The Kitchen Table: The Next 100 With Purphoros

In today’s Next 100 project, Abe builds two different Commander decks with Purphoros, God of the Forge to explore the depth of options available in mono-red.

Have Commander games at your kitchen table gotten a little stale? Are you seeing the same cards over and over again? When you build your Commander deck, are you using the same cards and concepts?

Enter the Next 100 project! The first part of this series of articles is to create a quick First 100 deck with the cards you expect around a popular commander. Then I set aside that deck and build a Next 100 deck using a brand-new slate of cards. Only the general remains. This allows me to dig deeply into the history of Magic to unearth some fun and quirky cards.

If you like fun Magic projects or if you are looking for a more diverse Commander experience, this is the series for you. Now, sometimes there are a few cards in the Next 100 that individuals may rate as higher than a few cards in the First 100. Everyone’s opinion differs a bit here and there. But even if you feel that a few cards should be switched, the point stands. Look at all of these great cards that you can use for your deck! We don’t have to run the "Greatest Hits of Commander." 

Just have fun with it!

This is the first iteration of our Purphoros deck. Now, as a reminder, the point of the First 100 is to use the cards you would typically expect to see in a Purphoros deck. I took a look at a variety of Purphoros decklists and articles online and tried to find the common elements. Then I added some cards that I felt should also make the cut, such as Eldrazi Monument and Urza’s Factory, that did not make any of the lists I saw.

Most of the Purphoros decks move in a Goblin direction because they can make a bunch of Goblin tokens. A simple Goblin Rally the turn after dropping Purphoros will smash your foes for ten damage. Cards such as Siege-Gang Commander and Beetleback Chief will not only enable your devotion to red to speed up Purphoros but will also trigger his ability again and again. To add to that we have Moggcatcher, which can tap to search a Goblin right onto the battlefield.

In addition to the Goblin tricks, take a look at bodies like Norin the Wary, Pentavus, and Grinning Ignus. They all work quite well in this deck, making a lot of triggers for our good ol’ God of the Forge. We only need twenty triggers to kill everyone at the table with Purphoros assuming people are still at their starting life total. Myr Incubator is a one-card win condition—there are 27 other artifacts in the deck to pull out and win with. From Thopter Assembly to Trading Post, we have good artifacts that enhance the theme.

The result is a decklist rife with cards like Furnace of Rath, Kher Keep, Precursor Golem, Firecat Blitz, Caged Sun, and more. This is the First 100. So what does the Next 100 look like?

And here is the Next 100. Normally, a Next 100 project has a significantly weakened mana base, but that is not the case with a monocolored deck. Valakut was not strong enough to make the cut in the above deck with its many high-quality non-basic lands. But it was good enough here, and that means we can play it, so I decided to not run any other lands. I also had an Expedition Map unused in the first go, meaning it could be used here to fetch Valakut.

Both decks have a bit of hatred of nonbasic lands. The first is running both Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon in order to hate on decks plus Shivan Harvest as a sacrifice outlet. This deck is a lot nastier to them since it has just the Valakut. Here you can see cards like Ruination, Detritivore and Burning Earth running around.

Unfortunately, the first deck has all of the best token-making engines, but we still have some. Ib Halfheart will turn some Mountains into Goblins and gives me another reason to have a lot of Mountains. Warbreak Trumpeter was too much mana in the First 100, which already had a lot of X token makers. We’ll play it here. Janky cards that you just love have arrived. Check out Myr Battlesphere, Thopter Squadron, Rakka Mar, and Akroan Horse. They’ll give you tokens alright! Plus I’m sure a lot of you would like to see these fun cards in Commander decks next week, right?

Want some real fun? Check out coin-flip cards Wild Wurm and Molten Birth. One you want to win (Birth), and the other you want to lose (Wurm). If you get lucky, you can reload and nail a bunch of Purphoros triggers from one or the other.

Because the first deck was relatively burn-less, I couldn’t justify Hostility. But it slides nicely into this deck. We have the space for some X burn spells, and in goes the best of the best: Rolling Thunder, Comet Storm, Banefire, Fanning the Flames, and quasi-X spell Urza’s Rage. With Hostility on the battlefield, our commander will take one of those spells and turn it into a virtual lock.

You can see some other token-making creatures, such as Dragonmaster Outcast, Rapacious One, Hearthcage Giant, and Kazuul. Some are clearly better than others. One is too expensive for the First 100, one has to deal damage to trigger, one needs the right conditions to spit out a Dragon, and the last requires opponents to attack and fail to pay a tax to give you an Ogre. That’s a lot of hoop-jumping. But the result is an increased number of cards with the potential to token-ize.

Outside of the creature base, we have token makers elsewhere. Just like the First 100, our deck digs deeply into artifacts to assist, but we have space here for tools like Goblin Welder and Trash for Treasure. Consider Monkey Cage. We can control which creature next arrives on the battlefield and thus how many Monkeys will break out of the Cage. Plus you can Welder the Cage right back into play to go off again.

