Enigmatic Incarnation: Explorer’s Premier Toolbox Deck

Christian "Sir EPIC" hit Mythic #469 in eight days playing Enigmatic Fires this season. Here, he shares the deck, sideboard guide and tips for piloting Explorer's premier toolbox deck.

Meet EPIC, Your Guide

Hi, my name is Christian, but you’ll more likely recognize me by my online handle Sir EPIC. I’ve been playing Enigmatic Fires since its creation in both Pioneer and Explorer. Thanks to this, I’ve played hundreds of games with the deck and have reached Mythic on the Best-of-Three Explorer ladder multiple times. Currently, I have an all-time win rate of over 60% with the deck, and today, I want to share everything I know about Enigmatic Fires in Explorer.

What is Enigmatic Fires?

Enigmatic Fires is a “tap out”-style control deck that transforms into a creature-based toolbox deck using the additional space Yorion, Sky Nomad provides in deckbuilding. The early turns of the game typically involve drawing cards and interacting with the opponent by using enchantments while looking for a moment to play either Enigmatic Incarnation, Fires of Invention (or both) to take over the game. Given enough care and foresight in deckbuilding when filling out this toolbox, Enigmatic Fires can be a contender in any metagame.

Enigmatic Incarnation
Buy on TCGplayer $461.69
by Sir EPIC
2 mythic
58 rare
8 uncommon
12 common
Artifacts (4)
Portable Hole
Lands (33)
Mana Confluence
Glacial Fortress
Sunpetal Grove
Breeding Pool
Ketria Triome
Stomping Ground
Sacred Foundry
Savai Triome
Raffine's Tower
Zagoth Triome
80 Cards
15 Cards

Six Packages

When first looking at an Enigmatic Fires decklist, it can be a confusing mass of multiple moving parts. However, the deck can be broken down into several packages: engine, removal, card advantage, toolbox, manabase, and sideboard.

The Engine

At its core, Enigmatic Fires is a deck that heavily relies on various synergies in order to take over the game. As such, identifying key cards that make the deck function, also known as “engine cards”, is extremely important in deck construction. 

While it is difficult to interact with, Enigmatic Incarnation presents itself as a deckbuilding challenge as you have to balance the enchantments with the creatures. As a result, when looking at creatures available to us in Explorer that have powerful effects when they enter the battlefield, they all tend to cost three mana. In addition, with there being a plethora of two-mana enchantments that either draw cards or interact with the opponent, a “two-mana enchantment to three-mana creature” curve is implemented. As we move up the curve, fewer creatures or enchantments become playable, as these cards have a much higher impact. Therefore, selecting which creatures that are chosen to play becomes that much more important up the curve.

Fires of Invention is the other main engine of the deck, allowing the deck to function when Enigmatic isn’t available or is shut down through effects such as Graffdigger’s Cage or Weathered Runestone. Even so, Fires is a great way to get ahead of the opponent and usually forces them to respond to it. While decks running Fires tend to have the problem where drawing multiple copies is bad, that is not the case with this deck. In fact, drawing multiples allows us to tutor out a powerful five-drop creature with Enigmatic while still being able to use mana for activated abilities or to cast spells for free on subsequent turns.

Like many Fires decks in the past, this is a deck that plays Yorion, Sky Nomad as its companion. Usually, having more cards in a deck tends for a deck to not have the same level of consistency that 60-card decks have. However, we use this to our advantage. By reducing the frequency of certain cards drawn, we are able to play with the knowledge that we are less likely to naturally draw a tutor target. In addition, having access to a turn-three play by “buying” Yorion into the hand by paying three mana and then having it as either a turn-five threat or a high-value turn with Fires of Invention out is a great play to have access to, especially in the slower matchups. 

Lastly, we have one of the strongest cards in the format in Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. This single card does so much for the deck as it, if left unchecked, creates a body, generates mana, filters through the deck, and presents itself as a threat after it flips. In addition, having multiples enables the deck to threaten a combo-esque win by them making copies of one another on the opponent’s end step and then attacking with these token copies for the win. As such, while it is an enchantment, you’ll find that you’ll rarely want to sacrifice it to Enigmatic unless absolutely necessary.

The Removal

One of the issues with any deck relying on key synergies is that they typically require time to get them online. As such, the interaction, or removal, that Enigmatic Fires runs become immensely important to ensuring that the game plan is enabled to take over the game. 

To begin, the printing of Leyline Binding completely changed the removal package of the deck. Not only is it a spell that can interact with opponents in the early-game, but with Enigmatic out, it can transform into a game-ending, seven-drop creature. While some tuning of the manabase is required to quickly achieve full Domain, Leyline Binding can be supported with relative ease through the use of Triomes and Shocklands. 

