Purphoros, god of the forge looks like a simplistic commander on the surface but when you take a deeper look at this famous Theros God you’ll see how much sequencing can matter. Let’s dive in.
Purphoros excels at dealing non-combat damage to opponents. Where other mono-red aggressive decks might have serious issues dealing with cards like Ghostly Prison, Purphoros allows you to play very passive, casting Purphoros and hiding behind a wall of dorks if you so choose.
His 3-costing ability to pump your team for +1/+0 is also pretty decent when you need to rumble into the red zone. If you attack before casting creatures you can threaten to pump your team in order to trade with higher toughness blockers. This can maximize your long-term damage output.
Any Purphoros deck allocates its deck design into mostly three main areas:
Pre-Purphoros: These are mostly mana rocks like Sol Ring or a number of two drop +1 mana rocks like Mind stone (casting Purphoros before turn 4 is usually ideal) but they can also be support cards like Goblin Warchief which will help us deal more damage after Purphoros comes into play. Any cards that are Pre-Purphoros (especially creatures) are all geared towards accelerating your rate of damage once Purphoros comes into play.
Dorks: These are small creatures with low converted mana costs that help you flesh out your mana curve and spend all your mana each turn.
Post-Purphoros: These cards allow you to vastly increase you creature count on board, causing Purphoros to deal lethal or near-lethal damage.
The order that you cast your spells matters a lot in magic, but it matters especially in Purphoros.
Imagine your deck as a giant cannon. Distance and impact force will change based off how high or low you aim your cannon. The same thing happens with any Purphoros deck; the way you build it and how your starting hand is positioned will greatly determine how fast and how much damage you can output after you cast Purphoros. When you play Purphoros remember it takes about 18-20 Purphoros triggers to kill all other players before you account for fetchlands, shocklands, and other life-costing abilities.
Different cards will also take on different or multiple roles and this makes sequencing more fun and challenging. We could hold Goblin chieftain in our hand until we have Purphoros in play to deal two damage, but often a haste enabler that could give a card like Krenko, Mob boss haste is worth more than that two damage. This deck utilizes a lot of goblin utility creatures and these payoff questions happen very often.
The amount of devotion to red that you have in play matters because it will turn Purphoros into a creature. In aggressive matchups this can be good because Purph can be a super strong attacker or blocker, but against exile-based removal decks it can lead to the removal of Purphoros. Use dorks like Skirk Prospector or cards like Spawning Pit to sac things to reduce your devotion when you need Purphoros to not be a creature.
Hell yeah we got some infinite combos – here’s the run down:
Dualcaster Mage and Twinflame : You cast Twinflame targeting a random dork, then hold priority and cast Dualcaster Mage. When Dualcastermage enters the battlefield you copy Twinflame, letting you create a copy that will target your Dualcaster Mage. This lets you create an infinite loop of Dualcaster Mages. You can include Heat Shimmer in your deck if you want another way to deploy this Dualcaster mage combo.
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts : This is a classic kiki combo where you target Conscripts with Kiki’s ability, creating a new Conscripts that will untap Kiki and refresh its’ ability and create an infinite loop.
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Lightning Crafter : You can create a copy of Lightning Crafter, which you should use to Champion Trigger Kiki into Exile. Use your new Lightning Crafter to bolt someone for three, then sac the token Lightning Crafter. Kiki comes back untapped. Copy the original Crafter again and repeat to deal infinite damage. You can easily fetch up this combo via Goblin Recruiter, finding the goblins you need and placing Goblin Ringleader on top.
We run a simple manabase, only really using Kher Keep and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx with a bunch of mountains. Some people like to run Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle but I think its too slow – if the game is lasting long enough for you to play that many mountains alongside the Pinnacle things are probably not going to plan. Wasteland and strip mine are very playable in this deck.
Control: This matchup can be super easy or super hard depending on how they choose to control the game. If they are using cards like Glacial Chasm, Runed Halo, or Story Circle it can be difficult to close the damage gap if we choose not to include cards like Leyline of Punishment in our deck. If they are trying to control via mass bounce spells like Evacuation or Devastation Tide, it can be to our favor if we have lots of low costing creatures because we can recast Purphoros and dump our hand for more damage. If our hand isn’t mana-efficient mass spells are very good against us because we will take too long to recast all our spells.
Combo: As with most combo matchups, it usually boils down to a race and whether or not you have a interactive card to disrupt their combo. We’re in mono red, so our interaction oriented cards are limited. Race on!
Aggro: This will be a damage race, but depending on who can lay out aggression first you may be chump blocking with your dorks or pushing in damage and spamming Purphoros’ +1/+0 ability.
Planeswalker Decks: This Purphoros deck is strong against walkers because if we feel like it we can redirect the non-combat damage from Purphoros to enemy planeswalkers. Against high loyalty walkers I wouldn’t redirect much damage but against very low loyalty walkers I almost always would because its a very low opportunity cost to do so.
Lifegain: Kinda rare to find these type of decks, mostly this pertains to decks that can gain a lot of life by happenstance. You have to gain a shit load of life in order to get fully out of range of Purphoros triggers.
General Cards That Are Good Against Us: Torpor Orb, sometimes Propaganda if we need to attack, Runed Halo. Cards like Night of Souls’ Betrayal and other effects that deploy -x/-x can easily wipe our horde of small red creatures.
Thanks for checking out my Purphoros deck! Tell me in the comments below what cards you like to slide into your Purphoros deck!