Entries Tagged 'Red Decks' ↓

Nahiri’s Warcrafting in the Mono-Red MAIN DECK

Nahiri's Warcrafting

Nahiri’s Warcrafting from March of the Machine

  • Card Name: Nahiri’s Warcrafting
  • Mana Cost: 1RR
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rules Text: Nahiri’s Warcrafting deals 5 damage to target creature, planeswalker, or battle. Look at the top X cards of your library, where X is the excess damage dealt this way. You may exile one of those cards. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. You may play the exiled card this turn.
  • Flavor Text: “Zendikar must be broken before it can be saved.”
  • Illustrated by: Zara Alfonso

Nahiri’s Warcrafting: The 2×4 Update

Recently we talked about a Red Deck “two-by-four” which includes both Invasion of Regatha and Stoke the Flames in the main. Having “two” cards that deal “four” damage each (eight cards, really) gives such a Red Deck a unique potential game plan, beyond straightforward beatdown.

The 2×4’s creatures have to work less hard. It can reliably kill from greater distance. Moreover, it can exploit an online metagame that is short on Cut Downs and shorter on Graveyard Trespassers. Awesome, right?

What many players pointed out is that Rending Flame — as good as it is at killing Sheoldred, the Apocalypse — makes very little sense in such a deck’s starting sixty. If we’re going for big burn finishes, how much sense does it make to play a “burn” card that can only hit creatures?

Enter Nahiri’s Warcrafting:

This version makes two relatively subtle changes to the starting 2×4:

  1. First, it swaps out Rending Flame for Nahiri’s Warcrafting. Neither card can burn an opponent’s face, but the new March of the Machine sorcery can at least interact with our own copies of Invasion of Regatha. In the late game, the Warcrafting can also prove a source of card advantage.
  2. I cut stupid Squee, Dubious Monarch for Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Fable is widely considered the strongest card in Standard. It’s strong in a Red Deck, too… But plays a different role here. We value Fable for its offensive output in a Red Deck! Take two, opponent! Heck of an end game, too.

Red Deck Game Play

Today we’re doing some best-of-three play on the Ladder.

I post a lot of best-of-one Events (as you probably know if you’re reading this). And I very much enjoy best-of-one Events. They’re breezy; I don’t need to devote a lot of wildcards to sideboard slots. They make for great a “narrative” when you’re making a video.

… But for Ladder-grinding I much prefer best-of-three. There are two reasons for this.

First, I’m an A+ sideboard player. This is a skill I have far in excess of the average Mythic Arena player, so not exploiting it is just leaving potential value on the table.

Second, it just makes mathematical sense! If you go 2-1 in best-of-one, you’ll go up by one pip. If you go 2-1 in best-of-three you’ll go up two (because that’s “a match”). Math!

Here goes:

The updated 2×4 is my favorite deck to play on the Ladder right now. I hope you enjoy the matches as we barbecue some poor, unsuspecting, Sheoldred Mythic opponents.


Invasion of Regatha Does 4 Damage (duh)

Invasion of Regatha

Invasion of Regatha from March of the Machine

  • Card Name: Invasion of Regatha
  • Mana Cost: 2R
  • Card Type: Battle – Siege
  • Rules Text: (As a Siege enters, choose an opponent to protect it. You and others can attack it. When it’s defeated, exile it, then cast it transformed.) When Invasion of Regatha enters the battlefield, it deals 4 damage to another target battle or opponent and 1 damage to up to one target creature.
  • Defense: 5
  • Illustrated by: Daarken

Why is it Important That Invasion of Regatha Does 4?

Well… To be honest, it actually does five damage; not four.

Back in the day you might remember a card called Char that did four damage (to any target, but often the opponent’s face; as Invasion of Regatha generally will)… But Char also did two damage to you. Char ruled all kinds of Standard in its era.

To wit:


Char from Ravnica: City of Guilds

That Invasion of Regatha does five total (one to a creature) is super cool… Not only is it a weird upgrade to a card that would probably see play in Standard as-is, the new Battle’s specific extra point can be tactically useful. For example in today’s game play video you can see I play an Invasion and also take out the opponent’s Thalia, Gurdian of Thraben with one spell.

One toughness? Card advantage!

Is a three-mana-card-that-contextually-costs-four a great Thalia killer? Not strategically, no. But it’s part of the range and when you do have four mana. More importantly, there are few things more satisfying.

But if you think about Invasion of Regatha as a card that does four damage to the opponent, you can start to build a new deck structure.

Brain the Opponent in the Noggin with the 2×4

It would be one thing if there were only one card in the format that did four damage to the opponent’s face. But what about if you have two?

