The United States Nationals are coming up this weekend. Setting it apart from years past is easy; online, there are no really big hush hush decks, no mention of Red Deck Wins 2K or Trinity Green-type decks. Meatgrinders will evolve, but chances are there will not be a solid new deck type out of the bunch, much like there was when Survival was legal in Type 2.
This year is much different. The type two metagame has become stagnant, but will surely change when Apocalypse becomes legal. Blue/White Control, Nether-Go, Rebels, and Fires have all survived the 7th edition rotation. Strong decks have come to be, winning Nationals for some. Orbosition decks have become hot recently, and Wildfire decks could be back in the spotlight after a short absence. What is going to win The United States crown this year? The field is wide open; it could be anything.
Fires decks first gained attention during the State Championships of last year. Using fast accelerants, huge critters, and burn, this deck rarely ran into a bad matchup. Control? Sideboard in Kavu Chameleon and Obliterate. Blue Skies? Sideboard in Hurricane. This deck is the Ginsu of the Magic world Â— it slices, dices, chops, and does other random knife-like things. Pro Tour: Chicago featured many of these decks; some packed Two Headed Dragons, other preferred Rith, the Awakener. Some played with Ghitu Fire, while other preferred Urza’s Rage. This deck was every kid’s dream.
Planeshift came along, and introduced several new cards for Fires Â— among them, Tahngarth, Talruum Hero, Thornscape and Thunderscape Battlemages, Shivan Wurm, Flametongue Kavu, and Hull Breach were all experimented with. Four Flametongues are commonplace amongst today’s Fires build, while the others are regulated to the sideboard, or just not played at all. 7th edition restarted the Dragon debate. Shivan Dragon came back, but has not seen much play in top-quality Fires decks.
The history of Fires is easy to retrace; the cards in the deck, however, are up to opinion, and much debate has been put into the deck itself. Four By Four Fires sprung up, aptly named, it featured four of the main parts of the deck, and not much else. Dark Fires, which looks to utilize Duress and Phyrexian Scuta, have made a small impact on some tournament scenes, while a deck that runs four of each Battlemage has gotten big in Kentucky. My Fires, I hope, is a unique deck. When building it, I looked to several different sources for inspiration: I looked at bad matchups and added cards to help the deck out. I mixed the land ratio a bit, and added another color. If I were playing in the National Championships, this is what I would play. Would I win? Maybe, but I would have a great time playing it.
At first glance, this deck looks like the typical Four By Four Fires build, in that you have four copies of the main components. What sets this deck apart from the others, though? Is it the two dragon legends? Is it the maindecked Hull Breaches? How about the Springs? The sideboard is where this deck shines. Taking a cue from Kibler’s Red Zone, the deck has the ability to side in four Armadillo Cloaks. Against Control, the deck brings in Blood Oath, Kavu Chameleon, and Obliterate. Rebels have a hard time rebuilding after a Tsabo’s Decree Â— and Tangle, Tahngarth, and Cloaks come in for the mirror match. Blood Oath is a wild card, and can fit in against almost any deck type.
Let’s take a look at the deck, card by card, and allow me to explain some card choices before you hit the back button on your browser:
This deck would be sitting in the box of random kids if it were not for these two one-drop creatures. Serving as early creatures, their main purpose is to accelerate your turns. Turn two Idol or fires, turn three Blastoderm, up to a four Burst.
5/5 for four mana is good, right? In the early development of the deck, Jade Leech was in this spot, mainly because the ‘Derm faded away after three attack phases. However, I soon replaced the Leeches with Blastoderms. Two reasons, mainly; the first was the extra mana costs to my green spells that the Leech made me pay. The second? Blastoderm can not be Snuffed Out, or Maliced, or targeted in any way. Pretty strong.
When this card was rumored to be in Planeshift, a lot of players did not believe it. Four mana for a 4/2 that can kill just about anything when it comes into play? That card can not be real. It was, and since Planeshift was added to Standard play, it is ludicrous to play Fires without packing four of these guys main deck. They are just too good.
Rith and Darigaaz both made the cut here. Two 6/6 flying creatures with pretty nifty abilities. Rith will make you more guys, while Darigaaz will continue to burn your opponent. In my opinion, though they are harder to cast, these Dragons are far superior to the Shivan and the Two-Headed Dragon.
The namesake of the deck. Without, players would have to use the suboptimal card Fervor. Although both cards do the same exact thing, two things will separate these as well: The rarity of Fervor makes it much harder for players to get. Fires can sacrifice to add two more points of combat damage, which will throw off your opponent’s math, or can save a creature from an impending doom.
This card makes creatures. Creatures win you the game. I am at a loss for words.
Great synergy with most of the deck. Often, you will be tapped out from casting spells, and this creature is a great addition to the deck.
This card is an opinion call. It can take out almost every creature in the game, and can also deal lethal damage to any opponent who is not wearing an Ivory Mask. In control-heavy metagames, though, Urza’s Rage is the better call.
Added main deck to help out with the mirror match. Taking out an opposing Burst and Idol is good idea. The added bonus of almost never being a dead card against the popular Millstone decks gives it an added bonus. The non-instant speed, however, adds a bit of a glare to an otherwise good card.
4x Armadillo Cloak
4x Chimeric Idol
1x Fires of Yavimaya
1x Darigaaz, the Igniter.
Why? The inclusion of City of Brass and the high amount of Pain Lands means you will be taking a good deal of damage from your own sources. The lifegain from the Cloak will allow you to stay in the life race.
4x Kavu Chameleon
2x Blood Oath
4x Chimeric Idol
3x Ghitu Fire
1x Tsabo’s Decree
1x Dragon Legend
What cards does Apocalypse add to this deck? Almost certainly, Llanowar Wastes will come in for City of Brass. The new disk, Pernicious Deed could give you a maindeck advantage against control matchups. Spiritmonger could be included as another big hitter in a deck that features loads of them to begin with. An outside shot, Spectral Lynx, can give the deck the cheap regenerating creature that it needs. The upcoming set is sure to shake up the stale Type Two environment!
Good luck to all players during Nationals. One day I will be there with you.
Joshua X Claytor
Questions, Comments, Responses?