Friday, December 30, 2016

Lost and Mostly Forgotten - The Neglected Bombs of Standard

We've all been the orange stick guy.
Friends, hello! It's Dan, and I'm here with everyone's my favorite article. The Neglected cards of Standard.

This Standard season (and 2016) is starting to draw to an end. Aether Revolt comes out soon, and with it, a big shake up of the meta. Well, hopefully. I dunno about you, but I'm tired of never ending turn four Emrakuls. Ideally the new set will give us something better to do, and then we can all hate a new card together, because we're Magic players and life just isn't that good if we can't complain about something.

The dominance of big bombs like Emrakul has definitely left some other cards out of the spotlight. These may not be the Promised End level of strong, but they've got some kick to them, and they shouldn't be totally wrote off. One spicy new spell from Aether Revolt could catapult these duds to stardom.

But what could these cards be? Surely anything good has been discovered and played by plenty of people.

"One day, my time will come."
You'd be surprised just how quick people are to ignore a card just because it isn't in a pro deck. Hopefully seeing this list will remind you what we've been missing in Standard, and you can use this super secret tech to make a frothy new brew with the Aether Revolt cards. Let's take a look at these poor, unwanted cards, and see if we can give them the recognition they deserve.

Note that this is by no means an exhaustive list - there are definitely some other insane cards that aren't getting a shot. If there's something that in your opinion should be on this list, let me know that I missed it!

Going fast as hell, but only finishing Fifth:

"Everyone remember a weapon?"
"Uh... yeah, totally..."
*Grabs fence post*
This is a weird fuckin' card. Weird stats, weird ability, weird choice of weapon. Weird hat, too. Despite the oddity, sometimes four power on a hasty flier is a fine way to win a game. Taking double damage is a massive drawback for sure, but if you're on the offensive anyways, it shouldn't matter much. So mono-Red Aggro is tier 1, right?

Sadly, Castigator is one of many victims of the current format. Four power just doesn't make the cut when cards like Ishkanah, Mindwrack Demon, and even Sigarda are played in a ton of decks. Not to mention the sad possibility of them hitting Goldnight with a Noxious Gearhulk. If a good, reliable answer for Ishkanah comes out of Aether Revolt, I would look for aggressive fliers like this to make a resurgence once the big bad Reach creatures and five-toughness fliers drop in popularity.

Naturally, this isn't likely since Ishkanah is crazy, but we can dream, man. Goldnight is still a sideboard card in some of my Red decks, since she does good work against Control decks that aren't ready to shoot her down.

Flying her four arms into Fourth:

Is it an Angel that invents stuff, or an Angel that was invented by someone?
Our second Angel on the list! When I first saw this card, my only thought was "Ugh, G/W Tokens is back." I know a lot of people agreed with me, and then I know a lot of people didn't care because they just wanted to reanimate it with Alesha in EDH. But the angel seems built to be the sweetness - a creature lord that can chip away in the air with lifelink? That's a lot of positives, and in a Standard focused on creature combat, making your 2/3's able to fight through their 2/3's is a huge boon.

But one toughness? YEAH RIGHT. She can get zapped by just about anything and die - even if you put the counters on her! There's too much solid removal for weak bods like this, and any old Harnessed Lightning or Grasp of Darkness can nuke your five drop in short order. Or even a Dual Shot, if your opponent is a cheeky bastard. There's a possibility she sees play in a tokens deck in the future, I mean, the ceiling on this is just absurd, but weakness to removal is a real cost to pay. You may want to play some spells like Blossoming Defense to protect her if you try it.

Burning up the competition in Third:

When in doubt, light everything on fire.
Once she was one of the ramp targets of choice, but even in the absence of real ramp spells, Chandra, Flamecaller is a potent finisher. She pumps out just a buttload of damage starting right on the turn she hits the board. Or, if killing stuff is more your style, her -X lets you blow up things of any size you desire, provided you desire to blow up stuff with four or less toughness. Think your hand is poop, and would like to try again? Her 0 ability is here to improve both your card quality and quantity. Her hairdo is lit as F. 🔥 What's not to like?

Turns out that people don't like to pay this much mana for a planeswalker these days.

So affordable.
The new four cost Chandra is super versatile, and has plenty of power to boot. She can come down very early in the game, help you ramp to later threats, get you extra cards, or kill a dude. And on top of all of that, she has a very achievable ult, making her the weapon of choice for red decks.

That being said, don't count big Chandy out just yet. Against a deck like U/W, her -X can clear out an entire board, and she herself dodges Spell Queller, unlike the mini version. Two 3/1 elementals close out the game much faster than two damage per turn, though this is less effective against a locked up board with Ishkanas and Mindwrack Demons. All in all, I think mondo Chandra's power is directly tied to the popularity of G/B Delirium strategies. If your store is relatively spider-free, give her a whirl in either an Aetherworks Marvel deck as another payoff card, or a more honest Red Midrange deck, like my super fun Mono Redrazi deck.

Hoppin' his way into Second:

"This is karma for eating all of those frog legs throughout your life."
Dats a big boi. The Gitrog has held a special place in my heart ever since I made The Molten Gitrog Vortex deck. Man, I miss that wacky pile of trash. He may not be able to be paired with his best bro Molten Vortex anymore, but there's still plenty to like about this froggy.

A 6/6 is fat enough to rumble with most any creature, and even if their guy is bigger, Deathtouch will be sure to take it town. Sacrificing a land is a big price to pay, but drawing extra cards and being able to drop two lands sure helps to mitigate it. Not to mention lands going to the graveyard from Lilianna minuses, Vessel of Nascency, or Grapple with the Past all trigger the frog for another card. With a card like Splendid Reclamation in the format, you'd think there'd be a reliable way to break him.

It actually seems to be a strange set of issues keeping Gitrog out of Standard. The natural home for this gigantic value machine is the B/G Delirium deck. They're running big expensive guys like Ishkanah, planeswalkers, Noxious Gearhulk, and of course, Emrakul. Despite this, the decks are actually running very few lands - only 23, which is impressive when running a 13 drop. Between Vessel of Nascency, Grapple with the Past, Pilgrim's Eye, Traverse the Ulvenwald, and Grim Flayer triggers, finding a land drop is fairly trivial, so the deck is able to shave down on lands while still playing one each turn. Having to sacrifice them to the Gitrog could upset this balance, and leave you short on lands.

If a B/G/x value mid-range deck shows up that runs a few more lands, say 25 or 26, keep your eyes on Gitrog as a possible five drop that will rule the ground and keep your hand full.

Clearing his way straight to First:

That seems like too nice of a setting for a Demon.
If I've learned anything in my years, it's that Control decks love Boardwipes, Card Advantage, and huge Fliers. And to never fight a Winter war in Russia. Well check this guy out! He murders all the small creatures on board when he comes out, and he earns energy whenever any creature dies, then lets you use that to recur dudes from either Graveyard. He's big and flies as well. I can't speak towards his feelings on Russia, but it looks like comrade demon has all it takes to be the Standard control finisher of choice!

The sad fact is, -2/-2 just doesn't kill anything on turn six. Against the popular Aggro decks, you are probably dead by then. Even if you aren't, threats like Gideon, Copter, Depala, and Inventor's Apprentice (with an artifact) all survive his boardwipe. Creature decks still run a lot of three-or-greater toughness dudes, and then some decks are just flopping Emrakul out on turn four and I'm pretty sure she lives through this. The meta just isn't right for him.

Even with the odds against him, he's still a fine card. He cleans up Ishkanah spiders, and is plenty able to attack through Ishkanah herself. He's a fine grindy card, and is definitely worth remembering if there's a shift in the meta that causes two-toughness cards to become more popular, or if your store is weird and people like bad cards.


