August 04, 2015

Acting on Impulse

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As a writer, I tend to be both plodding and deliberate. I can sit at my computer for hours, agonizing over the construction of a line or phrase, often feeling like I'll never get it right. I do the same thing when I build decks.

Not today. In honor of Chandra Week here on DailyMTG, I'm abandoning my normal writing process and embracing my impulsive side. No revisions. No overthinking things. It's fire logic time, and my ideas and emotions are about to flow freely onto the page. Here we go!

Chandra Ablaze | Art by Steve Argyle

I used to be incredibly at odds with my emotional side. I was in tune with the feelings of everyone around me, but I found it very difficult to control my own impulses. My teenage years were especially difficult. I had problems with authority, especially when I felt that said authority was unearned. I would stay up until three or four in the morning many nights, just so that I could sink deeper into the sad and beautiful music pulsing through my headphones. And while I never wound up in an actual fistfight, I slammed the door of my room so hard that I shattered the wood around the knob on two separate occasions.

Things are better as an adult, but I still find myself carried off by crashing waves of emotion from time to time. Sometimes, I don't even know that it's happening. I'll go on a ten-minute rant about something mundane, and one of my friends will remark that they didn't know I was so passionate about minor league baseball or which Onslaught booster pack has the best art. The truth is that being passionate and emotional about things is my default mode of operation. Detaching myself and establishing an objective viewpoint? That's hard.

You could say I've got some red mana running through my veins.

This is how Chandra operates. While red is often stereotyped as the color of anger, that's only a small piece of the puzzle. Red is passion, and with it come all the strengths, weaknesses, and contradictions of being an overly passionate person. The more you want to succeed, the harder it is to wait. The stronger you love, the deeper your potential for heartbreak.

Now that we're in a suitably Chandra-esque mindset, let's build her a deck. One of the ways to flip Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh, is to cast two red spells in the same turn. Good. Passionate and impulsive people like cheap spells. Let's do it:

 Acting on Impulse

Every card in this deck is related to Chandra, except for Lightning Bolt, which is quite possibly the most iconic red card of all time. I suggest using the Duel Decks: Jace vs. Chandra version of Incinerate, which has all-time great Chandra-related art. As far as basics go, I'm going to use Zendikar Mountain #244—I like using the full-art lands whenever possible, and Chandra spent some time on that plane. The other Zendikar Mountains depict either hedrons or some aspect of local life there, but the Veronique Mignaud Mountain feels beautifully alien and imposing—perfect for Chandra.

There isn't much subtlety at play here, which is the way Chandra likes it. The deck is simple, efficient, and brutal. Throw fire at your opponents. Throw fire at their creatures. The more fire you throw, the better your own creatures get. Keep casting spells until there's only one mage left alive.

The best card in the deck? Pyromancer's Gauntlet. I have two copies in here, because that's the maximum number that Chandra can wear at any given time. Feel free to add a third if you'd like to draw it more often, but that's not my style.

It's best to stay out of your own head while playing this deck. Unless you're trying to flip Chandra, cast as many spells as you can. Is your hand empty? Draw your cards face up and fire them off immediately. What you lose by revealing hidden information you'll gain back fivefold in style points.

Want to build around Chandra in Commander? No problem—I've got you covered:

 Commanding Fire

COMMANDER: Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh

Building a burn deck in Commander is hard. Small burn spells don't scale well, and you'll find the late game hard to win if all you're doing is trading your X spells 1-for-1 with your opponents' creatures. This deck attempts to get around that by trying to set the whole world on fire at once. Some cards in this deck double your damage, while others double your mana. Get one of each in play and suddenly your burn spells are capable of dealing with anything and everyone.

This deck runs almost every Chandra-related card I could find. I also included a few spells from other eras of Magic that can help you reenact key moments in Chandra's past. Want to re-enact Chandra's showdown at the Consuls' foundry? Shatterstorm is here to help. There hasn't been a card printed to represent the scroll Chandra stole from the Sanctum of Stars on Kephalai, but Cursed Scroll certainly fits the bill. It's also a wonderfully repeatable source of direct damage.

What are Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs and Heartless Hidetsugu doing here? They're not a hundred percent on-flavor, but they're great at keeping you alive while furthering your goals. The biggest reason I included them, though, is that they can act as alternative commanders if you get tired of playing as Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh. If you're going to be Chandra all the time, however, feel free to take those cards out and add in some additional burn. You can't go wrong with more fire!

This deck is very creature-light, and you're going to be outgunned on the board most of the time. Your best bet is to wield the deck like Chandra would. In a duel, start firing off burn spells right away and try not to ever let up. In a multiplayer game, be as reactionary as possible. If someone attacks you, kill their best creature and attack right back. You're not going to be able to take on multiple opponents at once, so you have to be smart about where you focus your fire. If you play things right, you'll be able to discourage others from coming after you while also focusing most of your energy on a single enemy.

Whew—is it getting hot in here, or is it just me? With all this talk of burn, I think I need to turn up the AC and grab a glass of ice water. In the meantime, I hope you're as fired up about these decks as I am!

—Chas Andres



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