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Mono-Red Phoenix Martyr

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Sacrificing my own creatures in exchange for powerful effects? Heck yeah! When I first encountered Goblin Grenade, I remember thinking it was insanely broken. One mana for five damage was crazy! Never mind that I had to sacrifice a goblin; there were plenty where that came from.

Since those days, I have always wanted to try my hand at a weird, Red aristocrats-style deck. The lists I created never felt strong enough, but patience has rewarded me, and today I feel like I've finally got a list worth showcasing. You won't find any Goblin Grenades here, but the spirit still remains!


Cost: $13 at the time of publication

The Core

Flamewake Phoenix
Much like common Black and White aristocrat decks, the whole point of this list is to abuse sacrifice mechanics without losing out on card advantage or board state. Thus, monsters that replace themselves or return to the battlefield later act as the first half of our core. The cheapest and easiest to abuse is Flamewake Phoenix. This Harry Potter-esque Fawkes wannabe can be sacrificed and reanimated in the same turn for a measly one mana! Haste means it can attack that same turn, too, meaning we don't have to forgo aggression!

The second most important card in the deck is Blood Aspirant. This little satyr does quite a few things for us. Firstly, it acts as a sacrifice outlet for Phoenix that can kill small threats or make large blockers a non-issue. It also gets bigger every time we sacrifice something, so after three tributes we're large enough to fill Phoenix's Ferocious requirement.

The Backup

A deck like this needs all or most of its cards to be pulling double-duty in order to be able to function. So, just like Aspirant working two jobs for us, many of our other creatures can also fill multiple roles.

Chained Brute, Anax, Hardened in the Forge, and Wall of Razors are all cheap four-power creatures that make Phoenix's Ferocious live much more often. Brute is an aggressive beater that can be kept untapped with Phoenix or other sacrifice fodder. Both he and Wall are big enough to produce extra tokens from Anax, who can get out of hand quickly. Wall is probably the worst creature in the deck, but two mana for four power on board is helpful, and First Strike shouldn't be underestimated.

Speaking of sacrifice fodder, though Phoenix is our best choice, he's not our only one. Grim Initiate can either replace himself when he dies, or make a fellow zombie bigger. It's not reliable enough to start making Ferocious live, but things could be worse. Tuktuk the Explorer, on the other hand, is perfect for that. Once tributed, his 5/5 golem replacement is more than enough to wake up Flamewake Phoenix for some hasty beats.

Jumping out of our creature lineup, we've got a few enchantments to talk about. I've chosen to only play permanents in this list so as to get the most out of Anax. This also gives more sacrifice fodder for Aspirant. Red enchantments often have the ability to sacrifice themselves for varying reasons, which is also great for growing the sanguine satyr. All three enchantments act as burn spells, and Omen of the Forge can help us dig for answers or threats in a pinch. And, with all the sacrificing we're doing, Furnace Celebration fits right in.

Playing the Deck

Chained Brute
Though it's able to run without Phoenix, this deck functions on a much higher level when you can find the flaming fowl. An early Dark-Dweller Oracle helps achieve this, but we don't have to put all of our eggs into that one basket.

Because many of our abilities have activation costs, we're actually a pretty mana hungry deck. This is true despite the low mana value of our cards. Knowing when to spend your mana on Furnace Celebration, or when to use it for other things, like untapping Brute, can be crucial to winning. Much of this comes down to knowing when to play the control, and when to go on the aggressive.

Because Anax's tokens can't block, don't be afraid to use them as fodder, too. Popping them still grows Aspirant and fuels Furnace, which gives you potential for combat tricks. Those creatures that can block can also be sacrificed before damage calculation. If they're going to die anyway, you may as well get the most out of them, right?

Additional Options:

Our additional options can basically be broken down into three categories: sacrifice outlets, sacrifice fodder, and cards that benefit from sacrifices.

Barrage of Expendables and Weaponize the Monsters are cheap permanents that both add to Anax's power and work much like Furnace, sniping small threats from afar. In the same vein, Goblin Bombardment is likely one of the best options for the deck, but at almost $8, we'd be breaking our budget if we included any number of them.

Reckless Abandon, Thud, and Fling are all cousins to Goblin Grenade which don't require your fodder to be a goblin. They're not permanents like our other options, but they do pack a punch, and I wouldn't judge anyone for trying them out.

Fireblade Charger, Goblin Arsonist, Blazing Effigy, Careless Celebrant, and Orcish Hellraiser provide some extra burn when they die. This doesn't help with maintaining your card count, but killing threats and adding to your clock is still a powerful option.

Skin Invasion is a fun enchantment that can easily be thrown onto your fodder before sending them off to meet their maker. Fiery Mantle and Sluggishness are also interesting aura options. While they don't do much on their own, they do return from the graveyard every time they are sacrificed. This makes them perfect for Aspirant and Furnace, and they can still contribute to your devotion count for Anax.

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