… So I think it’s been a bit more than a week….
Howdy everyone, my name is Just Add Bacon, and I am so proud to finally present part two of my guide to Fire Fox. With Soft Launch right around the corner, I hope this guide is able to help solidify both some of the basic strategies of playing fire-based Fox decks, and also serve as a final piece of pre-launch history to give insight into the state of our wonderful game. But, before I begin the proper analysis, the very beautiful and very handsome lord of balance Coulter Baker has reworked a good number of fire cards in the Strength and Agility prisms. So much so that a number of my analyses have been somewhat invalidated… until now! So, for the convenience of future readers, I will be reiterating my analysis of fire cards with updates as needed. If you had just readjust came from part one, I recommend you skim it as there are some notable changes. Nevertheless, if you feel that it is unnecessary, feel free to skip to the decks section, where I look at our glorious fire cards in context. So, without further ado, let’s begin!
*The following is a mostly repeated summary of my discussion of fire cards from part 1, though some cards, like Charkram, have been added and others, like Rubble Devil, have been updated. I’ve also added a new rating system, where every card is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 Fox Familiars. No, this does not make sense if you think about it too hard, so don’t.
The Key Cards
Beyond mortal comprehension and fundamentally breaking our scale with a paradox is one of the first reasons to look at a fire package. Fox Familiar is arguably one of the best one drops for agility if not in the entire game. It’s very mana efficient, has a nice 3 health, and threatens to cycle and buff if not answered. Learning to use Fox Familiar to bait removal options is one of the most important things for any Fox player to do.
P1 (Player 1) T1 (Turn 1)
Fox Familiar, Opponent answers with removal, T2 Mana Flask Sworn Oni.
Fox Familiar, Opponent answers with guard, T2 Mana Flask Demon Pact. Only do this if you can’t clear the way with removal. Make sure to trade in with Familiar first to help soften off the target. You’re dusting it anyways so who cares if it takes 2 damage.
It’s usually helpful to keep removal in the opening hand to open the path for this good boy when you’re going second. Options like Strike Down and Grim Reprisal work well, while some, like Snap Trap, may be better if your opponent has large guards like Webweaver. Your removal package should focus on being able to play units and removal in the same turn, so make sure to keep the cost down.
Absolutely essential and mandatory for any build. 1c draw is never worse than decent and 1c Banner is also always useful. Together, they make Fire Rune an amazingly efficient card (the Flames option is just the icing on the cake). This card is pretty useful to have in most cases, but be wary about building with it. If you don’t run On The Hunt, you may want to cut Kook Book so Hot Dog can find this more easily. On the other hand, it’s also good to keep in the opening hand, as it is much safer than options like Champ or Flame Sword.
Fox Familiar, Opponent Answers with Gato, Mana Flask into Hot Dog + Fire Rune. Opponent has 3 mana to answer a 4/3 that already drew and dealt damage. If they don’t answer you have a lot of damage to press in.
Unikron, Opponent doesn’t answer/ doesn’t play guard, T2 Fire Rune. The “We have Fox Familiar at home” strategy. Doing this to someone a few times will mean your Unikron will probably start dying on play turn 1. But, that’s probably in your interest so something like a Trailblazer can stick.
Going second opens up the potential for Fire Rune to stick onto a Halcyon which can be quite damning for an aggro mirror. However, I don’t recommend Mana Flask into Halcyon + 1c unit in most games unless you are confident that they can stick. Options like Fox Familiar, Flashbang, Unicron, and Amalgam can work well for this though.
