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Risen Reef Art by Johan Grenier

Explorer Temur Ignus Elementals Combo Deck Guide: Explorer’s Best Combo Deck

With a Grinning Ignus combo deck banned multiple times on Arena, there's no way you can still play one, right? Well, Omri is here today to teach you that it's still alive and well in Explorer!

Introduction

Hello everyone! Today I’ll be going over Temur Ignus Elementals Combo, the newest in a long line of Grinning Ignus combo decks. This deck leans more into a value-oriented game plan with Risen Reef as a card advantage engine, and Collected Company with the end game of comboing off by assembling Grinning Ignus plus two of either Birgi, God of Storytelling, Runaway Steam-Kin, or Hazoret's Monument.

This deck was created by MTGO user Togec who built it for Pioneer, but luckily the only card missing for the deck in Explorer is Generator Servant which is replaceable. For best-of-one I would play the same list, (minus the sideboard of course) because the main deck is already as linear and proactive as it can be.

After publishing this article, Togec reached out to me and gave me some really good suggestions, so I edited this article to add them in, If this article seems a little different on the second read-through, that’s why. Huge thanks to Togec, and join the Ignus Combo discord if you want to dive even deeper into the deck.

Deck Breakdown

Temur Ignus Combo – Explorer
by Omrithopter
Buy on TCGplayer $573.29
Explorer
best of 3
0 mythic
35 rare
13 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Companion
Creatures (29)
2
Llanowar Elves
$0.78
4
Elvish Mystic
$5.16
2
Devilish Valet
$1.58
4
Grinning Ignus
$1.00
4
Risen Reef
$11.96
Instants (4)
Sorceries (1)
Artifacts (4)
Lands (22)
2
Mountain
$0.50
4
Spirebluff Canal
$87.96
4
Steam Vents
$87.96
4
Stomping Ground
$59.96
60 Cards
$476.92
15 Cards
$34.05

Ramp

The first thing this deck needs is ramp to speed it up. In the one-drop slot, Llanowar Elves and the new-to-Explorer Elvish Mystic ensure this deck can cast its powerful three-drops a turn early. Prosperous Innkeeper provides some crucial lifegain, (sometimes even infinite lifegain, though MTG Arena makes this not a win-condition in and of itself), and color-fixing in addition to ramp, and Tangled Florahedron both pads this deck’s land count and is an elemental for Risen Reef.

Card Advantage and Selection

This deck’s combo needs a lot of different pieces to assemble, so it can’t just rely on a good opening hand. This deck’s most important piece of card draw, (and the reason it’s splashing blue), is Risen Reef. This deck has 15 elementals, and even without any other combo pieces, Risen Reef and Grinning Ignus let you pay a red mana to Growth Spiral as many times as you can afford. Collected Company takes advantage of how many creatures, and especially three-drops this deck has, and it’s especially good for finding combo pieces or making Risen Reef pop off.

Lastly, Hazoret's Monument lets this deck loot to find whatever it needs before and after it goes infinite with Grinning Ignus

Combo Pieces

First up, we’ve got Grinning Ignus. This card is the reason this deck exists and is an inherently broken card because of how easily it can be used to make an infinite combo. If you can somehow reduce Grinning Ignus’s casting cost by one, you can bounce and replay it infinite times, and if you can reduce it by two then you’ve also got infinite mana, and this deck can do and take advantage of both of these instances.

This deck runs a full play set of Runaway Steam-Kin, Birgi, God of Storytelling, and Hazoret's Monument, making it very consistent at getting one or two down. Steam-Kin is the clunkiest of these three, requiring a bigger initial investment of mana before you can go infinite because it only makes mana once you’ve cast three red spells. and Hazoret's Monument, while having the added utility of letting you loot every time you cast a creature, discounts Grinning Ignus’s ability by a generic mana, meaning every time you bounce and replay Grinning Ignus you’re exchanging a red mana for a colorless mana. This means that you can’t loop Grinning Ignus infinite times with just Hazoret's Monument which can be a liability.

Birgi, God of Storytelling, this deck’s third reducer, has none of these downsides as it produces mana every time you cast a spell and that mana is red, not colorless. In games that go long, Harnfel, Horn of Bounty is an extremely potent card-advantage engine that is difficult to interact with and can let you out-grind even the grindiest of decks.

