fbpx

Silvestri Says – Red Rules

Well this week was certainly a turnaround for anyone who likes attacking with small creatures. As I talked about last week in my stats article, Mono-Black Control was overplayed and small aggro saw success Online that was not yet reflected in real-life play. This week’s results bore that out, and both Boros and mono-red reentered the public consciousness, and week one doesn’t feel so far away now. Other than the Waves deck continuing to put up considerable finishes, a lot of the popular choices went by the wayside as small creatures ruled the day!

It’s a Red, Red, Red and White World

If only we had a clue that such an onslaught was coming! While Magic Online’s metagame may be skewed at times, I wish people would stop thinking that there’s just no way it can translate to the real world. Yes, while it broke perfectly that Mono-Black Devotion was snuffed out while Boros and red succeeded, we knew that given time reasonable people would come to this conclusion.

[deck]Main Deck
4 Boros Elite
4 Dryad Militant
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
2 Azorius Arrester
4 Precinct Captain
4 Daring Skyjek
4 Frontline Medic
4 Boros Charm
4 Brave the Elements
1 Spear Of Heliod
3 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
10 Plains
4 Mutavault
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
Sideboard:
3 Banisher Priest
4 Fiendslayer Paladin
2 Burning Earth
1 Pacifism
1 Warleader’s Helix
1 Wear
2 Glare of Heresy
1 Mizzium Mortars[/deck]

If you saw some of the Boros feature matches, you could see the upsides and downsides over just a few games. In Ben Lundquist’s Top 8 match against Naya control, we saw an embarrassing set of turns where we had a double-[card]Mutavault[/card] land base and multiple WW cards rotting in hand. Another issue is just the low power level—as with many swarm decks—although [card]Ajani, Caller of the Pride[/card] tries to help with that issue.

Of course, Ben also won that embarrassing match of Magic through good play and the opponent not realizing his own outs. The Boros deck excels at putting you in a situation where you need to have a given answer or you’ll just be dead. Even worse is when you do have the right answer and you mistime it, and waste your answer for only a small gain and lose as a result. [card]Boros Charm[/card] and [card]Brave the Elements[/card] both make for incredibly awkward moments when opponents are trying to cast [card]Anger of the Gods[/card].

Boros looks great because people aren’t necessarily familiar with it—devotion decks are still getting most of the sideboard attention, and Boros fits well in the metagame. Everything just fell into place. Moving forward, [card]Banisher Priest[/card] may warrant maindeck inclusion again because the metagame may dump MBC by the side of the road and adopt a creature swarm aggro vs. bigger aggro vs. midrange vs. Esper kind of rock-paper-scissors.

Of course, I mostly talked about the white-heavy version of Boros, but James Gates also made the finals with a red-heavy variation of the deck. It mostly resembles the ChannelFireball mono-red devotion list, but with [card]Chained to the Rocks[/card] and [card]Boros Charm[/card].

[deck]Main Deck
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Ash Zealot
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Fanatic of Mogis
4 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Chained to the Rocks
3 Hammer of Purphoros
3 Mizzium Mortars
11 Mountain
2 Boros Guildgate
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Sideboard:
4 Firedrinker Satyr
2 Assemble the Legion
3 Chained to the Rocks
4 Boros Charm
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Mizzium Mortars[/deck]

While not the same as the red decks I alluded to last week, some of the key cards carry over and his sideboard showcases some really smart choices against MBC and Esper. Notably, his deck can become more aggressive, both card-wise by bringing in [card]Firedrinker Satyr[/card] for additional one-drops, and by taking a more aggressive stance with [card]Boros Charm[/card] as a potential answer. Even better, [card]Boros Charm[/card] and [card]Hammer of Purphoros[/card] force the issue, where if you don’t pull the trigger on wiping the board, Golems can just keep sprouting up until you have too.

This deck doesn’t mess around when trying to turn on its engine. Every red permanent in here, save Cackler and Fanatic, provides RR or RRR toward devotion. With so many Hammers, it also makes sorcery speed removal and even straight 1-for-1s that much weaker. I can’t imagine too many midrange or control decks wanting to mess with this configuration. Against Mono-U it has the maximum number of [card]Chained to the Rocks[/card] and [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] after sideboarding to make it an actual fight if it can’t just Dragon them to death.

Mono-red still performed admirably though, thanks to the patron saint of red, Patrick Sullivan, posting a list pre-LA for players to copy and battle with.

[deck]Main Deck
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Firefist Striker
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Gore-House Chainwalker
4 Rakdos Cackler
2 Rubblebelt Maaka
4 Lightning Strike
4 Shock
18 Mountain
4 Mutavault
Sideboard:
1 Rubblebelt Maaka
1 Burning Earth
4 Skullcrack
2 Act of Treason
4 Mizzium Mortars
3 Peak Eruption[/deck]

Of course, I’m no exception, and I’ve been battling with this build alongside the [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] version I currently enjoy. Key to this build is that it remains a viable beatdown deck against decks just throwing bigger creatures in the way, and [card]Rubblebelt Maaka[/card] is just another cheap way to battle through [card]Frostburn Weird[/card] and [card]Nightveil Specter[/card]. Is it a build I’d continue playing moving forward? Probably not, because against a bunch of creature decks you want something that can present an actual board presence. If not for game one, at least for post-board games where being aggressive just doesn’t pay off.

