The Fire Fists theme has long been a contentious one, and for a whileBrotherhood of the First Fist - Bear was my least favorite card to everexist. I like it now, but I'd be doing a disservice to 2013 if I didn'tinclude that tidbit: there was a time when the Fire Fist deck was one ofthe most annoyingly successful strategies in the game.

With a heavy use of Level 3 and Level 4 Fire Fist monsters, severaldifferent strategies cropped up that could play in different ways dependingon your balance between those different Levels. Were you mostly playingBrotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear and Brotherhood of the Fire Fist -Gorilla? That was called 4-Axis Fire Fists. Did you put the emphasis onBrotherhood of the Fire Fist - Spirit and Rekindling? That was 3-Axis. Andif you ran a mix of both? 3.5-Axis.

Seriously, that happened.

Doug "Congrats on Topping Two Events in a Row" Zeeff and I found that in2013 and 2014 the average Axis of competitive Fire Fist decks was somewherearound 3.54, but we can throw all that math out the window now, thanks toFists of the Gadgets!

Of course, those Main Deck ratios actually hinged around Extra Deckchoices, in an era where Levels mattered a lot more than they do today.When Link monsters are so prevalent it doesn't really matter what Levelsyour Fire Fists are. If you can turn them into Brotherhood of the Fire Fist- Eagle or Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Peacock, who cares what Axiswe're talking about?

Not only did Fists of the Gadgets give us eleven new Fire Fistcards, but it gave us eleven goodFire Fist cards. While I'm notplaying Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Ram in my list today, I wouldn'tcall the card bad either. Its effect is very similar to Brotherhood of theFire Fist - Rooster, and I only passed on it due to a lack of space. If youran a version of the deck with Rekindling that card would have more merit.

You've gotta draw the line somewhere to ensure consistent opening hands!Take a look at the list and see what I've been running.

DECKID=110009Since most of the Fire Fist and Fire Formation cards are very similar inname and nature, I suggest giving them all a quick read right now tofamiliarize yourself with the nuances.

These cards have been out for seven years, and I still mix up FireFormation - Tensen and Fire Formation - Tenken.

These Aren't Your Dad's Fire Fists
With an explosion of searching, recycling and summoning, Fire Fists areextremelyaggressive and can often field a small mountain ofmonsters that can deal with a wide range of threats. Brotherhood of theFire Fist - Bear and Fire Formation - Yoko are simple answers, but factorin your raw attack power and Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Cardinal andyou quickly find there are a dozen ways to take out opposing monsters. Oneby one, pick them off!

As aggressive as the deck's historically been, the Fire Fist theme hasn'tbeen known for having great defense. No matter how many fancy Fire Fistmonsters you could get on the board, a simple Dark Hole often meant doomfor your card presence and well… you, in general. That's all changed withBrotherhood of the Fire Fist - Eland and Ultimate Fire Formation – Sinto,the first of several big differences in how the deck operates.

I personally never expected Fire Fists to have a Ritual Monster, but herewe are in 2019 with a Level 6 Ritual monster. I won't begrudge the pointthat it conflicts with Brotherhood of the First Fist - Horse Prince sincethey're polar opposites within the strategy, but most of the Turn 1 combosrevolve around summoning Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Eland and settingseveral Fire Formation Traps.

How is that possible? It's hard to pinpoint which monster should get themost credit for the razzle-dazzle combos because so many cards worktogether as vital stepping stones. Each card is only as good as it isbecause of other cards that exist, but ultimately it comes down to fieldingBrotherhood of the Fire Fist - Panda and leveraging both effects ofBrotherhood of the Fire Fist - Dragon.

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Most of the combos are rather extensive and difficult to translate intotext, but thankfully Konami sponsored a video showing explicit ways to endthe field with a defensive or aggressive front. I will say that thesecombos wouldn't be what they are if Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Pandadidn't exist. Check out thevideo here- it'sa very straightforward way to visualize the 317 Special Summons you'll needto get many combos rolling.

The Fire Fist effects compound into more and more positive card economy,but what I like so much about the cards is their surprisingly versatility.For example, Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Dragon can be used for a LinkSummon or Xyz Summon, or you can keep it around to snag another UltimateFire Formation - Sinto when you use the first one.

You can obviously use Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Spirit for Brotherhoodof the Fire Fist - Horse Prince to churn out Brotherhood of the Fire Fist -Rooster faster, but it also means getting back vital cards. You can turnSpirit and whatever monster it revives into Brotherhood of the Fire Fist -Lion Emperor or Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf and then get back Ash Blossom& Joyous Spring from the graveyard.

Heck, even cards that seem useful for one reason are often more importantfor niche reasons. Half the time I've used Fire Formation - Yoko, it was toplace a Fire Fist monster in the graveyard so I could revive it. Blowing upan opposing monster was great and all, but Brotherhood of the Fire Fist -Panda needs something to summon back!

Who Doesn't Love A Fire Fist?
Because I'm, well, ME, I like running cards that can be easily searched orSummoned for those rare situations. Sometimes sacrificing an ounce ofconsistency for more options doesn't come without risks, but if you knowyour tolerance and are willing to accept that, the trade-off may be worthyour while.

For example, I haven't seen Salamangreat Sunlight Wolf in many Fire Fistdecks, but you could easily load up on extra copies of that instead. Forme, I reallylike getting back Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring andyou won't always have a pair of spare Level 3 monsters for Brotherhood ofthe Fire Fist - Lion Emperor.

Furthermore, Fire Formation - Tenken has proven more relevant for me thanFire Formation - Tensen in testing. Since Ultimate Fire Formation - Sintoonly protects you against Spells and Traps, Fire Formation - Tenken coversa Beast-Warrior monster on your field with a nice safety blanket. Afterall, it's not too hard to bait out Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Eland'seffect and Tenken is a searchable way to stop your monsters from dying!

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I haven't asked everyone in the world yet, but I'd be willing to say I'mone of the few people advocating for Brotherhood of the Fire Fist -Swallow. I won't deny that it's an average card in its own right, but Inoticed in testing that I'd frequently run out of useful things to search.

Considering the number of combos here that revolve around Brotherhood ofthe Fire Fist - Panda, it's safe to say that if you're chugging alongbusiness as usual you'll often be using Panda already in some capacity.Factor in Fire Formation - Tenki, Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Elephant,and Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Rooster and you'll usually end up makingseveral searches per turn.

Basically, if you naturally draw a Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Panda orBrotherhood of the Fire Fist - Eland, the effect of Brotherhood of the FireFist – Elephant might not even be a factor since Panda and Eland can onlybe used once per turn. Solution? Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Swallow - amonster that can come out for free with Brotherhood of the Fire Fist -Eagle and set an extra trap from your deck!

My favorite Fire Fist card is by farBrotherhood of the Fire Fist -Cardinal, recycling your Fire Fist and Fire Formation cards to keep up withyour opponent as the game goes on. Two in the Extra Deck might be a bit ofa stretch, but it means you can replenish your deck after you've scoured itbare in the first few turns. Like Swallow it's not 100% necessary, but I'vetailored the deck to capitalize on it and thus included Brotherhood of theFire Fist - Buffalo as well.

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in5th Congressional District on the platform of "Fabled Link Monsters forEveryone." You can find him onTwitteror building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife foran audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable ofcooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking atexpanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home.Well, and those with homes already.