garenbrig.

Castle Garenbrig, on the other hand, is a super obvious contributor from Throne of Eldraine. Many decks are just going to play Forests and Castle Garenbrigs (say four copies)… Which will turn Castle Garenbrig into, essentially, a Forest.

… Except you’re going to be able to land Feasting Troll King (and its Food tokens!) a turn early.

This card is essentially an Ancient Tomb with no life loss drawback that also washes mana. Castle Garenbrig just looks great!

Will Castle Ardenvale be the Gem of Throne of Eldraine?

Compare Castle Ardenvale to…
Kjeldoran Outpost.

Castle Ardenvale is more-or-less just better than Kjeldoran Outpost. If you think back to the Outpost’s era, you either had a strategy to beat it… Or you lost to it.

Cards like this one are especially useful because they occupy “land” slots instead of “spell” slots. That means you can save space for other things, and win incidentally with an army of free 1/1 creatures.

Stomp // Bonecrusher Giant will be a cross-format All-Star

Stomp would be close to good enough by itself… But add on the Giant?

Stomp // Bonecrusher Giant is “clearly of the Top 5 cards in the set” according to Patrick.

We agree the card will be highly played in Standard. Michael, for instance, thinks it will immediately Top 8 a Star City Open the first week the card is legal.

On top of that, though, Patrick thinks the card will see play in not only Modern but Legacy and even Vintage! In Legacy, they already play all kinds of terrible red three drops, and this one has a removal spell tacked on. The needs in Vintage are quite specific, and this card does multiple things reasonably well.

There is too much Throne of Eldraine in this podcast to summarize here

  • The Magic Mirror…
  • Fae of Wishes…
  • Black Lance Paragon…

… Really, more brewing than you can even fit in The Cauldron of Eternity.

You’ll just have to listen to the podcast:

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Rosethorn Halberd from Throne of Eldraine

Rosethorn Halberd is our exclusive preview card from Throne of Eldraine

Rosethorn Halberd: It’s Like an Unholy Strength for G

Unholy Strength was a playable card in multiple Constructed formats past. Giving a single creature +2/+1 for B was solid in certain Suicide Black builds…

Now we have essentially the effect at G!

It’s important to remember Rosethorn Halberd is kind of an Unholy Strength with upside. The free equip makes the card very comparable to that age-old creature enchantment, but the fact that you can move it if you have five mana (or continue to reap value in a long game) is all on the bonus.

Rosethorn Halberd… Plus Shimmer Dragon?

Shimmer Dragon is a new card from Throne of Eldraine that has Mike’s creative juices flowing. It’s reminiscent of Mahamoti Djinn… But has multiple abilities that come online if you have artifacts in play.

In a sense, Rosethorn Halberd is just a cheap artifact. You can drop it before you play Shimmer Dragon. If you have enough [cheap] artifacts, you might be able to start Shimmer Dragon off with hexproof!

Further, the tapped-ness (or not) of Rosethorn Halberd is irrelevant. Ergo, you can use it to help draw cards if you have another artifact!

It also plays both ways! If you have Shimmer Dragon first, you can just play Rosethorn Halberd, get the free equip, and end up with an even bigger Dragon. At the same time… Everything else still applies. You just get a quicker clock.

Rosethorn Halberd is Reminiscent of Rancor

Though Rosethorn Halberd is very reminiscent of Unholy Strength, there is a lot of Rancor to it, as well. Unlike Unholy Strength, Rancor has some grind and long game to it… Just like this artifact that doesn’t go anywhere if its creature teammate dies.

Rosethorn Halberd even has a little upside relative to Rancor! If you were to cast Rancor and the opponent removed the target creature in response, Rancor would go to the graveyard. If your intended creature is destroyed before Rosethorn Halberd can buff it, you get to keep Rosethorn Halberd. The next equip might be painful… but you won’t lose the card.

There are lots of tricky things you can do with this card, from receiving the ministrations of an Animating Faerie (Bring to Life), to buffing the same Faerie in another order!

