Taking Turns with Fires of Invention in Modern
Taking Turns decks have always held a special place in my heart, but they could never quite get there fast enough. The most reliable extra turn spell is five mana, and at that cost, you either need to ramp a lot or hold the opponent off for quite a few turns. Most of the time, it was easiest to just hold the opponent back, since ramping tended to be a bit too hit-or-miss. But now, with Fires of Invention and this list from the man himself LSV, we get a glimpse into what we can do with a bit of red added in.
Fires of Invention is the new engine of the deck instead of As Foretold, as Fires is better in almost every way. The 4 drop comes down and can cast a 4 drop to follow it up, As Foretold would have entered a turn sooner but taken 3 more turns to get to play the 4 drop. The upgrade may seem insignificant but it opens up 4 more extra turn effects in Savor the Moment. Now that we are up to 8 easy Warp effects, the deck can push it into overdrive.
Starting off, we have 2 Simian Spirit Guide, which ramps us just a bit so we can start comboing off as early as turn 3 and its the only kind of acceleration we have access to. We rely on a few different card advantage engines to keep things flowing. Jace, the Mind Sculptor helps fix our draws, keep our opponent away from their best cards, and can give us a win condition over the course of our many turns. Narset, Parter of Veils keeps our opponent from getting too much gas from our draw engines and finds us more Time Warps when we’re comboing, and Jace gives us a nice draw engine and mini-win condition with a couple activations of his ultimate. Finally, Chandra, Torch of Defiance gives us a little bit of ramp if we don’t have Fires out yet, draws us cards, and wins us the game much faster than our other Planeswalkers. Howling Mine gives us a ton of extra drawing power while we’re taking our turns, and Dictate of Kruphix does the same thing but lets us get the first card since it has flash.
In the spell department, we have Lightning Bolt to take care of any creatures or planeswalkers that get in our way, or to go straight at the opponent if we need to speed up our clock. There’s also Opt and Serum Visions, both of which let us fix our draws, and Cryptic Command, which can offer protection, a handy Boomerang, card draw, or even a pseudo-Time Warp if our opponent relies on attack with creatures too heavily. The rest of our spells here are, essentially, all Time Warp effects. We have the namesake, a straightforward, no-frills extra turn spell that does exactly what we want. Then we have Exhaustion, which is a classic Taking Turns card made even better thanks to the addition of Fires of Invention. Exhaustion may not be a true Time Warp, but when your opponent almost completely skips their untap step, the effects are strikingly similar. Finally, there’s Savor the Moment, which was experimented with in the past (especially in As Foretold lists) but largely considered to be a dud. Despite the fact that it’s a 3-mana extra turn spell, it completely stops you from continuing the combo on your next turn. Unless, of course, you don’t actually need your lands untapped to cast spells. Which, it turns out, we don’t! Since we can continue to do everything we need even with our lands tapped, Savor the Moment becomes a perfect extra turn spell, costing us just a single blue mana more than Time Walk itself.
Our lands also offer a lot of versatility, and give us things to do with our mana since we don’t need it for spells anymore. Castle Vantress lets us fix our draws, and coincidentally comes online exactly when we have enough lands for Time Warp. If we need to, it’s easy enough to tap all of our lands on our upkeep, Scry 2, and potentially find another extra turn spell if we need it. Mikokoro, Center of the Sea gives us another draw engine, and happens to come online once we have mana for Savor the Moment and Exhaustion. Mystic Sanctuary pulls a lot of weight here, allowing us to buy back our extra turn spells or even the occasional Lightning Bolt, Opt, or Cryptic Command if we need it. The Snow-Covered Islands and Steam Vents cast our spells, and our fetches allow us to get the colors we need and also give us a way to fetch Mystic Sanctuary at-will.
In the sideboard, we have Engineered Explosives to deal with a large quantity of small permanents, Dispel and Mystical Dispute to protect our combo turn from counterspells and deal with opposing combos, and Spell Pierce and Negate to help with both of those but also deal with Planeswalkers. Extra copies of Lightning Bolt can help out if there are too many opposing creatures, and Abrade can do a similar job while also taking out any artifacts that might hinder our plans. Pyroclasm gives us access to a small board wipe, and Thing in the Ice can be a great way to turn the corner much quicker than our opponent might expect and another angle to win a game.
- You can start taking extra turns somewhat reliably as early as turn 3. Exile Simian Spirit Guide and tap 3 lands for Fire of Invention, then free cast Savor the Moment or Exhaustion to get started.
- If you have Fires down and 3 Islands, try to hold back your fetches, since you can crack them and find a Mystic Sanctuary to get back extra turn spells in a pinch.
- The deck has a variety of ways to win the game, and some of them are more reliable than others. Simian Spirit Guide can technically win if given enough time, but generally your best win conditions are going to be Chandra and the Jaces, with Chandra being the fastest way to close the game out.
- Cryptic Command can be very similar to a Time Warp if your opponent plays into it. If they tap all or most of their mana for a spell in their precombat main phase, you can counter it and tap their creatures to make sure their turn is wasted. If they go to combat first though, you can still try for a tap all + draw, or wait for their second main and hope for the counter + draw. This last option is very risky though, since you end up wasting a turn if they don’t throw out something for you to counter.
- Darksteel Reactor is far from a good card, but if you can chain together turns for long enough, it could definitely win you the game. This one is not recommended for those of you who actually want to win, but it is recommended for those of you who are looking for a real challenge.
- The Magic Mirror from Throne of Eldraine, in a similar way, gives you an incredibly powerful draw engine for as little as 3 mana, but be careful you don’t end up drawing too many cards! Magic Mirror feels like it’s really good when it’s good, but sometimes it’ll just sit in your hand for a little longer than you might like.
- Folio of Fancies is another draw engine, and one that I somehow like more in this deck than even The Magic Mirror. You can cause your opponent to have a lot of cards in hand over the course of your turns, and then using Folio’s second ability to finish them off should be almost trivial. Add in the fact that with Fires, you have plenty of extra mana lying around, and this seems like a fun include with a relatively low opportunity cost.
- Keeping on the Eldraine train here, Midnight Clock gives us extra mana, lets us build up to a Wheel, and even gives us a mana sink if we have nothing better to do with our mana. And it pairs pretty well with Darksteel Reactor, since we can go through our deck and play all of our extra turn spells all over again.
- Turning away from Eldraine now, Temporal Mastery also seems like a fun include, because Miracle is always fun, and now easier than ever to trigger thanks to Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Mystic Sanctuary.
Eldraine has really given this deck a power boost, and there are even more cards from the set and beyond that you can try out to really make this deck feel like it’s your own. Taking Turns has always been seen as a very low-power deck, and while it’s definitely no Tron, it definitely is liking the power bump it got, and it’s somehow even more fun now than ever before.
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