The Toolbox - Fall to the Flame

(The Flame of Keld | Art by Lake Hurwitz)

This is Basically a Metal Band

Hello everybody and welcome back! For those new to the series, this is The Toolbox! Here we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they should be played. Yes, I do say ‘we’ because I want to hear what you all think as well; I am not always right. Please comment and share your thoughts about which cards we should discuss and where they should see more play!

In my last article I announced my first mini series, or as I'm calling it, “The Saga of Sagas!” I feel the Saga card type as a whole is underrepresented, and I'd like to use this series to change that. For this article, we're doubling up on two niche Sagas: Fall of the Thran and The Flame of Keld!

The Great Fall

… of Lands. It’s no secret that targeted land destruction can be strong (who doesn't love blowing up a Cabal Coffers?) but mass land destruction is really where things get powerful. The first chapter of Fall of the Thran is just a plain old Armageddon for six mana. This isn't great, but if you want loads of land destruction, it fits the bill. The second and third chapters backtrack a little on the first. The “benefit” is that each player gets to return two lands from their graveyard to the battlefield. I say “benefit” because it sadly affects each player, not just us. This is a fairly conditional card, and its power level can really rely on your commander.

On its EDHREC page, the commanders who most often run Fall of the Thran are:

Raff and Daxos are a little obvious, since they have direct synergy with historic or enchantment spells. Avacyn is a good fit too, making the Fall completely one-sided, and then returning more lands fromt he graveyard for you, like Wasteland and Strip Mine. Numot also shows up, since clearing up any pesky lands our opponents get back into play seems like a clear path to victory.

Selvala also shows up as a popyular commander for Fall of the Thran, though this seems like a budget inclusion. Then again, it could be just the thing needed to occasionally trip up the opposition. Finally, we also see Kaalia of the Vast, which famously uses Armageddon effects to deplete everyone's ability to stop her parade of completely free creatures. It also synergizes nicely with her common inclusions like Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Emeria Shepherd and Teferi's Protection.

These are great choices, but where else can Fall of the Thran make an impact?

Do You Even Lift, Bro?

Ah yes, the strongest of strong men in Magic, Brion Stoutarm! He has lifelink and literally just Flings creatures for one red mana. What more can you ask for in Boros? Card draw, you say? Oh. Yeah, you definitely aren’t getting that here. Sorry bud. I feel your pain.

How can Brion make use of the Thran? Destroying all lands tends to put a target on your head no matter what happens after that, but the land recursion from the second and third verses could be just enough to get the win. Brion deals with enormous creatures - Malignus, Serra Avatar, and so on - so destroying all lands gives you space to beat up your opponents with your insurmountably big creatures. Then, when lands start returning, use that mana to fling the monsters away for the final blow. What could possibly go wrong? It’s not like people run interaction or anything, right?

Even with my satire, it is a little bit more consistent because a deck like this is going to play lots and lots of mana rocks to power out those huge creatures. How wrong can you go with beefy, aggressive creatures and an Armageddon, anyway?

Manly Manly Man

Commander (1)
Creatures (21)
Artifacts (21)
Instants (8)
Sorceries (8)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (33)

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The Eternal Scumbag Ghost

That’s right, it’s Brago, King Eternal. As the title suggests, this card angers me a bit… okay, more than a bit. Honestly, there are some really cool and fun Brago decks, and I can respect that, but some are just so oppressive and take a very, very long time to slowly inch toward victory.

Fall of the Thran presents Brago the ability to stalemate his opposition, which I am fine with, as long as your win condition is not 'my opponents will concede out of boredom.'

I think you can see where I’m going with this; with Brago’s ability, we can blink Fall of the Thran every turn, and then, whoops! No lands for anyone! I think this reaches its full potential in the more aggressive versions of Brago, where they can really leverage being ahead on board and ending the game ASAP.

You could also hedge into this play a little more with things like Crucible of Worlds or even Avacyn, Angel of Hope. Again, you are typically running artifact ramp for Brago to repeatedly flicker each turn, so that also helps by being able to hold up a Counterspell to protect yourself from a Disenchant that could break your Thran lockdown.

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Burn it to the Ground!

Let's move now to our other underplayed Saga, The Flame of Keld.

