Neo-Fires: An Account of My Excursions into Type Two

Can Fires work in today’s post-Judgment Type 2 environment? Abe looks to the past and tries to come up with a competitive Type 2 deck that doesn’t use Anger.

I am preparing for Origins next week. At Origins, there will be the Amateur Championships, which I’d love to play in – plus, there will be a few Pro Tour Qualifiers. One of the PTQs will be OBC, while the Championship is Type Two. My basic problem, however, is that I really don’t know the environments well beyond my basic readings online. I have no deck in either format.

My last Type Two deck I worked on was a U/B construction right after Odyssey came out with Shadowmages, Wash Out, Counterspell, and so forth. I called it Neo-Nether-Go, and it didn’t really work once Psychatog reared its head.

Now? I need a Type Two deck bad.

So I’m looking for something to build. Since I have just a week to build and playtest both decks, I decide to try and build a simple deck, and one I am familiar with, at least in part. I could even try to make my OBC and Type Two deck similar! It would, after all, be much easier to get used to similar play styles. For example, I could play a U/G madness deck in both formats.

Immediately, I browse some websites and forums. I see several decks designed around Anger – they call it Neo Fires. The problem, though, as I see it, is that these Anger decks are Type Two. Why use Anger instead of the actual Fires? Is it just the flavor of the month, or has it become a better card? The way I see it, Fires should still be good… And since I am used to Fires from Ye Olde Type Two, I decide to build two Fires decks, one in Type Two and one in OBC.

However, first I need to determine if Type Two Fires is even viable; if it’s not, then OBC”Fires” probably won’t be either. And he excursion begins.

Now, I think Fires should be used over Anger for three reasons:

1). Anger must be placed in the graveyard, whereas Fires can simply be cast. This requires combo-ish elements on the part of Anger.

2). Graveyard hate seems to exceed enchantment hate. I have seen Grave Consequences, Morningtide, Grip of Amnesia, Cremate, and so forth, all in decks. However, enchantment kill is much more limited. That tells me that Fires is more viable.

3). Anger requires a Mountain in play. Nothing like drawing a Karplusan Forest, Wild Mongrel, Forest, Birds, Anger, and not having a Mountain anywhere in sight.

So in summation, for Anger to really be better than Fires, you have to draw a Mongrel or other discarding mechanism, and have a Mountain in play, and play against someone not playing graveyard hate. Yeah, that’s broken, all right.

And Fires can always give somebody +2/+2. I hear that’s good.

I wanted to bone up on the deck – so, I went and re-read”My Fires.” I had forgotten that Zvi wrote almost as many parts to his Fires deck as Rakso has when he continues to tell us that, no, Chastise is not good creature kill in Type 1 because it does not compare well to an established standard.

Now, from my recollection, after Planeshift was released, there were two styles of Fires decks: The first was the classic”pound harder” style. The second played more control, and versatility was the key, with Battlemagi and the like. I opt for the first type.

It gets harder to find articles about Fires decks after Planeshift came out. There are, however plenty of articles about beating Fires – I know it must still be out there. I find a Regionals Fires deck, which was the most recent version I could find to use as a base:

Fires, 4-21-2001 (by Daniel Hanson)

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Llanowar Elves

4 River Boa

2 Thornscape Battlemage

3 Flametongue Kavu

4 Blastoderm

2 Shivan Wurm

1 Rith, the Awakener

4 Fires of Yavimaya

4 Saproling Burst

3 Ghitu Fire

2 Rith’s Grove

4 Karplusan Forest

2 Brushland

8 Forest

4 Mountains

1 Plains

2 Rishadan Port

2 Dust Bowl

Now of course we are subtracting a block and adding a block – oh yeah, and Apocalypse too. Let’s begin, then, with a quick conversion:


4 Birds of Paradise

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Wild Mongrel (from 4 Boas)

4 Flametongue Kavu (1 Battlemage converted)

4 Phantom Centaur (from 4 Blastoderm)

2 Shivan Wurm

4 Call of the Herd (from 1 Battlemage, Rith, 2 Ghitu Fire)

4 Fires of Yavimaya

4 Firebolt (from 4 Bursts)

3 Fiery Temper (from Ghitu Fire, extra lands)

4 Karplusan Forests

12 Forests

6 Mountains

1 Keldon Necropolis

There are a few important points about the conversion: Firstly, a reduction in casting costs easily lowers the deck to twenty-three lands. I don’t like all of the extra painlands and Rith’s Grove just so you can run a single copy of Rith main. White is, therefore, pulled out altogether. Does this deck pack the punch of old Fires decks?

