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Bursting onto the scene over the fast few years in the hands of Magic Online player Selfeisek, Mardu Pyromancer is a midrange strategy  deviating from the Tarmogoyf-laden strategies of Rock decks. Instead, it utilizes Faithless Looting and Young Pyromancer to pull ahead on resources, giving the deck a red heavy focus that allows it to play Blood Moon. While less acclaimed than Jund or Golgari Rock, Mardu Pyromancer nonetheless is the deck most suited to abuse a few new cards from Modern Horizons.

In this article, I’ll be evaluating the card choices for the archetype, in both the main deck and the sideboard, before

The Threats

Young Pyromancer | One of the core threats of the archetype, Young Pyromancer is a relentless threat that mitigates most of the shell’s drawback. By converting dead removal or hand disruption into 1/1 threats, Young Pyromancer produces both endless fuel for Yawgmoth and a stream of bodies to pressure the opponent. Young Pyro is simply the reason to play the deck.

Seasoned Pyromancer | The other pyromancer in the archetype, Seasoned Pyromancer costs more than Young Pyro and has a lower ceiling in terms of threat actualization, but trades this for a hand sculpting ability that ensures the deck never runs out of fuel. Additioanlly, Seasoned Pyromancer can generate extra bodies after it dies, giving more incidental bodies to the already token heavy archetype.

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician | While many lists choose to run Yawgmoth alongside Monastery Mentor, I prefer just Yawgmoth. Representing a huge threat in creature matchups alongside a card advantage engine, Yawgmoth is the missing piece for Mardu Pyromancer. Converting spells into bodies, which convert into more spells, gives the deck access to a late game card selection aspect that can also lock certain decks out of the game. The ability to spread -1/-1 counters onto creatures can remove many threats — like Steel Overseer through a Welding Jar. At least two copies is recommended.

Lingering Souls | A competitive staple since its printing, Lingering Souls serves as the primary means of mitigating Faithless Looting, while doubling up on board presence in grindy matchups. While lists have oscillated between three and four copies, and increase in planeswalkers and Arclight Phoenix warrants additional copies. While this list plays four, others opt for three copies and an extra Kaya’s Guile.

The Removal

Fatal Push | As staple as removal spells get, Fatal Push proves itself an effective contender in a format full of Thing in the Ice and fetchlands. Easy to set up with fetches, Yawgmoth or even Pyromancer tokens, Fatal Push is one of the core pieces of Mardu Pyromancer. A full four copies are standard issue in the deck, though copies can be trimmed for Surgical Extraction in graveyard heavy metagames.

Lightning Bolt | As with Fatal Push, keeping up is important for midrange decks in Modern. Often complicating this issue is the lack of free spells for Young Pyromancer, so maximizing Turn 1 plays is critical. Lightning Bolt serves as additional removal spells in the early game, but can translate into four of more damage when combined with Young Pyromancer.

Abrade | While not quite as efficient as Bolt or Push, Abrade is nonetheless worth playing. While in prior metagames this slot was occupied by Dreadbore or Terminate, the prevalence of Aether Vial and other artifacts makes Abrade a noteworthy inclusion. At least one copy is recommended, though playing additional slots in Eldrazi Tron or Humans heavy metagames is a smart switch.

Support Spells

Faithless Looting | While every article nowadays seems to include Faithless Looting (you can see other faithless looting decks here, here, and here), the card has proven itself to be both a leading enabler of unfair decks while improving the card quality of fair decks. Mardu Pyromancer uses Faithless Looting to enable small payoffs like Lingering Souls, but primarily uses it to avoid flooding in the mid game. Keep that in mind as you play this deck, noting that often the best turn to Looting here is Turn 3.