You are usually running this if you have a fire package in your deck. It isn’t mandatory, as it has issues with Huntaro, but it is certainly worth running over Huntaro. The main appeal of Run Wild is actually rather subtle in how its math works, but is rather strong in its own right. As we will find out, Fox aggro decks place a heavy focus on efficiently cycling through cards to reach bombs faster. Fox’s engine allows him to run options like Sunder and Catch as the only reach cards and it is entirely because of options like Run Wild that let him do this. Put simply, Run Wild is a draw card. It draws a 2c unit for 3 mana, then plays it immediately. This rate on its own would be decently useful, though not quite as good as something like Call To Action, but its secondary ready effect helps push it over. Most importantly for the mirror, the ready effect allows Run Wild to pop stealth, letting Fox cut through cards like Songbird and Rite Knight efficiently. Additionally, the targeted draw and ready effect of Run Wild lets it tutor important cards like Brimstone and Rite Knight. And then there is Trailblazer….
Turn 1 Familiar, Turn 2 Removal + Unit, Turn 3 Run Wild.
The low roll for this line of play is usually Brimstone, but getting a 4/2 Brimstone early is very helpful. Sitting on BtaC can ruin a lot of Horik decks. The second important unit you probably hit is Rite Knight. With the power boost, Run Wild is a 3c deal 5 draw a dark card (and thin your deck) OR a 0c deal 5 thin your deck. Naturally you only get one but either can be helpful. I recommend sitting on Ritual though unless you have an Elderwood or something similar to sacrifice with it. Options like Canopy Archer and Kook Book are good fuel, but also I only recommend this if you actually have a good use for the mana. You can always sit on it and get 6 mana in one turn.
This is a 5 mana play and a bit different from the others. To say that it can be explosive is an understatement. Fire Rune, On the Hunt, and Fox Familiar are all 1c, so hitting this can mean those options come down in the same turn. Additionally, at worst you are getting -3 to the cost of cards in your hand, meaning in more complex plays this can end up being only a 2 mana play. However, actually pulling this off can be quite tricky. In the early game, the risk of hitting Trailblazer makes it hard to use Run Wild safely, and spending an entire turn to draw a 3/2 and do some other drawing leaves you in a very weak position on board. If you can hold board and make this play at the same time, I recommend going for it. The cycling and cost reduction are immense and make things like Hot Dog and On the Hunt scary. However, you will have to contend with the risk of also hitting something Brimstone or Rite Knight, so plan accordingly. If you do decide to go for this on turn 3/4, make sure to use the spell before using your mana potion/flask.
This card is your other primary buildaround for fire and is a big part of our reason to exist. A 3/2 that can charge isn’t the craziest thing in the world, but can be helpful, but that’s not the draw. The draw, in fact, is the… well, draw of Hot Dog’s effect, which notably works on Summon regardless of whether or not you are holding fire. The importance of this is that Hot Dog specifically targets the lowest cost spell, meaning it will always start with Fire Rune (unless you opted for On the Hunt.) This is HUGE especially since Hot Dog is usually charging, letting him take full advantage of the rune. Additionally, Fire Rune’s flames option also becomes a good bit better, since Hot Dog’s charge lets you pop stealth, letting Fox get something like a Trailblazer with a bannered swing while flames roasts through another unit. Altogether, it’s very strong. Later in the game you may instead hit options like Chakram, Firesight, Run Wild, Uppercut, or Catch. None of these are quite as good as the raw efficiency of Fire Rune, which makes it important to try and get Hot Dog off early. Hot Dog can also ood either On the Hunt, Anoint in Flame, Firesight, Fury Mask, or Burn Out, which allows him to double as a late game value engine. Be mindful in how you deploy this good boy.
Unikron/ Fox Familiar
- No answer, flask into dog + rune
- Answers with removal, flask into dog + rune
- Answers with guard, flask into dog, rune dog, trade with unikron + banner
- Rune Unikron, trade with dog + banner
Play Quality diminishes with On the Hunt, but functionally the only thing missing is the +1/+1 bonus. Plays still work going second but aren’t as big on tempo swing. Can still be good but holding for a more complex play may be better.
