Now the the first two weeks of results are starting to shake out, it’s becoming easier to predict what the Standard metagame is going to look like. That means that we’re going to see a slow shift away from some of the faster beatdown decks as players figure out what control and midrange decks are supposed to be doing. Between Chandra, Flamecaller and Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Red was already an awesome color for midrange decks. What happens when we throw Chandra, Torch of Defiance into the mix?
Black-Red Midrange - Kaladesh Standard | OafMcNamara, 5-0 Standard League
- Spells (20)
- 4 Grasp of Darkness
- 4 Harnessed Lightning
- 4 Live Fast
- 4 Ruinous Path
- 4 Transgress the Mind
This deck does a lot of things that I like. Live Fast and Goblin Dark-Dwellers gives you the same card advantage backbone as the Read the Bones decks had in the previous format. Combine that with the most efficient removal spells in the format in Grasp of Darkness and Harnessed Lightning, plus Galvanic Bombardment out of the sideboard, and you’re pretty well set up to keep pace with the aggro decks. Adding Ruinous Path to the mix gives you a better answer to big creatures and Planeswalkers, and you’ve got both Noxious Gearhulk and Goblin Dark-Dwellers at the top end to take over the game.
This looks like a type of deck that might typically struggle against larger creatures because there’s relatively little hard removal. However, there are a lot of small things that add up to let you fight big threats. Both of your Planeswalkers can contribute to taking down creatures with larger toughness. There’s also a lot of incidental energy in Live Fast and Aether Hub that can let Harnessed Lightning reasonably deal five or more damage.
The most interesting component of this deck for me is Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Is this a deck that wants just two Chandras? Or is it possible that this is the type of deck that wants a full four copies? Sure, you have plenty of removal spells and ways to generate card advantage. While you can certainly cast Live Fast plenty of times, thanks to Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Liliana, the Last Hope, there’s only so much life that Noxious Gearhulk can gain. Chandra, Torch of Defiance gives you a painless way of generating cards that can incidentally apply pressure to your opponent or their Planeswalkers. The big problem with Chandra, Torch of Defiance in this format is the ubiquity of Smuggler's Copter and other vehicles, which can pressure her without giving you an opening to use her minus ability to take them out.
Even so, this seems like a great place to start if you’re looking to play midrange. There’s plenty of exciting opportunities to tweak this style of deck for the metagame you expect to see. There’s lots of power and flexibility in this shell, and I can’t wait to see how it develops in the coming weeks.