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Red Revamp


Two weekends ago, a PTQ was held on Magic Online (MTGO) and a Golgari Midrange deck won. Last weekend, another PTQ took place on MTGO and was won by a Golgari Midrange deck. That's not good. My main color, Red, isn't getting the respect that it deserves, so today I'm going to bring to you a few different Red-based decks to try out. Maybe with the proper amount of aggression we can put Red decks back on top where they belong.


The first deck I have for you is Mono-Red. It uses a couple of planeswalkers in an attempt to gain the upper hand on the battlefield.

Both Sarkhan, Fireblood and Karn, Scion of Urza have abilities that can help you get the cards you need into your hand more quickly. With Sarkhan, you're able to throw away a card that isn't useful currently in an attempt to draw something you can use. Much of the time, it's pretty safe to throw away a land card, but you'll typically want to do this after you are able to get five lands into play. This deck has a couple of ways to cheat on the cost of mana (in the form of Sarkhan's second ability and Runaway Steam-Kin), but with fewer than five lands in the mid and late game you'll surely be wishing you had more.

Karn, Scion of Urza is a great way to draw additional cards as well as gaining access to more cards. When you exile a card with a silver counter on it for his +1 loyalty ability, it's as if you're giving yourself access to a whole other hand of cards as long as you can keep Karn in play. Also of note, if you play Experimental Frenzy you can no longer cast cards from your hand, so if you have answers in exile thanks to Karn that you know you'll need later on, you'll want to consider carefully whether playing Experimental Frenzy is worth it at the time.

Rakdos (Black/Red)

The next deck I have for you asks a lot of questions of your opponent in the hopes that the answers are in your favor. Let's take a look at it.

Both Sword-Point Diplomacy and Risk Factor give your opponent the option to either take damage or allow you to draw additional cards. Both of these options can work to your advantage. If your opponent takes the damage and denies you the cards, they're that much closer to losing if you manage to draw one of your many burn spells. On the other hand, if they give you the cards, they might be giving you the burn spell you need to finally kill them. It can be a real no-win scenario for them.

This deck is a little light on defensive creatures, so you'll either want to try to burn the opponent out quickly or hold some of those burn spells to act as removal for your opponent's creatures. Some of the creatures in Standard can grow pretty large, so you may need to decide on the spot that it's better to direct the burn spells directly at the opponent and try to outrace their creatures when it comes to damage.

Boros (White/Red)

The next deck I have for you features my favorite guild from Ravnica, the Boros Legion. Let's take a look at it.

This deck has many of the things I love in a deck: death from above in the form of many flying attackers, gaining life, and burn spells. There are a total of 12 Angels in this deck that cost between three and 5 mana. If you're able to curve Resplendent Angel into Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice and then Lyra Dawnbringer, you'll have a powerful force for justice that your opponent will need to deal with quickly. That could be made more difficult if you then manage to play Shalai, Voice of Plenty which grants all of your other creatures hexproof. When you add in Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants, who can grant +1/+1 counters to your creatures, things can just get silly and out of control.

As you can see from the lands in the deck, after sideboarding this deck can become a Jeskai deck. The Blue splash is solely for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. It's no secret that Teferi is a powerful planeswalker, but you won't want to bring him in for every matchup. Against a highly aggro deck, you could be dead before you have the ability to play him, so you'll usually only bring him in against other midrange or control decks.

Gruul (Red/Green)

The next deck I have for you is a rg deck that leans heavily into Green for the ability to play huge threats. Let's have a look at it.

Okay, this deck isn't as much Red as it is Green, but the Red cards it has are great additions to this deck. Banefire is a wonderful all-purpose burn spell. Do you need to destroy an opponent's annoying creature? Use Banefire! Does your opponent have a planeswalker that's about to be able to use their ultimate ability? Use Banefire. Want to deal some uncounterable, unpreventable damage to your opponent directly? Use Banefire! It can target anything without hexproof and can scale to deal whatever amount of damage you need. When in doubt, use Banefire!

While I'm not as excited to play Experimental Frenzy in most decks, while playing it in this deck you're very likely to be able to add threat after threat to the battlefield every turn. If you happen to get Wayward Swordtooth into play, you can now play additional lands from the top of your library as well, opening up more chances to flood the battlefield with threats. And there's nothing Ghalta, Primal Hunger likes more than a crowded battlefield.

Izzet (Blue/Red)

The final deck I have for you is an Izzet deck. It also likes attacking from the air and casting lots of spells. Let's take a look at it.

The goal of this deck is to play a lot of instants and sorceries, dealing damage and gaining card advantage along the way. This will allow your Crackling Drake's power to get larger and larger. Then, use that Crackling Drake to fly your way to victory.

In the event that Crackling Drake isn't enough, this deck also runs a full playset of Arclight Phoenix. This hasty attacker is a little fragile, but thanks to the jump-start ability on many of the spells in this deck, you can fairly easily return it from the graveyard to the battlefield before your next combat.

Wrapping Up

Red decks used to be the bane of Standard. They were on top for so long and I'm not ready for their reign to end. While we may have lost some powerful cards during the last rotation, these decks prove that there's still a lot to be reckoned with when it comes to Red cards. Do you think Red has the potential to be the best in Standard again? Let me know by leaving a comment below or you can reply to me directly on Twitter, or email me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com. And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

-- Mike Likes

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