The Future of Solar Flare

Put your Champs deck to the test at the Star City $1500 Standard Open!
For his first article on StarCityGames.com, Naoki Shimizu delivered a detailed breakdown of the genesis of his metagame-shaping creation: Solar Flare. For his second article, he takes the deck and updates it for Time Spiral. The maverick deckbuilder sifts through the Time Spiral goodies and brings us four separate builds for us to tweak and test, perfect preparation for those attending Champs, or the StarCityGames.com $1,500 Standard Open on October 21st.

After a long wait, we finally got hold of the Time Spiral cards. I took part in two prerelease tournaments, and posted good results to win eighteen boosters. Yes!

So, what did Solar Flare pick up from the new – and old – set, Time Spiral?

Before speculating, lets see the basic list of Solar Flare:

These are the cards that we lose after the rotation.

Legendary Lands (Minamo, Shizo, Eiganjo, Miren, Mikokoro, Boseiju)
Yosei, the Morning Star
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Descendant of Kiyomaro
Cranial Extraction

Legendary Lands
I think this loss is one of the biggest problems, especially the loss of Miren. Gaining life was always good for this deck, and sacrificing a dragon for a graveyard-fuelled effect was also nice.

The only thing that we can do is increase the amount of multicolor lands to avoid manascrew.

Yosei, the Morning Star
Let’s play Adarkar Valkyrie instead if we need a WW4 spell. In fact, she is better than Yosei against beatdown decks.

Kokusho, the Evening Star
We have Skeletal Vampire as a replacement. Sadly, the lifegain was so important, so we need to do something effective and new against aggro decks.

Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Ink-Eyes is great against the mirror, especially if they run Court Hussar. We lost this cool Ninja, but actually it’s not an insurmountable problem.

Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Shall we play Windreaver instead? I’ve already tested this card, and found it playable. We have Skeletal Vampire, too.

Descendant of Kiyomaro
This loss is the biggest problem for the deck, I think. This guy saved me from the relentless attacks of the Gruul and Boros Guilds. They lost nothing but Flames of Blood Hand, so we need to seek some solution.

Cranial Extraction
It was good against Snake and Heartbeat, but both will disappear come the rotation.

And this is what we get from Time Spiral:


It’s not impossible to play this with buyback, and it’s very cool with Wrath of God. Even if you play this without buyback, it’s powerful.

Magus of the Disk
You lose your Signets when you activate this, but it is good with Zombify so it’s not unplayable at all. If you play this, reduce the number of Signets and play cards like Condemn, Spell Snare, and Twisted Abomination.

Mangara of Corondor
She can’t be Zombified if you activate the ability, but she can do almost same as Angel of Despair for WW1. She’s especially good against Izzetron, after sideboarding.


Careful Consideration
Why bother playing Sift? We’ve now got a lot of Blue mana because of the loss of Miren and Mikokoro. It’s not difficult to get double-Blue, and this card seems best in this particular deck.

Draining Whelk
Yama-control, the ancestor of Solar Flare, had Time Stop in the maindeck. This is, of course, much stronger than that spell.

“I will counter your Angel of Despair with this, and put an 8/8 flier into play”

Spell Blast
It’s not impossible buyback this spell. Especially late-game against slow control decks.

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

It’s difficult to get UUU, but his ability is so cool against control decks.

Vesuvan Shapeshifter
I once played Clone in this deck, and it was playable, especially against the mirror. This Shapeshifter costs more Blue mana to play, but often you can play it with Morph and then abuse its trickiness.

You can’t cope with Simic Sky Swallower? Let’s copy it!


Demonic Consultation
“I play Demonic Collusion with buyback, discarding Angel of Despair.”

Dread Return
Cool Flashback ability. It’s almost same as Zombify but it has bonus ability! You can Flashback this if you play Skeletal Vampire, so why not? I wish I still had Meloku, but don’t cry. It’s okay.