But Patrick thinks its best contribution will be in green aggressive decks.

Let me introduce you to Barkhide Troll or Wildborn Preserver.

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Wildborn Preserver in Simic Flash

Wildborn Preserver

Wildborn Preserver is a home run!

On its face, Wildborn Preserver “isn’t too far off” …

A 2/2 Flash creature for 1G isn’t the greatest on its face… But it’s still pretty good. This card can come down on turn two to mug the opponent’s Healer’s Hawk.

Boom! Simian Grunts card advantage!

Of course it is a great compliment to — and just another fast drop for — the Simic Flash deck. You can play mostly on the opponent’s end step, leaving up mana for permission, or creatures like this one, obviously.

Given its Flash and low cost, this card is a great two mana teammate to Brineborn Cutthroat. Interestingly enough, it almost doesn’t matter which you play first: They buff each other!

Wildborn Preserver has great synergy with Nightpack Ambusher

Playing a fast Wildborn Preserver [whether or not you mug the opponent’s one drop] is potentially good on its own. But the card gets ca-razy once you add centerpiece Nightpack Ambusher to the mix.

Nightpack Ambusher is a creature itself (giving you the opportunity to buff the Preserver). But more importantly, it spits out more and more Wolf creature tokens in future turns. Importantly for specifically this card, it just matters that you make creatures… It doesn’t care if they’re Elves, Wolves, tokens, or anything else specifically.

Therefore you can make a 2/2 (really 3/3) Wolf creature token and tap a little mana to buff the Wildborn Preserver. You can always leave up 1UU for your permission spell… Or not, if you don’t think the opponent will have a play. It won’t take long for your 2/2 to grow up into a 10/10.

Wildborn Preserver isn’t the only great creature, or green creature we talk about this week…

Michael and Patrick are initially split on Questing Beast.

They are not, however, split on the unmitigated beatdown that will be Feasting Troll King. Wow is that card great.

Both play offense-defense, and both are aggressively costed. Not a bad time to be a green creature…

More in the podcast:

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Garruk, Cursed Huntsman and Our First Looks at Throne of Eldraine

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman looks to be “the big card” of the new set.

Elspeth is back… Just in Garruk’s body

A few years back, months before we knew the word “Abzan” (and fell in love with Siege Rhino) Patrick won Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.

Like Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, Elspeth had three abilities: One made token creatures to attack or defend; the “minus” could destroy a creature or some creatures with value; and her third ability gave a buff to all her friends.

Both Planeswalkers cost six mana.

Heck of an act to follow… But with these abilities? Garruk looks to be up to the task.

[0]: Create two 2/2 black and green Wolf creature tokens with “When this creature dies, put a loyalty counter on each Garruk you control.”

This sure is an interesting [0] ability!

Unlike most Planeswalkers Garruk, Cursed Huntsman can’t add loyalty naturally. Outside of a proliferate synergy or Ajani piggyback, Garruk will rely on his Wolf sidekicks to gain loyalty.

What should the opponent do when Garruk makes two Wolves? Attacking into them will put Garruk in position for the [-6] immediately! They’re tough to block, if you’re going to respect that eventuality, as well.

Not for nothing: If other Garruk Planeswalkers are legal in the format, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman will be able to make them that much better.

[-3]: Destroy target creature. Draw a card.

This second ability is just awesome.

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman can come down; whack the opponent’s best creature, and leave a two loyalty Planeswalker. This is essentially a three-for-one!

[-6]: You get an emblem with “Creatures you control get +3/+3 and have trample.”

This emblem is basically a persistent Overrun. Imagine Garruk lives. All your future Wolves will be 5/5 trample creatures!

In the alternative, you should have access to 6+ mana. Surely you can do something interesting with that (and your hot new emblem).

Throne of Eldraine is hot and hilarious already! We go over all the new mechanics, and many other cards in this week’s podcast. Give us a listen now!

