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Ravnica Allegiance has no shortage of new tools for the aspiring Fire God. Not only do all of the main Red Deck strategies - from Big Red to suicide weenie - get upgrades on power level, speed, or both... We get catalysts for brand new play patterns, and maybe even new decks!

Let's start with probably the mightiest Red Deck upgrade: Electrodominance.

Electrodominance

Electrodominance will find its most natural home in the Big Red deck. That deck already plays more than the typical share of expensive cards, and even wants a main-deck x-spell.

Electrodominance is not better or worse than Banefire. If you're up against Jeskai, you're generally going to want Banefire... But against most other decks, Electrodominance solves problems Big Red players may not even have known they had. Here are two:

  1. Siege-Gang Commander [at the five] kind of sucks
  2. When you have so many expensive cards, it's hard to deploy them all

The day that "damage on the stack" left Magic's rule book, I was actually having lunch with Pro Tour Hall of Famer - and Number One All-Time deck designer - Zvi Mowshowitz. Zvi predicted that Siege-Gang Commander would become unplayable. This conversation has certainly colored my opinion on Siege-Gang Commander... But it's clearly not unplayable.

It is, however, contextually weak, given the rest of the format. What would you rather tap out for, a Siege-Gang Commander or a Doom Whisperer? A Siege-Gang Commander or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria? Siege-Gang Commander can provide go-wide defense where Doom Whisperer can't... But that's not really a winning resume.

A lot of the frustration in playing this card is that it's so expensive... But it just makes the opponent's cards good. If the opponent is trading Deafening Clarion for Legion Warboss, you probably got 1-5 damage in, and the opponent got you essentially one-for-one. You're poised to take a good next turn, challenging them to have another answer. And you already got paid! Losses with Siege-Gang Commander make the opponent look good. Even when it is technically one-for-one, they usually can do multiple things per turn (i.e. leave up Essence Scatter) or make a proactive play.

Siege-Gang Commander isn't bad, per se... It just doesn't get one's blood boiling like other fives. I mean, Siege-Gang Commander or Lyra Dawnbringer am I right?

What if, instead of Siege-Gang Commander on five, you blasted an oncoming Zhur-Taa Goblin and dropped a Goblin Chainwhirler? The tactical implications of giving certain creatures in Standard flash - everything from Tocatli Honor Guard to Lyra Dawnbringer - are positively eye-popping. The fancy-fancier in me is excited to drop a Dire Fleet Daredevil and get both card and mana advantage at the same time!

But what about the best creature? Nailing a 3/3, splattering any number of incoming 1/1 tokens, and punching up to block a 4 toughness attacker - without losing the Chainwhirler - are all awesome; and in this case, all at the same time!

Electrodominance is going to bite into the main-deck share of Banefire and Fight With Fire; but probably not Banefire sideboard slots. Fight With Fire is going to lose share for other reasons. This card is going to be wild in Standard but might be even more impressive in Modern.

Restore Balance
Ancestral Vision
Living End

Two mana just became a game-winner!

Sample Big Red with Electrodominance | Allegiance Standard | Michael Flores


Let's go from big - very big - all the way down to 2-drop. Let's tip our harlequin helmets to Rix Maadi Reveler!

Rix Maadi Reveler

Like Electrodominance, this card will likely boom a crater's worth of impact into the side of Modern. Lingering Souls anyone? But how about in Standard?

I think that Rix Maadi Reveler can potentially contribute in a number of existing archetypes... But the most important will be the Mono-Red Aggro deck. Why? You can discard The Flame of Keld. The Flame of Keld is a dual edged sword. It's a great last card but terrible second-to-last card when your other card is also The Flame of Keld.

Rix Maadi Reveler can tune your hand... But also dig you out of spots where having only twenty land would really punish you.

I kind of hate to cut Viashino Pyromancer out of the aggressive Red Deck-build, but as a 1 toughness creature, the Pyromancer was already spending a lot of time on the bench.