Win Conditions

This deck’s primary win conditions are Light Up the Night and Devilish Valet. Light Up the Night is not only a payoff for having infinite mana, but also a slightly inefficient removal spell which gives it a lot of added utility.

Devilish Valet wins the game by growing infinitely large from Grinning Ignus entering the battlefield, but Valet doesn’t even require infinite mana to become huge, a Grinning Ignus with just one reducer, or no reducers and a bunch of mountains, can grow Grinning Ignus big enough to threaten lethal. You need five creatures to enter the battlefield to make Valet a 32/3, which should almost always be enough. However, a lot of the time you’ll only need four creatures as a 16/3 can finish off an opponent that’s shocked in a couple of lands or taken a little early-game chip from your small creatures.

Sideboard

1 Jegantha, the Wellspring: Jegantha adds a lot to this deck as its Companion, this deck is prone to flooding and can cast Jegantha pretty easily with all its mana dorks, and Jegantha is also coincidentally an elemental for Risen Reef.

2 Mystical Dispute, 1 Negate: Counterspells for control and combo decks.

3 Soul-Guide Lantern, 1 Scavenging Ooze: Graveyard hate, the singleton Scooze is here because of Collected Company.

3 Fire Prophecy: Flexible removal that also helps you dig for the combo.

3 Shapers' Sanctuary: An excellent suggestion by Togec, Shapers' Sanctuary is huge against any removal heavy decks, especially RB Midrange and RB Sac, which without Sanctuary are some of this deck’s worst matchups.

1 Masked Vandal: Masked Vandal may seem like an odd choice for a naturalize effect, and yes, it is a little more clunky, but it’s both an elemental for Risen Reef,and can be hit off of Collected Company.

Gameplan

jason_felx_mtg_runaway_steam_kin_by_jason_felix_dcnxym1-fullview
Runaway Steam-Kin Art by Jason Felix

This deck’s goal is to go infinite with Grinning Ignus. With two Birgi, God of Storytelling, Runaway Steam-Kin, or Hazoret's Monument, bouncing and replaying Grinning Ignus will generate infinite red mana as well as infinite Hazoret's Monument, Prosperous Innkeeper, Devilish Valet, or Risen Reef triggers. Hazoret's Monument lets you loot through your whole deck to find a win-condition like Devilish Valet or Light Up the Night, but without one, you’ll need to find some other way to take advantage of your infinite mana and Grinning Ignus ETBs. With just one Birgi or Steam-Kin, this deck can still win the game by triggering Devilish Valet infinitely, and infinite Risen Reef triggers will do the same if you have enough mana to get down a second combo piece or will win you the game the next turn if you don’t.

To make this deck consistent at finding its combo, this deck runs a play set of Risen Reef and Collected Company – many of the creatures in this deck are elementals, so even when you’re not triggering Risen Reef an infinite amount of times, it can still get you a lot of value. With 14 three-drops and 29 total hits, Collected Company is incredible for getting you card and mana advantage, as well as being a great way to dig for whatever combo piece you’re missing. This deck also has a whopping 11 mana dorks, which speeds it up a lot, and makes even a turn-three kill possible. Being full of cheap creatures, many of which replace themselves, also means this deck is really good at chump-blocking. This is important in situations where you have all the necessary combo pieces and just need time to get them down, so chumping comes up pretty often.

Combos

Grinning Ignus Art by Alayna Danner
Grinning Ignus Art by Alayna Danner

1 Risen Reef + 1 Grinning Ignus: Pay one red mana to trigger Risen Reef

1 Birgi, God of Storytelling + 1 Grinning Ignus: Infinite Grinning Ignus ETBs, which draws your whole deck with Risen Reef, gains infinite life with Risen Reef, deals infinite damage by triggering Devilish Valet.

1 Birgi, God of Storytelling + 1 Runaway Steam-Kin + 1 Grinning Ignus: Everything from before, but also makes infinite red mana, meaning Light Up the Night is another win-condition, and worst case you can get a Jegantha, the Wellspring into play.

2 Runaway Steam-Kin + 1 Grinning Ignus: Same as before, but requires enough red mana to trigger Steam-Kin enough times for one of them to have three counters, otherwise you won’t be able to produce mana with your Steam-Kins and will have to wait till next turn.

1 Hazoret's Monument + 1 Grinning Ignus: You can pay a red mana to make a colorless mana, loot with Monument, and trigger your Risen Reef, Devilish Valet, or Prosperous Innkeeper once. 

