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Goldfish Gladiators: Firesong and Sunspeaker Control (Arena)

Welcome to Goldfish Gladiator, a new series with a twist: rather than taking place on Magic Online, Goldfish Gladiator is focused on Magic Arena. If you aren't familiar with Magic Arena, it's the next digital Magic client (currently in beta). While Magic Arena will eventually have normal Standard just like paper and Magic Online, it has a unique format right now, highlighted by the lack of Kaladesh block and a best-of-one (no sideboards) tournament structure, which means deck building is slightly different (so you probably don't want to build today's deck card-for-card on Magic Online or in paper).

One of the weird quirks of the Arena metagame is that it's infested by aggro decks. There are a few reasons for this, but the two big ones are that aggro decks tend to be cheaper to build (since they require fewer rares and mythics) and because Arena rewards playing as many games as possible as quickly as possible to help achieve various quests to earn gold and packs (for example, going 2-1 with an aggro deck is more beneficial than going 1-0 with a control deck in the same amount of time). With this in mind, our deck this week—Firesong and Sunspeaker Control—is designed to be the aggro assassin. While control can be hard, the idea is that you can have a very strong deck on Arena simply be crushing every aggro deck you run into, even if the control matchup is a bit shaky. The deck is super awesome, and I think it's actually very strong in the current meta, but enough of my ramblings—let's get to the gameplay so you can see it in action!

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Much Abrew: Firesong and Sunspeaker Control (MTG Arena)


  • First off, the record. We ended up going 5-3, with the matchups breaking down in a pretty predictable way: we beat every non-UW Control deck pretty easily and lost to UW Control three times.
  • As far as aggro, it's extremely hard to lose with this deck. I've still been playing the deck, and at this point, I'm up to nearly 20 matches and have not lost to a non-UW Control deck a single time. While it's impossible to go undefeated over the long run (even in really good matchups) thanks to the natural variance of Magic, the deck is an amazingly huge favorite against all of the popular aggro decks in the format.
  • As for control, the matchup isn't great, but it's also not as bad as it looked in our quick constructed tournament. The key is having a Treasure Map or Azor's Gateway on Turn 2 to keep up on cards. That didn't happen a single time in our league (and we also mulled to five in one of our control matches). While F&S Control isn't favored against UW, it's closer to than it looked on video. 
  • As such, probably the easiest way to improve the deck is to cut a bit of the aggro-focused stuff and add in more cards that are good against control. In theory, our aggro matchup is so good that even if we cut two or three cards designed for those matchups, we'd still be a heavy favorite, and adding two or three more control cards would push that matchup closer to 50 / 50. If we can beat aggro nearly every time and go 50 / 50 against control, we should be able to consistently get six or seven wins with the deck, considering how heavily the Arena meta is skewed toward aggro decks.
  • I've made a few small changes since recording the video, cutting two Firesong and Sunspeaker and one Seal Away for the fourth copy of Cast Out and two Ixalan's Bindings. 
  • Another possibility is to splash blue in the deck. While it would make the deck even more expensive (which would be rough, considering Firesong and Sunspeaker Control is already expensive for an Arena deck), having some counters and maybe our own copies of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria would go a long way against opposing control decks. 
  • As far as playing the deck, it's pretty simple. We simply kill all of our opponent's stuff. Eventually, we land a Sweltering Suns, Hour of Devastation, or Star of Extinction with a Firesong and Sunspeaker on the battlefield, and a huge percentage of decks in the Magic Arena metagame simply can't win. Against control, the key is resolving something that generates card advantage (like Karn, Scion of Urza, Azor's Gateway, or Treasure Map) and then trying to keep opposing planeswalkers under control until we can ride a Lyra Dawnbringer (or Karn Construct tokens) to victory. 
  • So, where does this leave us with Firesong and Sunspeaker Control? In some ways, it's a metagame deck. It will get a lot worse if UW Teferi Control becomes the most played deck on Magic Arena (although this probably won't happen, since there's such a huge incentive to play aggro on Arena), but for now, with Mono-Red, Vampires, and Merfolk being near the top of the heap, F&S Control is in a great place. Plus, it's a ton of fun—casting a Star of Extinction with a bunch of creatures and a Firesong and Sunspeaker on the battlefield has to be one of the sweetest things you can do in Magic Arena Standard!


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  • Rares: 21—Of the 21 rares, Sweltering Suns, Hour of Devastation, and Treasure Map are the foundation of the deck and can't really be substituted. Clifftop Retreat really helps the mana base, but you could play without it in a pinch by adding more copies of Evolving Wilds and more basic lands. Going down a couple of Firesong and Sunspeaker is a good idea even without budget being a concern, since it isn't very good against control and we occasionally get stuck with too many in hand (also, keep in mind that you can get some free copies of Firesong and Sunspeaker if you buy the big bundles of Dominaria boosters). Meanwhile, the one Shalai, Voice of Plenty is a solid one-of, but you could easily play something else in that slot (probably just another removal spell) if you are short on wildcards; just make sure to not cut too many finishers because we do have to kill our opponent eventually, even if we manage to gain hundreds of life.


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

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