Tuesday, 25 October 2016
So they print Cathartic Reunion and apparently that is enough for me to want to build a Pyromancer's Goggle's deck! Goggles is an incredibly powerful card but it is far to hard to build around to be a good cube card. None the less, when you get an opportunity to build around a powerful card like this you can make some surprisingly unusual yet viable decks. This list certainly has weaknesses but you could adapt it to cover those to some degree (in some cases at least). Essentially this is a Fork themed deck that uses a selection of the most powerful cards you can Fork and the best tools to do it with. Goggle's is the most powerful of these effects but you need some more than just it to be able to justify all the synergy cards. Here I the list I recently built and played;
Spark of Creativity
Pillar of Flame
Talisman of Dominance
Talisman of Malice (Indulgence?)
Fire / Ice
Wheel of Fortune
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Chandra, the Firebrand
Daretti, Scrap Savant
Seat of the Synod
Vault of Whispers
Temple of Mystery
Dualcaster Mage is a one off value/trickery Fork. He is the only creature in this list which somewhat reduces the value of Kolgahn's Command. I wanted to try and fit in Combustible Gearhulk and Goblin Welder to work with Daretti (who was mainly just there to recur a Goggle's) and add a bit more angles of attack for the deck. Having never done something like this before I decided to keep the list as pure as possible for the purposes of testing and learning. Dualcaster is not a great card even in this deck because it is so much mana to Fork any of your own meaty spells with it. When you can use him it is a huge swing but you often have to use your cards before you have the spare mana to double them up as well. Dualcaster is a four drop if you are lucky, for the most part he is the top of this decks mana curve.
The cards that scale really well with Fork are those with additional requirements to cast and those that are burn plus card advantage. In the first camp we have Tormented Voice and its bigger brother Cathartic Reunion. We also have the convenient little Magmatic Insight. It is because of these three cards that the list is so heavy on mana sources. I have 16 lands plus 3 mana rocks as well as a whole bunch of draw and filter. Mostly I want to have spare mana sources so that I can be ditching those the vast majority of occasions. Given you have very little in the way of recursive threats you need to be somewhat careful about how you use your resources. If you throw too many actions cards in the bin and use a bunch of others on creatures you can find you simply don't have enough burn to finish them off. Should you manage to Fork any of those three cards you gain a huge influx of card advantage for very little mana. Tapping out on turn four to make a Goggle's and then using that to Magmatic Insight is one of the best things you can do. It is like getting to play with Ancestral Recall. When you do it with Cathartic Reunion it is like a maximum power Take Inventory. Although I have never cast that card in my life I have had enough Accumulated Knowledge casts for four to know how nutty that is!
If you have a deck full of cheap and powerful cards such as this then getting to use some of the most potent draw effects in the game in concert is about as good as you can hope for. Wheel of Fortune was likely overkill. I did cast it a couple of times and was glad of the refill but the deck really doesn't lack for card draw. The issue is being forced to use all your resources before you are setup and as such not be in a position to abuse your synergies. You are probably better off playing more things that improve your early game than cards like Wheel. Wheel can recover you but it is a big risk card in more than one way, it is far better if you don't need to recover in the first place!
The next batch of cards to be abused are the various two for one burn spells. Land a Fork on a Prophetic Bolt and you are so far ahead it is silly. The good thing about these kinds of card is that they let you interact and do stuff without Fork effects yet without emptying your hand of resources. These are the things you should be using freely rather than trying to hold back to combo with. The cheaper one mana burn spells are much better to try and hold onto as they will be the first cards to come online with the forks. After that it is the discard to draw stuff you want to hold as it is still nice and cheap but has the most extreme scaling. With these you should draw into more stuff you can Fork so it is no problem to have been controlling the board with all your Electrolyse and Prophetic Bolts prior to that.
The deck is essentially a control deck but rather than having a mix of spot removal, mass removal and threats like a normal control deck this just has burn for all the roles! Certainly it has a couple of burn spells you can use as sweepers and that is a good way to stay ahead against the aggressive decks. While you can be more efficient with how you chose to use your cards as you have more that do comparable things to chose from at any given time you generally have less efficient cards to work with. Plow, Path, Wrath, Damnation and the like deal with things a lot more reliably that burn does. A deck relying on burn for removal has to really consider what threats it might face, how to apportion removal to them and when it is time to start aiming things face because even though you can remove the thing it will set you back so much in doing so that you will lose anyway if you do.
