Unlocking Legacy – The Red Death Primer

Read Legacy articles every week... at StarCityGames.com!
The general strategy of Red Death is to play disruption, creatures, and burn to win the game. Its creatures by themselves are not fast enough to win the game against most decks in Legacy. The disruption provides an opportunity to slow down an opponent’s gameplan to allow the creatures to win the game. The burn spells either finish off a player who has a low life total or act as additional disruption by removing creatures. It is the combination of disruption, creatures, and burn that makes Red Death successful.

I. What is Red Death?

Red Death is a Legacy deck based on the Suicide Black archetype. This archetype is typified by disruption and undercosted creatures. These creatures usually come with severe drawbacks thus the moniker of Suicide Black.

Red Death is a Suicide variant that utilizes red burn spells. These burn spells provide an element of reach that is not present in most Suicide Black decks. Burn allows a Red Death player to win even when its creatures have been answered. They are flexible enough to be used as creature removal when necessary.

The general strategy of Red Death is to play disruption, creatures, and burn to win the game. Its creatures by themselves are not fast enough to win the game against most decks in Legacy. The disruption provides an opportunity to slow down an opponent’s gameplan to allow the creatures to win the game. The burn spells either finish off a player who has a low life total or act as additional disruption by removing creatures. It is the combination of disruption, creatures, and burn that makes Red Death successful.

The deck’s proactive approach to disruption and creatures often leads it to have very little of its own cards in hand and if its threats are answered it can be tough to kill an opponent in the late game. While the late game may not be a preferred position for Red Death it is by no means unwinnable. Any creatures or burn drawn in the late game can finish off an opponent that has just barely survived the initial assault.

This deck is called Red Death because it is a Suicide Black deck that incorporates red burn spells as a key component of its strategy. The name Red Death is a shortened reference to the short story, “The Masque of the Red Death,” by Edgar Allen Poe. While Suicide Black decks have existed for a long time many of the key elements of this deck are inspired by a primer written by Edward “Legend” Paltzik, which can be found here, and Part 2.

II. Why play Red Death?

The best reason to play Red Death is its ability to beat Goblins and the combo decks of Legacy at the same time. Goblins is the defining deck of Legacy. Being able to compete with and ultimately beating it is one of the keys to succeeding. This matchup is very close and requires very skillful use of one’s resources and an understanding of one’s role in the matchup.

Red Death has to use its much more efficient creatures and disruption spells to create an overwhelming advantage early in the game. It cannot allow the Goblins player to build slowly to the mid to late game where Goblins superior card advantage will become impossible to deal with.

Goblins develops its board position much more slowly than Red Death. It really doesn’t start to control the board until about turn 4 or 5. This window of turns 1-3 make it possible for Red Death to lay down its threats, play disruption, and burn any critical creatures that make it into play. Aether Vial is key for the Goblin player as means of evading the land destruction, but it also makes it very susceptible to well timed hand disruption that can negate Goblins card advantage. It also cannot rely on Goblin Lackey as the burn and creatures played via Dark Ritual don’t make Goblin Lackey very reliable in this matchup.

Playing Red Death because it competes so well with Legacy’s defining deck is a very good reason, but it isn’t the only one. Legacy combo decks are becoming more widely played as well as much faster. Red Death is exceptionally positioned to handle them. It is the very same hand disruption and land destruction that hinders Goblins that absolutely wrecks combo decks’ strategy. Most combo decks in Legacy are built around the powerful storm mechanic. These decks need both cards in hand and mana sources to continue playing spells. Reducing the amount of cards they have in hand or limiting their mana sources reduces their chances of building a storm count that is lethal.

Red Death is not particularly strong against the highly successful Threshold decks. Applying early creature pressure can cause the Threshold player to be in precarious position. Red Death also has the ability to rely on certain sideboard card that helps to greatly improve the post-board games.

