Howdy y’all! My name is Just Add Bacon, and I’m happy to be back again with part 3 of my ongoing series on Fire Fox. Today we’re looking at Flash and Burn, a Bacon original that’s one of my favorites. If Heatwave is speed, then Flash and Burn is power, and y’all know there’s little I like more than that. This is a fundamentals-based build not too unlike Heatwave, which means it can grant lots of skill expression to players when in the right hands. So, without further adu (I hate waiting) let’s get started!
FLASH AND BURN
- Burn baby burn. With options like Slash, Bolt, and Khan, light and fire variants gain access to additional burn sources that other variants like Heatwave may be lacking. This can help supplement the deck versus things like Wisdom or other removal-pile strategies, as games can be closed out despite losing board control
- Bulk. With the majority of our light units coming from Strength (Flashbang, Halcyon, Sidekick, Light Ranger, Khan) this variant of Fox tends to be a bit beefier than options like Heatwave. This, in theory, allows it to better hold board and therefore better press damage.
- Healing. Light also brings with it a small but notable number of healing options. Obviously Glorious Mane, but also options like Slash and Halcyon, which can put in small but meaningful work towards staving off the opposition in the aggro mirror.
- Stats based value. While many of the cheaper light units are strong and can trade well, the fact that they don’t immediately generate card advantage can become a liability. Options like Zapeta or Light Ranger may break this mold, but for many others like Halcyon or Flashbang it can leave you vulnerable to getting snuffed out by a well timed Sudden Gust or Whisk Away.
- Lack of Draw. Putting it simply, there aren’t many great draw options for light in Strength or Agility. Options do exist, such as Blitz, Zapeta, Light Ranger, or Gift of Swords, but each come with a substantial drawback and they generally tend to pull away from each other. This can be remedied with fire options like Firesight, but keep in mind that, compared to things like Heatwave, one will need to work harder to get value out of each card since they aren’t drawing as many.
The affectionately dubbed (by yours truly) Light and Fire strategy, Flash and Burn takes a more Strength focused approach, leveraging aggressively-statted units to control the board. On top of this, strong summon effects and numerous banner units make the deck potent both proactively and reactively. Furthermore, healing and burn effects give this strategy a unique toolset that allows it to compete with both aggro and control decks, reducing reliance on “answer” cards compared to things like Heatwave. Despite all of this, one thing that it sacrifices is draw, meaning the deck is somewhat reliant on making sure it’s fire combos go off successfully. If they don’t, anyone running this build is sure to be in hot water.
Spell-searchers make the game go around, and Light Ranger is no exception. While it’s a bit more expensive than all the other options, it more than makes up for this in several ways. First, 4c 4/5 is just a good stat line. 5 health escapes most common removal at the low end, and options that do hit it are things like Incinerate and Unstoppable Chop, meaning you still get 4 points of burn damage. Secondly, for Fox, Light Ranger has really good targets. Call to Action and Blitz are both cheap draw options, Lightning Vial is a dusting 3 damage removal for 2, and at 3 is Glorious Mane. Yah, our beautiful, build-around buff spell is now an easily searchable target, and conveniently comes with a great body to slap it onto.
This card is our finisher for most builds, and can just steal games away. Banner is very common in light and fire, and options like On the Hunt, Fire Rune, and Chakram’s Firemander mean this guy can easily come down on t6 with a double banner play, bringing him up to a hefty 5 armored health. Catch! also works well as an attachment here, making the card a spooky on board threat capable of buffing itself, controlling board, and adding to the burn damage you can rack up throughout a game. This also lets him double as a late game closing card, giving us access to Catch in the late game. Even when Catch! doesn’t go off, with the nerf to Uppercut, Khan is rather safe to drop against most aggro-decks, meaning at worst he can absorb a good bit of tempo and removal from unfortunate opponents. If you can, though, it’s better to keep him alive as a sticky and powerful source of damage.
