Fiery Impulse | Daarken
Me playing at my LGS this Standard season.
Hello fellow cardboard wizards! This is Dan, and I’m here to talk about some fresh sickness in Standard. We’ve just entered a tasty new season thanks to the introduction of Eldritch Moon, and we have plenty of new toys: Emrakul is totally Emracool, there are all sorts of sweet Eldrazi with the new Emerge mechanic, and Spirit Tribal is finally viable.
But who cares about any of that, right? I prefer to play the best color - Red - so those cards are like sunglasses in a dark room. Very cool, but ultimately not useful. Ever since the departure of Lightning Strike, I’ve been forced to cobble together terrible decks with colors I’m not a huge fan of, and cry out to the gods for playable burn. But no more. Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast heard my pleas, and boy did they deliver.
I love you, Wizards.
And it doesn’t stop with just that one card. After a disappointing showing in Shadows over Innistrad, Eldritch Moon has brought us some treats. We get Incendiary Flow, Galvanic Bombardment, and some synergistic creatures in Thermo-Alchemist, Lightning Weaver, and Bedlam Reveler. My first thought seeing all of these was “That’s hot.” Literally. You know, ‘cause burn. I right away started trying slap together a burn list, and I could feel in my bones that dozens of other Red players were doing the same.
GP Columbus and SCG Open Baltimore gave us an early look at the meta. If you didn’t watch either, spoiler alert: Bant. So much Bant. To the surprise of nobody anywhere, Spell Queller, Selfless Spirit and Thalia, Heretic Cathar are putting in overtime by appearing in a bajillion decks, so the Bant Collected Company archetype is just as popular as before. But have no fear, Red is here to save the day. One spicy Bant-slaying list, coming right up:
Oh yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? No expensive lands that have two colors on them, no confusing Planeswalkers, and most importantly, every Instant or Sorcery spell can kill things. Who needs strong creatures when all of their opponent’s are dead?
Ok, I’ll admit that it’s not that simple. There’s a lot going on in this list, and it needs to be played differently than your standard Burn/Aggro list. But before we delve through the details of how to play this deck, let’s take a look at each of the pieces, and see what function they serve.
Creatures are the hip thing these days. They turn sideways and beat face. Your traditional burn deck runs a slew of one or two mana cost creatures, and each will have high power for their cost, or at least be hasty. That’s not the case in this deck, and your creatures can do some weird things.
This dude is so smug that I don’t even feel bad sacrificing him.
Neonate is our only one drop, which is already a departure from the average mono-red list. You may notice he’s only a 1/1 for one, and he doesn’t even have haste, which doesn’t seem right. Luckily, the Menace keyword gives Neonate some power. For the first three or four turns of the game, he’ll be chipping away a tiny amount of damage until your opponent can deploy two blockers. Then later, once he can be easily blocked, you can sacrifice him to pitch something from your hand and rummage for a better card. Pair with Fiery Temper for maximum value.
Ever since Origins dropped, I’ve had at least one copy of this guy in every deck I’ve made.
Abbot is a great card in this deck. He serves us best by coming down on turn three to try and snag a free land drop, and even if he doesn’t get that, there’s a good chance he can grab you a cheap burn spell. That being said, there’s no shame in just running him out on turn two to attempt to close out the game early. Prowess is extremely relevant in this deck as well, since you run so many spells that you’ll frequently trigger this twice per turn. As a 4/3 beater for two, Abbot puts a lot of pressure on the opponent.
A good deckbuilding philosophy of mine is “Add more Dragons.”
This tough not-so-little flier is the top end of our deck. A 4/4 flying for four is already one mean dude, and they also stapled a Lava Spike onto him in case you opponent dares to target him, letting you slap either their life total or Planeswalkers. If you have two of these on the field, it even triggers twice for each Thunderbreak! Delicious. Be careful deploying two at a time against a deck that runs Languish, though, as that’s a clean answer to him. Regent also catapults Draconic Roar to the moon, making it one of the best burn spells in Standard. Thunderbreak Regent closes out the game in short order if he hits the field, and is overall a solid end-game package.
