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Silvestri Says – The Rise of Red

 

Right now is the time to look at all the decks we retired pre-Rise and take stock of what they’ve gained not only in terms of cards, but metagame spacing. With the advent of Rise of the Eldrazi, it’s been all but assured that WU Control will keep it’s mantle of the 2nd best deck* if it doesn’t just rise above Jund. Of course if this occurs then it’ll make space for multiple other decks in the format to potentially come back into the metagame. These include all the other midrange decks that are more heavily slanted against Control, pseudo-combo like Polymorph and Warp World, and even somewhat popular decks like Mythic and Red Deck Wins to become a third pillar in the metagame.

*Of course then it had to win the pre-Rise MODO PTQ’s which makes it all the more appealing in a post-ROE world that gives almost nothing of interest to the Jund deck.

Today we’ll be focusing on the Red deck part of the equation, looking at various forms of Mono Red Aggro and the R/B variants as well as where Red goes from here. Until We Win!

There are two main trains of thought with RDW, the first is that it should be a balls-out Aggro deck focused on reducing your opponent to 0 life as quickly as possible. This variation has become far more appealing due to Rise bringing Kiln Fiend and Devastating Summons to the deck, increasing the power of Smoldering Spires and Goblin Bushwhacker. While you could argue that this narrows the deck focus and forces you to play badly by main-phasing your spells, it’s all a matter of risk vs. reward. If Devastating Summons doesn’t resolve, then you’ll be up a sewer without a jet-ski.

Kiln Fiend

Kiln Fiend is also a very risky card in that it dies to practically everything, but unlike Dragonlord is also dependent on other spells from your arsenal and not just mana. This may seem like a fine deal to make early and indeed it provides a cheap surge of damage and the opportunity to battle through Wall of Omens. Plus if you don’t get blown out on a Kiln Fiend pump and hit the opponent, you’ll almost always ride that damage to victory. Problems arise when cards like Knight of the White Orchid and Oust get involved though, or any card that potentially buys multiple turns of non-attacking. Kiln Fiend doesn’t get better with time, it’s value almost always decreases with each ensuing turn and even in topdeck situations the Fiend is far worse than other two-drops since it doesn’t have the capability to survive a fight. If you don’t drop the Fiend early, it’s opportunities to deal major damage diminish significantly to the point of it being a non-factor. While it’s possible to build Red decks in such a fashion to get the most out of Kiln Fiend, I’m more interested in the secondary route the Rise cards present.

For the second way to build the deck your option is to slow the deck down slightly by going R/B and abusing Kargan Dragonlord along with Blightning, manlands and possibly Sarkhan the Mad. Ignoring the Planeswalker for the moment, the rest of the deck practically builds itself with a combination of standalone damage sources and a fistful of burn for every other occasion. The advantage of this build is the ability to dodge potential blowouts before they happen and generally have far better topdecks than the All-In builds. And while this build can’t take advantage of being on the play or turn one Goblin Guide as well as the other Red versions, your percentages are still ridiculous on the play against most of the field.

As for Sarkhan the Mad, I realize that I’ve bashed on him since his second and third abilities are so narrow and borderline useless in 90% of games. However in this type of deck you have an average CMC of 1.3-1.7 and with 25 lands you can consistently hit the 3BR necessary to play him. Once he actually hits play, if the opponent doesn’t kill him ASAP the draw power he gives you will almost always let you finish the game off in a few turns. It also provides another weapon against WU Control which the Red deck could really use between the triple threat of Kor Firewalker, Wall of Omens and Baneslayer Angel. Of course the flip-side of this is that you have a mulligan in the early game which might never hit play or do enough in time for non-WU matches.

While I don’t love Sarkhan I can at least appreciate what he brings to the table for these longer drawn out games and recommend at least trying him out. I think he’ll be a decent enough board option against the ever growing contingent of WU Control decks bombarding our lovely Jund filled shores.

