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Budget Commander: Firesong and Sunspeaker ($100)

Traditionally speaking, Boros has promoted mostly just one archetype: Go Wide Aggro with Commanders like Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran, Adriana, Captain of the Guard, Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, Tajic, Blade of the Legion ... you get the picture. And while there's nothing wrong with Go Wide Aggro - I love playing it now and then - but forcing a color combination to be only about a single archetype is, well, boring. Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast has been offering some alternative archetypes as viable options for us Boros players: Depala, Pilot Exemplar lets us build around Dwarves and Vehicles, Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas encourages us to Go Tall instead of Go Wide, and my favorite oldie but bestie of the bunch, Brion Stoutarm, lets us Fling big ol' creatures at our opponents' faces while gaining life in the process!

The newest commander to join that list of alternative Boros archetypes to build around is Firesong and Sunspeaker:

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Firesong and Sunspeaker is a weird card when it comes to Boros. It takes the Lifelink aspect of White and pairs it up with the Burn of Red. This is a design space that has been explored only sparingly on a few cards, most notably from the Ravnica sets (Lightning Helix) and some random cards outside of there (Soulfire Grand Master). So at the very least, F&S is exciting because it pushes us to build around an archetype that Boros doesn't usually work with. But most exciting of all is that this is the closest we've gotten to a legendary version of Tamanoa, possibly the most popular/requested unofficial commander that unfortunately doesn't have the legendary type! Maybe we'll get that errata some day, but for now, Tamanoa fans can get excited for Firesong and Sunspeaker!

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Boros Lifegain Spellslinger

Firesong and Sunspeaker promotes a very specific type of deck to be built around it. You're encouraged to run instants and sorceries and the payoff is quite good, so we're definitely going for the Spellslinger archetype. We're going to play a lot of instants/sorceries that deal damage and gain us life and make them even better by running stuff like Primal Amulet, Pyromancer's Goggles, and Satyr Firedancer.

F&S lets us gain life from our burn spells and add some burn to our lifegain spells, so running a Lifegain theme is a no-brainer as well. We're going to be running the usual Lifegain staples like Well of Lost Dreams, have easy win conditions like Felidar Sovereign if we want, and also have some uniquely synergistic cards like Survival Cache to play with as well.

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Don't Play Bad Cards!

A lot of people are excited about Firesong and Sunspeaker, and they should be! I'm excited for them too! But I see a lot of excited brewers posting their F&S decks that run terrible, terrible cards: stuff like Healing Salve, Congregate, and Marrow Shards. Basically these people are looking at F&S and saying, "with this commander, all these bad cards are suddenly amazing!" No, they're not amazing, and you shouldn't be playing them.

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Some of these terrible cards are included due to misunderstanding of how the card works. For example, some people believe that Congregate's lifegain triggers Firesong and Sunspeaker separately "for each creature" but the rules in the Dominaria Release Notes state that life gained "for each" of something is gained as one event and F&S only triggers once. There's also the popular combo of Firesong and Sunspeaker + Spiritualize to gain infinite life and deal infinite damage, which has been hotly debated but also doesn't work.

Other card choices are just, well, bad: Healing Salve? Really? "But it turns into a Lightning Bolt with F&S out!" Yeah, but Lightning Bolt is terrible in this format and gaining 3 life on top of it doesn't suddenly change that fact. Don't run it.

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A lot of bad cards make their way into Firesong and Sunspeaker brews with the justification of, "When F&S is on the battlefield, this card is great!" Even if that were true, consider some important factors about this commander:

  • It has 6 cmc, which is on the high end for commanders
  • It does nothing on its own
  • It has zero built-in protection against removal

My point is that while it's possible that you just play F&S and it sticks around for the rest of the game, it's unlikely that will happen, so brewing a deck full of cards that are only good when F&S is on the table is a recipe of disappointment.

Instead of cramming your F&S decks full of cards that are utterly useless on their own (Chaplain's Blessing), consider running good cards that become great when your support cards like F&S are on the table! A prime example is Blasphemous Act: this card is already a staple in Red for being a consistent board wipe that can be played cheap, but when you give the card lifelink you're gaining absurd amounts of life! That's FANTASTIC! Basically all the Red Earthquake variants gain oodles and oodles of life thanks to F&S while being perfectly viable on their own.