Now that we have the essentials let’s look at some of the other cards
The Other Cards
On the Hunt
1c banner + draw is really good, but this has a catch. Since it attaches onto the unit, things like Fox Familiar’s Fury or Trailblazer’s Firesight may get overwritten. Higher up the curve this begins to affect things like Champ, Sworn Oni, or Vlad. Or Zoomie, if you are lucky. The question of use for all of these is variable, but consider this: If you use On the Hunt to kill and Unit and draw a Fox Familiar, you have gone +1 in card advantage for 1 mana. The opportunity cost of losing quest on Familiar was worth 1 card, but that was also not a draw/buff you were going to get 100% of the time. For Trailblazer you trade 1 mana and 1 card for banner and 2 more health. The rate is certainly close, and its repeatability makes it useful as a mana bank vs low unit decks. Fox’s somewhat linear removal can become a liability vs these decks, which gives On the Hunt extra value for negating a disadvantage in a bad matchup.
Anoint in Flame
How badly do you want to beat wisdom? If you really want to, you want to be running anoint in flame. It’s slow, and not a lot of damage at once, but it can add up quite nicely over a long game and also helps fox contest the occasional overstated wisdom unit. Vs aggro decks, it can be quite tenuous though, as Fox has few good options to cheaply remove the flames, of which Sidekick and Aqua Sword are generally the preferred options.
It’s just good. It’s a 3/2, so it dies to banner, but it also restocks fire in your hand which lets Dog and Run work. Burn to a Crisp is also just a great spell and at worst is 3c deal 3 to face. Don’t pass this card up.
When Rubble Devil was changed I knew I would need to delay part two of this guide since I would need to retest a number of things. When Charkram and Anoint in Flame were moved, I yet again was forced to rework a number of pieces to my approach of how to run Fire Fox. Charkram is another one of our versatile tools, and quite nicely supplants the need for Elderfall and accompanying 1c units for Fire Fox. It’s just nice, and is a good pull from Hot Dog at 2, providing a very helpful service in blocking Hot Dog from hitting Run Wild too soon. Side note: If you are holding this and Glorious Mane, and are going to play both that turn, make sure to use Charkram first so the Firemander gets the buff from Glorious Mane.
It draws 2 for 2, that’s just good. If you can, use it with things like Amalgam or Elderwoods. With Amalgam, it doesn’t check your hand until after the spell has resolved, so you want to be at an odd number when the spell ends. This means playing Firesight when your hand is even, which means playing Amalgam when your hand is odd. Makes sense right?
2c removal on a stick, loves diving in on units like Kook Book. It’s tricky to use with Run Wild though since it loses a lot of value opposed to something like Brimstone. Definitely a good reason to use On the Hunt to fish it out first. It also really appreciates Glorious Mane, either as a 4/3 which can dive into more units, or as a 3/1 stealth that’s irritating to remove and makes it likely to stick for the buff.
Firesight on a stick, and a very dangerous stick at that. The stats are weak to removal, but it’s one of a very few units that is resistant to powerful Wisdom removal like Whisk Away. Managing this with Run Wild can prove decisive, but even if you don’t it’s still good. On the Hunt with This may look bad, but you are usually happy to trade one card for 2 more health and banner, as well as making the draw more specific. You can’t not run this in fire.
Another unit with good fundamentals, if it goes off it’s a 3c 4/4 that draws. Can be quite good in the opening if you have a Flashbang or Unikron. However, it does compete with On the Hunt, as it can lose Fury and also stops On the Hunt from being as reliable for hitting Hot Dog. Still, it’s a very good card when it works.
Absolutely crucial for recovering your health. Agility and Strength take a lot of recoil damage doing basic things like removal (Grim Reprisal, Anoint in Flame) or drawing (Fire Sight), so having this buff/cycle/lifesteal tool is quite impactful. Bonus points if you connect it onto a Hot Dog or Zoomie.
