Four-Color Fires Deck Guide – Throne of Eldraine Standard – October 2019
Hello and welcome! I’m back again, with another guide to a sweet Fires of Invention brew I’ve been tuning. You can find my last deck guide here, which was for Grixis Fires (I’m entangled in quite the love affair with Fires lately…). I’ll be doing my best not to retreat old ground, so I would recommend that those of you who are new to the wondrous world of Fires decks read that one first. This article is written for those who already have a decent amount of knowledge of Fires decks and preferably have played with/against Jeskai Fires, while the Grixis one gives more of an overview.
3 Deafening Clarion (GRN) 165 1 Mountain (ANA) 64 1 Island (ANA) 62 4 Interplanar Beacon (WAR) 247 4 Fires of Invention (ELD) 125 4 Fae of Wishes (ELD) 44 1 Plains (ANA) 61 4 Oko, Thief of Crowns (ELD) 197 3 Narset, Parter of Veils (WAR) 61 4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221 4 Steam Vents (GRN) 257 4 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales (WAR) 220 3 Sarkhan the Masterless (WAR) 143 1 Temple of Triumph (M20) 257 2 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253 3 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244 1 Forest (ANA) 65 4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251 1 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246 1 Sacred Foundry (GRN) 254 1 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255 2 Kenrith, the Returned King (ELD) 303 1 Time Wipe (WAR) 223 1 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242 2 Aether Gust (M20) 42 1 Planewide Celebration (WAR) 172 1 Gateway Plaza (WAR) 246 1 Time Wipe (WAR) 223 1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97 1 Deafening Clarion (GRN) 165 1 Planar Cleansing (M20) 33 1 Ignite the Beacon (WAR) 18 1 Aether Gust (M20) 42 1 Ajani, the Greathearted (WAR) 184 1 True Love's Kiss (ELD) 34 1 Mass Manipulation (RNA) 42 1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89 1 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God (WAR) 207 1 Casualties of War (WAR) 187 1 Dovin's Veto (WAR) 193
3 Deafening Clarion (GRN) 165 1 Mountain (ANA) 64 1 Island (ANA) 62 4 Interplanar Beacon (WAR) 247 4 Fires of Invention (ELD) 125 4 Fae of Wishes (ELD) 44 1 Plains (ANA) 61 4 Oko, Thief of Crowns (ELD) 197 3 Narset, Parter of Veils (WAR) 61 4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221 4 Steam Vents (GRN) 257 4 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales (WAR) 220 3 Sarkhan the Masterless (WAR) 143 1 Temple of Triumph (M20) 257 2 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253 3 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244 1 Forest (ANA) 65 4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251 1 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246 1 Sacred Foundry (GRN) 254 1 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255 2 Kenrith, the Returned King (ELD) 303 1 Time Wipe (WAR) 223 1 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242 2 Aether Gust (M20) 42 1 Planewide Celebration (WAR) 172 2 Aether Gust (M20) 42 2 Time Wipe (WAR) 223 1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97 1 Deafening Clarion (GRN) 165 1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89 1 Negate (M20) 69 1 Command the Dreadhorde (WAR) 82 1 Planar Cleansing (M20) 33 1 Casualties of War (WAR) 187 3 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
Deck updated: October 23, 2019
So I’ve once again included two versions of the deck, but I do think it is better in Bo1 (I gave reasons in the Grixis Fires article) so I will mainly be talking about the Bo1 version in this article.
This deck is essentially my attempt to combine all the advantages of every Fires deck. The theorycraft spawned from two realisations I had, from the many Fires decks I’ve been playing:
a) I was very underwhelmed when I tested out Temur Fires: the deck just didn’t have nearly as much comeback potential without good wrath effects, and I didn’t get the impression that cards like Questing Beast or Gilded Goose made up for that. Oko was (surprise, surprise!) complete nuts and the main draw, and so I wondered whether I could make a 4C mana base work, where I was just slightly splashing for Oko, Teferi and some other planeswalkers in an Izzet shell. This would be using the immense power of Interplanar Beacon, of course, which is also a great tool for stabilising against pressure. So far, the mana base has exceeded my expectations and I’ve barely struggled at all with it – this is because I’m really not taking many risks with double-colour cards, and I have so many splash sources with Beacons and Passages. I’ll include some mana base calcs later in this article.
