Pro Tour Dominaria showcased how powerful the red cards are in Standard right now. Between Hazoret, Glorybringer, Chandra, and Rekindling Phoenix, we have some of the best rares and mythics available to take over a game. Combined with Goblin Chainwhirler’s release as the 3-drop to punish all sorts of cards in opposing decks, red is the top dog, but playing the simply powerful isn’t the only way to approach the archetype.
The Flame of Keld provides an incredible effect. A Saga that enters the battlefield for just 2 mana, it allows you to be up cards thanks to a draw two, and then turns all of your red sources into extra damage—an insane payoff. Now, the drawback is that you have to discard your entire hand in chapter 1, and you can’t actually perfectly set this thing up to get chapter 3 when your hand is stacked. Because of that, you have to utilize it properly.
This means that you’re going to want a lot of cheap spells to empty your hand ASAP. You’re also going to want as much cheap burn as you can fit into the deck in order to maximize the potential of its final chapter. Cheap red creatures also get a bonus from the Saga, so having a board presence complemented by burn spells is the best way to abuse this effect.
Bomat Courier may not be a red source to deal extra damage, but it is an amazing way to make sure that your hand is stocked after chapter 1 of The Flame of Keld has resolved. Getting a few extra cards, especially in your upkeep before you draw for your turn and get 2 extra cards from your Saga, means that you’re going to have tons of options to work with when your damage is getting amplified. The fact that you’re also getting one of the more powerful cards in Standard and a great source for some early damage means that Bomat Courier is an easy inclusion despite being so poor against Goblin Chainwhirler.
Ghitu Lavarunner and Soul-Scar Mage give you additional 1-drops that just happen to dodge the 1 damage dealt by Chainwhirler. They’re also both Wizards, giving you access to cheap copies of one of the best new burn spells in Wizard’s Lightning. With either of these on the battlefield, your Wizard’s Lightning turns into Lightning Bolt, and all of these cards work well with The Flame of Keld.
Your other burn spells to complement Wizard’s Lightning are Shock and Lightning Strike. You’re also going with a full playset of Abrades. Killing creatures and killing Vehicles are both important in Standard, so even though Abrade can’t go to the opponent’s face like you might prefer, it’s still good enough to play here.
You also have some combat “tricks.” Warlord’s Fury is sorcery speed, so it’s not as flashy, but it does replace itself while helping to pump a Lavarunner or triggering prowess on Soul-Scar Mage. Built to Smash provides what will often be 3 extra damage for just 1 mana, which is a great rate even before factoring in pumping Lavarunners or Mages, and casting it on a Bomat Courier will likely kill the opponent’s blocker while dealing some extra damage for just 1 mana.
Goblin Chainwhirler might be the best card in Standard. It pushes so many great cards almost completely out of the format and the combination with Soul-Scar Mage is true insanity to permanently shrink the opponent’s creatures. Finishing off planeswalkers, dealing a point to the opponent, and getting a 3/3 first strike for just 3 mana are all excellent and combining Chainwhirler with The Flame of Keld to wipe the opponent’s board is ridiculous.
The Flame of Keld has potential to be a top player in Standard, and while red decks are at their peak and crushing the metagame, this one attacks from a very different angle than the ones most players are used to.