I get the feeling this will be my new Abbot. Gonna need to get a hold of like 20 of these.
The first of the new toys Eldritch Moon brought us, Thermo-Alchemist, is a key player in this deck, and is also my new love interest. He comes down on the cheap, blocks Sylvan Advocate and most one or two drops, and most importantly, pings the opponent each turn. He untaps any time you cast (not successfully resolve, which could be important against a control deck) an instant or sorcery spell, which primes him to ping once again. One damage per turn would be unimpressive, but since we’re slinging a whopping 23 instants and sorceries in our list, he frequently pings twice per turn.
It’s also important to note that his ability can tag Planeswalkers as well, making him strong against G/W decks. Any deck featuring red and a good mass of spells is going to want to run this guy, since he is a very fast clock in the right deck. Oh hey, look at that, we’re a red deck with a mass of spells. Hooray!
I need to incorporate bedlam into my vocabulary more often.
Bedlam Reveler is our second new EMN card, and he is one spicy meatball. Since he costs less for each instant and sorcery in the yard, and one third of our deck is just that, he often ends up only costing RR for a massive 3/4. When he enters the battlefield, you discard your hand (boo), then draw three new cards (yay). Often times, discarding isn’t even an issue (double yay). You can just run out all of the burn in your hand, which then reduces his casting cost even further, and then play the Reveler to refuel. Also, if you happen to have one in hand, Fiery Temper plays well with the Reveler’s discard trigger, letting you cast Temper as a Lightning Bolt.
Oh, he has prowess too. Guess what triggers prowess? Throwin’ burn at your opponents dumb critters, which then clears the path for this swole devil. I probably should put at least two Bedlam Revelers mainboard, but honestly, I only opened one at the Pre-Release. Whoops. I think +1 Bedlam Reveler and -1 Abbot of Keral Keep is a reasonable decision. Your deck will be a bit slower, but you’ll have a lot more end-game reach.
Burn baby, burn:
Mmm yes, let’s talk about the best part of this deck. As a dirty Red mage, I prefer to either kill every single opposing creature on the battlefield, or just totally ignore every creature and throw my spells directly at my opponent’s face. I’m a simple dude.
Chandra is my spirit animal.
I’ve lumped these two cards together because they’re fairly interchangeable. Both do 2 damage to a critter early for R, then do 3 later. If you think your store’s meta is going to have mostly three toughness threats, then opt for 4 Fiery Impulse, as any two burn spells in the ‘yard will turn on Spell Mastery. If there are mostly decks running bigger guys, 4 Galvanic Bombardment will give you the chance to tag some of those with a one-cost spell, which is nasty. Currently I’m running the three-three split until one of them proves itself to be better at my LGS.
These are the best burn cards available to us. In the right circumstances, Fiery Temper is straight up Lightning Bolt, which I think we can all agree is a decent card. Draconic Roar is efficient creature removal at instant speed, and if you control one of our Thunderbreak Regents or have one in hand, Draconic quickly becomes the strongest spell in the deck. Running four Draconic is always smart, and dropping a Galvanic Bombardment or Fiery Impulse for a 4th Fiery Temper is not a bad plan either, as Temper is much stronger than the creature-only removal against decks running several Planeswalkers.
“What’s your plan for this season?” Gaige asked. “Are you serious?” Dan replied, showing a pile of basic Mountains.
Oh boy, more burn? And these can hit face! Both are excellent spells that do plenty of damage at a reasonable rate. Exquisite Firecraft boinks Archangel Avacyn, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, and plenty of other things in just one hit, or blasts one fifth of someone’s life total. Ideally your opponent’s, but you know, sometimes you want to lose on your own terms and I can respect that. Spell Mastery makes it uncounterable as well, which can be particularly powerful when finishing off a control deck.
