Samut: Fires in Commander

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Hawk
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Post by Hawk » 1 year ago

A few weeks ago, I posted a thread searching for a Commander that would be the perfect leader of a "Fires" strategy. For the whipper-snappers on the site, Fires was my first encounter with a truly amazing FNM/tournament deck circa 2001. The deck was simultaneously very simple and a bit complex, but the heart of the deck was its namesake card: Fires of Yavimaya. Granting all creatures Haste had been done before, with Fervor, but the era of Fires was the first ever era of really powerful creatures - the era where they stopped (or at least slowed down) on making Gruul mages play trash creatures. In particular, I think what Fires really did was...
  • Allowed for the deck's pilot to ramp with mana dorks like Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves that were "effectively free" post-Fires.
  • Curve those into EtB creatures like Flametongue Kavu or Thornscape Battlemage (or sometimes creatures with powerful "when this deals damage" triggers like Blazing Specter) to create a cascade of tempo advantage; your play removed a key card AND immediately got in for damage. If they later had to trade off against you, you were getting a virtual 2-for-1 at a minimum, but the free damage also really mattered.
  • Finish with terrifying, tremendous burst damage (in particular with fading cards like Blastoderm and Saproling Burst especially, but some versions also ran Rith, the Awakener or Jade Leech)
  • Some versions could also be surprisingly mid-rangey; those EtB creatures were great at creating virtual card advantage, and mass-Haste also made you very primed to recover first after you Earthquakeed the table (as did your massive beefy endgame cards).
My quest was to translate those lessons into a Commander deck, one that was built around the theme of "speed" - every move pulls you further ahead, forcing opponents to react to us. I settled on Samut, Voice of Dissent as our leader because she's "Fires" in the Command Zone and she opens up White. Her ability is also occasionally useful, granting us pseudo-vigilance to another key creature or better yet allowing us to reuse a key tap ability. And, she hits like a freight train and is capable of supplying her own burst damage as well, allowing us to prioritize filling the deck with Dorks and EtB/Attack Trigger value.

I will write more later, but for now: the list.
Fires 2020

Commander: 1


Approximate Total Cost:

A few more notes on the deck itself:

- Some of this is rough as I threw this deck together and a lot of great cards are in use elsewhere; I would be running Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, and better mana if I had it but all my copies of those white removal spells are in use, as are all my GW duals.

- Top of my acquire board (beyond the lands and StP) currently is Etali, Primal Storm, Elder Gargaroth, Kogla, the Titan Ape, Rhythm of the Wild, Faeburrow Elder, and Ohran Frostfang. These are all cards that do what this deck wants but that I didn't have copies of. I'm also interested in trying God-Eternal Oketra, Urabrask the Hidden, Thalia, Heretic Cathar, God-Eternal Rhonas and Beast Whisperer but I either don't own any or my copy(ies) were all in use elsewhere (and in the case of Urabrask, the price tag is a bit prohibitive for my budget).

- Intentionally omitted or not on my acquire-board, however, is any more cards that I'd classify as "do nothings". The whole point of this deck is that every move puts you "2 steps ahead", because you got a permanent on the board that either immediately crushes your opponents, immediately removes an opposing card, or can generate growing advantage...and that permanent is a creature that can also immediately attack. So stuff like Aura Shards, Guardian Project, Lifecrafter's Bestiary, Warstorm Surge, Season of Growth, and Cathars' Crusade (all traditional staples of Aggro Naya) are not what this deck wants or is about. That's also why this deck is (for now at least) eschewing Sword of Light and Shadow or Sunforger or Rancor that can be really good on Samut herself. I'm more ambivalent and more intrigued by The Great Henge if it wasn't out of budget, but I generally want these effects much cheaper or stapled to a body.
Last edited by Hawk 1 year ago, edited 1 time in total.

