What is Fire-Marshal Bill?
Fire-Marshal Bill is a new Extended deck that uses a basic Goblin Sligh build with the addition of Skirk Fire Marshal for a quick kill through a large blast of damage, along with a splash of blue for minor library manipulation and the amazing Fire/Ice.
The great thing about it is that nobody expects Fire-Marshal Bill! Your chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear... fear and surprise...
Examining Fire-Marshal Bill
These three cards are necessary to disrupt your opponent's early game enough to win. Tangle Wire is very important in almost every matchup; anyone packing Pernicious Deed must be met with an early Tangle Wire if you want to keep stuff in play. Other decks, like Aluren, need that mana early to search out and play their combo.
Fire/Ice is one of the most versatile spells in the deck and is one that you are almost never sad to see. Fire is used to stop early Birds of Paradise, Llanowar Elves, and the occasional Hermit Druid. This is the most important application of Fire because most decks that are using birds and elves are also packing Pernicious Deed, the bane of the deck - and anything that you can do to slow or stop a deed from hitting play gets you that much closer to winning. At times, Fire is your killing blow, dealing that final two right to their dome.
Ice is just as useful in the deck. I will often use Ice to tap a blocker to force a Lackey through to get that Fire Marshal out, in addition to its other uses of tapping a land to show your opponents progress.
Oh, and you draw a card. Cards are good.
Wasteland is a bit of a conundrum; on one hand, you want your opponent to use those non-basics to deal as much damage top themselves as possible, making your job that much easier, but if they are allowed too much mana, their chances of winning increase. In most cases, these are very good and keep your road to victory well paved.
This one should be obvious, since it reduces Fire Marshal's cost from five to zero. This guy lets you get a quick advantage, dropping more stuff then you have the mana for every turn that he gets through.
Skirk Fire Marshal
Obviously you need to play him if you want to play Fire Marshal Bill - that's kind of the whole point of the deck. Of course, as much as the deck likes to win with him, its not always needed, as there is a decent amount of beatdown in the deck that you can get away without the final burst.
A staple creature for Sligh decks; he doesn't do much with his one power, but that's okay. He does his job well. Not to mention that thanks to the stack, he gets that extra point in with Fire Marshal.
This guy is your alternate win condition. He can get very big, very fast, and is great for getting damage through.
The applications of this creature should be obvious - getting Fire Marshals (and a few other goblins if needed).
Here's your choice: Either get a Marshal in hand when you cast her on turn 3, or draw a Marshal turn 3 from the Recruiter you dropped turn 2. If the Marshal is getting Lackied out on turn 3, you probably need that three mana open to cast other goblins so you're at five for Marshaling. Of course, if you draw Matron on turn 3, you get the Marshal turn 3, where as if you draw a Recruiter turn 3, the Marshal hits turn 4. Recruiter gives you the option of getting more than one goblin, which can be nice. I play with Recruiters, but either one can be played.
In addition to your disruption, the deck needs to pack a few other spells to ensure that everything goes over well. These are primarily for getting those last points of damage through such as...
While the +3 damage from this is amazing and helps the deck win so much faster, the haste that it grants is also a much-welcomed component, helping that Lackey that you didn't draw until turn 2 get though on the same turn. This is one of the most crucial spells in the deck for your early beatdown.
Turn all of your creatures into Mogg Fanatics! This spell is another way to get those final points in. At only one red, it's amazingly cheap and since it's an instant, once Fire Marshal damage is on the stack, you can get rid of all your soon-to-be-dead creatures by sacrificing them to the greater cause.
Great for hiding cards from the ever-popular Duress and Cabal Therapy, brainstorm works well with fetchlands and also pairs nicely with Goblin Recruiter if you need that Marshal or someone else right away. An overall, a solid card.
It happens all the time; you only need that one card sitting on top of your deck, or only one more attack phase, and the game would be yours - but of course, your dead by then. This is for those occasions; just make sure that you can kill them with your extra turn!
