Tag: modern-decklist

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Samuel Carrier Samuel Carrier - July 17, 2015

Magic Origins modern influences

Goblin Piledrider - Magic Origins modern influences

Magic Origins modern influences

 

Hello Readers,

since the long awaited release of modern masters 2015, we had the privilege to see a spoiler of new cards coming ahead for the new set Origins. After that we’ve enjoyed opening packs and figuring out the strategies for limited in the last prerelease weekend, here are the cards that have most impressed me for  modern and standard;

 

Since the arrival of Dragons of Tarkir, a green spell changed the metagame by bringing back a similar combo used with a banned card. Figured it out? You don’t know yet???

……

Well, It’s obvious, I’m talking about Collected Company Side and the banned card Birthing pod.

 

Podless collected

by Samuel Carrier

 

 

The Podless collected deck, as they love to call it, is looking to do the Melira Sylvok outcast , Viscera seer and Kitchen Finks or (Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, Viscera seer, Kitchen finks  can do it as well)  infinite life combo and then do the infinite damage Murderous Redcap to kill you if you didn’t scoop the game already…

BUT!  as the darkness arised, a bright light glare came from the skies…

 

Hallowed Moonlight

 

This card will block many staples combo cards used at the moment in the metagame. Forget Collected company , Goryo’s Vengeance, Chord of calling, Living end, Splinter twin, Summoner’s Pact, Through the breach, Lingering Souls and Unburial Rites. They can now be managed by Hallowed Moonlight.

 

Hallowed Moonlight can hose all those instantly and can be used again with Snapcaster Mage in u/w control or u/w/x control decks. I can easily see that as a one-of main deck card for those two archetypes. If not, a possible 2-of in sideboards at least.

 

The next card from the Origins set is an old favorite for our favorite freaky goblins.

I shall name it,

 

Goblin Piledriver

 

Its been quite a long time this card was due for a reprint, but here it is. Recently, we saw the card Blood Moon skyrocket to 60$ as the average on the market and this goblin won’t help lower it as Goblin could very well be a thing in Modern. I could definitely see a list including Goblin Chieftains, Frenzied Goblin, Foundry Street Denizen, Dragon Fodder, Goblin King, Goblin Guide, Goblin Warchief with this mischievous Goblin Piledriver.

 

You can even have 4 Blood Moon with 1 Magus of the Moon as a way to be unblockable and Goblin Grenades to finish off your opponent. With only 22 lands and you can kill quick while locking his mana since so many shock lands and fetchlands are played in almost all Modern decks. If this deck ever becomes popular and wins, it could very well change the metagame to 1 or 2 color decks to be less punished by Blood moon strategies. It reminds me of my old days playing goblins in legacy events and killing opponents in 4 turns easily.

Watch your face so it doesn’t get piledrived!

 

After the hordes comes the army of light flying towards us….

 

Vryn Wingmare

 

I totally think that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a good card. Although, it needed some kind of transportation.

 

Here she can ride on this pegasus and dominate once again!  This guy can be entered on turn 2 with help from Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch and wreck your opponent’s possibilities to cast removal spells.

 

GW Hatebears MTG Modern

by Samuel Carrier

 

 

I’d be considering playing Aether Vial in the list but It’s not necessarily needed as we got 6 one-drops to accelerate to our 3 drops. I would suggest to remove 1 x Qasali Pridemage , 1 x Loxodon Smiter , 1 x Voice of Resurgence , 1 x Scavenging Ooze if you want to play a set of Aether Vial. This deck consist of screwing up your opponents mana with Ghost Quarter and Leonin Arbiter so they can’t search for a land, as Thalia and Vryn are making sure they can’t manage your creatures. It’s a prison aggro deck.

 


 

 

To wrap this up,  I’d definitely think there is possibility of combo using Day’s Undoing for card draw. Harbinger of the tides as a new merfolk. since you don’t have to cast it really with vial at 2 or cast it for 4 to bounce your opponent’s attacker or at end of turn to force your opponent to recast it.

 

I will be attending a PPTQ modern this weekend and wish to hear your comments about the future of the Modern metagame. What do you expect in this new meta? Have a great weekend everyone and I will come back soon with an article on the effects of Origins on the standard format. Until then, enjoy  some modern testings!

 

By Samuel Carrier

@infiwill on Twitter

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Roy Anderson Roy Anderson - March 4, 2015

5 Budget Modern decks

Glistener Elf (1)

Hello again fellow looters! It’s me Roy, back for another article this week. Now before we delve into our topic, I have to explain something. If you have been reading my past articles, you know that I promised that my next article would be a data-centric analysis of the new format One Fate Reforged Pack and Two Khans of Tarkir Packs. (Also that I would have an article once a week.) Well, as it turns out, watching 300+ games of magic is a ferociously difficult task for a full time college student who also works. I know that I just need to bolster myself with some coffee and sit down one day and maybe then I will have the prowess to just knock it out. Until then, I have some other ideas for articles including the topic for this week which is all about Modern on a budget. So before you raid my house, just know that I will try to dash out the article ASAP. Until then, let’s talk Modern! Also, Outlast! (See what I did there?)

Moving on, Modern is a format that has been around for a while, however, it has grown a lot in recent months. My local game store’s (LGS) Modern event now has just as many players as the standard events, On top of this, Star City and even Wizards have started embracing modern events more openly. The most recent Pro Tour was even modern which makes the format fresh in the magic community’s mind. Well, everyone else is doing this new thing the kids call “Modern” now, why shouldn’t I? I am hip right? Well, the problem lies in the cost of most modern decks. Some decks in this format can run as much as 500 to 800 dollars for a finished deck. That can be a lot especially because most of us either: love standard and spend the money on that format, spend all our money on drafting, or just don’t have any money. Have no fear! I can solve every problem for you except for the last one. I can even solve that one too if you change the word none to some! How will I do that? Well, with a budget deck of course!

Now, I scoured the internet and found five decks that I feel are good budget modern decks that still remain relatively competitive.  I even included a stock list with each archetype I post and this should be easily traded for. (Some of the cards may even be on this website! )

Disclaimer! The deck will not be perfect. There will always be some card that can make the deck inches better. That is not the goal with budget deck building. The goal here is to make the best deck with a limited budget that can go toe to toe with some of the real decks in the format without feeling like you are using a wet noodle in a sword fight. Also this is going to have a focus on having a bit of fun. These are decks you may not take to a Pro-Tour Qualifier (PTQ), however, they may do alright in your local store.

Without further ado, here is the top five decent/fun Budget Modern Decks!

 

  1. Burn

There is always some red deck that keeps all the other decks on the format on their toes. These decks tend to be really good because they can pick up wins just by having their opponent stumble for even one turn. This is due to this deck being very fast, however, there comes a point in every game where, if you haven’t won yet, you most likely won’t. Now, even the most competitive version of this deck is less than 100 which is much better than most Modern decks, but we can do better than that!

 

Cheap Red Burn

 

 

Now, as you can see this deck is designed to throw damage at your opponent and hope you can finish him off with Shrine or a top deck burn spell. You can even sideboard some Skullcrack’s in order to prevent decks with sources of life gain. Either way, this deck should be fun enough to play and win you enough games to warrant spending the 25 dollars or less the deck will cost.

 

  1. Tron

For those who are new to Modern, you may not be familiar with this deck. The premise is simple, get the set of Urza lands (Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Tower, and Urza’s Power Plant) into play and play big stuff and expensive spells. Now, there are many ways you can play this deck. You can play: Artifact, Mono-Blue, Mono-Red, Red/Green, and I am sure many other ways. However, for the sake of cost, I feel like Mono Blue Tron may have a cheap list for us. Now, when I say cheap, I mean for Modern’s budget. This deck unfortunately has some cards that are harder to forego that may cost a pretty penny. We will see what we can do.

