That feeling when you chow into your microwave burrito too soon and your mouth is aflame.
I haven't built many red decks. It's a colour I've splashed, but mostly, my preference lies in or around or . The last mono red deck I built was Krenko, Mob Boss
. It was supremely effective, but I took it apart after one play through. I could see immediately it would play out the same way every game, and that's not me.
In fact, being absolutely honest, there's a lot about red in this format that's a little strange to me, and in some cases a little unappealing. A lot of it's draw comes with an uncomfortable level of downside or risk, burn as a general archetype struggles to spread itself far enough to be successful, and it struggles to ramp, at least in a traditional sense.
This deck, well, it's a little different. We're not looking at a standard game plan here, and a lot of what this deck can do depends on what's going on around you, so it can be a relatively flexible build in terms of how it moves through a game. That's partly because Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded
is a fairly unique commander. He's a lot of fun to play, and the deck can blowout really quickly, but a lot of what he enables turns what we look for in a standard game plan on it's head.
has changed a lot over the years. His first iteration fits really well in a lot of fairly standard game plans for red, or red with splashes. Classic token generation, lots of decks do that, and he can end a game really quickly. Nowadays
, Purph has relaxed a little and taken a different tack, towards Sneak Attack
. Let's break it down:
So yeah, there's a lot on that one card. Our commander is pretty tough to interact with or remove. He makes all of our other creatures go faster. And he can get them into play for a reduced cost, at instant speed, without having been cast, meaning there is no opportunity to counter the spell on the stack. Sounds like a lot of fun to me!
So our basic game plan is to set ourselves up with a way to get large, impactful creatures into play without paying full cost for them. Some of them will give us combat advantage, some will give us disruption options, some come with nice activated abilities; the world is our oyster for options.
- You like having the biggest, baddest creatures on the field.
- You don't like casting them. Or having them countered.
- You like making explosive plays that come out of nowhere to drastically change the state of the game, sometimes ending it in one fell, explosive swoop.
- You like non-conventional game plans that look to subvert strong mechanics and avoid the downsides.
This is a bit of a strange build, and it can be a little bizarre to play, in that a lot of the time you won't have a lot of board presence. That can be a little daunting. There's also a couple of things that can make the deck a little bit restrictive to play. The first is obvious - the downside of Sneak Attack
ing your creatures in is that they are sacrificed end of turn. We do have ways to avoid this, or subvert it for our own gain, but it's there nonetheless. The second is that, because you're able to pump most of your hand into play fairly quickly with very little resource, it's very possible to run out of steam quite quickly and find yourself in topdeck mode. That's a problem for any deck, and a big one for this deck.
- You don't like putting your boardstate at risk or using high risk/high reward card choices to make your plays.
- You don't like cheating spells into play.
- You prefer to grind out a win incrementally.
All of this aside, the pitfalls of running a deck like this are relatively obvious, and there are ways and means around them. Some of this is baked into the deck as is. The mechanism we're trying to leverage is very high risk/high reward, so it stands to reason that we include ways to mitigate said risks.
is a fairly particular card, so there's really not anything else out there that does a perfect imitation of Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded
. That being said, there are some similar game plans about, both in and out of colour:
- Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker - The next most obvious way to break value from casting creatures in . Kiki is iconic, well-known, and pretty damn strong. He's a walking combo. A deck built around him probably looks a lot different, and plays a lot different, too. You're not exactly flying under the radar with him.
- Xenagos, God of Revels - While Dionysus doesn't discount creatures, there are similarities in the way these decks operate; we want efficiency in our creatures, and we want to hit as hard as possible quickly.
- Animar, Soul of Elements - Incremental discount for creatures, and yet another combo general. I have to be honest, I've yet to enjoy a game I've played against Animar. They just seem like goldfish decks. Hard pass from me, personally.
- Sedris, the Traitor King - Fairly similar, and if anything a little more suicidal. We can recur things from graveyards (more on that later), but without ways of playing around Unearth as a mechanic you get one shot with your creatures. Can be a very strong build nonetheless, and follows a similar path of explosive plays to drastically change the game state or win out of nowhere. So in a sense this is our kindred spirit.
