Daily Digest: Flow Rida

Red decks are dead? Nonsense! Thermo-Alchemist was just the beginning! Ross Merriam tracks down the red deck someone has finally found in Standard!

Mono-Red Aggro won consecutive Pro Tours last year. Red as a color has gained enough quality burn spells that an entire deck has been built around them. I know the deck has failed to impress since Battle for Zendikar was released, and especially since Sylvan Advocate and Reflector Mage came along, but what if that has scared people off of a competitive deck?

Fortunately for us, Mono-Red Aggro has enough devotees in the community that it will always pop up from time to time regardless of its success at the highest levels. Until now the lists I have seen have either tried to go bigger with Thundermaw Hellkite or incorporate black and a heavy Vampire theme.

But this is old-fashioned Mono-Red Aggro, filled to the brim with the best cheap creatures and burn spells available. Sure, there are a smattering of Vampires, but that’s more incidental than anything else. Falkenrath Gorger, Insolent Neonate, and Furyblade Vampire have solid stats for their mana and allow you to gain some value from madness, thus giving you access to Fiery Temper.

You’ll also notice that outside of those with two power for one mana, each creature has a form of evasion. Trample, menace, firebreathing, and Thermo-Alchemist’s direct damage all make blocking difficult for your opponent, yet the amount of burn the deck has means your opponent will want or even need to block as soon as possible. You don’t get that kind of synergy from Vampires in this format unless you play weak cards like Stensia Masquerade.

Thermo-Alchemist may look out of place but adds an interesting dynamic to the deck. You have enough spells to make it into a reasonable clock, and it means that your opponent is forced to pressure you earlier than they would like. This should let your cheaper creatures stay relevant for longer than they otherwise would, especially since Thermo-Alchemist can play a little defense to buy you an extra attack step or two.

It’s also the only creature you have that survives Kozilek’s Return, which is obviously important in this metagame. The dash creatures help here as well, and I can definitely see dashing Lightning Berserker as early as turn 3 being a strong play against Emrakul, the Promised End decks, allowing you to make land drops and accrue burn spells before finishing them in a blaze of fire, like Wizard Brulee.

Mono-Red has rarely been overpowering, so you have to scrap for every point you can. This deck certainly does that very well. And it has always been true that tight-aggressive play combined with your opponent underestimating you has always been an easy path to victory.