Another card that’s gotten a surprising backlash is Kargan Dragonlord, the card I would’ve easily called the best Red card in the set. A sub-section of people don’t even want to play him! This is all the more surprising since many of the arguments used against it are miserable and either assume you’re a complete pillock or that Red decks have looked the same ever since they played Magic (aka: Mid-2008). No really, I’m just boggled by how deadset many of these people are against a two-drop that doesn’t have Haste or is named Plated Geopede. A few solid quotes follow:

“When a 2/2 bear will get good in RDW I’ll quit playing red (or magic).”
“Red is trying to dump its hand, you should always have something to do, especially with mostly 1 and 2 cmc spells “
“I mean you have to spend SIX mana before you even get to attack with it! How is that ever better than Hellspark?”

Other similarly flawed arguments were also infesting any number of threads regarding RDW and the Dragonlord, but I wouldn’t want to subject anyone to more horror. Here’s what people seem to be missing re: Dragonlord: for one thing, you don’t have to play the Dragonlord early. In fact depending on your creature layout, you may want to treat the Dragonlord as a turn three or four drop to take full advantage of your curve and damage efficiency on the play. If you do play Dragonlord on turn two though, people automatically assume that the creature is worthless and won’t even get to attack before being outmoded or dying. Basically everyone thinks that the opponet ‘has it’ every single time on turn two, whether that be Wall of Omens, Lightning Bolt, Rhox War Monk or a host of other solutions to the first form. Now take it a step further and you’ll be told without fail that Dragonlord will die every single time you try and turn it into a 4/4 Flying creature. Every. Single. Time.

Ok, first off, why are you trying to level up your Dragonlord so aggressively unless you don’t really mind it dying? Secondly, in many cases if you turn it into a 4/4 and start bashing you can force the removal spell from the opponent which opens up shenanigans with Haste burn creatures. Finally they always seem to assume that the late-game will never come up in any match, so Dragonlord’s advantages quickly slip away since it’s apparently only good when the game gets out of reach. In reality what it does is open up the possibility of sandbagging a card or two and having legitimate late-game options instead of praying you got the opponent down to 3-6 life and going for topdecked burn spells.

In complete seriousness, does no-one remember the arguments made against Figure of Destiny in the beginning? Because more and more it seems like one giant rehash of the debate with the only exceptions coming from the people complaining about the Sorcery speed limitation of Level Up. It cost five combined mana to turn FOD into a 4/4 creature and three of that had to be in a one shot investment. For everyone crying about mana efficiency where was the railing against such an inefficient card? After all, they could always kill it in response and losing your man after investing RRR in a single turn versus spread out mana is a much bigger blow. Oh right, because sometimes it was worth investing in an actual threat that could stick around and force a response from the opponent while maintaining value in the late-game.

Summons

Another card that seems to have two extremes to it is Devastating Summons, one of the most powerful and skill-testing cards Red decks have had access to since Figure of Destiny. As Patrick Chapin put it, figuring out when to go all-in with DS or merely get a pair of 2/2 or 3/3 creatures to help out the ground forces is a very tight rope to walk. If possible I like to leave at least one land behind so I can cast any topdecked Lightning Bolts or Goblin Guides, as well as set myself up to use two mana spells with another land off the top. Really the biggest thing to remember is that it’s perfectly A-OK to use DS early and plop down a couple of 2/2’s to go along with your Goblin Guide and Plated Geopede to put the opponent into a situation where they need to have it. Day of Judgment is getting worse and worse as time goes on and as people begin cutting back on them it opens up the potential of overwhelming the opponent with a swarm of small threats.

What DS also allows for is unparalleled goldfishing speeds in conjunction with Goblin Bushwhacker. Previous versions of Red simply didn’t have enough creatures or token generators to make Bushwhacker worthwhile in RDW, unlike the many iterations of Boros. With Devastating Summons and the damage potential from sandbagged Plated Geopede and other two-drops, it makes life a lot easier for many people. It also gives you another valid late-game option like Kargan and Sarkhan do, meaning that running a combination of them can give you quite a bit of topdeck power.

What I don’t think will last is the overuse of burn creatures over actual threats in RDW with or without a splash. It’s far too easy to run into a deck like WU Control or Mythic with a multitude of ways to slow down or shut off all your Haste creatures. In addition the only reason Jund has such an awful match against RDW is because it chooses not to sideboard against it in many cases. Whereas Dragon’s Claw and other silly lifegain spells are less effective than removal against Red decks with actual threats, if every card is just a burn spell it becomes far easier to lock into what to kill and protect against. A combination of removal and better early game options such as Nest Invader or even Sporecap Spider are available if deemed necessary. Yeah, laugh it up at the Spider, but what does Red even do against it? It blocks everything but Ball Lightning and fetchland powered Plated Geopede without batting an eye and is easy on the mana. Hell’s Thunder and evolved Dragonlord can’t sneak around it and later on it’s just a nice way to soak up creature damage.