That sums up our list! The biggest, baddest bombs, with an emphasis on Bad. JK, they're all fine cards with a lot of power, they just don't have the right home. As Aether Revolt spoilers roll out, we'll be doing everything we can to make all of the jank of the world feel loved, and we hope you guys do too!

Speaking of Jank, there's a card I wanted to mention.

Wait, there's three Nissas in Standard?
This Nissa is from the WotC Intro Planeswalker Decks. She isn't the most wild card in terms of raw power, but she sure is annoying. She jumps right to a whopping eight loyalty, and gives you a nice life buffer to keep activating her abilities. Her very achievable ult makes even the wimpiest dorks formidable for an alpha strike, too. This card from the intro deck, along with Flame SLash from the Chandra deck, are two off-beat cards that a lot of people forget are in Standard, but actually have the potential to do some work in certain decks.

That's it for today! If you missed it, be sure to check out the latest Heavy_Salami projects we're rolling out! Or, to get to the goods right away, you can click on these words to be deposited directly at our Twitch channel. We plan on starting off weekly streams of matches at our local store, along with all sorts of video shenanigans, so listen up for announcements!

Thanks for reading, folks. As always, never stop brewing.

Think one of these cards is here in error? Is there another worth contender to take its place? Speak up for them! Drop a comment below, or send us a message using the form off to the right. You can also pester us on Twitter @Heavy_Salami!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Streaming, Podcasts, and General Shenanigans!

A match made in heaven.
Sup people, it's Dan here with some news and stuff. We officially have a Twitch Channel! You can search for us on Twitch by looking for Heavy_Salami. Currently our channel has quite a few videos of us playing League of Legends, because we had to test streaming software, and honestly cause that's 90% of what we do.

Pictured: me.
So if you're into that, feel free to watch. BUT, more importantly, we recently got the equipment together to start recording and doing commentary on FNM's at our local store, Stadium Cards and Comics in Ypsilanti, MI! If you're interested in getting your weekly dose of Salami, keep an eye out for our videos.

This is our first whirl at this, so feel free to critique and let us know what you'd like to see. Or just watch and laugh for some good magical times.

We've also recorded a Podcast, and will be starting that up regularly. Expect those to be posted here as well. As always, you can follow us on Twitter @Heavy_Salami to get all the latest hotness and the freshest memes.

Aether Revolt is coming soon! Expect us to talk about cards as they come out; we'll be sure to present the terrible jank brews we make to you ASAP so that you can join us in losing at the SCG Columbus Open on release weekend Jan 21-22. Team Heavy Salami will be attending in force to compete in the main event, and we plan on getting wacky. Let us know if you're going!

Thanks all for reading, and we hope you enjoy the video. Stay Heavy.

Team Heavy Salami is your source for some of the okay-est Magic content on the internet. If your decks are not currently fresh to death, please apply Heavy Salami directly to your collection.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Magic Cards Imagined as Beers

Soon to be Heavy Salami team shirts

There have been moments in history where some brave soul decided to combine two things together that seemed like an odd combination but brought about a revolutionary result. Honey and mustard, ranch and pizza, a ladle and promiscuous behavior. Us revolutionaries here at Heavy Salami Industries brought together drinking and Magic. Now we may not have been the first but we are by far the heaviest and we are doing so the most regularly. In honor of this beautiful union of two different families I have created this tribute.

"Battling Eldrazi all day can be tough. When you get home you just want to relax. Why not do that with a refreshing Ruinous Path? Unlike beer Ruinous Path has a crisp apple taste that makes for a subtle but sweet flavor. Made from real Bala Ged apples, Ruinous Path is naturally gluten free and comes in a variety of flavors including Bala Ged Berry which adds to the already fruity flavor, Ondu Orange for a refreshing citrus twist, and Tazeem Tropical which combines all different fruits for the perfect mix of sweet, sour, and smooth. Ruinous Path, for those who take the path less traveled. Please drink responsibly"

"Wait, what's that sound? Was that just the wind or are spirits about? Neither, that's the sound of a fresh Topplegeist being opened. In a world full of horrors and bitterness it's always nice to come home to something sweet. It may not take the cold out of a biting rain but it will take the sting out of what you saw over in the woods. The berries are handpicked by anyone brave enough to venture into our vineyard without protection. Just remember, it wasn't just the wind, it was Topplegeist. Don't worry about drinking responsibly, there's a 90% chance you'll die in your sleep tonight anyways."

"When the sun is down after a full day of inventing, grab a Midnight Oil to keep those gears turning well into the night. Midnight Oil is an Aether infused Chocolate Stout and because of this is lighter than other stouts on the market. The chocolate that we use adds another layer of lightness and smoothness to this already polished craft and is imported all the way from Peema. We over at Ghirapur Brewing Co. are inventors like you and promise to give you the best beer in all of Kaladesh."

"When your thirst is stronger than your blood lust, grab a Savage Punch. Stronger than Abzan goat milk and with more flavor than a Sultai wine, Savage Punch is both balanced and complex. Made from freshly punched mangos Savage Punch only uses the finest ingredients like grains from the base of the Qal Sisma mountains and whatever else we find that seems good. Savage Punch, when the only savage thing about you is your thirst...and your blood lust."

"If you liked Akroan Hopps, you'll love our new Akroan Hop-Lite. Akroan Hop-Lite has the same bold and bright taste that you've come to love and with fewer calories. All of our ingredients are imported from Setessa and blessed by Karametra herself. Sure you could drink a craft beer from Meletis but Akroan Hop-Lite is the beer of warriors and strength. We're devoted to you so you can be devoted to the gods."

I plan on making more of these as I find more cards and have more ideas but for now this is all I've got. Now who else is thirsty? *Beer opening sound*

Edit by Dan:

I used to brew beer, but haven't for a while now since space is limited in my apartment. Sometime soon-ish I plan on starting again, and then we'll make these a reality.

Want to tell us which one sounds like you'd actually drink it? Do you hate beer? Are you tired of the weather in your area? Let us know in the comments or send us a private message if you want to be a bit more risque!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Lightning Helix Only Costs B (Sorta)

Hey chums, it's Dan. How are you today? Good? That's swell. I'm happy that you're happy.

Oh, me? I'm feelin' spiffy. Kaladesh Standard is in full swing, and it's been a doozy for me. I'm on a tear right now - I've prized out in my past ten or so Standard events, and I think it's time that I share this success with the Salami Nation (I realize that this is not actually a thing, but let me have this).

I kicked off this Standard rotation by smashing face in with my favorite spaghetti monsters in the best color available. Sadly, our store's meta wasn't super kind to the Eldurzzles, so I had to switch it up. And you know what I replaced all of those basic mountains with?

The best card ever printed.
That's right - I replaced them with more basic mountains. Why fix what isn't broken? I mean honestly, fuck forests. Plains are for chumps and communists. I want to make fun of Islands, but Zendikar's Cup Island will always have my heart. But for posterity sake I'll just say everyone who plays blue is an asshole.

My stack of Unglued mountains is destined for bigger things than filling a trade binder, so I knew I wanted to play with mountains. I also knew I wanted to go fast, because let's be real, that's all I actually know how to do. So where to start?

You have my attention.
So to the shock and surprise of absolutely nobody who knows me, I went with burn. Classic Dan. If Lightning Bolt was a career choice I probably would have majored in it at university. 

I've already dabbled in the burn earlier this year when Eldritch Moon was released, but we've lost a good amount of those cards, and we've gained some fun new ones, so it was time to innovate. I was also presented with a new unique challenge - there are vehicles. They are fucking annoying as hell, especially when that stupid motorist makes the chopper a 4/4, putting it outside of the range of an honest hard working Fiery Temper. So I couldn't kill their choppa, so I did what any reasonable burn player would do - let's just ignore it. I added some black into my list so that we could more effectively race opposing aggro decks, and voila. We have... a thing.