 

Budget Mono-Blue Tron

 

 

This deck is all about quickly assembling the pieces of your land combo and start dropping big spells. Spine of Ish Sah, Wurmcoil Engine, and all your other spells become very easy to cast. Treasure Mage can help you find the creatures. Now this version took some hits to be extremely budget, however, if you like this deck you can slowly add in some of the more expensive powerful artifacts and combos. The most popular is Mindslaver and Academy Ruins. The reason that it is not in this deck is due to cost, however, I still left in a fun Spine of Ish Sah and Phyrexia’s Core interaction that is budget enough for us.

 

  1. Soul Sisters

Now this is a deck most people will tell you to play when you ask for budget modern decks, or at least they did when I asked. This deck is a mono white life gain deck that has some fun combos hidden in it. It gets its name from Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant which both have you gain a life when a creature enters the battlefield. Couple that interaction with four Chalice of Life and four Ajani’s Pridemate, you have yourselves an interesting budget deck. Here is a fairly budget list I came across.

 

Budget Soul Sisters

 

 

This deck is actually the easiest to play out of the decks mentioned so far. It requires very little to understand how to get this deck going. This deck is very susceptible to removal, although, I bet you could make certain changes to improve its odds in the long run. It would also be a smart idea to eventually include some form of white removal in your deck to stop from being walked all over. That is down the road after you decide if you enjoy modern enough.

 

  1. Robots (Affinity)

 

Think of Affinity as a sort of artifact with a blue base aggro. This deck has been very successful and always remains a strong deck in the format. It even undergoes changes that allow for more variance. I have personally seen white affinity variants do very well in tournaments from time to time. For the sake of this exercise, we will be using a very stock mono-blue list I found with a lot of the expensive cards chopped out.

 

Sad Robots

 

 

The main idea with this deck is to flood the board with as many artifacts as you can. Master of Etherium can get the job done nicely. Cranial Plating is another nice and clean way to win along with a Ghostfire Blade as a new budget alternative (Credit to Nighthawk 101). Signal pest can even turn an army of Ornithopters into a few 1/2 fliers. Another fun interaction is Ensoul Artifact with a Darksteel Citadel. Who doesn’t like indestructible  beaters? Maybe your opponent…. Either way, this deck will be a very good budget deck to take to an FNM or local Modern tournament and get a fairly good placement and hopefully cash out.

 

Last but not least…..

 

  1. Mono-Green Infect

 

Why did this deck make number one? Well, that may have something to do with it being the deck that I actually build to get into Modern, but that just means I know it all the better! Now, mixing this deck with blue is seen as a more effective deck overall. It gives you access to an unblockable infect creature as well as some other ways to give your current creatures evasion. This comes at the cost of duel lands which as we know can be expensive.  I have taken the list I am going to give you to multiple modern events. Now, Infect has gotten more popular in recent years. Tom Ross and many other professionals have adopted the deck and this means it is under more player’s radar.

So here is the budget list I use whenever I want to play in a modern tournament.

 

Budget Mono-Green Infect

 

 

This deck has gone through many evolutions. When I first started playing this deck, Modern was just a fever dream of a few of my friends and I didn’t know what a real infect deck looked like. I had this idea of a deck with a possible upside of killing on turn two which sounded awesome. Slowly the tech got more improvements and this is the current form. Now, even just being mono green it could obviously be better. A play set of Blinkmoth Nexus would improve this deck. Might of Old Krosa may even be better than Giant Growth but, as I said earlier, this deck is the spirit of budget modern decks.

 

So I hope you all enjoyed my list! If you guys decide to play any of these decks, feel free to leave a comment or let me know via social media how it went. If you think there is a better budget option or I missed something, let me know! I treat my articles as a way to share information with you. Hopefully you chose to share some information back. Before, I let you go for this week, I have one more thing for you. An honorable mention!

 

Yes that’s right, it’s time to randomly plug a Modern deck I enjoy playing  but is really bad! Wait, did I mention it was a budget ?!?!?!? WELL WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?!?!

 

Zombie Infestation

 

 

So many people may be looking at this and wondering how to play this weird deck? Well, I will tell you.  First, you mulligan until you get a hand with a Treasure Hunt. Does it matter which other cards you have in your hand? Not with this deck! Next, any hand disruption kills you right away. Then, once you have a land and a Reliquary Tower or two lands and turn three then we can begin. Treasure Hunt until you hit a Zombie Infestation. Play it, pitch your hand of now 30 to 40 cards, and then enjoy.

 

By Roy Anderson

@Sockymans on Twitter

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Daniel Clayton Daniel Clayton - January 15, 2015

To Ban or Not to Ban that is the Question

Jeskai Ascendancy - Modern banned list

To Ban or Not to Ban that is the Question

By Daniel Clayton – the Will of the Floral Spuzzem

Shuffling Up

If you look at most of the formats that are currently (except draft, but draft’s special), one thing you might notice is a sizable list of cards that are restricted associated with them. Today, I want to start off with talking about a couple of the cards that are currently banned. Then, we’ll take a look at why Wizards bans cards. Finally, we’ll wrap up withby talking about current events relating to bannings (namely talk of soon to be banned cards and cards that players have been calling for a banning of for a long time).

 

Stricken from History

It’s interesting to go through and look at the various card restriction lists for the various formats, because of how much they change from format to format. There are cards that are eternally restricted in every format such as Black Lotus, some that are restricted in lower formats but open to play in higher formats such as Ancestral Vision, and some that are restricted in higher formats but open in lower formats such as Trinisphere. Let’s just look at some of these cards and try to understand why they were restricted when they were. First, let’s talk about the first restricted cards in Magic’s history, the cards that have stayed in this spot since 1994 are Shahrazad and the Ante cards. The reason for the banning of these cards was that Shahrazad often times made tournaments run way too long causing a series of games within a game. Ante cards made you ante or gamble cards against your opponent meaning that the game could no longer be played by kids and also allowed you to skirt the 60 card minimum to your deck if you ran 1 in your deck without playing ante. The other two cards on the original ban list were Time Vault, a card that has had its rules text changed more times than any other card in the game, and Divine Intervention simply due to it not seeming like a fun card for players (Tying games doesn’t really feel good). I’m sure there are some readers out there pointing out at this point that Standard doesn’t have a banned list, but that’s why I said that all formats, except for draft and sealed, have card restrictions, and this does hold true for Standard. Its card restriction list is all of the cards not currently in Standard. Let’s talk about some of the more modern card restriction lists. In modern, a couple of the cards that you have are Brainstorm and Ponder, Second Sunrise, Jace, the Mind sculptorSkullclamp, and Mental Misstep. The first cards that we’re going to talk about are Brainstorm and Ponder. The banning for these two cards came after a modern season with a showing of Storm that was just too strong and fast for other decks to compete with. The field became almost untenable for other decks in the format and it wasn’t too long before Brainstorm and Ponder were on their way to being banned. The next card on my list is Second Sunrise, and as a player who’s played against the Eggs decklist in tournament, it’s a good fit for the modern banned list. The Eggs deck was just way too oppressive when it had its time in the sun. It was a deck that would take up an entire round worth of time to go off and was very hard for other players to respond to. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is a strong card that finds itself a home in many Legacy, while Skullclamp is a card that was deemed too strong for even Legacy and found itself a banning in the format. These cards are banned for power level reasons; they just make certain decks far too powerful for other decks to compete with them. Understandably, the power level of the two is different, but both have the ability to completely warp the format. Jace, the Mind Sculptor has the ability to maintain a game state extremely efficiently, being able to both control your opponent’s draw, having the ability to remove creatures from the field, a draw engine and even having the ability to act as your win condition if you can maintain the board state well enough. It’s pretty obvious that this card is a great addition to control, but Skullclamp acts as the foil to this card making aggro decks completely warped. The idea behind why it breaks decks is that all deck archetypes are supposed to have some fundamental weakness built into the deck, and for agro decks, the weakness is that they run out of cards pretty frequently. Skullclamp is just too much of a fixer for this problem and breaks Modern aggro too much. It’s in the mindset of Wizards of the Coast that every deck archetype should have a weakness, and for aggro that weakness comes in the form of a very limited draw base, with decks running out of cards a lot to keep the deck balanced against other deck builds. This is exactly the problem Skullclamp fixes for those decks. Finally, there’s Mental Misstep, a card that is almost a hex against faster decks in the format and can be run in any deck for its phyrexian mana allowing decks to do things that they shouldn’t be able to do.

