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Five-Color Brilliance at Mythic Championship VII


There are occasions that you have to sit up and take note of an innovation. Something hits you with a start or a shock, and you think, "Damn, that is a hell of a call."

One of the most recent things I had seen came from my friend Ronny Serio, who told me he'd been working on a Fires of Invention deck that did something phenomenally scary. It utilized Cavalier of Thorns and Casualties of War.

This struck me as pretty phenomenally innovative. As the inimitable Zvi Mowshowitz noted recently, Fires of Innovation matchups can often largely be about developing the table - hence the reasons to move away from Fae of Wishes or Drawn from Dreams. In addition, he writes another important comment in that article: "Cavalier of Thorns seems almost designed to cause us trouble" - a hell of an endorsement! Without any extra help, Cavalier of Thorns can push the deck toward more powerful relevant plays. In a particularly excellent scenario, you might actually follow up a Fires of Invention with both Cavalier of Thorns and Casualties of War in a single turn, completely devastating your opponent.

This feels pretty incredible to me.

While I spent much of my time focusing on Pioneer, Standard kept chugging along. Of course, when my favorite store owner, Brian Kowal, expressed his excitement about a deck at the MCVII, I had to go see what the fuss was about. I ran over to the Wizards website, and took a gander at all of the lists.

He was gushing about Ken Yukuhiro's very exciting Five-Color Fires deck, and immediately upon looking at it I saw that, like Ronny's build, it included the ability to ramp into an early Casualties of War, and it also included so many other ramping cards, it could play a non-Fire style game as well. Yukuhiro had made an exciting deck to be sure!

Here is his list:

I was excited by what Yukuhiro was doing, but I was curious if anyone else was doing a Fires/Ramp/Casualties build, as this was the thing I'd been most excited about in Standard for a good while (even if I'd largely been playing uw Control).

It turns out that there was exactly one other deck in the sixty-plus decks that was doing something similar. This deck was registered by none other than Shota Yasooka.

Where Yukuhiro used Escape to the Wilds to supply the ramp into Casualties of War turn, Yasooka used Golos, Tireless Pilgrim to accomplish the same task of the fast Casualties. The rest of his deck goes with a largely different philosophy, foregoing the quick mana creatures in favor of the otherwise gentle ramp of Beanstalk Giant to join with the Growth Spiral they both run.

Of the two decks, Ken Yukuhiro's is certainly the more wild one. Gilded Goose and Paradise Druid are not exactly the cards you want to be casting off of a Fires of Invention. At the same time, these two cards allow for the potential for a turn four or event turn five Niv-Mizzet Reborn. Frankly, that's a hell of a play, and it can easily mean playing a game that simply foregoes bothering with Fires of Invention. Similarly, Escape to the Wilds can fill up the coffers with lots of action, but Fires of Invention doesn't play perfectly well with it.

The end result is something of a deck that is capable of massive explosions in power, but then could gum up with extra action, and no ability to really use it all. Of course, that is a great place where one of the deck's backdoors can open things up: Teferi, Time Raveler to bounce Yukuhiro's own Fires of Invention can mean you have the ability to once again unload the works, potentially really letting you go over the top. Between Niv-Mizzet Reborn and Escape to the Wilds, there could be a great many options to choose from!

Niv-Mizzet Reborn
Escape to the Wilds

The deck is fully capable of casting Casualties of War many times because of those two cards pushing deep into the deck. While it doesn't have a Cavalier of Flames to clear out the hand from any "Green gunk" that might have built up, the sheer power of a Casualties of War - not to mention two - can be enough that something like Niv-Mizzet Reborn could just finish it before the opponent has recovered. The backup plans - a pair of Hydroid Krasis and a single Kenrith, the Returned King - serve the dual purposes of accelerating the kill and helping keep a full hand, but for the most part, Yukuhiro's plan is that Casualties of War plus whatever will carry the day.

Comparing this to Yasooka is quite interesting. Where Yukuhiro's deck is the more wild, Yasooka's deck is far more conservative. It doesn't do much to dally from the game plan aside from a pair of Time Wipes that seem like a much more sensible choice at this moment than what seem like the almost embarrassing Deafening Clarion.

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
Agent of Treachery

While this deck doesn't have the sheer number of ways to find and cast Casualties of War that is found in Yukuhiro's deck, it does have other cards which help push the resource-advantage theme. Agent of Treachery is a horrifying card for the near-mirror of Fires of Invention matchups, particularly if you've already ramped ahead with either Growth Spiral or Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Golos is particularly intriguing because the diversity in Yasooka's mana makes the seven mana mark very likely to make the terrifying activation of its ability a real possibility - making a sort of pseudo-Fires of Invention all on its own. This actually even feels like a plan capable of winning the game all on its own when you consider the power of many of the spells in the deck.

I think that these two decks are both capable of dominating the near-mirror with their backbreaking use of Casualties of War, and this card will similarly be excellent against the Food strategies that are popular as well. They both probably gain a lot from a metagame consideration since there are so few actual aggressive decks; by my count, only two or three decks actually look like full-on aggro decks, so their shirking of anti-aggro does not seem apt to punish them. On the other hand, Yukuhiro may end up the unwitting victim of the many Deafening Clarion that the more traditional Jeskai Fires have in their decks - at least in Game 1.

Of the two decks, I definitely find myself gravitating towards Yasooka's build, in large part because I don't like the semi-'non-bo' of Fires of Invention with the Green mana creatures in the early and mid-game, so Yasooka's feels more appealing in that regards. I do wonder if Yasooka's deck can be consistent enough in finding Fires of Invention without so much as a Shimmer of Possibility to help it get there, even when including Golos, Tireless Pilgrim at seven mana as a pseudo-Fires of Invention.

There are certainly other decks I'll be paying attention to during Mythic Championship VII - Ben Stark, Brad Nelson, and Esther Trujillo, especially - but I'm most excited to see these Five-Color Fires decks soar!

- Adrian Sullivan

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