III. Building Red Death

A. Disruption

Hymn to Tourach

These cards are absolutely necessary in Red Death. Duress provides the pinpoint disruption to take the very spell your opponent needs most. It can take out an Aether Vial, a key combo piece, or even a removal spell that will save your creatures all at the cost of 1 mana. Hymn to Tourach is just as powerful. Hymn often cripples opponents by taking the very spells or lands they planned to play with in the upcoming turn. It not only supports your hand disruption strategy, but also reinforces your land destruction strategy as it can hit lands in the early game acting as a preemptive Sinkhole. This creates a disruption bridge where different parts of the strategy overlap. This effect is devastating as it exacerbates your opponent’s problems because their scare resources can become almost non-existent.

Sinkhole is the cornerstone of your land destruction strategy and it complements your hand destruction. Sinkhole takes away your opponent’s land drop and often sets them back a whole turn. This turn can buy you the time you need to attack for the win, to draw another disruption spell, or a burn spell to win the game. Sinkhole can also cut off colors against a multi-color deck. Hitting their only white source strands any white cards that they have in hand. It also allows for dead draws where white cards are drawn before the next white source. Expensive spells can also be stranded in an opponent’s hand with too few lands to play them. If and when the opponent is able to find enough lands to play these spells they may have been discarded to a Hymn by then. These disruption spells can bridge together like this to annihilate precious resources. It is through this window that a Red Death player can finish off a struggling opponent.

Legend in his primer refers to a branch concept where discard and mana denial effectively limit your opponent’s options. An example mentioned earlier would be cutting off a color limits your opponent by not allowing him to play cards of those colors. The disruption bridge is a related but unique abstraction. The disruption bridge occurs when different parts of the strategy overlap. Hymn to Tourach can hit lands, which makes it overlap with land destruction. Sinkhole can strand expensive spells so that they can be discarded away at a later date. Duressing an Aether Vial is like destroying one or more lands as it hits another mana source. When two different types of disruption spells overlap this is the disruption bridge. Both the branch concept and the disruption bridge are important to understanding Red Death.

Wasteland picks up where Sinkhole leaves off. Wasteland is part of the manabase, but it serves as an important part of the disruption. It is an uncounterable way to destroy lands. It only cost you a land drop that often isn’t important, as you do not need many lands to function optimally. Wasteland in addition to a Sinkhole can often just completely deny your opponent of any lands. The complete denial of resources can happen and it makes for impossible situations for your opponent.

B. Burn

Lightning Bolt
Chain Lightning

This is the red in Red Death. These burns spells serve several functions all of which support the disruptive nature of the deck. The most important function is that these cards provide an element of reach that is not present in most Suicide Black decks. If your opponent is able to answer your threats even at very low life you simply won’t beat him. If you find another creature your opponent may have stabilized by then and have answer for your threat. The burn spells provide an immediate damage source that isn’t susceptible to creature removal. They allow you to get the last few points of damage you need to kill your opponent. They essentially mean that you have to attack fewer times with your creatures to actually win the game.

These burn spells also provide much needed creature removal. Legacy for most of its existence has been filled with creatures. It is crucial to be able to destroy opposing creatures. Lightning Bolt and Chain lightning are both able to destroy most creatures in the format. There are some exceptions but in general these cards serve as very reliable creature removal in Legacy. Destroying creatures that serve as a mana source can be another form of land destruction. Bolting a Birds of Paradise or a Werebear (without Threshold) can deny your opponent acceleration that he needs to execute his game plan. Burning Goblin Lackey is one of the best ways to prevent Goblins acceleration from overwhelming you. This is another example of the disruption bridge that I mentioned earlier. Even burn spells can at times function as part of the disruption.

Lightning Bolt is better than Chain Lightning and so all 4 bolts should be played. Chain Lightning is a sorcery and can have a drawback against red decks so three is usually enough. The fourth Chain Lightning can be played but fitting it into the deck can be a challenge.

C. Creatures

1. Which creatures to play

Phyrexian Negator

Phyrexian Negator is an integral part of Red Death. It simply can’t exist the way it does without him. Negator provides an unbelievable 5/5 trampler as early as turn 1 with Dark Ritual. Against combo and control decks he is one of the best creatures in Magic, a 5/5 for 3 mana with no drawback. While being weaker against aggressive decks, his weakness is overstated. He provides a huge 5/5 body that often can plow over 1/1s and sometimes-even 2/2s at the cost of 1 or 2 lands in play. With disruption and burn spells to disrupt your opponent he will seem like an unstoppable force. A 5/5 creature will almost always be bigger than any creature your opponent can play early in the game.