I suppose we won't actually be burning things to the ground, since Fall of the Thran was just destroying the ground itself, but you get the point. We’ll actually be burning the cards in our hand to the ground with The Flame of Keld’s first chapter ability, because it literally says, “Discard your hand.” Plain and simple.

That's not a great start, but the second chapter lets us draw two more cards, and the third increases the damage output form our red sources for one turn. 

On paper, this card looks pretty bad. (The text, I mean. Lake Hurwitz's art is fantastic.) There’s a heavy downside, a minor card draw, and a rather underwhelming third chapter, but can we make this work to our advantage?

This Saga is incredibly underplayed. Even its most popular commander, Valduk, Keeper of the Flame, only plays it in 28 decks, a rate of about 20%. Like a Purphoros trigger, that's Shocking.

The Flame of Keld has thus far made its way into very aggressive decks like Valduk, Krenko, and Purphoros, which all want to go wide and really get the win with the third chapter; remember, chapter three increases damage from all red sources, not just red spells, so creatures and enchantments all add up. Chandra and Neheb, also popular commanders for this Saga, get value of the third ability as well, but the funniest is Hazoret, who actually wants to use the first chapter! The rest is just icing on the fiery cake.

I Choose Door Number Three!

That's right, it's the mono-red reanimator commander that doesn't actually Reanimate, Feldon of the Third Path! He wields a peculiar ability for red, creating an artifact token copy of a creature in our graveyard, which is then sacrificed at end of turn. I want to play this guy with Illusionist’s Bracers and Rings of Brighthearth out so badly, that just sounds like so much fun!

Because this is a reanimator commander, we need ways to get stuff into our graveyard, and The Flame of Keld is a great outlet. A primary criticism of Sagas is that your opponents can destroy them before they reach their final chapters. To that end, we want to front-load their value as much as we can. 

Such is the case with Feldon. Sometimes discarding our hand is all we need, and similar to Hazoret the Fervent, any other value is just icing on the cake. Discarding a hand with Etali, Primal Storm, Myr Battlesphere, or any number of other creatures, then reanimating them (well, is it reanimating, or tokening? How am I supposed to describe this?) to get instant value is absolutely worth it.

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We are Not Worthy! We are Not Worthy!

Indeed, we are not worthy compared to the Minotaur lord, Neheb, the Worthy! Neheb is peculiar commander who gives all Minotaurs first strike, plus an additional +2/+0 if we have one or fewer cards in hand. This is pretty good, but it keeps getting better, since he also forces everyone to discard a card when he deals combat damage to an opponent.

So when you want a commander that wants you to be 'heckbent' and there’s a card like The Flame of Keld that does exactly that - I think you can guess where I’m taking this - you play them together! Discarding our hand can give a quick boost to our Minotaur hoard to close out the game. On the next turn, we'll draw more cards, which could lose our +2/+0 buff, but if we can play them all quickly enough, chapter three will reward us with an even greater damage output! The extra damage really shines in this deck. The simple ability to beat in for even more damage is just what you need to end the game!

The Flame of Keld really works well with anything that wants you to have no cards in hand, or perhaps something like Archfiend of Ifnir or even Madness cards like Big Game Hunter! In fact, taking a leaf out of Feldon's book, it would even work really well in a fun reanimator brew built around Neheb's discard ability! Hmmm... to my playgroup at home, if you’re reading this, I promise I’m not thinking about reanimator.... Nothing will happen with this discarded Sheoldred, Whispering One, don’t worry about it. The decklist is definitely not a first draft of a Neheb Reanimator list. 

Totally Not Reanimator

Commander (1)
Creatures (31)
Instants (5)
Sorceries (18)
Artifacts (7)
Enchantments (6)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (31)

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Thank You!

Thank you all so much for reading. It’s been an absolute pleasure writing about the underrated Sagas and I am so excited for the saga of Sagas to continue!

What do you think about Fall of the Thran and The Flame of Keld? Which have been your favorite (or most hated) Sagas? Which one(s) should we discuss next? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, have a great day!

Elijah is a mildly obsessive EDH player from Georgia. He started playing during Battle for Zendikar with Green/Black Eldrazi Aristocrats and still pays tribute to the plane with his Omnath, Locus of Rage storm brew. He is always excited to innovate and try new things in Magic and Life. Elijah is currently a full time student looking to go into Computer Engineering but also has a bit of an artistic streak.