Red Aggro In Battle For Zendikar

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Red Aggro In Battle For Zendikar

Finally, the full spoiler has arrived.  Now begins the fun part – brewing up a competitive Aggro deck.  Most of you were probably a bit disappointed when everything was said and done because this set doesn’t offer up a huge amount of interesting Red cards, but the set itself looks deep for other strategies.  I think from many of the observations I’ve heard, people appear to be misevaluating power levels on a quite a few of the cards and their abilities.

Standouts In Battle For Zendikar and Predictions

Awaken looks like a fundamental tool for the majority of decks that will see Standard play.  The mechanic adds another layer to the things that your deck can be doing and also looks like it will increase the grindy nature of the format.  While I’m a bit concerned that Blue got a Counterspell and an Unsummon effect with Awaken, the ability is welcome overall.  Wizards miraculously pushes the power envelope with each set, and BFZ is no exception.  Almost every Awaken card has an ability on it that you’d want in your deck or sideboard anyway, so it makes for a virtually default choice if you were already going for that kind of effect.

There’s a lot of Eldrazi, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, there’s so much of it that it feels like there has to be at least one deck that actually builds around it completely, splashing Khans block cards to make up for effects that are missing.  Forerunner of Slaughter has caught the most buzz in my playgroup, and I can’t say I disagree.  The card is very comparable to Flinthoof Boar, who was a standout staple in GR Aggro from previous seasons.  His stats on paper are good enough that he doesn’t need to be part of a build around Eldrazi deck to be good, but he could be an inclusion even there.  His ability works with himself on turn 3 or later, and begs that you consider another Eldrazi card or two if it’s close to making the cut but just needs a little extra boost.

A Ramp deck has to exist, and could be the most powerful strategy in the format.  While Abzan was a dominant force in the past few Standard seasons, one of the decks that often trumped it was GR Devotion.  Cards like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger are strict upgrades to anything you would be doing, other Eldrazi make dual purpose scion tokens so your early game isn’t as indefensible, and the format is smaller meaning there will be less answers to bigger threats.  If Ramp is your thing, than a refresher on Zvi Mowshowitz’s Hypermana is a worthwhile excursion.

Speaking of less answers, Magma Spray, Lightning Strike, Bile Blight, Stoke the Flames, Hero’s Downfall, Drown in Sorrow, and Anger of the Gods are rotating.  An Aggro deck has to have room here to succeed if that’s the case, and it also suggests that those X/3s that were sometimes too vulnerable to cast will now be quite playable.  Dust off those Brutal Hordechiefs, because it’s time to see if that card can actually tango or not.  And if Mantis Rider wasn’t an amazing creature before, it certainly is now.

The new dual lands might just be the best thing we’ve seen since the originals.  Patrick Chapin and Mike Flores have a regular Podcast (Top Level Podcast) and on one of their episodes they discussed the new Battle Lands.  I strongly encourage all of you to take a listen to that, because while I normally am not a fan of that particular Podcast and while Chapin and Flores can be wrong many times, this discussion makes a great deal of sense.  The Battle Lands are almost assuredly going to reshape the way we build a manabase, and it may allow for things to be far easier to cast than they were previously.  When I first polled friends of mine regarding what they thought of them, most didn’t think they were anything special.  But these to me look like potential replacements for Shock Lands (or a combination) in Modern, and getting them to be untapped by using more Fetch Lands seems like a bonus more than a boon.  Chapin brings up a strong point about how it might be easier to even do four color decks rather than three color because of how a fetch could get you splash colors attached to any base color you need.  Plus with the rotation of the Scry Lands in Standard, this is it.  Every new set of lands that has come out in the past has been used and abused, so I expect no difference with BFZ’s arrival.

Again on the point of lands, we finally have new Man Lands.  While some of them won’t be arriving until the next set after BFZ (can’t wait for the RW Dual), these kind of lands altered manabases the last time they were around.  I was a big Jund player at the time when Raging Ravine was released, and it pushed decks like Jund to go more towards 26/27 lands because of the value offered there.  It meant you could both hit your spells on time easier and have something to do following a wrath or a long grind session.  It also simply helps you get out of flooding situations or assist you with blocking in a pinch.  All of the Man Lands were used with the last go-around, and almost all of them still get used in Modern.  Preorder them now while they’re still dirt cheap. . .

Allies are the big hype of the new set, and while I’m not sure they’ll be competitive just due to the very nature of all-in creature decks, the abilities they need to be successful are present.  Additionally, while some are overcosted, lets not forget the last time they were printed where there actually was some Tier 1.5/2 decks that could be very difficult to play against.  Mardu and Naya Allies make the most sense to me, mostly because White and Red have the cheapest to play creatures, the Black allies have strong abilities, and because Collected Company.  All-in creature decks usually only play somewhere in the range of 4-12 non creature spells, so if we’re not able to do much with those they have to be polarizing in strength.  Crackling Doom and Collected Company accomplish that goal.  And if Chapin is right about the four color manabase, heck maybe we even jam those two cards together.

Enter The Aggro

Let’s get things started.  Keep in mind these are all untested hypothetical prototypes, so please take them as food for thought.  And what better place to begin:

Mono Red Aggro by John Galli

4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Zurgo Bellstriker
3 Lightning Berserker
4 Abbot of Keral Keep
4 Dragon Whisperer
2 Goblin Heelcutter
2 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh

4 Wild Slash
3 Titan’s Strength
3 Roast
4 Exquisite Firecraft
1 Touch of the Void
1 Collateral Damage
1 Molten Vortex

20 Mountain
1 Looming Spires

Sideboard
1 Goblin Heelcutter
3 Scab-Clan Berserker
1 Fiery Impulse
1 Act of Treason
1 Roast
1 Outpost Siege
2 Rending Volley
2 Thunderbreak Regent
2 Smash to Smithereens
1 Arc Lightning

One of the nice things about rotation is that while we are losing some big Burn spells, most of the creatures from the current Mono Red Aggro deck are still present.  Eidolon of the Great Revel will be sorely missed, but Dragon Whisperer is not useless.  I played it quite a bit in Raphael Levy’s Dark Red deck and it was just fine in the previous Standard format.  Being able to give it actual evasion (versus something like Ire Shaman which is still very much in the consideration list) is quite useful, and it gives you something to do if an Abbot reveals a land but you don’t have a one-drop to play.  Later in the game he’s a mana sink, as well as being able to combo with Thunderbreak out of the board to make dragons of his own (with his Firebreathing Ability).  Granted, those situations won’t come up often, but it’s a smidge of extra value to be aware of.

Mono Red takes advantage of immature formats, and while it took a while to catch on with Origins, I think that was more due to the card pool size.  Now that we’re back to a smaller card pool and a set that looks relatively complicated and unfinished on paper, this should easily be one of the strongest archetypes out of the gate.  Many non red players will see the set and think that Mono Red is finished, or just an inferior version of its past self, but the major players are still present.  Titan’s Strength wasn’t that bad in the deck before, and is a suitable replacement for Stoke the Flames, along with a splash of other cards that can be useful in situations but not ones you’d like to overload on.

What’s even more important is that Abzan has to change to continue on.  Abzan still looks like it could be a very strong archetype, with many of it’s base cards remaining intact, but it’s definitely losing pieces and the ever-important manabase is seeing an adjustment.  Mono Red should be able to capitalize on this adjustment period where people are trying out cards and there isn’t a definitive best list.  Furthermore, Roast in this list takes the spot of Searing Blood, being still mostly dead to Control but giving you an even further leg up on Abzan in game 1.

RB Eldrazi Aggro by John Galli

4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Zurgo Bellstriker
2 Lightning Berserker
2 Abbot of Keral Keep
4 Endless One
4 Forerunner of Slaughter
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
4 Brutal Hordechief
2 Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury

4 Wild Slash
4 Exquisite Firecraft
1 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Murderous Cut

4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Smoldering Marsh
4 Wooded Foothills
1 Polluted Delta
1 Looming Spires
1 Mortuary Mire
1 Blighted Gorge
6 Mountain
1 Swamp

Sideboard
2 Roast
1 Self-Inflicted Wound
3 Duress
1 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Rending Volley
2 Scab-Clan Berserker
1 Act of Treason
1 Arc Lightning
1 Fiery Impulse
1 Virulent Plague

This list was inspired by a Mono Red deck that I used to play with Hellrider and Thundermaw Hellkite.  That list had great success, giving me my first Gameday win along with a few other local events, and it always seemed to be very consistent.  It’s a list that’s capable of taking on different roles depending on what the situation calls for.  It’s still very aggressive, but you can go big when you need to and it has extra reach in the form of both Burn spells and Brutal Hordechief.  Oh your opponent is playing a big Green deck and the board has become stalled?  Let’s just activate that Hordechief ability and have them block our lowly one drop while the rest of our creatures cruise to victory.  And while Hordechief was formerly a liability to removal, the current suite as mentioned before is very much reduced.

BR Dragons by John Galli

2 Hangarback Walker
4 Thunderbreak Regent
3 Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury

2 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1 Ob Nixils, Reignited
1 Outpost Siege

2 Wild Slash
2 Fiery Impulse
4 Duress
4 Draconic Roar
4 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Foul-Tongue Invocation
3 Ruinous Path
1 Murderous Cut
1 Crux of Fate

4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Smoldering Marsh
2 Bloodfell Caves
3 Polluted Delta
3 Wooded Foothills
2 Haven of the Spirit Dragon
4 Mountain
3 Swamp

Sideboard
4 Flamewake Phoenix
2 Seismic Rupture
1 Foul-Tongue Invocation
1 Virulent Plague
2 Outpost Siege
1 Crux of Fate
1 Rending Volley
1 Self-Inflicted Wound
1 Ruinous Path
1 Transgress the Mind

This BR Dragons list takes on similar characteristics to the one that won GP Prague, substituting in some of the new cards to add some extra dimension.  While Ruinous Path is a sorcery which makes it a pretty big downgrade to Hero’s Downfall, having an Awaken mode will be big in long games versus other midrange decks.

Mono Red Aggro (Take 2) by John Galli

4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Zurgo Bellstriker
2 Lightning Berserker
4 Abbot of Keral Keep
4 Ire Shaman
4 Flamewake Phoenix
4 Shaman of the Great Hunt

4 Wild Slash
3 Roast
4 Exquisite Firecraft
1 Fiery Impulse
1 Titan’s Strength

20 Mountain
2 Looming Spires

Sideboard
1 Goblin Heelcutter
4 Scab-Clan Berserker
1 Fiery Impulse
1 Act of Treason
1 Roast
1 Outpost Siege
2 Rending Volley
2 Smash to Smithereens
1 Arc Lightning
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh

This spin on Mono Red utilizes a forgotten card in Shaman of the Great Hunt.  Again with removal being lighter and maindecking Roast, I think he has room to breathe.  I like Ire Shaman here a bit better than Dragon Whisperer because you’ll be using your mana just about every turn to curve into Shaman of the Great Hunt.  Shaman of the Great Hunt also works great in conjunction with Flamewake Phoenix and Scab-Clan out of the board to make them into difficult threats in a hurry and does a good job at replacing Stoke the Flames.  One of the big selling points of the new format will be no Elvish Mystic, which is important because RG Aggro with Mystic was often better for this type of archetype.  Now with the format either slowing down or at least losing that tempo advantage, you can carry the strategy into Mono Red and not have to dilute your deck at all for a “sometimes available” advantage.  This build doesn’t utilize any of the new cards outside the two Looming Spires, but it’s very likely there are one or two that might be worthwhile.

4-Color Allies by John Galli

4 Expedition Envoy
4 Beastcaller Savant
4 Kor Bladewhirl
4 Kor Castigator
3 Firemantle Mage
3 Drana, Liberator of Malakir
1 Lantern Scout
1 Munda, Ambush Leader
1 Resolute Blademaster

4 Atarka’s Command
4 Crackling Doom
4 Collected Company

2 Bloodstained Mire
3 Wooded Foothills
4 Windswept Heath
3 Flooded Monastery
1 Plains
1 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Mountain
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Canopy Vista
1 Cinder Glade
1 Prairie Stream

Sideboard
?????????