While Leyline Binding can answer any threat on the battlefield, a quicker removal spell is required to answer the early threats in the metagame. As a result, Portable Hole is included. Once relegated to being a two-of or a sideboard card, Portable Hole is the first card showcasing the effects of a changing metagame. With the rise of Mono-Green and Mono-White thanks to Explorer Anthology Two, its inclusion allows the deck to effectively answer threats that the aggressive decks present while still being able to answer a mana dork with summoning sickness has become more and more critical. Once Chained to the Rocks gets printed into Explorer, expect it to take over Portable Hole’s slot. 

With Leyline Binding and Portable Hole being the two primary removal spells, Trial of Ambition is included to answer threats that fall in between. While some leaner builds of the deck can play with just eight removal spells to open up additional flex spots, the deck tends to perform better with a few additional removal spells. Trial is able to answer threats that Portable Hole can’t, and answers creature threats so that Leyline Binding can be used on permanents that are harder to interact with. 

Temporary Lockdown, like Portable Hole, is another card that has been added due to the shift in the metagame. In essence, it’s a mass Portable Hole that allows the deck to catch-up with what the opponent played in the early turns of the game. While it does fail to synergize with Portable Hole, it is currently a great option to clear the board of other noncreature permanents such as Wolfwillow Haven

Moving away from the primary removal spells, we do run some removal spells on creatures in Deputy of Detention and Skyclave Apparition. Deputy and Skyclave are cards that go hand-in-hand with each other. These two cards are the primary tutor targets when the deck is looking to remove a threat from the opposing board. Skyclave is tutored for more often, as the exiled card never returns to the battlefield, whereas Deputy is better at taking out multiple threats at the same time or threats that Skyclave cannot target. In addition, Deputy can also clean up any tokens that Skyclave generates so it is important to plan out what threats will be removed in order to give the opponent the least amount of power possible.

The Card Advantage

When looking at which Enchantments to play in Enigmatic Fires, we’re looking for ways to mitigate the sheer size of it being an 80-card deck by drawing cards. However, when looking at two-mana Enchantments, just drawing a card isn’t good enough. The deck requires that the card does something in addition to drawing cards for us to be able to keep up with the Explorer metagame.

The first of these cards is Nylea’s Presence. While often overlooked, the recent addition of Nylea’s Presence through Explorer Anthology Two has already made its impact, and is one of the most critical cards in the deck. The ability for the deck to fix its mana, while at the same time turning on full Domain, allows it to make high-impact plays such as playing Presence on turn three and holding up Leyline Binding to then immediately sacrifice it to an Enigmatic trigger on the following turn.

While Nylea’s Presence is only really played in Enigmatic Incarnation, almost every deck playing Yorion as a companion tends to play Omen of the Sea, and we are no different. Omen is best at getting through the deck to find the cards that Enigmatic Fires is looking for while still having a relevant activated ability to dig deeper into the deck on either the opponent’s end step or during the upkeep. 

Rounding out the two-mana enchantments is Bitter Reunion. After the printing of it in Brother’s War, it was not immediately slotted in due to concerns of being a bad draw if you have no cards in hand. However, while it does tend to be trimmed in postboard games, the ability to draw a surplus of cards, in addition to having an activated ability to quickly close out the game, is nothing to scoff at. 

The Toolbox

This is where Enigmatic Fires has its flexibility. However, each card that is selected must fill a particular role.

The Three-Drops

The three-drops are where the bulk of the utility creatures lie. With the deck being able to play so many cheap enchantments to draw through the deck, having access to a litany of creatures to answer any battlefield allows us to go over the top of any deck in the format. 

While Black is used primarily for enabling Domain for Binding, we do run some number of Black creatures as they offer tools that are difficult to find elsewhere. Callous Bloodmage is the first of these creatures. Typically, the most common mode chosen on it is to exile the opponent’s Graveyard to stop key threats like Parhelion or Kroxa from returning. However, the other modes on it are extremely relevant. The additional body that it can generate allows it to be a great blocker while the card draw is relevant in the slower, grindier matchups.

The other Black three-drop is Gloomshrieker. Gloomshrieker is a three-mana enchantment creature, which allows the deck to bridge the gap and turn a two-drop Enchantment into a four-drop creature with Enigmatic, but it is its ability to recur cards from the graveyard that is the most relevant. Whether that be a removal spell such as Leyline Binding, a cantrip like Omen, or a threat that has already been answered, its versatility cannot be understated.

Much like Gloomshrieker, Knight of Autumn is another versatile card in the deck. All of its abilities are relevant in nearly every game that you play. The lifegain allows the deck to stabilize against aggressive decks; the artifact and enchantment destruction allows it to destroy pesky permanents; and the counters allow it to become a solid threat against control decks. 

Next, we have Moon-Blessed Cleric, which acts as an extra copy of any enchantment in the deck. This allows us to have not only a little bit more consistency with the 20 extra cards, but also allows the deck to play enchantment tutor targets such as Temporary Lockdown. While there can be some difficulties with putting cards on top of the deck when it comes to hitting land drops, the upside of it being a three-mana creature that can be tutored up allows the deck to use its creatures to tutor up enchantments in addition to using enchantments to tutor out creatures.