Incendiary Flow is the new kid on the block, and in addition to having fantastic flavor text, is a flexible card. Sorcery speed is a little sad, but you can smite Planeswalkers, your opponent, and 90% of the early-game threats in the current meta. Being able to exile is extremely relevant as well, since it helps deal with the resurgence of Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector, and can even hinder an opponent’s Delirium strategy.
I’m mad there isn’t room for flavor text, because I need more Chandra snark in my life.
Collective Defiance is my jam. I love everything about this card. It has a flexible cost, so it’s great at many different points in the game. It has several modes, all of which are relevant in many different situations. It also features Chandra doin’ her Chandra thing. Ten out of ten, would be defiant again.
The first mode looks bad at first glance. Why would you want to discard your hand and try again for three mana? Three reasons: Number one, Bedlam Reveler. This will probably dump a ton of spells in your graveyard, so when you find him, he’ll be insanely cheap. Secondly, Galvanic Bombardment. Putting one or two in the yard means the next one you draw is going to be one heck of a card, letting you do a lot of damage for a low cost. Third, maybe your hand sucks. Mine often does, so why not re-roll it? The second mode, four damage to a creature, is welcome in this deck. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet’s Lifelink is a huge thorn in our side, so having another spell that can pop him in one hit is welcome. Last but not least, three mana to shoot your opponent or a Planeswalker for three damage is also fun. It can help you close out the game, or take down a problematic value-walker.
All of these bundled together is fantastic. Four mana to kill Kalitas and finish a Gideon? Don’t mind if I do. Five mana to nuke Avacyn, melt Tamiyo, Field Researcher and fill up your graveyard for a Bedlam Reveler? Oh baby. I’m getting all hot and bothered just thinking about it.
Super fun lands:
I love mono-colored decks, because I don’t need to think about splitting up the colors, and don’t need to worry about getting color-screwed. More importantly, it opens up slots for some colorless utility lands while still allowing us to hit our double-red for Bedlam Reveler and Thunderbreak Regent. I’m only running two of each of these at the moment, but I think you’d be safe upping the numbers on either, depending on how they perform for you.
I’m glad Blighted Steppe is the worst of this cycle, because white does NOT need more help.
Gorge gives us something to do with mana if we’re flooding out, and gives us an additional burn slot. Often times opponents will forget about this innocuous little resource, and then you can get the jump on them by using it to finish off a ‘walker or close out the game.
Is this where Sanitarium Skeleton lives?
The Sanitarium is a spiffy land. The loot effect is symmetric, so they get value out of it as well, but you can often set this up in your favor. If the card you’re looting away is a Fiery Temper, you’re winning this exchange, and even pitching a Galvanic Bombardment or an extra land isn’t the end of the world.
Strongest card in the deck.
Not explaining this one to you.
Well then, how do we play this pile? The deck basically has two modes: Aggro beatdown with Abbot of Keral Keep and Thunderbreak Regent, or burn-control with Thermo-Alchemist and a bevy of removal spells.
The aggro plan should be enacted early on any time you play against a slow deck. If you see them drop a Shambling Vent or Hissing Quagmire turn one, chances are you’re going to have a window to mount a good offense before they can stabilize. Running out a turn two Abbot is a good plan in this situation to see how much damage you can plink them for before their own threats come out. Once the big boys such as Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet or Ishkanah, Grafwidow come out to play, we switch over to our second mode.
Thermo-Alchemist control is some of the most satisfying Magic: The Gathering that I’ve ever had the opportunity to play. This little dude just maxes and relaxes lookin’ all cool as you topdeck burn spells over and over. Kill any problematic threats, namely things with Lifelink, and apply all other burn directly to the forehead. Tap the Alchemist to ping them for one, cast your removal or damage spells, untap Alchemist, pass turn, repeat. In these situations, Collective Defiance and Exquisite Firecraft are massive spells that end the game very, very quickly.
The control route is also good to play if you’re up against something like mono-white Humans or Bant decks. They will have many more threats to play early game than you will, so you’re better off responding to those with your inexpensive removal, landing a Thermo-Alchemist at some point, and riding that to victory once they’ve exhausted their resources.
