What happens when you combine an Atarka Red deck with some of the best midrange/control cards that blue and black have to offer? Well, I have no idea, but in the hands (or mouse) of MTGO player UnderworldConnection, you have a 5-0 record in a Standard league.
Splashing black into an Atarka red shell gives you access to Forerunner of Slaughter, one of the best aggro cards in the format, and some improved removal and sideboard options. Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury has been the top-end of Mardu Dragons list for some time and works well with the aggressive red creatures. Turning on Draconic Roar, one of the most powerful yet underplayed cards in Standard, is a nice bonus.
Splashing blue has become the norm in many decks, namely BW Tokens and Abzan. It is far from free when you are already playing BR since there is no land that you can fetch to produce UR. The decision to play Treasure Cruise, one of the most powerful cards in Magic history, is not to be taken lightly. I have no idea if this is an improvement over Painful Truths, but if you can consistently cast it for less than 3 mana, it certainly would be. The ability to play powerful and cheap countermagic in the sideboard is what makes things truly interesting. A fast start backed up by just one copy of Dispel, Negate, or Disdainful Stroke can often be enough to end the game on the spot.
Does this deck have what it takes to become a player in the Standard format? For me, I would say no, as it seems like a weaker version of various other decks we already have at our disposal. That being said, a 5-0 result, while a small sample, is something to take notice of. If the blue sideboard cards are as good in this shell as they have been in so many others, maybe this deck has potential!
By UNDERWORLDCONNECTION, 5-0 in MTGO Standard League