Last up is Glasspool Mimic. Glasspool acts as the second copy of any creature in the deck, meaning the deck can more confidently play one-ofs. In addition to it being a land, it can be an additional removal spell, another finisher, or a second Yorion to gain additional value or to protect the boardstate from the sorcery-speed sweepers that are in the format, making Glasspool Mimic an extremely flexible card.

The Four-Drop

On the whole, Enigmatic Fires cannot support many four-mana Creatures. As such, selecting a high-impact card that is relevant in all stages of the game is critical. While there are various options available, Siege Rhino is the one that answers this question.

Once known as The Menace to an entire Standard format, Siege Rhino gives Enigmatic Fires exactly what it’s looking for. While its body allows it to attack through or block almost anything in the format, its ability to drain the opponent for three life gives the deck another means of immediately stabilizing the battlefield while at the same time giving the deck a valuable card to bounce with Yorion.

The Five-Drops

With the three-drop slot designed to interact with what the opponent is doing, the five-drop slot is designed to contain high-impact, proactive threats. 

Probably the strangest of the five-drops, given the above criteria, is Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves. Simply put, Tolsimir is one of those cards that fills a necessary role extremely well. Tolsimir shines against aggressive decks where it makes two relevant bodies, kills an opposing creature, and gains three life. Even trading the token for a Bonecrusher Giant can be backbreaking for Rakdos Midrange.

While Tolsimir shines in aggressive matchups, the deck requires a threat against midrange and control decks. Kenrith, the Returned King fills this role while having relevant effects in almost any situation: haste allows the deck to close out games quickly, the counters turn tutor targets into actual threats, the lifegain closes the door on the opponent’s winning, the card draw allows the deck to fight in a top-deck war, and the reanimation allows Enigmatic Fires to buy back tutor targets that have already been played, or even a Yorion to protect the board. 

Finally, we have the maindeck Yorion. With the deck already running Yorion as a companion, naturally drawing it can surprise opponents. However, its true value comes from being able to protect important pieces during the opponent’s turn, such as sorcery-speed removal and sweepers, like Farewell, by tutoring Yorion out on the end step and blinking everything. 

The Seven-Drops

With the printing of Leyline Binding, Enigmatic Fires was finally able to answer the question that many decks try to answer: “what unfair thing is the deck trying to do?”. For Enigmatic Fires, we answer this question by putting a high-impact creature that can be copied or bounced onto the battlefield on turn four to completely shift the game into your favor. With that said, however, the deck cannot support too many seven-drops, as they are best when not drawn. 

The first of the two seven-drops is Agent of Treachery. Agent allows the deck to turn most boardstates around. Whether it’s taking a land to “Time Walk” your opponent, or taking their biggest threat and turning it against them, Agent of Treachery is able to accrue an insurmountable advantage to take over the game. 

While Agent tends to be good in slower matchups, the deck still requires an answer to early-game boardstates where Agent doesn’t perform at its best. As such, Titan of Industry is the solution to this problem. With it being able to answer nearly any boardstate by either making a second body, destroying a relevant artifact or enchantment, protecting a key creature, or gaining life, Titan of Industry always makes an impact. 

The Manabase

With how many requirements there are to cast the spells in Enigmatic Fires, it wouldn’t be correct to simply ignore the manabase. Every time a new card is considered into the deck, you have to ask yourself if the current deck’s manabase will support it. While most of the time the answer to this will be “yes”, there will be times when the manabase will need to be retooled. To begin, there are two important goals to keep in mind:

  1. Being able to cast the two-mana spells on curve
  2. Having the required Domain count to play Leyline Binding on turn two.

With these goals, the two most important Shocklands end up being Sacred Foundry and Breeding Pool. These are selected as Sacred Foundry allows the deck to play a Portable Hole on turn one and Breeding Pool works alongside Sacred Foundry to allow Leyline Binding to be cast on turn two. 

With those shocklands, Zagoth and Savai Triome are then played to ensure having full Domain off of one of the two shocklands. This is also why Stomping Ground and Raffine’s Tower are played but at a smaller number. The lone Ketria Triome also allows almost all of the two-mana spells to be cast off of it and any other untapped land.

“While Enigmatic has poor matchups, it will rarely be a poor deck choice going into a known metagame.”

While the Triomes and Shocks do cover the means of answering the aforementioned goals, we cannot play with only them, as it would make the manabase too slow and too painful. In addition, looking for lands that come into play untapped regardless of the turn is also important, with the bulk of the curve sitting between two and four mana. As a result, both the Fastlands and Slowlands cannot be considered. This leaves us with two options: Painlands and Checklands. If we were playing Eldrazi Displacer, Painlands would allow the deck to play it with no impact to casting Leyline Binding. However, given the current metagame of Explorer, Displacer doesn’t make a ton of sense and as such, Checklands are chosen. 