Unearth | While making immediate waves in Modern due to the interaction with Snapcaster Mage, Unearth offers more profound implications. Mardu Pyromancer can utilize it as another cheap spell for Young Pyromancer, or can churn through its deck with Seasoned Pyromancer. Mitigating the effects of both Faithless Looting and Pyromancer can convert Unearth into an additional threat, creating a streamlined card quality engine. A few copies make the list to start, though I would consider additional copies in variants playing Death’s Shadow.

Inquisition of Kozilek | A key part of Mardu Pyromancer’s early game, Inquisition allows the deck to capitalize on its fair plan. By removing key cards from the opponent, the game is immediately slowed down, allowing 2-for-1s to take over the game. While in other metagames Thoughtseize would see more play, the speed of Modern emphasizes cards that cost less than three as well as fast starts, making the life loss a real factor.

Thoughtseize | As discussed above with Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize serves as additional copies of early game interaction. While slowing the game down is the primary purpose, the ability to remove haymakers is what separates Thoughtseize from Inquisition. A couple copies is the go to right now, with a bunch of Monastery Swiftspear in the format.

Kaya’s Guile | Serving as an update to Kolaghan’s Command for graveyard themed metagames, this new addition packs a powerful punch. While it may seems somewhat overcosted, the ability to main deck a variety of graveyard hate shores up many of the unfair matchups, while serving as a powerful edict effect. Rarely is Kaya’s Guile a dead card — an important bar for Midrange decks to pass. I prefer two copies, though some versions opt for Monastery Mentor over one copy.

Surgical Extraction | Never a card that can be discussed enough, this free spell proves a critical component of most decks in Modern. Any deck that wants to cast Instant or Sorcery spells will find Surgical an attractive option, as removing even a single graveyard payoff can buy multiple turns. In Mardu Pyromancer, Surgical has the exceptional ability to combine with a hand disruption spell against even the fair decks of Modern. I’m playing two copies in the main deck, though anywhere from 0-3 can be played.

The Sideboard

Collective Brutality | Acting as a versatile sideboard card, Collective Brutality is seldom a dead card, as it functions as both removal and hand disruption. One copy is sufficient, though if Burn or Prowess pick up even more additional copies should be played.

Dreadbore | A flexible removal spell, Dreadbore represents yet another easy to cut sideboard card. I like it right now as an answer to nearly any threat against Azorius Control, but it also serves as a removal spell for Thought-Knot Seer or Karn, the Great Creator.

Blood Moon | With a bevy of fetchlands and basics, Mardu Pyromancer is in an excellent position to capitalize on the power of Blood Moon. Able to slow opponents down with hand disruption, often Blood Moon will end the game when backed by even solitary threats. Do keep in mind that with no basic Plains, any white card is uncastable under a Blood Moon, so sequence your spells with that in mind.

Plague Engineer | An unorthodox addition to midrange decks, Plague Engineer acts as a backbreaking sideboard card against both Humans and most go wide strategies. Additionally, the ability to unearth Plague Engineer gives it a resiliency against removal spells. With the popularity of Humans in the metagame, I would play two copies right now, though it may also be reasonable against Hogaak (naming zombie).

Leyline of the Void | Not much needs to be said about Leyline of the Void. With the best decks in Modern right now utilizing the graveyard (Izzet Phoenix and Hogaak, which you can find deck techs of here and here, respectively), Leyline is an easy include into the sideboard. Consider playing a full four as well as other graveyard hate if Hogaak continues to rise in popularity.

Ravenous Trap | As with Leyline, the need for graveyard hate is high. However, Ravenous Trap earns consideration over Leyline primarily due to the ability to cast it earlier than Turn 4 — while much less powerful when in the opening hand, it’s significantly better than Leyline on Turns 2/3. As such I recommend supplementing Leyline with Trap.

Wear // Tear | Chalice of the Void is on the rise, and with the popularity of Karn, the Great Creator plus Mycosinth Lattice an answer is necessary. Additionally, Wear//Tear serves as an answer for both Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace, playing a similar role as Nature’s Claim out of Hogaak sideboards.

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