Living End
It may be playable if you suspend this on turn 3. Let’s test!

Plague Sliver
Four mana for a 5/5 is always cool. This is good against aggro deck without burn spells, and sliver decks. It could come in from the sideboard.

Sengir Nosferatu
Cool! He is good against many removal spells, and he only costs five mana! Many people say this vampire is Black Morphling. He costs five mana, and has flying, four power, and doesn’t die against many removal spells (except Wrath of God or Sudden Death).

Sudden Death
“I play Birds of Paradise. Next turn, Hippie. Remand, Remand, Remand… I win.” This was often the case in times past… but it will never occur! Split Second owns! Besides, it can kill Ghost Council and Windreaver, which were difficult to cope with.


Dralnu, Lich Lord
Yes, I’m afraid to play him maindeck, but he is absolutely ridiculous against non-Red decks. Put him in the sideboard.


Phyrexian Totem
If you play this, only attack with it against decks whose removal is non-damage based (Wrath of God and so on). This Totem is produces mana (as do the rest), and it can be a huge threat against control decks.

What a cool creature! It is nice to reanimate this.


Calciform Pools
These new storage lands can be played as singletons, or as a pair at most. They are good against control decks, of course.

Flagstones of Trokair
If you told to sacrifice four lands, sacrifice this and get Godless Shrine. What a foolish spell Wildfire is!

Phew. There are a lot of cards that may be played in the new set…

… what? I forgot something?

Oops! We got old cards, too.

Timeshifted Cards


Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Put her into play turn 4 and you win. She can be Condemned, or Wrathed or bounced, but few other playable spells can kill her. If you don’t like Zombified Akroma, try to play Resurrection and she will keep her beauty.

Hi, Disenchant! Nice to see you again!

After the rotation – or after Jitte’s disappearance – it is not necessary to destroy artifacts, but Disenchant is the best way to cope with both artifacts and enchantments.

It’s a White Zombify, or Zombify is a White Resurrection. You can play Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, and then played Resurrection for WW1!Of course it is good against Persecute, because many people are undecided on the color to say: Black or White…?

Sacred Mesa
As I mentioned, Solar Flare has a lot of mana. And creating three tokens enables you to play Dread Return with Flashback.

A 1/2 for W1!? Wow! I have already opened three Squires… sucks. Never play him.


Whispers of the Muse
You have a lot of mana to buyback this.


Avatar of Woe
When I began to play Magic, I bought a theme deck named Distress (which contained this Avatar). It’s nice to see it again. If you play many creatures, you may squeeze this into play for BB. Of course, he is good reanimation target.

Persecute is countered too often. I couldn’t get BB too often. Stupor may be better in that situation. I’m not sure which is better – Castigate or Stupor – but Castigate can be Spell Snared. I think I like this more.

Twisted Abomination
You can cycle for Watery Grave, or Godless Shrine. Or even Blood Crypt or Overgrown Tomb. If you play Grim Harvest… it gets better. It will work as a pseudo Eternal Dragon.


Merieke Ri Berit
She is good with Grim Harvest. Sometimes she can be a Vedalken Shackles.

Shadowmage Infiltrator
A cool creature for UB1. There is no Wild Mongrel or Urza’s Rage this time. Though there are a lot of cards to deal with Mr Finkel, his power is awesome. Let’s play with John.

Teferi’s Moat
It’s good against Gruul and Boros. Enchantments can’t be destroyed by those decks in many cases… though both Naturalize and Disenchant could reduce this card’s efficiency.


Serrated Arrows
It kills (or neutralizes) Birds of Paradise, Dark Confidants, Shadowmages, Ohran Vipers, Savannah Lions… It doesn’t care about protection-from-x abilities, like the jump-knights from Coldsnap. Wrath is often better (obviously), but you can’t play five Wraths.


Gemstone Mine
How much do you think I craved a land that can produce any color?