In the modern Legacy metagame it is hard to imagine not playing 4 Phyrexian Negators. Negator can actually help your aggressive game plan against Goblins. This may sound counterintuitive but a 5/5 creature is rarely what Goblin player wants to see early in the game. Of course his drawback can become an issue, but this is often only the case because you were unable to use your disruption to sufficiently hinder your opponent’s gameplan. These games would have been lost with or without Negator.

Hypnotic Specter

A classic standard for many Suicide Black decks and Red Death is no different. His ability is devastating against combo and control. His ability is also very important against Goblins as hitting their more expensive spells out of their hands is one of the ways to win the matchup. His small size is more than made up by his ability. He is another occurrence of the disruption bridge because he is a creature that also serves as a disruption spell. Hypnotic Specter effectively gives the deck 4 more disruption spells. He fits into the idea of a branch concept as well because he can cause your opponent to discard spells before they are able to play them. This deck needs 4 Hypnotic Specters.

Nantuko Shade

He can become larger than any creature in Legacy. That is how large his potential is. He starts as an unimpressive 2/1 for 2 mana. But with each mana you can spare he gets larger and larger. In the mid to late game when the Red Death player has almost no cards in hand all of your lands can be used to fuel a large Shade. Shade makes your late game so much better and gives Red Death the ability to turn lands into damage. He also gives you a use for Dark Rituals that are drawn too late to be used on other spells. Dark Ritual becomes just like a Giant Growth in this situation.

Shade is strong against all archetypes. He is very good against aggressive decks where you can use your lands to overrun your opponent’s threats. These threats will seem weak in comparison to your Shade. He is just as strong against control and combo where he ends the game before your opponent can find answer or wins through the disruption you have provided.

Rotting Giant and Wretched Anurid

Perhaps the most misunderstood creature in the Red Death. Rotting Giant is the next best combination of efficient creature and minimal drawback that can see play in this deck. It is important that this creature cost 2 mana as having too many 3 mana creatures could make the deck slower than it can afford to be. Giant has a minimal drawback with all the spells that can be used to feed him. However, the drawback of Giant can make it difficult to feed 2 of them at the same time. This is the reason behind playing the single Wretched Anurid. Wretched Anurid has its own problems especially against aggressive decks but it is usually manageable.

2. Which Creatures not to play

Dark Confidant

Some will find the suggestion that Dark Confidant doesn’t belong in a Suicide Black deck heresy, but this is the case for Red Death. Dark Confidant doesn’t provide what the deck really wants. He offers incremental and long-term card advantage over many turns at the cost of being a weak creature. This is an unacceptable tradeoff because Red Death while concerned with the late game can’t sacrifice its early game for late game advantage. Dark Confidant also has a 1 toughness, which makes it susceptible to all creature removal even Mogg Fanatic. Mogg Fanatic almost makes Dark Confidant unplayable in Legacy as he basically dies on the spot. The close matchup with Goblins doesn’t allow for subpar card choices against such an important deck.

Sarcomancy and Carnophage

Legend is right when he says that these creatures just don’t belong in Suicide Black and they are no different for Red Death. They lack the size to really pressure combo and control and surprisingly aren’t very good against aggro either for the very same reason. Red Death doesn’t win because it swarms the opponent with threats. It wins because of the quality not the quantity of its threats.

Withered Wretch

Withered Wretch offers help against graveyard based strategies but puts you in a similar position as Dark Confidant. You give up size for a special ability. Wretch is somewhat better as his two toughness allows him to survive against Mogg Fanatic, but in the end he doesn’t do enough for the deck. He provides situational graveyard removal at the cost of being just a 2/2 creature the rest of the time. He also competes for mana resources with Nantuko Shade who makes much better use of the mana by killing your opponent.