- Yeva, Nature's Herald - Probably the most similar deck in application to general play, Yeva is pretty damn strong. Obviously your creatures aren't free with her, but hey, you're in green, so you're probably alright. Instant speed interactions and shenanigans ahead. This is our kindred spirit.
Before going over the list and choices at present, it's worth noting that despite this being a fairly solid list, this is far from the
definite list. There's generally a few ways you could build the deck, and some of them could be pretty neat. I see scope for an activated abilities tribal deck, artifacts tribal deck with things like Goblin Welder
and Daretti, Scrap Savant
, and of course, there's plenty of scope for combo within any of these shells. There are options within my build to make this happen, but I prefer not to.
As well as the above, there's a lot of seriously cool beaters in red and a multitude of ways to get damage through, so while I think this list is currently as good as I can make it, I think the beauty of this commander is that there's a real wealth of cards out there that could feasibly go into his deck. The great thing about this is that most of the cards that you'd consider are really cheap; thus far, for this being a fairly new build and built from the ground up to a pretty decent level, this is easily one of the cheapest decks I've ever built - and to really optimise it, barring a few really expensive cards, it really ought not to cost a whole lot more.
All that aside, here's the build at present:
To a reasonable degree, our commander does dictate some of what we need to include in the deck to make it a high impact build. Let's break down what we need and why:
- Our commander cheats on casting costs; this means that we can run through the cards in our hand very quickly.
- It also means that we want to get our commander in play as soon as we can with extra resource to spare. Not easy in
- While our creatures are fine to be transitory, if we can keep them on the table that's a great option, and leaves us a lot less vulnerable to retaliation.
- Because a lot of our draw also causes a certain amount of discard, it's nice to be able to get access to what we've discarded.
With that in mind, let's look closer at what we're running. As usual with my lists, options listed in bold are currently in the deck, anything not in bold has been tried and removed.
- Feldon of the Third Path - A nice easy way to reanimate anything that we let die or wheel. Special synergy with haste means we can more or less cheat on the casting cost of these critters yet again.
- Magus of the Wheel - Not quite as slick as Wheel of Fortune, but here it's fairly close. Again, haste makes this quick, and it's a really strong effect. Great to drop into play when your hand is empty or close to it.
- Ancestral Statue - This is one of our ways of retaining crucial creatures instead of having to sacrifice them. As well as this, it can get us some nice ETB trigger repetition. As well, if we can make a copy of this we can bounce the original for use again itself.
- Fanatic of Mogis - This is our Gary. It's not quite as strong, but that's not to say that it isn't strong. I've one-shotted people with this guy pretty regularly. Obviously you want to wait until you have some board established with pips first, and if you can manage to have a damage doubler in play too, you're golden. Totally capable of ending the game with ease.
- Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion - Less of a hand replenisher, more of a quality control for your hand. If it's full of stuff you can't use right now, don't be afraid to change that. As well as this he can give you resource to cast the stuff you draw. Nice on his own, even nicer with our commander.
- Ogre Battledriver - Redundancy in haste and a slight combat boost. Synergy with more or less the entire deck when it's in attack mode.
- Solemn Simulacrum - Ramp and a cantrip is pretty nice. Even better if we can another copy with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker or get it back with Feldon of the Third Path.
- Surly Badgersaur - We don't have any direct discard here, but we do have quite a few wheel effects. We can get a lot of advantage from this, making this guy a resource generator, a fatty boomstick, and a way to clear the board, all as needed.
- Toralf, God of Fury // Toralf's Hammer - We're not likely to ever cast this as an equipment, we're here for Thor, not Mjolnir. It's very much worth the addition though. With all of our damage multiplication variants, there's an incredibly good chance that we can just nuke the entire board with him in play.
- Torbran, Thane of Red Fell - A nice tidy package of damage boost, both in and out of combat. +2 doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up. Another nice upside of running this guy is the healthy addition to devotion (see Fanatic of Mogis).
- Treasonous Ogre - This is our firehose (pardon the pun). Obviously, this can get a little dangerous, but we can make sure we're using this sparingly, or only go all in with it once we're closing out the game.
