Heart of the Wildfire/jyonker13's Opening

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Overview & General Strategy

Heart of the Wildfire is perhaps the most flexible and challenging Aggro Spirit the game has to offer. Once it occupies a land, it excels at keeping it clear, and the scalable Energy gain offered by its Growth allows it to pursue Major or Minor Powers with equal aplomb. However, the Spirit also struggles mightily with managing its own Blight (and the burning Match 22 situation that this presents in terms of targeting), and requires considerable foresight to avoid weak turns when it Reclaims.

The Spirit’s interaction with Blight is multifaceted, with the earliest decision being when to uncover your second Fire and start laying down some real damage. Turn 2 is the obvious choice, but the real deciding factor is the second Explore (as in, the one they perform on Turn 1). If the Invaders focus their efforts on a land that already has Blight, it makes little sense to go Full Fuego on the second turn and cause a cascade, not only accelerating the decline of the island but also potentially discouraging a future placement with the extra Blight. Placing from Plays again in this case allows you to expand into a land you otherwise would have trouble accessing, and allows you to make use of the Blight already present for your Powers.

Another component of Blight management is the use of your second innate, Burned Land Regrows. The first level is relatively straightforward: your Setup adds two Blight wherever you start, so that will basically always be where you remove the first one. However, utilizing the second level is much trickier, as often you’ll be looking to remove the same Blight that enables your first innate. If a land comes up twice in the Invader Phase (i.e. they Ravage and Explore the Sands this turn) and you are already in that land, don’t remove the Blight there so that your first innate can cover it. Try to clean out lands adjacent to more developed lands that also have Blight/will Blight soon, so that if you end up placing presence in the relevant land the cascade will simply replace the removed Blight and aid your future targeting. Or, if playing with Blight averse Spirits, clear out lands that border theirs to keep your territory from expanding unpredictably.

Wildfire also needs to plan its Reclaims very carefully. Reclaim All is a bum Growth option for most Spirits, but for Wildfire, the lack of presence placement robs it of a significant source of damage and can often leave it with no adequate lands in which to use Firestorm. If Wildfire is planning to Reclaim next turn, its presence placement this turn should situate it in a populated land that will still have real estate left to clear the subsequent turn, so that its Reclaim can yield effective damage even without the supplement of Blazing Presence. This relative weakness can also require an enterprising Wildfire player to Reclaim again only a turn or two later if the Invaders continue to focus their efforts in lands the Spirit already controls. It hurts your Growth in the short term, but leaves you free to use Blazing Presence on the turns when expansion is imperative.

Wildfire’s strength as a Spirit stems from its adaptability, and any of its starting cards can be used as a Turn 1 play given the right circumstances. With that in mind, here is my generalized opening for the jubilant incarnation of Fire:

-Turn 1-

Growth
Add a presence from plays, gain 2 Energy plus 1 per Fire (3 Total)

Cards
Asphyxiating Smoke (1 Fear, destroy 1 Town and Push 1 Dahan)

Use your presence placement to eliminate an Explorer and prevent a Build. Asphyxiating Smoke is a very comfortable Turn 1 play; it can clear a Town that just built or a Town in a land that was just Explored, and potentially push a Dahan into a land that another Spirit will be defending next turn.

-Turn 2-

Growth
Add a presence from energy, gain a Minor Power

Cards
Threatening Flames (2 Fear, push 1 Explorer/Town per Terror Level) or your new Minor Power

Any Powers with Fire and Plant are obviously good, but if given a choice between the two, take Plant. Your tracks already provide some Fire, and 3 Plant is a huge power spike for this Spirit. If Plant is unavailable, consider taking Fire/Air to combo with Flash Fires or Firestorm.

If your new Minor has a Plant, you can add your presence to a land with a Town that’s about to Ravage, or to one with a Town/Explorer that’s about to Build. If you play Threatening Flames, add your presence to a land with a City and a Town so that you can destroy the city and push out the Town. In either case, you’ll be taking Growth 3 again next turn, so be on the lookout for a juicy target one land away.

-Turn 3-

Growth
Add a presence from plays, gain 2 Energy plus 1 per Fire (4 Total)

Cards
Flame’s Fury (gain 1 Energy and +1 Damage with all powers) and Flash Fires (1 Fear and 1 Damage)

With Flame’s Fury and 4 Fires showing, you’ll be able to deal 5 damage total (2 with placement, 3 with Firestorm + Fury). You can divide this damage as the situation calls for, either tearing into a heavily populated land or using Firestorm to clean your own lands a bit. Flash Fires also benefits from Flame’s Fury, so you can pick off another Town in the Slow Phase. Finally, this turn will be the first opportunity to begin removing Blight with Burned Land Regrows, although you’ll probably only have one choice so don’t get too excited.

-Turn 4-

Growth
Add presence from energy OR plays, gain a Minor

Cards
Either Threatening Flames + new Minor OR both Minors, depending on what you played Turn 2.

At this point, you’ve looked at 8 Minor Powers, and Plant based Minors constitute a little less than 40% of the deck, so the odds that you haven’t seen at least 1 Plant are very low (if you’ve whiffed on both draws, a skilled Wildfire player should take this opportunity to get a little salty).

Try to utilize the extra range afforded by your Growth to get in a favorable position for your Reclaim next turn. Deciding which track to add from should be dictated by where and what the Invaders are building this turn. The three plays will equate to a massive spike in damage next turn, so take your presence from plays if the Invaders are going to develop significant real estate. Add from energy if the lands are inaccessible (already Blighted, occupied by other Spirits), or if the Invader actions are affecting lands you already occupy and can protect with a more conservative damage output.

The elements of the cards you have left will dictate how robustly you hit your innates, so just continue to crank out whatever damage you can manage, maybe clear another Blight if you’re lucky.

-Turn 5-

Growth
Reclaim All, gain 1 Energy, gain a Major or Minor Power as needed

Cards
TBD

If gaining a Major, forget a Minor you don’t like, or forget Flash Fires (its utility for the cost really drops off, and ditching a 2 cost power opens up room in your budget for the Major. Shoot for a 3 or 4 cost power so that your third Growth option can always give you enough Energy to afford it). Alternatively, grab a Minor if your initial draws were lacking that sweet, sweet Plant and your damage will scale much better into the midgame.

Reference: boardgamegeek.com/thread/2313791/article/33391231#33391231