Mono Red in Theros Coming to Form

Fanatic of Mogis

Mono Red in Theros Coming to Form

I had half an article written up prior to SCG Milwaukee last weekend, and I was going to finish it last Saturday.  Then I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say or what was the right direction for Mono Red at the moment, so I clicked Delete.  Most of the time when writing I get into a flow and the direction is fairly easy to continue along from there but it was being especially difficult last week because I couldn’t figure out what Red cards I wanted to play.  It was the first time I’ve ever deleted an article, and this one was aptly titled “Information Overload”.

It started when I had a conversation with four local players who all also play Mono Red.  All five of us had very different lists, yet all of us were either having success or had a grasp of the plan we had in mind when executing the deck.  Obviously, that’s pretty good for Mono Red, but it was really hard to say which person’s direction was better.  Myself and another friend Zach were both fairly close to Bertorelli’s list from SCG Worcester, with most of the changes coming in the sideboard.  He played 74 of my 75 when we ultimately went to SCG Milwaukee, and the biggest changes we made over Bertorelli’s list were to add additional “can’t block” cards in the board to help the GW and Midrange matchups.  We also added a few Shocks to deal with the Master of Waves Blue Devotion deck that had sprung up that Thursday at the Pro Tour.  In Hindsight, we both wish we had Ratchet Bombs in the board (which I did consider but ultimately didn’t feel I had the sideboard room).   The matchup is tough, although quite winnable, and Bombs really help swing the pendulum in the proper direction.  Electrickery is not bad either, depending on how hard you want to slant against the deck.

My other friend Mike had been having a lot of success with a very streamlined list that was reminiscent of pre-rotation Theros.  He was running a Young Pyromancer build with twelve two-drops, just Chandra’s Phoenix at three, and some Chandras and Stormbreath Dragons to top it off.  He also had another two Stormbreath Dragons out of the board.  I was extremely tempted to audible to his deck for the SCG because he had won boxes the last two Tuesdays at our local shop and had won a few FNMs, so the deck clearly had some legs.  My only issue with his build was that he was not running Fanatic of Mogis which I feel is a fantastic card against decks like GW and GR, both of whom have very little interaction with you and get severely crushed by 8-10 damage Fanatics.  In fact, in a lot of games, Fanatic is truly your only way to victory, as everybody knows that Mono Red can get stalled out if your opponent develops his board well enough.

Mike’s thought though was that he really didn’t like how removal and sweeper effects could limit the Fanatic’s potential, and that point is certainly valid.  And to be honest, that’s exactly what I thought about Fanatic after getting over the initial excitement of seeing the card in the spoiler.  In my early Theros testing days, he was hit or miss depending on the situation.  But a big change from the decks I was testing then was how heavy the amount of devotion in my deck was, so I quickly turned the corner on him as a card after playing Bertorelli’s list.  I think if Mono Blue Devotion and GW stay in this Metagame as major players, you’ll absolutely want to have Fanatic onboard your 75.

firedrinkerjohn

Prior to the tournament, a friend of mine posted on Facebook to our local MTG group that I had a striking resemblance to a certain Red Theros card.  I took a second glance, and eh, not bad.  Did a little five minutes of Photoshop and you have the above.  People on the group thought it was pretty fitting given my obsession with Red and even dubbed that from now on Firedrinker Satyr should just be called John, much like Dark Confidant is called Bob after Pro Tour Player Bob Maher (also from Madison).  Maybe when I make the Pro Tour. . .

The Tournament

Overall, SCG Milwaukee was a lot of fun and I did OK, but nothing spectacular.  I began the tournament with a 4-0 record, beating RUG Midrange, GW, GW, and BWR Midrange.  At that point I was pretty happy, as none of those are particularly stellar matchups yet I had played carefully and worked around multiple Anger of the Gods and Polukranos.  I had one unfortunately testy situation come up in Round 3 against my GW opponent, Brian, who I knew from a nearby town.  I had taken the first game very quickly, and in the second game had gotten him down to three life.  It was at this point he swung in with a large army including a Polukranos with five mana to go Monstrous.  I had an unleashed Cackler and a Phoenix on my side of the board.  He tapped the mana for the Monstrous ability following combat, and verbally declared “two and two”, followed by individually pointing at both of my creatures.  I told him that “X” had to be double, and that he had declared targets already.  Ultimately a judge was called, an appeal went through, and the head judge rolled us back, allowing him to untap lands and re-trigger the Monstrous to his choosing.  I’m not sure what’s the correct ruling there, although some other judges I know verified it and I should know these things since I’m partially training to become a judge.  Fortunately it didn’t matter, I forgot what was in my hand and that he’d only be able to kill one of my two creatures anyway, so that, combined with an Ash Zealot took down the match.

