Candleflare Brewing

Since the days of yore, I’ve loved Candelabra of Tawnos and have sought to play decks using it. In Legacy, I’ve built and played High Tide and 12 Post, and tried to get fun builds together using Tron Lands.  Since diving into Old School, I knew that I wanted to play a deck that I can use my Candelabras in, so pairing it with Mana Flare seemed like an obvious choice.  I’ve read lots of articles on various webpages about CandleFlare decks, so had some good inspiration.

What direction the deck should go, aside from red, was much less obvious.  Having played High Tide in Legacy, it made sense to include blue so that I could exploit that further, as well as provide a play method that I’m already familiar with.  In testing though, I’ve realized that the card draw that makes Legacy High Tide possible, in the form of BrainstormPonder, and Preordain as well as the tutoring abilities of Cunning Wish and Merchant Scroll, meant I had to rethink the strategy.  I could go for a Kird Ape aggro deck, with loads of artifacts, making Gauntlet of Might a fun inclusion, but at heart, I wanted it to be controlly and to win with X spells.  So, I decided to remove all creatures from the possible pool, except for Mishra’s Factory because they are awesome, and allow me to dump excess mana into them to avoid mana burn.

In keeping with the Old School rule of cool, I also wanted to play cards that I like and own.  Since I’m not running creatures, that means that Maze of Ith and Forcefield should be present, although possibly in the sideboard, and four Counterspells along with four Boomerangs means that I can mostly avoid problematic cards from hitting the board or staying there.  Drain Power is an often underused card that I knew I wanted in there because it’ll either resolve, meaning I could get 2-3x mana from my opponent due to Mana Flares, or I suss out a counter, both of which are wins, imho.  Once I’ve either tapped them out, or am fairly confident they don’t have a counter in hand, that’s when I can go all in with some X spells!  FireballDisintegrate, and Earthquake are the main win conditions, and I back those up with two Mana Vaults to make sure I can go for lethal.  The other X spells that are really fun are Mind TwistRecall, and Braingeyser.  Resolving a turn 3-4 Twist with a Flare and/or some mana rocks in play can be brutal, while the other two can be used to load my hand up with either exactly what I need from the graveyard or allow me to dig deep in the library in hopes of finding answers.  Related, since I wanted Twist in there, I decided there was no reason to exclude Demonic Tutor if I’m splashing black already.  This, however, leads to mana concerns…

I playtested a list a few times against my White Weenie deck, and performed horribly. I wasn’t able to get answers, card draw was way too slow, and hitting double blue for the control elements just wasn’t working.  I’m trying to build this deck with cards I own, and unfortunately, I don’t have a full grip of 40 dual lands, nor do I have a playset of City of Brass, so mana fixing is tricky.  Running 2x CoB, 2x Volcanic Islands, 2x Badlands, and single Underground Sea, combined with 4x Factories, a Library of Alexandria, and the necessary Strip Mine, I was running an additional 9 basics, for a total of 22 lands, which is good for Flare and High Tide, but terrible for finding answers.  I managed to find two Chronicles City of Brass, making the mana base a little smoother, as long as I can avoid City in a Bottle and Blood Moon.

So, the current list looks like this:

Old School Candelflare

Enchantments (4)
 Mana Flare
 Copy Artifact

Instants (10)
 Drain Power
 Mana Drain
 High Tide

Sorceries (13)
 Demonic Tutor
 Mind Twist
 Power Sink
 Transmute Artifact
Wheel of Fortune

Artifacts (10)
Candelabra of Tawnos
 Mirror Universe
 Time Vault
 Sol Ring
 Mana Vault
 Nevinyrral's Disk
 Chaos Orb
Lands (23)
 Mishra's Factory
 City of Brass
 Volcanic Island
 Underground Sea
 Strip Mine
 Library of Alexandria

Sideboard (15)
Red Elemental Blast
Blue Elemental Blast
Active Volcano
Maze of Ith
Island of Wak-wak
City in a Bottle

I think that the next iteration will include some more card draw, either in the form of Jayemdae Tome, Jalum Tome, or Howling Mine.  Jalum seems to fit the red side of the deck more, acting as a semi-Faithless Looting and for less mana than Jayemdae, leaving me more able to keep mana open for counters, but the discard could be brutal.  When I look at other lists, they almost always run all three blue pieces of Power, but those are not an option currently.  Howling Mine is a somewhat obvious, and iconic, choice, but without Icy Manipulator or Relic Barrier to make it one-sided, it’s just as likely to kill me as it is to get me to an answer.