Great Balls of Fire in Standard!

Light up your MTG Standard matches with the Great Balls of Fire strategy. Get deck insights, play tips, and ignite the battlefield!

Welcome Magic lovers!

As the Standard Regional Championship Qualifying season came to a close, we saw some incredible innovation as several new decks rose from obscurity to find their place among the top tier of the meta game. One such deck that I wrote about previously on this very site was the eventual winner of the $75,000 Standard tournament that took place at MagicCon Chicago at the end of February in the hands of the infamous Magic Online grinder, cftsoc. The deck was a 68-card monster that abused the synergy between Aftermath Analyst and Nissa, Resurgent Animist, in order to generate an arbitrarily large amount of mana then loop Jace, Perfected Mind and Takenuma, Abandoned Mire to mill the opponent out. Well, it turns out that cftsoc may have opened Pandora’s Box by showing the Magic world how busted Nissa and Analyst could be together, as another hot, new deck has emerged which utilizes the same mana generation engine.

Say hello to Temur Fireballs!

Total Cards:

The Set-up

Magic the Gathering Card - Aftermath Analyst - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Nissa, Resurgent Animist - MTG Circle

The deck is essentially a big-mana combo deck, although it starts off rather slowly. Playing no less than thirteen of the come-into-play-tapped sacrifice lands from Streets of New Capenna means there isn’t much to do on the first couple of turns except put tapped lands into play and put sacrifice lands into the graveyard. Sometimes a Kellen, Inquisitive Prodigy gets cast for its adventure side to ramp an additional land into play, but most often the deck is waiting until turn four to either activate an Aftermath Analyst or play Nissa, Resurgent Animist and then a sacrifice land, netting two mana and triggering Nissa to find an Elf and put it in hand. The only two elves in the deck are Aftermath Analyst and Nissa herself, allowing the pilot to find more Analysts relatively easily and keep activating them. Speaking of which, activating the Analyst’s ability is often enough all by itself to go from four, all the way up to eight or nine lands in play the turn after you use it, but with Nissa in play, each passel of sacrifice lands you force back into play generates two mana each; one when the land enters the battlefield, then another when the land it fetches out of the deck enters the battlefield. This often allows the deck to generate an enormous amount of mana in one turn.

The Payoff

Magic the Gathering Card - Worldsoul's Rage - MTG Circle

Alright, so what is the payoff for all this mana the deck is capable of making? A huge fireball to the opponent’s face, of course! The ‘fireball’ in this case being Worldsoul’s Rage, which not only does enough damage to kill the opponent in one or two casts, but also pulls all the lands out of the graveyard, which generates a ton of additional mana with Nissa, which finds Analyst, which makes more mana and…I think everybody knows how this movie ends. Bonus points for using seven mana along the way to cast Virtue of Strength, tripling the mana one can make in order to end things with just one cast of Worldsoul’s Rage. Finding the powerful burn/ramp spell is easily accomplished as the full four Memory Deluge do most of the heavy lifting, with an assist from Fallaji Archaeologist, and flashing them back is trivial when one has access to seventeen mana. In fact, seventeen is the total number of basic lands the deck is playing, and with the mana base consisting of nothing other than basic and sacrifice lands, this means that seventeen is the highest number of mana one can have in play without the assistance of Nissa or Virtue. This can come up often as one is trying to do the necessary math in order to kill opponents that have gained life, etc.

The Interaction

Magic the Gathering Card - Ill-Timed Explosion - MTG Circle

With regard to interaction, the deck runs a full playset of Ill-Timed Explosion as a sweeper and card advantage spell in one, and can often discard either a four-mana spell like Memory Deluge or another Ill-Timed Explosion to effectively handle early rushes, or can even go up to discarding a seven-mana Virtue of Strength to wipe opposing an Atraxa, Grand Unifier or large Raffine, Scheming Seer. Virtue of Strength can also return a Nissa that’s been killed or an Aftermath Analyst that’s been previously spent in order to keep goin. The single Shigeki, Jukai Visionary and Colossal Skyturtle loop with each other to provide the recursion necessary to beat removal, counter magic and discard from the more attrition-based opponents. Cycling a Shigeki for three or even four while still having the mana up to cast a massive Worldsoul’s Rage happens frequentl

The Board

Magic the Gathering Card - Abrade - MTG Circle

The sideboard is a nod to the deck’s two major weaknesses: aggressive strategies and dedicated graveyard hate. Often, Ill-Timed Explosion can simply be too slow, especially when on the draw against Boros Convoke or Mono-red Aggro, and while the sacrifice lands do gain a decent chunk of life, it won’t be enough against dedicated aggressive decks. This is where the three Vampire’s Vengeance come in. Effective against Boros Convoke, Mono-red Aggro, Dimir Tempo and Bant Toxic, this instant-speed sweeper is one of the only options the deck has to combat the aggro menace. Other sweepers like Brotherhood’s end being double red is a problem for the deck, as the deck plays zero dual lands and red is the least important color of the three. This makes fetching two basic mountains in the early game problematic as the deck is also trying to cast Memory Deluge on turn four. The full four Abrade show up here as both another way to deal with aggressive creature decks, and also as a way to combat graveyard hate like Unlicensed Hearse. Dedicated graveyard hate cards are clearly a problem for a deck trying to recur its lands out of the graveyard over and over again, which is why Abrade is so critical. A trio of Lithomantic Barrage are here to deal with the Esper Raffine decks, in addition to the white weenies of Boros Convoke. The pair of Negate are used to fight off the Azorius Control deck while the Doppelgang is insane in the Domain Ramp matchup. One simply hasn’t lived until one has cast a Doppelgang to put five Leyline Binding, five Archangel of Wrath, five Up the Beanstalk, five Topiary Stomper and five Atraxa, Grand Unifier into play.

The End

All told, Temur Fireballs is consistent, extremely powerful, and attacks on an axis that most decks are neither ready nor capable of dealing with. This makes it a potent option to add to the arsenal of Standard decks at one’s disposal. If you aren’t expecting a lot of dedicated graveyard hate out of the sideboards of your opponent’s decks, this may be a great choice for your next Standard tournament!

Take a look at a few of the matches with Temur Fireballs to see what it's capable of on the Magic Arena Ranked ladder!


VS Boros Convoke

VS Azorius Control

VS Dimir Midrange

Hi, I'm Damien! I'm a Canadian television and voice actor turned streamer! I've been playing Magic: the Gathering since the early 1990's when the game first released, and was heavily involved in competitive Magic for many years.

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