Devil's Play is your big finisher, it is quite possible for it do do 20-0 in one hit. It means you can afford to send most of your other burn at dorks if that is keeping you at least even in the game. It is doubly good in that you can ditch it early when it is weakest and still get to use it as your finisher. I wanted to include Fireblast as another big finisher because Forking free cards is super easy to do. The problem with Fireblast is that you simply can't use it and not kill yourself until very near the end of the game.
Old(er) Chandra is pretty much the next best fork on offer after the Goggle's and so was pretty much a lock in. Much as I don't love playing multiple copies of planeswalker in a 40 card deck Torch of Defiance is too powerful to miss out on, especially when you have a rare example of a red deck on the midrange to control end of the spectrum in which she is best suited. Although Chandra Firebrand is a reasonable Fork effect she is far from the Goggle's in terms of build around power. She is just a mild support card in a Goggle's deck. I needed ways to find my Goggle's else this deck is decidedly low power. Fabriacate is viable but painfully slow. Black tutoring is better but it was even more of a light splash. Tinker is very powerful but unreliable with my low artifact count and makes me even more vulnerable to countermagic (if that is possible when already running Cathartic Reunion). I was not about to be playing Gamble and so I went with the new Inventor's Fair. Unlike Fabricate it is not just a dead card if you have your Goggle's. The mana base supported more colourless lands fine and bit of bonus life is very welcome. While far less reliable than Tinker for getting Goggles (what with needing three times the artifacts and over three times the mana, all be it over two turns on the latter account) the Inventor's Fair was far more suited to the slower, tighter style of the deck. It was not a dead card, it was not a risk and it added a bunch of value and utility to the list without harming the mana base (yes, including enough sources of black or blue for Deomic Tutor or Tinker respectively is more onerous on this deck than turning a mountian into a colourless land. Perhaps not necessarily in both speed and consistency but certainly one or the other). The Fair would have been significantly better with even just a couple more main deck artifacts but it still did a bit of tutoring a gained me a couple of not irrelevant life.
Spark of Creativity was the silliest card in the deck. I had not yet had a chance to play with it and felt it would suit this kind of deck better than most. Often I needed to kill something but had enough options that I could take a punt with the Spark and not harm myself at all if it missed. Due to good redundancy in my deck the unreliability of the Spark was not too much of a problem. Despite this it still wasn't good. Neither effect is powerful, just fine. Not really having the choice on them makes it pretty terrible. I lucked out once and hit a land when I needed and was glad of it not being just a burn spell then but this just makes me think Forgotten Cave would have been better. Forking it made it better too, it was more consistently able to kill things and gain you some value but still, not a card I am likely to play ever again, certainly not without all the top of deck manipulation you can pack into a cube deck. Basically, unless it is worth it in a miracles deck the card is fairly useless. A real shame as it is so cool design wise. It it close looking to the kind of card red wants but in reality it falls a long way short. Very much the first card you cut from this list.
Overall I was very impressed with the power of this deck. It seemed to utterly crush any aggressive creature strategy, even those using resilliant dorks, fat dorks and two for one dorks. Sadly it is too weak against countermagic and discard to be viable in most settings. I am not entirely sure as yet how you would make it better against these common problem cards. Perhaps it is just a deck you can only wheel out in very rare occasions when you are not facing very much of that sort of thing. As ever with this sort of deck the ability to play a different sort of game with an unusual deck crammed full of unusual cards and synergies is the biggest reason to be doing this. I had lots of fun, managed to go fairly evenly on wins and losses and got to do loads of cool stuff. I have made many experimental decks before and failed to get a look in. When your deck is so weak it loses before it does its thing it is neither fun nor viable. A little like my Aetherworks Marvel deck, this isn't good enough to be tier one but it is easily good enough to get a good game of magic. It might not always win but it will at least do its thing most games. It turns out I like to draw 4 and 6 cards for one and two mana much more than I like making a turn four Eldrazi. It turns out I also quite like double Forking a seven point Fireball (Devil's Play) for 21-0 out of nowhere!