- Brash Taunter - So this does a few things for us. Firstly, it's a chump blocker extraordinaire. No one is going to want to swing into a rattlesnake with this sort of upside for us. Secondly, it's a great way for us to get more damage in to the face by torching it ourselves. We've got a lot of ways to do this, and there's also ways to amplify this with things like Gratuitous Violence and Angrath's Marauders. If we can deal damage to Brash Taunter, that damage is doubled, and the damage Brash Taunter deals is then doubled again. Nasty.
- Cavalier of Flame - There's a lot going on with this guy. Haste redundancy (again), a pseudo-wheel effect, and a death trigger for damage. All are great, all are useful in the right place.
- Flamerush Rider - Another way of generating tokens for value. The dash cost is often actually quite helpful, and it's worth noting that the clone generated does trigger ETB's. and holds all relevant qualities that the original card had, so does count towards devotion.
- Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker - The original red token generator. He's pretty bonkers, and totally capable of grossness. I have chosen, for the meantime, not to include anything that directly combos with him, such as Zealous Conscripts. I have a copy should I change my mind, it just doesn't seem much fun. Otherwise, he's our way to doubling impact. Again, lots of pips for devotion, too.
- Ox of Agonas - A mini-wheel and recursion. Reasonably costed to hard cast, and while it's not something we're going to be doing a lot of, we can use its escape cost repeatedly.
- Terror of the Peaks - Well costed flying beater that gives us ETB triggers every time we do anything. This creature is kill on sight good.
- Zealous Conscripts - Another theft trigger, or if we really want to, infinite combo with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. That's definitely not the intent for me, but I guess it's an option.
- Chandra's Incinerator - We have a lot of ways to deal damage outside of combat, so this guy is often going to cost next to nothing to cast anyway, even if we don't sneak it in. Then, once we have it in play it has a great combat keyword and helps us torch more stuff.
- Conquering Manticore - A nice way to turn the battlefield about a bit. Always cute to drop this mid-combat, steal a blocker from someone else and change how things look, or to drop on our turn to bolster our own swings with.
- Duplicant - Exile removal is really strong, and this guy is pretty abusable. If we can copy him or his ETB trigger we're golden.
- Etali, Primal Storm - Free value. Obviously this is a 'can't get mad' sort of card, but it's still pretty back-breaking. Very much dependent on what we can turn up, but it's always worth a try.
- Flayer of the Hatebound - Resilient beater in it's own right, we're more interested in what happens when this (or anything else of ours) dies and comes back. Pretty cool with Cauldron of Souls or Underworld Breach.
- Hammerfist Giant - A board wipe and damage to the face on a stick. Won't clear flying, but everything else is up for grabs.
- Hellkite Charger - Extra combat phases are super nice. Not the cheapest version of the effect but we're already getting a discount on our casts, so we can't overly complain, and ideally we ought to have the resource spare. Not only that, we can repeat this effect as many times as we can pay for it.
- Inferno Titan - An ETB trigger, an attack trigger, lots of damage. Both go well in a deck that has no downtime, and it's not legendary so we can make tokens of it for extra triggers.
- Moraug, Fury of Akoum - Landfall for attack phases is nuts. We can even keep this going in a cute little interaction with Solemn Simulacrum and any way to copy it (Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Flamerush Rider) for incremental attack phases with incrementally larger creatures. This guy is bonkers.
- Runeborn Hellkite - A one time wheel effect from the yard. Not the absolute greatest version of this effect. but the more options we have in this respect the better off we are.
- Ryusei, the Falling Star - A vanilla beater in any other place, this serves more as a board wipe for us.
- Scourge of the Throne - Another attack phase additive, although a little more situational. The nice thing is if you play into dethrone this guy gets bigger and bigger, and because he isn't legendary, we can copy him plenty.
- Steel Hellkite - A really nice way to use our extra mana when we have it. It's worth noting that this can decimate token strategies by paying for it's last ability.
- Wurmcoil Engine - Remarkable value on a single creature, with combat warping abilities and the ability to make a token army with copy effects.
- Angrath's Marauders - Double damage on a creature. We want to either have this stick around or cast it when we can make the most of it.