This card can let you win on turn 3 (with a god hand, of course) but even realistically can let you activate Marshal on turn 3, which is good against Reanimator if they already have a Verdant Force or such in play. But of course, if you're facing Reanimator they are probably playing Duress, which can take this. That is exactly why this card is strictly average; it can make the deck much faster - but being vulnerable to one of the most played cards is a problem. This depends on the field you are playing in; the speed advantage is very nice but it has its weak spots.
The sorcery speed on this keeps it from being amazing, but this still is a very good spell to have. This is still a decent spell and a nice finisher when you don't get the Fire Marshal kill.
Seal of Fire
Seal keeps Aluren at bay until they are holding two Cavern Harpies - which should give you plenty of time to kill them. Seal of course is also a decent burn spell against other decks and takes the guesswork out of bluffing:"Hey, I do have that burn spell; still wanna try?"
The interaction with Brainstorm is the main reason for these, and the deck thinning is a nice bonus - but use caution; between City of Brass, Shivan Reef, Foothills, and any damage you may take from opposing critters/burn its possible that you can put yourself at ten or less and make your Marshal useless. If you have enough lands out, just hold this in your hand.
Until they make enemy fetchlands, you're going to have to work with enemy painlands. This will be your primary source of blue, and in any other instance should be used for colorless or not at all - as stated above, you don't want to take yourself down to Fire Marshal range if you can avoid it.
City of Brass
This will be your secondary source of blue. Obviously the painful colorless makes this your second choice, but four Reefs isn't a consistent enough source of blue, and islands aren't that great so this is what we get to use.
Mmmm...Painless red mana. Short of Volcanic Island, there is no good replacement for these.
These may not even make every deck; it depends on how many other painlands you run. Taking damage for red mana is not cool, but once a Marshal goes off you should be very close to or at threshold - and this makes a nice finisher.
The best alternate way to make colored mana, the only problem is the cost of discarding a land in a deck that would generally have a fairly low land count. This does allow for some nice plays but is only really useful on the first turn for those really explosive starts. As a bonus for running these, you run less painlands, which means it is easier to run Barbarian Ring - and just playing a Mox puts another card into the grave to get you closer to threshold for the Rings.
Another option for painless multicolored mana, this is a decent option. You obviously can't play too many of these or you can easily screw yourself, but in a deck like this that doesn't need much mana, this could be the right answer.
Discussed above as a disruption card, which is what this card is best at.
These are some of your best options against the cards that royally screw you. Gilded Drake is mainly against Reanimator (duh) but it can obviously come in against other decks with fatties too. This is simple to use, and it's very easy to figure out what decks it goes in against.
Annul is one of the best spells in your sideboard. It comes in against Aluren and against any deck that uses black mana because"Engineered Plague, goblins" is the last thing you want to hear so your best bet is to assume that if they can produce black that they run these in the sideboard. These are also nice against Pernicious Deed, your sworn enemy - and not to mention it counters Oath of Druids! That's quite a versatile card.
Mogg Salvage and Rack and Ruin are against nasty artifacts that you may run across. Salvage is nice because if they are playing lots of nasty artifacts, they are probably playing Tinker, which uses islands, and lets you cast this for free - not to mention they probably have you under a nice Helix lock and wouldn't be able to cast this anyway. (But who plays Tinker? - The Ferrett)
Ankh of Mishra is against any deck that needs lots of mana out to make their deck work. These include (but not limited to) Tog, Oath, and The Rock. The amounts of damage this card can do to them in the amount of time it takes them to get enough lands out to run smoothly will usually kill them. This should change their game play and make it easier for you to win.
Cursed Scroll is nice because it drops so early against control that it can sneak under counters. Use this after you drop your whole hand in an all-out aggressive assault to get those last points through.
Ensnaring Bridge goes hand-in-hand with Scroll as an alternate win condition. Drop your whole hand and burn them out while keeping their creatures at bay.
Building Fire-Marshal Bill
Presented here are a few different builds for different fields.