In round 5 I was seated at table 2 and was paired against Mono Blue Devotion with Master of Waves.  I was aware of the deck, and knew that the way to beat him was to play very aggressively and kill as many early guys of his as I could to cut off his devotion so that his Master of Waves would not be out of control if he got it down.  In game 1, that scenario played out and I killed him quickly.  In game 2, I mulligan’d to five cards on a one lander and got shut down quite easily by double Master of Waves.

Game 3 was frustrating, as I had to mulligan again, this time to six cards with only one land.  I thought about going down to five, but I was on the play and I had double Burning-Tree in hand with some burn and Rakdos Cackler.  Unfortunately I didn’t hit my second land until four or five turns into the game and by that time I couldn’t crawl my way out of the hole, nor out of the double Master of Waves and Thassa draw my opponent had.  I probably should have mulligan’d this, but the fear had set in as it usually does when I’m X-0 and the deck starts taking a poop.

Ratchet Bomb

NOTE TO SELF:  ALWAYS HAVE HATE FOR THE NEW PRO TOUR DECK.

This was just an oversight on my part.  The Mono Blue deck was all over the room.  While it only finished in the top 16, many good players there were piloting it and they all had late round losses to keep them from getting farther.  This ended up being the only match I played against it in the ten rounds of the tournament, but once is enough.

The next round (six), I lost in two games to the ultimate winner of the tournament, Zach Stern, playing GR Monsters.  I mulled to four, followed by a mull to five.  Yep, it was time for my deck to use the bathroom.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a little jaded from that series of events, but I’m not going to solely blame my losses on mulligans.  I did get to play “some” spells during those games, and my opponents did play fairly good openers to make sure the door was sealed shut, but boy does it sting to lose in this manner when you’ve put in so much time and testing.  The good news is that there is always another tournament right around the corner and another chance to prove how good your 75 is.

I kind of went on tilt from there and ultimately finished 6-4.  Both my friend Ryan and I could have made top 32/64 and cashed if we had won our last round, but sadly we both got beaten blindly.  GW finally stuck in the dagger as my opponent mulled to five and then proceeded to play three Voice of Resurgence.  Match Slip Please.

The day was quickly salvaged though by this-

Oakland Gyros

For those of you who haven’t been to Milwaukee, WI before, Oakland Gyros is where it’s at.  I went to the college in that city, and this place was a longtime late-night staple of mine.  They do it all right, friendly and prompt service, quick food, delicious entrees, the best cucumber sauce on this Earth, and nice cozy booths so you can pass out after inhaling your gut bomb of a Gyro.  After literally 13 hours of slogging through competitive tournament Magic, this meal was a godsend.  It also helped give us just enough fuel to stay awake on the ride home, as the five of us in my buddy’s car were so slap pappy that we were offending gas station clerks, throwing out phrases like “Spankin Fools”, and actually thinking our Standard decks were good.  Just kidding, but at least one of us cashed and we all were happy to have been above .500.

Mono Red:  Where Do We Go?

I think it’s time to start looking at some lists.  People have some good ideas floating around on the interwebs.  Lets start with the SCG Milwaukee runner up, Jeremy Stowe;

Mono Red Aggro by Jeremy Stowe; 2nd Place SCG Milwaukee

Creature [28]
4 Ash Zealot
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Fanatic of Mogis
4 Firefist Striker
4 Rakdos Cackler

Instant [8]
4 Lightning Strike
4 Shock

Artifact [1]
1 Hammer of Purphoros

Land [23]
21 Mountain
2 Mutavault

60 cards

Sideboard:
3 Frostburn Weird
2 Skullcrack
1 Flames of the Firebrand
2 Mizzium Mortars
2 Ratchet Bomb
1 Hammer of Purphoros
3 Burning Earth
1 Mutavault
15 cards

I like Jeremy’s deck.  It’s very similar to Bertorelli’s, although he’s added a few Mutavualts (free mana anyways, basically) and included a maindeck Hammer of Purphoros and extra Shocks instead of Magma Jet.  For starters, Hammer seems way better than the singleton Gore-House Chainwalker which has been pretty much universally panned by everyone since Bertorelli won.  I sided in my Hammers in several matchups at the SCG, including the mirror, and was incredibly happy with the card.  The inevitability of just turning lands into guys with haste is too good to pass up.  I really think going forward that Hammer is going to be a staple card in Mono Red, so I’d suggest picking them up now while they’re still absolutely way too cheap for their own good.

