Conditions Allow - Fires of Invention EDH

Ben Doolittle • October 10, 2022

(Fires of Invention | Art by Stanton Feng)

Stoking the Fires of Invention

Hello, and welcome back to Conditions Allow. In this series I take a card with a drawback and build a Commander deck to turn it into a strength. Last week I tackled a big red enchantment, so this week I'm continuing the trend with another.

You might expect any card banned out of Standard to make a splash in Commander, but Fires of Invention doesn't seem to have made the transition to hundred-card singleton. It isn't hard to see why, either. While it does effectively double your mana, most decks eventually want to cast more than two spells a turn. The real problem, however, is being unable to cast spells on other players' turns. In a multiplayer format, being able to respond at instant speed is vital for staying alive.

Still, Fires of Invention does offer some pretty unique advantages. It pairs extremely well with activated abilities, such as on Cavalier of Flame. Being able to cast Cavalier and immediately buff all your creatures two or three times is often game-winning in 60-card formats. For Commander, however, I'm more interested in Equipment. Many Voltron decks already include Sigarda's Aid and Puresteel Paladin to eliminate equip costs. Fires of Invention achieves the same effect by making the artifacts free, so you can use your mana to equip them.

Of course, this approach also comes with plenty of risks. Stacking a bunch of Equipment onto one creature gives your opponents a clear target for their removal. Being unable to protect your commander and Equipment at instant speed is a major flaw for a strategy that is so reliant on its commander. But this could be a chance to re-evaluate how we approach aggro strategies in Commander. Five- and six-cost Equipment tend to be pretty powerful, so what if we just tried to race our opponents?

Heavy Hitters

Magic is not wanting for legendary creatures that can deal a lot of damage at once, after all. Isshin, Two Heavens as One helps make up for your spell casting limit by doubling all your attack triggers. Tahngarth, First Mate does something similar by attacking on other players' turns, while Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar attacks each opponent simultaneously. Each of these are excellent choices for building around Fires of Invention, but I'm going to go with something more recent.

If you were to build around Tetsuo, Imperial Champion, you'd probably try to balance the number of spells and Equipment. With Fires of Invention, I'm going to try and maximize Tetsuo's ability to deal damage. This can deal with utility creatures and planeswalkers, giving you a virtual third spell every turn. Most often, however, it'll be best to use that damage to lower life totals as quickly as possible. If you give your opponents a moment to stabilize, your strategy is easy to interrupt. Strength comes from speed in a deck like this.

Harnessing Fire

Because Fires of Invention cares about the number of lands you have in play, we'll need to pay careful attention to the curve of the deck. The goal is to cast Fires on turn four as consistently as possible, so any tutors need to cost less than four mana.

Luckily, there are still a few options that don't cost an arm and a leg. Grim Tutor has crept back up in price after its reprint, but Dimir House Guard and Clutch of the Undercity do a reasonable impression. I'm also going to spring for a copy of Demonic Tutor. It's closest budget alternative is Wishclaw Talisman, but I don't think this deck can afford to give away tutors. We're going to present a clear and immediate threat that Wishclaw Talisman lets our opponents answer easily. To help round this list out, I am including two four-mana tutors: Diabolic Tutor and Mastermind's Acquisition. Playing Fires of Invention on turn five is still better than never finding it at all.

To help these tutors be as effective as possible, I'm also including as many cheap cantrips as possible. These help the deck in two ways. First, they help find Fires of Invention or a tutor in the first three turns of the game. They also ensure you always hit your land drop throughout the entire game. Playing a land every turn is vital for this deck, and much more impactful than ramping with mana rocks or even rituals. As such, there aren't any mana rocks in the list.

Forging Steel

Once you have Fires of Invention in play, you'll want to use your second spell for the turn to cast Tetsuo, Imperial Champion. Then on your next turn you can start suiting him up and attacking for major damage.

With five lands in play on turn five, you can cast any five-mana Equipment for free. The only one in this deck is Batterskull, which is also one of the best in the entire deck. Equipped to Tetsuo, it lets you attack for a total of thirteen damage. You'll also gain thirteen life, which gives you a solid buffer to survive any retaliation your opponents can muster. Most importantly, Batterskull is hard to deal with because you can always bounce it back to your hand. If you really want to go fast, however, look no further than Grafted Exoskeleton. Tetsuo, Imperial Champion attacks for nine Infect damage with this Equipment alone, becoming lethal with any other power boost.

The situation doesn't improve for your opponents once you start casting six-mana spells. Embercleave needs no introduction, of course, but I'm very excited by Drach'Nyen too. This sword removes a creature as soon as it hits play, and it gives menace and a significant power boost as well, plus it only costs two mana to equip. That makes it perfect to pair with Equipment that have other activated abilities, like Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang. Tatsumasa is perfect for this deck because it contributes to your offensive plan while also giving you defensive options. Exiling it to create a 5/5 flier lets you block just about anything coming your way, and then bring the Equipment back when the token dies.

The only seven-mana Equipment in the deck is Kaldra Compleat, which is valuable for its damage output as well as granting indestructible. Equipment like Swiftfoot Boots, Winged Boots and Oathkeeper, Takeno's Daisho are key elements for keeping Tetsuo in play. Lots of Equipment also help you draw cards, from Robe of the Archmagi to Sword of Fire and Ice. Wand of Orcus serves another vital purpose in providing blockers to make sure you survive against three opponents. Kusari-Gama also helps by wiping one opponent's board when they're eventually forced to block. By far the best defensive tool in the deck, however, is Vanishing. Phasing Tetsuo, Imperial Champion out also phases Equipment and Auras attached to him, letting you dodge Merciless Eviction and Farewell.

Playing at Sorcery Speed

There are lots of threatening Equipment in the deck, but you don't really want to have more than two or three of them in play at once. A lesson to be learned from Fires of Invention is to not overextend into removal. Instead, you'll want to pick off creatures you can't attack through, and draw cards to find your next threat once the current one is dealt with.

Because you can't cast spells at instant speed, you get to play some powerful sorcery-speed draw effects. None of these spells see much player in Commander because they're sorceries, so you usually can't cast anything else after them. You don't have to worry about that in this deck, and each of them will draw you at least four cards, easily finding cards you need to stay aggressive.

Equipment aren't the only ways this deck accelerates the game. Fiery Emancipation and Wound Reflection should both immediately take at least one player out of the game. Warlock Class can get there eventually, and it helps you draw a card on the way. Manifold Key and Thassa, God of the Sea both make sure Tetsuo can connect when you need him too, and Chandra's Ignition means sometimes you don't have to attack at all.

Tetsuo Fires of Invention

Commander (1)
Creatures (5)
Artifacts (25)
Enchantments (6)
Sorceries (21)
Instants (4)
Lands (38)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Fires of Invention is certainly a difficult card to work with in multiplayer formats. Having three opponents makes it important to interact at instant speed for nearly any deck archetype. To work around it here, I've tried to lean as hard as possible into dealing damage quickly. Even so, winning with this deck will require careful threat assessment. Any deck you suspect can easily deal with enchantments and artifacts are prime targets, as well as decks that have the potential to outpace your damage output.

I think this deck is a fun experiment with some serious potential. But what do you think? Have you tried to build with Fires of Invention in Commander? Are there any synergies I've overlooked? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.