This is of course going off the deep end, and I’m sure it could be a total pile, but I wanted to throw an idea out here to build off of.  I’ve seen similar numbers for collected company decks before, and I figure that in this case it leverages the three most powerful spells in that color pie.  Having a one drop with the number of White sources that I have is a bit ambitious, so I could see adding more two or three cost allies instead.  I could also just see Allies not having enough support until the next set, so we’ll have to wait and find out what people come up with.

RB Dragons (Take 2) by John Galli

3 Zurgo Bellstriker
4 Lightning Berserker
4 Dragon Whisperer
4 Flamewake Phoenix
4 Thunderbreak Regent
3 Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury

3 Draconic Roar
1 Roast
1 Murderous Cut
1 Foul-Tongue Invocation
3 Wild Slash
1 Crater’s Claws
2 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Exquisite Firecraft

2 Haven of the Spirit Dragon
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Polluted Delta
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Smoldering Marsh
1 Bloodfell Caves
2 Swamp
6 Mountain

Sideboard
3 Scab-Clan Berserker
2 Roast
1 Rending Volley
2 Self-Inflicted Wound
1 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Duress
1 Seismic Rupture
1 Transgress the Mind
1 Foul-Tongue Invocation
1 Fiery Impulse

This list takes on a more aggressive posture than the previous one.  It borrows ideas from fellow Wisconsinite Gabe Groves’s Mono Red Dragons list from the SCG Open in Milwaukee this past weekend.  The list likely has too many singletons and wants Outpost Siege maindeck to help get to them, but I’d like to see how it does first before deciding on that.

Mardu Midrange

4 Soulfire Grand Master
1 Hangarback Walker
2 Pia and Kia Nalaar
4 Butcher of the Horde
1 Wingmate Roc

2 Outpost Siege

1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker

4 Wild Slash
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Crackling Doom
1 Mardu Charm
1 Murderous Cut
1 Valorous Stance
1 Utter End
1 Kolaghan’s Command

3 Smoldering Marsh
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Nomad Outpost
4 Shambling Vent
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Swamp
3 Mountain
3 Plains
2 Caves of Koilos
2 Battlefield Forge

Sideboard
3 Mastery of the Unseen (or Flamewake Phoenix)
1 Radiant Flames
1 Valorous Stance
1 Rending Volley
1 Tragic Arrogance
3 Duress
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Roast
1 Self-Inflicted Wound
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
1 Utter End

Ruinous Path is another good option for this list, but the essential concept of the deck is that you’re playing a value-driven long-game and utilizing the new Man Lands to their full potential.  The basis for this list is Shouta Yasooka’s Grand Prix Jund list from a few years ago.  Every card here puts in a little bit of extra work, so as long as you can survive the early game you should be able to outlast most other decks.  Now that Stormbreath is gone, you don’t have to worry about several of your cards not hitting a protection from White creature, so it lends room to playing more Mardu Charms and Valorous Stances.

Soulfire and Butcher help you with the early game, along with Hordeling Outburst serving many masters.  It’s a good aggressive card that is not easily dealt with now that Bile Blight is gone, it provides blockers against Aggro, and it is food for the Butcher.  The lone Hangarback Walker can be sacked to both Butcher and Pia and Kia for value, as well as being a great late-game mana sink with your 27 lands.

What I’d look to do in the next few weeks is tighten this list up if needed.  You could go heavier on theme, adding more Hangarbacks, Wingmate Rocs, and/or Flamewake Phoenix.  You could add more anti-Aggro sideboard cards like Radiant Flames or Fiery Impulse.  Or you could max out on Mardu Charms and Kolaghan’s Command to just get an even greater “value” experience.

Jeskai Tempo

4 Soulfire Grand Master
1 Hangarback Walker
4 Jace, Vyrn’s Prodigy
4 Mantis Rider
2 Dragonlord Ojutai

1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

3 Dig Through Time
1 Jeskai Charm
4 Wild Slash
4 Ojutai’s Command
3 Valorous Stance
1 Hordeling Outburst
1 Planar Outburst
1 Roast
1 Clutch of Currents

4 Flooded Strand
4 Mystic Monastery
1 Evolving Wilds
4 Prairie Stream
3 Shivan Reef
2 Battlefield Forge
3 Plains
1 Mountain
3 Island

Sideboard
1 Mastery of the Unseen
2 Horribly Ary
2 Scatter the Winds
2 Disdainful Stroke
3 Radiant Flames
2 Arashin Cleric
1 Negate
1 Dig Through Time
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker

Nothing flashy with Jeskai, it’s basically the same deck minus Lightning Strike.  Mantis Rider is probably more powerful though going forward to make up for it.  I could also see running Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh here if the mana allows since it essentially does most of what you wanted out of Goblin Rabblemaster and this list has enough spells to cast two a turn to flip her most of the time.

Temur Megamorph

4 Scythe Leopard
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
4 Heir of the Wilds
2 Den Protector
4 Deathmist Raptor
4 Savage Knuckleblade
3 Surrak, the Hunt Caller
1 Shaman of the Great Hunt

3 Roast
3 Wild Slash
2 Stubborn Denial
1 Temur Charm
1 Crater’s Claws

3 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
1 Cinder Glade
1 Canopy Vista
1 Prairie Stream
3 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Island
2 Frontier Biovac
4 Yavimaya Coast

Sideboard
2 Jaddi Offshoot
1 Retreat to Kazandu
1 Roast
1 Stubborn Denial
2 Negate
1 Disdainful Stroke
3 Radiant Flames
2 Sarkhan Unbroken
2 Rending Volley

I believe this Standard format will see a return to competitiveness for Temur.  There were some reasonable builds before with a lot of power, but with the other Aggro decks potentially getting a little watered down and the Abzan decks losing some removal, Temur brushes aside two of its big weaknesses.  It also loses its exceptionally painful manabase, which was its biggest irk, and probably the one thing holding it back.  The manabase that I put together for some of these decks in general might be really rough, but in the long run it should be easy to build it much cleaner with the new duals.

Temur could take on a much bigger role too.  Cards like Whisperwood Elemental, Sarkhan Unbroken, Dragonlord Atarka, and Omnath, Locus of Rage all seem crazy good in this format.  A lot of the removal left is narrow or hits at sorcery speed, so these heavy hitters get to stick for a turn and close out games.  Heck, even Surrak Dragonclaw becomes scary.  His major weakness before was that he’d just get killed when you play him on their end step, but now that it won’t happen as often he could potentially take over what you want to be doing at your top end.

Atarka Red

4 Abbot of Keral Keep
2 Lightning Berserker
2 Goblin Glory Chaser
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Zurgo Bellstriker
1 Goblin Heelcutter

4 Atarka’s Command
1 Become Immense
4 Wild Slash
1 Outnumber
1 Roast
3 Exquisite Firecraft
4 Dragon Fodder
4 Hordeling Outburst

1 Cinder Glade
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Windswept Heath
4 Bloodstained Mire
9 Mountain
1 Forest

Sideboard
2 Goblin Heelcutter
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
4 Scab-Clan Berserker
1 Molten Vortex
1 Smash to Smithereens
1 Reclamation Sage
2 Arc Lightning
3 Roast

Atarka Red still looks very strong on paper, as the Burn package, while good, wasn’t what won so many games.  That honor lied with Atarka’s Command itself, and you still have enough creatures to make it explosive.  I actually like Goblin Glory Chaser here, as you have enough burn to clear the way and he’s great on an Atarka pump when renowned.

People keep sleeping on Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh, and I can tell you first hand that anyone doubting it is quite wrong as to its power level.  The card, when it flips (which it does pretty much any time you untap with it) wins almost every game.  This list has plenty of gas to help it in that mission, and again with the lower amount of removal it’s possible she could be a x3/x4 of in many lists.

Mono Black Control

4 Bloodsoaked Champion
2 Mardu Shadowspear
4 Despoiler of Souls
3 Drana, Liberator of Malakir
4 Pitiless Horde
4 Erebos’s Titan
1 Archfiend of Depravity

3 Ob Nixilis Reignited

3 Duress
4 Ruinous Path
2 Ultimate Price
1 Murderous Cut

3 Mortuary Mire
21 Swamp

Sideboard
2 Gilt-Leaf Winnower
3 Self-Inflicted Wound
2 Hangarback Walker
1 Reave Soul
1 Virulent Plague
1 Minister of Pain
1 Duress
3 Transgress the Mind
1 Palace Siege

Not a red deck, but black has some very interesting cards nonetheless.  Drana and Ob Nixilis both feel like they should be in several different decks, and the above is one possible shell.  Hangarback isn’t too much of an Aggro card, but it plays nice with Drana and can be a good mana sink with the higher land count.

BR Eldrazi Aggro

4 Sludge Crawler
4 Culling Drone
1 Hangarback Walker
1 Endless One
4 Forerunner of Slaughter
4 Dominator Drone
4 Vile Aggregate
2 Dust Stalker
3 Blight Herder

4 Wild Slash
4 Processor Assault
1 Roast

4 Bloodstained Mire
3 Polluted Delta
1 Wooded Foothills
4 Smoldering Marsh
1 Looming Spires
1 Mortuary Mire
1 Foundry of the Consuls
5 Swamp
4 Mountain

Sideboard
2 Titan’s Presence
2 Self-Inflicted Wound
2 Rending Volley
1 Outpost Siege
3 Duress
1 Seismic Rupture
1 Kolaghan’s Command
3 Transgress the Mind

Blight Herder intrigues me as a build-around card.  The thing is Siege-Gang Commander on steroids, but the cost of playing it is real.  It’s possible you want to go bigger with it since it makes mana producing tokens, and it’s also possible that you might want to mess up the manabase to include more converge effects.

Mardu Midrange (Take 2)

4 Soulfire Grand Master
4 Hangarback Walker
4 Flamewake Phoenix
4 Butcher of the Horde
4 Wingmate Roc

1 Ob Nixilis Reignited

4 Wild Slash
4 Crackling Doom
1 Mardu Charm
1 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Utter End

3 Smoldering Marsh
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Nomad Outpost
4 Shambling Vent
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Swamp
3 Mountain
3 Plains
2 Caves of Koilos
2 Battlefield Forge

Sideboard
2 Duress
3 Radiant Flames
2 Rending Volley
2 Self-Inflicted Wound
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1 Tragic Arrogance
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Mastery of the Unseen
1 Outpost Siege

Here I basically wanted to see what a Mardu list would look like taking a bit more of an aggressive posture, and building in as much synergy as possible without including a lot of singletons.  With both Mardu lists, I’m all-in on Shambling Vent as I think that card is going to be one of the pillars going forward.  Wingmate Roc might be as well, and thus this build pushes further in that direction.

RW Aggro

4 Soulfire Grand Master
4 Seeker of the Way
4 Monastery Mentor
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh

4 Outpost Siege
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

4 Wild Slash
1 Fiery Impulse
2 Valorous Stance
2 Roast
1 Enshrouding Mists
1 Titan’s Strength
4 Hordeling Outburst
3 Exquisite Firecraft

4 Wind-Scarred Crag
1 Looming Spires
1 Foundry of the Consuls
4 Battlefield Forge
2 Evolving Wilds
7 Mountain
5 Plains

Sideboard
2 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
2 Ashcloud Phoenix
2 Arashin Cleric
2 Arc Lightning
1 Mastery of the Unseen
1 Roast
1 Valorous Stance
1 Rending Volley
1 Fiery Impulse
1 Smash to Smithreens
1 Erase

Sometimes it’s hard to wait for the next set.  For all of us Boros fans out there, I know there’s many a time that I’ve just “jammed it”.  It’s one of my favorite archetypes, and the tools are still all here despite not having any new lands and losing some temples.

I played a somewhat similar list to this at an SCG 1K and GPT a short while back, and it still felt pretty reasonable even with Dromoka’s Command lurking.  This was based originally off of Ken Yukuhiro’s RW Midrange list from an old Sunday Super Series that a few in my area had good success with.  Ben Stark also piloted a similar version to 2nd place at GP Memphis.