I’m not quite sure why Jeremy decided to go with another Mutavault in the board.  I’d say with 23 lands you should have no trouble casting Burning Earth out of the board, and while it gives you a little more insurance to have the 24th land and it gives you some added game against Supreme Verdict, it just seems unnecessary here.  It easily could have been a third Ratchet Bomb, Mizzium Mortars, Chandra, Skullcrack, etc, etc.

Otherwise, his list is really competitive on paper and I wouldn’t have a problem suggesting it going forward.

Next up, SCG Classic Raleigh:

Mono Red Aggro by Robert Gathings; 2nd Place SCG Raleigh

Creature [28]
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Firefist Striker
4 Ash Zealot
4 Gore-House Chainwalker
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Chandra’s Phoenix

Instant [12]
4 Magma Jet
4 Shock
4 Lightning Strike

Land [20]
20 Mountain

60 cards

Sideboard:
4 Mindsparker
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Skullcrack
3 Toil // Trouble

15 cards

Verrrrrrry Interesting, very interesting.  This deck is doing a lot of things.  For starters, it has no Fanatic of Mogis, so we’re clearly going for a more aggressive stance, yet it doesn’t play quite the suicidal package that Owen used at SCG Worcester.  Instead, we have the full playset of Chainwalkers and both quality Mono Red three drops are present.  I love that he has a full twelve burn spells maindeck, Magma Jet has been one of the best cards for me and I was a little sad to see that Jeremy Stowe decided to dismiss it.  Granted, he got 2nd place at a bigger tournament, but Jet is just insane!  It’s a shame that it’s two mana and all, but scrying twice is too invaluable.  I digress. . .

The sideboard is where he really spiced it up.  Mindsparker hasn’t seen any play thus far, but he’s using the full playset.  I kind of dismissed the card given the quality level of all the three drops we already have access too, but if you think about it Mindsparker is fairly reasonable against BOTH Control and the Mirror, especially if the Control decks and Mirror matches stay the way they are.  The Control decks all use heavy white removal spells (Azorius Charm, Detention Sphere, Supreme Verdict) and the Mono Red mirrors usually boil down to Boros Reckoner.  While Mindsparker is no Reckoner, you might as well have another big First Striker alongside of him.  It’s a shame he dies to every burn spell in the deck, but it’s still not a terrible card for a test run and it clearly served Robert well on his way to Top 8.

Toil and Trouble

Toil and Trouble is a carryover from RTR Block, and I love seeing it here.  This alongside of the playset of Skullcracks will absolutely PUNISH both Control and Midrange players who just want to sit back on their ladels playing removal spells and holding end-gamers in their hands.  I’ve been trying to figure out a list where I could play the combination of these two cards, and Richard puts it together beautifully here.  While I think the maindeck needs to choose whether it’s aggressive or late-game, the sideboard seems purely money to me.  It will need a slight adjustment for the Mono Blue Devotion deck, but otherwise you have a lot more reach than other Mono Red builds.

Lastly on the decklists, we have a contender from Magic Online:

Alfredo Torres (1st Place)
Standard Premier #6072739 on 10/12/2013

Main Deck
60 cards

19 Mountain
2 Mutavault
21 lands

4 Ash Zealot
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Fanatic of Mogis
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Rakdos Cackler
28 creatures

4 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Jet
3 Shock
11 other spells

Sideboard
2 Burning Earth
1 Electrickery
4 Frostburn Weird
1 Hammer of Purphoros
4 Mizzium Mortars
3 Peak Eruption
15 sideboard cards

No Firefist Striker.  Hmm. . . I don’t know if that’s where I want to be with giant Green monsters running around everywhere, and cards like Blood Baron of Viskopa, but I’ll admit that he’s not a stellar topdeck and he requires a lot of work to get going.  Still, he’s won me a lot of games so it’s hard to not play him right now.