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Get Ready for Stoneforge Mystic

This week, Ian Duke announced many, many changes to the Banned & Restricted lists. Three tournament-competitive formats all had their B&R lists changed simultaneously:

Standard:

  • Rampaging Ferocidon: unbanned

Modern:

Vintage:

  • Karn, the Great Creator: restricted.
  • Mystic Forge: restricted.
  • Mental Misstep: restricted
  • Golgari Grave-Troll: restricted
  • Fastbond: unrestricted.

Rampaging Ferocidon is back in Standard!

Rampaging Ferocidon

The second-best red 3/3 for three may be the first un-ban in Standard history!

If you don’t remember it, the Ixalan dinosaur had an extraordinarily short initial career in Standard; was banned; and now has only a few weeks to play before rotation. We speculate there are two reasons for this:

  1. It’s a great foil to Field of the Dead strategies. This card really punishes decks that want to put a lot of creatures in play [at the same time], and can exploit a lead you’ve already got. And of course…
  2. “This is a silly, silly card to be banned.” -Patrick

To the surprise of no one, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Faithless Looting got banned

Hogaak’s performance in Modern since its [very recent] printing in Modern Horizons has been spectacular. In three Grand Prix events in August, Hogaak…

  • Dominated! Hogaak took 5/8 of the Top 8, with the win
  • Regressed to “only” 3/8 of the Top 8, with “only” second place as its top performance
  • Once again owned 5/8 of the Top 8 with the second place mage from the last Grand Prix jumping to first.

Wow!

This creature (and sidekick Faithless Looting) both more than deserved their forcible ejections from Modern. This card was not only a four-of alongside Hogaak basically everywhere Hogaak performed, it was a four-of in Dredge, Izzet Phoenix, and even some Mono-Red Aggro decks!

Patrick’s hot take? Dredge will remain Tier One.

The “good” news? Hogaak will live on in Legacy.

Speaking of which…

Stoneforge Mystic is poised to be the Next Big Thing in Modern

Stoneforge Mystic

Michael and Patrick speculate wildly about what will happen given the premiere of one of Legacy’s proudest two-drops in Modern…

  • Will we see the emergence of a Modern Caw-Blade? Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are like peanut butter and chocolate
  • How about a “Tom Martell”-style U/W? More controlling with Lingering Souls?
  • Can Stoneforge Mystic take the Goblin Engineer role next to Urza, Lord High Artificer? A Sword of the Meek is still a Sword!
  • Which Sword should Stoneforge Mystic find? Patrick makes the case for Sword of Feast and Famine… Alongside Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Esper)
  • How about Manriki-Gusari? Talk about a way to win the mirror!

Vintage and More!

What are you waiting for? Give “Get Ready for Stoneforge Mystic” a listen now!

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Combo off with Kethis, the Hidden Hand

Meet Kethis, the Hidden Hand

Kethis, the Hidden Hand is the center of Standar’s most exciting strategy
  • Effect of Card: Legendary spells you cast cost (1) less to cast. Exile two legendary cards from your graveyard: Until end of turn, each legendary card in your graveyard gains “You may play this card from your graveyard.”
  • Converted Mana Cost: 3
  • Type: Legendary Creature – Elf Advisor
  • Sets: Core Set 2020

Okay… There is a ton to unpack here. Kethis, the Hidden Hand is, first and foremost, a nice creature. For three mana (albeit of three different colors) it provides a 3/4 body. Not insane by itself, but no slouch, and more than big enough to defend the battlefield while you’re setting the game up.

More importantly come the Hidden Hand’s two lines of text:

  1. The first makes Legendary spells — including not only creatures by Planeswalkers and big endgame stuff like Urza’s Ruinous Blast cheaper.
  2. The second is a kind of card drawing engine, provided you have sufficient Legendary cards and a way to stock your graveyard.