There’s a few cards from BFZ that I’m still considering here, namely Tandem Tactics and more Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.  Both seem well suited to trigger Prowess and create blowouts, so those numbers will remain in flux during playtesting until it’s decided whether they’re performing or not.

Mardu Dragons

4 Soulfire Grand Master
2 Hangarback Walker
4 Thunderbreak Regent
3 Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury
1 Dragonlord Kolaghan

2 Outpost Siege

3 Wild Slash
3 Draconic Roar
1 Roast
4 Crackling Doom
2 Foul-Tongue Invocation
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Murderous Cut
2 Mardu Charm

3 Smoldering Marsh
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Nomad Outpost
4 Shambling Vent
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Swamp
3 Mountain
3 Plains
2 Caves of Koilos
2 Battlefield Forge

Sideboard
2 Utter End
2 Rending Volley
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Arashin Cleric
2 Radiant Flames
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1 Outpost Siege
2 Self-Inflicted Wound
1 Tragic Arrogance
1 Fiery Impulse
1 Kolaghan’s Command

Last but not least is Mardu Dragons.  This deck has access to Draconic Roar which is one of the only spells of it’s type available.  As such, I think Mardu Dragons has a chance to be the best Tier 1 deck if the numbers can get ironed out correctly.  Thankfully you have access to just about any card you could want and Dragonlord Kolaghan is a nice top end now that Elspeth has exited the format.  You may want to go heavier on the three mana spells, as the speed of this format will once again likely be slower, but testing will have to give us that information.

Conclusion

Quite a few decklists to take in here.  I’m sure I’ve made plenty of mistakes, deckbuilding opportunities missed, and the whole nine yards.  Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts on the future of either these decklists or Standard in general, I look forward to hearing it.  And I will try to get to Modern/Legacy soon.

Also don’t forget to tune into the next edition of the Red Deck Podcast.  We’re planning to go over BFZ cards and the production levels should be improved from last time.

Until next time,

Keep Tapping Those Mountains,

-Red Deck Winning

Suit Up

destructiverevelrywallpaper

Suit Up

“Stoke a fire hot enough and you’ll never run out of things to burn.” – Xenagos, the Reveler

And Burn they did.

The last few weeks were quite a whirlwind for me, both with Magic and non-Magic events.  I continued to work on my Gruul Aggro deck that I premiered in my last article,  but knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to make any bigger tournaments, I played in two win-a-box events locally and went on my Honeymoon inbetween.  I got married last June, but like most young couples cash was tight so we had to wait until later for our official trip.  May 12th couldn’t have come sooner and we finally got to escape the craziness of our work schedules for a much needed R&R trip to Las Vegas.

This time we did it up right, with a Panoramic Suite at the Vdara hotel in MGM City Center.  Here were some of the sweet views from our room:

vdaraview1 vdaraview2 vdaraview3

And of course I couldn’t leave Vegas without restocking my dice and tokens. . .

vdaradice

Overall the trip was an absolute blast, we got to see a lot of shows, win and lose money (although I could have done without the latter!), and get some exercise out in the gorgeous weather.  It’s truly an awesome place, even with this being our fourth trip, and I highly recommend going if you haven’t been before.  If you use any of the travel package sites (Travelocity, Kayak, etc) you can get some fantastic deals, and once you’re there the spending and options are really completely up to you.  To put it in perspective, one of the times we went, we spent less than $300 per person for 4 nights in a hotel and plane flight. . . it really is cheap.

Evolving Gruul

Even with the crazy work schedule and Honeymoon I wasn’t ignoring Magic.  I put in a lot of hours on Cockatrice testing my build and moving it along with ideas when cards seemed questionable.  Overall, since I built the original list the deck has performed well and really made me happy, but I think it’s become much better in the last week.  At the first win-a-box I went 3-1 getting 5th place out of 28 people, playing a list that was fairly close to my original article with the exception of cutting some of the one-ofs for Rubblebelt Maaka (I decided to try him again after we talked Matt).  My only loss was to Esper Control, and in both games I drew about 10-11 lands straight (out of 20 mind you) to just flood completely out.  Even with that, I still put in threatening games, which is a reflection of how strong the deck can be.

Tonight I got a chance to play the deck with the changes I had been testing, and it all paid off with an undefeated run and a box victory.  Here was that list:

GR Aggro by John Galli (Reddeckwinning) 4-0 Win-A-Box 5/20/2014

Maindeck
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Firefist Striker
4 Skylasher
4 Mogis’s Warhound
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
(32 Creatures)

4 Lightning Strike
4 Shock
(8 Spells)

1 Temple Garden
4 Stomping Ground
4 Mana Confluence
11 Mountain
(20 Lands)

Sideboard
4 Skullcrack
4 Destructive Revelry
4 Mizzium Mortars
2 Ratchet Bomb
1 Xenagos, the Reveler

The list obviously performed admirably, and despite some close games it has an incredible ability to win from behind if necessary.  Most of the time though it just features the hallmark of what you want in an aggro deck; consistency.  With 40 cards and 20 lands, lots of duplication, and a focused sideboard, this list has a true plan that punishes any stumbling.  While I loved a lot of the one-ofs that I was playing in the original list, I knew it was only a matter of time when I found the “best” cards for the deck, and that time is starting to get very close.  I still think you could play the original list and have a lot of success, as it’s rare that those cards that are now omitted are bad, but this one gives you a routine that is tough to stop for most opponents.

Lets talk about some of the key changes though, as they are very important.

mogisswarhound

First, Mogis’s Warhound was the most important discovery in my opinion.  It was a card that piqued my curiosity when I saw it in the spoiler, but I wasn’t sure if it was what an aggro deck wanted.  While it certainly might not always be the case, this deck and this format WANT this card.  For starters, many of the decks these days are trying to get in your way with X/4s.  Whether it be Courser of Kruphix, Brimaz, Gray Merchant, Blood Baron, or even X/3s like Sylvan Caryatid, the name of the game is to be able to bash through.  Mortars out of the board helps with a lot of these cards, but it’s not the greatest maindeck card since it can’t reach through for damage.  Mogis’s Warhound gives you that critical extra element in the maindeck that pushes you over the top in these standoffs, and it also provides a way to make some of your creatures out of control like bestowing on a Boros Reckoner.

Speaking of Control, he does a great job against that archetype by allowing you to apply pressure without overcommitting to the board.  If they do have spot removal or Supreme Verdict, you still have a creature left over plus whatever is left in your hand to carry on forward with the beats before they can stabilize.  The “attacks each turn if able” clause is largely irrelevant in most situations too, since this deck is almost always in attack mode.

Furthermore, he lets you “Suit Up” Skylasher.  This is an incremental point, but an important one, because against Mono Blue Devotion and Control this can often be the difference in close games.  Both decks have very few answers for Skylasher, and if you can enable him to race more effectively you give them fewer turns to find those answers.

destructiverevelry

Destructive Revelry was in the original list in high numbers, but it took me a little while to realize that it is simply the best sideboard card in this list hands down.  This format has become extremely enchantment heavy, with lots of creatures doubling as such and lots of very annoying weapons that you need to take care of immediately.  Also, when playing against Control with this deck, there’s nothing more satisfying and game changing then blowing up a Detention Sphere or Banishing Light and making them lose a critical two life.

It has some random interactions that are noteworthy too, like being able to respond to the trigger on a Brain Maggot to get your card back, or being able to kill both Courser of Kruphix and Nyx-Fleece Ram.  The latter two cards have become some of the most popular road blocks in the format and look to only grow on their reputation, so being able to have an additional trump card beyond Mortars in the matchups that call for it can be huge.

 Other Cards and Sideboarding

I’ve gone through a laundry list of cards, but the biggest area of waffling has been the last three sideboard slots.  The two Ratchet Bombs and the lone Xenagos are easily up for debate, but mainly what I’m looking for from those three slots are cards that are good against Blue Devotion, Black Devotion, Burn, and/or Control.  All of these matchups are fine and very winnable, with Blue being the obvious tough one, but I think there’s probably a mix out there I haven’t found yet which works the best.  Other cards I’ve tried here are Electrickery, Time to Feed, Setessan Tactics, Plummet, Harness by Force, Scavenging Ooze, Mistcutter Hydra, etc etc.  Ratchet Bomb seemed to be the best catch all so far, but it’s slow and unaggressive which is something this deck doesn’t usually want.  It performed well at the win-a-box, but that plus the testing I did was a relatively small sample size.  Regardless, I think you do need a hard answer for Master of Waves, so I’d play at least something that deals with his major effect.  Black Devotion is a pretty reasonable matchup, but if it’s heavy in your meta I’ve found Plummet to be very good against them.  For right now, Xenagos’s tokens help with Desecration Demon and double as being a good card against Control.

Sideboarding is incredibly subjective with this list, as it really depends on specific cards that your opponent is playing, but in general this is the rough idea of what I’ve been doing:

Vs.  Aggro:

+4 Mortars, -4 Firedrinker (potentially bring in Bombs if they are blitzy)

You’re essentially just trying to control the board a little better and in most of these matches Firedrinker is a liability in combination with your Confluences.

Vs.  Jund Monsters:

+4 Mortars, -4 Lightning Strike (potentially bring in Revelrys)

They have some troublesome cards against you, but you have Ghor-Clan to get past the vast majority of them, you’re faster, and you have Firefist Striker.  You’re basically just upgrading your burn package here to deal with their creatures as Lighting Strike misses a lot of targets whereas Mortars kills almost everything and can randomly overload for value at times.  Be sure to be very careful with your removal in this match and only kill the necessary big butt targets.  Tempo is the name of the game here.

Vs.  Mono Blue Devotion

+4 Mortars, +2 Bombs, -4 Firedrinker, -2 (your call)

Frostburn is the biggest annoyance early so having a playset of Mortars goes a long way.  Be aware of their ability to play Rapid Hybridization to get a Green token which can block Skylasher, and try to suit him up early and often.  You can out tempo them unless they have a really dirty draw, and your bombs can help with both Master tokens and swarms of early fliers.  Be VERY aggressive here, force them to make blocks and get them low enough in life total that their trumps require them to pause before they can use them.

Vs. Black Devotion (or BG / BW)

+4 Mortars, +1 Xenagos, – 4 Lightning Strike, -1 (your call, land on the draw is fine)

I’ve never been a big fan of the Skullcrack plan despite a lot of other Red players swearing by it, and this deck has the redundancy and aggression that it can fight through many uncomfortable spots that you may find yourself in during games.  You’re again on the upgrade removal plan, as late Gray Merchants are truly the only thing that put a thorn in your side besides Demon.  Demon can actually be killed often with this build using Ghor-Clan and Mortars in combination with your 2/2s, or you can feed it a stream of Xenagos tokens since their removal is generally stretched thin.  Golgari Charm and Drown in Sorrow are obviously bad news bears, but as long as you expect them you can try your best to play around them, and for the most part their plan is playing one-for-one removal which usually puts them out of gas while you’re still cranking out your last few threats.  Don’t forget that if they’re playing Nightveil Specter that your Skylasher can attack through it or block it all day, because while that doesn’t come up that often it is a thing.  Just know what cards they have, or could potentially have, and play smart.  If you do, this matchup is usually one of the better ones.

Vs. Control

+4 Skullcrack, +4 Revelry, +1 Xenagos (on the draw for a land), -4 Lightning Strike, -4 Shock

This plan is very solid, you provide a heavy creature list that they have tough times finding answers for, you blow up some of their answers with Revelry, and you cancel out their last salvo to stay in the game.  Unless you flood hard or they have some unusual trump cards, you’re in the drivers seat.

Vs. Other

A lot of decks are still in the works for specific plans, most notably Burn, although that match can be either very winnable or very loseable depending on their build and the pilot.

Some other cards I’m considering testing in the next few days/weeks:  Unravel the AEther (for Thassa), Scouring Sands.

victory

Until next time, keep tapping those Mountains. . .

– Red Deck Winning

Fire To Destroy. Fire To Create.

propheticflamespeakerFNM

Fire To Destroy.  Fire To Create.

