Following up Sam’s great article on Mono Red Aggro, I managed to draft a deck that plays mountains! It doesn’t happen often (for no good reason), but when I do get a chance to draft a red based deck I have a blast.
It can be hard to know the right time to hop in and start gobbling up red cards, and I feel that has a lot to do with the fact that many of the cards in the cube’s red section are low CC creatures that don’t carry as much of a “bomb” status in a powered cube. Nevertheless, with this draft, I did my best to stay open in the first few picks.
Pick one, I went with [mtg_card]phyrexian metamorph[/mtg_card]. There were a ton of decently-first-pickable white cards in the pack, but metamorph is a bomb and I figured that I would keep out of white in hopes that the cards would cause my opponents to compete for it.
Pick two, there was not much in any color that I was going crazy about and it had been a while since I had done something aggravating, so I went with [mtg_card]winter orb[/mtg_card].
Pick three, I still was not seeing anything that really jumped out at me so I kept playing it safe and took a [mtg_card]spellskite[/mtg_card].
Then, my fourth pick came and [mtg_card]Ajani Vengeant[/mtg_card] was BY FAR the strongest pick in the pack. At that point, I had passed a pack with 1-2 first pickable white cards and a couple nice role players and had not really been paying attention to red – not a good feeling. Nevertheless, I know my playgroup and knew that there was a good chance that red would be up for grabs. Then I just had to tell myself not to consider the white in Ajani Vengeant’s casting cost as anything more than a splash unless something else pushed me into white. My opening pack came next and I got a lingering souls out of it – not too shabby. After that, I started grabbing up red cards – wheeling [mtg_card]char[/mtg_card]s, [mtg_card]staggershock[/mtg_card]s, and more.
For a red deck, there really weren’t all that many creature spells but that was alright because it wasn’t a true “aggro” list
This deck had a few mini-themes running in it but the overall theme was tempo plays. Some of the most satisfying ways to gain tempo are through cards that deny your opponent the ability to develop their board – and this deck had some denial.
Denial mechanics are some of my favorite to draft and, when it comes to denying your opponent the ability to develop their board, Flametongue Kavu is an absolute all-star. Like a red, sometimes better, man-o-war FTK clears a path in a big way while also adding serious pressure to your opponent.
In the list, FTK found itself sitting with good friends like Restoration Angel and Phyrexian Metamorph. What was fun about that was that often, I could drop an early threat and smash in for a turn or two until my opponent played a beast big enough to stop my party. At that point, I could blast it away with FTK. If they played another creature, I had Restoration Angel to bounce my Flametongue or Metamorph to make another.
When it comes to denying your opponent the ability to develop their board, few cards do it better than Winter Orb. A well timed orb can easily mean good game and here’s how that goes. You play some early threats and send you opponent into a scramble to try and drop a blocker. Your opponent taps out for a four drop that can easily block your threats and passes the turn. You play Winter Orb, burn their blocker, and keep on keepin’ on.
Orb also had a great synergy with Ankh of Mishra that made it really hard for your opponent to ever recover.
A card that hardly gets mention that always seems to perform for me was [mtg_card]Mana Tithe[/mtg_card]. In a deck that focuses heavily on denial and cheap creatures, your opponent is always going to be trying to catch up, and when they tap out, that is when you crush them with a timely mana tithe.
Ajani Vengeant is obviously fantastic denial, but looking a little closer, hes also just riddled with synergy in this deck.
His +1 ability combos with our Winter Orb and Ankh of Mishra and also creates the urgency that usually runs players right into your mana tithe.
His -2 is awesome, as always. Lightning Helix is a card and it still makes the cut in my cube as a single shot. With Vengeant, you have the possibility of getting to do it more than once, that is, if you even have to.
His -7? Well, you get it.
Can you say well rounded? Gideon Jura is insane. Like the friggin’ Ginsu blade, he slices, dices, and will even cut a tomato after you (for whatever reason) went to town on a hammer with it.
Gideon is a straight-up, certifiable, bad-ass and until I wrote this article, it hadn’t registered for me that he is a serious piece of denial. I mean, I know what he does, I just never sat down and pondered the classification – you know?
But, when you play him in a deck like this, he just runs away with games. While FTK and friends might hollow out a little path, Gideon slams down with up to 8 loyalty and can just command their entire board to open up.
This guy is a modern legal Moses – part those seas buddy.
Another way this deck gained tempo was through cards like [mtg_card]Sol Ring[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Mox Diamond[/mtg_card] for quick mana acceleration. The quickness of the acceleration meant that bigger baddies could be played earlier – causing more pressure – and the fact that they are artifacts worked phenomenally with cards like [mtg_card]Winter Orb[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Ankh of Mishra[/mtg_card].
That brings us to the last type of tempo play in this deck: efficiency.
The list had a bunch of efficient plays and a couple of them were concerned with pumping out tokens.
Young Pyromancer had a good home with 8 instants and sorceries by his side. It helped, too, that staggershock is a sort of twofor. The other token generator was another spell that could get two elementals out of Pyromancer – it was the all familiar [mtg_card]Lingering Souls[/mtg_card].
The token theme really came together and was facilitated by cards like [mtg_card]Hellrider[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Soltari Champion[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Ajani Goldmane[/mtg_card].
That just about wraps this one up. For those of you who come here often, I apologise for not posting much lately. I don’t do this for money and the bills still have to get paid. For those of you who are new, feel free to check out more articles by Sam or me and subscribe to get an email whenever we post a new article. Also, you can follow or like on twitter or facebook and get updated there.
Thanks again, and happy drafting.