An FNM Report *2nd
Piloted the following list to 4-0 at FNM tonight (lost on tiebreaks due to a pair down in the last round since we had three 3-0 players out of our 28 entrants)
Mono Red – 6/14/2013
4 Stromkirk Noble
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Ash Zealot
3 Rakdos Shred-Freak
4 Pyreheart Wolf
2 Thundermaw Hellkite
3 Brimstone Volley
4 Pillar of Flame
4 Searing Spear
4 Boros Reckoner
3 Blasphemous Act
3 Traitorous Blood
2 Mizzium Mortars
Round 1 vs Riley with Grixis Combo (Possibility Storm); Win 2-0
Riley is a younger player at our shop and piloted a home-brewed Possibility Storm list. I’ve actually seen a few successful builds of this deck in our local area, but those had white for Curse of Exhaustion and I believe green for Fogs. Unfortunately for Riley his deck was very clunky and casual so there isn’t much to say about this match. I killed him on turn six in the first game with Stromkirk into Ash Zealot into Shred-Freak into ultimately Hellrider. Game 2 I killed him on turn five with much of the same. The most he could muster was an Elixir of immortality in Game 1 which he wasn’t even able to fire off in time.
Round 2 vs Erik with Junk Tokens; Win 2-1
In game 1 I open aggressively with Stromkirk, Ash Zealot, Searing Spear for his Call of the Conclave token, and I believe one other creature, but unfortunately he’s able to eventually remove some creatures with Abrupt Decay and Putrefy and I start flooding on lands. It gets to a point where I get him down to 1, but I draw blanks for a turn or two and he has Lingering Souls tokens to block and removal for my creatures. He then plays a Thragtusk, putting him up to six. I draw 4 more lands and he gets Advent of the Wurm down to seal it. Game 2 I have almost the same draw, and I have a turn 3 overloaded Electrickery for his Midnight Haunting (that card pulls so much weight in so many games). Double Pyreheart help me push through the rest with my one drops. Game 3 I can’t remember too much, I know it was fairly close, where he has a turn in which I think he plays Advent of the Wurm but I had a Brimstone Volley with Morbid the turn earlier, have a Pyreheart and two guys in play, and then a Searing Spear to close it out.
The game was closer than it should have been. It brought up significant sideboard questions for me in terms of what to put in and take out. I like Electrickery in this matchup against the various token generators, but at the same time you also need to keep the deck honest against Call of the Conclave which is always a good card for them AND still keep the deck fast enough to not let their late game arise. The Blasphemous Act combo is probably smart here, despite Pyreheart being good against Lingering Souls. I don’t believe I brought it in for this match but I did end up bringing it in later against similar decks. Usually cards that come out here are Brimstone Volleys; not that it’s a bad card against the deck but I have a decent burn suite and I believe having the lower casting cost burn spells is more important here. You need to keep the pedal on the gas, unless you’re combing off in which case Blasphemous Act would come in for the Volleys. Shred-Freak isn’t great here (cough, as usual), but he’s still a pressure applier against a deck where you can usually clear all their blockers and know exactly what cards they’re going to play.
Round 3 vs Kyle with 4-Color Bant; Win 2-1
I’m probably getting his name wrong here, so my apologies if he stumbles across this article at some point. He seemed like a good guy who apparently has been coming to the shop for months but I’ve just never crossed paths with him. The game felt competitive right from the start, I opened with Stromkirk and Ash Zealot, but only had Hellrider as a followup threat. My big worry here was a Supreme Verdict since he Farseeked on turn 3, but for some reason I was getting a read on him that I thought he didn’t have it (facial expressions, I don’t know, I played a lot of poker back in the day and sometimes get a vibe). Anyways, the vibe was wrong. I played Hellrider, put him down around 9 ish (he may have had another spell early, I believe an Augur to slow me down), and then he cast Verdict. It was all his from there; Thragtusk into miracle’d Entreat the Angels for three and more lands for the Red mage.
Game 2 was an excellent display of what a well prepared Red Deck can do. I stuck to a fast list, sideboarding in Traitorous Bloods for Brimstones, Mizzums for Pillars (since that list plays no mana dorks), and Reckoners for the other Pillars. I did not bring in the B-Acts, as again you don’t need to combo against value creatures like Thragtusk, you need to beat them with speed. I start with Stromkirk into Ash Zealot into Boros Reckoner into Hellrider. He backpeddles trying to find something to slow me down other than a turn 2 Azorious Charm. He finally casts Thragtusk, at which point I flash him the Traitorous Blood in hand.