Journey into Nyx has arrived, it’s prerelease Friday, and new brews are upon us.  This set has almost as many interesting cards as Theros, and I’m going to outline some of them here as well as introduce you to the deck that I have been doing the blunt of my testing with online.

I think we need to begin by talking about the most hyped red card of the set, Prophetic Flamespeaker:

propheticflamespeaker

If this doesn’t get the juices flowing for a Red mage, I don’t know what does.  His power level remains to be seen, and I believe he’ll be very build dependent, but make no mistake, this card is for real.  Adrian Sullivan has already slotted a playset of him into his RW Devotion list that he posted on Starcitygames last week and I’ve been testing him as both a playset and singleton in  Mono Red and GR Aggro.

His stats initially make you want to compare him to Two-Headed Cerberus, but this card is doing a lot more than that.  For starters, he connects more often than some would think (especially with the assistance of cards like Ghor-Clan Rampager), and he creates difficult blocking situations for your opponent.  Many board states will present scenarios where blocking him isn’t an option, or where your opponent is losing value just to deal with him.  If he ends up connecting, you’re usually getting to play multiple spells or a land which is huge in an aggro deck.  I’ve consistently seen his exile ability in testing prove to be valuable, and you’ll see that in one of the videos with this article as well.

The biggest knocks on him are that he does die to a fair amount of removal in the format and that he has heavy competition at the three-drop slot.  I don’t think either of those complaints are unwarranted, which is why he isn’t good in every deck, but you can get around those restrictions.  In most lists that have used him well so far, he’s basically Boros Reckoner #5, 6, 7, and 8.  Yes, you lose the speed of Phoenix, but you gain a card that is arguably just as valuable if not more-so against control, and he’s another threat that stretches their removal.  Playing him on an empty board against Esper, for instance, means that you don’t really need to commit much else most of the time.  If you’re worried about Verdict, you can just keep attacking with him and playing free lands and spells.  If they do pull the trigger on removal, you not only got that out of their hand but if he was able to get you cards from it you may be ready to dump the rest of your hand and counteract.  That’s usually the best way to fight control, so he serves that purpose well.

He’s not a great card when you’re behind, and he’s not great in a hyper blitzy shell that doesn’t have any pump spells for him.  Those are two decks I’d avoid when considering him, as he’s just a liability at that point.  Unlike Reckoner, he can’t hold down the fort if they have some giant monster on board, and in the blitz decks he’s maybe ok as a one-of but he’s pretty slow otherwise.  Yes, he gives you late game gas, but most blitz decks aren’t trying to play for a late game.

I believe that he works well in Adrian’s shell because of the explosiveness of Nykthos, which allows you to make up for his slower speed.  That, and the option of playing him with a Hammer of Purphoros out which could surprise a lot of unprepared opponents.

Next up we have a card that has a little familiarity to it:

Eidolon of the Great Revel

eidolonofthegreatrevelpyrostaticpillar

Pyrostatic Pillar saw a little play in the sideboard of Legacy Burn for a good period of time, and I think Eidolon might as well.  Outside of that, I don’t think this Standard format is going to use him.  We don’t have the abundance of free and one-mana useable spells in Standard that we do in Legacy and Modern, so this guy has backfired in most of the games that I’ve played with him or against him.  If anything, I could see him in a Red devotion deck since a lot of your spells are above three.  But even there he’s a big liability against Aggro and any deck you’d be siding him in against would probably just “eat a shock” to deal with him which isn’t a huge upside.

 Blinding Flare

blindingflare

Blinding Flare straddles the playability line because of the fact that it’s not direct damage or a permanent threat, but there’s still a good amount of value here.  So far in testing, all of the Strive cards that I’ve seen played have been a dagger when cast.  The ability to make your whole team unblockable for an amount of mana that isn’t too expensive even for an Aggro deck could mean that this format is in for some more turn 4-5 kills than usual.  You’ll need to watch the numbers that you play as you’d never want to have two in your hand, but I could easily see this as a 1 or 2-of in the 75.  These cards typically don’t see a lot of action, but maybe it’s time for that to change.

Magma Spray

magmaspray

When Magma Spray was previously in Standard, it was heavily used in Mono Red.  With how efficient Control decks are these days, I don’t know if you can afford to run a lot of the card in your maindeck, especially since Searing Blood is usually the better card in its place, but this is still a spell that probably makes a dent again.  I’ve seen an immense amount of Voice of Resurgences floating around online, and if that transfers over to paper, this will be a must.  It’s one of the tougher cards for my Aggro builds to deal with so far.  Magma Spray also answers Chandra’s Phoenix, which sees a good amount of play, and Xathrid Necromancer which looks to be popular in a BW shell.  Time will tell, but I think this card will have another day in the sun.

Harness by Force

Harnessbyforce

One of the first things I do when looking over a new set is to try and find out what “Threaten” card they printed for Red.  Almost every set prints one, and it’s one of the most important pieces to a good Red deck.  It’s that moment when your opponent thinks that he has dreamcrushed you into oblivion, only for you to rip away the hope on his face and deliver yours back with a beating.  While I wish that Harness by Force was Traitorous Blood, it’s still much better than Act of Treason since every once in a while you will hit the mana to steal multiple creatures.  And in a deck with Nykthos, this thing could potentially be Insurrection.  Also don’t forget, you can always gain control of your own creature and give it haste.  That play comes up a decent number of times in longer games, and could mean the difference.

 Mogis’s Warhound

mogisswarhound

Mogis’s Warhound might see heavy play coming up.  I unfortunately haven’t been able to test it that much, I had it in a few lists but didn’t see it in games often.  It looks great though, you get a grizzly bear which is already something Red is fine with, and you can’t get blown out when you cast it or when your creature dies.  I might try a few in my GR Aggro deck and see how they do, because the possibility of putting this guy on a Boros Reckoner or a Prophetic Flamespeaker feels like living the dream to me.  Red’s not exactly in the market for a three drop, which is essentially what he is, but he could very well replace “non-creature” spells in the deck and add to your creature count in the process.

Building Gruul Aggro

Most of my time this “preseason” has been spent working on a Gruul or GR Aggro deck.  GR Aggro was a very powerful force in Standard not too long ago, and I always wanted to play it back then but didn’t have the lands.  I felt that the extra reach it had over Mono Red with Ghor-Clan Rampager made it one of the most difficult decks to play against.  The rotation of Rootbound Crag and the entrance of Temples took away the consistency that it had though, and the deck fell off the map.

But then Wizards decided to print this card, which I think is the most influential card to Magic in this set:

Mana Confluence

manaconfluence

I realize this isn’t easy on the wallet, but if you want to play Red splash anything, or even Standard in general, buy a playset.  I could see it going down in value a little bit, but I think this card is being severely underrated by a large number of  players.  And for me, this was the key cog in getting GR Aggro working again.  I needed a foundation for a list, so I went back and read through one of my favorite Magic articles of all time, Gruul Get Win! by Steve Kaufman.

One of the reasons the article was so fun to read for me was that Steve was just a normal guy and actually took the time to make his tournament report entertaining.  He played a strong list, he won an SCG Open, but he was slandered by many “pro” players in the comments section because they felt that his writing wasn’t indepth enough or grammatically sound.  I’ll give them that the report has some casual elements to it, but I thought that Steve executed it perfectly.  The cave paintings are hilarious, the emotion of the tournament was felt when reading it, and at the end of the day he put up an exciting performance.  As I was reading through the comments section, and trying to not rage over the slander he was getting, I noticed that one of the players said he had passed away in a fatal car accident and left behind his fiancee and a one year old child.  I don’t typically get too emotional over stuff, but having lost loved ones myself and seeing all the bullcrap that was posted alongside of this made me want to do something, even if small.  That something was making the decision that rain or shine I was going to work hard on making Gruul smash again.

So I started with Steve’s list:

R/G Aggro
Steve Kaufmann
1st Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Standard

Creatures (33)

4 Boros Reckoner
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Firefist Striker
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Hellrider
1 Pyrewild Shaman
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Stromkirk Noble
Lands (20)

11 Mountain
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
Spells (7)

4 Searing Spear
3 Pillar of Flame
Sideboard

3 Volcanic Strength
2 Electrickery
4 Skullcrack
3 Domri Rade
3 Mark of Mutiny

This list isn’t too far off the beaten path from what we have available now, and in many ways you could say it’s getting upgraded.  I did some initial testing, swapped around some numbers, and this is what my first base list looked like-

R/G Aggro (Early Version)
John Galli (Reddeckwinning)

Maindeck
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Firefist Striker
4 Skylasher
4 Boros Reckoner
1 Pyrewild Shaman
4 Fanatic of Xenagos
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager

4 Lightning Strike
3 Shock

11 Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Mana Confluence
1 Temple Garden

Sideboard
3 Searing Blood
2 Electrickery (or 2 Mortars)
4 Skullcrack (or 2 Revelry)
3 Domri Rade
3 Harness by Force or Plummet

Early results were very good, but there were definitely numbers and cards I had to change.  I started doing a lot of experimentation, and I came to a few big revelations.  First, I needed more disenchants because this format is going to have a lot more enchantments and artifacts running around.  For an aggro deck, it doesn’t get much better than Destructive Revelry, and the card has been phenomenal so far.  It doesn’t kill Gods, but you still get to deal them damage and I think that part is significant enough that it’s worth playing it over alternatives like Unravel the AEther.

Fanatic of Xenagos is aggressive, but giving your opponent choices is usually not good, and he just felt like he wasn’t adding anything to the deck other than another creature.  I started off by trying four different cards in his slot; figuring that I would adjust the numbers as needed once I knew what I liked.  In the end, or at least right now, it turned out that I actually liked having a bunch of singletons because it gives this deck a lot more play and reach and keeps your opponent off guard.

I ended up doing the same thing for Lightning Strike and Shock, as both are good in the format, but not necessarily something you need four-of.  As of right now, this is where my list is at and the one that is featured in the following videos:

R/G Aggro (Final)
John Galli (Reddeckwinning)

Maindeck
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Firefist Striker
3 Skylasher
1 Scavenging Ooze
4 Boros Reckoner
1 Pyrewild Shaman
1 Prophetic Flamespeaker
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager

1 Domri Rade
1 Chandra, Pyromaster

1 Armed // Dangerous
1 Searing Blood
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Lightning Strike
2 Shock
1 Destructive Revelry

11 Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Mana Confluence
1 Temple Garden

Sideboard
3 Skullcrack
3 Searing Blood
3 Mizzium Mortars
2 Harness by Force
2 Destructive Revelry
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Skylasher

But enough talking, I’ll let you enjoy the games.  My apologies for any quality issues, I promise they’ll be better next time!  (also if you let them run for a while the video quality usually improves)

Videos

Keep tapping those Mountains,

– Red Deck Winning

Why You Should Play Red For GP Cincinnati

fatedconflagrationwallpaper

Why You Should Play Red For GP Cincinnati

While it might have a bullseye on its head after the SCG Seattle Open victory, now is a good time to play Red.  Several decks have been breaking through, including one that I’m going to introduce in this article, and if you’re a Red mage like me you should find something here to your liking.

