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Runaway Steam-Kin is Broken


When I started brewing for this format I was desperately trying to make Naya work. Shoving the best cards into a deck seemed like an amazing place to start. However, the mana was very bad without Stomping Ground. So, while I loved the Naya deck, it ended up being pretty weak. You're not able to play everything easily since you're mostly a base White deck and cards like Emmara, Soul of the Accord are super awkward in that shell. I tried cards like District Guide to no avail as the deck couldn't beat any of the control decks and didn't feel great against Tokens or the Red decks. The one thing I feel confident saying is that Emmara and March of the Multitudes are incredibly powerful cards and March will be amazing in Standard for quite some time. The gw Tokens deck is fantastic at going wide and recovering from a wrath, with Venerated Loxodon as the perfect answer to Goblin Chainwhirler.

Here's the list, for reference:

Runaway Steam-Kin
While playing Leagues, I came across a Red deck that played Runaway Steam-Kin and Experimental Frenzy. Shortly after this, Will Pulliam of recent SCG Baltimore Top 8 fame told me about this Red deck he was interested in trying. I felt confident in my matchup with Naya (as Tajic and Shalai lock them out) and Lyra is tough to beat. I was impressed with how easily I got bodied and the sheer amount of cards the Red deck was able to move through. During control matchups, it's entirely possible to have torn through MORE of your deck than they can with Experimental Frenzy. In one game I was down to 17 cards versus my opponent's 35. Experimental Frenzy does work. In conjunction with Runaway Steam-Kin it's easy to completely tear through the top of your library and make some sweet plays. For example, if you have a Steam-Kin in play with one counter on it, you can cast two spells and tap out attack for four then use the counters to cast a Legion Warboss or Goblin Chainwhirler. Have some extra mana laying around? Then you can kick a Fight with Fire or play one of your four-mana enchantments. With Steam-Kin in play it's incredible how many spells you can move through in a single turn. I've often gone through six or seven cards in a turn and that doesn't even include the turns with Steam-Kin that can let you chain out. Just a tip: use your Steam-Kin's ability to make mana before you start casting spells. While this isn't always the correct line, it often helps start a chain.

Since you can grow your Steam-Kin at instant speed it changes how your opponent can play around it. How do they block if you have a burn spell? Do they respect it? On the other hand, it's important to protect your elemental from something like Chainwhirler in a mirror, so leaving mana open for a Shock can be worth your time. With so much play to Steam-Kin, I believe opponents may have to respect it (correctly so) and kill it on the spot. If not, we can do some wild things.

Experimental Frenzy
I think the main reason Steam-Kin is going to be so good is because of how well it pairs with Experimental Frenzy. In truth, it is more likely that Experimental Frenzy is the broken card. A four-mana enchantment in your Red deck that doesn't do anything SOUNDS loose, but trust me when I say it's the best thing to be doing in this deck. While it looks like it shuts off your hand, I like to think of it as putting your hand on suspend. At some point you'll have enough fire power in your hand that you can crack your Frenzy then let loose. Since Frenzy lets you play your land for the turn, it's easy to chain through several spells from there. If you have Steam-Kin in play you can tear through your deck and play multiple spells in a turn. My current record is nine spells in one turn. Putting that aside, Experimental Frenzy is a card advantage engine that lets you grind out most decks. Sometimes the card just lets you play out a spell and a land every turn, but the turns where you get to play multiple spells is when the card truly feels broken.

One of the ways I've going with this deck is toward less lands. While you need a critical amount of lands to be able to cast your Frenzy, it is often the case that it lets you see so many lands that you "flood" out. With Frenzy out, it's hard to flood since you'll need all the mana to be able to chain out spells. Post board it makes cards like Fight with Fire extra good since it lets you dome an opponent for 10 before they cast Settle the Wreckage. In this case, Fight with Fire is one of the best removal spells given Lyra Dawnbringer is one of the best creatures in the format and also one of the best cards against Red. I can envision a lot of situations in which Aurelia into Lyra will be more than any deck could handle. Fight with Fire fortunately also handles Aurelia pretty well since Aurelia clocks in as a 2/5, which is massive in this format. When the premier removal spells are Lightning Strike and Lava Coil, Aurelia presents a scary proposition for the Red deck and the rest of the format.

With that in mind, here's the list that I came to and likely registered for SCG Columbus.

I'm a bit concerned with gw Tokens as March of the Multitudes is an instant and Venerated Loxodon helps push the smaller creatures out of Chainwhirler range, so I've included three Fiery Cannonade as a way to fight through that. The Rekindling Phoenixs are a hedge against Green decks as the flying is far and away the most relevant keyword you can produce against them. Risk Factor is for the control and mopey midrange decks as a way to refuel and pressure their life total. Syncopate is pretty devastating against this but Risk Factor into Frenzy can help slog through anything they can present. Vance's Blasting Cannons I've included as it works a bit differently from Frenzy while still being quite powerful. While it doesn't have any impact the turn you play it, it pairs well with Frenzy since you can cast the cards from exile and if you ever flip it against control or Red it's going to be very difficult to lose. I also enjoy the card against Blue decks as it helps bury them while providing a tool for killing all their smaller creatures. Lava Coils line up well against all the Green decks as they kill a wide range of threats.

Overall, I've had massive success. My win rate on MTGO has been stellar and I'm looking forward to playing this deck alongside Kyle Boggemes and Joe Lossett. Hopefully it results in another week one trophy for me. I've been craving another Top 8 and have put a ton of work into this event. All that's left is to just do battle and see what happens. Either way, I'm looking forward to a great weekend with my friends.

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