Flesh Reaver

A very big part of Legend’s Suicide deck, but it just doesn’t fit well into Red Death. Red Death is forced to compete in a metagame where creatures are everywhere. Flesh Reaver’s drawback is too severe in such a metagame to be a reliable threat. Tendrils of Agony and Empty the Warrens combo decks make Flesh Reaver even more of a liability, as your life total in these matchups will be very important.

Order of the Ebon Hand/Knight of Stromgald/Stromgald Crusader

These creatures suffer from the same problems as all 1 toughness creatures of just dying to any and all removal. They also compete for mana resources with Nantuko Shade who pumps for half the cost and is able to pump his toughness as well.

D. Mana

Dark Ritual

The only accelerant in the deck and needs no explanation. Play it when you draw it. It wins games.


In a major deviation from Legend Black, Red Death decided to splash red for the burn spells. Fetchlands became an integral part of making this happen without making the deck overly susceptible to Wasteland. A deck using Wasteland shouldn’t lose to its opponent’s Wasteland. Playing at least 7 Black-based fetches (Polluted Delta or Bloodstained Mire) is required to stabilize the mana base and the 8th fetch is advisable to help make access to red more readily available. Fetchlands also have the added bonus of making the drawback of Rotting Giant more than manageable.


Having the least amount of badlands that you need in your deck protects against early Wastelands. You don’t want your 2 black sources to be badlands against a deck packing Wasteland. To try and make this less of a possibility, 3 Badlands is probably the best number for Red Death. Three provides enough if one or two of them is hit by Wasteland without increasing your chances of having multiples in your opening hand.


You want to be able to access these via fetchlands and to be able to draw them naturally as your mana sources. The remaining non-fetch, non-badlands black sources should all be basic swamps.


Red Death needs to run at least 17 black sources. An 18th source is acceptable as well, but working out the number of Wasteland and black sources is important. The recommended land configuration is either 17 black sources with 4 Wastelands or 18 black sources with 3 Wastelands. The second configuration plays it a little safe at the cost of losing access to a Wasteland. The first one is a little more risky, but keeps the full compliment of Wastelands. It is a close call and both are defensible positions. What is not defensible is playing with more than 21 lands. More than 25 mana sources (including 4 Dark Ritual) can cause you to lose to mana flood.

Other lands and mana sources

Playing lands other than the ones listed in this section is not recommended and can lead to disastrous results. There is no reason to play non-basic black sources that are not Badlands. Playing cards like Tomb of Urami, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Lake of the Dead, and Cabal Coffers are not recommended. These cards all create a susceptibility to Wasteland that comes without a reasonable benefit. These cards are usually suggested as 1 ofs and that doesn’t make them any more justifiable than if they were 4 ofs in the deck.

Do not play any artifact mana such as Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, or even Mox Diamond. These cards don’t have the impact that Dark Ritual has and usually cost you an additional card. These artifacts are either simply too costly (Chrome Mox), unworkable (Mox Diamond) or just worse than Dark Ritual (Lotus Petal).

E. Sideboard

Red Death’s sideboard is one of its most important weapons. With a flexible and powerful sideboard the deck can often do much better post-board than pre-board. It greatly improves matchups that are really close pre-board and helps solidify weaknesses against certain strategies. It is just as important to have a solid sideboard as well as maindeck for succeeding with Red Death.

Engineered Plague

Plague is devastating in the Goblins matchup. One plague can destroy Lackeys, Fanatics, Matrons, Incinerators, and Siege-Gang tokens. A plague also makes the rest of their creatures 1/1s and Goblin Piledriver an unimpressive 0/1. Two plagues prevent a Goblins player from doing anything other than waiting to find something to answer the plague with. Most modern Goblin decks usually splash a color to handle this devastating enchantment, but they have no way of finding such a card. They have to naturally draw their disenchant effect. It is possible that they will not find an answer to plague before it is too late. Its important to note that plague has the added benefit of providing protection for Phyrexian Negator in this matchup. By destroying a large portion of the Goblin army, Negator is less of a risk. He is less likely to be blocked and even less likely to be hit by a Gempalm Incinerator for much more than 1 or 2.

Plague’s main purpose is to solidify a close Goblins matchup, but it is does more than that. The increased use of Empty the Warrens by decks like Belcher or The Epic Storm (TES) makes plague important in fighting this strategy as well. There are other matchups where plague can serve an important role, but they are less common.