- Balefire Dragon - Decimator of board states everywhere.
- Chaos Maw - Another board wipe on a stick.
- Dragon Mage - A repeatable wheel, so long as we can connect to face.
- Drakuseth, Maw of Flames - This guy does a LOT of damage. 7 in combat and 7 with flexibility on attack. This gets super tasty with damage doubling in play. Another with a few pips for devotion.
- Knollspine Dragon - A pseudo-wheel, but if we time it right, it can be a lot better in application.
- Meteor Golem - A nice ETB trigger. Great if we can copy the trigger or the creature.
- Molten Primordial - A scaling Conquering Manticore. Great in multiplayer, can really make a big difference to the board in the right place.
- Myr Battlesphere - A classic combat beater with a great attack trigger. Doesn't really matter if it dies at end of turn because it's tokens don't.
- Sandstone Oracle - Hand replenishment without the risk of discarding. Obviously, playing it at the right time is crucial.
- Skyline Despot - Monarch is a really underrated mechanic. Especially when you get dragons, too.
- Bedlam Reveler - The hard cast reduction is a little insignificant to us, but prowess is sort of nice and the pseudo-wheel is great too.
- Bloodfire Colossus - Another board wipe on a stick.
- Bogardan Hellkite - Another instance of lots of damage - 5 in combat, 5 on ETB. Has built-in flash, which is nice if we can't stick our commander.
- Bosh, Iron Golem - A nice compact way to throw things at people. We've got enough artifact creatures, and in a vacuum they're going to die anyway. Once they do, we can copy them with Feldon of the Third Path or copy them in play, should be pretty easy to dome the crap out of people.
- Living Inferno - Targeted removal to the tune of 8 damage, spread as you will. Sure, they deal it back, but once they're gone we really don't care too much.
- Everflowing Chalice - Scaling ramp. Ordinarily this is less optimal, but here because we're at less than optimum until we have our commander in play I don't mind dropping as many counters on this as I can.
- Skullclamp - As a default, all of our creatures die. This helps us replace them and keep our hand full for a very low cost.
- Sol Ring - What more to say about this? Early ramp, as good as it gets on a budget.
- Wayfarer's Bauble - Makes sure we find our Mountains. More important than you might think, just in case.
- Basilisk Collar - Perhaps a bit of a weird addition to the deck, but the applications for this are twofold; firstly, because our board state is often sparse this can keep our life totals up. And on the right creature it can do so admirably. Put it on your Bloodfire Colossus and shoot your life total into the stratosphere. Put it on Brash Taunter and you have a life boost on a stick. As well as this, it makes sure our direct damage and combat clear the battlefield.
- Arcane Signet - Slightly redundant in a mono coloured build, but early resource is crucial in this build so it's most welcome.
- Fire Diamond - Early colour fixing, does what it says on the tin.
- Mind Stone - Either early ramp or a quick cantrip.
- Sundial of the Infinite - One of our several ways of cheating the downside of Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded's last ability. Once you're done doing stuff for the turn, tap this, keep your creatures. Easy. The other thing we can use this for is to tank removal of our pieces at instant speed. Someone casting Cyclonic Rift in our turn? Anguished Unmaking? Blue Sun's Zenith for the win? Just sick of that end of turn Sensei's Divining Top? Put a stop to it for .
- Coalition Relic - We can stack counters on this for burst mana, which is perfect for an early casting of Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded.
- Worn Powerstone - More early ramp.
- Assault Suit - Another way to cheat the ability, and it might not be immediately obvious, but the phrase cannot be sacrificed is really handy. Opens us up to political play too, if we feel like it. Protects us in that the creature we lend can't attack us, so that's always nice.
- Panharmonicon - We coincidentally have a lot of ETB triggers in the deck. Whether it's doubling down on Fanatic of Mogis or getting 8 Myr with Myr Battlesphere, this gives us just a touch more impact.
- Cauldron of Souls - Another way to keep our stuff. It will all be smaller once it comes back, but that's not the end of the world. Nasty with Flayer of the Hatebound. Worth noting that we can, if we choose, use this on any creature, not just our own. Do with that information what you will.