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Hawk
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Post by Hawk » 1 year ago

I did get my first game in with this bad boy over the weekend, and it was beautiful. I lost because I as a player am not always amazing, but the deck really hummed - it ramped into Samut into more threats, was pushing 20+ damage as early as turn 4 or 5 on combat, and was generally way out in front versus Ghave, Atla Palani, and Arcades 2.0. I ended up the Archenemy and died, but I had a blast playing it and if I'd drawn a bit better and played a bit more politically it would have been a different story.

A few cards that were of note:

- Kraul Harpooner ended up in on a whim, but was sick in practice, acting as 2-for-1 thanks to Ulvenwald Tracker stacking triggers to nuke a wall and then also kill Arcades. I can also see how even with no targets, the thing is a "Ball Lightning" with Haste. I expect great things from him now that he so overperformed in this first game.

- Samut REALLY wants power boosts. Gahiji, Honored One was great at providing them and proved to be a "kill on sight" target, and it makes me wonder if more boosts is worth it.

- Fires of Yavimaya was dead, and I suspect with Sammy in the command zone running 5 other haste-granters is way too much.

- Courser of Kruphix was a little bit awkward, actually. While the extra 2-3 cards drawn and 5-6 life gained was a huge deal (it went unanswered and was played on curve), it also robbed me of the ability to "surprise" opponents with sudden removal or burst damage. I will need to test more and see if the power of it and Oracle is worth removing the secrecy that mass-Haste can really abuse and capitalize on.

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benjameenbear
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Post by benjameenbear » 1 year ago

I think including Sword of Light and Shadow is just too good to pass up. The recursion it enables with any of your hasty creatures make it worthwhile at any given stage of the game and it becomes an awesome damage multiplier AND recursion piece with an active Samut. The fact that Samut has Flash maximizes the opportunity to equip the Sword and connect for damage, so there's very little downside I can see from including it in the list.

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Post by Hawk » 1 year ago

benjameenbear wrote:
1 year ago
I think including Sword of Light and Shadow is just too good to pass up. The recursion it enables with any of your hasty creatures make it worthwhile at any given stage of the game and it becomes an awesome damage multiplier AND recursion piece with an active Samut. The fact that Samut has Flash maximizes the opportunity to equip the Sword and connect for damage, so there's very little downside I can see from including it in the list.
Yeah, it makes me a bit sad but you are probably right. More sad though is that I misremembered and don't have a "spare" L&S - all of my Light & Shadow, Fire & Ice, and Feast & Famines are currently in use. I do, however, have a spare Umezawa's Jitte which also feels pretty good here since it interacts so powerfully with double strike and keeps its counters around as I shuffle it. So, first change:

- 1 Hammer of Purphoros
+1 Umezawa's Jitte

I think that good ol' cheaty Jitte is better than Sword of Body and Mind, Sword of War and Peace, and Behemoth Sledge for this particular deck, but am willing to hear arguments otherwise :). The closest contender actually is probably Sword of the Animist which I do also have a spare copy of.

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Post by Hawk » 10 months ago

A few changes recently:
Cuts and Adds
Approximate Total Cost:

Explanation:

Smothering Tithe: I am on a quest to cut "do-nothings". This card is generically powerful but is 4 mana to "do nothing" when cast, and will usually take a turn cycle or two to pay for itself. It was never bad, but just isn't where this deck wants to be.

End-raze, Balefire: I wanted to lower the curve. End-raze is pretty mediocre in a deck that rarely goes wide enough. Balefire I've never drawn, I'm sure he'll be good, but I need him elsewhere.

Duskwatch Recruiter: I've never found myself having enough mana to use this.

Samut: I had mentioned having too many haste granters, and this seemed the weakest overall.

Adds:
Mom: Protection is good, and this is a strong card that gets better with Samut's untaps.
Swords, Exploration: Great cheap staples.
Jitte: As mentioned
Resto Angel: Very experimental, but there are 14 good hits and then she also can reset Polukranos or just protect stuff. I've found that, surprise surprise, Fliers are good in this deck so I wanted another cheaper flier.

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