When selecting the Checklands, we have to consider which ones will come into play untapped. In addition, with Skyclave Apparition in the deck, we have to keep in mind of being able to cast it, as it can be considered one of the most difficult-to-cast cards in the deck due to the card needing two White sources to be cast. Therefore, Glacial Fortress and Sunpetal Grove are selected as they come into play untapped off of nearly every land already in the deck or any land having Nylea’s Presence attached to it. 

The last remaining slots in the manabase are used to shore up the mana and provide a basic land for when opponents decide to Field of Ruin us. As such, Mana Confluence is played as a necessary evil that pairs extremely well with Nylea’s Presence. With the deck running a little light on red sources due to more red cards being played, the basic land ends up being a Mountain.

The Sideboard

For the most part, the sideboard can be divided up into three separate groups: anti-aggro, anti-control, and graveyard hate.

Many of the cards that we bring in against aggressive decks, are designed to slow down the opponent. In this case, Enigmatic Fires runs Rending Volley and Temporary Lockdown. Rending Volley is the best interaction spell for some of the deck’s worst matchups, like Mono-Blue and Mono-White. With Temporary Lockdown being tuorable, it can answer the cheap threats that these aggressive decks present while still being able to slow down Mono-Green by removing all of their ramp, making it the deck’s primary sweeper of choice.

While these cards are important to slowing down the opponent and getting us to the late-game, there are other decks that try to control the game instead. As such, Enigmatic Fires looks for ways to disrupt its opponent from locking down the game through cards like Mystical Dispute and Nimble Larcenist. Dispute is the counterspell of choice for the deck, primarily due to its flexibility. Being able to protect or counter a key spell in the early parts of the game for a single mana is extremely important in the slower matchups. While Dispute is great for being a reactive card, being able to deal with a problematic card proactively can be equally important. Nimble Larcenist allows us to do this. At worst, it forces the opponent to use a removal or counterspell on it and not have that card available for a future threat. At best, however, it allows us to see the opponents game plan while taking an important card from them like a Farewell or a Storm the Festival.

While Koma, Cosmos Serpent can be considered a card for the control matchup, its flexibility allows it to be brought in across a variety of matchups. Typically in midrange or slower matchups, Enigmatic Fires tends to increase its density of threats after sideboarding. While Koma is very impactful in most matchups due to how difficult it is to interact with, it is relegated to the sideboard due to Agent and Titan being more impactful in specific matchups, making Koma a great card to swap in when one of the two are not relevant. There is also the hidden synergy between Koma and Yorion. Yorion is a Serpent, allowing it to be sacrificed to Koma’s ability. As such, we have the ability to protect it as soon as it enters and not have to wait until the opponent’s turn to have that protection lined up.

With ways of answering the various types of decks in Explorer attended to, Rest in Peace acts as the deck’s answer to the graveyard strategies of the format. While there are other options for graveyard hate, it being a two-mana Enchantment allows it to be sacrificed for a three-mana creature when necessary. 

Lastly we have a new addition from Phrexia: All Will Be One in Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines. At first glance, Elesh Norn could be considered a maindeck card due to its ability to double all of our enter-the-battlefield effects, however she is not the only option here, as Yarok, the Descrated was printed a few years prior with this same ability. While Yarok was played for some amount of time, its effect was found to be overkill, as we won games faster than we were already winning. With that said, the primary difference between Elesh Norn and Yarok is Norn’s ability to shut of the opponents enter the Battlefield effects. Looking at Explorer, there simply are not enough decks or cards to warrant her to be in the maindeck; however, there are various matchups where shutting off these abilities become crucial. Therefore, Norn finds its way into the Sideboard.

Tips for playing Enigmatic Fires

Learn the cards in the deck

Learning the deck should be one of the top priorities when playing Enigmatic Fires. This is a deck that punishes the pilot if they do not know what cards are in the deck. As such, understanding which enchantment to sacrifice to grab which creature is extremely important. While the deck may have some shortcuts, we have to be mindful that there are cases where these shortcuts fail and an alternative plan must be utilized. When playing the deck, having access to either a deck tracker (such as MTGA Assistant or Untapped) installed or the deck pulled up on a separate screen to view what is left in the deck can be extremely helpful when deciding on what card to tutor for. 

Don’t Fall Behind on Resources

Like other control decks, Enigmatic Fires is a deck that does not want to fall behind on resources and instead looks for ways to get ahead on resources. As such, we want to continuously play lands after turn five. Below is a good reference on what amounts of mana provide.

  • Six lands allows Leyline Binding to be cast for free off of Fires of Invention
  • Seven mana allows the deck to cast anything.
  • Eight mana gives the ability to buy and play Yorion from the Companion zone.
  • Ten mana allows the deck to cast Kenrith while holding up his reanimation ability to return Yorion to the battlefield to protect the board.

On the theme of not falling behind on resources, it’s also important that the opening hand has at least two lands and a relevant play on turn two in order to start gaining some advantage in the game. 