If you really want a Red deck with a solid mid to late-game though, try splashing in Green for Bloodbraid Elf and Raging Ravine. Bloodbraid into Devastating Summons is as enjoyable as one would think and combined with the Dragonlord present a pair of solid things to do with your mana down the road. It also provides some interesting sideboard options such as Vithian Renegades or Prey’s Vengeance for creature heavier builds. For now this is a sampling of the lists I’ve been kicking around and playing in my spare time, since Red is my other favorite deck (the first being 30 Lands).

Sample Red lists:

Blightning Deck Wins

Red + Bloodbraid

 

Fireblast Red

Patrick Chapin’s RDW

That’s it for now, I’ll see you again after relearning all the 3S characters and Juri in Super Street Fighter 4. By then we should have some PTQ and 5k’s to analyze and a more developed metagame will appear featuring Rise of the Eldrazi additions. Until then – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIL6K-oL760

Josh Silvestri
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom

64 thoughts on “Silvestri Says – The Rise of Red”

  1. Devastating summons in a BBE Deck?
    Sounds terrible.
    Bushwhacker to give what haste? Your summons?
    Sounds terrible.
    Bushwhacker in Fireblast red?

    With no card draw facilitation, the probability of assembling exactly 1 Bushwacker and exactly 1 Summons is low (Duplicates are mostly redundant for both)
    Maybe just a little bit too much in love with say, 2 5/5s for 1 mana.

  2. If Pat Chapin thinks DS+Bushwhacker is fine, i’m inclined to agree more with him than with some random forum guy.

    Also, Cody song is badass.

  3. Comparing Dragonlord to Figure of Destiny how you have is pretty wrong. Figure of Destiny could be leveled at instant speed, and existed in a very different format than Dragonlord does.

    Dragonlord, in this format, is useless until turn 4 the majority of the time, when you can give him flying. Until then, he is outclassed by many creatures from many decks.

    Having a red deck try to have a late game is just wrong in a format where cards such as Baneslayer, Broodmate Dragon, Sphinx of Jwar Isle, and Iona exist. Red decks ONLY advantage is it’s ability to close the game out before these cards hit the field. These creatures generally outclass Dragonlord, for differing reasons. The inability to level at instant speed means that the red deck has less mana for its spells, which in turn gives the opponent more time to set up their gameplan and draw creatures like the ones listed above that the red deck has trouble difficulty with.

    I’m not all against Dragonlord, but I don’t believe he belongs in a mono-red deck. He cannot capitalize on red’s normal advantage of speed, and actually works against Red’s want to use all of it’s mana to lower the opponent’s life total quickly and effeciently.

    Dragonlord will be better when Shards and M10 rotate and takes Terminate, Path, Lightning Bolt, and Doom Blade with them. Until then, it won’t really have a home in standard.

  4. If you honestly believe the rotation will take out Lightning Bolt AND Doom Blade, you need to learn how Magic works

  5. @ Rythmik

    I could see them reprinting Doom Blade or something similar, but Lightning Bolt is one of the most format defining cards right now, and forces them to create creatures that are grossly undercosted and overpowered. I doubt they will reprint it.

    Either way, it doesn’t change the points presented about why the Dragonlord isn’t good at this moment.

  6. The only people opposed to dragonlord are those evaluating him in the vaccum of their own view of the standard environment, who can’t in all honesty say they’ve played with him at all. Try it before you hate on it. Put four in the deck, stop sucking at magic, and play smart. He’s good.

  7. I’m surprised by the lack of Flame Slash. Seems like the perfect card for aggro and can solve the problem of defenders for Kiln Fiend.

    Regarding the Kiln Fiend, the best idea may be to add blue for the +1/+0 unblockable rebounding spell, solving the problem of having it deal with blockers. Then it wouldn’t be monored, but cest la vie.