- Arguably one of the hardest 1c units to remove in the game, right next to Scooter and Hax. This unit can set up brutal turn 2 plays like Mana Flask into Demon Pact, or just be a reliable way to find an early Glorious Mane or Fury. The shield also shouldn’t be underestimated, it can often either negate large amounts of damage when trading, or tax your opponent’s attack for that turn.
- Someway, somehow, this card just has none of the stickiness of flashbang. I think the cause of this is that 1 damage removal tends to be much more economical (Slash, Huntaro, Toil and Trouble, Mulch) so this unit just doesn’t often stick. But, if you really want to try for that t2 Demon Pact, this can be worth running. It also works well in Blitz builds, although I don’t recommend those right now.
- Speaking of, Blitz is one of our numerous competing draw options in light. In ideal conditions, Blitz can be a very strong draw spell, potentially being a 1c take 2 to draw 3. The issue with this card is getting those ideal conditions to happen. Between other draw options present from the fire package, other value options like Earwig, and higher mana plays like Khan, Light Ranger, and Vlad, Blitz needs careful consideration to be run effectively. Additionally, it’s searchability may also become a liability, potentially slowing down and reducing the effectiveness of things like Kook Book and Light Ranger. But, if the deck is built for it, Flash and Burn has lots of ways to find this spell, and has plenty of healing to take advantage of despite the recoil. If you do run it, I recommend also leaning into things like Shogun and Saber.
Call to Action
- Basically always the better option than Blitz. If you have at least 3 1c units, this can be ran well, and makes a handy consistency tool with Light Ranger and Kook Book. Some units scale better than others, especially things like Flashbang, Saber, and Fox Familiar, but the weaker options like Kook Book or Canopy Archer make good food for Demon Pact. Don’t think this card is mandatory though; sometimes the space is needed.
- The best-girl. This card is incredibly safe at many stages of the game, and makes a terrifying threat with the rest of the deck. Her armor, guard, and lifesteal combination makes her very potent alongside our many buff options, like Stone Fist, Fire Rune, Flame Sword, Glorious Mane and Aegis of Light. On turn 2 she can also threaten a setup with Demon Pact.
- 2/3, 2 mana is a good rate, and the banner helps the card generate reliable tempo early. The shield doesn’t come into play too much, but can be an essentially free way to remove flames from spells like Anoint in Flame.
- This card is somewhat similar to Vlad. It doesn’t bring much in raw power, but it’s utility is how versatile it is. It’s immediate tempo, can heal, and makes strong plays with cards like Huntaro and Run Wild. Very valuable in the aggro mirror
- Does it do 3 damage? Yes. Does it dust? Yes. Is this card then therefore good? Yes. If you aren’t running this but you are running Light Ranger…. Why?
- This card gets a ton better if you have opted for an Earwig build. Otherwise, it’s a decently good burn option or a slightly worse shredder. However, it can peak a bit higher when it is able to convert into face. It’s good, and we need things that benefit from Glorious Mane.
- I’m not huge on this unit, as it seems to have some conflicting ideas going on. Generally, you get more value when you trade shield into an enemy on your turn, but the lifesteal wants us to go face? That seems to imply we’re using shield to protect a unit as we rush face, but now we’re risking giving our opponent board control. Tatt’s body is also a bit weak for a Str unit. Since it’s a 3/1 it can get cleaned up by most removal options, meaning it doesn’t get much value from the shield.
- This is kinda just a worse version of Aegis of Light, but can still be good. The banner gives this access to more tempo than Aegis, and the lower cost means it’s safer if you are worried about things like Whisk Away. It’s probably better to leave the 3-slot open for Glorious Mane though.
- A big payoff for our buildaround, having a spell-searcher that finds it is very helpful. Additionally, Glorious Mane scales very well with our units in Light, since many of them are already well stated or have armor. Or both, like Halcyon. This should be in every element-based unit heavy build strength, no questions.
- Potentially good, Zapeta’s biggest issue is dying to banner. It does cycle, it usually heals, and it can remove 2 and draw for 4 mana, but these things are not always consistent. If you get off mane early this gets much better. Not an essential card, but not horrible either.