When part one of this guide was released, Rubble Devil had the death effect of reducing your maximum mana by one. Since then, it has been changed to only reduce your mana by one on the next turn. This makes it a far stronger unit, capable of contesting the board very well early and is a reliable target for Flame Sword, Fire Rune, and Glorious Mane. One of the best fixes to a bad card in the game’s history, although admittedly the bar was quite low.
Helps form a catch 22 with Demon Pact and a 1c unit, as the removal options that can actually answer those lines of play are very limited. Not impossible, but the threat alone can make your opponent take bad hands. I don’t recommend going for it if you have more normal options, but if it’s all you have you may get lucky with a turn 2 Oni. Even if you never do that, the threat alone can slow down the control player’s draw.
It’s a bounce spell with banner. Vs aggro this may be rather hard to use since most units in that archetype have good summon effects or attachments, but it does at least carry banner to remove things. Be wary of attachments though. Vs control, this has the unique property of setting up tempo traps with things like Gusto or Sunder, and negates death effects, but options like Gusto’s Retort, Impostor, and Mortal Blow also exist to answer in similar ways. Also Aegis of Light, if you think you can connect it. None of these do all the things uppercut does, but they also all bring their own uses.
Can be a little unwieldy at times, but can also be a big source of damage on a stick. Appreciates things like Fire Rune, On The Hunt, Flame Sword, and Glorious Mane. At nine mana it works with Blaze of Glory which is… technically a thing? If you pull it off with 2 or 3 other units send me a screenshot for my wall.
A surprisingly better version of Rocket. Quest makes it spooky, Lifesteal makes its safer, so the only question left is cost. At base this unit is 4c, with Anoint in Flame it drops to 3. At 2 this unit has 3 health for 2 mana, which is a very strong rate. Anything lower is just great.
Another card that is a flexible option, although admittedly so at the cost of power. A 5c unit that dies to banner is not ideal, but its summon effect helps make up for that. The primary use if playing it alongside enrage, which can help secure very big health-swings if not lethal off of targets like The Beast or Blademaster. Is very optional, but gets better with On the Hunt and Glorious Mane. If you do run it, treat it like a swiss army knife. It does burn rather well, but it can also be flexible.
It’s a good chunk of burn damage, but if you just want a burn card Vlad may be a bit better. However, this can do a decent job of contesting board since it can remove cards like Shell Officer. It’s not for everyone, but it can be good. If you do run it, be wary of it becoming dead in some aggro matchups.
Not so much of a “burn” card as a “this is about to be a lot of damage card.” It can do a lot of roles in a lot of different games, like baiting aoe or being a huge wall on board, and it also makes things like Blaze of Glory or Aegis of Light scary. Against midrange builds it can also just become a mortal blow on a stick with a lot of smaller sticks. All and all solid if you have the fire to support it, just be wary of getting blown out by aoe like Doomsday or Seal of Doom.
The trap cards
Unfortunately, this card simply dies too easily and has no way of generating value. You don’t need fire desperately enough to run it, and you aren’t starved of 1c units enough to justify it. Even in a fire deck Claw Bear would be better. This card isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that there’s not really anything it’s better than. If you are playing this card, play something else.
This card is better as an ood from Hot Dog than a main-deck card. In the main-deck it mostly just gets in the way of Hot Dog being good when you could hit better things instead. If you do want to shoot for this as a 50/50 though, you’ll need to run Anoint and Fury Mask along with the other standard fire spells which can be a bit of a big ask.
This card can be good, but in a purely fire based deck it simply doesn’t have the buddies to make it work. He’s great at carrying buffs from things like Flame Sword or Quest, but there’s not enough guards in most builds for it to work. It’s also considerably weaker than the other options off of Run Wild. It can work sometimes, but it’s tricky and not yet solved.
If you are playing this card, don’t. Swap it for something else there is nothing this card does that is worth its inclusion over literally any other option.
Blaze of Glory
God I wish this worked, but it really just doesn’t. First, compare this to Flame Sword, and consider under what conditions this card is better. You need to
- Not care about the health gain
- Be able to convert with at least two units as opposed to one
- Be able to be fine with the extra 2 mana you are wasting on… an extra 1c draw.