This list is a hoot. Collective Brutality is the nuts. The card does everything we could ever want - strip scary cards from hand, kill little dudes, and do damage while buffering our own life total. That and Alms of the Vein gave us a healthy matchup against aggro while keeping the pressure rolling.

This isn't your average burn deck, though. You aren't just tapping a land to blast their ugly face for 3 damage. We need to jump through some hoops to make our tempers into bolts, but we have all of the tools to do it. Let's take a looksie at everything in the deck, and figure out how to play this pile.


We have a very low creature count in our deck, keeping us from being totally blown out by boardwipes and creature removal. Often the creatures only matter for the first few turns, at which point we get to pivot and shoot face. That said, they are very important for enabling our game plan, and the deck will perform far better if we have one or two to start with.

This is the exact face of every Sophomore who's been in a frat for a month.
Insolent Neonate is low-key one of the best red dudes printed since Monastery Swiftspear. He doesn't pile on damage quite as fast, but he is a slightly evasive source of damage, annoying to deal with, and has the utility of improving your hand. In our deck, he comes down and pokes them for a few point of damage (you'd be surprised how far Menace will take you), then lets us Madness something out for tasty value at no cost. Also, he can fly helicopters.

Asylum Visitor and Bloodhall Priest are our later-game cards. Visitor gives us extra cards once we're in topdeck mode, and Bloodhall is just fukkin' huge. Instant-speed upgrading your tapped 1/1 to a 4/4 blocker during combat is a good time. Bonus points if your hand is empty and you get to nug 'em for two.

I don't think I need to explain Thermo-Alchemist a whole lot. You tap him before casting a burn spell, and it gets better. Hooray! Note that it gets a little wacky with Collective Brutality. Tap Thermo -> Cast Brutality and Escalate a Madness spell -> Thermo untaps -> Tap Thermo -> Cast Madness spell -> Thermo untaps -> resolve Brutality. Also Thermo can shoot Planeswalkers if you ever need to finish one off. He both slices and dices.

Special delivery! (psst, it's a lightning bolt)
Lil' Box-bot was one of the cards from Kaladesh that I was most excited for during spoiler season. Brobot hasn't quite lived up to my initial hype, but he's still a great little dude. All in all, he helps to fill the exact role as Neonate - early damage, flies our Copties, and is annoying to deal with. The biggest issue is that it costs R to sacrifice him, so early in the game your opponent can deal with him while you're unable to take advantage of his ability. But if you manage to hide four or more cards in him and sac it while Madness-ing something from your hand, you're in great shape.

Don't be afraid to just pop one if your hand is weak. I've discarded a few shitty four card hands in order to get a crack at just two cards. It doesn't feel great, but that's life. Not great.

Spells and shit:

Creatures are cool or whatever, but more often than not you're going to be winning by whipping a card at their face. I mean, don't literally do that, because Magic players are fragile. This deck has an incredible amount of reach, and I often find myself just shrugging and going upstairs with everything when they still have a double digit life total and some threats on board. It works every time*.

*It does not.

In my head-canon, that man actually has a snake bite and the vampire is trying to save his life by sucking out the venom.
Alms of the Vein and Fiery Temper are without a doubt the cornerstones of this deck. They are our most efficient burn spells when cast with Madness, and make cards like Neonate, Copter, Key to the City, Collective Brutality, and any of our other discard outlets into efficient machines.

I admit that Alms with Madness isn't quite Lightning Helix, since it exclusively hits players, but it's trying its best, and my mom said that's important. Temper on the other hand can hit creatures and planeswalkers, so keep that in mind. Be sure to do some math to see if it's worth it to kill a threat, or if it's going to win you the game to just start throwing everything upstairs.

Incendiary Flow can be chucked at their life total more often than not, but the exile ability is a game changer in some matchups. Permanently getting rid of a Scrapheap Scrounger or Gisela is massive, and it helps you to avoid fueling the G/B Delirium machine.

I get the names of this one and the red one mixed up 100% of the time.
This card makes me rock hard. How could you not love this brutal shit?  Every mode of this card is money, and it gives us a spectacular discard outlet. It pairs particularly well when casting a Madness spell when you have a Thermo-Alchemist on the field, letting you untap from both the casting of Brutality and the Madness spell, as I outlined with a gratuitous use of arrows earlier.

Copter is here because Copter is dumb in any deck, but ultra-dumb when half of your deck has Madness. We only run three because we really don't have a ton of pilots for it. This also gives us room to put in a Key to the City, which is amazing in this deck for reasons I bet you can figure out (discard = good? I think), and a Lightning Axe just in case.

Fancy Land!

Any time I read this card I get that stupid Metallica song stuck in my head.
This land is neato. So as you can guess, improving their hand isn't the best idea, but don't dismiss this outright. Often times this ends up being pure card advantage for you. You both draw, they discard a card, but since your deck is straight up mad, you often get to Madness out a spell, putting you up a card on them. Not a bad deal. By the time you hit the amount of mana to be able to activate this and cast a spell off of it, you'll typically be pretty close to top decking.  I would definitely activate this if your hand is empty and you have nothing to do with your mana - there's a real chance that you can flip up a Fiery Temper or Alms of the Vein and pop 'em.

The only time I'd avoid using this is if you have a solid lead, and have the tools in hand/on the table to close out the game. There's no need to improve the opponents hand for the fuck of it.

Budget Concerns:

As you can see by looking at the decklist, well over 50% of the cost of the deck is from three stupid Smuggler's Copters and dual lands. Ouch. Mercifully, Smuggler's Copter is replaceable in this particular list. Remove the three copters, and then add in a second Key to the City in the mainboard. Depending on your store's meta, you can then add in Lightning Axe if it's creature-heavy, or Cryptolith Fragment if there are more slower decks.

I LOVE playing draft chaff in my constructed decks.
Ramping up our mana a bit lets us cast more impressive Collective Brutalities, activate our Geier-Reach Sanitariums, and generally just be much more doper. Making them lose one is a big deal too, and if this ever flips and survives, hooray, they will probably die soon. My original build of this deck actually ran three of these instead of Copter (since I didn't own any) and it still did great.

Then, naturally, replace the dual lands with an even split of basics, maybe heavier on Mountains if you're adding in Lightning Axes. Swapping out those few cards takes almost $60 off the price tag of this deck, leaving us at a cushy $40 or so. Collective Brutality is the only other pricy card, but it is integral to the deck. Luckily it's seeing play in eternal formats, so you won't totally lose your cash when it rotates.

Playin' the dick deck and sideboard:

Often times this deck can totally ignore the opponent as you just grind at their life as fast as possible. There are a few key interactions with each of the major decks that are worth noting, and some simple play adjustment can massively improve your chances.

This is your best matchup without a doubt. Turns out that they have a rough time racing an asston of cheap life-gain spells. Be sure to leverage your Collective Brutalities by using the -2/-2 mode to kill of threats. The drain two mode is also exceptional, as it furthers your game plan while hampering theirs without going out of your way at all. Occasionally you'll want to use the pseudo-Duress mode if you have an active Thermo-Alchemist on the table and are worried about Harnessed Lightning, but typically the other two are what you'll want.

Out of the board you'll be looking for things like Weaver of Lightning and Sinister Concoction. Concoction is a dope way of taking out a Copter even through Depala/Veteran Motorist pumps, and it gives us yet another cheap discard option. Weaver kills stuff and blocks, which is cool. I sometimes side out a few Thermos for Weaver, since we can typically just grind them out by using our Weaver triggers as removal as we focus on their life. You can also drop Incendiary Flow, since it's bad against Copter, but be sure to keep it in if they're black-based and running Scroungers, Amalgams, Haunted Dead, or some combination of the bunch.

