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Punk-Ravnica

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It's rare that a Magic card makes me think of Kid Rock because, and I realize I am risking alienating some of my readers here, Kid Rock is the actual worst. He's the worst musician from a metro area that gave us Sonny Bono, Surfjan Stevens and the Insane Clown Posse. Journey once told us the tale of a city boy from that metropolitan area who showed up at the train station and, when asked where he was headed, said "literally anywhere that isn't Detroit," probably because "Only God Knows Why" came on the radio. I don't like thinking about Kid Rock and it's rare that something reminds me of Kid Rock and I don't resent it.

The Boar God gets a pass.

Ilharg, the Raze-Boar

With his tribal tats and green Mohawk, it's pretty clear the Boar God is a fan of rock, Kid or otherwise. This porky boi is all punk all the time and like a punk, he's all about taking down the establishment and, while he's at it, sneaking some friends into the venue without paying cover. He's not the illegitimate son of man, he's the boar that the son of man worships. He's a big pig, and if you build around this wild stomper, you can be a big pig, too. How do you build to maximize the value we can get here?

What Ilharg does well is cheat at Magic. You're supposed to pay the mana cost of your spells and when you don't have to, broken things happen. Wizards makes that mistake a lot - Affinity, Phyrexian Mana, Shoals - all of those ideas have resulted in bannings at one point or another. Why? Because not having to pay for spells is better than having to pay for spells. You can play spells while your opponents are still ramping to come up with the mana to pay for theirs. You can play spells while your opponents think you're safely tapped out. You can play spells with your mana then play spells with your not-mana which is more spells. Most importantly, we learned from Etali that you can blow lands up and be the only one who can play spells.

I am not super fond of Mass Land destruction and I've made that clear in this series. However, I haven't experimented much with Wildfire effects and I think it's time we took a look. Mass Land Desctruction is sort of annoying because no one can play anything and it makes games take a long time. However, Wildfire sets people back to square 3 or 4 rather than square 1 which means they can play low mana spells (removal for Ilharg, if they planned ahead) but can't play anything large. Wildfire won't kill big creatures, mana rocks or all of their lands. What it will do is make them have to play catch-up. Meanwhile you're playing creatures for free and while they don't stick around, their ETB effects will. Are you going to use Ilharg to pop in an Avalanche Riders or Ravenous Baboons? Maybe, you surely could. You could also ETB a creature like Blightsteel Colossus. Picking off the rest of their lands is going to be chore that we won't benefit from much, destroying their mana rocks will be a laborious process and Red doesn't have a ton of ways to blow up every land. What we have is Wildfire, which does 75% of the job of a spell like Akroma's Vengeance and that's fine by us.

As this series has progressed, a few of my harder stances on things have softened as I have been able to experiment. That's why I'm so glad that all of you have followed me along to see this deck-building ethos evolve. I think we're ready to toy with some LD and maybe messing with their mana rocks a bit, too, to make sure we get ahead, stay ahead, and crush them with big, chonky monsters that we aren't even going to pay the mana cost for, and ETB creatures that we're going to return to our hand after Boar God sneaks them out so we can re-buy the abilities later. It's going to be a hoot and we may even learn a bit about how Wildfire effects have a place in a 75% deck, which I think is an educational experience for everyone. Onward, to the deck list!

From the P-I-G to the G-O-D | Commander | Jason Alt


At first, I thought this was going to be a bad Etali deck, but once I started to really focus on what Ilharg does well, I realized that if you sequence things properly, the deck is really quite potent. Here are some notes.

Ilharg isn't Etali, which means you don't keep the creature. You should focus on ETB effects like Fire Dragon if you want more big creatures to add. Eldrazi are all pretty bad in this deck because Ilharg puts them into play tapped and attacking which means you don't trigger "when you cast this card" effects OR annihilator which means most big Eldrazi are bad here. I like the idea of putting out Demanding Dragon with Panharmonicon out and being able to do it again next turn enough that I don't lament It That Betrays not being as good here. Focus on cards that play to your commander's strengths, and that's ETB effects and just hitting them hard. You can't make the most of Void Winnower in this deck but Utvara Hellkite is every bit as good here as it is in Etali decks.

The LD can be tricky. I would get a nice base of mana rocks going, especially if you can get an Extraplanar Lens, Caged Sun, or Gauntlet of Power down before you Wildfire. Burning of Xinye is pretty bad here as it can only hit one opponent rather than all of them, but I'd still run it. You can use it to bring someone back in line with the rest of the table, so it's actually situationally better. Maybe if the player you're trying to hit counters it, someone else will counter that to make this resolve. I mostly used LD that either punishes them for doing Blue stuff like Price of Glory or blows up only non-basics like Ruination. Use Crucible to keep them off balance with Strip Mine if you can and make the most of not having to pay mana for creatures if Ilharg sticks around. They'll be busy developing their board and you'll be free to just develop your mana so Wildfire doesn't touch you at all. Ilharg bouncing your smaller creatures like Ravenous Baboons is useful since it will survive the Wildfire that way.

If Wildfire isn't doing it for your playgroup, spells like Jokulhaups, Decree of Annihilation and Apocalypse go much farther, but I'm not trying to live that life. Still, you need to tinker with the deck on your own and figure out if it's working well enough for you. Personally, I think we're going about as far as I want with the land destruction we have. I might try Ruination first and then Wildfire to make sure we get four basics and really cut them to the bone.

I like the idea of stealing their mana rocks to hurt them double after a Wildfire. Once you 'fire them, Aladdin and Treasure Nabber should be able to get a decent rock or two. I toyed with running Krark-Clan Ironworks to make sure you don't give the stuff back, but I decided against it. It is something you may want to look at. Aladdin especially could be a great source of value if you can swipe a Mana Vault, tap it and junk it, untapping next turn to do it again with a Gilded Lotus or Dreamstone Hedron.

What do we think? Do you wish we'd tried this with Etali or do you think Ilharg has its own unique strengths that make it worth running? Are you excited about Mono-Red now that Wizards has figured out how to make traditionally underpowered colors like Boros exciting again? Did I make some glaring, fundamental rules mistake? Let me know in the comments section and like and share this piece on social media to get your playgroups thinking about how to build new and fun decks that play well with others... until they don't. Until next week!

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