- Conjurer's Closet - Our last artifact way of retaining creatures. We stack after the Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded end step trigger so that this resolves first, and the object the other trigger applied to no longer exists. As a plus, we also get ETB triggers again, if that applies.
- Caged Sun - A light buff for (most) of our creatures, but predominanlty mana doubling is a great way to 1) cast our commander earlier than planned or b) play explosively where possible.
- Goblin Bombardment - Mostly a 'pull the plug' button for when someone tries to take your stuff or destroy it for nothing. That being said it's really great to do this with other people's stuff.
- Tectonic Reformation - So, this one seems pretty risky, but hear me out. Past a certain point, lands are at least somewhat surplus to requirement for us. You want to hit your one per turn, of course, but ultimately you really want a hand full of fat as often as you can, so if it's a choice between holding on to mutliple lands or filtering for better cards this is a really cheap way to do that. The other bonus of this is that it plays nicely with Underworld Breach, and the death trigger of Cavalier of Flame,
- Underworld Breach - This card is pretty game ending. As mentioned before with Ox of Agonas, escape is a mechanism that can be repeated as many times as you're able to meet it's requirements. And with Breach in play escape is 3 cards, which is a reasonable reduction on most instances of the mechanic occurring naturally on cards. So if you've cycled a ton of lands into the yard you're ahead of yourself already. Other than that, the best way to get maximum value from this is to push for multiple copies of spells like Mana Geyser and Seething Song, as well lots of wheeling cards to keep your graveyard full. I don't have a dedicated combo in the deck to the end the game with this card, but ultimately it's a strong enough card that that isn't necessary. It's also worth noting that the last ability on this card will destroy it at end of turn, whether it's yours or someone elses. Sundial of the Infinite is not enough to save it. Thus, Conqueror's Galleon // Conqueror's Foothold.
- Fires of Invention - Early game, this helps us get some framework in play while more or less ignoring our early curve. We can basically use it as a mana doubler; drop a couple of rocks in a turn then use the resource from them to cast more and get ahead. Late game this still gives us a few free spells here and there, and even at the top of our curve with Bogardan Hellkite and Bedlam Reveler it's not inconceivable to have 8 lands in play for a free cast. There are times where this isn't going to be the right enabler to have in play, so it's worth considering a longer scope for having this card in play.
- Gratuitous Violence - Well, it's pretty obvious what this does. Bludgeon face. Gives us a little more flexibility in combat and more efficacy with abilities and direct damage.
- Fiery Emancipation - Damage so nice we did it thrice. You know this is ending games, just make it count when you play it, because it won't last long.
- Warstorm Surge - Our curve is pretty damn enormous, here. Thankfully, this card doesn't rely on casting, it relies on creatures ETB'ing for us - this means tokens will trigger it, as will creatures coming in via our commander's abilities. It also triggers Panharmonicon, so this can get really nasty, really easily.
- Chandra, Flamecaller - The only one in the deck, and for good reason. A wheel +1 per turn cycle is great card advantage, and it costs us nothing. As well as that, from the get go we have at least 4 damage to each creature available to us right away. The elementals we're not overly interested in, but 2/3 loyalty abilities isn't bad.
- Thrill of Possibility - Instant speed hand filtering. There's always something to improve what's in your hand, and it's really nice to cast this towards the start of the game to hit a couple more lands, a rock or a nice critter.
- Chaos Warp - There's enough great permanents in our own deck that even casting this on ourselves is favorable. Otherwise, you know what to do with this.
- Valakut Awakening // Valakut Stoneforge - A modified wheel of sorts, but just for us. While it's also a land, it's in instants purely because this is where the value is, and the opportunity cost is really low. Just a great way to filter our hand with minimal downside, at instant speed.
- Gamble - Red's only hard tutor. Well costed, and it is risky. Nonetheless, it's worth having, because the chances of losing what you searched for are slim, and we have of grabbing things back anyway.
- Irencrag Feat - Burst mana, and lots of it. We can only cast one more spell, but that's no big deal. If we can use this to cast our commander with mana left over we don't need to cast. Or if he's already in play we're not casting as is.