In my last article I touched on how I’d been working with James Fazzolari over at Channel Fireball on RW Burn which he subsequently took to GP Melbourne and put up a very nice finish with.  Since that tournament, him and his crew have been continually improving the deck, finding different variations that were having more and more success on MODO.  He was slowly accumulating a ridiculous win percentage, and the list was catching fire (pun intended) across the internet.  It was only a matter of time before it caught on in the paper world, and we saw the accumulation of that with four top 16 finishes at SCG Seattle.  It’s important to note that each of those builds was fairly different, with minute changes that make a lot of difference when the deck is playing itself out.  Between all the Red mages I’ve been working with in the past few weeks, everyone has a different opinion on what they they think is best, so I encourage anyone who plays the archetype to try all of them before settling on one.  For reference, here is the latest list I saw from James, and if I were playing a tournament tomorrow with RW Burn, it’s the one I’d trust the most since I know how much time has gone into it and why a lot of certain cards have been ruled out-

RW Burn by Zemanjaski 3/19/2014

Creatures (8)
4 Ash Zealot
4 Chandra’s Phoenix

Enchantments (3)
3 Chained to the Rocks

Instants (26)
4 Boros Charm
4 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Jet
3 Searing Blood
3 Shock
4 Skullcrack
4 Warleader’s Helix

Lands (23)
2 Boros Guildgate
10 Mountain
3 Mutavault
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph

Sideboard (15)
1 Chained to the Rocks
2 Fated Conflagration
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Satyr Firedancer
1 Spark Trooper
3 Viashino Firstblade

The biggest things to note about this list:

Boros Reckonersatyrfiredancer

  • No Boros Reckoner – He’s usually just a target for removal before you can use him for value, he doesn’t apply damage to your opponent immediately, he slows down the list, and you want to be as aggressive as possible in game 1.  He’s debatable as a sideboard card, but ultimately choices like Chained to the Rocks, Spark Trooper, and Fated Conflagration go farther in this list because of some of the drawbacks to tapping down lands to play Reckoner in a Burn deck.  This is a deck that loves to just sit back and do as much as possible during your opponent’s turn.  It’s also a deck that requires critical thinking to get to the right amount of damage, and any stutterstep will make it feel like a very poor choice for a tournament.
  • Firedancer in the Sideboard – This is a hot ticket for debate, but he’s certainly not good enough maindeck.  If you play this deck enough, you’ll realize there’s plenty of matchups that you don’t want him in against.  That said, against decks like Mono Blue and GR  he can be an unstoppable force if left unchecked.

Things I don’t like:

  • This list punishes your mistakes very harshly, as you’re effectively playing a watered down version of Legacy Burn.  If you decide to kill more creatures than you need to, or miss a few points of damage here or there, it’s almost assuredly going to cost you.  I personally had trouble playing this archetype to its full value despite being able to play it mostly well, so ultimately I moved on when given the opportunity.  I think it’s probably one of the best Red decks in a long while, especially in this format, but you’ll want to practice heavily against all the Tier 1 archetypes before jamming it.  I would say the Mono Blue and Monsters matchups are the most skill intensive, so start there.
  • Blind Obedience and Chandra are very good cards for the mirror, so if you expect a lot of that in Cincinnati, I’d have them in your 75.  Being able to turn all of your Boros Charms into Lava Axes and having a personal howling mine is a really big deal.  I also found Blind Obedience to be helpful in the BW matchup at slowing them down and effectively nullifying Obzedat (aside from the life drain).

The TCG Chicago 5K and Other Flavors Of Red

Last week I was mulling over the possibility of going to the TCG 5K in Chicago, but I was not terribly confident in the Burn list I had been playing.  I knew it was good, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of Red deck I’m crazy about and I felt like some of the conclusions folks were coming to surrounding it were not necessarily true.  As the week dragged on, the itch to play Magic at a competitive level grew to it’s usual high pitched whine in my head and I figured out a ride situation to get down there.  Now I just had to find a deck.

A few months back, Magic professional and writer Adrian Sullivan played a RW “Aggro” list that he ultimately won a 5k with.  I always liked the deck, but felt that the original version was outdated and remembered that he lost to Mono Blue in the SCG Open that he top 4’d with it at.  Losing to Mono Blue has been the bane of my existence for the last several months, and unless there was an updated version with a significantly different plan, I couldn’t see myself rolling with his deck.

Luckily I’ve spent most of my life in Madison, WI, which also happens to be Adrian’s home (among other pros) and hit him up on Facebook to see if he had been working on things.  Turns out he had, and after a short discussion, some test matchups, and a few squeals of joy later, I settled on that deck for the 5k.  I present to you the brainchild of Adrian Sullivan,  Adam Jansen, and Ronny Serio:

RW Aggro (Adrian Sullivan,  Adam Jansen, and Ronny Serio) 3/19/2014

Creatures (23)
2 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Ash Zealot
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Boros Reckoner
1 Tajic, Blade of the Legion
4 Stormbreath Dragon

Planeswalkers (2)
2 Chandra, Pyromaster

Instants (8)
4 Lightning Strike
4 Boros Charm

Sorceries (2)
2 Mizzium Mortars

Lands (25)
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
4 Mutavault
13 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
4 Shock
4 Chained to the Rocks
2 Fated Conflagration
2 Mizzium Mortars
2 Firedrinker Satyr
1 Wear // Tear

There’s a beauty to this list that just can’t be seen when you first look at it on paper.  Playing it reminds me of the first time I picked up Sligh when I was a kid and curved out into Ball Lightning followed by a fist full of burn to the face.  It has all the great elements of Red that you could want and it can play whatever game is demanded of it.  This flexibility is the secret sauce of this deck, and I’m going to do my best to explain to you how it works and why it’s better than your other choices.

  • You can be the aggressor.  This deck frequently has hands that curve out just like your typical Mono Red Aggro deck, and in today’s Standard of scry lands and tapping out, this is a good place to be.  A guy was watching one of my practice games at our local win-a-box last night and saw me go turn 1 Satyr, turn 2 Zealot, turn 3 Phoenix, turn 4 Chandra, turn 5 Strike + Charm = Death.  He asked me if that was a typical hand with a surprised look on his face.  Yes sir, yes it is.
  • If the game goes long, you don’t care.  Not only does this deck have some serious punch in the mid game that your opponent may not be aware of (aka Stormbreath Dragons and Reckoners), but you also have Boros Charm to protect your creatures from wraths and go to the dome out of nowhere.  You’ll often be in situations where you’ll have 7+ damage worth of burn in your hand just waiting for them to make a mistake or overcommit to dealing with your board presence.  I always thought the best Red decks were ones that you could not only sandbag creatures with in anticipation of a wrath, but ones that had significant followups to those wraths to unleash as well.  And because you have the protection of Boros Charm, you’re not forced to play cards like Stormbreath Dragon into uncomfortable situations as much.  You’re pretty sure your opponent has a Hero’s Downfall in hand and he’s pretty sure he can rely on it?  Aww. . . what a shame 🙂
  • You get to play Tajic and Chandra!  Yes, you read that correctly.  Tajic, Blade of the Legion.  While most of you probably thought Tajic was going to sit in your “crap” binder waiting for some little kid to pounce on it, he’s actually worth playing in this deck.  He’s not a card you want a lot of, certainly not more than one of him ever, but drawing into him randomly always feels like one of the best feelings out there.  It’s very easy to get his battalion activated with the playset of Mutavaults and plethora of haste creatures, and his indestructibility is invaluable against big creatures that are giving you problems or control decks that expect to take over on turn 4.  There’s only a certain set of cards that remove him and he applies a clock quickly, so when he’s something that tends to come down after your opponent has gone through a litany of their options they’re very often hard up at that point.  Chandra, Pyromaster shines better here than any other deck I’ve played her in.  Every single one of her abilities takes you straight to valuetown with the surrounding card suite.  Her +1 is great when you’re playing the deck in its “Controlling” role and gets back your Phoenixes, her 0 ability can draw you cards for days in certain matchups because you have creatures that protect her nicely, and her ultimate can kill opponents in many situations due to the presence of high impact burn.  She’s also extremely effective at taking out the one blocker that gets in your way when you’re on the heavy aggro plan.  Bottom line, she’s an all star in this deck and almost makes me feel like I’m playing with Koth again.
  • You can be the Control Deck and you can beat Mono Blue.  While the newer UW Devotion variant presents a few additional problems for you (mainly Ephara, Detention Sphere, and White sideboard removal), the sideboard plan against other aggro decks and specifically Mono Blue is fantastic.  It’s the first time I’ve played a Red deck since Theros came out where I don’t feel like a complete dog in that matchup.  Several other Red players have told me that “oh just bring in Ratchet Bomb or Anger of the Gods and you’re fine” but I’ve never seen that be true.  Time and time again, someone at my local shop has crushed me with it, or I’ve been running hot at that PTQ and then been stoned to death by a deck I prepped all week for. The difference with this build is that you take out all the cards that don’t work and instead bring in such a great threshold of answers that unless they topdeck incredibly well they get behind YOU quickly.  Every card of yours is very tough for them.  You board in 13 cards total.  THIRTEEN.  This is what it looks like–4 Cackler, -4 Zealot, -2 Satyr, -3 Charm
    +4 Shock, +4 Chained to the Rocks, +2 Mizzium Mortars, +2 Fated Conflagration, +1 Wear // Tear

It’s even easier to see when you look at the whole deck post-board:

  • 4 Chandra’s Phoenix
    4 Boros Reckoner
    1 Tajic, Blade of the Legion
    4 Stormbreath Dragon

    2 Chandra, Pyromaster

    4 Shock
    4 Lightning Strike
    4 Mizzium Mortars
    2 Fated Conflagration
    1 Boros Charm
    1 Wear // Tear

    4 Chained to the Rocks

    4 Temple of Triumph
    4 Sacred Foundry
    4 Mutavault
    13 Mountain

    You have answers at every stage of the game, followed by big threats they have a tough time answering.  It’s still possible to run out of cards or just draw poorly, but for the most part this plan is very strong.

  • You’re strong against the field.  The rest of the field is a pretty good matchup.  Mono Black is surprisingly beatable, despite not having Chained to the Rocks maindeck.  You put a lot of pressure on them early, and Demon often isn’t as crazy as he usually is against Aggro because you have enough ways to get around him, kill him, or just ignore him.  You have plenty of answers for Pack Rat, and many times you are killing all of their devotion enablers to the point where Gray Merchant isn’t potent enough to matter.  The BW matchup is very similar, if not worse for them.  Obzedat or Elspeth can be tough, but even there you have cards that enable a race situation.Monsters was initially the matchup that Adrian and I weren’t sure about, but after playing it a number of times now it’s not as bad as I thought.  You’re a bit of a dog in game 1, moreso to the straight GR version than the Jund one, but I’ve won quite a few of those games too so it’s not as bad as some builds of Red.  Games 2 and 3 give you a decent amount more firepower and a consistent enough amount that you can typically handle their 2-3 big threats and race around the rest.  I’ve been particularly fond of this card which I initially dismissed when Born of the Gods came out

fatedconflagration

It was in a sideboard slot that was up for debate between Chandra’s Outrage and Homing Lightning.  There’s applications for all three, but ultimately at the 5K almost every situation I was in revealed Fated Conflagration to be better.  In one game against GW Aggro, my opponent curved out into a turn 3 Ajani that immediately ticked up to 5, after which I played Conflagration on my turn to kill it and scry into much needed supplementary removal.  If you need land, you can scry during your upkeep like Magma Jet.  It kills Polukranos, which came up in my match against Jund Monsters and ended up swinging the tide of that game back in my favor.  Against Control, it allows you to board out your Mortars for a card that is far less dead and gives you more outs to Jace and Elspeth.  Overall, I couldn’t recommend it more, and the intensive mana cost was never an issue even though you might have a game somewhere over the point of time where it could be a problem.

  • Your White cards don’t need to be played on time.  The beauty of the light splash color is that the cards you’re playing don’t need to be played immediately.  Boros Charm, Chained to the Rocks, Tajic, and Wear // Tear can be played just about whenever for value and usually can sit in your hand for a while if you’re color screwed.  There have been a few games where not having White cost me, but not enough that it became a deck issue.  It’s not like trying to jam a WR creature on turn 2, the spells aren’t detrimental to the curve.  Furthermore, the benefit from having all of your lands come into play untapped except for the 4 temples is a big thing.  Any of you who’ve played other RW builds know that having a Guildgate come into play tapped is usually the absolute worst in most situations.  You’re always using your mana with this deck, and frequently it’s to have some combination of creatures attacking with a Mutavault while holding up mana for burn.

