Sarkhan’s Horde

Hey Guyss, it’s me again! I finally brewed a Dragon deck today! Let’s look at what toys did we get from M19?
Sharkhan, Fireblood We all know 3 cmc walkers should be something to watch out for. But hor…. definitely NOT Sarkhan la… He is not going to be anywhere near the power level of Liliana of the Veil nor Jace Beleren. He can’t really protect himself unless played on Turn 5, then using his first ability to drop a Dragon blocker. Alternatively, we can also pile up creatures on turn 1 & 2 or to clear the way for him with spells like Abrade and Magma Spray. The first ability is very relevant in a midrange deck that is trying to dig deeper for big spells and “cycling” excess lands. In this deck, we can also get to discard Spit Flame which can be recurred back to hand with dragons. The second ability is what this deck is trying to do. RAMP OUT bigass dragons from turn 4 onwards. Lathliss, being the highest cmc dragon in the deck, is capable of being played on turn 4 with his help. Whatever dragon it is, being able to be played earlier than intended will always be game breaking (Just look at what UrzaTron is capable in modern). The ultimate is not very amazing as we have seen similar ultimates of himself. Against the correct matchup, the ultimate is definitely going to be a headache, but if you are able to keep Sarkhan alive till seven loyalty, you are probably winning the game, with all the card filtering and ramping out dragons.
Lathliss, Dragon Queen 6 mana 6/6 Flyer with an upside, nothing too powerful. However, when played ahead of curve, she is definitely going to take over the game in a quick succession. Every dragon you cast after the Dragon Queen is definitely going to be value town. Her tokens is going to build up your gold counters on the Dragon Hoard, which is going to net you tons of card advantage.  
Dragon’s Hoard Our mana rock/card advantage source! Well, this is one hell of mana rock, with the potential ability to draw multiple cards. For each dragon entering the battlefield, you have the potential to net a card. Imagine, having a few of this artifact on board, you are going to refill your hand, without having to spend additional mana or life (eg. Arguel’s Bloodfast). Ramping your dragons is also going to be very useful. You need to try out this card to be amazed.
Spit Flame A 3 cmc instant speed creature removal that deals for 4 damage, nothing really awesome with it except that YOU CAN REUSE it over and over again as long you have Dragons entering your board. As mentioned with Sarkhan, you are netting card advantage by binning it and retrieving it later on. There are a lot of 4 toughness creature in the format currently that needs to be dealt with immediately like Glorybringer, Steel Leaf Champion, or Eternalised.
Demanding Dragon It has no haste, and can’t really kill a creature of your choice, but it is 5/5 that would triumph over Glorybringer, Rekindling Pheonix, Heart of Kiran or Aethersphere Harvester. Lyra Dawnbringer still triumphs over any of the above cards. Against control players, if they don’t have counters for it, they need to take 5 to the face, and still deal with it. Although, it feels like the least important card, it has synergy with the other cards. Together with the usual successful red spells in standard, Glorybringer, Abrade, Chandra and the not yet popular Verix Bladewing. I smash all of them up together, and present to you this list.
Mainboard (60)
Canyon Slough
Dragonskull Summit
Fetid Pools
Mountain
Sulfur Falls
Swamp
Demanding Dragon
Glorybringer
Lathliss, Dragon Queen
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Verix Bladewing
Abrade
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Dragon’s Hoard
Sarkhan, Fireblood
Spit Flame
Sweltering Suns
Vraska’s Contempt
Sideboard (15)
Banefire
Chandra’s Defeat
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Demanding Dragon
Doomfall
Duress
Liliana, Death’s Majesty
Magma Spray
Sorcerous Spyglass

The synergy with the dragons in the deck is very sweet, with each dragon becoming a cantrip with Dragon’s Hoard in play. Sarkhan filtering irrelevant cards, digging for more gas. Spit Flame ensures that nothing too big is going to stop your dragons and its pure value when it is picked up from the graveyard. You have Abrades and Sweltering Suns to keep you alive in the early game and take over the mid to late game.

So far, I have tested this list at a couple of local game stores, and have been able to wreck out a couple of 3-0 wins. So far so good, looking to bring this to the LCQ of the upcoming RPTQ.