Beware of the Arena Settings

When playing Enigmatic Fires, you may want to disable “Auto Order Triggered Abilities” while playing the deck. This will allow you to adjust and confirm the order of triggers such as ensuring that the Omen, Reunion, and Presence triggers occur in the order that is best for the current situation. A good rule of thumb is to order the triggers so that Presence resolves first and Reunion resolves last. In addition, Arena fails to recognize complex sequences of playing cards and digging for answers. For example, ensure a White mana is up if Gloomshrieker is bringing back Leyline Binding or when the deck wants to hold up various spells on the opponent’s turn like Leyline or Mystical Dispute. To check this, simply drag the cards away from your hand to see what lands Arena is planning to use or tap your mana manually.

Sideboard Guide

Rakdos Midrange 

+1 Nimble Larcenist-2 Portable Hole
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent-1 Temporary Lockdown
+1 Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines

Matchup Feel: Favored but can still lose to discard and pressure.

Matchup Approach: One of the primary reasons to play the deck is that it beats other midrange decks like Rakdos Midrange. Enigmatic Fires can keep a relatively large number of hands against Rakdos Midrange as long as it has an ample amount of lands and card advantage or a key engine piece. This is important when fighting through the early turns against a deck with Thoughtseize and Lilliana of the Veil. As such, waiting for the eighth mana to buy and cast Yorion can be important to get around these discard effects. However, Rakdos Midrange can still beat Enigmatic Fires through discard plus pressure as Enigmatic Fires has a much more powerful late-game when compared to Rakdos Midrange. Look to trade with opposing threats early on to protect your life total. 

Sideboarding Reasoning: For the most part, the deck’s removal doesn’t line up against Rakdos Midrange as well as it used to. While the printing of Leyline Binding helps, Trial of Ambition is a much superior removal spell in the matchup. We look to trim on Portable Hole and Temporary Lockdown due to their lack of targets while bringing in Nimble Larcenist, Elesh Norn, and Koma. Larcenist allows the deck to have a catch-all creature that can disrupt the opponents spells that they are looking to cast against the deck while Norn and Koma are brought in simply to increase the density of threats as once one threat sticks, it becomes extremely difficult for Rakdos Midrange to come back.

Mono-G Devotion

+2 Temporary Lockdown-2 Bitter Reunion
+1 Nimble Larcenist-1 Gloomshrieker
+1 Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines-1 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent-1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves

Matchup Feel: Tricky, comes down to a few critical moments and cards

Matchup Approach: This matchup comes down to a few key things: early interaction to slow them down and getting to an endgame as quickly as possible. Mono-Green can sometimes be considered a combo deck, as 14 devotion allows the deck to loop its Planeswalkers and then eventually kill us. When looking at opening hands, being able to answer the turn-one mana dork while either being able to play or dig towards an Enigmatic Incarnation is extremely important to winning. While the Agent endgame is typically the best way to close the game, Another notable way to close out the game is through a flipped Fabled of the Mirror-Breaker with a removal creature in play to lock out the opponent. With these endgames in mind, it is important to have an idea of what lines Mono-Green has access to. As such, asking yourself the question “what is the worst thing that Mono-Green can do next turn?” can be extremely important when figuring out what the best line of play is for a turn.

Sideboarding Approach: Enigmatic Fires is looking to interact and answer the early threats while expanding on its endgame. As such, the extra Temporary Lockdowns come in to answer the early acceleration that Mono-Green has while Nimble Larcenist looks to disrupt the opponents game plan. While Nimble Larcenist can exile Artifacts to buy time for the Karn, the Great Creator activations to matter less, its true targets are the Storm the Festivals that could be lying in hand to permanently remove one of the ways that Mono-Green can get ahead of us. Koma is brought in as an additional threat that can quickly clog up the ground to help stabilize the life total and turn off Nykthos or Karn for a turn cycle while Elesh Norn is brought in to turn off the various enter-the-battlefield effects in their deck. 

When removing cards from the deck in this matchup, we look to remove cards that favor a slower, grindy game in favor for a faster, more disruptive plan as mentioned above. As such, Gloomshrieker, Tolsimir, and a Fable get cut. While Tolsimir does get cut for similar reasons to Gloomshrieker, the other five drops tend to be tutored out first. Fable is a card that promotes the endgame that Enigmatic Fires is looking for. However, it can be slow and as such it does get trimmed. In addition, when looking for specific cards, Bitter Reunion does not dig as deep into the deck to find the cards that we are looking for when compared to Omen of the Sea and as such is cut.


+4 Rending Volley-2 Portable Hole
+1 Temporary Lockdown-1 Omen of the Sea
+1 Nimble Larcenist-1 Bitter Reunion
+1 Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines-1 Nylea’s Presence
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent-1 Callous Bloodmage
-1 Gloomshrieker
-1 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker

Matchup Feel: Slightly Favored; answering their three-drops is critical.