- Mana Geyser - In a multiplayer game this can generate a ton of for us. One cast gives us enough to make great use of, or if you're lucky enough to have Underworld Breach around, casting it repeatedly should give you more than you could possibly know what to do with.
- Reforge the Soul - Today's Wheel of Fortune. Standardly more expensive, and occasionally a little cheaper. Either way it's great advantage.
- Seething Song - Pays for our commander in one fell swoop. Nice early play, or a way to pump a little more momentum into the game, or a way to generate enough resource to make Underworld Breach end the game.
- Blasphemous Act - Sure, we might not be reducing this to absolute minimum with a minimal board state, but that also means we can be more relaxed about using this.
- You...you do know what this does, right? I sure hope so.
[*]Labyrinth of Skophos/Mystifying Maze
- Just a little bit of combat insurance. From time to time we have the resource to spare, so there's no reason not to use it here. Worth noting is that neither of these options will prevent attack triggers such as Etali, Primal Storm
, or, more frighteningly, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- Hideaway is another pretty overlooked mechanic. We can hit the threshold for using it easily, and the hideaway mechanism allows you to cast whatever you have hidden ignoring usual timing. Pretty damn good.
- A weird card, but one that fits here, purely for being a good way to save our creatures. We exile them, and when we decide we want them again, sacrifice the land, and they all return to play at once. It's a little cute, but this is another way to prevent yourself from giving back creatures on loan from Molten Primordial
or Conquering Manticore
. Once the land dies, they will return to their owner's
control, not yours, but it gets them out of the way at least temporarily.
- About the easiest way to store up early game. Mostly, we work in divisions of : if we don't have enough to hit another trigger, we can store it for later use. What's nice about this option is you can take as much from the land as you like, you don't have to use it all at once.
- Cheap fetches, for color fixing. Seems silly in a mono-color deck, but it's worth doing purely for the fact that if we're forced into hard casting any of our creatures we do have a relatively high weight of color density. The other bonus of these is inclusions like Tectonic Reformation
and Cavalier of Flame
. If we don't need them we can cycle them, and if we've already used them we can burn face with them.
[*]Forgotten Cave/Smoldering Crater
- As above, cheap advantage. We can either play them out, or cycle them for the same cost Tectonic Reformation
offers. There are other cycling options, but these are the cheapest, and that's why I run them - we want our card advantage as lean as we can get it.
[*]Ghost Quarter/Field of Ruin
- Pretty obvious what these are here for, getting rid of problematic lands. The other option you have, if for whatever reason you're color screwed, is to pop your own land for a Mountain
- When combat just isn't favourable or you have an alpha strike you want to drive home.
- It will eventually do nothing, but twice in a row is nicely explosive.
- With the curve in the deck as high as it is, there's every chance we can sink lots of resource into this to keep our hand fill, even if the card in question isn't our commander.
- It isn't cheap at per activation, but it won't cost us much in life either, and I'll take what draw I can get.
[*]Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
- There's no reason not to bolt things just for playing basic lands. Very strong effect, great card. [/list]
So this list is obviously not entirely exhaustive, and there's definitely things I'd like to pick up for it, some intended and some 'pie in the sky' wish list items. Here's a bit of a rundown as to what I would add or intend to eventually:
If there exists a picture of what we want to do to a board state, this is it.
This deck is built in a reasonably particular way, and operates similarly. It's designed in this case to hit quickly and hit hard, causing maximum damage, or maximum havoc, per action we take. In that respect, the deck is fairly often quite proactive, in contrast to most of the other decks I've ever built.
A lot of my previous builds have been somewhat passive - I hold things back just in case of board wipe, commit only what I'm sure is going to stick and play more of a long game, arm-wrestling the table until they have nothing left or until I have a win. A midrange value strategy in general, trying to always have an answer and be able to bounce back from most setbacks.
This is not that deck.
Because we're predominantly not casting
creatures, they can't be countered. We don't need to worry about that almost at all. Also, you know that ridiculously annoying, overcosted uncommon enchantment, uh, what was it called again
? Well, it's mostly useless against us. Every time someone says 'pay ?' at you, you get to say, 'there's no trigger buddy, settle down'
trust and believe team, it's a great feeling against one of the most annoying cards in the format.
