When a new set comes out, players mostly focus on the new cards, often at the expense of what was already there. I’ve looked a several different cards from Khans of Tarkir over the last couple months, so this week, I decided to take a step back. Instead, I looked through Theros block for any overlooked cards that might be ready to make a comeback.
The first one that caught my eye was Prophetic Flamespeaker. Its pseudo-card-draw ability can certainly be powerful, but that’s not the part of the card that drew me in. Prophetic Flamespeaker reminded me of my favorite Standard deck I’ve ever built, which used Markov Blademaster, Rancor, and Ghor-Clan Rampager to deal absurd amounts of damage with double strike. Although those cards are gone now, I decided to see if I could build a new deck along the same vein.
Mono-Red Auras ? Khans of Tarkir Standard | Mike Cannon
- Creatures (21)
- 2 Frenzied Goblin
- 3 Two-Headed Cerberus
- 4 Mogis's Warhound
- 4 Monastery Swiftspear
- 4 Prophetic Flamespeaker
- 4 Satyr Hoplite
- Lands (21)
- 21 Mountain
Prophetic Flamespeaker is a great card, and it is among the few oddities to have seen more play in Modern than in Standard. This deck takes advantage of the combat-damage trigger by playing plenty of cheap spells. With double strike and trample, the Flamespeaker is also perfectly suited power-pumping Auras.
Two-Headed Cerberus is a really bad version of Prophetic Flamespeaker. Seriously, this card is not good. However, stick something like Dragon Mantle or Thunderous Might on it, and it improves massively. Even with no other permanents, a Cerberus with Thunderous Might will attack for 8 damage, which is enough for it to make the cut.
Satyr Hoplite is another creature that takes advantage of Auras well. If you cast it on turn one and follow up with Inferno Fist or Thunderous Might, you can attack for 4 damage on turn two. Although it doesn’t take advantage of the big power boosts quite as well as the double-strike creatures, it works just as well or better with the smaller Auras like Dragon Mantle and Hammerhand.
Monastery Swiftspear gives the deck another early play that can deal quite a bit of damage. Unlike the other creatures, Monastery Swiftspear usually won’t be an Aura target. Instead, it will pump itself whenever you cast an Aura on one of your other creatures. That means that most of the time, this 1-mana creature will be at least a 2/3.
Frenzied Goblin can take out a potential blocker each time it attacks, making it even harder for your opponent to stop your suited-up creatures. You can even enchant it with something like Mogis's Warhound to increase its survivability.
Mogis's Warhound is technically a creature, but you’ll rarely cast it as such in this deck. For 1 more mana, it becomes a powerful Aura that will still leave you with a threat on the table if the enchanted creature bites the dust. Attacking each turn if able isn’t much of a drawback in an aggressive deck, especially one so well-equipped to remove blockers.
Hammerhand does that pretty well, in addition to giving a creature +1/+1 and haste. Giving +1/+1 for 1 mana would already make it worthy of consideration in this deck, and with the two other abilities added on, Hammerhand is a true all-star. You do have to be wary of when you cast it. It’s sometimes right to run it out immediately to dish out the extra damage; other times, you want to wait until you can give a creature haste and remove a blocker to set up a lethal attack.
Dragon Mantle will replace itself with a new card while triggering prowess and heroic and giving a creature Firebreathing. On a creature with double strike, firebreathing is an extremely potent ability, turning 1 mana into 2 damage and making blocking profitably even more difficult.
Thunderous Might can give your creatures a huge amount of extra power for just 2 mana. In early testing, Prophetic Flamespeaker gained as much as +7/+0 from this one Aura. Even by itself, if will give at least +2/+0, which is comparable with other 2-mana Auras.
Inferno Fist is locked at +2/+0, but its second ability is surprisingly useful. On a creature with double strike, you can let first-strike damage happen and then sacrifice the Aura to kill the blocking creature before it deals damage. It also effectively reduces your opponent’s life total by 2 as long as it’s on the board, threatening to sneak in that last bit of damage at any moment.
Lightning Strike it great at clearing out smaller creatures, and like Inferno Fist, it can be used in combination with double strike to take out larger ones without sacrificing your own. If your opponent’s life total drops too low, it can end the game without giving him a turn to recover.
Jeskai Combo — Game 1
Satyr Hoplite, and my opponent played a Plains.
My opponent cast Jeskai Ascendancy and attacked for 3. I took the damage.
Monastery Swiftspear, hitting me for 1. I played a land and passed, and he cast a second Swiftspear, attacking for 2.
I cast a Swiftspear of my own and passed the turn.
My opponent attacked with everything. Prophetic Flamespeaker blocked a Swiftspear, and my Swiftspear blocked a token. Another Raise the Alarm triggered prowess. I took 3 damage, and my opponent lost a token in combat. I attacked with Prophetic Flamespeaker, and my opponent took the damage. I cast a second Flamespeaker and passed the turn.
My opponent cast Goblin Rabblemaster, made a token, and attacked with everything. My Swiftspear killed a token, the Flamespeaker killed a Swiftspear, and I dropped to 6 life. I cast Hammerhand on one Flamespeaker, making Goblin Rabblemaster unable to block. I cast Thunderous Might on the other Flamespeaker and attacked for 20, ending the game.
Well . . . That happened. I wasn’t expecting to deal 20 damage in a single turn so often, although I knew it was a possibility thanks to Thunderous Might. Winning the game on turn four is pretty uncommon in Standard, but this deck made it happen. While it would probably struggle against decks running a high number of removal spells, when unchallenged, this deck can put out an absurd amount of damage. Although I’ll admit you won’t draw Prophetic Flamespeaker and Thunderous Might every game, that draw is far better than anything any aggro deck in the format is capable of. If you’re looking for a fast deck that can kill out of nowhere, give this one a try.