Diligent Excavator + Kethis, the Hidden Hand

By itself, Kethis, the Hidden Hand might have been able to drive a serviceable midrange deck. After all, its power and toughness are full-on “okay” for its casting cost, and if you have enough Legendary cards… It can do some good grinding.

But combined with Diligent Excavator and Mox Amber, this Elf Advisor can weave some legen — wait for it — dary game states.

Diligent Excavator sets up Kethis.

Unassuming in the abstract, Diligent Excavator makes for an extremely cost-efficient source of self-Mill. If you have this card in play, you can Mill yourself for zero — zero mana — using a [Legendary] Mox Amber. Go ahead and tap that Mox for a mana.

When you play another one, you will not only Mill yourself again, but the Legend Rule will put your original Mox Amber into the graveyard; you know, where you can cast it again using the Hidden Hand’s shenanigans.

Between these cards and a discount on Oath of Kaya, the Standard Kethis Combo deck can play for a Storm-like recurring Fireball plan, grind the opponent out with card advantage, or mold a plan to the other mage’s specific configuration.

Sure, there are ways to nerf the graveyard, but this deck plays Teferi, Time Raveler to bounce a Leyline of the Void, and conventional disruption like Duress is a little blunted (most of the combo pieces being creatures); as is creature removal (stuff like Cast Down is rather poor against all the Legends).

In sum: Awesome!

Stay Tuned for…

The best of the rest. We talk everything from Grixis Control to innovations in Golos for Field of the Dead. Standard is so dynamic nowadays! Enjoy!

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What Makes Bomberman Our Favorite Legacy Deck?

Modern Horizons in… Legacy?

Modern Horizons didn’t stop at just terraforming, you know, the Modern landscape with its Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis decks. Legacy is just staring to feel the impacts of this powerful new set.

Wrenn and Six is an amazing addition to Temur Delver. You thought Wrenn and Six plus Wooded Foothills was cute? Try Wrenn and Six plus Wasteland.

Wasteland

Wasteland puts itself into the graveyard, which is convenient for Wrenn and Six card advantage.

If you have these two cards working, the opponent will have to draw a land a turn just to keep pace. But of course an opponent who is drawing land every turn is kind of likely to fall behind, anyway. This new combo makes Temur Delver and Lands more powerful than ever.

What kind of world do we live in where there is an all-new Mono-Blue Urza, Lord High Artificer deck and it doesn’t come close to being our favorite.

Meet Bomberman.

Key Bomberman Combinations

Auriok Salvagers and Lion’s Eye Diamond make infinite mana.

With Auriok Salvagers on the battlefield you can play Lion’s Eye Diamond and sacrifice it for WWW.

1W of that WWW is used to retrieve the Lion’s Eye Diamond from the graveyard, netting the Bomberman one mana. You can do this over and over again, making any amount of mana.

So what do you do with all that white?

Walking Ballista
A Walking Ballista of literally any size is at Bomberman’s fingertips.
Monastery Mentor
How do you feel about any number of 1/1 Monk tokens… And any number of prowess triggers?

Bomberman can do this super quick, too!

Imagine this were your opening hand:

  1. City of Traitors
  2. Mox Opal
  3. Lotus Petal
  4. Lion’s Eye Diamond
  5. Auriok Salvagers
  6. [something]
  7. [something else]

You can play out City of Traitors, Mox Opal, Lotus Petal, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. The latter three cards (in total) give you metalcraft, allowing you to cast the Auriok Salvagers by sacrificing the Lotus Petal. So yeah, the Mox is “off” for at least a second, and Lotus Petal is gone to the graveyard.

But hey! You have an Auriok Salvagers. Now just sacrifice the Lion’s Eye Diamond and go off for infinite mana like we discussed, above. You’ll have to discard your last two cards, but if one is a Walking Ballista, no problem! You can get that back. Even a simple Mishra’s Bauble can draw you a lot of your deck, provided you piggyback off of the preceding infinite mana engine.

But yeah. First turn infinite mana. AND numerous backup plans.

Hear all about the recent developments in Legacy here:

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