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Budget Magic: $67 (15 tix) Wildfire (Modern)


Эзен, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! The countdown to Ixalan is on, but as we wait for the Standard format to rotate, we are heading to Modern this week to play one of my favorite kinds of decks. My basic theory of Magic is that fun is a zero-sum game, so the way we can have the most fun is by making sure our opponent has as little fun as possible. One of the best ways to take away an opponent's fun is to blow up all of their lands, ensuring they can't cast any of the sweet spells in their hand. In Modern, this can be tricky, since we don't have a real Armageddon; however, we do have a couple of red substitutes in Wildfire and Destructive Force! In theory, if we can ramp into these expensive sorceries quickly enough, we can not only destroy all of our opponent's lands but sweep away their creatures as well, which means if we can build our deck in a way that breaks the symmetry, we should be able to win at our leisure! Can a deck built around Wildfire work in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

First, a quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Modern Wildfire (Deck Tech)

Budget Magic: Wildfire vs. Kiki Evolution (Match 1)

Budget Magic: Wildfire vs. Merfolk (Match 2)

Budget Magic: Wildfire vs. Abzan Company (Match 3)

Budget Magic: Wildfire vs. Mindcrank Combo (Match 4)

Budget Magic: Wildfire vs. Titan Shift (Match 5)

The Deck

The basic idea of Wildfire is simple: we're trying to ramp into a Wildfire as quickly as possible to sweep away all of the creatures and lands on the battlefield, while also breaking the symmetry of Wildfire by having a lot of non-land mana sources, which should allow us to close out the game while our opponent is trying desperately to top-deck lands and rebuild their board. The deck breaks down into four parts: Wildfires, ramp, finishers, and support cards.

Wildfires

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Wildfire and Destructive Force are essentially the same card in our deck—if we can ramp into either one of them quickly enough (usually by Turn 4 for Wildfire or Turn 5 for Destructive Force), we completely reset the board, not just of creatures but of lands as well. Against creature decks, either of our Wildfires should be game over most of the time. Not only are they Wrath of Gods, but the land-destruction aspect means that our opponent can't refill their board very easily, instead having to wait until they draw lands to cast their creatures. Against spell-based decks, we're mostly hoping that the land-destruction part of Wildfire is good enough. In theory, if we can cast a Wildfire early enough, decks like Storm and Ad Nauseam have a hard time winning, since they don't have the mana they need to combo off. As good as our Wildfires are, there is always the risk that our opponent has a creature that is big enough to survive the damage (like a Reality Smasher, Death's Shadow, or Tarmogoyf), and we are in serious trouble if our opponent has even one creature left over after a Wildfire. The good news is we have a solution to this problem.

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When we run into a situation where one Wildfire isn't enough to completely reset the board, we simply cast two Wildfires instead by copying the original with Pyromancer's Goggles! One of the easiest ways to break the symmetry of Wildfire is to use artifacts for mana rather than lands, since our Wildfires don't blow up artifacts. While Pyromancer's Goggles isn't one of our better ramp spells since it's a bit expensive, the ability to copy our spells for free is extremely powerful. Even apart from doubling up Wildfire, we can also use Pyromancer's Goggles after Wildfire to close out the game with burn spells like Lightning Bolt or to refill our hand with Tormenting Voice

Ramp

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Ramp is our primary way to break the symmetry of Wildfire, although we have a trick with our mana base as well. We only have 15 actual lands in our deck, which is an absurdly low number for any deck but especially crazy when you consider we are built around six- and seven-mana spells. The reason we can get away with such a low land count is because we have eight Borderposts. Veinfire Borderpost and Firewild Borderpost are essentially lands that enter the battlefield tapped, while also surviving our Wildfires. Even better, when we play them for one mana, we get to bounce a basic land back to our hand, which is actually a good thing, since it makes sure we have as few real lands on the battlefield as possible when we resolve our Wildfires. Of course, using Borderposts as lands does come with a bit of risk—artifact destruction like Ancient Grudge and Wear // Tear turn into Sinkholes, while we are also pretty weak to Stony Silence after sideboarding. This being said, the upside is huge, which makes our Veinfire Borderposts and Firewild Borderposts worth the risk. 

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Apart from our Borderposts, we have a bunch of two-mana artifact ramp spells, which help us ramp into our Wildfires as quickly as possible while also giving us even more mana sources that remain on the battlefield after Wildfire. The combination of Mind Stone, Guardian Idol, Everflowing Chalice, and our Borderposts means that it's pretty common that we untap with at least three or four mana the turn after we blow up all the lands with Wildfire. All of our two-mana ramp spells also have some sort of upside. Mind Stone can turn into another card in the late game when we have plenty of mana or when we are desperately digging for an answer to one of our opponent's threats. Everflowing Chalice occasionally adds two or three mana thanks to multikicker, and Guardian Idol is one of our primary finishers. While it might sound strange, a Guardian Idol or two is often enough to close out the game post-Wildfire while our opponent is trying to rebuild their board.

Finishers

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While Guardian Idol beats are helpful, thankfully we don't have to rely on hitting for two damage for 10 turns to close out the game. In fact, our best finishers are a couple of Chandra planeswalkers. As far as closing out the game, Chandra, Flamecaller is the best option, since it presents such a fast clock, hitting for six the turn it comes down and six more each turn afterwards until our opponent is dead. We can also use the X ability to sweep away our opponent's board or just the zero ability to improve our hand by getting rid of ramp and lands, which are often useless in the late game. 

