A Fiery Future

With everyone so focused on the wide array of competitive Standard decks floating around nowadays, I thought I'd try and set my sights on something a little different... the future. Trying to crack the current Meta-Game is one of the fastest ways to ensure personal agony via constant headache and brain drain. My Standard play has turned into walking in circles "thinking" Im getting somewhere while all along I just keep ending up where I have already been. The days go bye and I am constantly cycling through decks in what seems to be an elaborately fiendish design that was crafted to make me go insane...Owling...Beach House...Tron....Vore...Heartbeat...SNAKES ON PLANES...Solar Flare...Gruul...Husk...Zoo... Hmmm maybe this week I should try and run Rakdos Aggro? At some point in that hellish cycle I decided to break free and try something totally different... Instead of trying in vain to keep up with the current Meta-Game I decided I was going to "get ahead of the bubble" as the sages put it.

Step 1: Into the Future

Seeing as I have yet to find a flux capacitor to fit my Chevy Equinox, time travel is totally out of the question. Rancored Elf is not answering my inquiries about TimeSpiral spoilers and I misplaced my crystal ball somewhere amidst my vast collection of Mesmeric Orbs. As I watched my options start to dwindle, I decided to put what knowledge about the future I did have to good use. The first(and most important)thing that we all know about the not so distant future is quite simple...

Bye-Bye Kamigawa Block

We can all agree that TimeSpiral will probably open just as many doors as Kamigawa closes. However, being forever the optimistic fool I would like to take this chance to shamelessly point out the obvious effects this will have on the current Meta-Game monsters. In others words we are gonna take a look at what "key" components some of these decks will lose... and then we are going to apply that knowledge. Sounds fun eh...?

Solar Flare- After taking 3 of the top 8 spots at Nationals in one form or another this seems to be "THE" deck that everyone is trying to beat. There is no way around it, Kamigawa phasing out will devastate this deck To many of its "Star" players will be benched.

Kokusho the Evening Star
Yosei the Morning Star
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Ink Eyes Servant of Oni
Cranial Extraction
Descendant of Kiyomaro
Miren the Moaning Well
Shizo Deaths Storehouse
Minamo School at Waters Edge
Eiganjo Castle
Mokokoro Center of The Sea
Tendo Ice Bridge

Heartbeat Combo- Certain decks are built around... and named after certain cards. Heartbeat can be a very frustrating deck to play against. It dominated the Meta-Game a while back and seems to be making a comeback. A wise man once told me that a cheeseburger without the cheese is not really a cheeseburger, and hamburgers are just plain boring. Looks to me like it will be a short lived comeback...

Heartbeat of Spring
Sensei's Divining Top
Sakura Tribe Elder
Maga Traitor to Mortals
Kodamas Reach

Vore- Some people hate land destruction decks so much that they concede the very second Stone Rain hits the stack. This deck is a monster to play against and is always one of my least favorite match-ups regardless of what deck I am currently playing. Im quite puzzled at is absence from the Top 8 at Nationals... to much Aggro maybe? Luckily, for those who love to inflict mind-stabbing pain with this deck, Vore does not really lose anything that it cannot easily recover from.

Eye of Nowhere
Keiga the Tide Star
Boseiju Who Shelters All
Minamo School at Waters Edge

IzzyTron- Another deck that posted excellent results at Nationals. With 25% of the top 8 being IzzyTron, this deck is not to be taken lightly. Ghost Quarter has been giving Tron a fair share of trouble recently, and Kamagawa leaving certainly isnt gonna help much. The only creatures that this deck commonly runs are being put into retirement. Other Tron variants will also lose Kamigawa gems.

Keiga the Tide Star
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Minamo School at Waters Edge

BW Aggro variants- I never actually made a Husk deck because when they were imensely popular I was running a GWB control deck that had an excellent win percentage vs. Aggro. That added to the fact the Promise of Bunrei and Paladin en-Vec seemed to triple in price overnight and then continued to move up up up. BW Aggro decks still see lots of play and along with Solar Flare and IzzyTron have posted spectacular results at Nationals. There are to many variants to list them all but some of the power cards you commonly see in these decks will be phasing out. The new Coldsnap Knights are ready to "Jump" into the Old Kamigawa Knights spots in these decks so I wont even list them as a loss.

