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Fighting Back Against B/R


To say that the Top 8 of the pro tour was disappointing is an understatement. In all honesty, I wish the entire thing was Red or br so maybe something would happen. I, as well as many of you can't wait for Kaladesh block to leave Standard. The last set I remember being this oppressive must be Mirrdoin block and the Affinity era. Let us not dwell on the disappointing almost all Red decks in the Top 8, but instead focus on new decks, decks that beat the Mono Red and br menace. Today we will be talking about Zac Elisk's bw God-Pharaoh's Gift deck and a deck how you can even morph your Red deck to beat on the other Red decks. Some Red on Red crime!

Zac Elisk is known to play some wacky cards in his crazy brews and do well with them. The list I want to look at right now is one he got second with at a PPTQ. He played four Red decks during the swiss and three uw variants and went 7-1. That's a stellar record against the best decks in the format. Let's have a look at his deck.

God-Pharaoh's Gift
We've seen so many assorted color combinations in conjunction with God-Pharaoh's Gift, we even had a ug version at the Pro Tour. Zac built this deck with Mono-Red, br Aggro, and uw Control decks in mind. He wanted to have game against all those decks and he did. He specially says that if you expect to play against Green decks you may want to switch out Aerial Responders with Gifted Aetherborn and then change the mana base accordingly. However, if you expect people to play a ton of br Aggro (which I do) because of the Pro Tour, you'll want to leave the deck how it is.

Zac had a transformational sideboard where he would cut the God-Pharaoh's Gift package if he beat his opponent Game 1 with it. He would bring in Lilys, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Duress / Fatal Push / Thopter Arrest.

Zac's deck looks like other God-Pharaoh's Gift decks for one second, then you see Miasmic Mummies, Aerial Responder, Ravenous Chupacabra, Shalai, Voice of Plenty, and freakin' Vona, Butcher of Magan. Now that's a sweet card when you're gaining life, it's even better when she has haste.

Kitesail Freebooter backed up with Miasmic Mummy seems like a nightmare for any deck, especially control decks. If they resolve you're almost forced to pitch countermagic so you can attempt to crawl your way back into the game with Teferi or Settle the Wreckage only to have another Kitesail Freebooter take it away or your opponent resolving a Shalai, Voice of Plenty and then not being able Seal Away or Settle the Wreckage your opponent.

We briefly mentioned Vona with God-Pharaoh's Gift but we didn't talk about how powerful her ability is in this current metagame. When Thrashing Brontodon and Abrade are commonly played, destroying any non-land permanent is extremely valuable. You can destroy things like opposing Gifts, Teferi, Karn, Seal Away, Cast Out. The Mirari Conjecture, and more! I'm super excited that this card is seeing playing and not as a singleton but a whopping three copies. What more could you want?

Well, how about this weird card that everyone will (including yourself) will have to read? Vizier of Deferment. It does a lot of things efficiently. It can save a creature in combat from removal or Settle the Wreckage, act as a pseudo fog by blinking a big attacking creature, it can rebuy enter the battlefield abilities like Miasmic Mummy, it can be used to kill an opposing Walking Ballista in combat, and it can be flashed in at end of turn to just pressure a planeswalker or your opponent's life total.

Overall this is a very interesting deck that uses creatures with tiny abilities to take over a game. It kind of reminds me of humans because the ability of one creature isn't going to beat your opponent but the abilities add up quickly when you're able to deploy them again and again.

I personally haven't played this deck, but Zac Elsik is known for his innovative brews that attack metagames and this looks like a fun one to try out, especially since it appears to have a good matchup against the aggressive Red decks.

The other deck I wanted to talk about is a deck that plays Red but goes a bit bigger to combat br by playing White cards.

Path of Mettle
Geoff Mullin is a friend I had the pleasure of playing with on Team Bolas. He's a skillful player and he's been having a lot of success with his version of Boros Midrange. The deck has the core powerful Red cards in Bomat Courier, Earthshaker Khenra, Hazoret the Fervent, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and Glorybringer. However, it doesn't stop there. It then picks up game changing, powerful cards in History of Benalia, Lyra Dawnbringer, and Path of Mettle. Path of Mettle does a mini Goblin Chainwhirler impersonation to non-Red decks. Transforming it is relatively easy and will take over the game against aggro, midrange, and control decks alike. It's important to know that you can activate Metzali, Tower of Triumph's White ability before damage is dealt. This is fantastic against big creatures like Glorybringer, Lyra, or even Carnage Tyrant. Then against control decks you can very easily close the game out by doing an undercosted Ramunap Ruins ability. Speaking of Ramunap Ruins, Red's utility land was banned in Standard. By picking up White we can play Shefet Dunes for a burst of damage with our creatures or just one or two History of Benalia.

The card Geoff was most excited to talk about was Kari Zev's Expertise from the Sideboard. He said the card turns games around very quickly and is arguably the best card in his Sideboard. Shalai, Voice of Plenty is another great card. If you're able to curve Shalai, Voice of Plenty into Lyra Dawnbringer, you soft lock opposing creature decks out. Not to mention that Shalai is also a terrific way to turn off your opponent's Settle the Wreckage.

I think this deck could get away with playing one or two Settle the Wreckage for opposing creature decks in the Sideboard. Settle the Wreckage is one of the more powerful cards in Standard and it could do a lot of work in certain matchups, especially if your opponent is not expecting it.

These are two great decks to combat br decks. I've personally still been having success with ub Mirari Conjecture, even against the aggressive decks. This is where I'm currently at with ub Mirari Conjecture.

Yahenni's Expertise has been amazing, it's why I have basically five Divination affects, it's just so powerful to wipe the battlefield and then draw a couple of cards. It's just gross when you're able to Secrets of the Golden City late in the game off a Yahenni's Expertise to draw three cards. One thing I want to make sure people are aware of while playing this deck is that you can Blink of an Eye your The Mirari Conjecture after it gets the third counter. This means all your spells will still be copied this turn and The Mirari Conjecture will be back in your hand to redeploy when you are ready.

I'm qualified for the SCG Invitational, but sadly I cannot make it because I will be working at Bonnaroo. I would 100% play ub Mirari Conjecture at the Invitational or any big Standard event if I was playing Standard this weekend. The deck is very powerful and rewards good play. It's also just a blast to pilot.

Well folks, that's all I got for today. I'll catch you all next Friday.

As always, thanks for reading,

Ali Aintrazi

@AliEldrazi on Twitter

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