    On a side note, I HATE HATE HATE Dudley’s new voice in SS4T. He sounds like a pansy now instead of the cool mofo throwing roses at people and calling them gutter trash. Plus T. Hawk’s new throw super is cool, whirlwinding them around and sitting on them doing a stereotypical Native American hello.

    I digress though.

  8. Distortion Strike makes the instant speed removal problem on Kiln Fiend even worse, though Distortion Strike is okay cast on any creature – 2 damage, plus get my guy through each turn? It’s like a blue shock. Bit of a blowout if your creature gets removed when you cast it, though. Plus the blue splash hurts the mana something bad. In the Kiln Fiend deck, you want to hit RR for Searing Blaze and RRR for Devastating Summons + Bushwhacker.

  9. You quoted me out of context.

    “Red is trying to dump its hand, you should always have something to do, especially with mostly 1 and 2 cmc spells”

    I was referring to a Devastating Summons version of the deck, which is awful with Kargan Dragonlord. I specifically mentioned that a Dragonlord variant might be better, but it would not be running the summons. The 1 and 2 cmc spells are for Kiln Fiend/Spires combo, which I’m sure you read me talking about. They go very well with summons.

    -Chris Thomas

  10. Also, it’s common practice to assume that they have removal every single time when evaluating a card. With a deck like all in red, which wants to win as quickly as possible, a card like dragonlord is a liability when it can be removed after a 2-turn investment. Obviously it fits much better in a slower deck. Most of what you say about the dragonlord seems to be treating all red decks the same way, which is out of context and silly, given that you list very different lists later in the article.

  11. I laughed a bit when I read:

    "When a 2/2 bear will get good in RDW I'll quit playing red (or magic)."

    Didn’t the first RDW run some godawful 2/2 orc with a setback to boot? Honestly, a 2/2 for two with a powerful lategame ability is great in some red decks. That’s almost the strict definition of FoD, and I look forward to seeing how it performs.

    Turn one Goblin Guide followed by turn two Dragonlord already puts the Jund player with a single bolt at a hard decision. Add a Ball Lightning on turn three and the choice becomes even harder, as the dragonlord can keep bashing for 4 flying, out of bolt/chump range, but taking the ball lightning would put the jund player at ten, not a healthy spot for turn three.

    Seems good.

  12. @Marx,,,ur just a terrible player,,,the only time devastating summons is good is when u follow it up with a bushwacker,,please just stop talking,making yourself look retarded

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  14. Kargan and Summons *seem* to be at odds with each other in the same deck. Have you had any trouble with that or is it just an example of how good being able to make individual payments is?

  15. Well, I was the one saying that a 2/2 bear is not good in RDW, but the text is taken from a longer discussion.
    And the discussion was, why do I thing Kargan Dragonlord is better in a Sligh build than in a RDW build.

    @am: well, you are ignorant (not to say stupid), Sligh was playing Ironclaw Orcs.

    But to discuss differences between Sligh and RDW, and how Kargan could be used best is hard with people that don't know the difference between the two decks.

    Sincerely, I was expecting a little more from a smart guy like Silvestri, like seeing how Dragonlord needs a different RDW (he later did some different builds tho) that the one played at the moment. And even more, not to take phrases out of context.
    But hey, ho am I to argue, just a nobody from a forum 

  16. I’ve tried several versions of this deck in standard and block and the final analysis is, this deck spreads its legs to path to exile and smother and duress and inquisition and omens and calcite snapper and into the roil (block) and hexmage if not dealt with. It’s not worth it to try.

  17. Wow, there are actually people arguing against you on Dragonlord? I wouldn’t even waste article space responding.

  18. @Broodstar: Perhaps I did take you out of context. It isn’t hard to do on the cesspool that is MTG: Sal. so I apologize if I got it wrong (though rereading that discussion it still seems like a broad statement rather than that specific context). You do have to admit your phrasing is a bit ‘out there’ at best. Any time you put that big of a statement out there it almost feels like your pleading for it to be true rather than anything substantial.

    The thing with Dragonlord is that if you treat it like a Burn spell, it’ll always come up lame compared to other options. However then I wouldn’t play Plated Geopede either or any card that doesn’t immediately provide the possibility of damage. While you can certainly build RDW in that manner, I would highly recommend against it considering the current top decks.

