A Palette of Red (Deck Winning)

Whenever a new set becomes released (especially one with as much diverse power as Oath of the Gatewatch), people will be trying new cards, mana bases, and archetypes. Certainly, new decks and untested changes to existing decks will run amok in the meta for the first few weeks, so what better chance to punish your opponents for experimenting than with a fast, consistent deck like the many variants of Red Aggro? In this article, I will share some new ideas for decks to kill your opponent before they do whatever they are trying to do–what could be more fun? 🙂

My first two lists undertake different approaches to maximize the value of a powerful but underutilized red enchantment: Call of the Full Moon. First of all, people will think you are crazy for playing this card and you need to reinforce that impression by laughing maniacally and howling at the moon while you beat their face for 5 trample damage on turn 2.

Call of the Full Moon

But in all seriousness, there are some important reasons why this card hasn’t taken off in Standard, and we need to be aware of those reasons when playing it. First of all: casting CFM creates an opportunity for a clean 2-1 in your opponent’s favor when they remove your creature in response to it. If you manage to resolve CFM on a creature, your opponent still has an opportunity to go 2-1 if they have they correct removal such as Ultimate Price, Complete Disregard, or Immolating Glare. Sorcery speed removal like Silkwrap creates this opportunity as well, but usually not until CFM has provided you with at least 3 extra damage. Furthermore, they can eliminate the enchantment by casting two spells in a single turn (and with U/R/x prowess/surge-based decks on the the horizon, some matchups will have natural ways to deal with CFM without having to deviate too far from their gameplan). The prospects become bleaker post-board, when your opponent likely knows what to expect and can adjust their gameplan to squelch your maniacal howls.

With all these drawbacks, why play CFM (aside from the awesome flavor)? The answer is simple: it steals games at a rate unlike any other single card in Standard. Even if your opponent is prepared for it (which many are not) it still doesn’t even matter often enough–the card is just too fast and unforgiving. For instance, if you are on the play and your opponent happens to play a tapland for their first turn (a common occurrence in Standard), they will take at least 5 damage on turn 2, guaranteed. If they happen to not draw into (or even if they do, sequence correctly) the right cards, they are dead or close enough to dead that they won’t be able to recover. Turn 4 or 5 kills are not uncommon.

Once your opponent knows knows what you are doing, their mulligan rate will increase as they ensure they have what they need to answer CFM immediately, lest they risk simply losing the game on turn four. Their paranoia can be used to your advantage, especially if you know when to board it out.

The stakes are high with this card: it can either be a complete blowout of your opponent or a loss of tempo and card advantage for you. Knowing when to board it in and out is key to your success. It is obviously much better on the play than on the draw, and is at its best against mid-range or aggressive decks that rely on a curve (eg: Abzan but not Atarka Red) because they usually don’t have a lot of cheap removal and rely on tapping out for one spell per turn.

Rakdos Lunatic Wins

4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Zurgo Bellstriker
4 Bloodsoaked Champion
1 Lightning Berserker
4 Valley Dasher
3 Ire Shaman
4 Wild Slash
4 Call of the Full Moon
2 Visions of Brutality
3 Arc Lightning
4 Exquisite Firecraft
1 Murderous Cut
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
6 Mountain
4 Smoldering Marsh

Sideboard:

3 Duress
2 Transgress the Mind
4 Self-Inflicted Wound
1 Visions of Brutality
1 Roast
1 Rending Volley
3 Devour in Flames

This deck is psychotically fixated on the ability to howl at the Full Moon on turn 2, with 13 aggressive 1-drops that make ideal werewolfs, but you might often find a better line of play in a first turn 1-drop, second turn two more 1-drops, then third turn CFM. Swiftspear and Zurgo are usually the best targets for CFM, as their second point of toughness makes your raving monster that much more difficult to stop. Lightning Berserker can make for some insane plays, as you can pump him into infinity with trample damage and steal a game extremely quickly if such an opportunity presents itself. Bloodsoaked Champion is a stud in this deck, providing a recurring threat to cast CFM on, and if it dies we can reanimate it to increase our board, and still cast a spell on the same turn without offending the Moon Gods.

