Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Deck tech - Mono-red "I forgot to build a standard deck"

Sup chitlins, this is Dan. Sorry we haven't been posting much content - Gaige and I have both been practicing for a state-championship tournament this weekend, so we haven't had a ton of time to write. We've also been working, which is less exciting. I feel like a wizard with a desk job, and it's horseshit.

It's like this, but instead of lightning, it's Microsoft Excel.
So, tournament! Neat. Gaige and I are both playing brews as we usually do. There's two reasons I personally rarely netdeck.

  1. I can't justify spending the money on flavor-of-the-week.dec, especially when half of it rotates so soon.
  2. I'm not a bitch.
Just kidding obviously, netdeck to your hearts content, it's just not for me. So this season our team has Gaige playing Black/White Boardwipe tribal, which I'm sure he'll do a write-up about sometime soon for those of you who like killing shit every turn. I, on the other hand, am playing this Blue/White Spooky Spirit Control deck that I made.

Dan! You stupid dong-guzzler, you linked a shitty stock picture of a fluorescent light. Yeah, fun story. So for about two weeks I've diligently tested a flash-control deck with spirits against all the relevant matchups. I ordered the last few cards I needed, and Monday we finally went to sleeve everything up. It was then that I realized some of my cards hadn't arrived in the mail. Some stupid motherfuckers canceled my Secure The Wastes order cause it jumped from like $4 to $12. Hope it was worth a customer, asshat.

This, sadly, was not secured.
Well, dicks. Luckily I ordered most of the parts for a R/W humans shell, so I went to sleeve that up. Oh, wait, they canceled my Thalia's Lieutenant orders as well. Time to just kill myself, I guess. As I opened another Oberon and began to drink myself into oblivion, I started to flip through my trade binder, wondering how many shiny Fugitive Wizards I was gonna have to trade away to make one of these decks work. Then, a sunbeam shined down from the heavens, illuminating a single, beautiful promo card I got at the Oath of the Gatewatch Pre-release.

*Angles sing out in chorus*
I was obligated to do it. Spaghetti monsters got into my mind. And red seemed like a fine enough color, so fuck it, let's cook up something shitty for the tournament.

I couldn't decide if I wanted an agro deck, or more of a long-game inevitability deck. I looked up how much Chandra, Flamecaller currently cost, and decided that the agro beatdown was suddenly much more my style. I start grabbing random red cards I owned, stealing quite a few of Gaige's, and before I knew it, my plate was full of a heaping helping of Spaghetti Marinara, and it was ready to smash.

The deck is sweet as hell to play. I mean, half your lands are god damn spells. That is most excellent. It can quickly switch between ultra-fast beatdown and longer game staying power, and with a lot of skill, it can do some crazy plays. So, naturally, my plays aren't too crazy, but I can dream. I'm gonna break this bitch down and look at the individual parts, and let you in on the secrets in my mind. Not the dirty, sexy parts though. We're saving that for Sexy Deck Saturday.

The Early Creatures:

So let's take a look at what we're working with here. Spaghetti Marinara is obviously a pasta-based dish creature-based beatdown deck. It follows a decent curve, with most of the meat-sauce being around the three drop spot, and then it has a couple bigger guys to close out the game.

Early on we have my beau, Lightning Beserker. Beserker does a lot of fun things in this deck. Of course she's great as a one drop, and puts a lot of pressure on the opponent by swinging in right away. She also can trade up for bigger dudes once you get a few red sources, so she makes a good blocker or attacker mid-game. Most importantly, she has dash.

Dash is very important in the current meta. Being able to dash her in lets her dodge the boogeyman, Declaration in Stone. It also helps against controlling decks, since you don't need to commit as much to board, so you can easily play around boardwipes. And, the dankest play, when she's your last card in hand you can dash her, hit 'em, and then activate Sea-Gate Wreckage before she returns to hand. Everyone loves drawing cards in mono-red, right?

100% chance of exiling a card you can't play.

And speaking of, Abbot of Keral Keep does that, too. I play him out on turn two if I really need pressure or blockers, but he's best coming out later to try and snag a free land or spell. Granted it always fucks me somehow, but I mean, the idea is there. After him, we move onto our thickass three-drop slot.

