Jeskai Fires Deck Guide

Anthony LowryStandard

Editor’s Note, May 11, 2020: This article was originally published on December 19, 2019. We want to ensure you have the most up-to-date information about popular decks, so we’ve updated this article and re-published it on May 11, 2020.

Editor’s Note: June 1, 2020: Fires of Invention and Agent of Treachery have been banned in Standard and Historic. Read the full announcement from Wizards of the Coast here.

Jeskai Fires has been one of my favorite decks in Standard since its inception, and it’s clear that it’s one of the best decks, if not THE best deck in Ikoria Standard. Boasting a heavy-hitting curve and versatile planeswalkers, Fires has been a formidable archetype for months, and it continues to evolve and dominate.

Back when I first covered Fires in December, the deck utilized Cavaliers as haymakers, often playing two for massive card advantage and huge life total swings. I managed to do particularly well with this version:

Jeskai Fires, by Anthony Lowry

4 Fae of Wishes
4 Cavalier of Flame
2 Cavalier of Gales
2 Kenrith, the Returned King
4 Sphinx of Foresight
3 Bonecrusher Giant
4 Teferi, Time Raveler
4 Fires of Invention
1 Drawn from Dreams
3 Deafening Clarion
1 Justice Strike
1 Aether Gust
3 Castle Vantress
1 Fabled Passage
2 Island
2 Mountain
1 Plains
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Temple of Epiphany
3 Temple of Triumph

4 Legion Warboss
1 Chandra, Awakened Inferno
1 Casualties of War
1 Disenchant
1 Devout Decree
1 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
1 Ethereal Absolution
1 Planewide Celebration
1 Time Wipe
1 Solar Blaze
1 Enter the God-Eternals
1 Ugin the Ineffable

What made this deck stand out was its absurdly good match-up against aggressive strategies. It single-handedly pushed aggro decks out of the metagame because of the one-two punch of Bonecrusher Giant and Deafening Clarion — both insurmountable obstacles for smaller decks to navigate. And just when they think they’re in the clear, Cavalier of Flame, Cavalier of Gales, or even better, Kenrith, the Returned King can come down and take over the game. This solidified the deck against anything going under it, and it only really had to worry about decks that could go over it or last longer.

Updates for Ikoria

With Ikoria now in the mix, the deck has received a complete facelift. We shave down on some Cavaliers, namely Cavalier of Gales, and add more lean card advantage spells and some more resiliency, like Narset of the Ancient Way and Elspeth Conquers Death. The “blue Once Upon a Time,” Sphinx of Foresight, will remain a staple in this archetype, as it’s still the best turn four follow-up to Fires. Kenrith appears in greater numbers to make up for the absence of Cavalier of Gales, and we can afford to play a few more lands now that we have Triomes (cycling is secretly one of the best things to happen to this deck).

Ikoria has also introduced two companions that have made this deck even more powerful: Keruga, the Macrosage and Yorion, Sky Nomad.

Keruga Fires

The first new Fires builds we saw with the release of Ikoria incorporated Keruga. Fires decks already barely played any cards that cost less than three, so Keruga is a very easy inclusion. More card draw is always welcome, and getting at least two extra cards on turn five is a huge boon. The 5/4 body isn’t too shabby, either.

Sample 4C Keruga Fires decklist.
Order the full list from Card Kingdom or export it to MTG Arena.

Another big change to this deck is the ability to splash a fourth color, usually black. You aren’t using your mana once Fires of Invention is in play, so you can cycle whenever you need to. Packing as many cycling cards as you can (without losing any threat density) not only allows you to play more lands, but enables the fourth color at minimal cost. This will give you the black activation cost on Kenrith or sideboard Kunoros, Hound of Athreos for a Grafdigger’s Cage effect.

Yorion Fires

The second — and arguably more powerful — build of Jeskai Fires goes, way, way bigger. And the icing on the cake? If you manage to compete, it’ll just steal your threats, too!

Sample Yorion Fires decklist.
Order the full list from Card Kingdom or export it to MTG Arena.

The game plan is similar to most other Fires decks: control the board, play Fires on turn four, and start landing haymakers. But since you aren’t playing Keruga, you get to play as many cheap cantrips as possible. (You’ll need it, too, since you start with an 80 card main deck.) 

While Omen of the Sea and The Birth of Meletis may seem innocuous, you can turn these into resources and threats down the line. You can turn an 0/4 Wall into an Agent of Treachery with Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast’s -2 ability. You can blink Omen of the Sea with Yorion and allow for more velocity with Teferi, Time Raveler. Shatter the Sky is your sweeper of choice, and is also powerful against the Jeskai Fires decks of smaller card counts.

Of course, Lukka is the card that brings this all together. There was some mild buzz surrounding this card during spoiler season, but he’s found a firm home here in Yorion Fires. Using his +1 blind is often fine, but you have so many ways to manipulate your draws that you can consistently find Agent of Treachery. But the real power in this card is its -2 ability. This deck creates a ton of expendable creatures with The Birth of Meletis, Castle Ardenvale, Shark Typhoon, Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis, and Omen of the Sun; Lukka allows them to snatch your opponent’s scariest permanents and ensure that no deck in the format can go bigger than you.

Lastly, there’s Yorion itself. This card synergizes with pretty much everything: your two-mana enchantments, your Elspeth Conquers Death, Shark Typhoon, Planeswalkers — everything. Sometimes, just blinking one or two permanents is enough to induce a concession from your opponent. Playing 80 cards really doesn’t feel like a drawback when all your cards are useful, your mana base is consistent, and you have so many ways of finding what you need. Yorion has solidified itself as one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful companion in Standard, and this deck exemplifies its power.

Fire it Up

Free spells have always been destined to warp formats. It happened with Storm, it happened with Phyrexian mana, and it’s happening here with Fires of Invention. Companions and cycling have taken the deck to even greater heights, and I expect to see it dominate from here on out!