More than likely, this will be the matchup where you just ignore everything and try to shoot them. Remove problematic permanents like Grim Flayer or anything with Lifelink, but otherwise I'd aim everything up top. When Grim Flayers are 2/2's, they're probably better off being exiled by Incendiary Flow. Git 'em when the gittin's good.

For your sideboarded games, I'd almost always bring in the big bad Flame Lash.

The only thing I like more than draft chaff is intro-deck chaff.
This is a lot of damage, and even better with a Thermo (4+1 > 4). Transgress and Lost Legacy are also good, particularly if they have something like Linvala in a big white build, or a deck with Noxious Gearhulk that will enter the field and gain them enough life to get out of reach. Lightning Axe could also be put in your board if there are a bunch of Kalitas floating around your store.

This has varied wildly for me so far. If they stumble at all, you typically win, but if they get the right answers at the right time, it feels like you have absolutely no chance. Be careful to not run a Copter into Blessed Alliance, avoid over-extending into Fumigate, and you should pull through.

Big expensive dudes like Bloodhall Priest aren't amazing here, since by the time you can cast her they'll have the mana for counter magic, and she doesn't offer any immediate advantage. Key to the City and Bedlam Reveler can help you keep a stream of cards going once the early game is over, and surprisingly, Call the Bloodline is absurd. Getting a 1/1 lifelink and being able to play most of your deck at instant speed is a massive payoff, and eventually they have to deal with the annoying token.

RACE 'EM. Honestly, not a lot to see here. You have no way of interacting with Aetherworks Marvel, and them gaining life with an Aetherflux Reservoir just sort of sucks. Often you'll be able to melt them before these take over the game, but it really just depends on you getting a decent combination of burn and creatures. Thermo-Alchemist is an all-star here, amping up our burn.

Transgress is your best bet, and Lost Legacy is pretty sweet to get rid of Emrakul or Ulamog. Flame Lash gives you a huge burn spell to help you close, but sometimes they Emrakul you and sort of... shoot you with it. Not the best. Swim at your own risk.

That's it, yo.  This deck is a blasty blast, and I recommend giving it a whirl. You'll definitely get some free wins with it - a lot of people are only packing answers for creature-based aggro, so sometimes they just gently weep as they watch their life spin down to oblivion. You reach out your hand after the match to say "Good game," and they reply with the same, but their heart just isn't in it. They walk out into the parking lot, light up a cigarette and wonder what went wrong. "G/B Delirium is the best deck, how did I lose to Flame Lash?" They muse aloud as they gaze through the store's windows to watch their friends finish the next 40 minutes of the round. Congratulations. You have broken a man. Enjoy your 3 packs of prize support, hope it was worth it, you monster.

Like to feel the bern? Have your own variation that you wanna share with us? Don't believe in the Standard powerhouse that Cryptolith Fragment truly is? Let us know! Drop a comment or send a message to us using the form off to the right. Alternatively, hop on twitter to spew vitrol at us @Heavy_Salami!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Be the Commander of Your Tower

They call me Admiral Fridge Unicorn because I'm fresh and magical

So the Commander product came out some weeks ago and I'm super late to party on this, but let's talk about the commanders as they might fit into Wizard's Tower. We could talk about how cool the new four color commanders are because they are four colors and they are cool, but I'm so under-qualified to talk about Commander. "Don't you mean unqualified?" Well probably that too, but I feel like I'm right on the verge of qualifications. I just need to pass my Commander test which consists of building a non-shit Commander deck. It's going to be a long time before I pass though because I just built Book Tribal which you can check out here. But let's get back to the format that matters: Wizard's Tower! If you're wondering why you would put one of the five Commanders in your Tower rather than actually play it as a Commander well let me answer your question with another question: Why do they think they give you and oversized Commander in addition to a regular size one? So the regular one can go in your Tower. I know this because Wizard's is my dad.

It's been some time so just in case you forgot what Wizard's Tower is or wondered over here and have never heard of this format, check out our introduction article

The biggest issue with four color cards is that they have better effects at a 4 CMC with the downside being you might struggle to get all four colors. In other games you also may miss land drops potentially making these cards more difficult to play. That is not the case in Wizard's tower. You have all colors you ever need, and you will only miss a land drop if you choose to do so. This means that 4 color cards (as few as there may be) can be a difficult fit in this format.

We'll start with the best and most fitting commander for Wizard's Tower. This one is an obvious yes and should be put in your Wizard's Tower yesterday.

"I thought you said the statues were big. I don't see them" "You're not even looking in the right place."
 So even before effects, this card is a 2/8 for 4 with no keywords which makes this card annoying but not broken at 4 cost. You probably won't be able to swing at anybody who has this on the field, but this also probably won't do a whole lot of damage to you. Now once you add the group hug effect that this has, it still doesn't make this card broken. Everyone benefits from it's ability so people may not even want this off the board. Whoever controls it gets a bonus because they get the card draw and extra land but even opponents at least get one. It will be difficult to get damage through with this on board but most removal will get rid of this easily and it won't give you any advantages that are too out of control. So does this go in? Verdict: Yes.

"Are you eating enough? You're all skin and etherium!" - Breya's Grandma...probably
Whether this card is okay or not to put in your Tower is a little dependent on what else is in your tower. If you have a normal Tower with just a combination of cards that seem fun then this card will be an okay addition. If you decided to theme out your Tower and did an artifact theme, this card is too good. A 4/4 for 4 with two 1/1 fliers is pretty good, but again is manageable for your opponents. Add in the pay 2 sacrifice 2 effect and that makes her better but if all you have is the two thopters then you're just trading two creatures for some other benefit. Whoever controls this may also control more artifacts at some point that they can use as fuel to get the etherium fire burning, but unless you have an artifact heavy tower you should be fine. This is a card you can put in and if more times than not it's broken because you just happen to have a lot of artifacts, then you can either pull artifacts out or pull this out. Verdict: Probably yes.

If this hits the board you best praetor the gods
Let's start off the same way with this card as we did the others. At it's base it is a 4/4 with flying, vigilance, deathtouch, and lifelink for 4. That's not a great start because dropping this on turn four puts you at a significant advantage for a long time. No one can attack you because you have a giant death touch machine and when this finally loses summoning sickness, you can swing in to gain life which doesn't even tap it down so you still have a terrifying four armed spooky wall. It also just flies over everything because fuck you, why not? It is indeed an angel horror. Oh what's that? There is more to this card? Ah yes, at your end step proliferate. This effect again could be very hit or miss depending on how your tower is built but I know in mine, even without a lot of counter synergy I have a lot of cards that do use counters. Things like Otherworld Atlas, Nature's Panoply, Zombie Butcher, Experiment Kraj, Orochi Hatchery, anything with evolve, and so on. I feel there is just too much possibility for things to get out of control for one person and this is coming from someone who once lit a firecracker while unsupervised. I was 24 at the time but you can see what I mean about me getting out of control. All of this is brought to you by the letter "H" for verdict: Hell no.