Sideboarding

Mono Blue:

-4 Rakdos Cackler, -4 Ash Zealot, -2 Firedrinker Satyr, -3 Boros Charm
+4 Shock, +4 Chained to the Rocks, +2 Mizzium Mortars, +2 Fated Conflagration, +1 Wear // Tear

Control:

-3 Boros Reckoner, -2 Mizzium Mortars (or some combination of Reckoner + Lightning Strike)
+2 Firedrinker Satyr, +2 Fated Conflagration, +1 Wear // Tear

Mono Black Devotion:

-4 Boros Reckoner, -3 Lightning Strike
+2 Firedrinker Satyr, +4 Chained to the Rocks, +1 Mizzium Mortars (can bring in Fated against BW)

GR / Jund Monsters:

-2 Firedrinker Satyr, -4 Lightning Strike, -4 Rakdos Cackler
+2 Mizzium Mortars, +4 Chained to the Rocks, +2 Fated Conflagration, +2 Shock (or keep in 2 Cacklers)

One additional note, Adrian has mentioned that a 2/2 split of Shock and Searing Blood might be better in the board.  I was aware of it before the 5K but wanted to keep the additional tempo of a playset of Shocks against Mono Blue, and ultimately I’m still comfortable with that.  Blood is however incredibly strong against other decks, mainly other aggro variants or Burn decks, so it’s still worth it at times depending on what you think the field might consist of.  I might ultimately come around on his opinion too, I need to test it again more to get the full sense of what I think is right.

Mono Red Devotion in the Top 8

The last deck I want to touch base on is an interesting list from a top 8 competitor at the 5k.  Over the course of the tournament, I watched Kevin Heath barrage opponents to death with his own blend of Red.  For those of you who haven’t seen the list, here is what he was playing-

Mono Red Devotion by Kevin Heath 5th – 8th Place TCG Chicago 5k

Creatures (28)
4 Ash Zealot
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Fanatic of Mogis
1 Scourge of Valkas
3 Stormbreath Dragon

Planeswalkers (3)
3 Chandra, Pyromaster

Instants (8)
2 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Jet
2 Searing Blood

Land (21)
16 Mountain
1 Mutavault
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Sideboard
2 Anger of the Gods
2 Burning Earth
3 Mizzium Mortars
2 Pithing Needle
2 Ratchet Bomb
4 Skullcrack

The first thing that made my eyes go wide (well, after watching him pummel folks to an 8-0 record to start out the swiss) was the 21 land count.  21 lands, 4 of which are Nykthos and 1 of which is Mutavault???  What the hell?

I spoke with him about this and his logic was fairly sound.  With four Magma Jet, you can often scry into the additional lands that you need beyond the two required to operate.  Burning-Tree and Nykthos fuel many of the other draws, so most of the time it’s fine, with some of the time requiring a little more aggressive mulliganing.  That plan is not foolproof, as I’ve seen in post-tournament testing, but it was good enough to allow him to cut through a field of talented players.  He was also playing in his first major tournament, and making a decent number of mistakes along the way (no worries Kevin we all do!), but he was still getting there.  I was rooting for him big time when he went up against Josh McClaine (top 25 in the world) in the first round of the top 8 and took down game 1 with an incredible series of draws that culminated in a late game fury of double burning-tree plus Phoenix into Fanatic for 7.

Maybe in the end he was simply running hot, as all good tournament runs require a little of.  But the deck makes you smile a bit and the added amount of cards + removal you get to play with only 21 lands gives it some kind of strange longevity that the old Red Devotion lists didn’t have.  Kevin if you read this, congratulations again on making Top 8 and I wish all the best for you in the future.  I know there were some controversial moments in a few matches that people took sides on, but hopefully it’s all water under the bridge at this point and I hope that you continue to improve on your list for future big tournaments.

Keep tapping those Mountains,

– Red Deck Winning

The Rules of Red Deck Wins

grimlavamancercover

The Rules of Red Deck Wins

Many people find Mono Red appealing when they first start playing Magic.  The cards are usually the least expensive to acquire for a deck that has a competitive edge to it, the strategy of attacking with a lot of creatures and casting direct damage is fun, and you can win quickly.  Eventually though, as many of those players mature, they begin to gravitate towards other strategies and often regard Mono Red as a deck for “newbies” or something that is too simple to be truly competitive.

The truth is, even in extremely hostile formats for the archetype, Mono Red has almost always broken through and succeeded.  Any longtime pilot of the archetype will tell you that if you truly play this deck as intended it requires a lot of skill, patience, and careful decision making.  Anyone can play the deck, but it takes effort and experience to master.  What I hope to bring to my readers today is a better understanding for some of the fundamentals of playing Mono Red Aggro (Sligh, Red Deck Wins).  I will also briefly discuss a new deck I’ve been working with at the end that I hope to take to some bigger tournaments.

Rule #1:  Know Who Is The Beatdown

An adage old concept in Magic is knowing who the beatdown is in a game or matchup.  Say both you and your opponent are playing aggressive decks.  One of the common mistakes of newer players is to always be attacking with their creatures and using their reach (burn) on their opponent rather than their opponent’s creatures.  It’s important to recognize early on what role you should be taking based on the cards in your hand, the cards in your deck, and your opponent’s plays / cards.  If your opponent leads off with a one-drop creature into a two drop and your first play isn’t until turn two, it should be evident that you need to play more defensively and try to remove his options before proceeding with your own.  Be aware of what you’re going to do post sideboard.  If you and your opponent are playing nearly identical decks, you have to be able to use your sideboarding to your advantage.  Bring in extra burn to deal with their creatures and play the “control role”.  Typically aggro decks do not have a lot of draw power or the ability to play a successful late game, so if you can exhaust your opponents creatures with removal and then play yours unmolested, it’s important to recognize that ability.  Or if you anticipate your opponent will be doing the same, sideboard in bigger creatures to make your deck become “Big Red”.  This doesn’t mean you can’t be “the beatdown” and be aggressive if your opponent has a slow start, so it’s also imperative to pay attention to who can effectively “race”.  Know your deck, know your outs, know your role.

Rule #2:  Don’t Overextend

One of the biggest mistakes for new players when playing against a Control or Midrange deck is that they overextend.  As fun as it is to cast all of the cards in your hand by turn three or four and swing in for lots of damage, it’s crucial that you are able to recognize what an archetype can do to slow you down and their ability to do that in a specific game.  Most control decks over time have had some kind of mass sweeper effect on turn four.  From cards like Wrath of God to Supreme Verdict, these are the lynchpins to their ability to take over a game.  In today’s age, we have to fight even tougher obstacles like Sphinx’s Revelation, Elspeth, and Aetherling.  Recognize which decks have critical cards like this and when your opponent is going to likely play these cards and sandbag (hold back) cards in your hand accordingly.  You still need to apply an appropriate amount of pressure to win the game, so make sure you do the math as often as possible, but know when to push and when to pump the brakes.  Most newer players would be surprised at how easy it is to still force your opponent into bad decisions with only one creature on the table and a manland.  Or having two creatures apply constant pressure forcing a Wrath while you hold two more in your hand to follow up.  Your opponent only has so much spot removal and so many Wraths, and their late game is much better than yours, so every life point counts.  There’s a famous saying I’ve often heard over time, “If you’re playing Red and your opponent wins the game at 1 life, you probably did something wrong”.

On this same note, it’s relevant to know what cards are in your opponent’s list if it looks similar to something from previous bigger tournaments.  Are they color screwed in the first three turns meaning they won’t get to play their Wrath on time?  If they are going to be able to play their Wrath on time but it will require them to take two damage from a land since it’s their only white source in the deck, does that matter to how you play out your hand?  Why did your Mono Blue Devotion opponent leave one mana up, does this mean he has a Rapid Hybridization to change your combat math?  Should you play your Fanatic of Mogis or Magma Jet during your mainphase because your opponent’s only out is an Azorious Charm or he’s tapped out meaning he can’t counter?  He didn’t cast Sphinx’s Revelation for the full amount, does he have a counter for your Skullcrack?  These are extremely critical mental processes that you should all be exercising if you’re playing Red Deck Wins.  Something as little as the Magma Jet example is a play I get asked about a lot, yet is truly meaningful to the outcome of the game.  Magma Jet’s scry is one of the few ways you have to gain some filtering card advantage in a match against a deck that often has much more advantage than you, so being able to have it resolve can often be the difference in a game.

Rule #3:  Don’t Sideboard Too Many Cards, And Have A Sideboard With A Purpose

Most Red Aggro lists are very streamlined with a lot of four-ofs and a consistent approach plan.  One of the biggest questions from less experienced players is how to sideboard and how many cards to bring in.  I often see players bringing in a ton of cards and saying that 8-10 creatures in the deck are “terrible” in a given matchup.  You must be able to understand what you’re doing to your maindeck when making a decision like that; once you dilute to a certain point, your deck no longer resembles the lean, mean machine that it once was.  Your advantage of being able to get consistent quick kills and overrun an opponent who stumbles vanishes.  That’s something that can’t be ignored, as it’s integral to how this archetype wins every game.  Usually, if your Red Aggro deck is competitive, it shouldn’t need a lot to fix a few matchups or give it some extra percentage points in your favor.  If there are extremely problematic cards, they probably have a weakness.

Take for example Blood Baron of Vizkopa.  This is a great card and something no red player likes facing against.  But the card isn’t invincible.  For starters, it costs five mana which is a lot and means it may not even see play in many games against you unless your opponent has a lot of early removal.  Secondly, its four-toughness can be exposed.  Cards like Mizzium Mortars which will often come out of your sideboard can kill it outright, but even something like the first-strike damage from a blocked Ash Zealot followed by a two-damage burn spell will take care of the problem without costing you any board presence.  And getting your opponent to block with it is not that unrealistic when they’re probably on the backfoot and struggling to stay alive by turn five.  Even if they are able to get in a combat step and swing with the Baron, you have a lot of direct damage in your deck and typically a big army to swing back.  Be aware of what you can do in the next few turns to get out of it and what possible sequence might enable you to execute that plan.

Sometimes an environment can seem overly oppressive and it just appears that certain cards are unbeatable.  This is rarely the case.  I want to take you back to the time of Scars-Standard, because two cards in particular made a Red player’s life hell; Kor Firewalker and Timely Reinforcements.  For a while red players weren’t able to figure out how to get around this mess, and even when they were it wasn’t perfect, but there was a plan available.  Famous Red mage Patrick Sullivan used cards like Shrine of Burning Rage and Dismember to get around these problems or ignore them, and other players gravitated towards Hero of Oxid Ridge to nullify the advantage and lifegain from Timely Reinforcements.  For a while I used Unstable Footing to stop Kor Firewalker’s protection ability from “preventing damage” so that he could be killed in combat or by another burn spell.  Skullcrack can do the same thing against cards like Master of Waves (although I don’t agree that’s a good strategy against him in that particular case).  If you’re unsure of how to beat an archetype or set of cards, look through the available pool and try things out.  Almost everytime, there’s an answer, it just needs to be discovered.

Your sideboard should have a purpose.  Even if it looks crazy with a bunch of cards that others wouldn’t play, as long as you know what they are for and how you’re going to board them in and execute your plan, that’s all that matters (and testing that plan ahead of time of course).  It’s also the same reason you shouldn’t just copy a sideboard of someone’s that you saw online because they won a tournament.  You need to know how it works, even if they provided a guide of what cards to sub in and out.  There’s no definite rule of how to board for a given matchup, paying attention to what your opponent is doing should always determine which cards to sub in and out.

You should make sure that your sideboard appreciates and respects the current metagame.  For any given week, there are a series of decks that are considered top tier and are expected to be played in heavy numbers at an event.  Paying attention to tournament results can help predict and prepare, along with testing, but you also need to make sure that your sideboard addresses both these and the unknown.  It’s key to balance the numbers with respect to that too.  Don’t include three sideboard slots against a deck you might only face once at a tournament.  Conversely, don’t have eight cards for an overly difficult matchup.  Cover your bases.  I remember one State Championship in particular where I was playing Jund and had thoroughly practiced against all the available archetypes except for Boros Aggro because I didn’t have time and ultimately just decided I was probably fine against it.  I was going to put Jund Charm in my board which I knew would hands down swing the match from some early going testing, but ultimately decided not to.  Turns out I went 5-0 to start that tournament and then lost two straight, first to the previous State Champion playing Boros Aggro, and then to another player on the same.  I won the last round to finish 6-2 and 15th place, but it most likely cost me a shot at top 8 for that event.  It was an oversight on my part, and it was an easy enough change to my board that I could have made.