 

Breaking Banned Cards

Now that we’ve talked about some of the more restricted cards in the game and why they’re restricted, we begin to see a few trends emerging from the whys of the various cards that are restricted. Magic is a game and the first reason that cards tend to get banned is for making the game un-fun for players, an excellent example of this is the card Second Sunrise. We mentioned the Eggs deck before, but just mentioning it doesn’t do just to the shear amount of pain that opponents would feel while playing against the deck. It was a combo that would take almost a whole round of time to go off and had your opponent just sitting there for a long period of time. The second reason that cards get banned is for the health of a particular format. Wizards of the Coast has long maintained that to keep the game fun there should be a variety of decks in a format, so that players may while still being competitive be able to use various decks. This can be seen through the cards Brainstorm and Ponder, cards that made one deck archetype far too powerful in the format, or through Jace, the Mind Sculptor, a card that made playlists that weren’t Blue control a hard deck to succeed with. The third major reason that cards get banned is if a card is so good that it can be run in any deck and does something that the deck shouldn’t be able to do. This principle can be seen though Mental Misstep, a card that found a home in almost the entire format before its banning. There is one more suspected principle, but we’ll examine its validity in the next section.

 

Scrying the Modern banned list

The last principle and one that I want to talk about before we talk about our first suspected future banned card. The principle of price is one that people always hint at when people guess at what are going to be banned next. The justification for this believed principle is that high price is something that bars individuals from entry into a format and this may in some way be hurting the health of a format. I personally disagree with this idea, because there will always be replacements for the “most expensive” cards, and banning these cards could cause general mistrust from the secondary market in Wizards of the Coast’s ability to maintain the prices of their products. Additionally, Wizards of the Coast (or more importantly in this case, Hasbro) is still a business and the ability to pump up their sales exponentially is to include 1 or 2 of these expensive cards in their set. Nonetheless, the first cards that everyone always tries to shove onto this list are the fetch lands. I doubt that this will happen as Wizards just released a set chock full of these cards, and players have the ability to pick up any number of them at less than $20 a card, and I feel that this is the best way to deal with cards that are “too expensive”. As a player, I feel that banning these cards would be inherently bad for the game and hurt it in ways that many of us may never understand. The cards changed the game forever when they were printed, allowing 3 to 5 color decks to be run in multiple formats (even if they’re still rarer), and allowing 2 color decks to become far more consistent than they would be otherwise. On top of the various consistent decks that these cards bring to the table, they also bring advantages to mono-colored decks and have hidden cards that they combo with that just add to the complexities of the card. All of this basically means is that while these cards are very powerful cards that have far-reaching effects on the game, and a price tag to match, they also contribute much to the health of the game and as such I hope that they do not earn themselves a banning or restriction at any point in the near future. It looks like Wizards of the Coast is going to answer my hopes with exactly what I want also, as a reboot of Zendikar is right around the corner (supposedly with a reprint of the enemy fetches) and with the ally fetch lands just being printed in Khans of Tarkir. Tarmogoyf is a card that falls perfectly in line with the fetch lands; it works well in combination with them and falls into an even higher price gap than the fetch lands. Same as the fetches though, it looks like Wizards Is more than happy to reprint this card and I’m even looking forward to seeing another iteration of it in Modern Masters II that is supposed to be happening at some point in the near future. The other 3 cards that are supposedly on the chopping block are Jeskai Ascendancy, Treasure Cruise, and Dig Through Time. Dig Through Time has been making a powerful showing and has made appearances in decks throughout the Modern format. It does help control and combo decks quite a bit, but having played against it, I like the fact that its ability can’t be played too early and acts as a foil to cards like Snapcaster Mage, and Past in Flames that typically want to keep cards in the yard. The card is a strong contender for sure, but I feel that it hasn’t quite earned itself a banning even with it being so good. Treasure Cruise is in a different boat, while Dig Through Time has made a strong showing in Modern, Treasure Cruise has made a strong showing in all formats. If we look at history, Wizards doesn’t like players drawing 3 cards off of 1 card and for good reason, just look at Brainstorm. The card is powerful, and while like its counterpart Dig Through Time, I’m not sure letting this card run free is such a good idea. Still, whether it gets banned or not a year or two from now, I don’t see it getting banned in the immediate future. The last card we have to talk about is Jeskai Ascendancy, this is a card that I absolutely loved when I first saw it, thought that if someone figured it out it would be broken and it is.

 

Jeskai Ascendancy Combo by Sam Pardee [Modern]

 

 

 

This deck has been boasting an impressive, consistent turn 2 or 3 win rate. The basic idea of the deck is to get Jeskai Ascendancy and a mana producer such as Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, or Sylvan Carytid online, and then just win. The mana producers not only play well into the combo, but can also act as an accelerant for your deck. The land-base needs to be straight-forward for the deck, either being fetches, lands that tap for any colors, lands that count as green (for the mana-producers) and one of the colors for Jeskai Ascendancy. Most of the sorceries and instants in the deck are just draw for your deck, with the instants pulling double duties for cool creature effects like haste or untap and also mana acceleration with the Ascendancy and some creatures. The Ascendancy also acts as a filtering engine on top of its untap ability, allowing you more filtering power. The biggest piece of secret tech for this deck is the Glittering Wish, it can count as an answer to a question you didn’t even know you had to answer, counts as 4 extra Jeskai Ascendancy’s in your deck, and in this decklist is also your only way to access your win condition. In the board are mostly targets for Glittering Wish, the only other 2 cards in the board besides these solutions are Leyline of Sanctity, a solution to a lot of decks including the deck I currently use in Modern, and Swan Song, because it’s a pretty good solution to control. The question is, is this deck too good for Modern? My answer is yes, probably. Combos like this are of the speed and consistency of Affinity, and unless we are about to enjoy a season that will see a ton of unbannings, we are about to see a Modern season that will see at least a banning. So that brings the next question, will Jeskai Ascendancy see banning? My answer to this question is almost an affirmative no. We can look at the history of the ban list for proof. When Wizards thought Jund was too powerful for Modern did they ban Tarmogoyf? No, they banned Bloodbraid Elf. What about when they thought Affinity too powerful, a banning of Cranial Plating or even Arcbound Ravager? Nope, let’s ban artifact lands and Disciple of the Vault… to be fair banning Disciple of the Vault is probably more relevant to the deck than the rest of the cards, but still. It can be shown that pretty consistently if Wizards thinks that a deck is too powerful, they will ban a card that is typically used as a major piece of the deck without getting rid of the engine that allows the deck to function. Another quality that these cards should possess is the fact that the card is run almost exclusively in the deck and a banning won’t affect other decks too much. There is a card in the deck that fits the bill on all of these and that is Glittering Wish. Through the banning of this card the consistency of win for the deck would drop and even the deck’s ability to find its combo would be hampered. Additionally, this card is one that doesn’t see that much play in the format besides this deck.