Obligators are stupid. They hit for a lot if you just want a hasty dude, they can get pumped by Ruins of Oran-Rief, and most importantly, they can steal a guy for a hot second. A lot of my games have ended by stealing their Avacyn/huge dude with Gryff's Boon, and smashing face for over 15 damage. The flexibility of him being either a three drop or a five drop is great, and he's an important finisher.

Reckless Bushwhacker rounds off the agro, giving us a pump spell on a stick to throw at the opponent. He can often close out the game if he comes down for surge, though he isn't 100% necessary, so I just run two.

Fat butts and the late-game:

She got a big booty so I call her Vile Aggregate.
As we wind down on our creatures, we get our delicious late-game threats. First on stage is the noodley Vile Aggregate. On his own he's a modest 1/5, which blocks Humans like it's his god damn job. Which, to be fair, it is. He also can get the pump from Ruins of Oran-Rief, and his power increases as we start to play our late-game threats, such as Thought-Knot, Pia and Kiran, Reality Smasher, etc.

Those dudes - they are our late game. Thought-knot is a big body that gets rid of whatever the scariest card they have is. Granted, there are plenty of times where they just reveal like 3 removal spells and two planeswalkers, and you will be sad, but you were kind of fucked anyways. Pia and Kiran give us some damage in the air, the ability to throw thopters at their face to finish them off, and give Vile Aggregate some more power. Reality Smasher smashes. He's simple like that.

We also have Matter Reshaper as a mid-game dude. He can get pumped by ruins to be a bit bigger, and when he dies he either draws us a card, or gets us a free guy. Declaration in Stone makes him super sad though, so careful to not play multiples against a white deck.

Spells to kill dumb things:

This deck is very light on spells. We have two Magmatic Insight to give us some steam as we topdeck garbage later, though these often get sided out for more removal game two. Fall of the Titans, Fiery Impulse, and Spatial Contortion are all just solid removal spells, and Contortion even gets around indestructible, which is neat. And our last spell is literally my favorite in my deck:

This is the image Alanis Morissette's voice brings to mind.
Warping Wail just does a ton in this format right now. All of it's modes are shockingly relevant, and there's a good chance that I bump out the Magmatic Insights for more of these suckers. Let's break this bad boy down:

  • Exile target creature with power or toughness 1 or less - This is everything this deck wants. So many low-power/toughness creatures just get in our way, and are generally annoying. Jace, Thing in the Ice, Consul's Lieutenant, and fresh Hangarback Walkers appear in some quantity in just about every deck, so I don't often find myself facing down a deck where this mode doesn't have a great target.
  • Counter target sorcery spell - Countering is the sideboard chunk of this card, though in some matchups it is relevant game one. Boardwipes can be devastating if you're going full-agro, and chances are that you'll want to do that against control. You know what control decks don't expect from an agro deck with only a Blighted Gorge and a Mountain untapped? Something to counter their god damn Languish, that's what. Getting two or three bodies on board and keeping up two mana for this is a very strong strategy, as often control will wait until they can get a two or three for one with a boardwipe, and if you counter that, they're probably screwed.
  • Put a 1/1 colorless Eldrazi Scion creature token onto the battlefield - I won't lie, when I first started putting this together, I thought I would never use this mode. It's turned out to do much more than I though, though. The two biggest are either making a scion on turn three, thus getting you enough mana to drop the dreaded turn four Reality Smasher. It's also very valid to cast this for a little dude, and then surge in a Bushwhacker to pump it and give it haste. These situations don't come up often, but options make me rock hard.
Prognosis, doctor? Fuckin' baller as hell. Write me a prescription for Hype. Just writing this makes me want to take these out of the sideboard and put them main, and you know what, I probably will. Good talk, team.

Lands that aren't mountains? What kind of red deck is this? Explain yourself:

Ok friends, now we're going to delve into the real strength of this deck. In most decks I play, barring the occasional man-land, lands are just a resource to cast spells with. The current sets offer a literal butt-load (we tested, and it is exactly one butt's worth) of utility lands, and this deck is sort of mono-colored, so we do our best to capitalize on the fact that we don't need a ton of color fixing.

Battlefield Forge does not double as a spell, but it does give us wingding mana to cast our big 'durzi spells, while still keeping the option to get red mana in a pinch. This is basically a dual land for us, since Colorless is one of the colors in this deck. Does that make sense? No, but this is our standard now.