Great in combat, but a terrible driver
In Commander and Wizard's Tower both, I don't really try to win as fast as I can. I save that for other formats. It doesn't work in other formats, but I sure try to win fast...or at all really. I like Saskia but my issue with her for Commander and Wizard's tower both, is that as soon as she hits the field, you make an enemy. I like to stay neutral until the very end when I know I can just kill everyone in one final swoop. Let's backtrack though. At it's base it is a 3/4 vigilance and haste for 4. I would still say that is manageable to fight against. With no trample you can chump it forever and with no first strike you can just throw multiple creatures in front of it to get rid of it. It's good but killable. The effect of the card also seems manageable. It might be a little too good but would need some play testing to see for sure. The effect can either give you double damage on a single player or give damage to two players, one of which can't block it. This effect will put you in the lead, but also turns you into the biggest threat on the board. Since that's the case, all hate will be turned on you and anyone who can kill this will try to do so. Verdict: Probably yes.

Turns out he just named his stone axe "Maelstrom"
Cascade is probably my favorite keyword in all of Magic. The keyword is also great for Wizard's Tower assuming it's not on some broken card. Ardent Plea and Captured Sunlight are perfect examples of cards with cascade that are a perfect fit in a Tower. Yidris is not. Again, at it's base it is a 5/4 trample for 4. Other than Atraxa, that is probably the best base stats out of the 5 of these. Or it's not. I'm really just guessing. Either way, they are solid base stats. Now whenever he does damage everything you cast has cascade. That is the broken-est effect of the 5 in Wizard's Tower. How about I play this and then next turn I swing in and you block but still take damage because trample? Great! Now how about I cascade Terastadon? I get to cast the first thing under 8 CMC off the top of the library? That's probably everything. I realize this is one of the worse scenarious, but what if I just casting three 3 CMC cards in main phase two and cascade three times? That also seems really good. I love cascade and want more of it but this is too much too fast for a Tower. He can scream all he wants in his art, he won't make the cut. Verdict: No thank you.

I know it's been a while since we've talked about Wizard's Tower and I've missed it too. We still won't have anything every Wednesday but this will keep popping up from time to time. There are still 15 partner commanders to talk about so I will probably do that at some point. I might do one next Wednesday. I might not. Let's find out together. In the meantime go out and play some Magic. It's fun...usually. Until next time friends.

Did you buy one of the Commander sets? Do you have no self control like me and bought four of each Commander set? Do you want to have a gab sesh about the who's who of the Magic world? Send us a message or leave a comment!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Heavy Salami! This is going to be brief because I am going to go keep eating until I physically cannot move and have to be forklifted home. I hope everyone has a heavy Thanksgiving and that all you will have to be forklifted home as well.

I wanted to have a Thanksgiving themed deck built for today but I ran out of time. I would call it "Turkey and Stuffing" or something but it turns out turkeys don't exist in the Magic Universe. So it started to degenerate to food tribal which could still be a fun deck. I have ideas though so if anyone wants to finish what I start feel free. Maybe when I get bored of Book Tribal I'll move to Food Tribal.

It would probably be a Commander deck but could also just be a kitchen table deck.

If it's Commander start with this:

Karametra, God of Turkey and Mashed Potatos
If you're not building a Commander deck start with this card as well. God of Harvests is pretty Thanksgiving-y. Also fits the "food tribal" theme because people harvest food sometimes. As you can tell, when it comes to tribal I'm pretty loose with the rules. That comes from my parents being super loose with the rules when I was a kid. I was allowed to have dessert after I finished my vegetables and stay up until 10 PM. One time they even let me stay up until 11PM. It was a crazy childhood.

Me today
This definitely fits the theme of Thanksgiving because it's not really Thanksgiving until I'm just a giant blob of food. Even after I hit that point though I just keep going. No food is spared. I don't even really eat it, I just blend it all together and make a gravy-turkey shake. Devour is also a fitting mechanic for food tribal so this card and any other card that has devour and is on color can be a good fit here.

High School cafeteria lunch amirite?
This card has food in it. There you go. That's all there is to it really. Food in art means it fits. This card could also be good in combination with Karametra since when you play a creature you get a free land and draw a card. This is better food synergy than my turkey meat shake.

"Describe your relationship with a Magic card"
And finally the most important part of this deck. Hot Soup. Such a mediocre card with a lot of flavor. The soup I mean, because soup has a lot of flavor. The card has pretty good flavor too, though. Carrying hot soup makes you unblockable which makes sense because have you ever tried blocking soup? I did once when I worked at Denny's. I was trying to save a beautiful stack of pancakes from getting all soggy so I threw my body in front of it. I had burns all over but then they just covered me in cold pudding and I was all set to finish my shift. I'm just waiting for the "Cold Pudding" artifact equipment now.

Cold Pudding      1

Equipped creature does not untap during your untap step.
Equipped creature has menace.
Prevent all damage dealt to a creature equipped with Cold Pudding.
When Cold Pudding is unequipped from a creature destroy that creature.

Equip 3

This pretty much sums up how I felt. I was unstoppable and felt no pain with cold pudding but as soon as it was removed I wanted to die.

Alright deck builders, here is your holiday inspiration for a new deck so go out and build. Those of you who do build a food/Thanksgiving deck please share it with us. We at team Heavy Salami would love to see what food based decks can be made. Mostly because we love food. The Magic part is okay too though.

I know I said this last time but next week I will have a new Standard deck for everyone and I actually will this time too. Have a happy Thanksgiving and eat until you feel like a bad person!

Want to share your Thanksgiving meal with us? Want to share your food tribal list with us? Do you also feel like a gluttonous slime? Tell us in the comments or send us a sexy private message!

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Different Kind of Tribal

Ah yes, water does beat paper...

Hello everyone. It's been a long time. You are probably wondering where Dan and I have been for the last month. We've been training. We went up into the mountains where we found the ancient mystics and trained with them to become better Magic players. We stood under waterfalls with our decks to test our resilience. We shuffled decks for hours to improve our dexterity. We read ancient texts of the ancient alpha players to learn how to deck build. We threw boulders off cliffs because throwing stuff at other stuff is fun.

It is through all this training that I came upon a new deck. I want to say I built this deck but in reality, this deck built me. I have built lots of decks of all different calibers but this is my masterpiece. If I were to leave this world, this is the legacy I would want to leave in the Magic community.

Before undergoing all of my training, I had been meaning to build a new Commander deck for some time. I currently have three commander decks and was looking to play something new and mix it up a bit but I didn't know what I wanted to build. I wanted some sort of theme but I didn't just want to do a creature tribal because there are hundreds of different tribal decks for each creature type. I needed something different and weird, but still somewhat competitive. After some reflection and meditation it came to me to me in a dream. I already had the idea for this deck years ago, but didn't realize it was there.

Let's back track to 5 years ago. I was in college and Skyrim was just releases. All of my roommates and myself bought it and we played it nonstop. Even when we got bored with it we never really stopped playing it, just took extended breaks. About a year later it was time for me to start playing Skyrim again but I didn't know what I wanted to do in this play through. I had done magic, I had done stealth, and I had done straight up combat. I decided to play as a pacifist. I would see how much I could do in the world of Skyrim, and how many problems I could solve without violence. I also decided that my character was a pacifist because he was a scholar and felt that everything could be solved through discussion and knowledge. So as I journeyed through Skyrim trying to complete quests, I would also collect any texts that I could get my hands on. I read these to gain more knowledge and kept an expansive collection in my house in Whiterun.

It was during my meditation in temple that this story spoke to me. So I present to you:

Ain't No Holla Book Girl (Book Tribal)

The idea was that every card in this deck has books in the art. Now I'm using the term "book" pretty fast and loose because some art has scrolls, and some art just has pages of paper, but scrolls are just roll-y books, and pages are book-y pieces so it all counts.