Bloodsoaked Champion

Aside from spamming 1-drops, we can switch to casting one efficient removal/burn spell per turn to support our lunatic once we land Call of the Full Moon. Although it will often be tempting to cast Wild Slash along with a creature on our turn, if we need CFM to stick around longer we can instead play our creature, then wild slash whatever we need to on our opponent’s turn. Exquisite Firecraft and Arc Lightning provide excellent value for one spell, removing potential blockers or nuking our opponent from behind our foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic, making that fast clock all the more faster.

Visions of Brutality

Aside from a single Murderous Cut, Visions of Brutality is our unconditional removal spell–better than Doom Blade because it hits black creatures. The only troublesome creatures it misses are Jace and Soulfire Grand Master, but we have Wild Slashes and Arc Lightning to deal with those. I would certainly hesitate to put this in a mid-range deck, and never in a control shell because it enables your opponent to race you out. But in a deck as fast as this, the new Devoid enchantment is as good as it gets for removal.

Ire Shaman

Ire Shaman gives us some much needed reach, and is better than Abbot of Keral Keep in this build because you can get another card without having to cast two spells in the same turn and sacrifice your Call of the Full Moon. Also, the 2/1 Menace is a decent body for beating the opponent with or without CFM.

Obviously this build is extremely fast, but also extremely linear. It is weak to sweepers, but we can get around this by dumping expendable creatures like Zurgo and Bloodsoaked Champion onto the table first to apply pressure, while holding haste creatures like Valley Dasher and Swiftspear to revive our Champions in one fell swoop. Also, Duress and Transgress the Mind in the sideboard can help against control to remove their sweepers and other well-aligned removal. We are weak to lifegain and 2-1’s like Kolaghan’s Command, but often the clock is fast enough that it won’t matter. Although I don’t see Rakdos Lunatic Wins catching on in the meta, it’s fast enough to crush many opponents in the first few weeks of the new format, while always threatening to steal victory even in match-ups that are stacked against it.

Rakdos Lunatic Dragons

4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Zurgo Bellstriker
4 Flamewake Phoenix
4 Thunderbreak Regent
3 Kolaghan, the storm’s fury
4 Wild Slash
4 Draconic Roar
3 Call of the Full Moon
4 Exquisite Firecraft
1 Murderous Cut
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Polluted Delta
8 Mountain
1 Swamp
4 Smoldering Marsh
2 Haven of the Spirit Dragon

Sideboard:

4 Transgress the Mind
3 Self-Inflicted Wound
2 Foul-Tongue Invocation
3 Kozilek’s Return
3 Outpost Siege

This Rakdos Dragons deck attempts to abuse our lunacy-inducing enchantment in another way–by curving out with effective threats and getting the most out of one spell per turn. The threats are also more diverse, making it more difficult for your opponent’s removal to line up with the variety of angles this deck can attack from. It has excellent early removal, can beat face with 1-drops, can dash/haste creatures into play, has aggressive and resilient flying threats, and can burn out the opponent quite well also. In addition, our strategy can switch dramatically post-board to a more controlling shell. This deck definitely utilizes Call of the Full Moon well and is extremely aggressive, but doesn’t rely on it as much and has many other angles of attack.

My next brew is a variant on the Red/Blue tempo deck I wrote an article about a few days ago. This version is much more aggressive, sacrificing the utility and versatility of the former deck for a more all-in combo-style approach, much like Atarka Red. Because of the opportunity for the opponent to remove your creatures in response to your buff spells, Dispel is included in the main deck to mitigate that risk while rewarding us with an additional prowess trigger. This list is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t write too much about it, but if interested I covered a lot of the interactions of this deck in my previous article about Red/Blue Delver in Standard. Suffice to say, it is blindingly fast with the potential to continue threatening your opponent into the late game with all the haste creatures combined with card-drawing, looting and Treasure Cruising:

Izzet Aggro:

4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Jeskai Elder
4 Abbot of Keral Keep
4 Stormchaser Mage
4 Wild Slash
1 Fiery Impulse
4 Titan’s Strength
4 Expedite
3 Slip Through Space
2 Dispel
2 Temur Battle Rage
3 Treasure Cruise
4 Polluted Delta
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Shivan Reef
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Sunken Hollow
4 Mountain
3 Island
1 Wandering Fumarole

I first tried Elusive Spellfist, but was overall unimpressed with the card and decided Jeskai Elder was better. Elusive Spellfist makes Slip Through Space redundant, while Jeskai Elder is an ideal target for it, allowing you to cycle through your deck faster while feeding Treasure Cruise. Also, since his toughness can pump, he better synergizes with Radiant Flames and has the capacity to be more resilient.

For sideboard options, I would recommend stronger and more versatile removal, although hard removal is not necessary because you just need to get a few attacks through to close the game. I would recommend cheap, tempo-positive spells that enable storm turns like Clutch of Currents, Rending Volley, Containment Membrane, or even Grip of the Roil, since Surge will be an easy mechanic to achieve with this deck. Even though Grip of the Roil provides an extra card and is an instant, it may still be too expensive, even with surge.

Grip of the roil

Much like the Red/Blue Delver Tempo, this deck can also happily support Radiant Flames to deal with opposing aggro and token-based decks like Atarka Red. Speaking of Atarka Red….

Psyche! You’re in luck today because I’m not going to bore you with another Atarka Red list. We all know that deck, it is highly refined and I have nothing significant to add at this time. However, I will mention that Reckless Bushwhacker could find its way into those 75 cards as Atarka’s Commands 5-8, increasing the potency of tokens in the deck. Personally, I would not add more than 2 to the 75, because it is situationally useful and Atarka Red is already jammed for space, but I do think it could make a powerful addition under the right circumstances.

However, this next list utilizes 4 of both Reckless Bushwacker and Atarka’s Command but takes a different approach: GOBLINS!!!

4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Reckless Bushwhacker
3 Goblin Heelcutter
4 Goblin Dark-Dwellers
1 Expedite
4 Dragon Fodder
2 Temur Battle Rage
4 Atarka’s Command
2 Exquisite Firecraft
4 Hordeling Outburst
2 Become Immense
2 Rogue’s Passage
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Windswept Heath
1 Forest
9 Mountain
4 Cinder Glade

Bushwhackerpiledriver

Did you know that Goblin Piledriver and Reckless Bushwhacker is a combo? Yes, I know that so far Goblin Piledriver has not been working out in Standard because it dies on the spot to every one-mana removal spell in the game (and protection from Blue is a joke), but this deck tries to mitigate that by casting it with Haste. Imagine a turn-two Dragon Fodder, turn-three Hordeling Outburst, turn-4 Piledriver and Surge Reckless Bushwhacker, swing for 5000 damage! Goblin Dark-Dwellers allows us to recast Hordeling Outburst, Atarka’s Command, or Exquisite Firecraft as needed while adding another heavy-hitter with the right creature type. This deck plays a slower game than Atarka Red but is probably as explosive, with a little more staying power and utility.

Another take on Atarka’s Command is to combine it with Gideon. lolwut?! I’m talking about an aggressively slanted Naya Allies deck that uses the sweet new equipment cards combined with accompanying equipment-payoff. Check it out:

stoneforge acolytestone haven outfitter 2weapons trainer

 

Naya Allied Artificers

4 Expedition Envoy
2 Stoneforge Acolyte
4 Stone Haven Outfitter
4 Weapons Trainer
3 Reckless Bushwhacker
2 Firemantle Mage
3 Veteran Warleader
4 Stoneforge Masterwork
4 Captain’s Claws
4 Atarka’s Command
3 Gideon Ally of Zendikar
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Windswept Heath
1 Forest
1 Mountain
3 Plains
4 Ally Encampment
2 Cinder Glade
2 Canopy Vista
2 needle spires

Sideboard:

3 Lantern Scout
3 Silkwrap
2 Tears of Valakut
2 Roast
2 Ride Down
1 Deflecting Palm
2 Outpost Siege

This deck can get off to some really fast starts by, for instance, putting Captain’s Claws on a one-drop, then playing a huge Veteran Warleader. Other than Captain’s Claws, we have Gideon for a recurring source of Allies, but the deck could probably use more Ally-spawners like Oath of Gideon or Retreat to Emeria. This is very much a rough draft, and I don’t expect it to take down any big tournaments, but it does have a lot synergy, speed and staying power if it can set up correctly. One of my next articles will delve deeper in the potential for Allies in Standard.

So far, all of these decks utilize an expensive fetchland manabase, so what if you’re just feeling some good, old-fasioned mono-red beats for under $100? Look no further, for next up is a deck that is reminiscent of the classic Red Sligh archetype, where one combines a bunch of “bad cards” like Ironclaw Orcs together in one pile of awesome beatdown mayhem. The tradition of Sligh being a budget-friendly archetype is continued with this list, which totals well under $100 and is certainly capable of beating down decks that cost nearly a grand. This archetype has long been a favorite of mine, and I would like to thank the guys at RedDeckWinning.com for developing some of the tech, especially their enthusiasm for Valley Dasher.

valley dasher

Standard Sligh

4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Zurgo Bellstriker
1 Lightning Berserker
4 Valley Dasher
4 Abbot of Keral Keep
3 Reckless Bushwhacker
2 Ire Shaman
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
4 Wild Slash
3 Fiery Impulse
3 Titan’s Strength
1 Sparkmage’s Gambit
4 Exquisite Firecraft
20 Mountain
2 Looming Spires

Sideboard:

1 Goblin Heelcutter
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
2 Avaricious Dragon
1 Rending Volley
1 Sparkmage’s Gambit
1 Tears of Valakut
4 Roast
1 Act of Treason
3 Devour in Flames

I have serious concerns about the ability for decks like this to function in the new Standard thanks to the addition of two very good sweepers in Kozilek’s Return and Flaying Tendrils. When you also consider that Radiant Flames and Languish are already good, we have a problem. Avaricious dragon in the sideboard helps, but at the end of the day a better approach would be to get our creatures up to 3 or 4 toughness before turns 3 or 4. Once again, Call of the Full Moon returns to the rescue to bring us full circle. Also, note that CFM offers disincentives to play Abbot of Keral Keep and Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh, so the deck becomes even more budget-friendly, not to mention better tuned to the meta. Here is what I’m thinking:

Red Lunatic Wins

4 Zurgo Bellstriker
4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Lightning Berserker
4 Valley Dasher
4 Ire Shaman
1 Goblin Heelcutter
4 Wild Slash
1 Roast
1 Sparkmage’s Gambit
4 Call of the Full Moon
3 Arc Lightning
4 Exquisite Firecraft
2 Hordeling Outburst
2 Looming Spires
19 Mountain

Sideboard

3 Rending Volley
2 Boiling Earth
2 Roast
4 Devour in Flames
4 Act of Treason

If you read above about my Call of the Full Moon brews, there’s not much new about this deck except Hordeling Outburst is there for some staying power and to ensure a target for future CFM’s. You might want to board it out if you suspect your opponent to bring in sweepers against you, or just wait unttil they use their sweeper and then cast it.

This deck is very inexpensive, but still effective, so if you’re looking to get into Standard without dropping hundreds of dollars, Red Lunatic Wins is a great strategy to consider.

Thanks for reading! I might add a R/G landfall deck (which gained a powerful tool in Devour in Flames) up here in the next few days, but for now I’m going to stick a fork in this one. Stay tuned for more articles, as I have a number of Control, Allies, Aristocrats, Eldrazi, Superfriends, and other archetypes brewing. My next article will probably be one that shows many different approaches utilizing the new and powerful Devoid cards and colorless lands, including aggressive, midrange, control, and tempo-based approaches to the alien invasion. Until next time–happy brewing!

 

 

 

 

 

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