Sample Red Aggro with Rix Maadi Reveler | Allegiance Standard | Michael Flores


I made a number of changes to the aggro build, beyond just adding Rix Maadi Reveler. Risk Factor became Light Up the Stage and Wizard's Lightning became Skewer the Critics. Light Up the Stage is just bonkers in this strategy, and oddly even synergistic with The Flame of Keld. I love how the combination of super cheap casting costs and card drawing lets you deploy more and more cards.

Is this version better than beloved Experimental Frenzy? "Better" ... Not sure. More violent? Yes. And it's like never going to get stuck.

Wizard's Lightning is a heck of a Magic card; but if we're cutting Viashino Pyromancer (a Wizard) for a Human Shaman, our Wizard's Lightnings are going to be relying pretty heavily on a four-pack of fragile 1-drops. Skewer the Critics is basically the same (three sometimes, one sometimes) but one in a way less conditional fashion.

Can't wait to throw the odd book of matches at my opponents with this.

Adding some spice: Blood Crypt


In case you didn't notice yet, this is exactly the same deck... But with eight Black dual lands.

Presumably this would open up sideboard options with greater flexibility; but for the main, we get a much upgraded Rix Maadi Reveler. In addition to its identity as a 2-drop that fixes your mana flow, digs you to your end game, and attacks for dos; Rix Maadi Reveler can do a Rekindling Phoenix / Experimental Frenzy impression... At least on curve.

I generally think the Black lands will be worth the investment, but you're clearly way behind in the mirror match if the opponent is straight Mountains, and actually in a pretty awkward spot if your first two lands are both Dragonskull Summits. But with a "normal" land distribution? You just have better Human Shamans. All good.

On the subject of Human party animals... What about Rakdos Firewheeler?

I initially thought that I'd want to experiment with Rakdos Firewheeler, but the bb next to the rr is pretty prohibitive for the CURRENT Standard. It's not that you can't make it work... We just looked at a deck list with eight br dual lands! It's that to make it work you'd probably have to forego Goblin Chainwhirler.

Easiest solution to my mind would be to play Unclaimed Territory. That, along with a Swamp or so would make Rakdos Firewheeler pretty approachable. Anyway, Rix Maadi Reveler is a Human; so is Ghitu Lavarunner. But naming "Human" might make it difficult to hit Chainwhirler on three. And I really want to be able to hit Chainwhirler on three.

It's not that I don't think Rakdos Firewheeler might be great; it's just that I don't think I'd ever want it more than the best creature in Standard. But if you had a mana base that could hit bbrr, you'd be able to cast Fireblade Artist and Carnival // Carnage; both of which have serious potential.

Appendix: Winners and Losers

The most important Red Deck card from Ravnica Allegiance is Collision // Colossus. And not for the "Colossus" side.

Collision is a huge upgrade to Fight With Fire for the purposes of knocking Lyra Dawnbringer out of the sky. Not only is it an instant, but doing six instead of five gives it exactly what basic Mountains have been begging for all format.

Fight With Fire? Already could kill Niv-Mizzet, Parun. How about Doom Whisperer? No one could do that alone before; and worse yet, having your best card in play - Experimental Frenzy - makes gluing two burn cards together to fight a six unpredictable.

But Collision fixes that!

Right now, we see a lot of three-of Fight With Fires in sideboards. I'd want to make sure I owned four Collision // Colossus, even if I didn't sideboard all four.

Green is also going to appreciate this card; but not nearly as much as the Red Decks. Green, of course, already had ace assassin Vivien Reid to shoot down Niv-Mizzet.

By extension, the biggest loser for Red Decks has to be Fight With Fire. Fight With Fire always occupied a weird spot in the format. In main decks with Treasure Map and Experimental Frenzy, it was kind of a Banefire Junior that did double duty as spot removal. Now with Collision // Colossus on Dawnbringer duty and Electrodominance horning in on x-spell space from the other direction, Fight With Fire finds itself without a dedicated specialty. It's worse at killing large flyers than one, worse at killing opponents than the other. Still... Going to demand some spots; some main, some sideboard... Just fewer, I think.

I for one can't wait to try out some of Ravnica Allegiance's hottest new cards in my already spicy strategies!

LOVE

MIKE