And yes, there are cards that I wouldn't recommend you run in a vacuum but are just good enough to see play with Firesong and Sunspeaker: the cards are Lightning Helix and Warleader's Helix. Neither are great cards in Commander — basically worse Lightning Bolts that do not make a dent in the larger creatures or life totals, but being both Red and White make them scale wonderfully with F&S: Lightning Helix ends up dealing 9 damage and gaining 6 life, while Warleader's Helix does 12 and 8. That's just good enough of a payoff for me to recommend running them.

Alright, now that the "don't run bad cards" lecture is out of the way, let's focus on what cards we should be running!

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Watch the World Burn

We're playing Firesong and Sunspeaker Burn Lifegain Spellslinger. Step 1: Burn. The most efficient Burn spells end up being Mass Burn spells (Earthquake) so that will be our main focus. These spells usually deal damage to both creatures and players, which is a great way to keep the board clear of creatures and planeswalkers while also serving as a finisher by burning out our opponents!

Here are some of my favorite Burn cards under $5:

As you can see, we can dish out a ton of damage to everyone and everything! And as long as we're gaining some life back with Firesong and Sunspeaker or our other Lifegain cards (we'll talk about those later) we can burn out our opponents with a giant Earthquake while not worrying about killing ourselves in the process!

Special mention goes to the creatures that synergize so well with our Burn strategy: Neheb, the Eternal generates an absurd amount of mana for us to use, while Chandra's Spitfire and Anya, Merciless Angel quickly turn into one-shot finishers after we soften up our opponents a little.

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Always Wear Protection

Our Earthquakes are integral to our game plan since they perform double duty in this deck, removing creatures/planeswalkers and then eventually acting as our finishers if our opponents are low enough. Unfortunately these board wipes hit our own creatures as well, but we can actually get around this drawback and turn these global board wipes into amazing one-sided wipes. Here are our best options:

Alternatively, you can embrace the damage being dealt to all creatures by turning it into a benefit with cards like Stuffy Doll, Boros Reckoner, and Spitemare. Slap on a Darksteel Plate on the latter two and go to town! Keep in mind these cards do not work well with Mark of Asylum and similar effects, so avoid running both together.

Special mention on how to protect our commander, Firesong and Sunspeaker: honestly, I think a much better strategy is to build your deck in a way that it functions fine without F&S, which saves you from running a ton of cards devoted to protecting your commander. That said, every deck is happy to run Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots as flexible ways to protect your key creatures from targeted removal while also granting haste.

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So we're Earthquake'ing the board repeatedly, dishing out crazy damage everywhere. That's one part of the strategy. The other part is the Lifegain strategy that Firesong and Sunspeaker rewards us with: our burn spells now gain us tons of life, and our lifegain come with Lightning Bolts. We can build around both (with good cards!).

Nearly all the good Lifegain cards are either in White or Colorless. Red adds little, if any, good Lifegain cards: Lightning Helix and Warleader's Helix are the best of the bunch for this deck; Searing Meditation, and Brightflame cost too much mana to be worth it; Firemane Avenger and Balefire Liege are actually nice in a Go Wide deck if you take your deck in that direction, however. With that said, here are my top choices under $5:

You can make Lifegain the main focus of Firesong and Sunspeaker if you want, making the Burn strategy a secondary part of the deck. It's probably just as viable as the Burn strategy. My personal preference is running Lifegain as secondary, choosing a handful of the best cards to supplement our Burn strat.

Special mention to Angelheart Vial: yes, it's usually a terrible card, but in a deck full of Earthquakes it's actually not the worst! It's still not great, but if you're on a tight budget and can't afford the better Boros card draw like Wheel of Fortune it actually is an okay card draw engine.

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Finally we get to the Spellslinger aspect of Firesong and Sunspeaker. Since we're already jamming our deck full of instants and sorceries anyway to take advantage of F&S, it makes sense to look for other cards that can support them. Here are my favorite options under $5:

We have some solid options for much-needed card advantage with cards like Sunforger and Isochron Scepter. Token producers like Young Pyromancer and Blaze Commando can help us defend while dishing out damage. Finally cards like Primal Amulet, Pyromancer's Goggles, and Fire Servant allow us to quickly end games by copying our lethal Earthquakes.