b) I realised that I wasn’t that happy with some aspects to how Jeskai Fires was playing out – on many boards, Sarkhan has a tendency to come down, give them a target for their otherwise useless creature removal spells and die without accomplishing anything because it’s hard to keep other planeswalkers alive in games in which you’re behind, and you’re a very reactive deck so you’re usually behind. I had found myself very impressed with a new player: Kenrith, the Returned King. This card was great in the Golos Fires decks pre-ban, as you can immediately use his abilities on the same turn when you have Fires out, allowing you to immediately gain a bunch of life against aggro or start drawing cards. Even without Fires, is very difficult for many decks to kill. Kenrith immediately applies pressure with its haste and trample ability, combines well with Sarkhan’s dragon and beats aggro singlehandedly with its gain life effect. Only black or black red aggro decks have a clean answer to it game 1 (Murderous Rider), and if it lives one turn then it usually generates a ton of value.
So I sat put down and put together this list, which has been overperforming for me and been a blast to play. I did a lot of testing for this deck pre-Golos ban and not as much yet post-ban, but I was doing decently against Oko decks pre-ban and I am doing well in the new format so far; the great thing about it is there are a lot of different ways in which it could be built – the deck is a brewer’s paradise for possible shells. I’ll go through some other ideas I have for it later on. I’ve been trying a lot of different versions of the deck and tuning it a lot so unlike in my last article, I’m not going to talk about winrates too much in this article – I’m still working on the best shell and would rather use a theoretical lens of analysis here. That doesn’t mean I’m afraid to make some bold claims though: I think a version of this deck, perhaps with some tweaks, easily has the potential to be a huge player in the metagame and might be post-ban the best version of Fires of Invention.
That being said, I’m going to be completely honest in that I wouldn’t blame you for taking what I say with a grain of salt since the meta hasn’t fully developed, and not wanting to make aggressive crafting decisions on that basis. Luckily most of the cards in the deck are Jeskai Fires staples, and then there are a bunch of just good cards and staples, so I’m hoping some of you will have a lot of fun with it!
4C Fires Card Interactions
So I know that this deck just looks like a generic good-stuff pile, and therefore would be low on synergistic elements, but I actually think the cards interact in some pretty great ways, and I’ll go through some of them here.
Tamiyo + Fires – if you haven’t had the pleasure, Tamiyo with Fires out is like having extra copies of Fae of Wishes – it lets you tutor from your graveyard and recast any spell you need immediately. I have wrathed the board over and over with one Deafening Clarion against aggro on the back of just one Tamiyo, which found the Clarion in the first place. Often the first wrath isn’t insurmountable for a lot of the midrange decks like Simic Oko, but the second or third just crushes them. Tamiyo is also great at finding Fires in the first place – she has enough loyalty that she’s very difficult to take down, so she often looks at even more cards than Drawn from Dreams. Unlike Drawn, she adds to the board and will often buy you a lot of time, so 4C Fires puts on pressure from the start and never has to pause.
Sarkhan + Oko – like I said before, Sarkhan has a tendency in Jeskai Fires to just come down, give them a removal target and die but in conjunction with Oko, he’s much more likely to live and to accomplish a lot more. Oko generates 3/3s that protect Sarkhan and has a ton of loyalty so he’ll often survive to give you immediate damage and utility out of Sarkhan’s + if you need it – killing a planeswalker with Oko on turn 5 comes up a lot. I’ll talk a little later about what Oko does for your other planeswalkers too; if your other planeswalkers are still alive then Sarkhan is an immediate gigantic threat and this deck is exceptionally good at keeping them alive.
Kenrith + Fires/Kenrith+Sarkhan – Fires gives you a ton of unused lands to work with, which can be used for mana sinks. Kenrith is the ultimate mana sink; he threatens to draw cards, gain a bunch of life, buff himself and your other creatures and immediately apply pressure. T5 Kenrith + Sarkhan can be absolutely devastating, even if you don’t have a board, since you can immediately attack for 11 damage (or 9 damage and draw a card). There’s even a Gateway Plaza in the Bo1 board that you can tutor up with Fae and turn Kenrith’s reanimation clause on.