 

Wrapping Up

In today’s article, we took a look at the modern banned list. What it takes to get on it, some of the cards that are on it and why they’re there, and some potential future additions to the list. In our next article we’ll aim to look at what makes a good card store, a good card store.

 

By Daniel Clayton – the Will of the Floral Spuzzem

@DC4VP on Twitter

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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - October 7, 2014

Mono-Red Burn Modern by Michael Glanzer (1st at SCG Edison Modern Prem...

Champion’s Deck

Keldon Marauders

Mono-Red Burn Modern by Michael Glanzer

1st at SCG Edison Modern Premier IQ on Sep 28th 2014
Very elegant and simple in design Burn has a storied history in magic since the first Fireball and Lightning Bolt were sent to the opponents dome. Recently it has been growing in popularity in the Modern format. The game plan is very straightforward, just keep casting damage inflicting spells and attacking with your few creatures to reduce your opponent to zero life as quickly as possible.
As far as creatures in Red one of the best aggressive one drops ever is found in relatively innocuous Goblin Guide, but the wise Red mage learns to use his triggered reveal ability to provide himself with invaluable information which is not normally provided to him. It is complimented with Keldon Marauders which will get two points of damage direct then either get a smash in for another three or briefly wall off other aggressive attackers. Then we get to the ample assortment of Burn spells designed to char your opponent to crispy cinders. The all time classic is represented four times with three damage for one mana in perennial Lightning Bolt, with essentially clones from sorcery speed Lava Spike, suspended Rift Bolt and also Shard Volley at the cost of a land. Next we find a wealth more of direct damage costing two with three damage from Incinerate, two from Magma Jet but an invaluable Scry 2 tacked on it, and landfaller Searing Blaze which needs a creature to target but will blast both it and its controller for three points. We then find possibly the two key spells to the deck with Skullcrack and Flames of the Blood Hand which both help kill the opponent with decent bolts to the face but most importantly stop them from gaining life that turn which is the worst enemy of a Burn deck. For a bit of value added Keldon Megaliths is there to provide extra points of damage when you’ve run dry and find your hand has gone Hellbent.
Quite possibly the best way to crack into Modern with the cheapest possible initial investment, it’s certainly the best bang for your buck. As far as straight-up Aggro you’ll be better served with Affinity right now and Lightning Bolt has no better friend then Snapcaster Mage, but those are decks that you need to have the dollars to push into them in comparison. Definitely I would recommend starting with this deck if you’re looking to take the step into Modern until you’ve had a chance to see the other decks and decide where to bet your chips. It’s hard to argue with a proven winner so you aren’t selling yourself short on this one.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com

 

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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - September 9, 2014

UR Storm Modern by Mark Donaldson (1st at SCG Washington DC Modern Pre...

Champion’s Deck

Pyromancer's Ascenscion - UR Storm Modern

UR Storm Modern by Mark Donaldson

1st at SCG Washington DC Modern Premier IQ on Aug 24th 2014

I fell for Modern Storm Combo way back when it was a build up with Seething Song into an Epic Experiment to just blow out your opponent from literal nowhere. Since then there have been some changes as Seething Song was banned and in order to remain competitive the deck morphed back into a Pyromancer Ascension deck reminiscent of the days of yore. I continued to follow my passion of the deck and still believe it to be a very solid choice, not to mention a deadly weapon in the hands of a competent pilot.

 

The game plan of the deck is solid and straightforward. Cast enough spells to build a high enough Storm count to burn out your opponent. In order to accomplish that the deck is composed of draw spells, mana makers, enablers and a win condition.  The most important aspect of the deck is the plethora of draw spells with fully twenty-three ways to cycle through cards, necessary when the only way to win is find one of two copies of your win con. The package starts with Gitaxian Probe which with a Phyrexian mana cost basically cycles free while providing information as it peeks into the opponents mitt. Then since one Blue cost Ponder and Preordain were banned for being just too good the next best floated to the surface with Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions to dig deep and find the cogs to the machine. There is also Thought Scour and Desperate Ravings which both synergize well with the Flashback providing ability from Past in Flames as they proactively stock the graveyard with targets to abuse. In order to keep the wheels turning once you start the combo going we use Reds rituals with Desperate Ritual and Pyretic Ritual both providing three Red mana on resolution, as well as Manamorphose which is able to filter excess Red into Blue mana to cast additional draw spells and is itself also a draw spell as well. There are very few non-land permanents in this deck but one which does a major amount of heavy lifting is Goblin Electromancer which reduces colorless costs of your instants and sorceries to make those mana producing push even further, but as it is a beacon of any creature removal your opponent plays it is often best to wait until you’re ready to go off before committing him to the board. The other non-land permanent we have is a very powerful enchantment Pyromancer Ascension that once active provides extra copies of your instant and sorcery spells to bring a devastating death to your opponent with vicious alacrity. Our last enabler piece is Past in Flames which is a boon for this deck in that it provides a means to build up a lethal storm count with access to fewer spells in hand by abusing the graveyard and flashing back previously used spells effectively doubling the amount of spells you can cast. This all builds towards our win condition Grapeshot which looks at the total amount of spells cast that turn or the Storm Count and makes additional copies of itself with each doing a point of damage to a target creature or player to blast out your opponent in one fell swoop.
This is a deck that has been around in Modern since the inception as it was a port from the old Extended. Despite several bans to reduce its effectiveness, namely from Ponder/Preordain and Seething Song which made the deck just a bit too efficient, it still finds a way to produce results. It may never be the top deck of the format but is a solid Combo option and will always be around as long as spells are printed to keep the Combo going off. If you like to kill your opponent out of nowhere then I definitely urge you to give this deck a twirl.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - August 28, 2014

Boros Burn Modern by Teruya Kakumae (1st at Grand Prix Kobe on Aug 24t...

Champion’s Deck

Vexing Devil - Boros Burn Modern

Boros Burn Modern by Teruya Kakumae

1st at Grand Prix Kobe on Aug 24th 2014

Now here’s a deck that calls straight to my heart. As I’m an Aggro player in the blood Red has always been a color I most associated with. I’ve followed burn through Standard from year to year, Extended back in the day, Legacy while Mental Misstep was legal, and of course now in Modern. The two main draws of this deck is that there are few lifegain issues in the meta as Soul Sisters is not the most popular deck choice while you’re deck has a wealth of removal to deal with many of the life gaining creatures in Pod decks, and with a largely fetch/shock manabase common to the format most decks do between two and six damage themselves in the first two turns.

