Atarka Red: Reloaded

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You play the blue deck—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You play the red deck—you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Morpheus had it pegged. Blue decks are for squares and red decks are where it’s at.

Red Deck Wins always seems to be week-1 metagame gold in a new Standard format. Time and time again, I see history repeat itself where aggressive red decks do disproportionately well at the onset.

A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.

They change the format. The red deck does well. Déjà vu.

The reason is pretty straightforward: people haven’t figured out how to build the more controlling decks yet because nobody knows what needs to be controlled, so aggressive decks are advantaged (at least in the first week).

If the future is as predictable as the past informs me that it is, step one should be to build the red deck.

Neo Atarka Red

The main deck feels very solid, but I haven’t worked on the sideboard very much yet.

They will never be as strong, or as fast, as you can be.

Morpheus: How did I beat you?
Neo: You… you’re too fast.

That’s right, Neo the Newb, the red deck will end your game before you even have time to cast any of your cute 6-drop planeswalkers.

The core of the Atarka deck remains largely unchanged. The one key difference:

The combo has gone buh-bye.

Yes, it is kind of a big deal. But remember that Kory Mcduffie also won an Open with Atarka later in the season without the combo. So the deck can, and will, exist beyond the Blood Lust + Berserk aspect of the deck from last season.

Let’s take a look at what cards you get to replace the ones you lost. In particular:

As far as planeswalkers that I’d want to play in a beatdown deck go, Arlinn is pretty grand. She offers a lot of damage and value for her cost. Most decks will have a difficult time being able to commit a lot creatures to attack her because they will need all the blockers they can get!

Keeping Arlinn around for 1 turn is very important because the abilities on the flip side are what I’m mostly after. The +1/+1 to the team or straight-up Lightning Bolt to the dome are both really potent in a deck this aggressive. But there are plenty of times when simply buffing a creature and getting in there a few times in a row will be more than enough to win.

Overall, I’m very impressed with Arlinn Kord in the Atarka Red Deck.

It is true that these creatures are worse than Monastery Swiftspear. But they are perfectly passable cheap and aggressive beatdown creatures. I also love the fact that the deck has lots of solid 1-drop creatures and lots of lands that come into play untapped.

I think the Village Messenger is deceptively powerful. Most decks are not going to be able to play a 1-mana spell on the first turn, which means that he will flip a high percentage of the time when you are on the play. Getting into the 2/2 menace range makes the card very hard to deal with in combat.

Falkenrath Gorger doesn’t have the extreme high upside but is more consistently “fine.” 1 mana for a 2-power creature is quite good on the first turn. Also keep in mind that these 1-drops make great fuel for another one of our haymaker cards:

Wacky ‘whacker may not be a card from Shadows over Innistrad, but I think it becomes a very important staple in the red aggro decks from here on out. It puts a ton of damage into the red zone for very little cost and it plays nicely with the horde of creatures you already want to pump up your Atarka’s Commands.

Dodge this!

Firecraft is actually a very well positioned card right now. I was interested in playing Goldnight Castigator until I realized that Firecraft is close to the same card except it costs 3 instead of 4 and I don’t randomly get killed when my opponent untaps!

That being said, Castigator may actually be better than Chandra’s parents in this deck. I haven’t played against a wide enough array of decks to know for sure yet!

Another cool thing about Firecraft is that it passess the Gideon, Ally of Zendikar test. It zaps that ‘walker off the face of the board. I’ve found that Gideon is easilly one of the most important cards in new Standard and that matching up against the card on the draw is very important.

Don’t think you are. Know you are.

Whatever you decide to play in week 1, whether it be a blistering fast red burn deck or a sweet blue delirium deck, I hope you have a blast with it.

New Standard is a ton of fun because it gives players a chance to experiment with new concepts and ideas before the format becomes largely solved and better understood. To some extent, you can get away with doing whatever you want. The key is that a deck like Atarka Red contradicts the previous statement, because if the things you “want to do” are slower than Atarka Red, you will lose to it!

Playing the Atarka Red deck may not be the most interesting or creative option available, but I think it is a dependable one. And even if you don’t decide to fight with Atarka, I highly recommend you practice playing against it at least a few times, as it is likely to be a deck that people will play and do well with. Maybe not my exact version, but Red Deck Wins will see play and perform well.


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