While not as efficient at closing out the game as Chandra, Flamecaller, Chandra, Pyromaster is great in our deck because it's another key piece to breaking the symmetry of Wildfire. Since she is only four mana, we can often get her on the battlefield before Wildfire, and then after we resolve Wildfire, we can zero every turn to draw an extra card, which helps us rebuild our board faster than our opponent can rebuild theirs, while also helping us find more Wildfires in case our opponent happens to draw a couple of lands. Chandra, Pyromaster can also close out the game on her own by ticking up for a damage each turn before ultimating to deal nine damage if we hit a Lightning Bolt.

Support Cards

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The biggest challenge for our deck is to make sure we stay alive long enough to cast Wildfire. While we can Wildfire as early as Turn 4 when things go well, sometimes we need to buy ourselves an extra turn or two, which is where our other removal spells come in. Lightning Bolt gives us a great answer to aggressive Turn 1 threats like Goblin Guide and Monastery Swiftspear, while turning into a finisher in the late game with the help of Pyromancer's Goggles. Roast helps us deal with bigger creatures like Reality Smasher and Tarmogoyf, and can help clean things up after a Wildfire if a creature happens to survive. Finally, Anger of the Gods gives us a cheap sweeper and is especially devastating when we happen to double it up with Pyromancer's Goggles

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Last but not least, we have a couple of copies of Tormenting Voice, which don't have any real specific purpose but provide good value throughout the game. They are insane with Pyromancer's Goggles when we get to discard one and draw four for just two mana, while in the early game, we can dig for lands or ramp. It's also worth mentioning that like most ramp decks, we occasionally draw the wrong half or out deck (either all ramp and no finishers or all finishers and no ramp), and having a bit of filtering is helpful in smoothing things out.

The Sideboard

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Most of the sideboard is self explanatory, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about Orbs of Warding. While a single Wildfire is game over against a lot of decks, this isn't true of every deck. Take Burn, for example. Against Burn, we can Wildfire away the opponent's board and lands, but they only need to draw a single land to start throwing Lightning Bolts and Lava Spikes at our face to close out the game. Orbs of Warding helps solve this problem by giving us hexproof so our opponent can't target us with their burn, while also being relevant against combo (preventing Conflagrate, Lightning Storm, and Grapeshot kills), heavy discard decks (with Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek), and even go-wide small-creature decks (like Goblins or BW Tokens). Basically, Orbs of Warding goes a long way toward shoring up a lot of our bad matchups and gives us something good to bring in against decks where our removal (like Roast and Anger of the Gods) is bad. 

Wrap-Up

All in all, we finished 3-2 in our video matchups and also lost an additional match against 8-Whack Goblins, where I messed up the recording. Most importantly, the deck was a blast to play. No one expects to get Wildfired in Modern, and the results were often devastating. Based on our matches, our deck felt really, really strong against anything trying to win with creatures. We crushed Kiki Evolution; beat Merfolk, even through the super-annoying Master of Waves (more on this in a minute); and put up quite the fight against Abzan Company, even while mulliganing into oblivion. On the other hand, I'm not sure about out matchup against unfair decks. On paper, Wildfire should be able to beat decks like Ad Nauseam and maybe even Storm with some luck, and while we did beat Mindcrank combo, things didn't go very well against Titan Shift, which managed to ramp so much that our Wildfire wasn't enough (although I'd like to play that matchup some more, because it's hard to believe a deck looking to win with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle doesn't care about sacrificing all of their lands).

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As for changes I'd make now that we've played our matches, the biggest would be including something to deal with creatures with protection from red like Master of Waves and Kor Firewalker. My first thought was Dismember, but Spatial Contortion might be even better, since we have quite a few colorless sources thanks to our artifact mana, and Spatial Contortion takes care of Etched Champion as well as the pro-red creatures. Another big issue for our deck is Stony Silence, which can beat us all by itself, since it locks down all of our artifact mana. Unfortunately, we don't have have a good answer for the enchantment in red. While there are answers, they require splashing another color, which makes the deck much less budget friendly, so at this point, we are mostly left hoping our opponent doesn't have access to Stony Silence or that we can stick a big finisher or Wildfire before they draw it.

Ultra-Budget Wildfire

No ultra-budget build this week. $66 is about as cheap as it gets for Modern. If you are looking to trim down the price even more, you could cut the Lightning Bolts for Incinerate or trim back on the Pithing Needles or Blasphemous Acts in the sideboard, which would get the deck down into the $50 range, but losing Lightning Bolt specifically would really hurt the deck.

Non-Budget WR Wildfire

If we don't care about budget, it's almost certainly correct to add another color to give us an out to Stony Silence. White is probably the best option because along with good enchantment removal, we also get a ton of sweet sideboard options and even some good main-deck additions. Lightning Helix is great with Pyromancer's Goggles, and if we run it over Lightning Bolt, we actually have zero one-converted-mana-cost cards, which means we can run Chalice of the Void as a way to lock Burn spells and discard out of the game, to shore up some of our worst matchups. In the sideboard, we get Leyline of Sanctity as an upgraded Orbs of Warding, Wear // Tear to solve the Stony Silence problem, Path to Exile and Wrath of God to deal with protection-from-red creatures (and also aggro decks), and even Blood Moon as an additional way to attack our opponent's lands. While going white adds a ton to the price of the deck, it also makes the deck a lot more competitive by solving a lot of its biggest problems. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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