    @Chris Thomas: “Also, it's common practice to assume that they have removal every single time when evaluating a card. ”

    What kind of absurdity is that? In that context NO CREATURE is good unless it has shroud or some bonus when it hits play like Ranger of Eos. It’s fine to take the worst-case scenario into account, but to always assume it is just lazy.

    I’m treating Red decks in the same way in the sense that I don’t believe you can play the same super fast Burn crazy versions of RDW anymore. I think Wall of Omens and WU in general becoming a bigger factor is going to force a change in dichotomy regarding Red strategies. It’s one thing to just go balls out against a deck that has few ways to interact with you in the early game like Jund, but to do so against more prepared opponents with better early options is a rough going.

    @Jobe: Basically they provide different options at different times. While they may not work together that well, forcing the opponent to deal with your 4/4 flyer and then dropping Summons in the 2nd main can be effective. It’s hard to explain well since on paper they don’t look like they would mesh at all, but in practice they’ve been fine.

    @Tokwana: If you seriously think RDW can just burn out prepared UW, Mythic or OTV opponents, more power to you. While each of these deck’s late games will trump yours over time, do consider that you reach your ‘late-game’ a lot faster than these decks will. In addition, being forced to play defensively from the word ‘Go’ means you can slow down their route to that late-game.

    I also really don’t get the argument that sorcery speed means you have less mana for your spells. The curve in Red BLOWS in terms of mana efficiency after turn 3. You have a bunch of 1 and 2cc spells and even if you start casting Balls and Hell’s Thunder it isn’t rare when you have an extra mana a turn. If you run the versions taking advantage of Manlands, then you pretty much always have 1-2 spare mana because you draw 4 lands by turn 5 in the majority of your games. FOD was better in that you could wait until end-step yes, but it also hurt more (since remember, your burn all cost more back then) when it got blown up after sinking the cost.

    tl;dr re: Dragonlord, we’ll see soon enough won’t we?

    @Olin: yeah dudely’s new voice is pretty bad, though I do like how he says Gutter Trash in the new one. He theme also kicks ass.

  19. I,ve been playing RDW for a while now, and even reached day 2 at GP Brussels with just a single Bye. The problem I see with Dragonlord and DS is if your Opp deals with it u got so much Tempoloss u can´t win. Against Jund, UW and have tu put him on 4 or less life by turn 5 or have lost the game. Mythic plays out a little different because you wen the control route with Chandra, Rakka Mar and Journey. The Problem i have with Dragonlord and DS is if you play or lvl it on Turn 4 and bash your Opp you get to win because he will be at the important 4 life or so but if he has Blocker/ Removal you have no Board and your Opp has still 8 life.

    So far on Theory at the weekend I will see how it works out.

  20. Really interested in ALL in RED, and 1 thing, Kargan and staggershock is ridiculous!!

  21. Thanks Josh S. for your response.
    True, the phrase is in a different post and can be easily interpreted as you did.

  22. Hah Broodstar. Thanks for clarifying between ignorant and stupid. My ignorant leetle mind wouldn’t have known.

    For one, a lot of folks would include Sligh as a subgenre of RDW. The title is pretty general and inclusive: a Red Deck that Wins. For two, even if we’re going to go by unnecessary qualifications, RDW and sligh are indistinguishable in T2. The curve stops at three, and GG and Geopede are as sligh as it gets, but everyone calls it RDW. Why? Because they aren’t a prick, and want people to know what deck they’re referring to. Thus, if I refer to an old sligh deck as RDW, it’s because I want people to know what I’m talking about when I’m making comparisons.

    But you wouldn’t know anything about coherence. That’s just how enlightened you are.

    Just to put an end to this nonsense:

    “More modern versions of Sligh have been called ‘Red Deck Wins.'”

    http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Aggro_deck#Sligh

  23. Good article and I especially like how you put down the comments of players that think dragonlord sucks. Even the comments are filled with people who don’t see the power of some of these red cards.

    I think you missed some possible routes to go though,
    if you think sarkhan is a playable card (which i don’t think it is) the interaction between haste creatures and sarkhan should be abused more. Hell’s thunder to bash for 4 and give a 5/5 dragon subsequently is very powerful for example.