1 Birgi, God of Storytelling + 1 Hazoret's Monument + 1 Grinning Ignus: Infinite red mana and loots to find a win-condition. This is this deck’s fastest combo, and allows for the turn three kill with a mana dork on turn one.

1 Runaway Steam-Kin + 1 Hazoret's Monument + 1 Grinning Ignus: Same as before, but requires enough red mana to trigger Steam-Kin enough times for it to have three counters, otherwise you won’t be able to produce mana with it and will have to wait till next turn.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Masked Vandal Art by Jason A. Engle
Masked Vandal Art by Jason A. Engle

Mono Blue Spirits

INOUT
+3 Fire Prophecy-2 Prosperous Innkeeper
+2 Mystical Dispute-1 Hazoret's Monument
-1 Devilish Valet
-1 Risen Reef

This matchup is pretty close, if your opponent manages to counter your couple of threatening cards then you’ll lose, but if you can get your creatures down under their counters, your opponent has very few ways to remove them.

Don’t attack into a flash threat, keep in mind that your opponent can counter your Grinning Ignus on the way back down, and don’t try to play around counterspells, just jam your stuff and hope your opponent doesn’t have it. By playing around their counters, you’ll just give them more time to find counters and/or kill you with a Supreme Phantom or two.

Rakdos Midrange

INOUT
+3 Shapers' Sanctuary-3 Prosperous Innkeeper

Without the Shapers' Sanctuary tech this matchup is quite bad, but the addition of Sanctuary is huge, and makes the matchup much better post-board. Removal is how RB wins in this matchup, and making every removal spell of theirs draw you a card means you never run out of gas, meaning your opponent is forced to just race you. Apart from Sanctuary, your best cards in this matchup are Collected Company and Risen Reef because they let you grind really well.

Be careful about holding Grinning Ignus in hand to protect it against removal because of Thoughtseize and card name=””Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger]. Also, there’s often not much you can do to play around this, but keep in mind that Kolaghan's Command killing Hazoret's Monument and a creature is an absolute blowout, but most lists don’t play more than one in the sideboard, so it doesn’t usually come up.

Mono Red Aggro

INOUT
+3 Fire Prophecy-2 Elvish Mystic
+2 Shapers' Sanctuary-2 Runaway Steam-Kin
+1 Masked Vandal-1 Risen Reef
-1 Devilish Valet

This matchup is bad because your opponent has a lot of burn spells for your combo pieces, but you do have a lot of cheap creatures which helps you avoid getting run over. Just jam your creatures, and hope that your opponent runs out of removal before you run out of life. Hazoret's Monument is important in this matchup because your opponent can’t deal with it, and with it out you only need to stick a single reducer. Along with removal, Masked Vandal is also an excellent sideboard card because it blocks well, and hits Anax, Hardened in the Forge, Kumano Faces Kakkazan, and Embercleave. Finally, Shapers' Sanctuary comes in to help against removal, but it can be a tad slow.

Azorius Control

INOUT
+2 Mystical Dispute-3 Prosperous Innkeeper
+1 Negate

This matchup is pretty good, and very hard to play. Risen Reef is a guaranteed to two-for-one your opponent, and you can often outrace your opponent’s interaction in the early game and win. In the mid-to-late game, your opponent does have a lot of good tools; Farewell and March of Otherworldly Light are especially good because they can hit Hazoret's Monument, so aim to end the game before your opponent can get their feet under them.

Do your best to play around wraths, but also keep in mind that it’s possible to win with damage with your motley crew of 2/2s and 3/3s.

Greasefang

INOUT
+3 Fire Prophecy-3 Prosperous Innkeeper
+3 Soul-Guide Lantern-1 Light Up the Night
+1 Scavenging Ooze-1 Runaway Steam-Kin
-1 Risen Reef

This matchup comes down to who can combo off first, and in game one this is usually Greasefang which is a turn faster and a tad more consistent, but post-board having access to graveyard hate and removal is quite helpful and swings the matchup a lot.

Lastly, keep in mind you can survive one, and possibly even two Parhelion II attacks if you go off with Prosperous Innkeeper, so it can be worth it to go shields down and set up your combo for next turn. 