Matchup Approach: Before the printing of Kayla’s Reconstruction, the Angels matchup was not extremely difficult. But with Reconstruction, Angels now has that consistency with having eight cards that put high impact Angels into play. With that in mind, there are a lot of cards we have to answer with the most critical ones being Resplendent Angel and Righteous Valkyrie. Resplendent Angel makes additional bodies that we cannot block well while Righteous Valkyrie pumps the board. Being able to chip in for a few points of damage early on so that they can’t hit the critical life total of 27 goes a long way to managing their board. Therefore, having ways to either advance our gameplan quickly or disrupt our opponents plan early on becomes extremely important.

Sideboarding Approach: Simply put, the endgame of Enigmatic Fires is much more powerful than that of Angels. Most of cards that are being sideboarded in and out of the deck are selected with this in mind. Rending Volley becomes the primary removal spell of the deck while an extra Temporary Lockdown is brought in to clear the board of the relevant two-drops  (Bishop of Wings and Giada, Font of Hope) in addition to the potential Angel Tokens that could be generated. Nimble Larcenist, Elesh Norn, and Koma are brought in to disrupt the opponent’s gameplan, as Nimble can hit their card advantage spells while Elesh Norn simply shuts down the deck. While Koma can’t shut down the deck as much when compared to Norn, it can still shut down one creature so it can’t attack or block.

With this sideboarding strategy of bringing in ways to interact and disrupt Angels in mind, it becomes clear what we have to trim. Omen, Reunion, and Presence are trimmed for cards that we’d rather see in the matchup. In addition to this, Angels does not care about their graveyard so Callous Bloodmage is cut, and Gloomshrieker is designed for slower matchups. Lastly, with Rending Volley becoming the primary removal spell, as well as bringing in a second Temporary Lockdown, we can afford to cut some Portable Holes from the main deck. 

Gruul Vehicles

+2 Temporary Lockdown-1 Callous Bloodmage
+1 Nimble Larcenist-1 Gloomshrieker
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent-1 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
-1 Agent of Treachery

Matchup Feel: Slightly favored. Comes down to early interaction

Matchup Approach: A general rule of thumb is that Gruul Vehicles beats Enigmatic Fires by applying enough early-game pressure that we cannot stabilize before dying. The important cards to interact with are the mana dorks and Reckless Stormseeker. Stormseeker is important, as Enigmatic Fires tend to struggle with haste threats. Do keep in mind that Gruul Vehicles does run The Akroan War, and being able to answer that before they are able to win is important when trying to stabilize the battlefield. When mulliganing, it is important that opening hands contain some form of early interaction as the late-game of Enigmatic Fires will go over the top of Gruul Vehicles.

Sideboarding Guide: Like against Mono-Green, this matchup comes down to how much Enigmatic Fires can disrupt Gruul Vehicles in the early turns. However, Gruul doesn’t have a means of going over the top of Enigmatic Fires. Many of the cards that are for slower matchups, like Agent, Fable, Gloomshrieker and Bloodmage, are cut in favor for more early-game interaction like Temporary Lockdown. Enigmatic Fires should expect Gruul Vehicles to bring in aggressive-leaning cards like Embercleave and in response to this, Nimble Larcenist is brought in to hit Embercleave and the Vehicles that are in the deck. Koma takes Agent’s place and is swapped as Agent is not impactful enough in aggressive matchups. 

Mono-White Humans

+4 Rending Volley-1 Bitter Reunion
+2 Temporary Lockdown-1 Omen of the Sea
-1 Callous Bloodmage
-1 Gloomshrieker
-1 Yorion, Sky Nomad
-1 Agent of Treachery

Matchup Feel: Tough. Early-game interaction is required.

Matchup Approach: This is a tough matchup, as the aggressive creatures that Mono-White plays are extremely efficient. Having multiple cards to answer their threats is extremely important in the matchup. The most important one-drop for us to answer is Hopeful Initiate, as it can pick off relevant enchantments on the battlefield. While builds of Mono-White have moved away from a taxes plan post-board, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben can still put a wrench into the deck’s plan and should be answered as quickly as possible. However, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar is the card that Enigmatic struggles the most to interact with. It having four toughness means that Enigmatic can’t trade off with it easily and it cannot be removed by a Portable Hole effect due to costing three-mana. As such, if Leyline Binding wasn’t already used, it should be prioritized for high-impact threats like Adeline or Thalia. 

Sideboarding Approach: Since Mono-White looks to apply an overwhelming amount of pressure early on, Enigmatic Fires looks to bring in cards such as Rending Volley and Temporary Lockdown, while cutting many cards that are not for aggressive strategies. As such, Gloomshrieker, Yorion, and Agent are cut for this reason. While Callous Bloodmage can make an additional body, Mono-White tends to deal damage in chunks and with Brave the Elements now in the format, the Pest token becomes less relevant. Although Bitter Reunion and Omen of the Sea allow us to see more cards, they are trimmed in favor of cards that the deck actively wants to see. 

Keruga Fires

+4 Mystical Dispute-4 Portable Hole
+1 Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines-1 Callous Bloodmage
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent-1 Temporary Lockdown

Matchup Feel: Even. Comes down to stopping the opponent’s Fires of Invention.