Pairing Invasion of Regatha with old favorite Stoke the Flames gives a Red Deck the chance to approach the format with a more burn-centric game plan. In the past we have mostly explored Red Decks that look for opportunities to land cards like Blazing Crescendo or Ancestral Anger for big damage. The opponent tapped out? Great! Bash ’em for a ton!

But what if the opponent just doesn’t tap out? What if they have a fist full of instant speed point removal after sideboarding? The decks we’ve looked at that are more based on attacking might never get off the ground.

While those kinds of Red Decks can be both effective and fun, they do give the opponent an undesirable capacity for counterplay.

When you can just draw any five deal-fours and kill the opponent to death non-interactively, the rest of your deck simply doesn’t have to work as hard. To be certain you can — and should — still play the aggressive cards that make Red Decks playable in Standard… Your Monastery Swiftspear and Feldon, Ronom Excavator just aren’t as responsible for as much damage. Getting in for two or even four each will slide the opponent into Stage Three’s Inevitability before they know it.

Another point of strategic value: You can literally draw five big burn cards and win. Your opponents can think themselves all clever with Knockout Punch and Parasitic Grasp in hand… And they can just die with those cards in hand. What if you just never give them good targets but instead go Invasion, Stoke, yadda, and yadda? Play With Fire and Lightning Strike will help out, as might an opposing Shivan Reef or Llanowar Wastes.

Again, winning with no creatures at all will not be particularly common; but it’s still part of the range. Thus, part of the incentives that a “deal four”-focused Red Deck brings to the table over, say, a Reckless Impulse beatdown.

Here is a deck played to 5-0 in a recent MTGO event by a player called STORMQROW.

STORMQROW did a number of unusual things (relative to established Red Decks) but I think they mostly make sense here. No Phoenix Chicks! Well Phoenix Chick was probably the card I sided out the most with most of my tournament builds, so that makes sense… Especially since the STORMQROW swing has no big +3/+1 cantrip incentive to connecting opportunistically with a hasty flyer.

No Bloodthirsty Adversary though? That’s a Kill Your Darlings moment. Bloodthirsty Adversary is so powerful! But I can’t say I missed it much in my grinding with this deck so far.

This (and lots of other) 5-0 Standard decks, over at MTGO.com.

Anyway, I hope you like today’s game play. STORMQROW’s gave me killer win rate on the ladder so far; highly recommended.


Wrenn’s Resolve in Mono-Red Aggro

Wrenn's Resolve

Wrenn’s Resolve from March of the Machine is a completely new Magic: The Gathering card

  • Card Name: Wrenn’s Resolve
  • Mana Cost: 1R
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rules Text: Exile the top two cards of your library. Until the next turn, you may play those cards.
  • Flavor Text: Even as she burned, Wrenn bent Realmbreaker to her will.
  • Illustrated by: Viko Menzes

Wrenn’s Resolve is a Completely New Magic: The Gathering Card

Okay, okay… No it’s not.

Wrenn’s Resolve is a functional reprint of Reckless Impulse… A card that we wrote about recently in Mono-Red Aggro! But that was before March of the Machine was legal to play on Magic: The Gathering – Arena.

Is the Reckless Impulse (now Wrenn’s Resolve) shell still viable with the new set?

I thought that it might be even better than before. A lot of the new decks out there are based on things like Battles; which can be clunky in implementation. They are sometimes expensive; and in extreme cases force players into either really weird mana or really weird deck configurations. For example, a deck that is almost all Battles. At some point don’t you need creatures or spells to flip the Battles?

The cantrip-based Mono-Red that now includes [totally new Magic: The Gathering card Wrenn’s Resolve] was always really good at punishing players who misstepped. Between the format being new (so the decks not being 100% tuned yet) and some of the configurations or play patterns being a little off still… I thought the time was perfect.

Here’s the updated deck list:

Besides the main deck changeover from Reckless Impulse to Wrenn’s Resolve, the other main updates are in the sideboard. Briefly:

  • Lithomantic Barrage – This card is great! It does five damage for only one mana; and if Mono-Blue once again becomes a big player in Standard, it will probably become invaluable as a four-of. I only played it as a two-of because I was just updating my Obliterating Bolts from last season. Most of the cards you want to Obliterating Bolt — Serra Paragon, Raffine, Adeline, and so on — are Lithomantic Barrage-eligible.
  • Volcanic Spite – With only 20 lands, the deck does sometimes need a little oomph to get up and go. It does this in the main deck with Ancestral Anger (which draws a card), Blazing Crescendo (which exiles a card you can play, often a land), and of course Wrenn’s Resolve. But some matchups force you to side out your creature buff cantrips. Volcanic Spite steps in to keep the deck moving in those; plus is an instant speed removal card for Squee or Thundering Raiju.

How Did We Do?

One way to find out!