Writer’s Shoutout

Hi fellow Singaporean Magic: The Gathering players! My name is Calvin Chen. I’m currently in my 30s, and MTG found me when I was at Pri 5. I did not really play the game until Sec 3. During that time, I was only playing kitchen table games from Invasion block till Mirrodin. Only during Theros block, did I start to play at FNMs. I have to thank Alex Keng, who brought me to the store for FNMs which sparked me off for competitive gameplay. Since then, I’ve been grinding PPTQs all over Singapore. My small accomplishments include 5 PPTQs wins, winning LCQ for GOG invitationals. I really like to play aggressive decks, and subscribe to the beatdown plan. Other than that, I love dragons! My favourite set has been Khans of Takir, which I played a Grixis Dragons list, winning one of the PPTQ back then. I always prefer standard over modern as there’s more room for brewing compared to the well established modern play. As people should have already observed this in my decks, I can’t really run away from mountains in standard and my modern decks, with Blood Moons as much as possible. I am trying out to write articles, it may be my noobish attempt, but I wish to get better at writing. Please support and try not to flame my lousy articles too much eh!

If you are interested to contribute any articles or content, do ping us!

The New Flame of Keld

Hey wazzup people! Let us welcome Nicol Bolas and his relatives into standard firstly.

Ahh yes, elder dragons, and many other kinds of dragons (UGIN IS MISSING!). If you want to win cash, click it. For those who have played during the Khans of Takir standard, would know that I’m pretty much in love with DRAGONS!!! But today, I will not be talking about dragons even though I’m very excited about them.

Instead, I will be discussing about Mono Red Aggro, the archetype that I’m most familiar with, the little red men. With 12x 1 drops and 12x direct burn, this deck is capable of winning even after a turn 4 settle the wreckage.

Initial Concept – Mono Red Wizards

Mainboard (60)
Bomat Courier
Soul-Scar Mage
Ghitu Lavarunner
Earthshaker Khenra
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Ahn-Crop Crasher
Goblin Chainwhirler
Hazoret the Fervent
Shock
Lightning Strike
Wizard’s Lightning
22 Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Fight with Fire
Rekindling Phoenix
Abrade
Chandra’s Defeat
Chandra, Torch of Defiance

This deck plays out similar to the modern burn deck in terms of burst damage output. During turn 1 to 3, it plays out like a burn deck, attacking with low-cost and efficient creatures. With Soul-Scar Mage and Ghitu Lavarunner, the Wizard’s Lightning costs gets reduced, and allows it functions like a Lightning Bolt. This also means that putting Hazoret the Fevert on turn 4, with it capable of sending it straight to your opponent’s face.

This deck placed a few top 8s around the world, including Seth Manfield himself playing this list.

What additional tools did M19 bring?

Viashino Pyromancer

Awesome, another wizard count for Wizard’s Lightning, its etb ability of 2 damage to the face is like a pseudo unblockable haste, and its ability kill off planeswalkers is just icing on the cake. Well it wouldn’t really fit into a deck mentioned above, when the two drops are already so packed with more powerful threats like Kari Zev, Skyship Raider and Earthshaker Khenras. So where will this Viashino Wizard fit into?

*Drum roll*
Introduces the RNG character

 

There was a time when the above mentioned mono red deck did not have Hazoret in it, but included a playset of this. However, too many players got tilted WAY TOO MUCH, drawing two to three lands during the turn for the second chapter. WHAT??!! I thought I’m supposed to draw at least 2 burn spells and win with the third saga! I shouldn’t have played this card. Thus, the playset became Hazoret with the addition of a couple more land drops.

So what are we looking to swap out, and regress, to test with in the modified version with our RNG character and Pyromancer?

Let’s be bold

and try out 19 land count (and maybe wear red underwear), similar to a modern deck that doesn’t want to have more than 2-3 lands in play.

Remove (11)
Mountain
Hazoret the Fervent
Ahn-Crop Crasher
Earhshaker Khenra

Add (11)
The Flame of Keld
Viashino Pyromancer
Fanatical Firebrand

We are bringing down the curve back to highest of 2 cmc, and betting on The Flame of Keld drawing us minimally two direct damage spells. Previously, we have 12 burn spells in the deck to be drawn from deck, by turn 3/4, the deck would be left with 50 cards, and it means that there is around 24% chance that you will draw into a burn spell.