Sarkhan + Tamiyo – Was your opponent taking a ton of damage dealing with Sarkhan? Were they finally able to deal with it? Well, if Tamiyo is in play, you can just bring it right back and pressure them again. Your opponent must kill both planeswalkers to deal with the threat – and they both have very high loyalty so good luck with that! With Tamiyo and Fires in play, you can even expand your roster of planeswalkers while recurring Sarkhan, which feels filthy after your opponent just spent their entire turn 5 clearing their way for their Questing Beast. Tamiyo can also dig for Sarkhan, even if her loyalty is too low to recur him.
Remember that you can use Aether Gust to save your own planeswalkers from removal if it’s otherwise not doing much! I’ve been pretty happy with main Gust since the meta is so saturated with Oko decks, and slowing them down with a deck like this that has incredibly strong midgame turns and inevitability can often win you the game. I could see going up to 3.
Other advantages of 4C Fires over other Fires decks
-This is the absolute best deck out there for protecting its planeswalkers. Oko and Fae provide solid early defence for them, Teferi bounces annoying permanents and most of the planeswalkers naturally have very high starting loyalty. Thanks to all of this, Sarkhan is at its very best here.
-I have found this to be the absolute best deck against aggro, even better than Jeskai or Grixis Fires. This is partly because it has such a gigantic amount of lifegain – it’s not uncommon to gain 5 or more life from one Beacon and Oko generates a food token each turn, and you have the opportunity to crack them all freely while Fires is out. Even Tamiyo, which might seem like a low tempo play, threatens to find Deafening Clarion and Kenrith or bring them back if she mills them – and Kenrith with Fires out will beat aggro by himself.
-Now that Field of the Dead is banned, this deck has inevitability against basically every deck, since you can put so much late game pressure on and with all your planeswalkers, you never really run out of gas. Once they stop being able to kill your planeswalkers efficiently, they often just lose. The cost of having starts that are a bit slower has often been well worth the promise of that kind of power, throughout magic’s history.
-This deck is also capable of winning very quickly. Sarkhan + Kenrith mean that you only really need a turn or two after you stabilise to win, and that means you can get more reps in and rank up faster. The wincon is a lot sleeker than with Grixis Fires, which often needs to Planewide + Liliana/Bolas to win (and you still have the out of tutoring up those cards out of this wishboard and winning in one turn if you haven’t been able to stabilise).
-Oko sponges up so much damage that my other planeswalkers often remain alive after my opponents expend a ton of time and pressure trying their best to stop Oko from generating more blockers and life. Problematic creatures can either become elks or be swapped for Food tokens. Really, Oko alongside other planeswalkers has felt really filthy to me, and I think he alone is reason enough to take the small hit to the mana base to splash green.
-Another draw over Jeskai Fires is the fact that you just have more planeswalkers for your beacons and they fill more roles – in Jeskai Fires, I often found that my last few planeswalker slots had to either be filled with weak cards like Saheeli, or I just couldn’t have that many. Well, this is the best Interplanar Beacon and Sarkhan deck by far, because we’re running 18 planeswalkers and they’re all great! It’s not uncommon to have four or five planeswalkers at once in play by turn 5 or 6 with this deck, and that makes life absolute hell for decks that are trying to attack down your walkers, and represents 12-16 immediate damage with Sarkhan. Oko puts early pressure on, which makes Sarkhan more likely to be lethal.
-One issue I’ve had with Jeskai and Grixis Fires is that you can remove things, but it doesn’t actually impact the board and you can lose to haste creatures or wide aggro boards that way. When your removal options are planeswalkers, they are proactive and present immediate threats – Oko and Teferi are both great at this. In matchups where removal isn’t good e.g. against other Fires decks, Oko and Teferi are still fantastic.
Some mana base calculations
The best thing to do when you’re trying to figure out how good a mana base is, is to look at the numbers and your %s to cast things on time.
With 21 blue sources including beacons, this deck has a 91% chance to have double blue to cast Narset on turn 3 (averaging play and draw). With 17 blue sources, it’s 95% to have the blue for Fae of Wishes/Aether Gust on turn 2.
With 12 red sources, it’s a 92% chance to have the red to cast Fires on turn 4. This rises to 20 sources for Sarkhan (counting Fires and Beacons as sources), and you have a 95% chance to cast him on turn 5. Without Fires you still have about an 88% chance.
With 10 green sources, you’re about 84% to cast Oko on turn 3. I think this is still good enough, since you have a lot of 3 drops, but it’s possible it could be raised. Fires gives us 14 sources for Tamiyo and you’re about 95% that way.