Now the first step in creating this deck was figuring out who my commander would be. I ideally wanted it to be three color because I had no idea how many cards I would actually find with books in the art so the more colors, the more it gave me to work with. I also felt Esper would be the best because Orzhov and Azorious cards would probably have a lot of books/scrolls/papers in them. Sydri, Galvanic Genius was Esper and she had a book or two in the art, but I didn't want this to turn into an artifact deck. I wanted it to be it's own deck. So Sydri was out. I continued on looking through all the different three color commanders. I then found Nicol Bolas the creature. He's pretty mediocre for an 8 cost with having to pay UBR every upkeep but damn, he had a lot of books. It'll be rare that he hits the battlefield, so he'll just have to watch all his book-y subjects do work for him. Despite this, he was perfect and he was the one. Grixis book tribal it was.

Now with the commander on lock, it brought upon the daunting task of finding cards with books in them. The downside was that there is no advanced search that is advanced enough to type in "blue, black, and red cards with books in the art," but the upside was that I had so much time to kill I could just go through all blue, black, and red cards in existence scouring through the art. Now in the provided deck list I'm not sure what art it will show, so if it shows something that doesn't have books in it, be sure to check alternate art before coming at me saying there aren't books. I promise there are. I fucking checked.

"Well why didn't you include card X in book tribal? It has books in the art!"

To answer this question to all book art cards that didn't make the cut: I wasn't feeling it. There are plenty of cards that are just better than what I have but I built this mostly on a budget. I say mostly because there are a couple money cards in there that I got through trades of bulk rares I didn't care about so I didn't really pay anything for it. Demonic Tutor is the perfect example. That card is strictly better than a lot of what is in here but I wasn't willing to drop $40+ for my book tribal, especially because I'm not even sure how competitive this will be. Actually, yes I am, it will not be competitive. That's okay though, it's really more for fun and doing silly shenanigans than anything. Do you think a hardcore competitive deck would run Goblin Games? Probably not. I mean, every deck should probably run it, but most don't.

Let's talk about what this deck does do though. It ended up having a lot of weird synergy. To no ones surprise "books" in terms of Magic is synonymous with card draw and scrying. So it does a lot of that. There are a couple of targeted draw spells that work great with cards like this:

I will never complain about a paper cut on my hands again

This card is the only real win condition this deck has. I can still hit with creatures, sure, but there isn't anything in here that's too insane as far as creatures go. I plan on just drawing everything and scrying through everything until I find that one answer I need. "What answer is that?" Good question because they are few and far between. I'll just shoot you for two and make you draw two with Sing in Blood and then you take two extra on your upkeep from Price of Knowledge. That's about all I got. Pass turn.

There may not be a lot of ways to win, but there are a lot of ways to be annoying. They're just so happened to be a lot of wizards in here because turns out wizards like books. Who knew? With the wizards working together you get cards like this:

Papa Wizard here to counter everything

And cards like this:

All I read was "Azami, Lady of Cylinder Books"
The beauty of these two cards is that they can tap themselves for either of these abilities. And since these aren't tap abilities, you can do this the turn they hit the battlefield since summoning sickness doesn't affect these. That way if you're hurting for wizards you at least have these cards themselves to draw you cards or try and counter a spell. There are a plethora of other Wizard's though so hopefully you can draw lots of cards, or make sure their spell gets countered by making them pay 1 four or five times. Use that in combination with this guy:

Ah yes, Aphetto, the man who made Pinocchio
Now you can untap all those wizards you just tapped to draw a card and tap them again to draw another card. "Why wouldn't I just tap Aphetto Alchemist to draw a card?" Well I guess you could do things the easy way, but if I wanted to do things the easy way I wouldn't have built book tribal. You can however, use him effectively to untap cards like this:

I don't care what he looks like, an atlas is a book and I'll probably miss land drops.
or this:

Scroll is book. I needed damage.
These are two cards that do tap that would be great to untap and tap again. Dropping three lands a turn seems okay, and being able to shoot for 4 when you have no other use for you mana also seems okay. I guess there is the possibility that your opponent tries to destroy target tapped creature and you just go "NOPE" as you untap whatever they target only to fall pray to a much bigger scheme you could not have foreseen. At least your one dude lived.

The other "win condition" in here is this:

I'm never going to sacrifice this. I just want to see how many study counters I can get.
When I play this deck for the first time in a play group, I'm just going to hope that I look non-threatening enough to the point where everyone ignores me. Sure I'll play a creature here or there that people want dead, but I anticipate that. I also hope that people will have to board wipe other creatures and just fill everyone's graveyard. Then near the end game I drop this bad book and and get everyone's creatures. Will they all get board wiped? No doubt. I reckon I won't even get to do much with any of the creatures, but it's about sending a message. Don't underestimate the power of knowledge and study counters.

I haven't actually played this yet but I sure am excited to. I don't plan on winning but I can only imagine how good it will feel to draw, scry, and search for everything in my deck. I could also go into more detail about the accidental synergies in this deck, but to keep on theme I feel you should explore and learn for yourself what they happen to be. I will ultimately deck myself in most games but I have accepted that and wait for it with much anticipation. There are some improvements that can be made and I may swap some cards around as I play this because it turns out cards with book art are all like $0.50.

I'm sorry we've been gone for so long. I know the Magic community hasn't even noticed the disappearance of team Heavy Salami but we're coming back with a vengeance. I have a super janky, non-budget, standard deck in the works that I'll introduce you too. We may have some new things in the works or we may just play a lot more Magic. We're sorry we were quiet but we never left you. Check back later this week for another article. Probably. Who knows really?

Have your own Commander brew you want to share? Want to tell us how much you missed us? Want to ask us who we are and ask why were talking like people should care? Want to have a slumber party via skype? Let us know in the comments or send us a message!

Monday, October 17, 2016


Crawling his way into our hearts.
Whats good, fellow dorks? Dan is here with a sexy new and improved deck to show you. Well, ok, it's not really new, but it is improved. Some of you may remember this shell from way back when during SoI Standard. I forgot to build a Standard deck and ended up playing this monstrosity. Also back then I made excuses for not making many posts, but I've run out of excuses. Truth is I'm just a piece of shit who prefers watching videos of Corgis trying to climb staircases rather than write stuff. I have no reason to lie to you - what are you gonna do, tell my mom? She's known I'm a failure for 26 years now, so whatever. Anyways... yeah, ever since that day half a year ago, I've had some variant of this list in my pocket as a backup Standard deck.

So here we are several sets later, and we've landed in Kaladesh. Chandra's home is a magical land where the vehicles drive, and the turtles thrive. With Collected Company finally leaving, there are a ton of sexy new mechanics and interactions making their way into Standard with Kaladesh. We have Energy combos thanks to Aetherworks Marvel, Storm in Standard thanks to Aetherflux Reservoir (also I'll always get those two confused), Copters smuggling all over the place, Control is viable again, and all sorts of other wacky brews are showing up.

Thats cute and all, but I'm a simple man. I'm the kind of red mage that will un-ironically Lava Axe you. So if you give a Lava Axe legs, you can bet I'm gonna play that bitch until it rotates.

That's right ladies and gremlins, you can still cast Reality Smasher on turn four in this format, and it turns out that's still pretty fuckin' good. You know what's better than a turn four Reality Smasher? A turn three "Reality Smusher."

Beep beep.
Who knew that five power trample haste would be strong as hell early? Most people. That's a lot of damage real quick, and I think Red Eldrazi is poised for a comeback as a solid aggressive strategy. With cars in the mix though, we need a new name for our mono-red/colorless deck that just wants to turn sideways, so I present to you:

Get it? You can turn right on red lights, and it's a red deck with cars that turns their cards to the right to attack! Puns are great. (Attacking on a budget? Check the bottom of the article for a cheaper list!)

This deck does a lot of damage early to throw opponents off balance, and thanks to big Chandy and the addition of Vehicles that can be crewed by just about every creature in this deck, it has a good deal of late-game staying power.

