The Kitchen Table: Wildfire & Borborygmos Enraged

Abe goes for a different style of Commander deck than he normally plays today with Wildfire and Borborygmos Enraged. Give him some feedback in the comments!

I don’t normally build Commander decks like this. I like decks that have swinging cards and big beats. I like a deck with some great answers—everything from mass removal to pinpoint removal and anything from Desertion to Draining Whelk. I don’t mind more expensive things when they are much better than alternatives. I’m comfortable with Dissipate over Counterspell or Annihilate over Murder. I like big hitters too, with a love for Dragons, Sphinxes, Angels and more compelling decks to have a lot of big stuff. My Commander decks are often part Timmy, part Johnny, and all fun.

But not everyone is me. Not every player of Commander enjoys the same thing. I like my games to take a little bit of time and for them to be enjoyed like a long cigar. But some people like a quick cigarette and then on to the next game. Increasingly I’ve run into these powered Commander decks that can goldfish around turn 5 or 6 with their teched deck. They may not be gross combo decks that abuse Ad Nauseam or similar cards, but they are not the normal sort of deck I play.

So I decided to build a new Commander deck in my brown sleeves.

This deck was intentionally built around a strategy, not a commander creature. My goal is to use cards like Wildfire to hit both mana and creatures in order to slow down my foe while also harnessing the power of mana ramp and mana rocks to keep me with my mana love. After looking at possible commander options, I decided on Borborygmos Enraged for two major reasons. First, when he smashes someone, I can often snake some lands to my hand. Secondly, he survives all of the mass removal in my deck with a toughness of six. Welcome Borborygmos Enraged!

Unlike many of the decks I extol in my articles here, this is a deck that exists in real life. Therefore, it has the restrictions of such a deck. I do not own a copy of Burning of Xinye, which would be really good in my deck. I also do not own a spare Exploration or Crucible of Worlds, though both would be great additions.

I pulled a bunch of cards from my deck stock in order to make this deck, but I like to push combo and synergy elements in my first trial runs. I’ll run through the deck with cards like Furnace Celebration, Akroma’s Memorial, Fires of Yavimaya, and Earthcraft to see if they help the deck and warrant their slots. If not, I can pull them for other cards from my "pull" list. This is not a deck I’m accustomed too, so it may take some plays before the decklist is settled. For example, it may be too heavy on the casting costs.

Let’s take a look at the deck. I want to play cards such as Wildfire, Destructive Force, and Lavaball Trap to both take out lands and hit early to mid-level creatures. My creatures were selected with an eye to survive such mass removal, either by being heavy on toughness or by having indestructible. (The other creatures are okay dying: Solemn Simulacrum, Anger, Sakura-Tribe Elder.)

Some creatures are downright essential in a deck like this. Take Ember Swallower. It’s a cheap drop, and I can monstrous it to force everyone to sacrifice three lands. It’s like Erhnam Djinn and Armageddon in one card—I keep a large creature and roll some mana loss to set everyone back. Another brilliant card here is Hellkite Tyrant. Smash someone with it (it has trample to assist) and steal all of their artifacts. Not only will that steal all of their own mana rocks (if any) in order to hurt their mana base, but it will give them to me as well!

Invader Parasite is better than most other Zo-Zu the Punisher type cards because it exiles a land upon arrival. That means you can use it to exile a nasty nonbasic land if needed. It’s fragile but an acceptable casualty if it comes to it.

We have more creature-based sweepers in Thunder Dragon and Crater Hellion. Both add some more damage-based removal that can help keep folks down as I’m assembling my army. Adding to the removal based nature of my creatures is Steel Hellkite, Hoard-Smelter Dragon, and even Inferno Titan. All three add damage or removal to the board to assist my creatures of love.

I am sensitive to a couple of facts. There may be some creatures that survive my mass removal, and there may be some decks that I need to handle their mana (lands or artifacts). So I included a few cards that will be maximally useful. For example, Fissure can kill that creature that was too big to burn or can blow out that Command Tower that is helping someone’s mana overly much. Beast Within can do both of those or destroy any other permanent while giving my opponent a very killable 3/3. Chaos Warp is an emergency removal device that could backfire but usually won’t. Finally, Into the Core will exile two artifacts and is good for Sol Ring, Darksteel Ingot, or Thran Dynamo style mana rocks. (I also added a Comet Storm to blow out folks and/or dorks).

For similar reasons, the trio of Woodfall Primus, Acidic Slime, and Sylvan Primordial are included. They can blow up lands when needed (although usual targets are enchantments or artifacts). Only the Slime is vulnerable to my mass removal, and if it dies, that’s okay. It already did its job.