 

The creature package is very tight and comprised of some very cheap drops. Eleven one drops showcase just how low the curve of the deck is with perennial Goblin Guide with its hasty beats and uncommon ability to provide information to this color combination, Vexing Devil leaving your opponent with the decision to take a smack to the dome if he isn’t able to deal with it otherwise, and a trio of Grim Lavamancer who will often find a graveyard well stocked in fetchlands and burn spells. There is also a two drop in relative newcomer Eidolon of the Great Revel which once you’re ahead on life can come down to lock out any opposition. The rest of the spells in the deck consist of a plethora of burn spells designed to ruin your opponent in just a few turns. The deck boasts basically fifteen bolts providing three damage for one mana with full sets of Lava Spike, Lightning Bolt, and Rift Bolt supplemented by a trio of Shard Volley. Then it is filled out with two cost burn starting with a full set of Skullcrack which is the decks insurance against lifegain from Sphinx’s Revelation, delaying the infinite life combos in the various Birthing Pod builds, or even a cripling life boost from a Martyr of Sands. Next a trio of Boros Charm are easily four damage to the dome but can in a pinch save your army from untimely death with indestructibility or even grant one of your soldiers Double Strike to one shot for a kill. The last inclusion is the decks only straight removal with Searing Blood which is great against all the low toughness creatures that litter the format and tacks on a bolts worth of damage if that creature does find its way to the graveyard.
I am intrigued by his build and feel the move away from Black which these decks had been regularly splashing into White for the Charm and better sideboard options is a great move. The only thing I am questioning is the twenty lands where this low curve would seem to thrive on eightteen, although with three Shard Volley you do need few more land but I’m reluctant to go to three in the first place. It’s great to see a good ol’fashioned Aggro deck rise up to the top where the format does appear rife with Combo and Control. Still, I am hoping that a viable Dark Boros deck splashing both White and Black for all-star Dark Confidant to enable the deck with a draw engine will emerge one day. Until then this deck will have to satisfy my cravings to burn my opponents into toasty piles of ash, definitely something near and dear to the flames in my heart.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Daniel Clayton Daniel Clayton - August 22, 2014

The Pinnacle: Designing Monstrosities (Part 1)

Arcbound Ravager - Top creatures in magic the gathering

The Pinnacle: Designing Monstrosities (Part 1)

Top creatures in magic the gathering

By Daniel Clayton – The Will of the Floral Spuzzem

 

Today I want to talk about some of the top creatures in magic the gathering as a whole, the most utilized and what makes them good; I’ll also try to pull some decks in and show just how good they are by their performance throughout the time since their printing. Some of the cards on this list are some of the most expensive cards in the game, while others are not quite as flashy. My requirement is that they are creatures and they have had some type of impact on the game at some point; while I will try my best to put the best creatures in the game on my list I am only human and as such make mistakes and I apologize if your favorite doesn’t make my list. As this is a type of card versus a specific card I figured I would drop them out in a top 6 list going from number 6 to number 1; I’ll also be pulling in some honorable mentions from throughout the years.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Noble Hierarch

This card’s price correlates directly with the popularity of the Zoo deck archetype. This card costs only 1 to play, when it swings it gets 1/2 through its ability Exalted; this ability also makes anything else that swings alone grow bigger when it swings. The card is just an efficient mana producer that does a little bit more than just produce mana. This card acts as an outstanding piece of acceleration in general, accelerating both the amount of damage you’re able to get in and the amount of damage that you’re dealing each turn. While there are tons of decks that run this card, we’ll be looking into them a little bit later with a card later on our list. If you consider vanilla 1/1 elves that cost 1 and tap for 1 to be playable in any deck, you can see why this card just barely missed our list of most playable, but let’s keep the idea of mana producers going with the first cards on our list.

 

 

Number 6

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary; and Metalworker

These two cards are some of the most powerful mana-producing creatures in the game, and they came out at about the same time as one another. The block that they came out in is called the Urza’s saga. It’s a saga about a war between 2 brothers and is filled with some of the most powerful mana producers in the entire game, it’s out of this set that you get such cards as Tolarian Academy, the Tron lands (Urza’s Mine, Tower, and Power Plant), and the two cards that we have here are the two best mana-producing creatures in the game. While Metalworker is a staple in Legacy and has seen some limited play in Vintage as well, with Rofellos being banned and restricted it does not have a deck it’s run in very heavily. As for why Rofellos is so good, it’s because the card essentially doubles your mana as soon as it comes down and it essentially doubles all the mana you play for the rest of the game. The card is so powerful that it almost warrants a kill spell the minute it hits play or the game quickly swings in the controller’s favor. The other card at number 6 is Metalworker and this card is so good that an entire deck archetype in legacy is based off of this card. The card is a powerful card coming out turn 2 in most cases and tapping for 6 to 8 mana if it survives to get to tap once. The card is run in Vintage stacks decks once in a while for its powerful mana acceleration turning the deck from a very gradual combo to set up into a much quicker set up for the lock. It’s run predominantly in the deck that carries its namesake, but it’s a powerful addition to any artifact deck. The style of this deck is as follows, this was a Metalworker that took 13th place in a Star City Games Invitational back in 2013.

MUD (Metalworker deck) Legacy decklist

 

The Metalworker deck is one of the most powerful decks in the entire game of Magic: The Gathering being able to stand on its own two feet in Legacy as well as Vintage and crushing decks in others formats easily. The deck works on the premise of getting expensive stuff out quickly and then cheating what’s too expensive to actually play. You typically want to get Metalworker out as quickly as possible with as many cards in hand as possible and then pump out a Lightning Greaves and a Kuldotha Forgemaster to try to get Blightsteel Colossus. You also try to pump up the cost for opponents to play spells through Lodestone Golem and Trinisphere. Additionally, cards like Steel Hellkite, Chalice of the Void, and Sundering Titan help to rip apart your opponents’ decks. Metalworker, Grim Monolith and Mox Diamond are your way to quickly pump up the Mana you need to wreck your opponents quickly. There are two combos that exist in the deck, the first is Staff of Domination, a card which can combo with Metalworker to give you an unlimited supply of card draw, mana, tapping, untapping and life; the second is Kuldotha Forgemaster, which lets you get out the most powerful cards in your deck in exchange for 3 artifacts. The card Lightning Greaves is a card which allows you to use creatures the first turn you play them both for using abilities and for attacking. The Goblin Welder is in your deck to deal with the mirror match and to also act as recursion for the deck. The Blightsteel Colossus acts as the win condition for the deck most of the time swinging in and winning the game usually at most by the second turn he comes out, but he is also the major beater for the deck. All of the lands in the deck serve as either a great mana producer or serve in a dual role doing something else on top of their original function. The Cavern of Souls acts not only as mana, but also to prevent your creatures from being countered. Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors strictly as a mana body, but in doing this they act as some of the best mana producers in the game. Darksteel Citadel and Great Furnace act not only as mana producers, but they are also artifacts meaning that they will add to Metalworker’s count and can be sacrificed for Kuldotha Forgemaster’s ability. Finally, I won’t get into Wasteland just yet (I have another article planned for that). The rest of the creatures, Myr Battlesphere and Wurmcoil Engine, are used as beaters with an edge. The edge for Myr Battlesphere is that he creates fodder for Kuldotha Forgemaster and both of the creatures help you to stabilize against typical agro strategies.

 

Number 5

Arcbound Ravager; True-Name Nemesis

If I were to give these 2 creatures a specific type, it would probably be unique; these are creatures that while they lend themselves to 1 strategy or another, they do not commit themselves fully to a strategy and it’s not the strategy that they lend themselves to that allows them to make this list.  For True-Name Nemesis’s part, this is a true beater card, and through its ability to gain protection from target player this means that not only will the card gain evasion from that player’s creatures but also gains protection from that player’s spells making the creature very hard to kill. With a creature that is exceedingly hard to kill and has exceptional evasion, making it a 3/1 on top of everything else makes the card cream of the crop. It puts your opponent on a long but realistic clock of 7 turns that he can’t block; additionally, when you equip him with a sword or jitte the card’s clock count becomes ridiculously low for such a hard to kill card and you can count on the abilities to activate each turn making it even better. There are tons of True-Name Nemesis decklist on Three Kings Loot. Another of these unique cards is Arcbound Ravager, another of those cards that has a whole deck built around them. This card is again another beater, but it’s so much more than that and while it doesn’t win the game by itself it can be extremely hard to deal with. Its power however comes from its 2 abilities and this is what makes the card unique as well. The abilities that the creature has are the abilities to sacrifice an artifact to put a +1/+1 counter on Arcbound Ravager allowing him to protect himself from dying to spells or in combat. Additionally, if he manages to make it through without any blockers, being able to cash out all of your artifacts for +1/+1 counters can win you the game. On top of everything else, his second Ability, Modular means that you can also trade him to pass all of his +1/+1 counters to a creature that got through and potentially win you the game.