Lastly, make sure that your sideboard cards are useable in multiple matchups or that you have a variety of cards that can function similarly.  Traitorous Blood was a great magic card because it provided Red with a way to answer any midrange deck trying to stick one big creature and win the game.  Even if they had an army it could allow you to trample over.  As such, it could be used against any deck that was of a similar standing, whether it be a Jund, Bant, or Naya opponent.  On the flip side, a similar card in the current format Act of Treason is a bit more narrow because of the loss of trample and as such isn’t as good against decks that can supplement their big creatures with a lot of little guys for chump blocking.  Decks like GR Monsters provide a perfect example of that, as they have Scavenging Ooze, Elvish Mystic, and Sylvan Caryatid to get in the way.  A card can also just be used in your sideboard as a “5th” or “6th” of a card in your maindeck if it functions similarly.  You might not put a Thunderbolt in your maindeck, but there are some matchups where the narrow ability of the card doesn’t matter and it acts as an extra Lightning Strike.

Rule #4:  Be Aware Of Your Deck’s Curve, and Use Your Lands To Your Advantage

The most common concept for Mono Red Aggro is to have a deck that executes a good curve.  I could talk about this subject until the cows come home, but better writers than me have already done most of the work.  For a detailed explanation, take a look at some of the articles in my Articles section on my site’s homepage.  The layman’s version is that your deck should have a certain amount of cards at each casting cost in order to carry out its gameplan on a consistent basis and to make sure you are able to play your cards fluidly.   You don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of expensive cards in hand or out of cards within a few turns.  You also don’t want to see your deck have vastly different draws everytime, you should know what to expect based on the frequency of a certain card type or casting cost.  Don’t start adding so many four drops to your Mono Red deck for example if the amount of lands your running can’t get you to four reliably or if it comes at the cost of early aggression.  Know how your deck is going to flow, and if that’s to your liking.

Your lands should do something other than add mana!  This concept is often missed, and a lot of people don’t even think about what lands they’re going to run when piloting a mono-colored deck.  If there are lands in your format that can activate and become creatures, cycle for extra card draw, or enable a bonus of some kind to your creatures, it’s usually the right call to have a few in your deck.  Being mono-colored means you’re already limiting your pool of available cards in comparison to other decks, so the advantages you get from having a card like Mutavault cannot be overlooked.  This leads me into my final rule. . .

Rule #5:  You Must Have Reach and You Can Afford To Take Pain

Reach is the ability of your deck to get past a ground stall or stuck situation.  When building a Red Aggro deck, you can’t just take every good creature in the format, pile them into a sixty card build, and call it a day.  Your deck needs cards that can break a ground stall or enable you to get past the barriers that are available in your metagame.  It’s one of the huge advantages to playing a Red Aggro deck versus other colors.  If your opponent plays a huge blocker or a card that prevents you from attacking well like Propaganda, you can still get through with Burn for the last few points of damage you need.  Knowing when to take your burn upstairs (to the face) or downstairs (to their creatures) is an important piece of knowledge that you need to obtain when playing this archetype.  Clearing the road with your burn or preventing your opponent from doing bigger and better things (killing a mana elf for instance) is a skill that takes time but is necessary to become successful with this style of deck.  Even a card like Nightbird’s Clutches can act as reach, so don’t rule out a card just because it can’t do damage to your opponent (even though most cards in your deck should).

You can take pain in your endevour to win the game.  Life isn’t as precious a resource to Mono Red Aggro, as you should be winning the race most of the time.  It’s one of the reasons why cards like Manabarbs were so strong back in the day in Sligh, because even though you’d take some damage from it, your opponent would usually be worse off than you since your deck was dishing out the damage at a much faster rate.  It could also prevent them from playing their critical cards that they need to get back in a game.  It’s not always correct to play a card like that, you need to “be well ahead” but it can be a useful tool to suicide yourself a bit in an effort to prevent your opponent from doing anything meaningful.

Standard:  RW Burn

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking on Facebook with famous MTGO Red Mage Zemanjaski (James Fazzolari).   He was preparing for GP Melbourne and we were going back and forth on some cards and what had been working for each of us individually along with team members he was working with.  Ultimately he took his list to the GP and started off 9-0 on the first day, ultimately finishing 23rd.  It was a truly great performance and practically matched by three of his teammates also playing the same list.  His article is well worth a read, so if you have time it is HERE.  In addition to the GP Runs, a few of his friends took a mostly similar list to a PTQ in Florida, and the three of them all finished top 16.  At this point it was safe to say that the archetype had come into its own, and its what I’ve been mostly playing since.  I’m planning to play it again tonight at one of my local tournaments, and possibly take it to the Chicago TCG 5k this weekend along with the SCG Milwaukee Open.  Here is where I’m currently at with it-

Boros Burn 3/11/2014

4x Ash Zealot
4x Chandra’s Phoenix
2x Chained to the Rocks
4x Boros Charm
4x Lightning Strike
4x Magma Jet
4x Searing Blood
3x Shock
4x Skullcrack
4x Warleader’s Helix

2x Boros Guildgate
9x Mountain
4x Mutavault
4x Sacred Foundry
4x Temple of Triumph

Sideboard
2x Chained to the Rocks
4x Firedrinker Satyr
2x Blind Obedience
3x Spark Trooper
3x Viashino Firstblade
1x Chandra, Pyromaster

Another card that I’ve had a lot of success with (against Control) out of the sideboard (James if you’re reading this it’s the one I was talking about) is Satyr Nyx-Smith.  I decided to try him out in place of Viashino Firstblade, and he’s been really impressive so far.  I think the deck might want some number of either Mizzium Mortars or Fated Conflagration, but otherwise it’s a strong deck and it rewards playskill more than most.  Blind Obedience has helped to slightly improve the GR and BW matchups, but overall those ones are tough in general.  Still, this deck has some great sequences and if you play carefully any matchup is easily winnable as the tournament results proved.

If this deck gets popular, I’d recommend putting 1-2 Chandra, Pyromaster in the board as she’s a great card in the mirror.  Card advantage is the name of the game there, and making sure to have Skullcrack available for their Warleader’s Helixes.

Another change I’ve been testing for quite some time is having Spark Trooper maindeck to improve some of the bad matchups and to play carefully around removal, but I haven’t decided yet if that’s the direction this deck should head.  There’s a lot of testing that needs to be done to iron out the last few cards, but this list is much better and much more potent than early builds that I played when the archetype first started surfacing.  Mutavault and Ash Zealot are key reasons for this, and I strongly suggest you don’t cut them if you’re experimenting with different cards.

As always, keep tapping those Mountains. . .

Red Deck Winning

Keeping The Fire Alive

templeoftriumphfull

Keeping The Fire Alive

Hoo boy, its been a tough time to be a Red mage.

I think this is the first time in several years that you can look at tournament results both on Magic Online and in person and not see Mono Red decks cracking the top 8.  The Standard format has become very homogenized by a handful of decks, and Born of the Gods did little to change that (in fact strengthened if anything).  I’d like to say that you can keep banging away at a format like this with ideas until something sticks, but the brightest minds in Magic haven’t been able to break the mold, and the true creative types out there haven’t performed with their brews.  Sometimes you just have to accept facts.

Last Saturday I decided to play in a PTQ in Lindenhurst, IL.  I wasn’t planning to originally but sometimes I can’t get away from the addiction of this game.  I had been practicing with various brews of R/W Burn, most of which were similar to the ones in Patrick Sullivan’s last article on it (see HERE).  I had also briefly playtested a modified Conley Woods RW Midrange build from an article he wrote a few months ago (see HERE).  Both deck styles appealed immensely to me, and results from both were fairly positive online, but something was amiss.  I tried subbing cards out here and there, yet it seemed like the issues were more matchup related rather than card selection.  The R/W Burn lists appeared to have poor games against Mono Black Devotion and UW Control unless they ran maindeck Skullcrack, but doing so put the deck in a poorer position against any kind of aggro or tempo deck.

elspethsunschampion

Elspeth was a feature card of Conley’s build, and I thought that might be a good direction to go given my success with Big Boros at the previous PTQ.  Ultimately though, the list would have a variety of draws, similar to Big Boros, and I was really sick of playing decks that were inconsistent.  One of the staple hallmark traits of Mono Red Aggro is that you know what you’re getting every game.  Granted, most decks play differently, but in a format where you have a few choice outs to the big contending decks, and each of those outs differs based on matchup, you really have to draw them reliably.  I wanted Chained to the Rocks against Mono Black, Mono Blue, and GR Monsters, but not against UW Control.  I wanted Mizzium Mortars in the same fashion.  There just didn’t seem to be a list that could you play a strong game against all the contenders.  You were either giving up a matchup game 1 or you were weak against everybody.  The Burn deck also felt rough because despite having an excellent land base (which I’ll expand upon later), it didn’t have any kind of permanency. This sometimes resulted in the deck running out of gas if your opponent played enough threats requiring your attention.

So unfortunately, I decided for this PTQ I would dance with the devil and ended up rolling with the following:

thoughtseize packratunderworldconnections

They’re just too good.

This combination of cards is ridiculous, and if you think just off the top your head you can beat these cards, you better be able to prove it.  Taking the opponent’s best card or best removal spell and then playing Pack Rat is game over in so many situations.  But I’m preaching to the choir, we all know how good this deck has been the last few months.  It intrigued me even back when Theros was still being spoiled, and it looks even better today.  Bile Blight was a huge upgrade, along with Drown in Sorrow.  They made the mirror match a lot more skill intensive, and the Mono Blue match very agreeable.  I still think Mono Blue Devotion is a very strong deck, and it can beat Black still, but if you have to lean the matchup one way or another it’s definitely in favor of Black.

On Saturday I played against five mirror matches, a GR Monsters deck, a Mono Blue Devotion deck, and a GW Aggro deck.  Clearly, the memo had been sent and a lot of us were on the same line of thinking.  My first two rounds went horribly, I hadn’t given the deck the amount of practice it really deserved and I made a series of giant misplays in several games that cost me each match.  I’m talking about the really bad kind of misplays, like knowing your opponent has an Arbor Colossus in hand, and then proceeding to pitch Hero’s Downfall to your Pack Rat with a Desecration Demon on the board.  Yeah.  Real real bad.

After the first two rounds I started to get more comfortable with the deck and rattled off three wins in a row.  I then lost an incredibly close game three to a fellow Mono Black player where we essentially played off the top of the deck and he ended up drawing an Underworld Connections about twenty turns in.  It’s crazy how important that card is to winning the mirror, it’s easily the best card in the matchup.  In the next round I had to play one of my carmates, which was unfortunate, and I ended up winning but he made a misplay which helped me out.  Finally in the last round I played against Mono Blue and despite drawing absolutely horrible hands including a mulligan to four, I stayed with her until being overwhelmed by an unanswered Master of Waves in game three.

But it wasn’t fun.  And it certainly wasn’t Red.

In the next few days after the tournament, I started messing around with RW Devotion again.  I really liked some of the powerful cards and sequences that deck could put together, but I was always disappointed with some of the terrible draws the deck could have.  Nykthos, while being great for the nut-draws, was incredibly underwhelming when your initial hand was light on land.  Furthermore, the deck always seemed to run out of steam if your initial wave of plays became exhausted.  I wanted to fix this problem.

After tooling around a bit, I found an interesting answer.  While it didn’t shore up some of the bad matches, it made every one a little better across the board.  It made the deck feel good, despite taking away just a smidge of explosiveness.

The change I made was fairly simple:

nonykthostempleofsilence

Before you yell, let me explain.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can be nuts in the RW deck.  The curve out of Ash Zealot or Frostburn Weird into Burning-Tree with a Nykthos out is a strong opener that most decks can’t deal with.  Sometimes though, this hand does get dealt with, and this leaves the deck completely out of gas.  Other times, Nykthos prevents you from playing your Boros Reckoner for an umpteenth number of turns or keeps you off critical four and five mana sequences.