That said, AlfredoTorres is an extremely talented player who has done well with Mono Red in the past (I believe his real name is Anthony Davis and I think he writes for TCG Player), so it’s possible that the change isn’t that big a deal.  He basically subbed them out for Firedrinkers, which I too ran at SCG Milwaukee.  I ran the Firedrinkers at the cost of Shock, but that card can be really good in a deck like this and sometimes function in a similar role to Firefist, so it’s all going to boil down to Metagame and personal preference.  Peak Eruption and Electrickery are his big changes in the board, which I imagine are there pretty much for the bigger red decks like Big Boros, GR Monsters, Mono Red Devotion (Nykthos), and BR/x Midrange.  Electrickery for Master of Waves tokens.  I haven’t done a lot of testing with Peak Eruption, but the little I did proved it can be fairly effective against the right opponent.  I think if anything, I’d really want it for the BR/x decks, as they seem to be able to put the most punishment on Mono Red.  Trading Post is a tough card to deal with, along with Anger of the Gods and Desecration Demon, so having something that disrupts their ability to get there is pretty huge.

Torres’s list spawned some more success just following his Premiere win, the next day’s Premiere had pilots playing almost identical 75s in both the fifth and sixth place positions.  This lends even a little more credence to the idea that you don’t necessarily need Firefist Striker to win, although it could also be due to a different Metagame online than in person.

So Where Am I At?

As usual, I’ve been making changes on a daily basis.  Yesterday I went 3-1 at my win-a-box tournament, playing a heavy Red devotion list with only three maindeck burn spells (Mizzium Mortars).  I had Purphoros, Hammer, Chandra, and Fanatic maindeck, and just wanted to see how crazy I could get with it against these decks that don’t like to interact.  I beat Mihara’s GR ramp deck from the pro tour, and a few other aggro matches that I sadly can’t remember well.  I lost to Mono Blue Master of Waves, AGAIN.  I even had two Ratchet Bombs and more burn in my sideboard, but it just goes to show that you really need to pay heed to that deck.  Most of you are probably thinking that I’m smoking on some funny stuff and that the matchup is horrible, but I insist it really isn’t.  I think the answer is just that you absolutely need to be running a minimum of three Ratchet Bombs, preferably four, and possibly 1-2 Electrickery.  Yes, those cards aren’t hot in other matchups, but it’s worth it if this Mono Blue deck stays for a while.

There’s a Gameday in my city on Saturday, I’m thinking I’ll probably be pretty close to where Jeremy Stowe left off.  I know a couple of things for sure though-

  • Four Mizzium Mortars in the Sideboard.  This is a must, I have really missed this card since I cut it down.  I know Bertorelli advocated taking some out, but this isn’t what I want to be doing at the moment.  Mirror matches are going to sideboard in Frostburn Weird and possibly Stormbreath Dragon, and the card is an all star in the GW, Naya, and GR matches.  It’s a key piece to victory that I don’t think you should sleep on.
  • Hammer.  I really love this card.  At least play 1.
  • Control is an easy matchup, don’t dedicate too many cards to it in the Sideboard.  It seems like UW has faded and Esper is the default, which actually is great for you.  For one, Esper tends to be slower because of the mana, and they are heavily punished by Burning Earth.  While I’ve hemmed and hawed over playing the card, it’s won me six or seven games in the last three tournaments alone.  It doubles at being good against BWR which is not nearly as friendly a matchup.  So have some Burning Earths, a few Hammers, and if you want Skullcrack/Toil and Trouble, but call it a day after that to save room for the stuff you really need cards against.
  • I think the last few sideboard slots should be dedicated to midrange and bigger Red decks.  That means, Peak Eruption might make it in my 75 for the first time, obviously Mortars will stay, and I think my Madcap Skills/Goblin Shortcutter days might be a thing of the past despite having won me some games.  They’re really only good in the GW match, and I feel that you want to avoid being narrow at the moment with so many different players running around.

So all that said, I don’t have a maindeck finished yet, but assuming that it’s close to Stowe’s, this is probably what your board is looking like:

4 Mizzium Mortars
4 Ratchet Bomb
3 Burning Earth
3 Peak Eruption
1 Hammer of Purphoros

Notes:  You may want more cheap burn against other Aggro, you may want 1 or 2 more cards against Control, and you may be able to shave a singleton from most of the above to fit in an extra card or two if you’re not wildly fond of the ones above.  This is just a start to show you where my brainstorming is at the moment.  I’m also still considering Richard Gathings sideboard a lot, as it looked super duper scary.

One Last Thing:  Big Red

Some of you have asked about Big Red, and I think it’s worth taking a quick look at two lists which I think are absolutely bonkers.  While I probably wouldn’t play them due to the fact that they don’t have as fast a clock as Mono Red Aggro, they certainly seem powerful and both finished strong last weekend.  They’re also really expensive, so that’s been a barrier for me (shouldn’t be for competitive magic players, but alas sometimes we all get hit by it), but don’t let that stop you from taking them for a spin.