 

Affinity Modern Decklist

Some more Affinity decklists here.

If you are a player who plays in competitive Modern Tournaments at all, then you’ve probably played against this deck before and know that if you don’t have a way to counter it, it will probably cost you the tournament. This is a fast deck that has survived the bannings of 7 cards that I can think of off the top of my head (5 Colored Artifact Lands, Skullclamp, and Disciple of the Vault); even with all of these bannings the deck still remains a serious contender in almost all of the tournaments it makes a splash in. Most of your lands serve a double function whether that be getting blue (Island), Tapping for any color (Glimmervoid), acting as both an artifact and a mana source (Darksteel Citadel, Blinkmoth Nexus, Inkmoth Nexus), or serving as an alternate or additional win condition (Blinkmoth Nexus, and Inkmoth Nexus).  Almost all of your creatures exist to pump up your artifact count and get in for some damage; the exceptions are Etched Champion (Yes, its primary idea is to get in for damage, but it does so reliably and has protection), Signal Pest (Pumping up all of the other cards swinging in), Steel Overseer (Making all of your guys larger), Vault Skirge (Its lifelink makes you able to compete extremely well against most other aggro strategies), and of course Arcbound Ravager himself (see above description). The Cranial Plating in the deck is your primary win condition, as it pumps up whatever it’s equipped to up to epic levels, and with the ability to re-equip at instant speed, the card can almost consistently guarantee that the damage is going to get in. The Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum act as some pretty impressive mana acceleration and can win you a whole game almost without having to worry about drawing lands. The Thoughtcasts typically come down for 1 mana meaning that you get to draw two cards for next to nothing. This deck leads me up to our next honorable mention, however, and that is:

 

Honorable Mention

Disciple of the Vault

A completely broken card when it first came out; it earned itself a banning in both Standard and Modern for a time for its power. This is a 1/1 creature for 1 Black mana that makes an opponent lose life each time an artifact is put into the graveyard, when this card first came out in Mirrodin (a largely artifact block, it warped the game in Standard so heavily that everyone was playing a variant of this deck leading to this card’s banning). This card is still chosen as the card of choice in some Vintage Brews that brag about turn 0 victories (That is to say, winning the game before you take your first turn). While I would post some of these decks up here, they’re not exactly what I would call competitive deck lists and as such I’ll just run through the major strategy of the deck and you can build your own or look it up if you feel so inclined. The deck runs cards such as, Gemstone Caverns; this is a card that allows you to put it directly into play with a luck counter on it if it’s in your opening hand. On top of this it runs Protean Hulks and Flashes (Protean Hulk is a creature that says that when it is put into a graveyard from play you may search through your library for creatures with total converted mana cost 6 or less and put them into play). Finally, the deck runs Disciple of the Vaults and any number of Artifact creatures that enter play with a number of +1/+1 counters equal to the X that you spent to cast them (At least 5 of these). Now the strategy typically works like this, on your opponent’s upkeep, you get out Gemstone Caverns and 1 more mana in some way to cast flash on your opponent’s first turn, you cast flash putting out protean hulk and you let it die, allowing you to search through your deck for your 4 Disciple of the Vaults and all of your 0/0 artifact creatures (they become 0/0’s since they have no +1/+1 counters); all of these cards hit the field at the same time, then all of the 0/0’s die and are put into the graveyard resulting in your opponent losing 4 life for each one that does (because of the Disciple of the Vaults). The deck achieves what is considered impossible for most decks, but with the combo being very hard to establish and easily pulled apart by counters the deck is not very playable; still Disciple of the Vault plays into its spot as one of the most powerful combo creatures of all time.

 

 

Number 4

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker; Stoneforge Mystic

These 2 cards come off as incredibly powerful combo creatures… well at least one of them does and depending on your point of view so does the other. Stoneforge Mystic is the card that is left in question when it comes to combo creatures sitting at this number, and while it does indeed contribute itself to other things I like to think of it as a combo card in itself as much as Tooth and Nail could be considered a combo card. Just like the card Tooth and Nail, Stoneforge Mystic will search through your library for you and pull potentially one of the best cards in the entire game from it and add it to your hand, then for an additional cost it offers to put that card onto the field; the kicker to the whole thing is that the card lets you keep effectively “cheating” an equipment into play meaning that the card combos nicely with Batterskull. This card has been a true contender ever since its first appearance earning it a banning in both Modern and at its time Standard. Stoneforge Mystic stills rules the tournament scene however making a powerful appearance in Legacy tournaments. Check out Three Kings Loot for some of the latest Stoneforge Mystic decklist. The other side of this creature combo type is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, who sits atop every Timmy’s dream of infinite creatures. This card or its mirror in Splinter Twin coupled with enter the battlefield abilities makes this card one of the most combo-able and powerful creatures ever created. The card just screams win and has proved this point through the many prestigious tournaments it has under its belt. Recently there has been a decklist based around this card that has caught my eye, Kiki Angel:

 

Kiki Angel Modern decklist (UWR control)

More kiki-jiki decklists here.

This deck looks really cool and powerful and feels a little bit different from your usual Splinter Twin deck (More powerful? Probably not, but it’s fun to get out there and try new things every once in a while). There are a whole bunch of variations out there and if you’ve got a little bit of extra time and cash you could try putting one together and see how it feels. The lands in this deck pretty much do what there suppose to do, generating mana or searching for other lands. This deck has two combos centered around Kiki-Jiki, the first involves putting him into play then getting Restoration Angel online and using each new copy to blink Kiki-Jiki allowing him to create infinite copies of Restoration Angel. The second involves playing Kiki-Jiki, then Deceiver Exarch and using Kiki-Jiki to create infinite copies of Deceiver Exarch through his enter the battlefield ability. Snapcaster Mage allows you to gain extra resources by giving an instant or sorcery in your graveyard flashback. Finally, Geist of Saint Traft (Actually the weakest card in the deck, it just doesn’t work well with the strategy) just basically acts as a distraction and a beater running in and trying to deal some damage each turn. The instants in the deck fall into 1 of 2 categories, you have the first half which deal with creature destruction giving you more time against more aggro decks and mirror or similar decks (Path to Exile, Izzet Charm, Lightning Bolt, and Lightning Helix), and you have the counter spells to give your combo some protection (Mana Leak, Izzet Charm, and Remand).

In this Article we’ve gone and talked about creatures numbers 6 through 4 and some decks that they exist in that done fairly well in over the years. To give a little review, at number 6 we had our super mana-producing creatures (Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and Metalworker) and the deck was a powerful and fast deck, Metalworker (MUD). Sitting at number 5 we went over our unique creatures (Arcbound Ravager and True-Name Nemesis) and the uniquely difficult decks that they exist in. Finally, sitting at number 4 is our combo creatures (Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Stoneforge Mystic) and the powerful creation in Kiki Angel (My name for it… I think) also known as Kiki Control a variation of UWR control in Modern. In the next article, we’ll hit numbers 3 through 1 and try to find out what the best creature in the game is… well the best one in my opinion anyway.