    Also why no consideration of a boros list? Boros still gets steppe lynx and ranger of eos and could possibly have the devastating summons + bushwacker trick in it as well. If you go with multiple bushwackers going with some extra 1 drops seems the best way as they provide the most power with your bushwackers in case you don’t have the devastating summons.

    Also in general is it just me or does devastating summons seems more of a 3-of card? Most setups arent aggro enough to really go with 4 it seems to me as the double draw seems terrible.

  24. I don’t like your RG build at all: BBE has so many bad targets here:
    Staggershock: doesn’t rebound if you play it through cascade
    Searing Blaze: did you play a land already
    Goblin Bushwhacker: cascading into one of them without the mana to kick it is horrible + even if you kick it, BBE won’t get the bonus

    So if you don’t count the SS, Bloudbraid Elf has only targets for 1+2 mana and some of them are blanks

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  26. the RG version is horrible indeed. You add raging ravine which needs 5 mana to activate in the same deck as devastating summons, which basically assures you never get lots of mana. Also you always need a green source besides the ravine to activate it so with 8 sources that’s far from a given. The RG version just stinks.

  27. I can’t really judge the above lists yet, but they are sure to come in handy for today’s playtest. We are preparing for our National Qualifiers and and a ton of RDW is expected. My gut feeling is people are going to run the Dragonlord and bolting him or that Ball lightning will be the question of the day.

    A quick aside: Even if the above lists are not optimal (or some even viable) a good article’s function is not to spoon – feed you decks. Constructed criticism benefits all. Comments such as “this or that sucks” only serve to prove one’s immaturity.

  28. T1 guide
    t2 hellspark
    t3 ball lightning
    T4 dragonlord
    T5 level up swing, and bolt
    t6 max dragonlord out and unearth hellspark and swing sounds like a pretty aggressive curve to me. GG really.

    I like the idea of the dragonlord, because by the time you play it they have probably used their instant speed removal on your ball lightning or goblin guide. though it may be better pre/post SB.

  29. I’d sure love to see red decks run the dragonlord. it would finally give me something worthwhile to maelstrom pulse. I hate having dead cards in hand game 1…

  30. yeah but summons and whacker are still good in your deck without the other. hes not saying HEY LOOKZ A COMBOZ ONLEEE RED DEK

  31. thought about using goblin outlander in the r/b deck? attacking past wall of omens seems like it will be important soon.

  32. With Stagger Shock now is it possible to build a pure burn curve again? Seems loose with the lack of a Fireblast type finisher but Bolt > Searing > Stagger > Quenchable Fire > Kicked Burst is 3 + 3 + 2 + 5 + 7 = 20.

    Devastating Summons looks impressive. It will be a huge skill tester like Firestorm; a similar card from the olden days of Sligh. It seems most at home with Bushwacker for a big swing on turns 4+ to finish them off.

    Dragonlord looks like he belongs in a ‘Big Red’ style deck think of him like a Kavu Titan where he’s modular. Either a bear for early game pressure or a must kill threat late topdeck.

  33. @ Josh S.

    There’s a reason Baneslayer Angel isn’t a 4-of in every deck that can run her, even every creature deck. She is a large investment and dies to 1-mana spells. This IS a big deal, and is even more of a big deal for dragonlord in red for 2 reasons:

    1) The deck is trying to move faster than baneslayer angel decks and lacks the lategame they have
    2) It is even more of an investment that can be stopped by all instant-speed removal

    What I mean is not ‘don’t play a card if they can possibly remove it.’ What I mean is ‘evaluate a card on its best and worst case scenarios, along with what will usually happen.’

    Dragonlord:

    Best case scenario- Multiple turn investment leading to a hell’s thunder that doesn’t die eot turn 4~6.
    Average case scenario- Probably doesn’t do damage fast enough to keep up with other red spells, belongs in more of a midrange red deck.
    Worst case scenario- Lightning Bolt, Terminate, Staggershock, Path, Siege Gang Commander, etc. make the dragonlord one more graveyard slot and a waste of a 2-turn investment.

    You seem like a fine writer, but you really are missing the point here.

