Hi, in case we haven’t met before, I’m Charlie Rinehart-Jones, a competitive magic player from New York City. I’m here today to talk to you about something very important: Pyre Hound. You may be thinking, Pyre Hound? What’s so important about that red 2/3 from Shadows Over Innistrad? Well in my eyes, Pyre Hound is one of the most unexploited build-around-me cards that a set has ever seen and I personally think that the power level of Pyre Hound is through the roof.
Now before I get into exactly how to abuse this, you should know some things before drafting around Pyre Hound.
Pyre Hound Basics
Firstly, when dealing with Pyre Hound there are no halfway measures, I think Pyre Hound is probably actively bad in most of the decks it is being played in, where they are simply a mash of fine creatures, removal, and some flex slots. Pyre Hound isn’t even great as a 3/4 sometimes in most generic limited decks when they can get a counter on it. If you want Pyre Hound to work then you need to make sure that you aren’t only casting instants and sorceries, but that these same instants and sorceries get better with bigger creatures, later in the game. Take for example Fork in the Road and Tormenting Voice; both do similar things in a game of Limited. Both of these spells are often cast on turn two, they help activate Delirium, and they help make sure you hit your land drops and are able to cast your spells. However, Tormenting Voice is insane with Pyre Hound and Fork in the Road is far worse for obvious reasons, while both spells give Pyre Hound a +1/+1 counter, Tormenting Voice helps draw into more instants and sorceries to make Pyre Hound bigger.
The point of this comparison is that evaluating spells in terms of your Pyre Hound deck is much different than evaluating them normally.
Secondly, Pyre Hound cannot stand on it’s own, a Pyre Hound deck in draft requires a plethora of two and three drop creatures not only to buy time for your Pyre Hound to get big, but also simply to substantiate a gamelan before one or more Pyre Hounds are even around. To really win the game you will probably need time to access two Pyre Hounds because, while they are difficult to deal with, your opponent will likely be able to deal with at least one. Cards like Hinterland Logger, Convicted Killer, and Duskwatch Recruiter do a great job of creating stand-alone threats that may seem more daunting than a Pyre Hound to an opponent.
Drafting the Deck
You are going to have access to pretty much all of the Pyre Hounds that are opened, should you want them. Any more than five Pyre Hounds is probably bad because you don’t want your four-drop slot to get too crowded. (especially because Voldaren Duelist is so good.) Lucky for you, red has an abundance of common and uncommon spells that work well with Pyre Hound, like Dance with Devils, Malevolent Whispers, Tormenting Voice, Uncaged Fury and Rush of Adrenaline. Usually green is the color that you want to be in as your support color, it has a lot of so-so combat-based instants that help make Pyre Hound better; Might Beyond Reason, Confront the Unknown, and Aim High are the major keys. Note that I am purposefully excluding removal spells because not only are they good with Pyre Hound, but because you should be playing those spells anyway. Prioritize very good removal and two-drops earlier because the spells I mentioned earlier that help Pyre Hound get better are probably going to go around the table and you will have your pick of the litter. White and black can also work with Pyre Hound, but not nearly as well as green.
A Rough Outline
A rough outline of what you are going want in your Pyre Hound draft deck to maximize your Pyre Hound’s potential.
- 9-10 Mountain
- 7-8 Non-Mountain Basic Land
- 4-5 Pyre Hound
- 6-8 Two-and-Three Drops
- 0-2 Other Four Drops
- 0-3 Five-and-Six Drops
- 3-5 Removal Spells (or as many as you can get)
- 4-7 Pyre Hound Spells/Combat Tricks
- 1-2 Tormenting Voice
- 0-1 Artifacts
- 0-1 Equipment
Make sure to try this cool archetype, Pyre Hound will bring you many wins and fond memories. Don’t forget to stay open and have fun!