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Putting It All Together: Budget F&S

This sample version of Firesong and Sunspeaker is a Burn Spellslinger deck with a Lifegain subtheme. Its goal is to keep casting Earthquakes to clear the board and eventually win by burning out our opponents.

The Game PlanEarly game you want to Ramp (13 sources) and then probably clear the board of early creatures with one of your Earthquakes (8 board wipes). We slowly develop our board and keep our hand refilled with steady sources of card draw (9 card draw), picking off any threats along the way (9 targeted removal). If we find one of our ways to make our own creatures immune to our own board wipes (3 immunities)  we can start smashing face with our creatures while keeping the board clear of any opposition. Otherwise, as long as we have the highest life total, we can cast a lethal Earthquake to kill off all our opponents thanks to damage doublers (4 doublers), big mana acceleration (2), or copying our Earthquakes (4).

So yeah, this is a Burn Midrange/Control deck!


Expensive Upgrades

Firesong and Sunspeaker, and unfortunately Boros in general, benefits quite a bit from a larger budget. Boros has always been the weakest color combination for things like ramp, card advantage, tutors, and recursion, but there are some pricey inclusions that can help you get around these issues. Here are my top card suggestions over $5:

  • Land Tax Package. Land Tax is a fantastic source of card advantage, but in Boros it's even better: we don't have access to much land ramp so the enchantment will be triggering consistently. For just one mana we're basically set for lands for the rest of the game while thinning our deck so we're more likely to draw gas. But even the extra lands sitting in our hand can be used for value as we can discard them to cycling cards like Faithless Looting and Jaya Ballard. Or we can trade them for gas with Scroll Rack!
  • Better Card Draw. Wheel of Fortune has seriously shot up in price these days but it's still one of the most efficient sources of card draw in these colors. Sword of Fire and Ice is a steady source of draw and the protection from Red is relevant in this deck. 
  • Dual Lands Best Lands. Sacred Foundry and Plateau (ouch, wallet!) hold tremendous value in Boros decks, not simply because they're good on their own, but counting as both Mountain and Plains means you can fetch them with Knight of the White Orchid and Tithe, turning those excellent cards into mana-fixing. They can also be fetched with all the fetchlands like Arid Mesa, which are also pricey but also the best lands to go into the deck alongside those two duals.
  • Great Utility Lands. Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Cavern of Souls help combat countermagic. Strip Mine and Wasteland deal with pesky lands. Ancient Tomb is sweet ramp and the damage taken is negligible in this deck. Searcj them up with Expedition Map.
  • Tutors, Tutors, Tutors. Gamble fetches whatever you need from the deck. Enlightened Tutor grabs a ton of your best cards, like Sunforger (which itself can tutor it!). Weathered Wayfarer gets your best lands. Steelshaper's Gift, Open the Armory, and Stoneforge Mystic all can tutor up important equipment like Sunforger. Imperial Recruiter and Recruiter of the Guard are also flexible tutors in the right deck.
  • Go Wide. If you want to push the Tokens strategy started by Young Pyromancer and Blaze Commando, you can also run Monastery Mentor for more Token goodness. If you do that then be sure to run Skullclamp alongside them, and if you want to pump up your token army then Archangel of Thune is a thematic and powerful way of doing so.
  • Isochron Scepter PackageIsochron Scepter is a very powerful engine that can do nasty things, but you need to run at least ~10 cards that can be imprinted on it or else you may end up having games where the Scepter just sits in your hand. Some of the more expensive cards, like Tithe and Enlightened Tutor, work with Scepter, so you get closer to making it viable. Remember to only run good cards and not add anything just for the sake of having more imprint targets for Scepter.
  • Better Recursion. Mizzix's Mastery is a powerful lategame spell that gains us a ton of value when overloaded.
  • The Best Protection. Teferi's Protection is my favorite card in the past year and you'll love it too. Cast it in response to any removal you don't like, or make your opponents unable to interact with your Felidar Sovereign until your upkeep step (aka the moment before you win).

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That's All, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed this take on Firesong and Sunspeaker. I plan on doing more Dominaria articles in the near future! As always, you can reach me in the comments section below, tweet me @BudgetCommander, or email me at !

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