Yah, this card just doesn’t work. You’d be much better to run something like Aegis of Light, than trying to keep 3 units on board (as opposed to one for Aegis or Flame Sword.) This card isn’t just bad, it actively harms you when you try to run it.
Just play Hail of Arrows or Claw Swipe. Doing damage off of flames is great for dealing with fate units, but awful for clearing the way as an aggro card.
So, now that we’ve broken down the cards, it’s time to finally analyze our first deck!
- Stability. Air units bring a unique amount of stickiness to a fire package, with the frequent instances of shroud and stealth working to invalidate options in all stages of the game
- Consistency. Adding Lau Sensei and Head in the Clouds bring consistency, and Lau Sensei as a spell-searcher is very strong, hitting Strike Down and then Pair of Jacks early develops tempo.
- Disruption. Great Gusto is an unsurprisingly great finisher, and also pairs well with options like Gusto’s Retort and Unstoppable Chop, giving the deck more of an edge in otherwise unfavorable matchups against Horik Control and Etherwail.
- Frailty. The main air units we are using don’t generally trade well, and despite the shroud plenty of spells will still clean up our units.
- Missing Midrange. While midrange options are available, the mid-sized air units like Talonous, Epic Eagle, and Garuda don’t seem to quite work with the fire package, pushing the deck’s aggression and mix-up potential into a more limited space. Getting those midrange options to work may give the deck some better threats vs midrange decks, but they tend to slow it down vs aggro and get efficiently removed by control.
The first of our two-element mane lists, Heatwave arguably embodies the fundamentals of Fire Fox better than even the pure fire builds. Cheap aggressive removal? Access to burn? Tempo efficient disruption? Heatwave has all of these in spades, and while running everything at the same time is hard, Heatwave also opens up a tricky Fox playstyle with lots of ways to set up and disrupt the opponent at each stage of the game. However, it can face setbacks when it gets behind on board, forcing it to be proactive the entire game.
Probably one of the most consequential cards for running Heatwave in Fox, as opposed to something like Titus or Iris. Lau is what is commonly referred to as a spell-searcher, or just a searcher; he draws a specific card on summon. For Lau this is your lowest cost air spell, which is absolutely huge for Fox. At 1c is Strike Down, easily one of the best removal spells in game for an aggro deck. At 2c is Pair Of Jacks which can be a bit trickier to use, but presents numerous utilities I’ll explain further down. Afterwords are options like Strike Storm, Unstoppable Chop, Head in the Clouds, Gusto’s Retort, or Flock, with the ood (out-of-deck draw) being Air Rune. All of these can be strong draws at the right time, and Lau is especially helpful in the early game since his low-cost draws start with removal options and only later the more niche options like Gusto’s Retort or Air Rune. In short, this card is just fundamentally good, and adding it to any deck that can use it is a good decision.
After the move from 1c to 2c it took us a while to recalibrate running this card with Run Wild, but Heatwave makes a very strong case for it in, using it as a way to bolster the midgame options of the deck while also adding board presence, disruption, and damage all at the same time. However, there is some care that is needed when running this card. First, options like shredder lose a good deal of value when summoned by Huntaro. Thankfully, this is also true with Run Wild, which we already didn’t want early because we run both with Huntaro and Trailblazer. On the Hunt is quite reliable for pulling shredder from the deck, so this issue doesn’t appear often. Second is the issue of this card conflicting in a way with Run Wild. While getting the full package off can be very rewarding, waiting for a 7c combo can be a bit rough for some decks. Luckily, the draw power and chains of the deck are rather consistent, so the times that Run WIld does appear before Huntaro are rare enough, and the times that does happen we usually have the cards in hand to support one dead draw.