Check out the latest Standard play video from YouTube:


How BDM Kept Me from a Reckless Impulse

Reckless Impulse

Reckless Impulse from Innistrad: Crimson Vow

  • Card Name: Reckless Impulse
  • Mana Cost: 1R
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rules Text: Exile the top two cards of your library. Until the next turn, you may play those cards.
  • Flavor Text: A stitcher looks at their creation and sees the result of years of study and hours of toil. A devil sees a new plaything.
  • Illustrated by: Mathias Kollros

Last month I really liked this Mono-Red beatdown deck with Reckless Impulse. While I played a variety of decks to earn my Mythic rating, with only one pip to go, I used it to win the crowning pip in Best-of-One.

Designed — or at least promoted (to me) — by the popular YouTube streamer CovertGoBlue, this deck is a joy to play. Instead of clunky large creatures like Thundering Raiju, it is exceptionally stingy with its casting costs… Almost all “1” and “2” mana.

You’re never going to get to only one mana in Standard (versus a format with wider pools of cards, like Modern)… But CGB certainly made the effort.

The Secret of Reckless Impulse

This deck is hyper-aggressive… Even more aggressive and “low to the ground” than other aggressive Red Decks in Standard right now. Every single creature has haste! You might not want to play Bloodthirsty Adversary on turn two, but it’s nice to know that you can, and that she will fill your second turn with two or three damage.

But that’s not the secret! You see, most Red Decks in Standard have at least “mostly” creatures with haste. Some even have bigger and more imposing ones at the four, like Thundering Raiju. What makes CGB’s deck different is how it is laced together.

There are three cards that do this in concert:

  1. Ancestral Anger
  2. Blazing Crescendo
  3. (and of course) Reckless Impulse

All three of these cards either draw a card or have some proxy for drawing a card attached to them. Ancestral Anger is a “cantrip” … That is, you draw a card directly when you cast it. Blazing Crescendo sets a card aside in exile, where you can play it this turn or next. Both of these spells reward you for having creatures with haste. If you have a Phoenix Chick about to attack and the opponent only planned to take one damage, they might be eating two or even four, while you put yourself in a position to draw an extra card.

Since 1/3 of your cards are lands, the presence of Ancestral Anger, Blazing Crescendo, and Reckless Impulse help to lace a deck together with only 20 lands. CGB was thus able to shave two lands out of the usual 22-land Red Deck shell, while simultaneously increasing its access to lands and the deck’s general distribution of lands and spells over the course of a game.

Reckless Impulse itself is less aggressive than its two sister spells in this deck, but does you the solid of “drawing” two cards instead of only one. One note on how to correctly play Reckless Impulse: In most cases you’ll want to play the card before deploying your basic Mountain for the turn. In some cases you’ll flip over two Mountains, meaning that if you play a land first, you’ll lose access to one of them. This is not always possible, and never possible in the case that you’re stuck casting it turn two; but it remains a good rule of thumb.

This deck is awesome. I love it. I mentioned it on CoolStuffInc before leaving for San Diego (pro tip: use promo code “Flores” for 5% off at CSI). Now I’ve even made a video about playing it!

Why Didn’t I Play This Deck at the Regional Championship?

To be fair: This is kind of a gimmick deck.

There was a time when any Red Deck would have been considered kind of a gimmick deck… But this was one in a particular way. If you’re playing Best-of-One on Magic: The Gathering Arena, the opponent’s deck is by definition set. They only have what defense they have and they don’t know what’s coming at them before the first land is played.

The opposite was simply not to be true at the Regional Championships. An “open deck list” tournament, the opponent would have access to my full 75 at the start of each match. Participants literally walked around with printouts of their decks and handed them over for the opponent to study every round!

There are two strikes against this deck in a format like that:

  1. In Best-of-Three, even if you win Game One, the opponent will have the opportunity to bring in all their instant speed removal for the sideboard games. In the current Standard, that removal includes multiple discounted cards that both kill small creatures and gain life.
  2. In Best-of-One, where I fell in love with Reckless Impulse & company, the opponent would not necessarily know what was about to happen. If an opponent has removal in Best-of-One, they might still use all their mana main phase to tap out for a future attacker or otherwise make a proactive play. With open deck lists, opponents would know to play more conservatively. They might hold up mana for removal. They might just bluff removal! Either way, Ancestral Anger might not land (or even be cast). You need cards like Ancestral Anger and Blazing Crescendo to land just to draw your land in this deck. Poison 🙁

My friend and longtime collaborator Brian David-Marshall was the one who convinced me not to play a deck I loved for the above reasons. He was probably right.

Brian and I recently got the band back together. You might like MichaelJ, but I bet you love BDM. Give our latest episode of Top 8 Magic a listen, and tell him to make more on Twitter.