Get your spoons, cause we're gonna analyze all the meaty chunks of this stew. Then again, maybe you don't need a spoon to just analyze. Grab your spoons anyways, just in case.

The Critters:

There aren't a whole lot of changes from the average Mono-Red Eldrazi list that I was playing last Standard, at least in the creature department. Pia takes the place of Thopter Engineer (pour some out for Kiran), and croozer fills in the light four-drop slot. We lose Hangarback Walker, which sucks, but balling new removal spells give us a nice buffer against aggressive decks.

Mana dorks have never been so dorky.
Hedron Crawler has the most useless body I've ever seen, but it gets the job done. Colorless mana is important for our deck, and being able to ramp is big bizness. Crawler lets us play scary threats like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher ahead of curve, or when paired with Ruins of Oran Rief, lets us play our fatties on curve with an additional +1/+1 counter on them. Not too shabby. On top of all that, Mr. Hedron himself can get wacky and go on the beatdown path with a counter from Ruins, or by using Pia to pump him up. This isn't the strongest, but it does confuse your opponent, so it's like Plan F.

Sometimes he dies and turns into a Mountain, and that's ok.
Reshaper is a great card if we need to go late. He trades off with something without losing us a card, he's fine attacking, and is surprisingly good at driving for having hands made of lava. The more popular Kalitas and Declaration in Stone are in Standard, the worse this guy gets. Switching up numbers on him may be necessary depending on your store's meta.

He's looking down at his bottom half like "Shit, my organs fell out again."
Aggy is a lot worse in the deck now than he was before rotation. Hangarback Walker, Pia and Kiran Nalaar (#NeverForget), Thopter Engineer, and Foundry of the Consuls could provide an asston of colorless dudes to make Vile Aggregate a huge beater. Thankfully, with widow Pia, Hedron Crawler, our Eldrazi, and the new Vehicles, Aggregate is still a reasonable threat with a big booty that's amazing at blocking.

One is the looooneliest thopter...
Pia is a strong independent woman who don't need no man. Even with only one thopto, she has enough abilities and mini synergies with our deck that she is the real deal. A thopter gives us a bit of evasion to pressure walkers, and is actually pretty scary if we get to put a counter on it with Ruins. Pia herself can drive a car, and then her ability to pump the power of artifacts comes up a lot, whether it be her thopter, a vehicle, or even a particularly cheeky Hedron Crawler. And finally, being able to sac an artifact to knock out a blocker is great, giving late-game Hedron Crawlers and un-crewable vehicles some purpose.

He's like a Magic 8-ball, except every answer is "CONSUME AND DESTROY ZENDIKAR"
A 4/4 for four that eats the opponents best card in hand is good. Not a lot else to say here. Sometimes you play him on turn three, and that's swell. Sometimes Ruins makes him a 5/5, and you cheer. Sometimes he pilots a blimp.

The Lava Axe we all deserve.
This card is why I decided to play Eldrazi this Standard. He's big, he's fast, he's hard to kill, and he tramples over most of the creatures being played. Torrential Gearhulk is his biggest enemy, and even that can't stand in the way if we get lucky enough to put a Ruins counter on the Smasher. He puts a whole lot of pressure on slower decks, and can even convince aggressive decks to stop attacking for fear of a wicked crackback.

Oh, also haste. Frequently your opponent will do something stupid like attack you, in which case you get to slam a Smasher and ruin their night. Nigel smash!


The invention of the combustible engine is what actually drives Eldrazi back into the competition. Vehicles count as colorless creatures, are easy for the deck to crew, and let us stay aggressive while also leaving us something late after boardwipes or whatnot. So grab the keys, get out of my dreams, and get into my car.

Reality Smasher 5-8.
The best part about this card, objectively, is that you get to play it and make tire screeching sounds as you attack. It's also takes a big chunk out of your opponents life total, comes down unexpectedly with haste, is easy to crew, and can even get a counter on it from Ruins the turn it lands. A curve of three-drop into Cruiser into Smasher into Chandra is our dream, and is just a stupid amount of damage.

Keep an eye out for opportunities to play this, attack, and then wait for them to make poor blocks before you activate Ruins of Oran Rief to put a counter on it. Often times they'll forget that's an option since it's such a strange interaction, and you may be able to eat a creature for free. Mmm, creatures.

I really want to fill this full of thopters for the full Protoss experience, but that's not really something that can happen with this deck :'[. I'll settle for having Eldrazi fly the blimp though, cause that mental image is gold.

The boat hits the field, ideally killing something, and then hangs out as a gigantic threat against... well, everything. It gives us a great way to cope with Planeswalkers, get rid of blockers, and pressure life totals directly. There isn't room in the deck for multiple high-cost spells that don't attack life totals right away, but one or two boats go a long way in diversifying our threats while also giving us access to more removal.

The other goodies

We arent't running a ton of non-creature spells, but the number has increased in comparison to the pre-rotation list. We've got some brand new quality removal thanks to Kaladesh. Harnessed Lightning is a natural inclusion, as Aether Hub turbo charges the spell and is one of the most powerful lands our deck can run. Lightning is just a great early answer against aggressive decks, while still being relevant against bigger dudes.

Spatial Contortion is still good, but thanks to Veteran Motorist and Depala making the Copter a wee bit too large, we only run two of them. Don't forget that Spatial Contortion can be used on your own fatties to push through extra damage when necessary!

Who needs four loyalty abilities anyways?
Chandra is at her finest in this deck. Her +1 gives us yet another way to add big piles of hasty attackers to the board, which this deck wants once we hit turn five and on. In this list the elementals are even stronger than before rotation, since we can now have them drive cars and shit if they have large enough blockers where their bodies are irrelevant. I like to pretend they wear little chauffeur hats as they do it, too.

Her next best ability is her -X. Most early game threats rest around three toughness, and a -3 sets us up perfectly to wipe out a board and be left with a threatening planeswalker. Our own creatures are typically large enough to survive the wipe as well, with Pia and Hedron Crawler being the only losers. Even if you have to nuke your own Matter Reshaper, at least you get a card back!

Her 0 is good, letting us go late by drawing cards and improving our hand quality. There are plenty of players who will love this option on Chandra, but lets be honest - I'm not that dude. I'm fuckin' attacking or killing stuff, ideal strategies be damned.

Utility lands

We're technically running a two color deck here - Red, and colorless. Luckily, most lands that offer additional utility these days also provide us with colorless mana, which gives us access to a whole pile of great spell-effects that don't even waste a spell slot in our deck. The small advantages gained by being able to include fancy-pants lands add up, and help us to drag this fairly aggressive deck into the late game.

Makin' big dudes bigger since OGW.
Ruins is definitely in the running for most powerful land in this deck. Our colorless creatures are already outrageously powerful on their own, and being able to toss extra power and toughness onto them is a hoot. Every single creature we run benefits from this land as well - even Pia, a red creature, comes along with a colorless thopter that can get a counter from Ruins. Vile Aggregate may look red, but thanks to devoid can also nab a counter from Ruins. I don't run four, because we're aggressive enough that we don't want too many tapped lands, but I think the deck could handle it if that's your thing.

Just like in real life, once the dam breaks, you... draw cards? I dunno.
The Wreckage is one of our best extremely late-game cards. This lets us draw more threats if the opponent manages to survive and stabilize, while also giving us colorless mana early on. Multiple Sea Gates are bad unless you're wicked deep into the game, and you have enough mana to activate one, then activate the other in response to net two cards. I'd look to cut one of these first if you're looking to up the Ruins of Oran-Rief count.