You may have noticed I didn’t include a sideboard with the deck. I don’t like to give a perfectly defined sideboard because honestly, it should change a lot depending on what you frequently play against. I’ll offer up some suggestions here, and you can dial in the knobs and levers until you get something that works at your store.
When playing against Aggro, you’ll want more efficient defensive spells, and can cut down on direct damage. Spells that can net you two-for-ones are especially zesty. Dual Shot is just insane in the first few turns against Humans or Spirits, and the new Savage Alliance does a good job cleaning up small threats or tokens. Weaver of Lightning blocks like crazy, and zaps little guys. Rending Volley is obviously great against any deck with white. You can drop cards like Exquisite Firecraft, which are more suited for closing out a game quickly.
Mono-Red isn’t great at beating a Midrange deck in value. Their creatures and spells will often be flat out more powerful. You need to use your threats effectively, and diversify your plan so they can’t easily dismantle it. Weaver of Lightning, can make your removal spells slightly stronger, which can help. He also blocks like a champ - he creates boardstalls, and then efficiently cleans them up in your favor. Goblin Dark-Dwellers is also spectacular, since he’s a big body outside of Spell Queller range that lets you buyback a spell to compete with the value they will be gaining from cards like Collected Company. Also, they probably don’t want to Reflector Mage the Dark-Dwellers, since that just gives you more removal. Careful not to add in too many of these, since your mana base is fairly light, and too many five drops might just end up sitting in your hand.
A patient game plan will pay off in these matchups. Thermo-Alchemist will shine here, and do a lot of damage for you. Bringing in additional Bedlam Revelers for late game steam is a great idea, and problematic permanents like Hangarback Walker give you extra threats that aren’t easy to deal with. The Goblin Dark-Dwellers come in here as well, since re-casting an Exquisite Firecraft can win you the game. Also, just bring in more of those, because shooting face is great. Feel free to drop cards meant to deal with early threats, such as Fiery Impulse or Galvanic Bombardment, since they often won’t have targets. Or, depending on your mood, you could go full-aggro in your sideboard. Strap in for a wild ride with Lightning Berserkers and see how quickly you can count to twenty.
High five your opponent for playing a cool deck. Talk about how dumb people are who play Bant, and offer a shoulder to cry on once the both of you inevitably lose to Bant.
Playing Mono-Red on a budget:
The good news is that you’ve already picked the right deck, which is nice. As of writing this, if you owned none of the pieces, you could go out and buy the entire list for around $60. That’s very affordable for a Standard deck. Still outside of your range? I understand - I also hate spending my beer money on cards.
Bedlam Reveler is our late-game steam, but also one of the more pricy cards. Though not a perfect swap, Shreds of Sanity certainly does a good impression. It will get you more cards in hand, and if the card you need to discard is a Fiery Temper, then that’s gravy.
A set of Thunderbreak Regents can cost some dollars. Again, not a great swap, but if you up the land count to 23 or 24, you can try playing Tyrant of Valakut instead. It costs more, and is easier to deal with, but when paired with a cheap burn spell, he does a lot of stuff the turn he hits the field. I would only run two of these if you desperately need to make this swap, and use the two empty slots for more land.
Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Hangarback Walkers have a steep price for sideboard cards. Since the main plan of these dudes is to get more card-for-card value, bringing in Tormenting Voice for some draw in these matchups isn’t terrible. Alternatively, Lightning Berserker and Zurgo Bellstriker put in a good amount of damage, and both demand an instant-speed answer from your opponent thanks to Dash.
That’s all there is, folks! Finally, we once more get a chance to play a low to the ground Red deck in Standard. We lose a lot at the next rotation, but since our next stop is the home plane of my girl Chandra, I have high hopes that Kaladesh will bring us more strong red spells to throw around. Keep the dream alive, my Red friends. Burn everything, Spell Quell nothing.
Until next time, friends, Dan