 

Tip of the Spuzzem: Casual Encounters

I do apologize to my fellow and senior writer on this site for borrowing the name of his column (Bruce Gray), but it was just such a brilliant name that I couldn’t pass it up for this sub-article. A lot of times I have ideas for articles that are definitely on the shorter side so I’ve decided to write these articles in a sub-article of my articles called Tip of the Spuzzem. In this article I just want to talk about a problem I see with a lot of players and sort of give my perspective on how to fix the problem. The problem I’m talking about is how a lot of players put the game on a pedestal especially in the lower upper echelon of play and treat it as something more than what it is; that is to say more than a game. Once you reach a certain level of play (or your cards reach a certain value, I should say) it stops becoming a game to some player and becomes something else entirely, I’m not sure quite what… but not a game that’s for sure. This is a bad trend that players need to avoid for a lot of reasons, but the most prominent is the fact that most of these players become really unaccepting of newer players and shun them from real play for one reason or another. You see this all the time, players rushing new players in play or groaning when they make a mistake. You see it when a player loses and blames their loss on luck or bad draws versus throwing up their hands and saying, you know what maybe I screwed up on that last play I should do it this way instead next time, or refusing to look or talk to you after you beat them. Well it comes out as a bit more rambling than I had intended, but yeah it’s a serious problem and it can have a serious impact on driving new players from the game.

The solution to this problem is a really easy one; simply turn the game into a game again, and this isn’t an especially hard feat. It comes with taking the game a little less seriously, playing some tabletop games with your friends every once in a while, but most importantly, designing and playing with a casual deck. Now casual doesn’t mean bad, you can design a pretty powerful casual deck, just make the deck do wacky things that you think are fun (but not necessarily good); for me, my casual deck is a Green Defender deck that gets insane amounts of mana and then goes off and puts most of the cards in my deck into play through Genesis Wave. The deck is powerful, but the choice of cards in the deck makes it illegal for tournament play without a lot of changes and honestly I don’t want to make those changes, I like the deck the way it is. Another solution is avoiding other players/friends with “toxic” personalities; these are the players that get easily fed up when someone doesn’t understand the rules when playing for fun. This also refers to players that would much rather sulk following a loss in a match versus picking back up and shuffling up. To make a long story short, just remember Magic is a game and if you’re using it for any other reason than to have fun, you’re probably doing it wrong, and when you stop doing Magic right typically it’s not too long before you get out of the game altogether.

 
By Daniel Clayton – the Will of the Floral Spuzzem
@Dc4Vp On twitter
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Daniel Clayton Daniel Clayton - July 17, 2014

Burning Up or Burning Out: The power of the number three

Red Deck Wins primer - Goblin Guide

Burning Up or Burning Out: The power of the number three

By: Daniel Clayton – The Will of the Floral Spuzzem

 

Red Deck Wins Primer

Very soon now Magic fans, we will exist in a world without Return to Ravnica and what a different world it’s going to be; the old script of decks and tournament play will be scrapped and we’ll return to the primordial ooze of deck construction. Return to Ravnica was a powerful format and it is responsible for staples spread out throughout standard right now; you’ve got power houses such as Sphinx’s Revelation, Desecration Demon, and Pack Rats (You can probably tell which decks I played and hated based on this list). Now, let me begin by prefacing that I really don’t like this format, and I don’t presume to call myself an expert on it, so I won’t begin to tell you about decks that are going to either become dominant or stay dominant until the end of the tournament season. I have, however been playing in tournaments (Not gigantic tournaments, but mostly local events, a few larger) long enough to notice certain trends. One example of these trends is control typically taking hold or seeing more play towards the end of the first or second set in a block. Another trend you typically notice is at the beginning of a new block is a shift to one of the most powerful decks in the most powerful color. The deck is of course Red Deck Wins (RDW) and it can be seen to some extent in almost every single block in one form or another; today I’m going to talk a little bit about the ideas behind this deck both from a flavor and an actual game play perspective, and then I’m going to examine some of the decks played by various players played throughout Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage and try to apply some of the principles behind each of these cards.

 

 

Burning Up or Burning Out

This is the decidedly nerdy part of the column, so if you’re just looking for deck construction or points about RDW you can skip ahead to the next section. What is a red mage? A red mage is an individual usually of innate talent, who while not unintelligent, is often motivated and powered by their very tempestuous emotions. They do not act based on what may be considered pure or intellectual, but act based on their own personal code of ethics, personality, and mindset at that time. Red mages may be considered individuals who can be quick to anger, quick to appease, and overall very mercurial in their range of emotions; this isn’t to say that they aren’t loyal. Their loyalty belongs to individuals over organizations and they treasure the bonds to those that they are close to over the traditional organizational bonds that people typically give value to. As their power and their actions are based off of their emotions, these individuals are the most likely to “burn” themselves when it comes to their power, often times losing themselves in the throes of their power and succumbing to anger, fear or hatred. As a side note, it is not often that a red mage would tend to spend time in books studying or honing their skill, but tend to just fall back on their natural talent and strong emotion to win the day for them. All of these characteristics are reflected heavily in the game. The very concept of a red mage is fire and just like a fire, if you play red there’s a very good chance that you’re going to burn yourself out of tournament play. If you think about the various resources you have available to you in the game (I’ll explain all of these in greater detail in a later article), but red typically seems to draw its power from your current state of mind (your hand) and thinking about this from a flavor perspective, your emotional state begins by flaring up and giving you a large swathe of power, but you begin to tire quickly from expending too much mental energy from such emotions and your power begins to wane quickly. (burning out) Even the depth of cards in red lends itself to the flavor of the red mage in a very strong way; red mages typically have one or two strategies for solving problems, burn it or break it, and a red mage is not typically going to spend time examining the depths of their power meaning that the depth of things you can do in red is also pretty limited. Even all the way down to how well the decks place in tournaments is very conducive of the flavor or the red element; a very powerful contender, but not a winner over the hard work and diligence of another color except with a few very talented red mages.

 

 

The Most Powerful Color

I may be wrong and I may be biased, but I truly believe this to be the most powerful color in the entire game of Magic. I will say fair enough that decks of this color typically tend to fall flat on their face, but there’s a reason for that; the decks don’t have consistency. The printing of cards for this color is really only missing one thing and that’s the ability to draw or at least order your deck. There are exceptions, but for the most part those are either bad for one reason or another (Faithless Looting or Magma Jet), or they have a ridiculously high mana cost. (Past in flames) Even those these cards are either very expensive to play or have large downsides to them, I’m sure you’ve seen them run in plenty of decks and the reason for that is that they just make red so much better that you can’t not use them. Now let’s all address the 35-ton gorilla in the room, surely even with consistency problems why don’t the decks win more, I mean if they’re that good. Well, consistency is half of the equation, and probably a larger problem than you give it credit for (It’s what gives you games where all you do is draw mana, a death sentence in red), but the other half of the equation is that almost every deck has built in side board options just to deal with red. Red is the reason that Kitchen Finks is run for the most part; siding against RDW is even run in some RDW that runs white. If you don’t believe me then put together one of the decks that I’ve got listed below and run it against one of your own decks and see how you fair without your side board. I know there are special exceptions, decks that just run faster (Tron, Metalworker, Affinity, Monoblack Devotion, etc.) but by and large the basic shell of RDW is equipped to deal with most decks in a straight fight.

