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Vikings Gone Wild: Masters of Elements
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One of the big questions upon the release of Kaladesh was how good Chandra, Torch of Defiance was going to be. This is only the second Planeswalker with four abilities we’ve ever seen, and the first one is one of the best cards ever to be printed. Some suspected that this would single-handedly push Red strategies into the top tier of Standard. Others immediately started speculating on Chandra’s applications in eternal formats. In the first week of Kaladesh being on Magic Online, MDA11 has put up a great finish with Chandra in Legacy.


Imperial Painter is a deck that seems fairly innocuous, but fundamentally tries to avoid playing a substantive game of Magic. Your goal is to prevent your opponent from interacting in any meaningful way. Against creature decks, you’ve got Ensnaring Bridge. Against midrange and control, you can lock them out with Blood Moon or set up the Painter's Servant plus Grindstone combo kill. In slower games, you can use Painter's Servant to turn all of your Red Elemental Blasts and Pyroblasts into the best one-mana interaction that’s ever been printed.

It turns out that, in a deck packed with Ancient Tombs and Lotus Petals, Chandra, Torch of Defiance is an absurd way to get on the board early in a way that’s meaningful in every matchup. Some builds played cards like Koth of the Hammer in that slot previously, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance is an enormous upgrade in almost every way. You have a meaningful way of interacting with the board which can also generate mana on turns that you need it or slowly generate card advantage while killing your opponent once they’re locked under a Blood Moon or Ensnaring Bridge.

The raw flexibility of Chandra, Torch of Defiance may give her a home in goodstuff decks like Jund or Grixis control in Modern. But she really shines in a deck that is capable of powering her out early and really taking advantage of all of her effects. This style of deck, which can use lock pieces to protect her or use her to create openings to jam a combo kill, may just be the best kind of home for Chandra, Torch of Defiance and gives a great framework to understand where else she might be similarly impactful.


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