Well, without knowing the format as well as I should, I then turn to modern R/G decks, to get some ideas of what could be better tuned. I look for a deck that could be easily converted. I am also looking for a deck that looks halfway decent on its own; nothing like taking ideas from bad decks that lucked their way to a win! I see several decks that won, but I like this one, which has elements of Fires in it already:

Marcio Araujo’s R/G Beats Deck (Regionals Champ, Brazil Guarulhos)

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Flametongue Kavu

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Yavimaya Barbarian

3 Beast Attack

4 Call of the Herd

4 Firebolt

4 Reckless Charge

4 Urza’s Rage

9 Forest

5 Mountain

4 Karplusan Forest

2 Barbarian Ring

2 Mossfire Valley

1 Keldon Necropolis

Now, when looking at his deck, he included the Reckless Charges, which is reminiscent of Fires. However, because he needs mana to cast Charge, he has to have lower casting cost creatures. That’s why, I figure, you don’t see Shivan Wurm or Jade Leech in his deck. What I found interesting was not really his main deck, but his sideboard:

2 Dodecapod

3 Hull Breach

3 Moment’s Peace

2 Obliterate

2 Spellbane Centaur

3 Thornscape Battlemage

Battlemage still? Is it that good? I understood why we saw it back when Chimeric Idol, Tangle Wire, Ensnaring Bridge, and Static Orb were all in vogue… But now? I set some aside and will look at them later.

Spellbane Centaur is also a strong suggestion. I could see running it main versus blue if you have Beast Attack and Call. Or Call and Roar. All I have is Call, though.

Is the Centaur still a good choice? Another card I saw that I liked was Fire. The more I think about it, the more Fire seems like a good choice, albeit a sideboard one; maybe Violent Eruption would be better.

I start writing about my deck online. Someone tells me I have to play the Basilisk. I ask him why and he tells me that it is just too good in green not to run. Basilisk, though? Why? I have, um, Mongrel to discard to. Other that that, it’s a one-drop. Heck, so are Grim Lavamancer and Sylvan Safekeeper. Why run Basilisk over them? I could even take out the Mongrel for Kavu Titans, the Fiery Tempers for Rages. Other recommended cards include Skizzik, Nimble Mongoose, Blurred Mongoose, and Roar of the Wurm.

But I am unsatisfied by many of these recommendations. I do not want to rely on my graveyard overly much. People are playing lots of hate, and besides that, it is unreliable. I feel the same way about Madness. If I don’t have a Mongrel or whatever out, should I rely on it? So with that in mind:


4 Birds of Paradise

4 Elves

4 Flametongue Kavu

4 Phantom Centaur

4 Call of the Herd

4 Fires of Yavimaya

4 Kavu Titan

2 Shivan Wurm

4 Firebolt

2 Urza’s Rages

1 Spellbane Centaur

12 Forest

6 Mountain

4 Karplusan Forest

1 Keldon Necropolis

I toss in the single copy of Spellbane Centaur to see how it plays; three power for three mana should be the minimum in this type of deck. I load up Apprentice and hit IRC.

I play against some ‘Tog, and Frog, and a tad of U/G Madness. Here is what I learned quickly:

If you are going to run a single copy of any creature, don’t run a Spellbane: Run a Genesis.

So I swap the Genesis with the Spellbane and keep playing… But I find that I want Spellbanes. I don’t miss the Mongrel, by the way, but the Titan is a little underpowered. The Firebolts are fine, but I don’t flash them back as much as I’d thought, and I don’t always have a use for them, except to go at the dome. I begin thinking of replacing them. Here, then, are the first changes to my deck:


4 Birds of Paradise

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Flametongue Kavu

4 Phantom Centaur

4 Call of the Herd

4 Fires of Yavimaya

4 Kavu Titan

2 Shivan Wurm

4 Assault/Battery

3 Spellbane Centaur

12 Forest

6 Mountain

4 Karplusan Forest

1 Keldon Necropolis

Wow, is that an old-school card choice. Fear my Assault/Battery!