Matchup Approach: Keruga Fires has the ability to take advantage of Fires of Invention much faster than us due to the surplus of activated abilities. In addition, with many ways for Keruga Fires to give haste to its creatures, the deck can win even when its opponent has a high life total. As such, the matchup tends to revolve around which deck can stick its powerful threats. While we can keep slower than usual hands, we have to be mindful of the powerful turns that Keruga can have starting on turn three. 

Sideboarding Approach: Simply put, Keruga Fires is a deck that wins by slamming threat after threat and having one take over the game. We have to interact more on the stack to mitigate the impact of the threats. Mystical Dispute is brought in for this reason and to answer the opposing Disputes that Keruga Fires should be bringing in. While Elesh Norn and Koma are also brought in to slow the opponent down as well as to increase the deck’s threat density. With neither Portable Hole, Temporary Lockdown, or Callous Bloodmage having no relevant abilities, these cards are cut.

Abzan Greasefang

+4 Rending Volley-4 Portable Hole
+1 Rest in Peace-1 Bitter Reunion
+1 Nimble Larcenist-1 Gloomshrieker
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent-1 Agent of Treachery

Matchup Feel: Favored if they don’t combo on turn three.

Matchup Approach: The Greasefang machup can be considered a “removal check” matchup for us. Essentially, we need to have a means of answering a Greasefang on the opponent’s turn three. If Enigmatic can answer that or Greasefang doesn’t have the combo on turn three, then the matchup becomes relatively easy as long as the vehicles in the graveyard are kept in check. As such looking for a means of answering an early Greasefang in the hand becomes almost a requirement for deciding to keep or mulligan.

Sideboarding Approach: Enigmatic Fires has to answer a Greasefang before it gets any value. As such, Rest in Peace, and Nimble Larcenist gives the deck a proactive means of dealing with a Greasefang, while Rending Volley acts as a great reactive answer. Koma is brought in as it can actively turn off the vehicles that are brought back. Portable Hole is cut as it doesn’t line up with their threats while Temporary Lockdown remains to answer any Cat Tokens that are generated off Esika’s Chariot.

The Mirror

+4 Mystical Dispute-4 Portable Hole
+1 Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines-1 Temporary Lockdown
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent+1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves

Matchup Feel: Even. Comes down to how long critical spells stick on the battlefield.

Matchup Approach: The mirror match for us comes down to which deck can stick their impactful spells and keep them there the longest. As such, both decks have to be mindful of when to play their Enigmatic Incarnation or Fires of Invention. Leyline Binding can also become a liability in this matchup, as many of the threats that can be removed have an immediate effect when they return to the battlefield. In addition to maintaining the battlefield, it is important to keep in mind that both decks have access to tools to recur cards from the graveyard. Therefore, knowing when to exile the opponent’s graveyard with Callous Bloodmage’s ability is also important.

Sideboarding Approach: We follow a similar sideboarding process as we did in the Keruga Fires matchup. Mystical Dispute is brought in to fight more on the stack while Elesh Norn and Koma are also brought in to slow the opponent down and increase the deck’s threat density. Portable Hole and Temporary Lockdown are cut due to not having enough relevant targets whereas Tolsimir, while extremely powerful with Norn on the Battlefield, is cut as it’s the weakest five-drop in the deck.

Azorius Control

+4 Mystical Dispute-4 Portable Hole
+1 Nimble Larcenist-2 Trial of Ambition
+1 Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines-1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent

Matchup Feel: Tricky, but slightly favored

Matchup Approach: Azorius Control is one of the more difficult matchups to pilot from the side of Enigmatic Fires. When analyzing the matchup, one key thing to recognize is what the opponent’s ideal curve is. In many cases it is: turn-one tapped land, turn-two Censor, turn three-Absorb, turn-four Deluge or Emperor and turn-five Teferi. Knowing this, playing around this curve and forcing the opponent to be mana inefficient is important. Playing a cantrip or fixing the mana when they have two mana up, buying Yorion when they have three mana and then slamming a threat when they have four mana up. With the amount of creature tokens that Azorious Control can generate, Make Disappear is being played in more lists. With this, Enigmatic Fires has to be mindful of playing around both of the soft counterspells that they can play. While games do tend to come down to if one of the deck’s threats can stick, the deck has to be mindful of Farewell as it is the best way for Azorious Control to reset the battlefield and graveyard thus removing any advantage that we may have. Setting up multiple Yorions to enter on your end step in order to protect the battlefield on the opponent’s turn is also an end state to work towards.

Sideboarding Approach: For the most part, the deck actively wants to see its cantrips so we do not cut any of them. Instead, we want to increase the threat density while adding in ways to attack the stack and hand. Therefore, Mystical Dispute, Nimble Larcenist, Elesh Norn and Koma are all brought in. To do this, we look to cut most of the creature interaction in Portable Hole and trim a Trial of Ambition. The reason that the Lockdown is kept in is to have a way to clean up their tokens. While Tolsimir does generate multiple bodies, the inability for it to efficiently answer any creatures is not enough for it to remain in the deck. 

