Wildfires In Commander

Is land destruction too taboo in Commander? What about just a little of it? Abe Sargent is updating one of his most fiery 100-card brews so that you can have it at its best for Grand Prix Atlanta’s Commander Celebration!

Ever look at a deck and realize that it probably needs a facelift? I have a Commander deck I built a few years ago, but I have done only minor revisions
since. It’s past time.

I need to modify my Borborygmos Engraged deck that I built back in 2013. I wanted to create a
Commander deck that was able to deal with a metagame that was extremely teched out. And one of the best ways to deal with decks that run a lot of mana
ramp, fast kills, and more – is to run removal that attacks both creatures and lands. Wildfire seemed ideally suited for such a task. So I built a deck
around Wildfire.

Now even though I spent like five paragraphs in the original article talking about how this sort of deck is not my typical deck, and it was designed to be
used only in a Commander metagame that was really teched out, I still had some comments about how LD shouldn’t be in Commander and how this isn’t a very
good deck because of that. So, once again I’ll preamble this updated article with that point – this is a highly specific deck, created as one way to answer
decks that were winning on the fifth or sixth turn. And I’ve never had someone in person get upset that I played Wildfire. Store your pitchforks.

So here is my current deck, with a few changes from the original:

My first iteration of the deck included cards like Furnace Celebration, Mox Diamond, and Sylvan Primordial. I made minor modifications to it, but very
little. You can see how the deck works. You play two types of mana accelerants – traditional land ramp like Cultivate, and then lots of mana rocks. Both
enable you to drop a big ol’ beater early, and then you can also lean into a Wildfire or similar effect. Your goal is to keep the pressure on until you

And in play, the deck is okay. It doesn’t always win. You can see multiple reasons why – not enough Wildfires, not enough cheap creatures that really
swing, vulnerable key components, and more. What the deck needs is more resiliency, more sweeping effects, and more consistency.

The deck is sort of a Timmy deck that plays big creatures and big spells – both of which are very splashy. And it’s sort of a Spike deck that wants to win.
I mean if I wanted to win now super-mega-fast I’d run some Ad Nauseam deck that wins with Tendrils of Agony on the second or third turn. So this is Spike
twinned with Timmy for good fun from red zone beats.

Since the first deck was created around two years ago, I’ve seen some interesting options get printed that would make a compelling challenge for inclusion
in the deck. Today I wanted to review those cards, edit my deck for round two, and then get this thang moving!

Let’s take a look under the hood at what else got printed that intrigues me.

I know that technically it wasn’t in the last few years, but the recent printing of From the Vault: Annihilation gave us a round of
Burnings that are very cheap. I can grab a Burning today for $2, which is around 5% of what you would have been forced to spend prior to its release.
Clearly this a card that’ll make the cut in my deck as well.

Now that we’ve set aside the obvious, what else intrigues me?

Adding a Phoenix or two to the deck interests me for a few reasons. First of all, they add some seriously intriguing long-game options. Landfall makes
sense as a bring-me-back option since I know that’ll happen frequently. The only issues I have are the combination of the Akoum Firebird dying to every
single one of our sweeping removal effects and the six-mana repayment.

In a ramp-ish deck like ours, having the ability to squeeze a little extra damage out of our lands drops is pretty intriguing. Because it shoots creatures
or players, you can drop lands to kill stuff that was damaged but not killed by cards like Burning of Xinye. Unfortunately, that four defense is a stopper.
If the Hellkite were a 5/5, it would likely be an auto-include. But now?

We’ve seen a variety of ramp spells printed in recent sets. Many of these have a chance of cracking our lineup. I usually have enough mana for some
interesting X spells in the deck. Would one like this that can peel off a few lands be good? I think it’s pretty sexy-keen. My one issue is that ramping
out lands reduces the number of lands in the deck, thus reducing the chance that we’ll flip a land with an Awakening.

This deck has a lot of beaters. Look at it – Inferno Titan, Hydra Omnivore, Crater Hellion, Realm Seekers, and more. When you bring a big nasty beater to
the battlefield, wouldn’t you like to pay a single red mana to get another one for a single attack this turn? Getting a free Hydra Omnivore is awesome.
Imagine a quick attack out of nowhere with a Hellkite Tyrant token. And sure, it’ll die on the flip side, but that’s okay! It was free. And this deck has
enough creatures that it can do a bit of battlefield trigger abuse – Solemn Simulacrum, Inferno Titan, Acidic Slime, Invader Parasite, Woodfall Primus,
etc. It seems like a pretty good fit into this deck.

So I mentioned above that I like the concept of a Phoenix addition to my deck. I don’t mind any of the issues with this card – it swings every turn, for
example. I want to be swinging; this is a Timmy deck that wants to hit the red zone with creatures. Plus, it’s very easy to trigger that ferocious every
turn as well, and it’s just one red mana to bring it back. Of the various Phoenix variants, this is probably the best one for the deck.

As I mentioned above, I don’t have a lot of sweeping effects, and this really isn’t an Eternal Witness deck. So this is a nice beater that we can drop,
bring back a fun dead card, and then when it eventually dies, I can exile it if I want for another Regrowth trigger. The only concern I have is that it
will die to all of my removal, even if I don’t want it to. Now if this were a 5/5, then it survives everything but Destructive Force. But at 5/4,
everything kills it. That may be just a tad too much of a glass jaw for me.