A little known card from Alliances which is central to any Red Death sideboard. It is useful against such a range of decks. It hits creatures like those in Threshold such as Nimble Mongoose, Werebear, Mystic Enforcer, and most recently Tarmogoyf. It hits enchantments in a deck like Enchantress such as Solitary Confinement or Enchantress’ Presence. It can attack both creatures and Survival of the Fittest in all the Survival variants. It can even help against uncommon aggro decks like Stompy and Elves. Its strength is undeniable and its wide application making it an excellent sideboard card.

Umezawa’s Jitte

The strength and power of this card is widely known and accepted. Playing this card in deck without a large number of creatures was a concern. The mana cost of the card seemed prohibitive as it was the only card in the deck that effectively costed 4 mana (2 mana to play and 2 to equip). These concerns were unfounded as the card can swing the game against any aggressive deck completely in your favor. It provides more help against Goblins but also against many decks such as Affinity, Madness, Fish, Angel Stompy, and others. These matchups are often difficult, but Jitte can provide the boost needed to overcome these decks.

Cabal Therapy

The inclusion of this card depends largely on how much combo is present in your metagame. If there is a heavy presence of combo then this card makes a great deal of sense. If combo is somewhat lacking this card can replaced for something else. Cabal Therapy’s power should not be underrated against combo as it essentially provides two disruption spells in one card. In combination with Duress and Hymn to Tourach an opposing player’s hand can become devastated and often unrecoverable. It allows extra creatures drawn against combo to turn into disruption spells. This card is part of the disruption bridge as it connects creatures and the disruption in Red Death perfectly. This card is much weaker against control decks where you are unlikely to want to sacrifice creatures. It can be acceptable in the Threshold matchup where the burn spells will be ineffective against Mongoose and Werebear. In most cases, this card is specifically for combo decks.

Tormod’s Crypt

Crypt is critical in providing some measure of disruption over a zone in the game where Red Death usually has none, the graveyard. In metagames where heavily dependent graveyard strategies are seeing play this card is invaluable. It can work against a range of decks such as Life from the Loam decks, Threshold, Iggy Pop, Friggorid, and others.

Null Rod

Null Rod is a very strong tool against combo decks utilizing artifact mana (Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox). It is also much more narrow than Cabal Therapy as there are other combo decks in Legacy that do not use artifact mana like Solidarity or Aluren.


Sometimes played as 1 or 2 of to support the Engineered Plagues against Goblins or to use as recurring removal against decks with smaller creatures like Fish or Affinity. It largely depends on how the sideboard is constructed as to whether this card should see play or whether there is even enough room. In metagames with more creature based decks this card can be golden along with Umezawa’s Jitte.

Infest and Fire Covenant

These cards were played before settling on Engineered Plague. They are a little less narrow than Engineered Plague especially against other aggressive decks, but the heavy presence of Goblins in most Legacy metagames makes these cards less desirable. While they can clear a Goblin board all at once, Fire Covenant costs precious life and Infest can sometimes affect your own creatures. These cards are not suggested except perhaps in metagames with very few Goblin decks.


Meltdown or other red artifact destruction spells can be helpful in tricky matchups like Affinity or 5/3, but there are rarely enough artifacts in the modern Legacy metagame that Red Death should need to worry about. Aether Vial in Goblins is a concern but the sideboard is setup up with a better plan against Goblins.

IV. Suggested Decklist

The following decklist is a suggested build for the modern Legacy metagame. The maindeck and sideboard are setup for a diverse metagame. The sideboard does incorporate strong cards against Goblins, Combo decks, and Threshold.

V. Playing Red Death

Most of the time you will be the aggressive deck trying to kill your opponent before they make it into the late game. But in certain cases, especially against combo, you should play your disruption before trying to apply pressure to your opponent. Managing your resources and applying the right mix of disruption and creatures is vital. Each matchup presents different challenges to the Red Death player. Examining the more important matchups helps to understand how to play the deck in general.