RW Aggro by Adrian Sullivan; 4th Place SCG Milwaukee

Creature [24]
4 Ash Zealot
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Stormbreath Dragon

Instant [7]
3 Boros Charm
4 Lightning Strike

Sorcery [2]
2 Mizzium Mortars

Land [25]
13 Mountain
4 Mutavault
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph

Planeswalker [2]
2 Chandra, Pyromaster
60 cards

Sideboard:
3 Frostburn Weird
1 Tajic, Blade of the Legion
1 Boros Charm
1 Chandra’s Outrage
3 Shock
1 Wear // Tear
2 Mizzium Mortars
3 Chained to the Rocks

Adrian is a fellow Madison native and someone who I really respect in the Magic Community.  He’s had a lot of success over the years and he’s a fellow red lover, so I always chew his ear whenever I get a chance.  We talked briefly at the SCG and he seemed really happy with his deck.  I then watched him just destroy his Quarters opponent in the top 8 on stream, so if you haven’t seen that you should check it out.  He did a deck tech that day on it, and I think he sums up all the good points:

While it’s not strictly Mono Red, you can’t not be crazy over what he’s doing here.  The white cards are all good, and the idea is the same.  TURN EM’ AND BURN EM’

And lastly:

Kamiel Cornelissen Mono-red Devotion
Standard – Top 8 Pro Tour Theros

Main Deck
60 cards

21 Mountain
1 Mutavault
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
26 lands

4 Ash Zealot
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
3 Ember Swallower
4 Frostburn Weird
3 Purphoros, God of the Forge
4 Stormbreath Dragon
26 creatures

2 Hammer of Purphoros
4 Magma Jet
1 Mizzium Mortars
7 other spells

1 Chandra, Pyromaster
1 planeswalker

Sideboard
3 Anger of the Gods
2 Burning Earth
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
2 Chandra’s Phoenix
1 Hammer of Purphoros
3 Mizzium Mortars
3 Peak Eruption
15 sideboard cards

It’s possible this is just where you want to be with Red.  This list reeks of greatness.  Cornelissen hadn’t even drafted Theros prior to this Pro Tour, and I don’t know how much playtesting he got in with this deck, but he certainly did good enough to justify running it.  It looks like it has cracked the code for Mono Red Devotion, and while it needs a bit more hate for the Mono Blue Devotion deck, its got the rest of the pieces to being successful in this format.  My biggest gripes are the full playset of Nykthos, although he’s clearly going for the nutdraw with it.  That said, you don’t have ramp creatures like you do in green, so even though you might get a multiple Burning-Tree draw and be able to create a large Nykthos pool on turn three, it’s just not quite the same.  If any of you readers have time to test this, I’d for sure add it to your suite as this looks like it could be the answer to this format.

– Red Deck Winning

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14 thoughts on “Mono Red in Theros Coming to Form

  1. I really like reading your articles. I also qualify as a red addict. Some suggestion for your sideboard that have been really good for me:

    Act of treason – This card is just to good vs any deck that play big creatures. Removing a blocker and turning it into a dmg dealer. With the fanatic it give you a second tool to quickly finish matches. Desecration demon, blood baron, storm dragon, it feel so good when you steal them…

    Anger of the gods: This is better than the bombs most of the time. Vs blue waves it kills the tokens plus most other devotion sources. Nothing is more frustrating than cleaning the tokens and having a 2nd master coming next turn full devotion… It’s also useful against GM, mono green and the mirror. They don’t expect you to play this. You just have to play your hand carefully to have some creature for post wipe. I would go 2 Anger/2 bombs.

    Awaken the ancient: Again this is an unexpected card. 7 hasted power that plays around blind obedience (the creature doesnt enter the battlefield) plus a good source of devotion. You do not care about being 2 for 1ed because you will be at 5 lands when you play this. Add another finisher.

    Madcap skills: I took this idea from you and i do not understand why you removed it from your SB. Lightning strike role is to remove a blocker or do 3 dmg to the dome. This does the same thing but turn after turn. You should connect at least once with it so even if your creature is removed the next turn, you are not really 2 for 1ed.

    Peak Eruption: For me this feel more like a control or midrange card. It is also very situational. I feel there are many other better choice available for RDW.