Nissa brings a few things to the table with her renewal of the lands. I have lived the dream with Boundless Realms, but it can be a bit uncertain with you
blowing up your lands all over. I once ramped land so that I had seven lands out on turn five, and then cast Boundless Realms and had fourteen lands. My
foes were really nervous, but I told them that I wasn’t going in the direction they expected. On turn 6 I played and then made-monstrous Ember Swallower,
and they laughed. So I’ve had that moment. It may be time to move to a more serious card in Renewal.

As you can tell from my commentary on previous creatures, this deck ideally wants a creature with at least a six butt. That way it survives even a
Destructive Force. Here we have a five-mana 6/6, so it passes that test quite nicely. And then it can’t be easily chumped to kill it. Just one creature can
block it. And if you can renown it then it’s suddenly a powerful addition to our beat-team. Now here’s the best-case scenario I’m imagining. You have out
Outland Colossus, and then drop Wildfire or something similar, which opens up a path somewhere. Swing into a newly opened defense for six damage, and you
control a 12/12 beater, a relatively open board, and all you spent was five mana for its initial investment, and nothing else. It seems to work well within
the confines of this particular deck.

With a lot of landfall options on the table, a Retreat brings the potential for making some life, or you can use it to pump up the creatures well past the
point of death for even the biggest of stuff that my deck can unload. Either way, you get an advantage from it…

… but I think this is the better Retreat for this deck. Pumping creatures in the front for a bit is great, and keeping a creature from
blocking is often better. This deck regularly plays some card like a Lavaball Trap that leaves behind one key blocker that I need to get through, so
playing a land and getting a free trigger to invite the beats is a good way to keep up the pressure.

We’ve already discussed how vital having a bigger defense can be here. So isn’t Sight of the Scalelords a pretty powerful ability? All of my creatures get
even bigger and have vigilance, so Hellkite Tyrant or Hydra Omnivore can get in a hit while holding back to play defense. It just dovetails nicely with
what we’re already doing.

My deck likes to kill stuff, and it needs creatures that can hit post-removal. One way to do that is to have something that becomes a creature
post-removal, and then swing. That’s why Raging Ravine is rocking the deck. Sarkhan can animate into a 4/4 flying indestructible creature and swing at
someone’s face all while gaining the loyalty counters. Because he can shoot a creature for four damage, you can use him to kill off something that was hurt
by a Burning of Xinye. But I doubt I would ever consider using the ultimate here, so I’d skip it. Still, the first two abilities seem pretty useful here.

This deck likes to attack. This deck likes mana. Savage Ventmaw swings for mana. That’s just incredibly good in this deck. The one issue is the low 4/4
body. 4/5 and I’d be in. I’d pay one more mana to play it for a 5/5 body. But this is likely just a bit too fragile

Don’t forget that this is a Spike/Timmy build. It wants to swing into the red zone all day long. And it wants to ramp all night long. Of all of the cards
that have been printed recently (or forever really), no card makes a better claim than this for inclusion. It’s downright essential.

This is an amazing card. Can you see it? One of the issues my deck has been having is not having enough sweepers. So you can use this to bring back your
Wildfire or another sweeper. And then this also acts as a sweeper too, and it even leaves your own stuff alone. It combines a powerful Regrowth on another
sweeper. That’s just good stuff.

Now there’s one more card to consider…

It’s time to have “the talk.” Many Commander decks are built around the commander. You choose a leader, and then you build a deck around it. Your deck will
likely include cards that work with that specific leader, such as Horde of Notions using Ashes of the Fallen. But that’s not how this deck worked. I
created the concept for a deck, and then I hunted for a commander that wouldn’t let me down. Borborygmos Enraged has been a final beater who comes in and
finishes games or gets to use his fun grab-land trigger and continue to drop lands for your Gruul beats.

Is Omnath better in this role? It looks close…


– Cheaper to cast by one mana

– Landfall can be triggered two or three times in some rounds – that can make a lot of 5/5 Elementals

– The 5/5 Elementals survive Wildfire

– When Omnath or Elemental tokens die to stuff, we can shoot for more damage


– Six defense gives it the ability to survive more sweeping removal.

– Seven power gives it a better damage doling capacity

– The ability discard a land for damage works well in a deck that puts a lot of land into your hand

– It has trample

– When you smash face, you can sometimes grab a land or two.

I’m really feeling Omnath v2 for this deck’s leader more than Borborygmos.

So these are the card that I am looking at.

What are the final swaps?

Welcome to the party!

It’s time to give us a new lead on life!


Borborygmos Enraged


Omnath, Locus of Rage

In addition to swapping my leaders, I also made these changes:


Commander's Sphere Earthcraft Boundless Realms

Tectonic Break Ruric Thar, the Unbowed Manor Gargoyle Fires of Yavimaya


Sword of the Animist Flameshadow Conjuring Nissa's Renewal

Burning of Xinye Outland Colossus Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker Volcanic Vision

I pulled Tectonic Break because in this deck it was the nastiest of the land destroying spells. I’d rather have Burning of Xinye anyways. You can see why
most cards were pulled, and we have a good amount of beats and sweeps jumping in.

I really wanted to fit in Sight of the Scalelords and Flamewake Phoenix. I feel both can really bring it. But we’ll start with these changes right now, and
then bring more as needed to the table.

So what did you think of our changes? See anything that you like? Why not try out a card like Wildfire or Burning of Xinye? See if they work at your table