The most combo-ish of the Marshal Builds. This attempts to go off as fast as possible, using Moxes for an early boost, and using all of the Recruiter and Brainstorm tricks to get it going even faster. It also includes Final Fortune to get that last damage in. As this is the most combo-oriented of the decks, it is the most vulnerable to Duress and Cabal Therapy.
The Traditional Marshal
This one is the more"traditional" build, going for the goblin assault with Marshall as a backup plan for when things start to go haywire. More burn and disruption help this deck get started while keeping the opponent at bay.
As for sideboards, your best bet is to read the matchups - and depending on what you will face, make an appropriate sideboard.
Playing Fire-Marshal Bill: General Tips And Tricks
There aren't too many ultra-tricky things to do with the deck. I'll list some stuff even if some of it seems a bit basic, just in case.
A draw is better than a loss. If you are in a losing situation with no hope of recovery and both you and your opponent are in Marshal range (or if you can easily burn them into range), don't hesitate to draw the game. This is obviously a much better choice than a loss - especially in game 2 when your opponent has found everything that they sided in against you, or in game 1 when you need some of your sideboard stuff to bring the match more in your favor.
Tangle Wire: I hope you all know how to use this; stack the effect, remove counter, and tap the Tangle Wire - it's not doing anything useful untapped.
Fire Marshal: Remember that the Marshal is pro: red and does not die to his own damage. If you have six untapped creatures out when you go to activate Marshal, don't tap him; clear the board, then attack for an extra two. Also note that pro red means no Reckless Charge, as nice as it would be to swing for five with an open path. Alternately, Reckless Abandon does not target which means your Marshal is free to be abandoned for another four damage.
Get the most out of what your have in play that is going to die once that ten damage is on the stack. Sac all your Fanatics, and cast Last-Ditch Effort if you have one.
Brainstorm: Decent on its own if you find what you are looking for, but to keep from re-drawing crap cards that you just put on top, sac a Wooded Foothills and shuffle. Also, don't forget that you can:
1) Cast Recruiter
2) Put Marshal on top
3) Cast Brainstorm
4) Put Marshal in your hand
5) Attack with your Lackey.
Crosis's Catacombs: You can"Lotus Petal" this land by playing it and when it looks for you to bounce a land, tap it for mana, then choose not to return a land and sacrifice it.
Like I said, the deck doesn't have very many tricks - it just casts goblins, blows stuff up, and wins.
The Archetypes You Will Need to Beat And How to Play Against Them
Reanmiator / Angry Hermit II
I group these together because, even though they are different decks, their plan against Sligh is the same - reanimate a Verdant Force. As opposed to traditional Sligh, this is not as easy of a matchup for them as they might expect: They like to take damage on their own - especially the U/B versions with their painlands, and Angry Hermit with its whole one basic land - making your job so much easier. As long as they don't get a God hand and get a Verdant Force out before you can take a turn, this matchup should favor you slightly. Attack them down fast and drop a Marshal. Marshal takes out Verdant Force, which is quite helpful and gives you a nice advantage.
Sideboarding: Gilded Drake, Bridge and Scroll can all come in for this match. Drake for taking that Verdant Force, Bridge for stopping the Force, and Scroll for the lock with Bridge. Both of these decks have a hard time dealing with the fact that you can kill almost anything that they Reanimate, making this a fairly easy matchup.
You are faster then they are; it's as simple as that. Add in the fact that you are most likely sporting Seal of Fire, making them wait even longer to go off - not to mention your second 'seal' of ten goblin damage - makes it near impossible for them to go off. They also play with painlands, making it even easier for you. This should be a breeze.
Sideboard: You can bring in Annuls against them to stop even more of their deck, but it isn't even necessary most of the time. If you happened to lose game 1, I would bring them in just for the extra assurance that you will win the next 2.
Tog's counters and removal can just ruin your day. The first game is heavily dependent on you getting out a quick Lackey to overload them with creatures. Piledriver's protection from blue will give them fits. If you can manage to resolve a Recruiter and stack your deck with a few Piledrivers, that should be game; otherwise, just try to beat down hard and fast.
