My name is John Galli, I’ve been playing Magic the Gathering off and on since 1994 and this is my website dedicated to my favorite deck archetype; Red Deck Wins.
In 1994 I was eleven, my friend at school had just bought a few “Starter Decks” of Revised and he came over to show me how the game worked. Despite being a bit complicated, like many of you after first starting I became hooked. The dynamics of the game were interesting and the endless possibilities of cards, decks, and ideas attracted me to it. I began to slowly grow a collection, but with my age and monetary constraints it was mostly casual at that point. I did attend a local shop’s tournament, back in the good old days when playing Nightmare, Force of Nature, and Chaos Orb was cool (Heck that’s still cool to me). I quit playing a year later when Ice Age came out, as the game was too expensive for me to keep up with and the cards were less interesting at the time.
When I started high school I noticed some friends playing again and decided to try getting back into it. I bought a Tempest Pre-Constructed Deck and went 4-2 at the local shop’s tournament. After that my friends and I began trying to play more competitively, we attended some Pro Tour Qualifiers, Gen-Con, and Friday Night Magic. I never really had too much success although we all had our moments. By my Junior year, I quit again selling off my collection to work on school and other hobbies.
Finally in 2008 I started back again and this time a good friend of mine and I decided we wanted to try and make a run at playing on the competitive level. We played in qualifiers about once a month, traveled around to Grand Prix and other big events, and became more involved in the local scene (Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin) which was already a long established hot bed for Magic. We both again had flashes in the pan at success, there was a stretch where I was in the top 32 of every tournament I was playing in with a highlight of getting 12th and just missing out on the top 8 of a Starcitygames Open. I lost to famous pro Brad Nelson in that tournament to miss out on top 8, right before he went on an impressive run and became known to the rest of the world.
A few years later I’d spent a good amount on Magic (as most of us do) and had other important areas of life that needed nurturing so I weaned off of the game, selling the majority of my cards. Jund had just had Bloodbraid Elf rotate out of Standard and I had been piloting Jund for a number of years so it seemed like as good a time as any. One other deck that I had often enjoyed playing though was Sligh, aka Mono Red Aggro, aka Red Deck Wins. Since it was one of the few semi-competitive decks on the market that could be played on a very tight budget I picked it up to use locally and for the occasional big event that I could make it out to. A lot of people can’t stand the deck, thinking that it’s relegated to Magic newbs and requires no skill to play and gets boring fast, but to me it’s a riveting ride every time I sit down with the beast. There are quite a few decisions to make when the game progresses, and you have to know how to deal with more complicated board states to get farther in a big tournament. Every point of damage is critical when you’re going up against decks that cost three times as much and feature multiple cards that were practically created to neutralize your strategy.
What really pushed me into staying with the archetype though was a tournament I attended in a nearby town. It was about 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning and I had woken up early by accident. I remembered that there was a $500 cash open going on about an hour north of where I live and I hadn’t played in a while. I had Red Deck built, but it had been mostly as a loaner to friends since the deck at the time wasn’t big on the radar (it was just after Return to Ravnica had come out). Zombies was the defacto aggro deck, and Jund and UWR were the big Midrange archetypes. So, with nothing else planned for that day I decided on the whim to drive up and give it a shot. A few hours later and I was in the top 8, losing in three games to a friend of mine playing Jund with him at 1 life and getting me for exactly lethal. It was a fantastic time and it gave me the fuel to want to play again. People were impressed at the shop with the power of my deck and happy to see the archetype could do well that was always relegated to the FNM table. So I’ve been playing it since then and am now pretty much the local “Mono Red Guy” and figured I should probably start a website for any others out there who like turning fire sideways.