This is our big finisher, and it performs a targeted and niche job of setting itself up. Simply put, if you can bait your opponent into dropping a big unit like Dracomantium, and then sweep it away with this, you likely win the game. Vlad’s enrage is a scary threat with an 8/5 shrouded dragon, and the best options for removing this tend to be the very limited set of tall + wide removal. Options like Titanic and Extinction Event exist, but outside of Wisdom proper answers to Gusto are rare. In Wisdom though, the classic core of Seal of Doom, Doomsday, and Touch the Sky are somewhat omnipresent, and make Gusto plays riskier despite the shroud.
- This unit opens up some interesting traps with Fire Rune, Flame Blade, and Glorious Mane. In the midgame it can also occasionally get a huge boon off of Flock, or just a passive buff from Anoint in Flame, so keep that in mind.
- In essence, It’s a burn spell that gets buffed from mane. Run it if you want cheap burn, or efficient removal.
- A surprisingly helpful card, 1c silence + banner is all it takes to answer Flame Phoenix, and it knocks things like Grimlord into the 3 damage range. We probably have better options for silence + removal, but none are this cheap. The biggest thing holding this back is that Strike Down is a much better draw for Lau Sensi, but this serves well as an ood draw.
- It’s a Huntaro, Run Wild, or Glorious Mane target that swings like a 4/3 to face. Handy for burn, and we need units anyways. Guard+Shroud is also a sticky combination to deal with.
- It’s either a 2c Ember Wolf, or a 2c unit that will be almost impossible to remove depending on the enemy board state. Sunrise and Sunset effects are actually more common than people think (Fly Guy (hex), Anoint in Flame, Shell Officer, etc.) so keep track of what you can turn off with this card.
It can work, but outside of combo builds there’s not much point to it.
- Learning to manipulate and set up with this card is absolutely crucial towards having a good game with Heatwave. It can be found off of Lau to bank your tempo, or just to pass the turn better in an aggro mirror. The yellowjacks are handy in their own right too for a number of reasons. First, since they are added to hand they can benefit both from Glorious Mane and Head in the Clouds. Additionally, the wither damage helps the deck not only trade into units better (something air units tend to be poor at) but can also help wallbreak by reducing the power of large guards like Dracomantium or Doom Shroom. This card works beautifully in the deck, and is crucial for any good build.
2/5 This can be strong, but we don’t have units that really benefit from this and we are also short on deck space.
- This could be good if we were running some midrange units like Garuda, but it’s normally better to avoid that hassle. Not too bad though if you want more answers like Maelstrom or Chomp to handle bad matchups.
- One of numerous Air units that get a handy boon from Anoint in Flame, and it’s also a decently spooky t2 play. The stats are a tad weak on-curve though, which doesn’t quite help with the other air units we want to run who are also weak to trades.
- Another air unit that gets a buff from Anoint in Flame, this one becomes basically Ember Wolf + banner + Grim Reprisal for 3. It’s not a bad card and can be run well, just be wary of this getting deleted when a different unit would’ve been stronger.
- A recent addition to Agility, Songrider fits the deck very well. It is safe, sticky, sets up traps with mane and Flame Sword, provides banner, and also is useful for burn damage. All around a great unit, despite having worse raw stats than something like Browl or Gale.
- In general, I think Heatwave can be mostly divided into builds that run Anoint in Flame and those that don’t. This is yet another air card that really likes banner, but can be ran in either (heatwave has no shortage of banners.) It may require a little setup, but something should be said about a searchable, cost-reducible, and scalable version of claw swipe.
- Do you hate Horik players? Do you want to act on that? It’s a good answer card for what can be an otherwise rough matchup, and is general enough in others to be safe.
- This unit is volatile. Either it can completely shut down entire turns, like the t4 trailblazer or a Fox Familiar. Or, they could just drop something like an Earth Golem and you just spent for mana for the privilege of 3 face damage and 3 damage to a 5/6. I wouldn’t run it in pretty much any build, but I’ve gotten clapped by it just enough times to not move it to the trap category.