    -If your red deck is trying to burn them out as quickly as possible, Dragonlord is not good because he is a liability of ruining your early game and sending you to the lategame, where you lose.
    -If your red deck is more midrange, and not just trying to do 20 as fast as humanly possible, Devastating Summons is a very mediocre card.

  34. Also, there is a permeating aesthetic of ‘Dragonlord is good’ or ‘Dragonlord is bad.’ You encourage this in your op. This is a stupid argument to make, and to say I’m in the ‘Dragonlord is bad’ camp is just wrong. I’m in the ‘Dragonlord is bad with Devastating Summons, and devastating summons is more interesting to me to fit into the current RDW archetype’ camp. I never said Dragonlord is a bad card. I don’t understand why so many people fail to differentiate these ideas.

    Also, the RG list just looks bad. My friend plays red, barely missed top 16 in SCG Orlando, and tried to run an RG list like that shortly afterward. It really doesn’t work, and will be even worse post-rise. The RB and ‘Fireblast’ lists also contain some really questionable choices, like Hellspark over Hell’s Thunder from the former (Why? The deck is more midrange, and hellspark just folds to wall of omens and war monk) and Earthquake in the latter (Creature-based burn decks with all 2 or less toughness guys do not like to run earthquake).

  35. @ Caleb
    If anything RDW is a sub-genre of Sligh. I also read the wiki article you left a link for. I think the last two sentences of the blurb are very important as to how wrong the blurb is. I would say Sligh is the more control version of the two, running the more control cards and functioning on a curve, especially if you look at early versions which used Orcish Artillery to kill pump knights routinely. Also, it’s second incarnation could recur Hammer and used Cursed Scroll as removal for the Jackal Pup without losing card advantage. Sligh does not intend to kill the opponent strictly as fast as possible whereas RDW’s goal is just that.

  36. Re: Comment #1
    {{“the probability of assembling exactly 1 Bushwacker and exactly 1 Summons is low (Duplicates are mostly redundant for both)”}}
    1 bushwhacker, 1 DS in
    Opening hand (7 cards): 15%
    8 cards (turn 2, or on the draw turn 1): 18%
    9 cards: 22%
    10: 27%
    11: 31%

    Too small? no. Small? yes. Large? no.

    You dont want the combo until turn 3-4-5 anyway, so getting it in a 3rd of your games? that’s nice, i think.

  37. Turn 3 you can Bushwacker for 10!!!! too good!!!… except you lose all your lands and they can block to live 🙁

  38. what’s up with so many people hating on writers lately I have read several articles where people have disliked the decks or cards. A new set just came out and everyone is trying new stuff. I personal like the ideas, whether they end up working well or not they make things more interesting and may lead to some new decks rather then the jund dominated metagame that standard has been.

    Nice article

  39. Hey, I don’t think that Bloodbraid Elf plays well with Staggershock; like no rebound.

    Thanks for the article, always enjoy reading.

  40. @Josh: What do you think of Ad Nauseam in place of Sarkhan in the low-CMC build? No dragon-tokening, but a lot of cards at instant speed–one of whom could be Devastating Summons or even Death’s Shadow (haha) to run with your Bushwhacker? Death’s Shadow looks awful, but it might be nice with Vendetta.

  41. I find it funny that the comments on RDW have turned into a flame war. Joke has probably been made a billion times by now, but seriously! Playing up the stereotype much?

    I find it hard to judge these decks based on the lists alone, it seems like all the naysayers haven’t actually tested dragonlord or summons/bushwacker (just going by what is written). I like to have a two card “I win the game” combo in my decks so to me it seems good.

  42. There’s a guy in my shop really trying to make Ad Nauseum work in Standard. I hope he does, but I’m not gonna spend any time on it, heh.

  43. I love how the best case for this guy is just a 4/4 flyer.

    No best case is it turns into a 8/8 and kills them. This is what “best case” means.

  44. I meant to write ‘with upside in a few turns’ or something along those lines, you can’t edit comments in these things. It’s kind of obvious.