Game 3 showed off the strength of Pyreheart Wolf. I don’t have a play until my turn two Ash Zealot (he was on the play), and the game looks awfully slow. He stumbles a bit on early plays, allowing me to follow up the Zealot with a Wolf and a Cackler. Eventually I get another Wolf down, and although I’m not pushing in a lot of damage through, he’s unable to assemble enough blockers to deal with the trigger or Supreme Verdict for value, with his Augur being the only creature on his side of the board. He finally lands a Thragtusk, but I have double Searing Spear and Hellrider.
It’s matchups like this where I think that Pyreheart is absolutely invaluable. Same with Junk Rites. He just creates a situation where even if they get a Thragtusk, it almost never matters. They have so little outside support, mana dorks will get killed off if they’re running them and Augur will usually eat a spear. Even if they can block, it’s rare that you won’t have 3-5 guys on the table. And with 11 burn spells maindeck, you typically will have a followup one. You can also set them up for terrible Supreme Verdicts, where Pyreheart comes back and you have Hellrider to punish them, or a Morbid Brimstone Volley to hold up when they are ready to cast it. With just Reckoner in the match, you lose all those lines of play. If the field were just Aggro All Day Every Day, then I’d probably switch back, but Pyreheart has won me too many games like the one above.
Round 4 vs Mitch with Junk Aristocrats; Win 2-1
I know Mitch well from the shop and knew he was on this deck. He was playing Brad Nelson’s list and he’s watched all of the videos on StarCity, so he knows what he’s doing with it. Game 1 he has an awkward opener against a traditional one of mine, but he has three Blood Artists and a continuation of creatures to go along with it as I burn them one by one. I’m relatively stuck on lands for a while, and then I get to a point where I’m waiting, hoping to draw Thundermaw or Burn. By the time I get burn he has a Skirsdag High Priest out, which I try to Spear and he Tragic Slip’s in response. I lose 6 life to put me down to 3 (I had taken a 9 point Blood Artist hit + 2 more points from something else). I have a Pyreheart Wolf and a few bodies out, but I scoop it up (probably a turn prematurely) since I know I can only draw a few cards that even get me halfway there and nothing that wins (and he had it in hand anyway).
Game 2 I go very controllish. I bring in the entire sideboard except Traitorous Blood. Electrickeries for his Blood Artists, Tokens, and to make his sac outlets less valuable. Reckoner Combo to just straight up kill him (I mostly put it in the Red Deck because of this match up). Mortars to have an overload option. I believe the cards I took out were Brimstones, two Spears, Pyrehearts, and Shredfreaks. My reasoning being that Brimstone again is higher CC and really in this game your just trying to combo, race, or fly over. Spears are fine but they don’t have any must kill 3cc creatures and while the damage to the face is nice I want both the ability to overload and the ability to kill a 2/2 that gets enchanted by Unflinching Courage. I really wish I had Archwing Dragon for this matchup, even though Lingering Souls is in their deck. Ash Zealot really helps lock down that flashback though.
Moving on, in game 2 I aggressively play creatures early, have a pillar for his Young Wolf, burn a few of his other creatures, and then Combo out with Reckoner + Act. I also had Thundermaw in hand. Either way, Dead, and a perfect showing of how powerful Act is, because he played a Lingering Souls to give me just enough mana to cast it.
Game 3 he gets a slow start on 6 cards, where I believe he plays double Skirsdag High Priest and only has B/W mana. I have multiple Stromkirk Nobles and multiple Stonewrights, making for some large attacks that he can’t block with his table of humans. He didn’t seem to realize the Stromkirk text at first, I think it was just a miss by him because when he finally did realize it seemed like he might have had other options (I saw his hand but can’t remember). He gets into a situation where he’s forced to shock in a Temple Garden in order to play a Voice of Resurgence, but I play my second Pillar of the game with Electrickery in hand. I have out Three Stromkirks, two Stonewrights, and four Mountains. Good Game it is.
In preparation for the $1,000 Standard tournament on Sunday I’m going to have to revisit my sideboard and maindeck options. Reckoner and Pyreheart might switch places, I’m thinking of possibly running the combo mainboard like Aristocrats does, because there’s a lot of Aggro here and it isn’t terrible against Rites even though it’s not quite what you want. The only matchup it’s really abysmal against is UWR, and its popularity isn’t huge (although enough to see it at least once in a big tournament around here). Doing this change would also allow me to play Skullcrack in the board (in the spot of Act) which I really would like to have against Bant Auras (for their Unflinching Courage on the turn it counts) and also UWR. I was talking at the shop about it afterward, and there was mostly agreement that this seemed like a possible smart metagame choice. Hopefully I’ll have some time prior to Sunday to test it out. I also forgot to mention that Reckoner in the main would improve most aggro matches, even though you are taking out Brimstones.
– Red Deck Winning