This card and Flame Volley are the founding members of the “I really wish I was Hail of Arrows” club. The peak for this card is being a 4c deal 6 option, which would be quite good, but also requires you to clear the board entirely and then you go -1 in card advantage. If you really really want to play this, run it with other aoe options and plan to use it as 4c deal 4 to a thing and 2 to another. If this card got just 1 more point of damage, either through banner or 1 damage to the main target, or if it goes back to attaching shield (to combo with Anoint in Flame) this can be pretty runnable.
Aegis of Light
- This spell is currently terrifying. +4/+4 and a shield lets pretty much any unit delete any other unit from existence. Then, everything has also been blinded. Their fate draws are gone, shrouds and shields are gone, and with their hero blinded, they can forget about using banner to remove things. Oh, and we still have a unit with +4/+4 and guard, and usually also lifesteal or armor. There’s not really many good reasons to not run this in Fox right now, just be careful of Wisdom removal.
Gift of Swords
- This is the archetypal example of Strength having subpar draw options. 6 mana to draw 3 is just slow, and also sad when compared to things like Tempest Brew. True, it does buff your board and those 3 units you drew, but a +1/+1 buff is a bit hard to leverage when you’ve spent 6 mana to do very little on board.
- So banner is cool… what if we did more? The first and easiest setup with this unit is with Anoint in Flame, turning your hero’s punch into a brutal 5 damage beatdown. Secondly, Mothermander is another banner unit that can be quite dangerous for people to deal with. If those units survive, Lion adds an extra point of damage for each, which is just a huge amount of burn. It’s expensive, and it’s not always going to stick, but it can handily win games.
- So…. while most options like Clapback or Volley wish they were Hail of Arrows, this wishes it was Maelstrom. True, this is one sided with burning and healing, but the amount of mana we are sinking for this is just too much. If you want a powerful aoe option, you want Maelstrom, it’s cheaper, more reliable, and tends to generate more value.
- Just don’t. Even if you want to run this card, it works far better as an ood option from Light Ranger than whatever it could do during the early or midgame. Compare this to a 1c Call to Action or 2c Lightning Vial, and in the middle stages of the game this spell is obsolete.
The Flow of Flash and Burn
As what is basically a variant of Heatwave, Flash and Burn has a very similar playstyle of generating tempo and controlling the board. However, while Heatwave relies on setting up progressive swings of damage (Like with Gusto, Vlad, Blademaster + Flock) Flash and Burn does progressive burn damage throughout the match, and this is how most of its victories are secured.
Early sticky units like Flashbang and Halcyon make this deck stickier versus aggro than the competing Heatwave builds, but at the cost of vulnerability to spells. Utilizing these units to control the board is key, and works a bit easier than Heatwave in the aggro mirror. Shield, armor, and just good stats means units can trade effectively, and units like Halcyon especially are good for draining valuable removal options like Snap Trap or Grim Reprisal. Combining these sticky units with a fire package, we have now created a strong method to ensure that our elemental synergies go off well. Run Wild into Trailblazer is quite strong. But, if we want to use it well we need to control the board. But, if we develop a Halcyon t2, then Sidekick + removal t3, we can trade our units for an easy path to face with our Trailblazer. Bonus points if we find Fire Rune or On the Hunt with this play, as Rune is available to buff Halcyon and a 0c On the Hunt is a Godsend for Khan and Mountain Lion.
Admittedly, the options for controlling the board once again fall back to light’s units, meaning that it is somewhat lacking in novel options compared to heatwave. But, at this point I’m going to take a bit of time to go over the generic Fox spells all builds are going to enjoy if they want to control the board. Easily the most important of these is Hail of Arrows. While more expensive than Claw Swipe, Hail of Arrows does a few key things that make it more valuable for a more skilled player. First, revealing the cards in the enemy’s hand gives more info than one would expect. If we see options like Shredder or Eye Spider pop up, not only are those cards worse, but now we can play around them much better. Being able to rationally use cards better than the opponent is fundamental to card-advantage theory, and cards that allow us to do this are notoriously capable of letting players subtly slip away with games. Secondly, because we reveal the leftmost and rightmost unit, we further gain info on the rest of their hand. If we hit the first cards available the odds are good that their hand is low on spells, or that their deck is high on units. If we hit two cards next to each other, we know every other card in their hand is a spell. Learn the patterns, and Hail of Arrows can give you a lot of insight.
