zaterdag 24 december 2016

Card Spotlight: Fires of Yavimaya

On this beautiful Day before Christmas, what better time to celebrate talking about one of my favorite cards. It's cold outside, inside the warm glow around the Christmas Tree.

I started playing competitive Magic around 2000/2001. Urza's Block/Masques Block was the T2 format. Then Invasion got released, bumping Urza's Block out of the way, and introducing one of the staples of that particular Standard format: Fires of Yavimaya.

When a card has a whole archetype named after it, you know you've got something powerful on your hands. According to the MTGSalvation Wiki, it was 'the deck to beat going into the 2001 World Championships'. A version splashing black even reached the quarterfinals in the hands of Jan Tomcani.

The deck was a Red/Green aggressive midrange deck that abused the interaction between fading and haste, essentially giving an extra attack to creature that weren't supposed to have that attack. Llanowar Elves, into Fires, into Blastoderm, into Saproling Burst (removing 3 counters) was the most aggressive opening the deck was capable of. This little sequence was good for a turn 4 kill.

Lucky for us, all of the cards that made that deck great - except Saproling Burst - are legal in peasant. We have mana elves, good 4-drop beaters, efficient burn to finish the game, Flametongue Kavu.

The catch, sadly, is that the deck's namesake card is only a 1-of. Well, if you look at the typical Fires of Yavimaya deck, but take Fires of Yavimaya out of the equation...
Mana elves, midrange fatties, efficient burn. Yep, sounds like a typical and very solid Gruul Midrange deck to me.

Want to make the Fires deck more consistent so that it turns more into an archetype than a fun single build-around card? Cards like Lightning GreavesLightning Mauler and Reckless Charge are great ways to mimic the power of Fires.

Fires of Yavimaya slots perfectly into Gruul decks with mana elves that look to curve out into 3-4-5 drops. Green midrange already has the ability to go bigger faster because of its mana ramp, but adding haste turns it up to eleven. The combination of Elf+Fires turns a midrange deck into an aggro deck, combining the speed of aggro with the size of midrange.

Against aggro decks that are lower to the ground, the card is at its worst. Taking a turn off on turn 2 or 3 to cast something that doesn't directly affect the board is a huge cost. Against other midrange and/or control decks it may look like you're taking a turn off, but you get a pretty big boost by making your damage output more unpredictable.

I really enjoy playing with Fires of Yavimaya as subtle build-around card that feels and plays out very Gruul-like. The fact that you don't have to go out of your way to support it sets it apart from other build-arounds and makes it a great fit for any peasant cube with an available guild slot.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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