Our commander is also pretty tough to interact with. So we can play with general confidence that a lot of what we do is relatively inevitable. Nothing is certain, of course, there's always ways to interact in this game. But we can play out our hand here with a lot more confidence. So generally, we're going to look to set up a pretty small boardstate, stay under the radar until we have a few threats to unleash, and then do so quickly and hurt as much of the table as we can. Generally, if you have the opportunity to make some crazy plays it's almost always the right play.
All this being said, it's fairly important to make your plays count - the other side of the previous statement is that our board has a lot less permanence than most, so a lot of the time it's absolutely important that you make each creature you cheat in count as much as possible, and that you spend your wisely. It's fairly common for us to look like we're screwed or just moving at a slower pace than the rest of the table, which means a lot of the time we're off anyone's radar, so we can use that to our advantage until we're ready to make things happen.
The main thing we need to keep in mind is that we are stranded until we hit worth of land and rocks, bare minimum
. Ideally the sooner we get there the better, but once we're at that stage we can get from 0-100 fairly quickly.
And this is why we're here. The how-to guide. First, we'll go through what hands you ought to be keeping or tossing, and then we'll see how your average game is likely to shake out.
Probably a tough keep. Sure, we can get our commander out, but the end of our possible plays is limited by losing a land after it's second use. Depends a lot on our topdeck, so probably a mulligan. [/card].
Probably a good keep. A few early rocks to keep our resources swelling somewhat, and two really reliable sources of card draw, with possible dragons.
We're not missing land drops here, but there's also absolutely nothing going on, so this is an obvious pass.
Now that we know what we're looking for in our starting hand, more or less, let's see how it all shakes out. Now, this part of the game always looks the same for us; get your commander in play ASAP
. He costs fairly reasonably, but we don't necessarily ramp like does, so the sooner the better. Don't be afraid to use looting effects if you need to, there's even times I've Chaos Warp
ed my own stuff to hit some value, be it land or critter. Do what you have to do, at this point in the game.
There really isn't much in the way of variation in our game plan this early in the game. Ultimately our curve can't support hard casting on our monstrous curve, so the sooner we get our commander, or some explosive mana like Seething Song
, Mana Geyser
, or Fires of Invention
the better off we are.
What we really don't want is to be playing 'land, go' the first 5 turns in a row. You know for sure that anyone running green is going to get well ahead of you is this is the case, and we certainly want to at least try to keep pace. If we're just dropping lands we are going to fall behind, and we open ourselves up to taking a lot of damage.
I put this part of the game together as a wider strategy purely because once you have your commander in play your options open up significantly. You basically have a creature cannon to fire at the board, and plenty of ammunition to keep doing so.
That being said it's still good to be careful how you play your hand. Proper sequencing can lead to a super quick blowout win, and poor sequencing can leave you without a hand in topdeck mode and slowly drowning. Once you have our commander in play, you're going to want to chain together some value for quick and explosive combats, quick and explosive ETB triggers, and wrecking as much face as we can. Have yourself a damage doubler
in hand? That'll pair as nicely with an Inferno Titan
or Chaos Maw
as a Cabernet Sauvignon with a finely cooked filet mignon. Got yourself a sweet ETB doubler
? Make the best use of it that you can
While we're generally fairly loose in terms of structured play here, there are some constants:
Don't be afraid of combat!
Look, all things considered unless you have some mitigating factor in hand like Cauldron of Souls
, your creatures are going to die. It's not the end of the world, and frankly it gives us a degree of certainty in combat. We know our creatures are doomed so why would we hold back? So don't hold back. But also, choose your target - if there's someone who's precious about their creatures in play and you have the opportunity to bolt them or obliterate them in combat, do it. This counts doubly when you have damage modification in play; get your damage triggers, swing in combat, raise some hell, lower some life totals.
Don't let yourself run out of cards in hand!