Head in the Clouds
- It draws two and reduces the cost of your hand. That’s just good.
2/5 in non-combo
4/5 in combo
- 4c burn spell. Personally I don’t think it fits in non-combo builds, but Speed Boots + Norsudovest does exist.
- When it is played well it’s a 4c 6/5 guard. Even the downside of a 4c 5/4 stealth is pretty good. The issue is it doesn’t provide much value on it’s own other than its stats, and it can be somewhat regularly beaten by removal or trades. If this gets an attachment in the future it would likely see serious play as a midrange threat.
- A slightly more expensive stat stick that also is Strike Down #2. Strike Down is pretty strong, so this unit can be fine on average, but 5 mana is a lot to spend for 4 health. Don’t count on the ramp effect as an anti-wisdom tool; depending on the player order it may not even be triggered unless they’ve played 2 ramp spells. And even if they have, Seal of Doom stops that from working.
- If you want burn damage, a low-health single-target removal spell, or a banner setup card, flock works pretty well. Curiously for fire, this reduces the cost of Blademaster to 0, making it quite attractive as a tempo play. If you already run Anoint in Flame this pushes your banner to 6, hitting an important breakpoint. Be careful though, since you do need to keep board to reap the rewards of this spell.
- Probably the best of the midrange birds in my opinion, given that 6c 5/5 guard armor lead is arguably better than Geode’s stateline. The only difference is that while Geode makes it harder for the opponent to answer (decreasing risk), Garuda’s glory can snowball games (increased reward.) It can be a tad hard to set up given it is 6c altogether, and you need to then spend the unit to swing into face, but crowd-buffing with stealth and shroud units can make life hell for the opponent.
- Do you still hate Horik? Do you want to make certain they know? Retort is a strong single-target removal spell for Agility, bringing some additional utility in exchange for it’s higher cost. In Fox this needs to compete with things like Sunder, Uppercut, Maelstrom, and Great Gusto, but it can regularly find itself pulling clutch removal duty for apt players.
- Personally, I don’t like aoe spells that kill my units in aggro decks, unless they are just really good. I don’t think Hurricane is strong enough or reliable enough to justify it here, but I’ve seen other heatwave users like Alpha run it to good results. However, I would just run Maelstrom.
Queen of Jacks
- If you can stick it on the board, this card can handily win games. Automatic damage may get outplayed by something like a Flame Phoenix, but the number of loss conditions are rather low. The only downside is the cost, but the second Pair of Jacks may prove vital in rough matchups vs removal pile. Of course, you could also just run something like Anoint in Flame and not care.
- I really want to like this card, but justifying it is hard. If you really want to hate on token heavy decks that run things like Wall of Dead, this can be a good answer. At the same time though, options like Strike Storm, Claw Swipe, Deep Xylce, Hail of Arrows, and Maelstrom are all good. More of a “fun” card than a competitive one.
The main goal of most heatwave decks is to set up a couple of things at the same time.
- Cheap tempo and value generation.
- Control Board
- Create high damage / lethal setups
We’ll address these one at a time in one somewhat consistent scenario.
Tempo is the entire justifying aim of the Str-Agi fire package, and it works quite well. T1 P1 Fox Familiar, an early Trailblazer, Shredder, Hot Dog + Fire Rune, and Run Wild are all huge tempo cards. Recent additions to the prism like Chakram and Anoint in Flame have further expanded the depth of this tempo, with Chakram being another high-tempo spell and Anoint in Flame being a short term investment with long-term payoff. Generally, I find myself playing far more fire cards than air cards in the early game, and it’s for good reason. In the middle stage of the game, efficient aoe, like Hail of Arrows, powerful board control, like Huntaro or Lau Sensi, and explosive combos, like Run Wild + Trailblazer or Flock + Blademaster, allow us to stack tempo on top of tempo, giving us the space to answer threats and run away with face damage.