There’s also the issue with how many of each card to play, specifically Chained to the Rocks and Mizzium Mortars.  I mentioned earlier how you want these cards reliably, or you don’t want them at all.  Enter Temple of Silence.  Running eight total scry lands in this deck does so many things.  First, you cleanup the Nykthos issues.  Second, you give the deck a lot of digging power to get to the critical matchup cards and you allow yourself to scry away additional or unwanted copies in matchups that don’t want them.  Third, you give your deck a full twelve white sources so that any white cards you’re playing can actually be cast reliably, AND you can even play some double-white mana cost cards.  Lastly, it lets you cut a land so you can fit an additional card in the deck.  Ultimately, the landbase looks like this:

12 Mountain
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
4 Temple of Silence

The RW Devotion deck doesn’t start playing cards until turn two anyway, so while you will get a few draws that are clunky, it’s no moreso than with Nykthos, and the amount of gas it gives to this deck is unparalleled.  I saw it work in the RW Burn decks, and I knew that I wanted to try a port over to Devotion.  So far it has not failed to live up to expectations, and it’s really made me rethink the validity of this archetype.  Putting it all together, I came up with this list which I played at my Tuesday win-a-box this last week:

RW Devotion by RedDeckWinning

Maindeck

4 Ash Zealot
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Fanatic of Mogis
2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
4 Stormbreath Dragon

4 Chained to the Rocks
2 Hammer of Purphoros
4 Mizzium Mortars

12 Mountain
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
4 Temple of Silence

Sideboard

3 Anger of the Gods
2 Chandra, Pyromaster
2 Last Breath
2 Revoke Existence
2 Glare of Heresy
2 Assemble the Legion
2 Celestial Flare

The results ultimately didn’t come last Tuesday, but the deck performed like an absolute champ and it gave me ideas for what to change.  For starters, the mana was a godsend and my draws were all extremely powerful.  The only real reason I didn’t end up doing well was because our Tuesday win-a-box is always full of great competition and my opponents drew equally well.  If I had to play this again, after some basic modifications, I absolutely would.  All of the little inconveniences that I used to have over this archetype disappeared.  It felt like a new deck had been born.  And when I say my opponents drew well, they drew VERY well.  One game, my opponent (playing Jund) opened up with triple Abrupt Decay into Putrefy into Doom Blade into Reaper of the Wilds.  Had he missed a single card of that sequence, he was pretty much dead.  That’s how good this list is at firing back, it can even almost get there against stuff like what I just mentioned.

So onto the problems.  The first thing you might raise an eyebrow at in the list is the presence of Burning-Tree Emissary.  With no Nykthos to fuel, he really is out of place in this list, but he does still give you the ability to either play a Mizzium Mortars on the same turn you play him or a higher curve spell.  This ability I think is important enough that I still like him over Rakdos Shred-Freak or some other alternative.  If you decide to try the list, feel free to play around with that spot and let me know if you discover something better.

Next up on the problem sheet is the UW Control and GR Monsters matchups.  The UW Control matchup is close, but it’s within a few cards of being better.  This was always a close matchup for RW Devotion, and the keys to it are Purphoros, his Hammer, removal of Detention Sphere, and combating Sphinx’s Revelation.  The sideboard brings in Glare of Heresy, Revoke Existence, and Chandra, Pyromaster.  All of these are great, but I think the deck wants another card or two to make a stronger case for beating it.  Whether that means cutting a Chain and Mortars in the main (which are fine as 4-ofs with all the scry) for another Purphoros and another Hammer, or putting Boros Charm in the board, it’s probably just a simple adjustment.  I’d also like to run three Glare of Heresy and one Revoke Existence because Glare can deal with Elspeth and Archangel of Thune, and it’s good against the W/x Aggro decks.  Assemble the Legion stays in the sideboard against UW, because they have Jace which nullifies the tokens and because it’s just too slow.  I’ve rarely had a game where its been able to take over before they’ve found an answer.

GR Monsters is the absolute worst matchup.  It was never good before, but its become worse because of Xenagos, God of Revels and Flesh // Blood.  Both of those cards make that deck even more powerful.  I think if you’re playing a Red based deck, it’s probably where you want to be, but it does have weaknesses which I think are easier to exploit than RW Devotion.  The problem is that Elvish Mystic gives them a little bit faster draws and their threats are usually bigger.  You’re not a slouch however, and if you get a good opener you can just as easily overrun them.  Boros Reckoner is also an all-star against GR, and it’s a tool that they don’t have at their disposal.  Out of the sideboard, I tried out Celestial Flare as a quick answer, and it was easily a homerun.  This format has countless number of decks that often just attack with one creature at a time, and between that fact and the fact that you have other removal, Flare almost always ends up just being straight Doom Blade.  For the future, I would for sure run a third, possibly even a fourth if there was a way to find room.  I want it against Mono Black as well, so there’s added value in that.

Speaking of Mono Black, game 1 is very much in your favor.  That’s one of the big strengths of this deck, and while game 2 can be nightmarish at times depending on their draws, you can combat it by bringing in removal for Lifebane Zombie and Nightveil Specter and relying on your scry lands to pull you out of heavy discard openers from their end.

I’m not sure on the Mono Blue matchup yet because I haven’t had time to do a lot of testing, but you have four Chains and four Mortars maindeck, so that’s a big bonus over previous builds.  Post-board you bring in Last Breaths, Angers, and some number of Revoke Existence and/or Chandra.

Against any other fair deck in the format, you just steamroll.  This deck can overrun almost everything I’ve come across, including hyper aggro most of the time.  Once you start dropping Boros Reckoners into Purphoroses into Fanatics, there’s just not a whole lot a deck can do against you to catchup from giant 10-15 damage life swings.  Post board you have Anger of the Gods, more spot removal, and Chandra, so you can usually shore up any inkling of an issue from game 1.

If I were going to play the list tomorrow or this weekend, this is what I’d now play:

RW Devotion by RedDeckWinning (Updated)

Maindeck

4 Ash Zealot
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Fanatic of Mogis
2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
4 Stormbreath Dragon

4 Chained to the Rocks
2 Hammer of Purphoros
4 Mizzium Mortars

12 Mountain
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
4 Temple of Silence

Sideboard
3 Celestial Flare
3 Glare of Heresy
2 Anger of the Gods
2 Chandra, Pyromaster
2 Boros Charm
1 Revoke Existence
1 Assemble the Legion
1 Last Breath

But What About Mono Red Aggro?

I know, I know.  These decks are all expensive, and for many Mono Red players, budget was a reason for the choice.  For me, I love playing Red because I like the playstyle, but budget is a real concern for everyone.  I’d give the cop-out answer of “well if you’re on a budget just play white aggro” but that wouldn’t be staying true to my fiery brethren.

If you’re going to play Mono Red Aggro (Red Deck Wins, Sligh, etc), I think you’re best option would be to pick between one of two routes.  You could play a streamlined aggressive list like what Owen Turtenwald and Tom Ross championed earlier this year (HERE and HERE), or you could splash white for Chained to the Rocks to shore up difficult matchups such as what Longtoe and James Kerr did (HERE).

A third option would be to go a little bigger and play more creatures with three, four, and five toughness.  Since you’ll be favorable against most decks aside from Mono Blue, the real trick is to be more resistant to Drown in Sorrow and Anger of the Gods.  Possibly trying stuff out like Felhide Spiritbinder, Ember Swallower, etc, or just packing the three-drop threat density to an all-time high.  The aggressive route is probably the preferred one though at this time, and I would suggest having a transformational sideboard where you “go big”.  Something along the lines of adding two lands to bring your count up to 23-24 and having stuff like Stormbreath Dragon and Anger of the Gods of your own.  This will throw off your opponent’s game plan that they had for game 2 and 3 where they thought they would just be able to pick off your one drops only to find out that you’re not playing any anymore.

Commander and Upcoming Content

While I haven’t mentioned it on this site much, I’m a huge fan of Commander and have been playing for a long time.  If you haven’t got into it yet, I couldn’t recommend it more.  It’s single highhandedly one of the best formats you can do with friends, assuming you have a playgroup who is relatively even keel about what is OK to play with.  A while back I was debating about building another deck when some friends from my local shop mentioned to me that they were surprised that I didn’t have a Mono Red deck built.  I told them that I had had ones in the past but that I never thought they were very good or very fun, specifically the former.  Well, then Wizards went along and made this guy-

purphorosgodoftheforge

Oh brother is this guy a fun General.  While I know that my list is not as “crazy” as it could be because of my budget and my local playgroup’s penchant to play “fair” (which I 100% agree with), this deck has evolved and become very explosive.  It brings the passion out of me of playing Red off and on for 20 years, and for those of you in my readership who love Red as much as I do, please give it a whirl.  The moment you cast Koth, minus him, cast Purphoros, and then just wreck havoc on your opponents the fire will be back in your soul.  This thing is just pure good times, so without further ado, here is my current list (with some changes coming soon):

Purphoros, God of the Forge (Commander; EDH)

Creatures (34)
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge (General)
1 Capricious Efreet
1 Glitterfang
1 Hellrider
1 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Ogre Battledriver
1 Fanatic of Mogis
1 Molten Primordial
1 Ingot Chewer
1 Kamahl, Pit Fighter
1 Spitebellows
1 Pyreheart Wolf
1 Goblin Wardriver
1 Rakka Mar
1 Magus of the Arena
1 Ball Lightning
1 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Obsidian Fireheart
1 Terra Ravager
1 Stalking Vengeance
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Ember Swallower
1 Archwing Dragon
1 Bloodthorn Taunter
1 Emrakul’s Hatcher
1 Krenko, Mob Boss
1 Crater Hellion
1 Inferno Titan
1 Moonveil Dragon
1 Norin the Wary
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Stonewright
1 Chancellor of the Forge

Planeswalkers (2)
1 Koth of the Hammer
1 Chandra, Pyromaster

Artifacts (12)
1 Caged Sun
1 Skullclamp
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Fire Diamond
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Staff of Nin
1 Sol Ring
1 Wayfarer’s Bauble
1 Mind Stone
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Hammer of Purphoros

Enchantments (8)
1 Goblin Assault
1 Awaken the Ancient
1 Possibility Storm
1 Barrage of Expendables
1 Goblin Bombardment
1 Goblin War Drums
1 Shiv’s Embrace
1 Dragon Mantle

Instants / Sorceries (3)
1 Tempt with Vengeance
1 Sudden Demise
1 Savage Beating

Lands (41)
1 Homeward Path
1 Forgotten Cave
1 Opal Palace
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Phyrexia’s Core
1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Smoldering Crater
1 Temple of the False God
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Ghost Quarter
30 Mountain

Like any Commander deck there’s a million different directions you can go with this.  This is just simply my “time capsule” where it stands at the moment and I like it.  There’s a handful of cards I’m wanting to add to it and I’d love to hear reader suggestions on it too.

The last thing I’d like to talk about is future content.  I’ve been promising videos for a while, but have run into roadblocks on my end with time and setup.  I’ve recorded some of my playtesting sessions on Cockatrice and occasionally have been streaming, but haven’t put them on the website.  For the particular WordPress setup that I have, you have to pay for an additional video plugin if you want the content directly on the site, otherwise I’d have to load them onto Youtube or a similar service.  I’m fine with doing the latter, it’s just time consuming and unfortunately I work a lot and have a million pressing obligations in my free time.  It’s not a lost hope though, I’m going to get it together at some point soon and get it up, so keep staying tuned.

As for my streaming, I’ve been having trouble getting Xsplit to recognize my default microphone (I use a Plantronics headset and it works for every other program).  Does anyone out there know of a better solution?  I just got a suggestion from a friend that I’m going to try, but I figure enough folks read this site by now that there might be an even better option.  Streaming otherwise has been fine, it’s just been sporadic, so I’m trying to work on setting up some specific time slots so you all can join in on the fun easier.

If you haven’t done so already, please feel free to add me on twitter and facebook (RedDeckWinning for both).

Thank you so much for the outpouring of support I’ve received in the last few months, I really really appreciate it.  If I haven’t returned an email or message I promise I’ll do my best to get back to you, its been great to hear from folks and it gives me the drive to want to keep working on this site and watch it grow.

Until next time, keep tapping those Mountains

– Red Deck Winning