Here’s my thinking: I can still toss it at creatures, but versus ‘Tog or something, it becomes much more useful than ol’ Firebolts. However, having even more Elephants means that Spellbane Centaur becomes more critical… So I toss the Rages out, and go with the Spellbanes. They are often better than Rages against control, depending on what type of control it is. Some of these”control” decks have all of four to six counters in them, which makes Rage less important, and stopping bounce more so. I decide not to run that copy of Genesis main. With more tokens, having Spellbanes is more important to me.

Now, I start looking for tech. I gloss over all green, red, and artifacts in Type Two. Here is what I like:

Sylvan Safekeeper – Helps outs tokens, keeps big things from being killed. Can also help with Threshold if ever necessary

Grim Lavamancer – The Cursed Scroll of Type Two. Since my deck currently uses the graveyard only rarely, this might fit.

Ghitu Fire – Some of the early Fires decks used these as finishers. I can see why.

Savage Firecat – It costs five, and it’s red. Since all of my creatures except for Flametongues are green, a Vodalian Zombie or Spectral Lynx would wreck me. Heck, Wash Out or Teferi’s Moat would yell out”Shut Down!” like that old NES game. Having more red creatures would appear to be appropriate. And this guy serves lunch, dinner, and a spot of tea. He is just like a Wurm except you don’t cast anything after him… Or at least you don’t want to.

Elvish Archers – There can be a lot of bear-on-bear battles – and as such, maybe the Archer is better equipped to handle them than the Titan.

Enter the jank:

Centaur Chieftain – Look, I really don’t censor myself. This is brainstorming time. So, um, he has haste if the Fires isn’t out. Plus he is a mini-Overrun, all in a tight little body.

Epicenter – Well, if anything will surprise my opponent, casting Armageddon will. You sometimes saw ‘Geddon in the board of old Fires decks. If this was just a red ‘Geddon, heck, I’d probably run it main for fun. But it’s not. Getting threshold is harder than it looks. Maybe in the board.

Gurzigost – All right! Now we are getting somewhere. Five mana for a creature with a 6/8 body. The bad thing about the Shivan Wurms is that sometimes you just have tokens out; bouncing them is bad. Nothing like doing control blue’s job for them. But Gurzigost, well… It’s just tasty. Plus, like the Shivan Wurm, it kills Roar tokens. If I were to play it, though, I’d probably want to run Safekeeper main, so I could help myself with its upkeep.

Holistic Wisdom – When Terminate kills off that Flametongue or kicked Titan, don’t be sad. Trade an elf for it, and try again.

Okay, now for the most complete, jankiest idea ever…

Relentless Assault.

I kid you not. Ask yourself,”Self, what kind of deck would Relentless Assault be good in?” Well, you’d want a lot of creatures – creatures that always attack. Well, here we have twenty-nine possible creatures (not counting Call tokens twice – so, really, thirty-three if you count them as double. Not counting Birds, of course). And of these creatures, only four have a power of one. Most, in fact, have a power of three or greater. The problem is, I would have to take out creatures in order to play the Assault. But it seems awfully tempting. The little kid in me wants to play a Shivan Wurm, attack, cast Relentless Assault, and attack again (fourteen points in only one turn!)

“Flog and Squee

Up the Tree

See the Army

Flee, Flee, Flee”

Boy, do I think there is a place for this card in Type Two. It hasn’t seen use since, I swear, Visions came out and I played it in my Mijae Djinn, Ball Lightning, Viashino Sandstalker deck. Add Lava Hounds after they came out (Gangsta’ Hounds) and you have yourself some red celerity fun.

I set aside my Relentless Assault. Tech so hidden, so broken, I will henceforth refer to it only as RA. (Which, by the way, I was for five years. An RA – you know, Resident Advisor?) But I really don’t refer to it that way, as you’ll see.

I officially declare Relentless Assault to be”Broken.”

Of my other good cards, I like Gurzigost and probably Safekeeper the best. Initial playtesting, however, shows the ‘Gost to sometimes come out at awkward moments. So, I go back to plan A: Shivan Wurms and 7/7 love.

Despite all of my attention, Safekeeper can’t hammer down a spot in the main deck. It’s only a 1/1, after all – no matter how much I try to poke and prod, it remains a lowly 1/1.

Someone on IRC suggests playing the Wishes in that toolbox fashion. The Living Wish doesn’t really appeal to me, which leaves Burning Wish. What, I ask, would I wish for? You know, besides Relentless”Broken” Assault. Wildfire? Epicenter? Lightning Surge? Earthquake? Hurricane?

