The Toolbox – Fires of Invention

(Fires of Invention | By Stanton Feng)

So Good that it’s Banned!

Welcome back to The Toolbox! Here, we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they ought to see more play. Today we’re taking a look at a card so powerful that it has banned in two other formats: Fires of Invention!

Throne of Eldraine brought some pretty notable inclusions to Commander with The Great Henge, Arcane Signet, Oko, Thief of Crowns, and more, but some others went under the radar. I believe that Fires of Invention is one of these underrated cards because of how much it lets you cheat on mana by getting two free spells a turn. An important note is that you can still pay mana to cast your two spells, in case of X-spells or not having enough lands, but having other mana sources. While there is a downside to only being able to cast them on your turn, and a small restriction on the converted cost of the free spells, our format is not known for letting a restriction hold a card back. Restriction breeds creativity, after all. So let’s take a look at the main commanders from the EDHREC page to see where Fires of Invention is played already!

The pretty unifying aspect of all of these commanders is that they’re all stapled to a mana sink. Two spells a turn will usually not win in Commander though, so decks that play Fires need a way to use their lands to keep pace in a game of Commander. Purphoros does this by free casting threats like Etali, Primal Storm, while cheating more out with Purphoros’s ability!

Then there’s Kumano, who can cast damage-doublers like Gratuitous Violence to then wipe the board with his ping ability. Finally, Hazoret wants to empty her hand already, so being able to cast spells for free while also discarding useless cards for damage is exactly what this deck wants.

In a format like Commander, limiting yourself to two spells is very risky. They either have to have an extreme impact on the game, or you need to be able to get advantages past just the spells you cast. So let’s take a look at where else Fires of Invention is worth a slot.

It Will be Legendary!

Sisay, Weatherlight Captain is probably my favorite commander from the last year. Her toolbox ability and scaling with the number of colors among legendary permanents on her board make her a powerful general in the early and late game. Being able to play at instant speed also gives a different angle of attack from other toolbox decks which is what makes her such an interesting commander to me. Let’s take a look at why I think she should be running Fires of Invention.

Let me just say, it’s not hard to ramp once in the first couple of turns to cast Fires and free roll Sisay on turn three. It also sets up your next turn perfectly, letting you cast a couple legends for free, while still holding up mana for a Sisay activation! For the creature-based decks, this means that you can find a Shalai, Voice of Plenty to blank a removal spell, Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero to protect from a Wrath of God, and many more utility creatures from your toolbox to solve any problem.

I think that even the planeswalker-based Sisay decks have similar applications with the static abilitywalkers such as the infamous Teferi, Time Raveler. Some possible toolbox tutor options are Narset, Parter of Veils, so you can be the only one to benefit off of a Wheel of Fortune, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales to protect from an All is Dust, and you can even save yourself from a Comet Storm with The Wanderer!

It may seem a bit redundant to go through all these examples, but doing so illustrates how powerful it is to keep progressing your board with two spells a turn while still keeping mana up to interact with Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. Having Fires of Invention out with Sisay and only five lands effectively gets you three spells of value a turn. If you’re still missing how powerful it is, take a look at the decklist!

The Dragon Warrior

Commander (1)
Creatures (23)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (8)
Artifacts (10)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (9)
Lands (36)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

The Gift of Invention

It may not be the holidays, but Zedruu the Greathearted players still feel in the mood to keep giving. Zedruu is all about donating to the opponents, which can be very neutral with a Howling Mine or very mean with an Aggressive Mining. I actually got the inspiration on pairing Fires with Zedruu from Doug’s Throne of Eldraine set review, so let’s see if we’re right to pair them together.

There’s the obvious interaction of effectively being able to give someone an Aggressive Mining for three mana, and you can even tutor for it with Wild Research. Depending on the list, though, Zedruu can have a pretty heavy interactive suite of Counterspells and Generous Gifts, so losing the ability to cast instant-speed spells does actually have a pretty significant cost with her. Luckily, Zedruu herself gives an out by being able to gift Fires to another player after getting some free spells. You can even do this at instant speed to shut someone down from going off with Storm, shut someone down from interacting, or interact out of nowhere!

The way this deck wins is by getting value over time with Zedruu, then stealing a win out of nowhere, and Fires is the perfect card for it. Just take a look at the decklist!

Sharing and Caring

Commander (1)
Creatures (14)
Instants (8)
Sorceries (7)
Artifacts (13)
Enchantments (20)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (36)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Cave Dinosaur Make Fire

Bringing them all the way back from my first article on Liquimetal Coating, we have Zacama, Primal Calamity, who can definitely bring the flames! Still one of my favorite midrange decks of all time, Zacama is just such a beefy, versatile commander with a plethora of abilities. While I still think that Coating is underrated with the big dino, Fires is even more of a criminally overlooked card in this deck.

Hear me out, it will hopefully make sense by the end. First, cast Zacama for free; in response to the untap lands trigger, you dump all your mana into the activated abilities to absolutely wreck the board. Your lands untap, so you can still pass with all your mana up! There are also all the mana-doublers that are now castable for free, like Zendikar Resurgent, Nyxbloom Ancient, and Mirari’s Wake. It is absolutely insane to me how underplayed this pairing is!

If you just want to play big dinos like Ripjaw Raptor, and Polyraptor, guess what? They’re free, too! Zacama can also just blow Fires away to cast instants if the need arises. While not the most technical, this is still a highly underrated pair. If you need more convincing, take a look at the decklist!

Everybody Do the Dinosaur

Commander (1)
Creatures (26)
Instants (7)
Sorceries (13)
Artifacts (7)
Enchantments (10)
Lands (36)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Stay Safe

Thank you all for your continued support of the series! I hope that you all enjoyed reading this installment, and I hope that you have found a new home for Fires of Invention now that it’s banned in Standard. Do you think these commanders pair well with Fires of Invention? Do you think I’m overestimating this card, or do you agree it’s highly underrated? What other cards are you hoping to see get their place in the limelight? Let’s talk about it in the comments below. Everyone please stay safe and have a great week!

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.