Umezawa's Jitte
Promise of Bunrei
Ismaru Hound of Konda
Descendant of Kiyomaro
Shining Shoal
Sickening Shoal
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Kami of Ancient Law
Cranial Extraction

Gruul Beats- To me this deck "defines" aggro. I have a Standard Gruul deck variant that can pull a fourth turn win on occasion... Fifth and Sixth turns wins are common... If the game goes more than Seven turns, the decks survival rate drops close to zero. This deck made a lot of buzz last year when it "Broke the Meta-Game wide open" and took 1st place at Nationals. The majority of the Gruul clan isnt going anywhere anytime soon, but they do lose one card that actually makes a HUGE difference... The ability to stop life gain AND take a good chunk out an opponents life total will certainly be sorely missed.

Flames of the Blood Hand
Umezawa's Jitte

Snakes(on Planes)- The new snakes that Dissension introduced fueled the incentive to make this deadly(and Tribal format legal) aggro deck. This deck has some very awesome recursion and can build steam quickly. I still single out this deck and blame it for the fact that I still cannot afford a playset of Breeding Pools. On the downside for snake charmers worldwide, most of the decks power will be slithering out of Standard town when Kamigawa packs its bags.

Sosuke's Summons
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sakura-Tribe Scout
Seshiro the Anointed
Umezawa's Jitte

Zoo- Much like Gruul this deck wants to take out opponents fast. With all the multi-colored lands available to deck builders the mana-fixing problems this deck had in the past are not really an issue anymore. With Kamagawa leaving it can still be highly competitive, but it loses some serious steam.
Ismaru Hound of Konda
Flames of the Blood Hand
Kami of Ancient Law
Umezawa's Jitte

Owling Mine-Howling Mine has to be one of my favorite Magic cards of all time. It just ScReAmS, "MY DECK IS BETTER THAN YOURS!". When Owling Mine came into the scene I instantly fell in love with how it could piss off the land destruction cry babys without using any land destruction(Owling just gives it back to them to use again and again). For awhile the same people that conceded to a Stone Rain on the stack were doing the same once they saw a second turn Boomerang. I was also very glad to see this deck do well since I thought that Exhaustion was severely underplayed, and control decks are a personal favorite of mine. But as with other decks that are named after a card they are built around I dont see much of a future once Owl goes to roost.

Ebony Owl Netsuke
Kami of Crescent Moon
Eye of Nowhere
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Threads of Disloyalty

Step 2: Getting to the Point

Pointing out the obvious is one of those worthless skills I have been blessed with. But, for those of you that didnt know much about the Meta-Game, now you do. Since we are all on the same page now we can continue and try to make some sense of all this. There is no way to know what TimeSpiral will bring to the table, but we do know what is getting cleaned from the table. Far be it from WoTC to reprint all the cards aforementioned and give them new artwork, new names, and a clever re-wording of the rules text. So what we can expect is a bunch of new cards that we will all be exploring and experimenting with for at least a week or two before people start settling on new deck arch-types. This is where we can step in and take advantage of what we know(or at least what we think we know). From the exhaustive list above we might assume that Vore will still be a dominant deck posting strong results during this change-over and even perhaps afterwards. A Vore heavy environment tends to create an Aggro feeding frenzy. Amidst this confusion the plan is to step in with a pre-existing and established deck that will mop up the Aggro swarms while trying to hold its own versus Vore.

What is the deck for that job?

Why Firemane Control of course!

Firemane Control has been around for quite some time now. It has yet to recieve the acclaim and glory it deserves. I see a top 8 at Nationals in its future and the future is what we are focusing on here! There are many reasons I decided to roll with this deck. First of all it is a mixed bag of goodies... life gain, control, recursion, card advantage, burn, and mass critter removal all in one deck will make you feel like its Christmas morning. Secondly, this deck is begging for Kamigawa to phase out. Many of the headaches this deck will currently run into are present in Kamigawa block. The deck loses nothing noteworthy and just might gain some good friends in TimeSpiral. In this situation Miss Firemane will be able to spread her wings a bit more(Dont forget that you can still pick up these beautiful creatures for under $2.00!). Another reason to play this deck is that it is loads of fun and it will push your playing skills their limits. Playing this deck requires patience(games can go on forever) yet at the same time critical decisions must be made just about every turn. Finally this deck is amazingly flexible. Some of the variants and sideboard possibilities make this deck new and exciting every time you encounter it. It doesnt have to be a cookie-cutter net deck that is copied card for card. It can easily change from day to day to keep up with the current, and hopefully future, Meta-Game.