    Hammer of Purphoros: A good card for sure but i feel it is more for midrange. You want to be fast. This basically make you lose 1 turn because it almost always has no immediate influence on your board presence. Against anything playing blind obedience half of the card utility is removed. If you are flooding you will most likely lose the game anyway, hammer or not. Every time i had this in my hand with a RDW i would have wanted something else…

  2. Frederic, thanks for the feedback, I’m happy you’re enjoying the site. To briefly address your comments-

    – Act of Treason: I absolutely love cards like this in Mono Red, but my biggest issue with this is that I see it as a pretty big downgrade from Traitorous Blood and Act of Aggression. I think a lot of people miss the little things on threaten cards, and Trample was so huge with respect to T.Blood. I’ve just found myself in testing and tournaments where I’ve had Act of Treason and it hasn’t won me the game, because it still didn’t create a favorable enough board state for me. That said, I am probably just completely overestimating the number of bad situations and not properly valuing the good ones. It certainly is very strong in matchups like what you mention, specifically BWR, BR, and BW, where they usually only have one guy out at a time because you’ve burned the rest or because they only run so few. I’m a bigger fan of permanency and cards that are always live, but you’re right in that it’s most likely deserving of at least 1-2 sideboard slots.

    – Anger of the Gods: I like that Ratchet Bomb is colorless and has the flexibility to go after whatever it wants, although realistically it’s going to take down tokens. You’re right, Anger can hit some of their devotion creatures (although it misses Frostburn Weird which usually is the one that stays on the table after you use your other burn). I like having an army alongside of my Bombs, especially if you have Chandra’s Phoenix and can still keep pecking at them while you threaten to blow a Bomb. You could argue both sides a bit, but it’s possible that Anger is worth it. I didn’t think about it’s application to the mirror, and honestly that’s a pretty hot idea given that the mirror is otherwise really dumb and hard to gain advantages in.

    – I’ve tried Awaken the Ancient a whole bunch. There are favorable situations for it, but you can also get blown out so bad. I think like anything it’s a card that has extremely big upside and down. It’s really hot in Midrange matchups that have light removal, like GW (aside from Charm), GR (theirs doesn’t hit him), and Mono decks. I was just thinking about it the other day, and I dismissed giving it another round of testing, but it’s an outside one that you could test if you think it’s worth it. One last problem I have with it is that it’s essentially five mana most of the time, which means you could be casting a Stormbreath Dragon. There is something to be said for getting around Blind Obedience, but I’ve been housing Control most of the times that I’ve played it, so that’s not the match I’m looking to gain a percentage in at the moment.

    – Madcap served me well against GW and non-interactive decks, but I’m having trouble finding room for it which is why I shelved it for the moment. I really want to go back to maxing out on Mortars, and if I can find sideboard room I’ll add a few back in. Is it really good when it’s good? Yes. But it’s not amazing against Naya (still useable), G/R, etc, where they have more burn, so you have to be very careful. Regardless, it’s not something that’s out of the stable completely.

    – Peak Eruption: I’m in fair agreement with your thoughts on this. It’s narrow, and it’s not a wild topdeck, so it’s going to be very metagame dependent. It also doesn’t establish board presence. However, I think against decks like BR and BRW which are really tough, it’s just absurd. They absolutely hate seeing a land blown up, especially if it’s played on-time, and if it’s played later it’s still basically a Searing Spear to the head.

    – Hammer of Purphoros: You do timewalk yourself, something I talk about often in my articles, but Hammer provides a consistent army and you usually have other guys out in addition to it. Against control, it’s one more card to stretch their D-Spheres, which usually means you’re forcing through Burning Earths as a followup or other big threats. If they don’t have the limited answers people play for it in their hand, it usually goes unchecked at taking over a game. About the only time it hasn’t done much for me against Control is against Elspeth, at which point you hope you’re ahead enough to just burn them out. Against Midrange, I like having the extra bodies (although THAT is a matchup where taking a turn off can be detrimental), and against Aggro I like having something that keeps putting gas on the table. For instance, against the mirror I’d hold it back as the last card I play, which is exactly when it becomes the most valuable since the game state is either typically stalled at that point or you’ve lost/won. That’s usually what I’ve seen when both players get down to their last card or two in that match. In addition, I always bring in more removal in the mirrors, to pretty much ensure that I won’t be at a huge loss if I have to take a tempo play off by putting down a Hammer.

    I’m welcome to more thoughts, and thanks for what you’ve provided so far. I love getting into lengthy discussions on this when I have time because there’s a lot of play for these cards and room to try different things. That’s one of the big things I was hoping the variety of lists I’ve showcased would bring about.

