|Crawling his way into our hearts.|
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.
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.
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.|
|Sometimes he dies and turns into a Mountain, and that's ok.|
|He's looking down at his bottom half like "Shit, my organs fell out again."|
|One is the looooneliest thopter...|
|He's like a Magic 8-ball, except every answer is "CONSUME AND DESTROY ZENDIKAR"|
|The Lava Axe we all deserve.|
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.|
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.
|CARRIER HAS ARRIVED.|
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?|
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.
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.|
|Just like in real life, once the dam breaks, you... draw cards? I dunno.|
|Kaladesh is actually just New New York.|
|Ah yes, just a perfectly normal church, nothing to see here.|
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.
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.
|I can relate to both his empty wallet and his confused face.|
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.
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