I added some mana acceleration cards that are useful Stone Rains too in order to have both. Check out the versatility of Mwonvuli Acid-Moss and Reap and Sow. Fetching a land while destroying another is pretty good. I could not find a Frenzied Tilling in my cards, but if I want a third option, it could provide one.

Mana enablers are rough. The core section of Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, and Explosive Vegetation is easy enough. But after that, what makes the cut? I went with Seek the Horizon because it gets three lands, but they don’t accelerate my play state—they just sit in my hand. Normally that would be okay in a deck with Borborygmos Enraged as your commander (just pitch a land to Lightning Bolt something). But this deck has different needs. In addition to the mana rocks, this deck needs accelerants. But what else is there of high quality?

I needed creatures to survive my removal, and Spearbreaker Behemoth leapt into my mind unbidden but perfect. It has indestructible, and a simple mana can turn anything of five power or more into a similarly powerful creature. Its Spellbreaker buddy came to mind as a similar aid to slip beaters past a counter shield. While not immediately on theme, I think they do a good job here in aiding the deck’s needs.

The Hydra Omnivore was deemed helpful as a cheaper 8/8 that can dominate a board post-removal. I envision a clean-ish board state after I play something like Crater Hellion or Lavaball Trap. Then I swing at an open player and hit all of my other opponents too—even those who may have shields up. Normally it looks like a janky creature, but I think this deck is just the right home for it.

Akroma’s Memorial might look like chaff, but it’s not. It performs two major functions: haste and protection from red. Now none of my creatures will die to my removal, and it gives my guys an extra turn of hitting. In a deck as tempo savvy as this one, getting in extra hits is really important to victory. That’s why Fires of Yavimaya is in the deck (but not Hammer of Purphoros or Fervor—the Hammer has an ability I would never use, and I’m not sure that a haste enchantment alone is worth the play). See also: Lightning Greaves.

Sword of Vengeance will give haste as well as a bunch of other abilities, including the valuable trample (trample helps your ground pounders smash past chump blockers in a post-removal world where creatures like Darksteel Myr might have survived or they only have mana for cheap bodies). Don’t let them buy time! (I guess that’s a third good thing about the Memorial.)

We’re trying out Furnace Celebration. With my many sacrifice outlets, getting in an extra two damage here and there could be really useful. I can see playing Wildfire and activating it to kill a damaged opposing creature or to do four damage to someone’s face. Earthcraft is used to tap a creature and untap a basic land. That should prove helpful to play the more expensive stuff after I start destroying lands. Finally, the Asceticism is included for several reasons. First, it can regenerate my stuff from dying to mass removal (or anything else). Secondly, it keeps my big stuff safe from targeted removal throughout the game. But in particular, after a mass destruction of lands, cheap cards like Swords to Plowshares and Terminate are my enemies. This keeps my creatures from being targeted and thus killed.

One last toy in my deck is Stuffy Doll. It loves Wildfires and Thunder Dragons!

Cards missing include Stomping Grounds and Temple of Abandon, which I don’t own extras of. Those would make the cut immediately. I also don’t own an Exploration (would go in for the Explore), Dust Bowl (go in for the Encroaching Wastes), or Crucible of Worlds (not sure on replacement—Earthcraft?). I would also love a Decimate (in for Sakura Tribe-Elder). Wurmcoil Engine is another card I’m eyeing but don’t have an extra copy of. I also don’t own but was considering Tyrant of Discord and Voltaic Key. I’m not sure I have a place for them in my deck, but I’m considering.

As I mentioned above, when I pulled cards for my deck, I have a bunch of leftover cards to consider. As I play the deck, I may decide to pull out some underperformers for these cards and see what happens. Here are the cards that I pulled out but cut from the first draft of the Commander deck:

Rampant Growth
Clan Defiance
Gruul Signet
Swiftfoot Boots
Worldspine Wurm
Nim Deathmantle
Darksteel Colossus
Blightsteel Colossus
Darksteel Plate
Mox Opal
Ancient Hellkite
Hellkite Igniter
Eternal Witness
Krosan Grip
Thundermaw Hellkite
Fanning the Flames
Hunted Dragon
Thoughts of Ruin
Devil’s Play
Shivan Wumpus
Boom // Bust

Of the group, I am particularly fond of Shivan Wumpus, the Deathmantle, Clan Defiance, and Windstorm (which would take out flyers big enough to survive the other sweeping removal like Consecrated Sphinx, Akromas, and such).

The first thing this deck needs is experience. I hope to get some battle play against other Commander decks that are a bit tighter and see how things progress from there. Even though this isn’t my normal form of Commander deck, wish me luck! As always, your comments are helpful and appreciated (especially if you have any experience with this style of Commander deck).

Until later,
Abe Sargent