    – Red Deck Winning

  3. Played this today except I went with 2 hammers in the main. Did very well against all here in Sioux City except I had trouble with W/G (fleecemain, etc etc). I could not win the creature or damage war against that deck. Any ideas?

    I solidly beat G/B Control, Esper, mono blue.

    • Mizzium Mortars is your best friend in that matchup in combination with firefist ad Chandra.

      I tried the new build of Mono Red that ive been testing at gameday today. Sadly i juat missed top 8 but i had a lot of fun and feel very confident about the deck other than a few sideboard changes that need to be made. Heres the list i played:

      4 Firedrinker Satyr
      4 Rakdos Cackler
      4 Ash Zealot
      4 Chandra’s Phoenix
      4 Boros Reckoner
      4 Stormbreath Dragon

      2 Chandra, Pyromaster

      4 Lightning Strike
      3 Magma Jet
      2 Mizzium Mortars

      4 Mutavault
      21 Mountain

      Sideboard
      3 Burning Earth
      3 Electrickery
      2 Mizzium Mortars
      2 Frostburn Weird
      2 Shock
      2 Act of Treason
      1 Chandra’s Outrage

      In the board id probably cut some number of the anti aggro cards for stuff against control and possibly midrange. Maindeck i feel like squeezing in another Chandra.

      I lost to BW Midrange round 1, won against BR Gray Merchant Devotion round 2, won against RW Aggro round 3, lost to Esper Control round 4, and beat Esper Control in round 5. Finished 3-2, 12th place. Deck felt good, my opponents had very good draws in my losses and battled through a stream of good cards on my end. Would definitely recommend the deck unless you have cash for Adrian’s RW list that i based it off of.

  4. Robert Gathings is a good friend of mine. I ran into him at an SCG Super IQ this past Saturday and congratulated him on his top 2 finish, but totally forgot to get details on why he ran some of the cards that he did. #facepalm And here’s a fun fact that he let me in on. He played against Ali Aintrazi in the quarterfinals of the classic. Unfortunately, Ali received a game loss for an error on his decklist. Instead of writing Horizon Chimera, he wrote Horizon Canopy by accident :/

    But nonetheless, I top 16ed said SCG IQ with this list:

    4-Rakdos Cackler
    4-Ash Zealot
    4-Burning-Tree Emissary
    4-Firefist Striker
    4-Boros Reckoner
    4-Chandra’s Phoenix
    4-Fanatic of Mogis
    Creatures:28

    4-Lightning Strike
    3-Magma Jet
    Instants and Sorceries:7

    2-Chandra, Pyromaster
    Planeswalkers:2

    20-Mountain
    3-Mutavault
    Lands:23

    4-Mizzium Mortars
    3-Frostburn Weird
    3-Ratchet Bomb
    2-Shock
    2-Hammer of Purphoros
    1-Mutavault
    Sideboard:15

    Since I don’t have too much time at this point, I’ll quickly say that I love the way the deck played out. I hate how underwhelming Chandra, Pyromaster turned out to be mainboard. I shouldn’t have let a friend convince me to take out the 1 Hammer of Purphoros I originally had in, and a Magma Jet. I was okay with 3 Magma Jet, but 4 is where I want to be. So I have since taken out the 2 planeswalkers and put in Magma Jet #4 and the one-of Hammer of Purphoros. Sideboard, ended up not needing the 2 shock. Mortars is just fine. This deck turns very midrange’y against the mirror/ other aggressive decks out of the sideboard. Frostburn Weird is good. Don’t be fooled. It blocks Boros Reckoner well, especially when they Act of Treason yours! Sideboard is now 4 mortars, 3 weird, 2 ratchet bombs, 1 hammer, 1 mutavault, 2 Chandra, and 2 Smelt. Yes. Smelt. Whip of Erebos is a beating, and you need a permanent answer. Skullcrack has just fallen out of popularity for me…

    My Matchups were:

    U/W: 2-1
    B/W: 1-2
    G/W smiter/lion/unflinching courage splash black for removal.dec : 2-1 (this matchup sucked)
    B/W/R: 2-1 (this one sucked too)
    Mirror: 2-1 (don’t try me in the mirror)
    G/W/B (see above description): 1-2 (this was for a top 8 spot :/)

    Overall:4-2

    • Hammer in the main is just so powerful. So powerful in fact I dropped Chandra and a Fanatic of Mogus just so I can play 2 in the main. If I go all out turn 4 and they board wipe, turn 5 they are staring at a 3/3 and possibly another creature with haste the next turn. I dropped Magma Jet for shock. I was having mana issues playing combat tricks with Magma Jet – plus if you draw a hammer you don’t care what the top of your library looks like. I don’t have the money for Chandra, but have a feeling she would probably be invaluable in the G/W match-up – the only match-up I lost to at our gameday here in Sioux City. Here was my list:

      4 Rakdos Cackler
      4 Ash Zealot
      4 Burning Tree Emissary
      4 Firefist Striker
      4 Chandra’s Phoenix
      4 Boros Reckoner
      3 Fanatic of Mogus

      2 Hammer of Purphoros

      4 Shock
      4 Lightning Strike.

      2 Mutavault (any more than 2 and I was running into mana issues)
      21 Mountain

      ———–

      1 Hammer of Purphoros
      3 Mizzium Mortars
      4 Electrickery
      4 Burning Earth
      2 Ratchet Bomb (I don’t really like this)

      • I forgot I also played 1 more Fanatic of Mogus in the board. I would probably take this out for another mizzium mortars or hammer.

  5. Hey John, I enjoyed reading your article. Especially this part:

    ” Yep, it was time for my deck to use the bathroom.” 🙂

    Anyways, I just wanted to also say I support Act of Treason. Obviously it’s not a permanent and isn’t good for long term board state but this is RDW and games shouldn’t be long. I don’t mean to state the obvious but these types of cards are just so good and have always been amazing for me in limited and constructed. You are removing the best blocker on the board and using it as an attacker in one play. Sometimes you can even steal a red creature and use your opponents own red devotion against them with a fanatic in longer games.

    Last Friday I drafted 4 of the Theros version that lets you scry and it was great all day, I was undefeated. Many years ago I almost top 8’d a sealed deck PTQ with the card Grab the Reins, another version of red creature stealing.

    I randomly stumbled across a version of this card in the last block that costs R3 but gives the creature you steal +2/+0… Act of Treason is probably still better being 1 less but it makes me think.

  6. Another card that i have been using recently is Legion Loyalist. I just love this guy. I use it more as a combat trick. Your opponent plays elspeth or master of waves and leave the tokens behind as blockers. You cast your loyalist and swing for lethal.

    Another great card is Purphoros. People tend to forget that it does 2 dmg every time you cast a creature. They also forget that his boost ability is for all your creatures. You cast a loyalist, it does 2 dmg. You then pump all your creature by 1 or 2 and they have 1st strike/trample. This screw many game plans…

    Here is the list i currently use. It is my favorite version of RDW so far. It is fast and unpredictable for your opponent:

    //Creatures:
    4 Rackdos Cackler
    4 Firedrinker Satyr
    4 Legion Loyalist
    4 Burning-Tree Emissary
    4 Ash Zealot
    4 Firefist Striker
    2 Boros Reckoner
    2 Chandra’s Phoenix
    4 Fanatic of Mogis
    2 Purphoros, God of the forge

    //Spells:
    4 Magma Jet

    //Lands:
    20 Mountain
    2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

    //Side:
    2 Mizzium Mortars
    2 Act of Treason
    2 SkullCrack
    3 Ratchet Bomb
    2 Chandra Phoenix
    3 Burning Earth
    1 Boros Reckoner

  7. Great article! I was looking for different RDW lists to polish my own deck and I found exactly what I needed!

    One thing that always gives me trouble (it may be because I’m relatively new to Magic) is to choose which cards to take off the main when sideboarding. If you want to play Mizzium Mortars on your 2nd game, which cards would you take off the main?

    Thanks in advance!

    Greetings from Montevideo, Uruguay.

    • Just look back at game one and see which cards were weak. If you were playing against a deck with a lot of removal then pull the cards out that wont do you much good. Fanatic of Mogus > Boros Reckoner tend to come out against heavy removal decks (in that order). If Reckoner stays around long enough hes good, but Mogus is useless against decks that wont let you get to 4+ devotion. The exact opposite is true when you’re playing against GW. They have little/no removal and Fanatic/Reckoner can take back games. Maybe pull out Magma Jet/Shocks for Mizzium Mortars against GW because they will almost always be a 2 for 1. Against anything with 3 colors I always board in Burning Earth – the card is so devastating to 3 color control if it hits the board.

      • I found out that in the mirror match, pulling out Firedrinker Satyrs is a must as burn spells will target it making me loose a creature and receive 2 to 4 damage.

        I’m having so much fun playing mono red so far!

      • Just a heads up, I should have a new article up by the end of the weekend or early next week. Thank you all for the feedback and glad you are enjoying the site and the archetype!

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