Tips and Tricks

Birgi, God of Storytelling by Eric Deschamps
Birgi, God of Storytelling by Eric Deschamps
  • If you haven’t played a land for turn yet, you can decline to put a land from a Risen Reef trigger into play tapped, instead putting it into your hand from where you can play the land untapped and have an extra mana. You can also decline to put lands into play so that you can discard them to Harnfel, Horn of Bounty.
  • Once you have all your colors, maximize the number of red sources you have as the number of red mana you have will be your constraint for how many times you can play Grinning Ignus. This is especially important for situations in which you need to trigger Runaway Steam-Kin three times to go infinite, if you don’t have enough red lands you’ll be stuck with a Steam-Kin with only one or two counters which can’t produce mana and you’ll have to wait another turn to combo.
  • You can return Grinning Ignus to hand and then discard it to Harnfel, Horn of Bounty, letting you recycle any Grinning Ignuses you hit from Harnfel into more cards. 
  • You can cast Light Up the Night for X=0 to deal one damage to a creature or planeswalker.
  • You can turn two non-red mana into one red mana by casting Prosperous Innkeeper and using the treasure token it creates.
  • card name=”Llanowar Elves”], Elvish Mystic, Birgi, God of Storytelling, and Devilish Valet are not elementals, every other creature is.
  • If you’re flooding out, hold non-red lands and mana dorks in hand to discard to Harnfel, Horn of Bounty if you draw one, but consider still playing out red lands so that you can replay Grinning Ignus more times if you draw it. Also, don’t hold more than a couple mana sources in hand because this deck can draw a lot of cards in a turn and can need a lot of mana out of nowhere because of Risen Reef.
  • If you’re flooding out, hold your elementals in hand to trigger Risen Reef if you draw one.
  • Against decks with removal, don’t play out Grinning Ignus unless you have a reason, especially in the mid-to-late game. Against black decks though, you also need to consider that your opponent may have Thoughtseize and holding Ignus in hand might actually make it less safe than playing it out.
  • If your life total isn’t very important, play your fastlands, (Spirebluff Canal and Botanical Sanctum), out first because if you wait until turn three to play one and then draw a second, you’re stuck playing a tapped land on turn four.
  • You don’t have to go infinite with Grinning Ignus for Devilish Valet to be threatening.
  • card name=”Boseiju, Who Endures”] is discounted one mana to channel if you have a Birgi, God of Storytelling or Jegantha, the Wellspring in play, but it’s still two mana if you’ve got a Harnfel, Horn of Bounty in play, even though it’s legendary.
  • You can sometimes win by beating down, especially if you can dome your opponent for a bunch with Light Up the Night once you get them low enough.
  • You can use the trigger from Hazoret's Monument to enable Masked Vandal.
  • Your opponent can’t respond to card name=”Grinning Ignus”]’s activated ability with a removal spell on Ignus, since returning Ignus to hand is part of the cost. This means that if there’s no triggered ability going on the stack once Grinning Ignus enters the battlefield, your opponent doesn’t have a window of opportunity to kill Ignus as you play and replay it, as long as you don’t pass priority with Ignus in play. This is rarely relevant because usually either your opponent can just kill a reducer instead of Ignus to disrupt the combo, or you’ll have a Risen Reef or Prosperous Innkeeper, which will trigger when Grinning Ignus enters and let your opponent kill your Ignus in response, but theoretically, if you had three reducers in play, you’d be able to play an Ignus and make infinite mana through a removal spell.
  • Neat trick from Togec: when you have a Monument out, Grinning Ignus and Birgi in hand, and need a 4th land to combo off: play the Ignus first, return it, and then play the Birgi. This gives you two loots instead of one and allows you to not commit your birgi to the board if you don’t want to.

Conclusion

This deck is a really interesting innovation on the Grinning Ignus + Reducer archetype, Risen Reef adds a lot to the deck and makes it well worth the splash, and the addition of mana dorks and Collected Company make it faster and more consistent as well. If you want to storm your opponents out, or find the idea of drawing your whole deck with Risen Reef appealing, then this deck is for you.

 If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know through the MTG Arena Zone Discord, or message me on Twitter. Thank you so much for reading, good luck in your games, and may your Collected Companies never miss.

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Omrithopter
Omrithopter

Omri Khaykovich is a 17-year-old MTGA grinder whose competitive interest in Magic sparked in 2019. He's played every format on Arena competitively, and is getting into Pioneer and Modern so he can play in RCQs. Omri is one of the youngest players ever to hit #1 Mythic, and loves to share his knowledge about his favorite decks with others.

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