 

The Beginner’s Deck

Let’s just make this point clear, yes RDW is extremely easy to run and yes it is used by people who are just getting into the game for reasons we’ll get into in just a second, but that doesn’t mean that it takes no skill to win with one; if you lose to it, it means there was some flaw or error in your play or deck that allowed you to be overrun by the red deck; they exist out there and if as opposed to coming up with a game plan and a side board, you just spend your time whining about how you lost to the deck, then you’ll never overcome your flaws when it comes to playing against red. Now that that’s said, choosing to play red is a very difficult choice, it is a color that will screw you eventually and refuse to play for you some games, just out of the blue. The other thing that you have to understand about red is that it is a mathematician’s deck; while white may have rule-makers, blue may have strategists, green may have conquerors and black may have tyrants, it is actually red that has the mathematicians. The red deck is designed to do more with less and work around a single number, the number 3. This is a deck that revolves around somewhere between 3 to 4 turn wins as consistently as possible by running cards that typically cost 1 to 3 mana, and deal about 3 damage. But why is this 3 so important? Well you might as well call it the Magic number in Magic; with most of the powerful stabilizing spells sitting at 4 to 5 mana, and decks typically taking the same amount of time to stabilize (begin to fight back against aggro strategies) this is the amount of time decks straight aggro decks have to pump in their hits consistently. Now, you’re probably asking yourself why 3 damage or 3 mana? In a typical hand over the course of 4 turns you will see 10 cards; that is the latest average time a straight aggro deck has to win a game, before stabilization can really begin. Taking into account that you want to play 1 mana until you have about 3 mana on field, that leaves you with 7 cards, or 6 if you played 1 mana every turn for 4 turns. In these 4 turns with 7 cards you have to deal 20 damage, meaning that you have to deal 3 damage with 6 cards, at least and 2 damage with your last card to take out the minimum amount of life. Alternatively, if you have 6 cards in hand, you have to deal 3 damage with 4 cards and 4 damage with 2 cards in order to take out the minimum amount of life. Did you know that this is one of the healthiest decks in the game of Magic? With most of your games lasting somewhere between 4 and 5 turns either way, decks like this allow you to do other things while competing in tournaments and can help you keep healthy by giving you time to go get something to eat or hang out with friends between rounds. Not to mention, your typical red burn runs with much cheaper cards than other decks in the same format, allowing newer players a chance to get more accustomed to the basic rules of the game before purchasing an expansive complicated deck that they may not understand.

 

 

Deck construction

There are a few archetypes of RDW that are run, and I will now attempt to explain each one:

  1. Burn: This is the least expensive and usually most aggressive of all RDW strategies. Trading almost all of its board presence for quick hits that deal damage and then go away. The name of the game is to get in there, and deal damage before your opponent can do anything.
  2. Goblins: One of the strongest creature types of all times, this deck tries to set up a strong assault that buffets your opponent and knocks them so far off their feet that by the time they recover, the game is already over. As a side note, this is one of the most powerful archetypes of all time, having one of the only tribal spells in existence on the banned list in Legacy; elves is the other contender for your information. This deck archetype is part of a larger type known as RDW creature agro; a sub-archetype in which you run a creature base supported by instants and sorceries.
  3. Mid-range: This odd deck runs more middle of the road cost Red cards. The deck is aimed to have power houses that don’t cost as much as other formats, just designed to get there and win the game; these cards are oftentimes backed up by a formidable removal suite capable of dealing with most of your adversaries’ cards.

 

 

Burn: Charlie Mitchell

First in our example of decks is a deck which took 4th in a Legacy open in Worchester on 06 July 2014.

The decklist is as follows:

 

As you can probably tell by looking, this is a deck that is designed to knock opponents off their feet and then keep them there, Goblin Guide, a powerhouse in almost every format in Red allows you to almost always get in 4 damage before he’s stopped. Grim Lavamancer acts as extra damage for all of the used up cards in your graveyard. Eidilon of the Great Revel works to punish players for playing cards with some of the most common mana costs in the whole format. One thing you’ll notice about the mana base of almost all red decks is the fact that they don’t run many lands compared to the whole of the deck, and they use fetch lands to try to thin the amount of lands that you will draw throughout the course of your game. Sulfuric Vortex not only deals damage to your opponent each turn, but it also stops your opponent from being able to gain life a powerful advantage over your opponent. Fireblast is a ridiculous spell that at the cost of 2 mountains deals 4 damage to something of your choice, which can mean the end of the game for your opponent in a lot of situations. Price of progress punishes players for playing the best and most commonly run type of lands in the format. Searing Blaze not only acts as outstanding creature removal, clearing a path for your creatures to swing and dealing 3 damage to your opponent at the same time. The rest of the cards main deck are typically used to just get in 3 damage the face to your opponent and push you one step closer to victory. As for the side board, you have Vexing Shusher (Stop your opponent from stopping you), Satyr Firedancer (Damage a creature each time you deal damage to a player), Mindbreak Trap (No more searching), Red Elemental Blast (Blue is a pain), and Smash to Smithereens (Metalworker ends games). Overall, this is a very powerful deck that places very well typically despite its consistency and hate issues, the one change I would issue would be to try to include 4 Vexing Devils in the deck, but I’m not sure where I would squeeze them in.

 

 

Goblins

 

 

This is a goblin deck of my own creation, because Goblins have apparently fallen out of flavor with the game, I still love the deck and it still is competitive with the right side board. This deck like most of the decks of the same type tries to leverage the damage-dealing ability of its creatures to get in for enough damage to win the game before the opponent has the chance to get back on their feet. Ember Hauler is a powerful card, allowing you to swing in for 2 with the option to pop him and deal 2 extra damage to target creature or player. The Goblin Bushwacker appears with the ability to pump up all your red creatures, give them haste and pump up their power by 1. Goblin Chieftain allows you to get in there for as much damage as possible, by giving all your goblins haste and +1/+1. Goblin Guide, Searing Blaze and Lightning Bolt are strong for reasons previously mentioned. Spikeshot Elder is one of those rare hidden gems, being able to deal his power to target creature or player and being able to be used as many times as you want per turn, he has the ability to burn down opposing creatures and players, making him almost always a great play and also giving you a sink for all your extra mana. Legion loyalist further pumps all of your creatures and gives them first strike and trample, stopping your opponent from being able to just chump block and trade for all of your goblins. Then, you have Goblin Rabblemaster which will not only generate board presence for you, but will also swing in for a powerful hit when surrounded by other goblins. After that you have Goblin Grenade, at 5 damage for a goblin and 1 red mana, this card doesn’t really need any more explaining than that. You want to avoid drawing lands in this type of deck and that accounts for the lack of lands in the deck and the filterability of Arid Mesa mixed with the fact previously stated accounts for why there are so few lands in the deck. The last card in the deck, the Teetering Peaks allow you to burst your creatures quickly without having to lose a land spot and the 2 extra damage is a big help; can also boost Spikeshot Elder for a powerful ability enhancer. The sideboard of my deck deals with most of the difficulty that my deck typically ran into; affinity is a huge problem in Modern, so by running Shattering Spree, we attempt to slow them down long enough for us to take the win. Blood Moon or Sowing Salt is my way to deal with Tron and most other decks that are based around non-basic lands. Surgical Extraction is my way to deal with all of the combo decks that I don’t have another plan against yet, such as second sunrise back in the day; the card also helps against decks that base themselves around the graveyard and is a handy tool against Tarmogoyf. Dismember is really my only defense against creatures with protection from red as well as large creatures that goblins can’t really deal with. Finally, Pyrewild Shaman is my one card combo against Control, pumping what needs pumping and being uncounterable and instant speed, being a creature when I need another creature, returning to my hand to do things more than once every time I deal damage to an opponent, and being a goblin forever; working into the overall strategy of my deck. The only card that I left out which warrants inclusion in the main board of the deck is Arc Trail, just a value card with the ability to be heroic in the mirror match as well as a great solution to most of your infect decks.

 

 

By the Will of the Floral Spuzzem
@DC4VP on Twitter 

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