Mono-Blue Spirits

+4 Rending Volley-1 Bitter Reunion
+4 Mystical Dispute-1 Nylea’s Presence
+1 Nimble Larcenist-1 Omen of the Sea
+2 Temporary Lockdown-1 Callous Bloodmage
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent-1 Moon-Blessed Cleric
-1 Gloomshrieker
-4 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
-1 Siege Rhino
-1 Agent of Treachery

Matchup Feel: Hard. Comes down to how much protection they have and how much interaction we have.

Matchup Approach: This is by far the toughest matchup for Enigmatic Fires. The general key to this matchup is to run the opponent out of resources in order to stick a threat. In order to stick a threat, disrupting the opponent at opportune times, such as attempting to interact on the opponent’s upkeep. This allows us to have the chance to play a threat on the following turn or to slow the opponent’s aggression. When looking at the actual threats, Fires of Invention is one of the most important to resolve, as many of the counterspells that they run can be considered “soft” counters and can then allow us to resolve other impactful spells. 

Sideboarding Approach: This can be considered the “Kitchen Sink” matchup for the sideboard. Every card except for Rest in Peace is good here and as such, we have to cut a ton of cards (including ones that could be considered decent in the matchup) to fit everything. As a result of Mono-Blue Spirits being an aggressive Blue deck, both the anti-Aggro cards of Rending Volley and Temporary Lockdown as well as the anti-Control cards of Mystical Dispute, Nimble Larcenist, and Koma are all brought in. Bitter Reunion, Nylea’s Presence, and Omen of the Sea are all trimmed, as the deck is bringing in many cards that we actively want to see. Callous Bloodmage is cut as none of the options on it are relevant. Gloomshrieker, Moon-Blessed Cleric, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, and Agent of Treachery are all too slow for this matchup and with the deck cutting all of its three-mana Enchantments, Siege Rhino also goes. 

Mono-Red Aggro

+2 Temporary Lockdown-1 Gloomshrieker
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent-1 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
-1 Agent of Treachery

Matchup Feel: Tough. Maintaining a high life total is important.

Matchup Approach: The most important resource is your life total as the more expensive and powerful cards will eventually take over the game. As with other aggressive matchups, we tend to take the role of the control deck in this matchup by removing threats and maintaining our life total. Simply put, this matchup can be considered a race between the two decks to see whenever Mono-Red is able to kill Enigmatic Fires before it stabilizes. 

Sideboarding Approach: While the sideboard isn’t exactly tuned to fight Mono-Red with Rending Volley being the primary anti-Aggro card of choice, the deck still has a few tools to utilize in this matchup. Temporary Lockdown acts as a cheap sweeper being able to remove multiple threats at once while Koma can clog up the ground. Gloomshrieker, Fable, and Agent are all cut due to their lack of speed in the matchup. 


+2 Temporary Lockdown-1 Gloomshrieker
+1 Nimble Larcenist-3 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
+1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent

Matchup Feel: Favored

Matchup Approach: While Sacrifice decks have fallen from favor due to Misery’s Shadow and the rise of Mono-Green devotion, it can still pose a threat if taken lightly. The general game plan for us tends to be similar to that of the Rakdos Midrange matchup. However, the Sacrifice decks tend to be more capable at aggressive starts. As such, opening hands have to take this into consideration when we’re deciding to keep or mulligan. 

Sideboarding Approach: Sacrifice decks tend to be an aggressive leaning midrange deck that utilizes a lot of cheap spells to gain an advantage while having a means of grinding out the game. As such, Temporary Lockdown is brought in to clean up the early permanents while Nimble Larcenist is brought in to disrupt the opponent’s gameplan and interaction they bring in post-board. Koma is also brought in as it can clog up many of the lines that Sacrifice has to apply pressure especially when compared to Agent. While Gloomshrieker is removed as it can easily die to a Mayhem Devil ping, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is cut strictly because of how devastating it is for the opponent to Claim the Firstborn any part of it. Whenever it be the token or the backside of Fable, allowing Sacrifice decks to gain an additional advantage when they tend to be the aggressive deck in this matchup is a recipe for disaster. 

Wrap up

Thank you so much for taking the time to read all of this! Words cannot express how grateful I am that I have gotten the ability to spread the word about this deck. In all, Enigmatic Fires is, by far, one of the most complex decks I have ever played due to all of the choices that have to be made during deck construction as well as all of the various lines available every turn. While Enigmatic has poor matchups, it will rarely be a poor deck choice going into a known metagame. 

  • Christian "Sir EPIC"

    Guest Author

    Christian, aka Sir EPIC, has been playing Magic since the days of Kaladesh and enjoyed Frontier before Pioneer existed. Naturally, when Pioneer was announced, he fell in love with the format - a love that is only exceeded by his love for Enchantments. Today, you can find him making Enchantments work at the highest level possible.

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