Tendo can produce any color once, and once only. Gemstone Mine can do it at least twice. And when you have Azorius Chancery… how nice it is!

Let’s make Neo Solar Flare. First, when you create a deck, you should consider which decks are likely to appear in the tournament. I think these are major decks in the new Standard environment…

Gruul Beats
As I mentioned, Gruul didn’t lost anything after the rotation. It picked up Magus of the Scroll, Stonewood Invocation, Call of the Herd, and so on.

Rakdos Burn
This deck lost Genju of Spires and Flames of the Blood Hand, but that’s all. They got Magus, Shadow Guildmage, Sudden Death and/or Sudden Shock, and Browbeat. What is more, we no longer have Jitte, which was critical for this deck.

Although they lost Keiga and Meloku, they picked up Bogardan Hellkite, Triskelavus, Draining Whelk, and so on. This deck will never disappear.

Simic Beats, Sea Stompy
They lost an important guy – Ninja of Deep Hours — but picked up Psionic Blast. Though they lost Jitte, Simic now has direct damage creature removal, so it’s stronger than ever.

Boros Deck Wins
They lost Jitte and Isamaru, but that’s all. I think they can splash Blue for Lightning Angel and Remand, morphing into “Raka Deck Wins.”

Orzhov Beats
They also lost Jitte and Isamaru, and both Hands (Honor and Cruelty). But they still have Crusaders in Coldsnap. They lost Promise of Bunrei, and Tallowisp, so these B/W builds will largely be dead.

They lost Jitte, Kodama of North Tree, Yosei, and Arashi. They gained some new creatures… and Selesnya is so strong against Gruul that you’ll probably encounter these decks.

This is the deck I hate the most. They lost Eye of Nowhere, but picked up Avalanche Rider. They’re not dead, or even ill, but Sacred Ground will be nice from the sideboard if there are many people still playing this deck.

Solar Flare
Finally, the mirror match. We know there are many new (and old) cards to play, so there may be many kinds of Solar Flare. Until we see the exact direction of this deck’s evolution, we cannot be sure how to combat it.

Okay. Let’s build!

First, we feature the new reanimation spell and draw spells.

Now you have a lot of ways to discard your fatties, so you can put four copies of Resurrection. Those cards are all good with Augstin, who is very good against control decks.

This list seems weak against aggro, but good against control. To combat this, you can add Faith’s Fetter in your maindeck instead of Persecute. Change it depending on the metagame you’re facing.

Next, let’s beat aggro decks.

I’m afraid of Tin Street Hooligan, and wanted to play Magus of the Disk. I pulled out two Signets and put in additional removal spells. This list seems good against Gruul, but bad against Izzetron.

Next, I wanna play with John Finkel.

I prefer Twisted Abomination to Signets (when I play Magus and Grim Harvest). Grim Harvest has hardly been played since the release of Coldsnap. (Well, I haven’t played it.) It’s good with Court Hussar, as you can play it without W and recover Grim Harvest. It’s a small-Impulse with Buyback. If you play Solar Flare, in non-TS legal tournament, try it.

Now, we got the old drawing engine back from Odyssey.

Shadowmage gives you a lot of advantage against non-Black decks, especially Izzetron. And he’s not bad against aggro deck, because he has a 1/3 body, which can stop Kird Ape or Giant Solifuge. Shadowmage seems better than Hussar to me.

Finally, I will introduce what I’m testing now.

To be honest, there are too many playable cards. I couldn’t test all of them.

Test the other cards, practice a lot, and have fun. Make your own version of Solar Flare. Actually, I don’t want you to play same deck as this. I think “making your own” is the best way to create a good deck and enjoy Magic.

I will keep on testing my own version of Solar Flare, and take part in several local Time Spiral legal tournaments, and write reports. Of course, I’m planning to create another kind of deck. If it is good, I will introduce it here.

Until next time…

Naoki Shimizu