With 10 white sources, you’re about 84% to cast Teferi on turn 3. It’s a bit hard to cast Time Wipe in this deck, which is why it’s only a 1-of – you’re only about 62% to cast it on turn 5, since beacons don’t work for it. I think it’s still fine to have since Tamiyo can return Fabled Passage sometimes, you have some extra ways to draw cards and dig for lands, and you don’t necessarily want to cast it on turn 5.
With 10 white sources and 12 red sources, you’re only about 76% to cast Clarion on turn 3, but often you want to play a planeswalker on 3 and cast it alongside Fires on 4 anyway. With Fires and the extra draw, your chances are closer to 93% on turn 4 (and 76% is a pretty good failcase anyway).
As you can see, none of these calculations are too egregious for cards we have more than 1 of – the mana base works well and I really haven’t had many issues. I’ll link a hypergeometric calculator after the article and highly encourage you to check this stuff yourself for this and other decks!
Possible tweaks to the deck
-There are a lot of ways to build this deck. I could see a version with more green or red sources to have either Gilded Goose or a card like Shock/Bonecrusher Giant online early to combat Gilded Goose. It’s possible having our own Geese could combat the Goose into Oko nut draws (which the entire format struggles with, this deck included) better than just maindeck Aether Gusts.
-I’ve been happy with 4 Tamiyo so far, but it could very well be that 3 Tamiyo 1 Drawn from Dreams is better, or there’s another 4 drop option I haven’t considered. I don’t think Kasmina is good enough, and would not recommend that one. The main draw (heh) of Drawn is that it can dig for lands where Tamiyo has to minus to get them, but I think that’s still fine and have usually had the space to minus Tamiyo if I need to.
-I am running 11 3 drop planeswalkers, because they’re all busted, but it’s possible I should shave another Narset for a 4 drop or something. Still, I’ve been happy to run my 3 drops out on turn 4 if I have to (especially alongside Fires), since they are that powerful.
-I’m trying the 3 Sarkhan, 2 Kenrith split right now but it’s possible I could just have four Sarkhans – this is the best Sarkhan deck after all. Kenrith is an amazing tool against pretty much every aggro deck though and at fighting other planeswalker decks.
-I considered a Grixis shell of this, being essentially a Dimir deck that splashes for Bolas, Fires, Oko and Tamiyo, but I reached the conclusion that the mana wouldn’t work, since Fabled Passage doesn’t do that much for Bolas and you would need early UUBB for Narset/Ritual of Soot. Additionally, Sarkhan is great in this deck so you don’t really need Bolas. Clarion is also better in this deck than straight Jeskai, since it has synergy with Oko, so I think a Jeskai shell is best here.
-Deck slots have been a problem; I would have liked a second Time Wipe, but it’s too slow to really stabilise against the nut t1 Goose t2 Oko starts and it’s bad against Wicked Wolf . We can always Fae for the Time Wipe in the board, and we have a lot of ways to dig for it anyway (and usually Clarion with Oko does the job). Remember that Time Wipe is a bit hard to cast in this deck, so you want to adjust to have more white sources if you add a second.
-The mana base has been solid for me, but I could see tweaking it a little and perhaps having another land. I’ve been decently happy with 26 lands but it’s possible we could go up to 27 and have the second Castle Vantress or fourth Fabled Passage. In Bo3, with the fourth Fabled Passage, we could splash black for Noxious Grasp pretty easily and that would also turn enable Kenrith’s reanimation ability more easily.
Thanks for reading, folks, and I hope you really enjoy the deck! I’m going to be tweaking it and trying out a bunch of different versions in the weeks to come; it may be that a Goose or Shock version winds up better. As usual, I welcome all feedback and I’m sure you’ll have some great suggestions, which I’ll only be too happy to try! The new metagame is still evolving, but I have found this deck plays out in a very fun and powerful manner and has good game against everything. Try it if you have the cards or like the look of it, and I’ll be overjoyed to hear how it does. May your games be ever sweet, as always!
I do articles on a lot of different subjects! Find those here: https://mtgazone.com/drifter/.
Here’s a simplified hypergeometric calculator designed for Magic: https://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/kmliu/mtg_calculator.html. It’s a bit limited in what you can do with it, so I would recommend looking up a more advanced calculator and reading the instructions, but this will do fine for people who haven’t used one before.
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- October 23, 2019: Deck guide added.