While expensive to play, all you have to do is tap Myr Turbine to make a 1/1 dork without the use of any mana. If you invest into it upfront, Orochi Hatchery will yield a large amount of tokens every turn. Even six mana gives you three dorks a turn, and that’s a high velocity of token-age. Snake Basket will make a one-time use of snakes as well, pulling out Cobras from the Basket. Acorn Catapult will make a Squirrel for one mana if you tap it to deal damage to one of your creatures that can survive the barrage.

One of my favorite underrated tricks is Echo Chamber. Activate it on your turn and an opponent chooses a creature they control and gives you a free copy with haste that exiles at the end of the turn. Not only will that trigger Purphoros, but it also can be used politically. You can make a token of Bob’s best beater to swing at Sally. Often people will choose their smaller creatures to give to you, so you’ll likely get Sarah’s Solemn Simulacrum rather than her Akroma, Angel of Vengeance. There are a lot of "enters the battlefield" triggers in Commander Land for you to copy, and you can try to find the right player to give you the best usage of Echo Chamber over and over again.

Another trick is the underused Soul Foundry. Once seen all over the map, it has fallen out of favor, but it is still quite useful. Just play it, imprint something good, and start tapping the Foundry for tokens. I suppose a lot of people fear removal, so perhaps you can save it for when you can play and activate it in one turn.

Both Tooth and Claw and Spawning Pit will essentially allow the sacrifice of two creatures to make one. In both cases, you can sacrifice token creatures to these engines. Suppose you sacrifice Snake Basket for eight Cobras, triggering Purphoros eight times. You can then sacrifice those eight Cobras for four tokens and make four more triggers. You could even do this again and again, nailing a total of fifteen triggers on Purphoros, which is a lot of damage in one turn. Spawning Pit does require you to use a mana each time you use it, so it may not be as fast, but the idea is still there.

I added some tools to pump our token army. Homura, Human Ascendant wants to die, so start swinging with him immediately (or sacrifice him to something like the aforementioned cards). When he dies, he flips, and all of your creatures are treated as if Shivan Embraced. +2/+2, flying, and firebreathing for the lot of them. That’s a nasty beginning. Then I included Ogre Battlemaster and Akroma’s Memorial.

This deck could use a bit of "enters the battlefield" assistance. I already added some utility creatures like Pilgrim’s Eye and Ravenous Baboons. Outrage Shaman and Fanatic of Mogis made the cut too since we were looking for devotion to red anyway. I love Dong Zhou and felt he was a good fit for the deck since you can smash someone hard with their own creature. Another great addition was Stalking Yeti. When it arrives, you can fight with someone. Plus you can bounce it back to your hand for three mana and reuse it. It’s a slow way to squeeze more triggers from the God of the Forge, but it’ll work. I changed my lands to Snow-Covered. Working with these guys is Conjurer’s Closet. If you can reuse an ETB trigger, then that’s great. If not, you can still flicker something for enraging Purphoros.

I added some removal options. The First 100 took Into the Core and Fissure, but I still had options. Vandalblast is perfectly suitable, as is Shattering Pulse. I included Karn Liberated to exile anything untoward that might be rocking the battlefield.

This deck needs card drawing. It wants to draw cards, use them to drop more and more tokens, and then win. Since it plays so many cards, it needs to have ways to refill its hand. Memory Jar can provide a one-turn bump and plays well with the Welder in the deck. I also used Chandra Ablaze. The first activation can kill stuff, the second will force everyone to discard and draw, and the third has very little relevance to your deck. Yet the abilities on the first two are quite pertinent.

Koth of the Hammer is also good in a deck with a large number of Mountains, so I just tossed him in for fun. You better hope that I don’t get that ultimate ability to go off. Ditto Strata Scythe and Extraplanar Lens. The Lens is better in a deck with Snow-Covered lands (you won’t give your opponents double mana from their Mountain).

After that I rounded out the deck with a few cards here and there. I had the Welder in this version of the deck, so in went Mind Stone and Dreamstone Hedron for mana acceleration. They will increase our artifact count and make great cards to Welder out in order to draw cards. Sword of Feast or Famine can make tokens when the equipped creature smashes face. In went cards such as Heat Shimmer and Faithless Looting.

Some of the final cards cut include Paradise Plume, Nuisance Engine, and Myr Matrix. I thought about Tibalt but ultimately went elsewhere. I wish there were some good Born of the Gods options in order to push the latest tech, but few were out there. Perhaps Lightning Volley? Because it’s an instant, it’s not a strictly worse version of Flame Fusillade.

I hope that you found something in today’s article to take into your next deck. There are many great underused cards that will enhance your decks. So grab some and add them to your next Commander night!

Until later,
Abe Sargent