Blighted Gorge is removal. Later-game there's often just a stupid Gideon token or something in the way, and you can blast it and punch their face to close the game out. I also did win one game by throwing a Blighted Gorge in their face. Literally picked it up and threw it at him. I won cause he had to drop to go to the hospital to have an Ultra-pro matte sleeve removed from his retina.

The sultry Foundry of the Consuls gets us some flying pressure later, or creates some surprise blockers to keep us alive through a lethal swing. Worth noting the Thopties pump Vile Aggregate as well, so be aware if you have the mana and are swinging with him. This is one of several cards that may have additional copies put it, depending how further testing goes, because flying is nice.

Ruins of Oran-Rief pumps our late-game threats to make them even scarier. It's also nice to have the option to make your tokens slightly bigger from your lands, Pia and Kiran, or Warping Wail. I may up the number of these, depending how further testing goes, but so far the singleton has showed up enough to help without the tapped down-side holding me back.

Just realized that Sea Gate is in fact not hyphenized. Also, I don't think 'hyphenized' a word.
Sea Gate Wreckage is the bread and butter of this deck. Or at very least, the Orange Juice. Sea Gate Wreckage is the <major breakfast roleplayer> of this deck. Since we're often playing 2 fast 2 furious, an empty hand is all too common. Sea Gate makes sure we can keep the steam for turns five and beyond, and it's one of the most important spells in the deck. All that in a god damned land-slot is enough to make me want to take this card out to a nice dinner and meet it's parents. Probably take it to Olive Garden, because for some reason as I write this I crave pasta.

And finally, our last utility land, Spawning Bed. Spawning Bed sounds disgusting (I mean - think about it) and is quite costly to pop open, but there are three entire tokens hiding inside of it. On their own they don't do a lot, but they can open a lot of other options up for other cards. With another land drop after, this hits you to ten mana to double-Smasher in a perfect world. Three tokens plus a Reckless Bushwhacker is a lot of damage to threaten at an opponent, and three 1/1's on their own already can help you to go wide. My favorite use though is to pop this in response to damage to give your Vile Aggregates an extra three power. Like a lot of cards in this deck, pretty sad on it's own, but the options it opens up are something worth playing.

Wow, you even took the time to make a sideboard? Let's look at it, I guess:

The sideboard is pretty simple. We have some value cards to help us play a later game and close out a grindy match, such as Chandra, Dragonmaster Outcast, and the ideally un-counterable Exquisite Firecraft. There's some mad removal to kill all Humans, as well. An extra Fiery Impulse, Rending Volley, Outnumber and Warping Wail all kill humans and agro creatures quite well.

If removal isn't your style, then how about a mad dash to count to twenty the fastest? You can drop out your Thought-Knots and Magmatic Insights for a flying hasty Goldnight Castigator and the 4th Eldrazi Obligator, and then you can count like a pro. Which, honestly, is like... anybody past the first grade. Anyways, buyers beware, because Goldnight Castigator can go hilariously wrong for you. I'd only bring them in against slow decks, since I don't have much confidence in winning a race against Humans with that angel on the field.

Opponent: "I attack with these four, and you take... uh... 208?"
And last but not least, we have our utility Warping Wails. I always bring these in against black-based decks, as countering a Languish or Flaying Tendrils at the right time is a massive swing, and can often win you the game very quickly after.

How are the matchups?

Against the main decks of the meta, this deck is not bad. I haven't played against every deck yet, and I'm playing in Bronze V here, not the Pro Tour, so I'm sure it's not a great representation. But here's what I've seen so far:

Humans decks will be everywhere, and it's just about an even match. I played my fair share against Mono-white, and both before and post-board, we we're pretty evenly matched. Gryff's Boon is the spookiest card in their deck, as we don't have much to deal with fliers, so our removal is essential. Rending Volley or a Fiery Impulse/Warping Wail in response to them casting it is huge, and makes sure the momentum goes in your favor.