Kaladesh is actually just New New York.
If Ruins doesn't make the cut for best land, Aether Hub certainly does. This is the ideal land to see at most points of the game. A majority of our spells require colorless mana, which Aether Hub gives us. But in addition to that, we get a one-shot red source, which is often enough to play your one Pia or Vile Aggregate before you get back to slamming Thought-Knots and Smashers. Conveniently it gives us an additional energy as well, which makes our Harnessed Lightnings that much scarier. Alternatively, if we only need to harness a few points of damage from our lightning, we're left with more red-source activations. Aether Hub fills the same role of "dual land" that Battlefield Forge and Shivan Reef used to, but gives us extra play with our removal spells.

Ah yes, just a perfectly normal church, nothing to see here.
The abbey lands in the deck as an all around good card, while not actually essential to our strategy at all. Making a 1/1 isn't bad when you have nothing else to do, and sometimes we get lucky and get to randomly make a 9/7 flying indestructible haste lifelink, which sounds like a happy little accident. Other than that, it's just another dumb colorless source.

The last couple of utility land slots are open to interpretation. So far I've tried Crumbling Vestige as another one-shot red source, Mirrorpool to try and copy a Harnessed Lightning or one of our big critters, Blighted Gorge for a tiny amount of reach, and Spawning Bed as an instant-speed way to get some blockers or enough creatures to crew a vehicle. All have been decent, with no clear-cut best option. Right now I'm leaning towards a one-of Spawning Bed for more chumps if I'm behind, attackers if I'm ahead, or drivers if I'm in a race.

On top of this, the deck runs 10-14 Mountains. I wouldn't go any lower than 10, since we still have colored cards in Pia, Aggregate, Harnessed Lightning, and Chandra. Pia gives us a place to use up excess red, and even though it's a later-game card, Chandra still requires double red. Quite a few of our sideboard cards require red or double red as well, so having enough Mountains is essential. Don't go overboard though, because getting colorless early on is very important for a lot of our spells.

The Matchups

Right-on-Red has some good play against aggro. We have plenty of early game disruption with Harnessed Lightning and Spatial Contortion, and once we manage to survive the first few turns with minimal damage, we can turn the race in our favor very quickly with Thought-Knot seers, Reality Smashers, and Chandra. Be sure to kill any fliers (cough copter cough) as soon as possible, as fliers are a pain for our deck. Most of the aggressive ground creatures can be stone-walled by our superior butts, so that's not as much of an issue.

In the side-boarded games, I'd recommend cards such as additional Spatial Contortions, Savage Alliance, and Kozilek's Return. Savage Alliance in particular is a killer, since it lets us nuke several things on board, namely Toolcraft Exemplars and Veteran Motorists. Drop the cars and one or two Chandras to make room. On turn four you'd rather play removal than the Cruiser, and while Chandra is great to help stabilize, there's a real chance you never hit six mana to cast her.

Our midrange matchup is probably the worst. Our removal is typically slightly worse, our creatures are big but not as flexible, and they'll usually have more planeswalkers along the curve. Our best bet is to play aggressive, and hope we can fade as much removal as possible. Kill walkers as soon as you can, and try to force them to have an answer or die. If we can keep the board relatively clear, eventually a Reality Smasher or an active Chandra can clean the game up for us.

Post board, they probably get even better, though we get some options. Bring in cards like Warping Wail if they're playing board wipes or sorcery speed removal like Ruinous Path. Dragonmaster Outcast can also do a lot of work, coming in and taking over the game after they've blown most of their early game removal. Endbringer is a newbie I've been trying for this matchup, though I can't say I've ever actually drawn him. I imagine drawing extra cards and eliminating attackers/blockers would be good, but fuck if I know.

If they aren't running Ishkanah, Eldrazi Obligator can also be insane against midrange decks. We can typically chip in small bits of damage, get into a board stall, and then blow it wide open with an Obligator stealing a creature. Spider babies make that rough, though, so try to avoid it against Delirium decks. On the other hand, stealing Emrakul is hilarious, so it might be worth it. You do you.

I haven't got the chance to test this deck against the new Jeskai and Grixis control of the Pro Tour quite yet. I'm sure I will this week as the dirty control players at my shop try out the lists, and we'll see how it goes. Historically this deck has done well against control, since haste creatures put a lot of pressure on control players. Thought-Knot is great here to clear out removal, and creatures that don't put us behind on cards are also money. Matter Reshaper is spectacular if they don't have exile-based removal, Reality Smasher is oodles of pressure that makes them two-for-one themselves, and Pia leaves behind a creature even if one half is dealt with.

Post-board is interesting. You can either try to keep up late, making changes similar to your Midrange matchup where you bring in Dragonmasters, Endbringer, and Obligators to steal their finishers, or you can go turbo-aggro. I'm an advocate of the second, because I'm always an advocate of attacking. I always bring in 8 against control - four Obligators, four Goldnight Castigators. If I've seen Fumigate or some nonsense like Descend Upon the Sinful, then I'll also bring in any Warping Wails I have access to.

Not a lot to say here. Your decks are like two ships passing in the night - them trying to do something stupid, you trying to count to 20. I'd just board in every haste threat possible, and try to race their combo. If they're running board wipes, sideboarding in Warping Wail can help save you, and can even give you another attacker in a pinch.

Eldrazi Obligator is at his absolute best against the Aetherworks Marvel deck. You hit them for a bunch early, they manage to drop a huge Eldrazi on turn four or five, and you just steal it and hit their face with it.

I've given an example sideboard in the deck list, but it is by no means final. Depending how the meta shifts, I wouldn't be surprised if I need more Warping Wails to deal with Fumigate, or maybe more Savage Alliance and Spatial Contortion to fight aggro. Who knows?! As always, be sure to tweak your sideboard for whatever the flavor of the month is at your store.

Budget Options

I can relate to both his empty wallet and his confused face.
Don't like paying much to play? I don't blame you. My favorite deck ever was my Theros Standard deck, Pump and Dump, because it barely cost me for than $50 to put together. So what can we do with Right-on-Red so that more people can play it? Sadly, a lot of the core pieces of this deck are immovable. Coming in somewhere around $140, this is relatively inexpensive for Standard, but we can do better.

Chandra is definitely the most expensive part of the deck. Luckily, her price has dropped significantly the past several weeks since she hasn't been seeing much play. To shave off $20 or so bucks, you can run 0-2 Chandras, and replace her with Endbringer to play a longer game, or bring in Reckless Bushwhackers to play aggressive with an explosive finish.

Thought-Knots and Reality Smashers are the next most expensive, thanks to their widespread play in eternal formats. Smasher is necessary, and can't really be replaced. Sorry mate. Thought-Knot, though powerful, isn't necessary if you're willing to play more aggressive. Maxing out on Fleetwheel Cruisers and bringing in Reckless Bushwhackers is a great way to keep the same core idea, but try to go fast to make up for the absent hand disruption.

Aether Hub is way too expensive for an uncommon. I fully expect it to drop a ton in the next few weeks as Kaladesh is opened more and more. Until then, feel free to run a split of 2 Mountains and 2 of whatever colorless land. Alternatively, Crumbling Vestige does a cute impression of the Hub.

Making these changes gives us a budget version of the deck that's almost $50 cheaper. Sure, it won't be as good as the main list, but it should be more than enough to rock an FNM!


That's all for today, my fellow red mages and spaghetti enthusiasts. It looks like this set is our time to shine - Red is back, and it burns so good. I can't wait to see what other crazy new decks come out of Standard, and more importantly, I can't wait to smash their realities.

Like Eldrazi? Have you been playing a different version/different color, and wanna share? Think there's some stupid shit I missed? Let us know! Leave a comment below, send us a message, or holler over at our twitter @Heavy_Salami! Also check out our bros at, they're cool.