Every week, when the format is in a healthy and interesting place, I produce Standard videos to showcase exciting decks that don’t get a lot of attention. This can often be a little difficult as these decks don’t always have the best win rates, and when you’re losing with a deck, it’s not so fun to show off. I’ve mentioned this before in my articles or in comments, about how I’m always reluctant to show off decks that have losing records because I’m trying to provide you with decks to try out at your own events. While there’s a lot you can learn from a deck with a losing record, it still tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth. This is only amplified when I’ve spent several hours recording videos with said deck.
Every so often I pilot a deck, though, and the results are simply unspectacular. Not only do I have a losing record, but my losses aren’t even that interesting. That was the case with R/W Midrange.
So this time, I’d like to talk a little about these decks, why they didn’t work, and what changes I would make to improve them. So, similar to Modern Monday or Standard Spotlight, only without the videos.
This was a deck piloted by Raymond Tautic to a Top 8 finish at the SCG Classic in Richmond a couple weeks ago. A similar version also managed to finish 6-2 in the Standard MOCS on Magic Online in the hands of user JoseCabezas.
I was excited to get into the deck. I even recorded several videos with it, but it just didn’t seem to work the way I wanted it to—coming hot off the heels of a R/W deck for Modern Monday I wasn’t terribly fond of, I’m sure this is going to seem like I have some sort of grudge against the Boros guild. Not so, I assure you! But coincidentally, both decks seemed to suffer from similar problems.
The thing I criticized Monday’s deck for was having too few threats. Unfortunately, the same seems to be true here. At first glance, your ways to win the game appear to be limited to 4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, 11 creatures, and 4 Needle Spires. “But that’s 19 cards,” you might be saying. And that’s true. But realistically there aren’t many games that Sand Strangler and Thraben Inspector will win, especially in a format full of 4/4 tokens. So that drops you down to 11 win conditions. Similarly, for 5 “mana” per turn, Needle Spires dies to basically every instant-speed removal spell in the format, from Fatal Push to Magma Spray.
In my experience the only cards my opponent ever cared about were the 4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, the 2 Reality Smasher, and the single Linvala, the Preserver. These are the cards I had to lean on to win the game, and having such a low concentration of them was problematic. There were so many times where I was giving my opponent turn after turn to crawl back into a game I would surely win if I only had a way to finish them off. Unfortunately, however, my hand was clogged with…
Too much removal! There are 24 cards in the deck that kill creatures, which is amazing against the creature-based decks. When you’re facing decks with only a few creatures, however, you’ll give anything for one less Desert’s Hold.
The silver lining here is that cards like Cast Out and Sweltering Suns can be cycled. Cast Out can also be used on noncreature threats. Sand Strangler can attack and block. Desert’s Hold, Magma Spray, and Abrade still make up a significant portion of your deck, and that’s more removal than most black-based decks are running. Your 8 enchantments match up well against The Scarab God, but anything less and you find yourself in pretty rough shape. After all, very little of your removal can kill creatures with 4 or more toughness.
If I had my way, I would add more removal that does other things as well, like Chandra, Flamecaller or Glorybringer. Heck, Glorybringer feels like an auto-include. This deck was definitely hedging against aggressive decks such as Ramunap Red, Temur Energy, or Zombies, which is a great strategy. Against other, less aggressive decks, however, you have a lot of dead cards.
I’m still a huge fan of the Angel package. Something like 2 Thalia’s Lancers, 2 Gisela, the Broken Blade, and 1 Bruna, the Fading Light. You already have a Linvana. If you’re so hellbent on having this much removal, I could see adding a couple Angel of Sanctions as well, maybe instead of Glorybringer. Or Archangel Avacyn. That could look like:
I could see cutting all of the Sweltering Suns and keeping the spot removal in, but I’m not sure which direction to go with that. I think Suns is a nice catch-all that kills very few of your creatures.
All of these are options that give your deck a little more inevitability than the current version. Will this put the deck over the top? My immediate answer was “probably not,” but Standard is in a weird place where a ton of decks are viable. Why not an R/W Angels list? Be sure and let me know what you guys think in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll catch you later!