Born of the Gods Preview—Satyr Firedancer

Posted in Perilous Research on January 23, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome to another week of Born of the Gods previews. Today, we'll be looking at a unique card that has the potential to do some very powerful things. There's something heartwarming about aiming a burn spell at your opponent's face without definitive knowledge that it will be lethal or put you in a position to win the game the following turn. Doming our opponent reminds us of a simpler time; a time where we didn't know any better.

Generally speaking, we want to be aiming our burn spells at our opponent's creatures until our opponent is in range of being burned out of the game. It's bad business to aim our burn directly at our opponent when he or she has a creature in play. The creature in play is going to deal damage equal to its power in multiplicative intervals. We aim our Lightning Bolt at our opponent's 3/3 instead of at our opponent because his or her 3/3 is essentially going to represent 3 points of damage for each subsequent turn.

Still, getting burned directly at an early stage of the game is nothing short of terrifying, especially if we're playing against a strong player. Our opponent wouldn't be lavish with the burn spells unless he or she had already done the math and confirmed the route to victory.

Today's preview card encourages us to aim burn spells directly at our opponents. It allows us to use our burn spells to affect the board while still taking chunks out of our opponent's life total. Let's take a look at Satyr Firedancer!

Satyr Firedancer effectively turns every Lightning Strike we cast into a landfall-triggered Searing Blaze, but the cap of awesomeness that we can achieve with this card is pretty high. Let's talk a bit about this card's implications when it's played alongside a nice suite of burn spells. Decks with a good amount of card draw/burn and Satyr Firedancers can grind out opponents with relative ease, simply aiming burn spells at their opponents and killing creatures while whittling away at their opponents' life totals.

Satyr Firedancer's power level in a given format will be directly correlated with how strong the burn spells are and how big the most-played creatures of the format are. I wouldn't be surprised if people started playing this card alongside things like Blood Scrivener, or Dark Confidant, in older formats. Combining Satyr Firedancer with Dark Confidant in Modern also gives us access to Blightning, a card that becomes all sorts of absurd when used in conjunction with Satyr Firedancer.

In Standard, Satyr Firedancer makes cards like Skullcrack go from being questionable at best to very reasonable sideboard options for a lot of matchups. Cards like Clan Defiance, Rakdos's Return, and Aurelia's Fury become huge effects with Satyr Firedancer in play. My favorite of these interactions is Rakdos's Return. Being able to interact with the opponent's board on the same turn we clear out his or her hand is almost always going to result in victory. It's tempting to play the big X spells and Satyr Firedancer in a deck that can power up its X spells with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and a lot of heavily devoted red cards. However, we may not be able to play enough burn to make our Satyr Firedancer relevant if we're using a lot of slots on creatures designed to maximize our devotion.

WBR Satyr Firedancer

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This deck doesn't seem like it knows what it wants to be doing. Sure, the deck can draw well and beat just about anything, especially when it gets to be on the play, but we're going to lose a lot of games because of the deck's inconsistencies.

Let's try another version of the Satyr Firedancer deck that might fare a bit better. We can streamline the deck and make it into a pile of burn spells with a few cheap creatures; that might end up being a better use of our time than trying to build a board presence. We're making our burn spells work harder, so we may as well play all of the available burn spells.

Boros Satyr Firedancer

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This deck seems a lot better. Chandra's Phoenix gives the deck longevity and another way to reward ourselves for aiming burn spells directly at the opponent. The deck's creatures allow us to get a lot of value out of each card we play. It's usually going to be correct for us to hold back with Satyr Firedancer until we can cast a burn spell on the same turn cycle. Against decks without removal we can just run the Satyr Firedancer out on the second turn and let it take the game over by itself. Boros Charm is usually a good card, but it becomes pretty absurd when we have Satyr Firedancer in play.

Let's see if we can go even more all-in on the burn plan here.

Rakdos Satyr Firedancer

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This version of the deck seems like it could be very fun and kill a lot of people before they have an opportunity to interact, but I'm not sure if it has the ability to go toe to toe with aggressive decks when it doesn't draw Satyr Firedancer, and its matchup against decks with ample lifegain is going to be rough before it gets access to Skullcrack in the sideboard.

I feel like we'll definitely see Satyr Firedancer in a competitive strategy at some point. The card feels like it could be an amazing sideboard option for a Modern Burn strategy. The card significantly increases the power of burn spells. The card suffers from requiring other cards to go along with it. Cards that are individually powerful are usually favored as Constructed formats progress. However, decks that are legitimate piles of burn spells anyway will be happy to use this as an effective way to easily race opponents with fast creatures. These matchups used to pose difficult races for the Burn strategy, but Satyr Firedancer does a great job of addressing the small creature problem without requiring too many slots or forcing us to aim burn spells at our opponents' creatures.

We should look forward to the many applications of Satyr Firedancer in Standard and Modern. The card will only become stronger as more burn spells get printed in Born of the Gods and subsequent sets.

Enjoy the heat of the fire.

Jacob Van LunenJacob Van Lunen
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Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published.

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