Step 3: The Deck

Firemane Control - Post Kamigawa Block

Creatures- 7

Court Hussar x2
Firemane Angel x4
Windreaver x1
Instants- 23

Char x4
Electrolyze x4
Lightning Helix x4
Remand x4
Repeal x3
Rune Snag x4
Land- 22

Adarkar Wastes x4
Battlefield Forge x4
Sacred Foundry x4
Shivan Reef x4
Steam Vents x4
Island x2
Sorcerys- 8

Compulsive Research x4
Wrath of God x4


60 Cards


Step 4: Variant and Sideboard

This is the area where this deck really shines. We can really change the ebb and flow of the deck by making a multitude of simple yet effective changes. All of the cards mentioned are viable, but finding the right combination depends on the "current" Meta-Game. Once again TimeSpiral might even offer up some better solutions but we gotta work with what we have in front of us at the moment. And we have a cornucopia of selections to pick from. Another beauty of this this deck is all the different routes you can roll with. Part of the fun is finding a mix that not only works but is fun to experiment with.

More Speed:

Mana acceleration is all the rave and getting cards to hit the table fast wins games. There are several cards that can incorporate this into Firemane Control.

Annex - Adding speed while slowing an opponent down is always a good thing. Even better if you can target a Karoo land.

Signets - Signets are like dropping an extra land when they are played. They are great vs. land destruction and also speed things up. The only bad thing about them is that they take up precious deck space.

More Burn:

This deck can easily be converted into a burn deck with just a little bit of tweaking. The main deck alone has enough burn(if used wisely) to take out an opponent. If burn is your thing you can play around with some of these goodies.

Searing Meditation - With Firemanes in play or in the graveyard you can use this every turn... multiple times with multiple Firemanes for multiple fun.

Flame Fusillade - Firemane control games are notorious for going on... and on... and on... Dropping this late-game is sure to wreak havoc.

- Another late-game finisher. Sometimes the oldest tricks are the best tricks.

Budget Firemane:

All the Pain and Dual lands in the main posted above can get expensive. Another option is using a combination of Basic lands and Guild Signets. Doing this allows you to stick in Blood Moon which can easily cripple multi-colored decks. Considering all the color mixing that Ravinca has brought us this is not entirely a bad idea. Wrath of God can also break your piggy bank. Substituting Pyroclasm is sub-optimal but if you cannot get your hands on Wrath of God it will have to do.

More Control:

Zurs Weirding - This is used by some Firemane players to put a "lock" on the board. It is most certainly not fun being on the receiving side of one of these locks.
Odds/Ends - Can be used for creature control, or as a counterspell/twincast.

Spell Snare
- Standard issue in many control sideboards.
Sacred Ground - Great vs. land destruction. Considerably slows Vore down by forcing it to cast Boomerang before trying to cast Wildfire.

- Good against creatures that have nasty "When put into graveyard" effects on them.

Azorius Guildmage
- Great for Mirror matches. Can stop effects and taps out big threats.

More Card Advantage:

Tidings - A bit expensive to cast but in a long game that point becomes moot and getting an extra four cards can easily mean the difference between winning and losing.

Step 5: Have Fun!

Isnt that why we all play this game anyways? Experiment, change, test, and toy with this deck to your hearts content. One of the few drawbacks of this deck is trying to play test it. As I mentioned before games can go on forever. Play testing a set of three games against one deck type can easily take an hour. What this deck needs is a lot of play testers out there who are reporting results, adding new cards, and trying new strategies. My main deck list is far from perfect; and by no means did I list every current card that can work well with this deck. It is my belief that this deck has a strong future and with a little love (and several hundred thousand hours of play testing) this gem will shine for all its worth. If you decide to take the leap of faith and invest in the future of Firemane let me know about your results. I can usually be found in my clan chat room on MTGO at /join ck. You can also contact me on the forums here at MTGO Traders.

May Your Mana Never Run Dry,

William Mostoller

-- KimiKiri --