At Arena Boys headquarters, we’re always open to deck suggestions. Hell, you don’t even need a deck—just tell us which dumb cards or ridiculous interactions you’d like to see, and we’ll try to make it happen. That’s exactly what one astute viewer did, highlighting an incredibly potent two-card combo.
— SickerAndSadder (@SickerAndSadder) December 19, 2018
Getting to a three-figure life total is something any wizard of taste and refinement should seek to do, so we decided to clamber aboard these bucking bovines and trigger a mass extinction event… for value. Star of Extinction with Firesong and Sunspeaker out, assuming your opponent has any kind of board, will gain you a boatload of life, but that’s not all it does.
Back in Return to Ravnica Standard, casting Blasphemous Act with Boros Reckoner out would often win games out of nowhere. Today, there’s a (much jankier) analogue. While we’re playing Star of Extinction, why not include Truefire Captain? Dealing 20 to someone to finish them off in one fell swoop seems pretty hot, and as you see in the video, a lot more achievable than any of us would have guessed!
Firesong and Sunspeaker
There are three components to this deck: removal, ramp, and win conditions. The removal keeps you alive to deploy the ramp, which then powers out game-ending plays based around Star of Extinction (which is good in its own right against Standard’s various midrange decks).
The removal suite is reasonably straightforward. It’s designed to provide maximum interaction in the early turns, while also synergizing with Firesong and Sunspeaker later on in the game. In all honesty, this might not be the best version of the deck (even if it is the sweetest). Given the controlling role this deck is looking to take, it might be better to cut Lightning Strike and Integrity // Intervention for Firesong and Sunspeaker and Ixalan’s Binding, respectively.
Treasure Map continues to be underrated in Standard—regardless of what you’re playing, check if it has room for Treasure Map—and helps to both find and accelerate out massive threats. Pirate’s Pillage is another decent option, mitigating both mana flood and mana screw while at the same time ramping from 4 to 7 mana by turn 5. Nice!
The top end of the deck definitely does not feature the most optimal configuration of win conditions, but that’s hardly the point. Curving Firesong and Sunspeaker into Star of Extinction and putting yourself at an impossibly high life total is an incredible feeling, as is doming someone for 20 with Truefire Captain. Firesong and Sunspeaker also works exceptionally well with Deafening Clarion. The sheer amount of life you gain from these cards will lock up the game by buying you enough time to find the Star-plus-Captain combo.
This deck is actually just a Boros control deck with a combo-esque finish. An overwhelming amount of removal is designed to keep the board clear in the early turns, and then Truefire Captain plus Star of Extinction offers a one-shot kill (albeit usually spread across two turns). Firesong and Sunspeaker also effectively ends games by getting your life total to impossibly lofty heights.
For that reason, play as though you’re a traditional control deck. Answer threats aggressively, and know that they’ll probably run out of questions before you run out of answers. Deafening Clarion is one of the most important early game cards in this regard. Find the right balance between controlling the board and building towards your top end. For example, if you can clean up with a turn 3 Clarion, play Treasure Map instead of Lava Coil. If your Pirate’s Pillage ramps you to a turn-5 Star of Extinction, don’t bother holding up Settle the Wreckage.
Chances are, your late game is better than your opponent’s. There aren’t a lot of one-shot kills in Standard at the moment, and if your opponent undervalues your innocuous 4/3, you stand a good chance of winning the game shortly thereafter with a massive Star. It might feel as though you’re playing from behind a lot of the time, but the truth is this deck has incredible catch-up potential with life gain and the big combo finish, so it’s not the end of the world to be playing while under a clock.
Given the sheer amount of removal in this deck, it’s unsurprising to learn that you have a pretty good matchup against most decks playing to the board. Aggro decks will have a hard time punching through so much spot removal and multiple Clarions, while Star of Extinction eats midrange for breakfast. The problem—as ever, with Arena Boys decks—is control.
Against aggro, you don’t need to change too much. Bring in Invoke the Divine if you anticipate Experimental Frenzy, as it’s one of the few ways they can play catch-up after a sweeper, and an extra Seal Away or Settle is useful to keep the pressure down (you can trim Firesong and Sunspeaker and a Star). Ultimately, this deck has a great aggro matchup between all the sweepers and life gain—just don’t keep a clunky, do-nothing seven!
Midrange decks are largely the same. You’re going bigger than them, and are able to answer their threats relatively easily with Star of Extinction. The Immortal Sun is a good way to buy yourself further inevitability, and Settle performs better than some spot removal like Lava Coil. You can also bring in Karns against removal-heavy opponents who won’t leave a Truefire Captain alive to execute the combo, but it’s not entirely necessary.
As you might have guessed, most of the sideboard is for control. It’s not reasonable to expect that you can beat a grip full of counterspells with a clunky 6- and 7-drop combo, so you need to switch gears entirely. Cut all the dead removal (not Star of Extinction, though!), and bring in Adanto Vanguard and Legion Warboss to teach them a lesson. You’re not all-in on the aggro plan, however, as Karn, The Immortal Sun, and a massive Banefire all help to contest the late game by overloading your deck with threats.
Essentially, against control, you just jam threats large and small at every point on the curve and hope that one eventually sticks. Adanto Vanguard and Legion Warboss will do a great job if your opponent takes out all their removal, and if they have similar ideas and bring in their early threats, Star of Extinction stays in to trump them. Pivoting into a threat-dense deck like this is the best way to beat all their countermagic, and having diverse threats across creatures, planeswalkers, artifacts, and sorceries makes it all the better.
That’s it for this week. Next week, it’s time for our first video featuring cards from Ravnica Allegiance! We’re still hunting for decks with the new set, so remember to send them through to @thearenaboys for us to get across!