Sideboard: Ankh and Cursed Scroll can do all of your damage in games 2 and 3; they are that good in this matchup. Depending on how much creature removal your opponent is running, you may abandon the Marshal plan and go with these two for the win, using the few creatures you do leave in for a quick and early assault. Annul should also come in as an attempt to counter the Engineered Plagues that they will be most likely bringing in.
The fact that they can race just as fast as you can be a problem. A quick Lackey and Marshal will really turn the tides, though, giving you a nice advantage. Going first is crucial in this match to speed along your development. Oh, and Marshaling when they have a Phyrexian Negator out is some good. Watch out for Duress and Cabal Therapy, as they can spoil some of your plans. You have a bit of an advantage in this matchup - but not as much as traditional Sligh, mainly because you lack a lot of the burn that the deck traditionally packs.
Sideboard: Scrolls and Bridges help make this a very winnable match. Same tactics as the first game apply, beat fast and if you can, Marshal before they get you too low to be able to.
The closest you are going to probably see to a mirror: Sligh. The same theories as Suicide apply here, beat hard and fast. The pro-red Marshal is a nice addition to your forces in this matchup, not to mention, they have nothing that is going to survive his wrath. Beware of their burn spells when you are attempting to Marshal, they can easily burn you out.
Sideboard: Again, same as against Suicide. Just hope for the best.
This is a losing battle for you; it starts at about 45-55 and can vary depending on which build you are facing. Darwin Kastle's build is the easier of the two major builds but Jeroen Remie's build is much more difficult due to the Walls and Feeders. You are looking at as low as to 30-70 against that version. You have two cards that can help put this matchup in your favor - Fire/Ice and Tangle Wire. The function of these should be painfully obvious: Fire/Ice is needed to shut down elves and birds, and Tangle Wire is used to the same extent that it even further shuts down their mana production. The key to winning is not letting a deed hit the table because"Deed for two" will just ruin your day. Their full compliments of Llanowar Wastes and Vampiric Tutors help your cause, taking your task of attacking for ten down to an easily accomplishable attacking for six. Watch out for a quick Spiritmonger; two swings will put you low enough that you can't Marshal. Your best chance against this deck is to get a few quick hits in before the walls and Treetops come out, then clear the board and finish with burn.
Sideboard: This land-loving deck hates Ankh of Mishra, so it's obviously one of your best sideboard choices against them. Don't be afraid to take out Marshals for a full compliment of Ankhs, they will probably do just as much damage and once they know your strategy they will do anything possible to keep you from getting five goblins on the table. Coupled with your maindeck disruption, the Ankh can crush their deck. If you play Moxes and can drop an Ankh before they even take a turn, you should be in very good shape. Most players will know that this is a possibility, or be expecting Ensnaring Bridge or Cursed Scrolls from you, and preemptively bring in Naturalizes. Annul is a must since both the Deeds they already have and the Engineered Plagues that they are more than likely bringing in both ruin your day. They will also bring in Baloths if they are running multiples in the sideboard.
The good news is that Sligh is one of their better matchups so they don't have too much sideboarding hate against you; that's wonderful, because you'll need to swing games 2 and 3 in your favor as much as possible.
This is another matchup that is not heavily in your favor. Their Deeds are you worst enemy - but other than that, they really aren't too much of a problem. Counters obviously get in the way, and an early Lackey will help you get lethal damage on the table. Cognivore does not do a whole lot against you - but if they do get a decent-sized one out and swing, it can stop you from Marshaling. Of course, a small Cognivore can be Marshaled away. Tangle Wire is good here, and Icing a Cognivore for a turn can be the difference between winning and losing.
Sideboard: This is another of the land loving decks, so Ankh is a no-brainer. Scroll is also good against them as is Bridge, since that should stop any Cognivore. Gilded Drakes can come in to really mess with their plan. Annul can obviously counter Oath, which turns this match into a cakewalk.
That should be Fire-Marshal Bill in its entirety. Any comments or questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!