Bant Coco is not too bad pre-board. We swing in hard, and we swing in fast. Reflector Mage is, obviously, wicked annoying, and will probably take out a creature with it's stupid two power and three toughness. Once we hit Thought-Knot level though, just grab away their Coco and we can finish them off fairly quick after that. Post-board you'll probably want to race them, but it is not an easy race. Bring in Obligator 4.0, Goldnights, and possibly Exquisite Firecraft if you're feeling ballsy. Alternatively, you can bring in Rending Volleys and Outnumber to clear the way for some spicy swings. That's probably the right way to go, since Hidden Dragonslayer will be gaining them a ton of life if it gets to live. In fact, I'd almost always bring in Rending Volley, cause Avacyn sucks. It's vital to remember that you can Rending Volley after she enters the battlefield, but before her indestructible trigger goes off, to kill her. Their other creatures still live, but Avacyn is a beater and a blocker, and the sooner she's gone, the better.

U/R Control is beatable, though it's a tough game. They have a lot of instant speed removal, and cards like Lightning Axe are even able to kill Reality Smashers and Vile Aggregates. The discard clause from Smasher isn't even much of a downside for them either, since Fiery Temper exists. That said, there is still a good chance you just swing in hard and fast before they can establish a Thing in the Ice. If they do land one that's giving you problems, Warping Wail handles it nicely, or you can force a bad block and finish it off with a Spatial Contortion. Post-board you'll want to bring in Rending Volley and Wails to make sure Thing never flips, and depending how brave you are, you can bring in the Dragonmasters and Chandra to keep late-game pressure, though I haven't had a chance to try that route against the deck.

B/W Control is probably our best matchup. We just go too fast for them. Game one is usually over before they can say "oh fuck I hope I draw Languish," and our sideboard is great for this deck as well. Warping Wails are a godsend, and the extra Obligator and Goldnights let us drop another huge hasty threat after any boardwipes that get through. I'm confident against this deck, and this is very similar to the deck Gaige is playing, so I'll be playing this matchup quite a bit.

B/R Vamps is a deck some goober played against me. I stomped it, it was hilarious, and good times were had. I don't think vampires are super competitive, but I'm going to pretend they are since I beat it so easily and it made me feel good.


So that's about it! All of this fits in at a nice, budget-y $150ish. That number can be very quickly dropped if you remove Chandra, the Goldnight Castigators, and Thought-Knot seers. You can replace Chandra with flip-Chandra from Origins, which is obviously worse, but if you can flip her, she still provides a solid late-game. Goldnight Castigators could be replaced with more Reality Smashers, which cost one more mana, but seven fewer dollars. Thought-Knot is tough to lose, but Pia and Kiran, Thopter Engineers, or even more Reckless Bushwhackers can make some sort or replacement for them, and save you some dollars. In fact, if you do the above changes, the deck drops to about $100. Not too shabby on a budget, and it gives you a shell that can be altered to either be full-on agro, or if you save up and buy the pieces over time, it molds into Big Red 'drazis with Hangarbacks and a playset of Chandra.

I'll be playing this in a nice long tournament this weekend, and will hopefully have more data to report on it. Until then, good luck fellow brewers, and may all your decks be great. Unless your playing against me, in which case I hope your deck is shit and you get landfucked hard.


Like the deck? Think something in it should change? Somehow think you could come up with a more clever name? Whatever you may be thinking, we definitely want to hear about it, so drop us a comment below, or send us a message using the form on the right!


  1. I don't know where you guys have been. I've been reading material and deck techs and what not. And I have not laughed as hard reading a magic artical in I think ever. Awesome brews and fun. I look forward to reading more. Thanks and I'll be sure to let my buddies know.

  2. I don't know where you guys have been. I've been reading material and deck techs and what not. And I have not laughed as hard reading a magic artical in I think ever. Awesome brews and fun. I look forward to reading more. Thanks and I'll be sure to let my buddies know.

    1. Haha thanks man. We're fairly new to the scene, glad that someone likes our stuff!

  3. I never read the week in review articals from like CF and shit I did and there was a link to your blog site about the mythics. I've been reading all your guys older post on the shitter for the last 30 or 45 min laughing helps with the terrible constipation from sitting on my ass drinking apple ciders and eating jalapeño chips. So definitely fun to read and who know might have saved my life from a terrible bowl obstruction! Cheers

    1. I'm glad that my writing is similar to a laxative!

  4. I never read the week in review articals from like CF and shit I did and there was a link to your blog site about the mythics. I've been reading all your guys older post on the shitter for the last 30 or 45 min laughing helps with the terrible constipation from sitting on my ass drinking apple ciders and eating jalapeño chips. So definitely fun to read and who know might have saved my life from a terrible bowl obstruction! Cheers