Look, this is fairly obvious. It goes for any deck, but because we're a)discounting all of our creatures or just casting them for free
and b)they won't stick around unless we do something about it, there's a really good chance that if you're not careful you will shred your hand, and after the end of your turn have very little around to show for it. That's a dangerous place to be - especially because in most normal circumstances, with no creatures in play, your commander isn't one either
. This means you're wide open to attack with nothing to stop it. So, we have a lot of draw stapled to creatures
, and a few that aren't
. Don't be afraid to use these, just make sure you use them right. Most of them will net you additional cards, but all
of them will cost you cards too - if any of those cards you want, play them out first. Ultimately, because most of the draw effects we have could be considered looting or filtering your hand, make sure you choose wisely and leave yourself something in hand to fall back on, even if it's just one or two cards.
Your lands are (mostly) dispensable in your hand.
Well, that's probably a little reductive, but past a certain point it's not untrue. There's a lot of ways in which we really don't want lands in hand past, say, 9 lands on board. Cavalier of Flame
will ping your opponents quite nicely with enough lands in your graveyard, and Tectonic Reformation
will allow you to turf them (pun fully intended) to resculpt your hand with cards to cast. Don't be afraid to do it - if it looks like it would benefit you, it probably will. Keeping more than one or two lands in hand past mid game will hurt more than anything else.
Don't wait for a way to save your board state!
There's a few ways we can save things from the mostly inevitable sacrifice trigger; Cauldron of Souls
, Sundial of the Infinite
, Conjurer's Closet
, Ancestral Statue
, Endless Sands
. But don't rely on them. Sure, we have Gamble
, but you just can't rely on one of these coming up reliably. So use your creatures as best you can and let them go. We have ways to get them back sometimes, so just focus on keeping your momentum up and move on.
It's worth going into at least a little detail as to what particular strategies and particular cards do and how they interact:
There's every chance we will be able to layer some of these up from time to time. In fact, I wholly recommend it! Even if it's just Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
and Angrath's Marauders
, that's plenty of damage in, and I won't turn my nose up at it. Unfortunately, it's not up to us how these effects are layered: the target opponent (or each opponent if we're pinging everyone) gets to choose how these effects apply. Let's have an example:
Let's say we have Bloodfire Colossus
in play with Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
and Gratuitous Violence
. We pay to deal 6 to literally everything. The options here are we can deal (6x2)+2 damage for a total of 14, or we can deal 2x(6+2) damage for a total of 16. Fairly obvious what people will go for, and it's not a huge difference, but it's worth knowing how these interact.
It's also worth saying that these paint a huge target on us - don't expect them to stay in play for long, and if they do stay in play, make hay while the sun shines and get maximum damage in.
If your opponents can't come for your damage doublers, they will come for you instead, so make your time count as much as you can.
Alright, so it's a relatively weird effect, and it's worth knowing the full extent of what it can do to help us. A lot of it is on the card itself, but let's go through it:
- Exile all spells and abilities from the stack.
- Well this is nice. We can nullify any activated abilities or instant speed spells that our opponents might like to try out on us during our turn. This will also become relevant later.
- Discard down to your maximum hand size.
- This one doesn't really help us at all.
- Damage wears off, and "this turn" and "until end of turn" effects end.
- This is where the value is for us. Because Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded's last ability is to sacrifice the creature at the beginning of the next end step, what we want to do is move to the end step, put the delayed trigger on the stack and then end the turn, thus referring back to the first clause, which exiles abilities from the stack.
What this won't
do is allow us to keep creatures from things like Conquering Manticore
and Molten Primordial
. These abilities will allow us to borrow a creature until end of turn, so what we will be exiling is the ability that allows to take control of the creature - ending the turn will simply end the period in which we have control of the creature. There are other ways
we can do this, but this particular card will not.
I haven't seen a huge amount of action around for this commander, which is surprising to me, he's a lot of fun to play. He's the cool guy that walks away from explosions. But there have been a couple of folk about who have done some brewing on Nexus, and there's definitely been some help from those quarters. This list has drawn a lot of suggestions from DirkGently's earlier list, which I understand is currently not active. As well as that there's been some ramp and land suggestions from pokken - and of course, anyone who weighs in on the thread to follow has my thanks!