  45. T3, 10 damage to your face? Sign me up. But I think 4 DS is too much. Probably 3. We’ll see.

    (Bushwacker, 3 lands, and Devastating Summons)

  46. Is my math wrong or what?

    Everybody keeps saying 10 damage with Bushwacker + DevSummons…But my math says 14+ Damage…

    3 Lands taped for mana
    DevSummons (Sac 3 lands for 3 3/3s)
    2 Mana kicked Bushwacker 2/1 + +1/0 to lands making them 4/3s w/haste 4+4+4+2 = 14 right? or am I missing something.

    Not to mention whatever was on the board from t1 & t2…that sounds like a winning tactic for a red deck to me…

  47. Yeah, oz. Seriously?

    If this card said put x x/x creatures in play it would literally break the format.

    even 2 x/x creatures is pretty insane. but x would be totally nuts.

  48. and “chris” — just wait until you start losing to devastating summons and dragonlord.

    it will happen soon and I think you will be very surprised.

  49. @tokwana way up the top lol, they print grossly undercosted creatures because they think people like creature decks and it will make them more money. so they try to make creature based strategies more viable. they knew how good BBE was when they printed it. they aren;t stupid they know when they print something broken.

  50. I’ve just bought 8 additional copies of dragonlord since they are so cheap right now and after making top 4 after going 6-0-1 at a 80+ man standard tournament with Patrick C’s list I’m convinced they are the real deal. I admit I doubted the card when I first read it, but its just so good. It does amazing things like flies over kor firewalker, tramples over sphynx, wall of denial, and baneslayer, and just pulls games out of nowhere. I was playing a game vs tapout after sideboard, turn 2 he goes firewalker, I played turn 3 dragonlord leveling up once, his turn 3 he goes firewalker #2 with a huge grin on his face like I have no hope. I tap out to level up dragonlord and swing over the kors for 4 in the air. He frowns. Next turn I levelup again and swing for 8. He takes it. draws his card and scoops. Nice firewalkers!

    In top 8 vs tapout (again) I got stuck on two lands and had 2 Dragonlords out just before getting both my mountains spreading seas-ed, what I found amusing was everyone watching was talking about the lords “look how bad they are, just sitting there as 2/2 bears. I told you the card sucked”.

    I think the deck is really strong, only its missing 4-6 solid burn cards to replace forked bolt and staggershock.

  51. Here’s my reasons for not liking dragonlord in the current RDW.

    #1 He’s removal magnet. This is both a good thing and a bad thing for RDW. I don’t mind my opponent using his removal on a 2/2. At least its not hitting my hell’s thunder or ball lightnings. In fact I think this is probably his strongest point. That’s all I really use him for in my deck. So far I have NEVER had him live to see teir 2.

    #2 Too much mana investment. If he was lvl 3 to get to teir 2 he’d be playable. At least you’d be able to threaten a 4/4 flying on turn 3. To even get him that far I’m risking a time walk if they have an instant removal. I think the risk would be worth the reward.

    #3 Way too slow. If you try to level him early game you are giving up VERY important turns for red. The game doesn’t get better for red as it goes on. This guy does not change that rule. Giving up a turn 2 hellspark to play him or a turn 3 hell’s thunder to play and level (so you can at least threaten 4/4 next turn) is too much. After turn 2 the game is going to get worse and worse for you. Since you didn’t do anything on turn 2-3 besides maybe attack with a goblin guide you’ve given your opponent way too much time. They can now simply clutter the ground and take a hit from your dragonlord. Next turn play more stuff and remove your lord. Now your completely behind on tempo and forced to start using your spells on creatures. At this point you “might” have them at 12-14 life.

    #4 Late game doesn’t matter. Top deck mode is usually lose for us. We don’t want to see late game that’s the entire point of how the deck wins. It kills before they get to turn 4-5 when most decks bombs start dropping. He doesn’t outclass baneslayer at all. Even if you invest everything you have into DL every turn and dropped him on turn 2 you get him to teir 2 on turn 4. Next turn BSA drops and then what? You’re forced to sink more mana into him to get to 8/8 for him to eat a removal.

    DL works completely against red’s tempo. Devastating summons and DL in the same deck is a big mistake. I’ve been testing him for way too long and will take kiln fiend over him in a heart beat. At the very least their biggest asset is being removal magnets that keep them off my ball lightnings and hell’s thunder at least with kiln fiend I can get value out of him instantly.

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