Now, let’s add the playset of Pyromancer, we have 16 burn spells, increasing the percentage to 32%, that is a 8% increase which I think is a pretty big deal. Of course, you can argue that you have the similar percentage of drawing the lands from the deck. But… You will be skipping 3 turns of land draws which ain’t that bad too.

What else?

How can we further complement this burn plan? Let’s welcome an old friend.

Sure, Guttersnipe looks pretty bad for an aggressive deck trying to beat with hasty creatures. However, we are also playing quite an amount of instant spells in our mainboard. It might go even higher after sideboarding, when we bring in Abrades, Chandra’s Defeats and Fight with Fires. So how do we squeeze in this value creature in our deck?

We take out the standard menace.

Sure anot, never bluff me? Let me explain why I feel that Goblin Chainwhirler does not belong in this deck, or at least not in the mainboard.

In this deck, most or all of your instant spells are to have an immediate impact (ie, burn spells – being able to damage straight away). Consider that Gobin Chainwhirler is 3 cmc, and the damage output, to opponent’s face is only 1. (Let’s not assume the potential ability to kill creatures or planeswalkers, because decks that are vulnerable to Chainwhirlers, are no longer as popular, or they usually play around it.) With the 3/3 body, it is as easy to be dealt with as Guttersnipe.

Being able to untap or attack with a Chainwhirler does not spell the end for the opponent. However, it is a very different case for Guttersnipe, whose objective is streamlined with what this variant of red deck is trying to achieve.

Firstly, Guttersnipe acts as your 5th to 8th copy of The Flame of Keld, every instant speed burn spell that you are playing is going to deal additional 2 damage. Tell me, what’s better than that?

Secondly, we might say that this goblin does not impact the board immediately like how Chainwhirler does. However, we all know that a lot of decks have already altered their decks such that they don’t get blown out by the Chainwhirler. With the numbers of Abrade or Fatal Push running about, the chances of Guttersnipe surviving to untap is the same as the Chainwhirler surviving.

Let’s do a comparison between these 2 gobbos, if they live until your next untap. Body: 3/3 first striker vs 2/2 Vanilla with the potential to shock as and when you cast your burn spell from your hand. Having 12 direct burns, and 10 more from the sideboard, you can potentially do tons of damage even when removing a creature on the other side of the board. We can argue that if you have no cards in hand, a 3/3 first striker is definitely better.

To be honest, when you have no cards in hand, you are either already ahead on board, or you’re losing. A top decked burn spell with Guttersnipe in play might win you the game with additional damage as compared to a top decked burn spell with Chainwhirler in play.

Gutterburn Final Decklist

Mainboard (60)
Bomat Courier
Fanatical Firebrand
Ghitu Lavarunner
Soul-Scar Mage
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Viashino Pyromancer
Guttersnipe
Shock
Lightning Strike
The Flame of Keld
Wizard’s Lightning
19 Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Abrade
Chandra’s Defeat
Fight with Fire
Rekindling Phoenix
Scavenger Grounds
Vance’s Blasting Cannons

Conclusion

There is still time to brew your own decks to test, and yet still be still “competitive”, this deck variant will definitely be a blast to play with. With more players jumping onto the Grixis midrange train, because of the badass Nicol Bolas, you probably need more then just the simple beatdown plan with creatures and set the battlefield in flames instead.

Writer’s Shoutout

Hi fellow Singaporean Magic: The Gathering players! My name is Calvin Chen. I’m currently in my 30s, and MTG found me when I was at Pri 5. I did not really play the game until Sec 3. During that time, I was only playing kitchen table games from Invasion block till Mirrodin.

Only during Theros block, did I start to play at FNMs. I have to thank Alex Keng, who brought me to the store for FNMs which sparked me off for competitive gameplay. Since then, I’ve been grinding PPTQs all over Singapore. My small accomplishments include 5 PPTQs wins, winning LCQ for GOG invitationals.

I really like to play aggressive decks, and subscribe to the beatdown plan. Other than that, I love dragons! My favourite set has been Khans of Takir, which I played a Grixis Dragons list, winning one of the PPTQ back then. I always prefer standard over modern as there’s more room for brewing compared to the well established modern

As people should have already observed this in my decks, I can’t really run away from mountains in standard and my modern decks, with Blood Moons as much as possible. This is my 1st time being tasked to write an article, it is my noobish attempt, but I wish to get better at writing. Please support and try not to flame my lousy articles too much eh!