I take my deck out for another spin.

I crush White Weenie; the only game he wins sees a Glory hit play surprisingly after he ditched it to a Patrol Hound. Good on his part. So, I need to watch for WW’s Glory. I need more red for this matchup, too. One thing to watch out for is huge quantities of Birds, a la Battle Screech.

Birdie Beats! That’s kind of funny in a 4-o’-clock-in-the-morning-half-drunk-what-time-is-it-again sort of way. In the Glory matchup, he shafted me with those Screeching Birdies.

Note to self: Self, find a sideboard for the modernized Soraya deck.

However, Shivan Wurm proved its worth again. Against White Weenie, my opponent can have all of the protection in the world, he still takes some tramplin’ love. I then play against some G/B build – and again, Shivan Wurm wins me a game, and Phantom Centaur takes the other. But I realize that, in these types of matchups, I need more removal.

To rule this planet, I need desert power.

Kavu Titan have done little for me. So out come one Titan and a Spellbane Centaur; in go two Earthquakes. Now, let’s see how my baby does.

Magic Earthquake Tech destroyed an Opposition game. The other game I won off of early beats, plus Necropolis fun. However, I found the Earthquake to be too random in my other matches – so it could be strong sideboard tech. Of course, so could Simoon. Or Juntu Stakes.

Here is what I learned, though: I played several mirror matches versus R/G decks, and the deck with Fires (that would be my deck in case you were not following) just simply wins. Stupidly so. Oh yeah, and it beats control black up side the head.

Well, smack me silly and call me”Sarah.” That means Fires, by itself, takes out two of the heavy hitters in Type Two without the need for sideboarding! Good to know, good to know.

So, moving on. I take out the Eldritch Desert Power. I still need more removal, though. I also think I need another source of red, so I exchange a Forest for a Mountain. Of course, this is the part of our show where you say,”Burning Wish could get you an Earthquake. It could also yield you a Disorder for those janky Battle Screeches. Oh yeah, and it could offer a Lightning Surge for removal fun. Take out one Assault/Battery, and you could grab that too. Oh yeah, Hurricane if you needed it. Or Ghitu Fire. Or Hull Breach. Or Devastating Dreams. Or…”

And then I punch you in the forehead. Relentless Assault!

I am telling you, I have a spot for Relentless”Broken” Assault.

Or Genesis. Or Spellbane/Titan back. Hmpf. Building decks is confusing. I know that it’s time to grab some dinner and take a break. I am wondering about the relative uses of Strafe.


So I boil a couple of Ball Park Hot Dogs, grab some food, and take a break from thinking. I load up Championship Manager on my computer and play a little (Aside: Championship Manager, is, in my oh so humble opinion, the best sports game ever. Yep, it’s a text-based simulation. And yep, it’s soccer. And it is soooooooo good.)

So, after my Bolton Wanderers upset Tottenham 3-1, I hit the decklist again. I return with renewed vigor. I play a guy with another Opposition deck. He is running Glacial Walls, which he swears wins the Quiet-Roar matchup. That may be – but of course, Shivan Wurm crunches Glacial Walls. So do kicked Titans and Phantom Centaurs with Assault or Fires backup.

I run into a Burning Bridge deck, which reminds me to put artifact destruction in the board. It rolled me like a cheap cigar.

So I still need good removal for the Quakes. I want cheap removal that can take out Birds and stuff. I need heftier removal for Shadowmages and Call tokens… And I’d like to spread it out. Of course, there is one burn spell that meets all of these criteria. I am talking about Arc Lightning…. Only I was told they were no longer Type Two legal when I played versus a Blinding Angel deck.

Violent Eruption would be good, if it didn’t cost three red. I’d pay 4R for it. Oh yeah, isn’t that… Pyrotechnics? Too slow, though; I need instant speed. No, I need ramming speed.

Or I could use Volcanic Hammer. Cheap, and removes unsightly three-toughness creatures. Of course, I could just go back to Rages – but if I do that, am I just admitting that I failed? That all of this was for naught? I could also go back to Firebolts. They weren’t that bad.

Now, the thing with Spellbane Centaur is that, versus blue with lots of bounce, it’s golden. Versus anything else, it is, quite frankly, the worst card in my deck. I can do better than 3/2 for 2G. So a metagame call is necessary: Go blue or no? Toss the Centaur in the board, or play them main?