Of course, that’s why I also recommend giving the [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] build a try:

[deck]Main Deck
4 Ash Zealot
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Young Pyromancer
3 Chandra, Pyromaster
2 Chained to the Rocks
4 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Jet
4 Shock
11 Mountain
4 Mutavault
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph[/deck]

It not only provides more lines of play with Pyromancer in play, but it positions you favorably against opposing creature and board control decks. Which is where the metagame looks like it’s heading back too, if only for a week or two. To quote from MTGO Grinder James Fazzolari (Zemanjaski).

“Young Pyromancer: I haven’t really seen this card see play in many other red decks, but in this list it is one of the defining cards. You’re running a higher than usual amount of burn to supplement your little creatures, and a Young Pyromancer in play makes all of your burn spells very powerful. The tokens can do a lot of damage against control decks, given that you’re burn has to go upstairs anyway, the incremental value is very significant, especially when they’re trying to rely on 1-for-1 removal. Young Pyromancer makes your spells into combat tricks and really dominate creature matchups, especially in multiples.”

Of course, you aren’t limited to red or white. Maybe you want to play some black cards in your deck.

Luis Navas won GP Santiago with this sweet Rakdos build.

[deck]4 Blood Crypt
8 Mountain
10 Swamp
4 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
4 Mogis’s Marauder
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Rakdos Shred-Freak
4 Spike Jester
1 Thrill-Kill Assassin
4 Tormented Hero
3 Xathrid Necromancer
2 Doom Blade
4 Lightning Strike
4 Madcap Skills
Sideboard
2 Burning Earth
2 Dreadbore
2 Erebos, God of the Dead
2 Mizzium Mortars
1 Rakdos Guildgate
4 Thoughtseize
2 Whip of Erebos[/deck]

Players who scoured the Pro Tour Theros lists may remember a similar list being played by Ari Lax and some of his testing group. This deck does a lot of things that devotion decks don’t want to see, one being massive amounts of haste and the second being [card]Mogis’s Marauder[/card] and [card]Madcap Skills[/card] to pass right by the usual blockers. Normally having to deal with these types of blockers means laying off the gas for a turn, but this deck can keep up the pressure without skipping a beat.

Other than being weaker in the red vs. black small-ball aggro match and obvious issues against Selesnya, this deck seems perfectly suited to attack the metagame from this past weekend. This weekend all depends on how many people pack [card]Anger of the Gods[/card], [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], and other sweepers. While the deck is very fast, it has the same issues as any similar deck when it gets to topdeck mode. [card]Whip of Erebos[/card] goes a long way toward trying to grind the final points out post-board, and if you go bigger, then [card]Underworld Cerberus[/card] seems like a potential option. Of course, I think that’s required to mention until it finally sees play somewhere.

I’m not comfortable with any RR spells without Guildgates in the deck, otherwise [card]Chandra, Pyromaster[/card] seems like a must-have out of the sideboard. [card]Dark Betrayal[/card] also seems like a reasonable addition if the mirror becomes a common occurence. It handles the usual stable of bigger creatures, and still kills 1 and 2-drops without requiring a Mountain. [card]Erebos, God of the Dead[/card] is an interesting sideboard call over [card]Underworld Connections[/card], since you’ll primarily be pushing it against 1-for-1 plans and [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. Some psycho decided to go on a shopping spree and buy every [card]Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch[/card] on Magic Online so I won’t be bothering with the deck for a week or so.

Moving forward, though, the best attacking deck may be in an odd color.

Mono Blue Draw-Attack

Draw-go? Sorry oldbies, blue is now yet another color primed for attacking and blocking.

[deck]Main Deck
4 Cloudfin Raptor
4 Judge’s Familiar
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Tidebinder Mage
4 Thassa, God of the Sea
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Master of Waves
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Bident of Thassa
2 Cyclonic Rift
1 Domestication
1 Rapid Hybridization
20 Island
4 Mutavault
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Sideboard:
1 Bident of Thassa
1 Curse of the Swine
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Dissolve
1 Domestication
4 Gainsay
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Negate
2 Rapid Hybridization[/deck]

Sam Pardee and Josh McClain played this (alongside Melira Pod) straight into the Top 8 of the TCG Invitational this weekend with Josh taking down the entire tournament. Another two players joined them in the Top 8, and Waves had a very strong showing at GP Santiago as well. If there was a top deck that’s been known and has yet to suffer a major metagame backlash, this would be the one. While you could say mono-black’s popularity was a response to this deck, honestly nobody I’ve talked with says MBC outright crushes this.

Actually, I’ve yet to find a deck that does—most of it’s rough matchups seem to be in that 40/60 sweet spot where it comes down to drawing well and sequencing correctly. While you only have a handful of massively favorable matches, Waves remains top dog in consistent win percentage and a lack of credible predators gunning for it. Really though, there isn’t a lot to be done in terms of teching the deck out—we’ve pretty much exhausted all potential Gatherer searches for overlooked cards. People have messed around with splash colors, but none have come up with a great reason to play a variant.

If you missed being able to play an attacking deck that has a bit more play than just turning guys sideways, give any of these decks a try before the metagame moves back toward [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] and big midrange decks.

Josh Silvestri
Email me at: [email protected]

Discussion

Scroll to Top