A couple other staple options include Sunder, Maelstrom, Claw Swipe, Aegis of Light, and Deep Xlice. What brings these cards together is that while they are nichly good at answering specific problems (Etherwail, Wall of Dead, Armor) they have enough general utility in the other matchups to be consistently good cards. When evaluating tech answers to help you control the board, think about 2 things.
- Who am I trying to beat on board?
- How does this card play in the other matchups?
If you are taking an answer for Etherwail, that could be Sunder, Maelstrom, or Aegis. But, if you are also having trouble with things like Zoey swarm builds, something like Sunder covers both of those well. If you are trying to answer Zam and Swarm though, Deep Xlice may be better for its utility. Cards don’t exist in a vacuum; always be thinking in terms of how they relate with other cards in the meta.
Finding Burn Opportunities
What makes Flash and Burn interesting is that it’s basically trying to play a generic Strength strategy and a generic Agility strategy at the same time. We’re using these well-statted units to control the board, but also we’ve got a lot of tempo-based spells and effects that move us towards a faster game plan. The appeal of this is that when executed well we can whittle away at our opponent’s cards and health at the same time through our numerous burn effects. For all intents and purposes, banner cards work as a flex here, solving either board control or burn needs. To this end, no card works better for Flash and Burn than Anoint in Flame. It’s slow, and generally not much damage in any given game. But, the early investment means triple banner plays become much more frequent, giving us far greater control over board. Greater board control means we trade with units less and therefore go face with units more. This isn’t infallible; both Chain Storm and Imposter are generic cards that answer this brutally, but just getting 2-3 turns of banner may be worth it. Or, you can just use this to light someone’s face on fire too. That’s always an option.
In the more traditional burn category, we have a couple solid choices. Cheap, passive burn like Slash and Bolt can add up, and fire’s frequency to charge through cards like Hot Dog, Run Wild, and Vlad can be quite hard for control decks to proactively defend against. The aforementioned Mothermander + Mountain Lion (I like to call this one the M&M) can churn out immense damage over numerous turns. That numerous-turns aspect may become a liability though, as options like Waterline are cheap and efficient. Furthermore, by the time people finish this ungodly length of Fox facts, everyone with half a brain will be running Maelstrom. Which would be especially harsh if one had a board composed primarily of innocent Firemanders. Hypothetically of course. Finally, Khan presents the opportunity for two instances of Catch! in a game. It’s a tad slow, but that’s 8 to 10 damage every game, and decent removal on top.
Flash and Burn Final Summary
Flash and Burn is the more physically strong, but less strategic cousin to Heatwave. It’s durable units give it an edge in the aggro mirror, usually just bullying people into submission, but the lack of evasion or disruption means it can lose out to more unfair decks it can’t interact with.
Standout Card: Aegis of Light
If you just want to feel like this brutally powerful combat master, Aegis of Light is sure to scratch that itch. It has utility applications too, but it’s also just a BIG spell.
Coolest Art: Kha’s Wrath
I am well aware that I am a sucker for many things in Skyweaver, and this card hits all those buttons. Dragon? Yes. Story telling? Also yes. While it may not fit well into our aggro builds, this depiction of this terrifying dragon bringing his judgement is sure to send a shiver down any mortal’s spine.
Next week I’ll be covering two more Fox builds, one designed for those trickier foxes and one for the pure of heart. Stay tuned, and feel free to hit me up on discord if you have any questions. Until next time, see you in Sky!
Just Add Bacon is a fanatically faithful Fox 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/h3mnxPuN7V