What would I play in their stead?

Could Relentless”Broken” Assault be in my future?

Imagine my deck with Firebolt instead of Quakes, and two RAs instead of Spellbane Centaurs. Is it too much to dream of?

Man, if I go to the Amateur Championships, emphasis on amateur, with Relentless Assault in my deck, that would show I have a pair of Catalyst Stones after all. I feel punchy, so…

In go the Assaults. Let’s hit the playtesting and see what happens.

I finally get that Quiet Roar matchup I’ve been coveting. I play four games, without sideboard and win three of them. One win comes at the hands of…. Relentless Assault. In the only game I lost, Relentless Assault or Flametongue or Firebolt or Assault/Battery would have won it for me.

I play against some G/W concoction, with Brushhopper, Wrath, and so forth. I lose the first game due to several play errors on my part: I didn’t really know what I was playing against, and I overcommitted. After I learned about the Wraths, I won the second and third games fairly easily.

I then get another White Weenie match. I take the first game with Relentless”Broken” Assault. He had out enough Birdies to kill me the following turn; if I hadn’t had the Assault, I would have lost. In the second game he gets Battle Screech, Battle Screech, and, oh yeah, Divine Sacrament and Glorious Anthem. My deck is slower and can’t keep up. I get the nuts hand of Birds, Forest, Fires, Mountain, Flametongue, Centaur, Forest in the third game. Needless to stay, I streamrolled that game like Mannheim at Christmas.

I had mana problems again in a couple of my matches. As much as I hate it, I decide to toss in a single copy of a Mossfire Valley. Filter lands blow, but they also, well, filter and stuff.

I may need more Firebolts: They have been a lot more help recently. I haven’t drawn the ‘Tog matchup since I first played it, but the Firebolt is good in so many matchups, that I try to find space. Relentless”Broken” Assault is good, but I still think of it as high jank. I build a tentative sideboard for next week: It could, and probably will, change after I get there and see what people are playing. Anyways, here is the final version of my main deck, and the initial sideboard:


4 Birds of Paradise

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Flametongue Kavu

4 Phantom Centaur

4 Call of the Herd

4 Fires of Yavimaya

3 Kavu Titan

2 Shivan Wurm

3 Assault/Battery

4 Firebolt

1 Relentless Assault

11 Forest

7 Mountain

4 Karplusan Forest

1 Mossfire Valley

1 Keldon Necropolis


1 Shivan Wurm

3 Hull Breach

1 Earthquake

2 Disorder

4 Spellbane Centaur

1 Ghitu Fire

1 Anger

2 Simoon

Final deck comments:

Yeah, I pulled one of the Relentless”Broken” Assaults. I wanted to fit in a Firebolt – But still it is quickly becoming the signature card of my deck.

I have a Shivan Wurm in my board. It is just nuts in several matchups, including Quiet Roar, White Weenie, and the mirror. With Fires out, it hurts Black Control and well, anything that can’t handle 7/7 tramplers… Which is pretty much everybody. It’s not good though, versus lots of bounce without Centaurs. Until I prove that Genesis is better than Spellbanes, there may not be a spot for it in the board.

The Centaurs come in versus bounce. The Ghitu Fire is for more controlling decks in the classic sense. It can also go in if I need more removal. It can be real helpful in the Quiet Roar matchup, where it actually takes out a token. And seriously, you can have seven mana to pop a token without too much difficulty.

Disorder is my White Weenie and Birdie Beats hoser. I don’t know how much I’ll face, so for now it’s only two copies. Simoon comes in versus Opposition, if that deck uses the Squirrels ad nauseum. Earthquake also comes in for that matchup, but the Quake can also be really helpful in the mirror – especially when your opponent is playing the Rootwalla, Mongrel, Safekeeper, Lavamancer style deck. It almost feels like Three-Deuce, doesn’t it? Earthquake is also great against random decks, like Zombies or Elves.

And that solitary copy of Anger is boarded in versus Control Black. They will hit my hand with a Mind Sludge or Gerrard’s Verdict in the White version, and then I have haste in perpetuity. It goes in for the RA.

Anyways, I now have to work on my OBC Fires deck. But, I am tired. I wanna go to bed. Plus, it will be much easier to build. Expect an article on what the OBC deck looks like, plus a report of how the Twin Fires match up at Origins.

Until Later,

Abe Sargent