Opponent’s may try to stop your tempo with either aoe’s or unit-based board control. Identifying their strategy towards this key to maintaining presence throughout the early and mid stages of the game. If they are trying to play control through units, they have now opened up room for us to intercept. If it is any heart based control, such as Horik, Axel, or Sitti, look to snuff out key death units with cards like Huntaro, Retort, or Chop. Normally strong units like Niko or Eye Spider also make great prey for Shredder, so keep an eye out. If they are an aggro deck trying to contest with units, it usually makes more sense here to actually float into a more reactive gameplan. Cards like On the Hunt and Pair of Jacks help us set up value here, and let us bury the opposing aggro player in 2 for 1 card trades.
If our opponent is trying to control the board through spells, we may run into a more difficult problem. Anoint in Flame shines here by being able to continually press small but meaningful damage into face, but outside of that we now need to be tricky with how we lay down units. Flock + Blademaster is hard for most aoe to answer well, but options like It’s a Trap can clean it up well. Units like Trailblazer or Brimstone may be safe enough on their own, but can get removed by cheap and efficient wisdom removal. Shrouded options like Sky Keeper, Fan Dancer, or the summon from Huntaro can be stickier, but may also get answered by cheap aoe options like Claw Swipe or Volcanic Potion. Gusto would seem like a safe option, but at the later stages of the game it may be gobbled up by a wild Titanic or simply dusted by Touch the Sky.
Create Damage Setups
So what’s the answer? Cheap units like Fox Familiar, Unicron, and Sky Keeper are still hard to efficiently answer, and even when they are removed, your opponent may still be down a vital resource. Keep track of your opponent’s spent removal to try and make predictions about what they are missing, and where the holes in the removal suit are. This is where deckbuilding knowledge becomes very important. Secondly, use the early game, when your opponent has less cards and is less able to rationalize card usage, to press into their face and deal lasting damage. During this period I also recommend using removal options more liberally, getting value out of their cheap tempo and conserving your units which can do continuous damage. Finally, Vlad performs a special function here, turning a unit like Gusto or Blademaster into a larger burst of damage on an empty board. This is especially potent vs wisdom decks which like to TTS (Touch the Sky,) as Gusto + Vlad, while quite expensive, is also 11 points of face damage. Just be careful of more surprise healing, like Manage Memory into TTS, or you might get it hit with a nasty surprise.
The above game-flow is mostly tailored towards playing against control, but basic principles apply to the aggro matchup as well. For Heatwave, the most important part of the aggro mirror is identifying who is the aggressor. Some builds may look more towards floating tempo in things like On the Hunt or Pair of Jacks. Others may try to lay in early with options like Rubble Devil. In either case, controlling the board is usually the most important task for the Heatwave player, as the options for reclaiming the board are somewhat limited once it is lost.
Heatwave Final Summary
Despite some minor difficulties vs removal pile, Heatwave is adaptable and can be geared for many matchups, making it a reliable build for ladder and tournament
Standout Card: Great Gusto
It’s a dragon, that’s just cool.
Coolest Art: Songrider
The shading on our wonderfully overgrown Songbird is very tasteful, and I like the expression on the bird. Determined, but hopeful.
Wow, you really made it this far? Congratulations! This is part of a series I am releasing before soft launch, focused on elemental Fox decks and exploring the shape of the current meta. Stay tuned for the next addition tomorrow, as I explore something a bit… flashier.
Just Add Bacon is an agressively analytical aggro player of the Skyweaver community, working on projects between SkyStreamers, Skyweaver Leagues, State of the Sky, and his own personal team, Fox Fang. He is also very active in the competitive scene, holding the grandweaver constructed rank and three tournament wins of his own, along with 2nd in two of the most recent leagues. His favorite decks are Horik control and Fox Aggro. “Basically, anything I can put a dragon or fox into. Or both.”
Just Add Bacon#7811
Fox Fang Official Discord Server https://discord.gg/ZgRFGjC