This is the most important matchup because you are more likely to play against this deck than any other deck in Legacy. The pre-board game is very close. Goblins may even be favored in the pre-board game, but do not let this advantage allow you to give away game 1.

If you are on the play then Duress is a very valuable tool. It allows you to hit Aether Vial, which is best tool Goblins has against you as it invalidates to a large degree your land destruction strategy. If you miss with Duress that is almost as good because your opponent still does not have access to an Aether Vial. Opening hands with Dark Ritual can be very important in accelerating your early game. If you have the choice to play Hypnotic Specter or Phyrexian Negator on turn 1 opt for Hypnotic Specter. Hypnotic Specter can devastate a Goblin player’s hand if he even sticks around for a turn or two. Negator is very good, but Mogg Fanatic can be a bit of a problem as he can cause you to sacrifice two permanents very early in the game. If you can only play a Negator on turn 1 then you should play him. It is important to note that Duress should be played over any ritual creature because it can hit Aether Vial. Without Aether Vial Goblins is often short of mana to play its best spells.

On the draw it is best to have one of the 11 answers for Goblin Lackey (7 bolts and 4 Dark Ritual). There is no way for you to know if they have Goblin Lackey, but you should consider this when you are on the draw. A very good hand can still be kept if it doesn’t have the answer to Lackey.

One of the most important decisions is when to play Hymn to Tourach. In general there is no need to play this card on turn 2 against Goblins. Playing a creature or a Sinkhole is a much better play against Goblins on turn 2. The reason is that Goblins biggest threats, Goblin Ringleader and Siege-Gang Commander, only come online at the earliest turn 4 and usually not until about turn 5 or 6. These are the very cards that you want to hit with your Hymn. Play out the rest of your cards before playing Hymn and when you know that they will be able to play Ringleader next turn, then play Hymn. This will often leave Goblins with very little board presence and often not enough cards in hand to really stall your aggressive board position.

The burn spells obviously support your creatures getting through by keeping their side of the board clear of any really dangerous creatures. Goblin Warchief should be the first target of any bolt outside of Goblin Lackey as he can quickly accelerate the Goblins game plan.

Post board is where the matchup becomes favorable for Red Death. You want to board in 4 Engineered Plagues, 3 Umezawa’s Jitte, and 1 Darkblast. Take out 4 Duress and 4 Sinkhole. Duress and Sinkhole are always situational against Goblins. Plagues and Jittes make a world of difference. You have so much removal post-board that Goblins rarely gets much of a board presence. Active Jitte or a Plague on the board is disastrous for the Goblin player. They need to find either an artifact or an enchantment removal spell before you are able to kill them with your creatures. You want to follow the same general strategy, but getting an active Jitte or a Plague down on the board should be a priority. Be wary of Pyrokinesis on your Negator. You shouldn’t need to play him nearly as early as game 1 because you have many more impact cards against them, but you should play him in timely manner when all reasonable precautions have been taken.

CRET Belcher and The Epic Storm (TES)

In these matchups you really want to use your disruption first instead of playing creatures. These decks are very fast and can generate massive Empty the Warrens tokens as early as turn 1. If you are on the play you really want to have access to Duress or at least a Dark Ritual into a Hymn to Tourach. If none of these options are available play disruption as soon as you draw it. You might want to consider mulliganing into a faster hand especially against Belcher as they usually try and combo off on turn 1. If you are on the draw then you are at the mercy of your opponent. If they are able to go off turn 1 there isn’t much you can do about it. But if these decks don’t go off turn 1 then you have the opportunity to attack their resources with disruption.

Post-board you get access to Engineered Plague to answer Empty the Warrens. You will also want to bring in Cabal Therapy as it gives you another card to play on turn 1. If you are playing Crypt over Therapy you should only bring it in against TES as it prevents the Ill-Gotten Gains loop from beating you. Take out the burn spells and in Belcher’s case the Sinkholes as they only play 2 lands. Post-board should be a much better matchup, as your opponent can’t rely on Empty the Warrens because of Engineered Plague. Belcher is unable to control which win condition it draws so it is unlikely that they can use Belcher when they want to. TES can use Tendrils, but this usually requires an Ill-Gotten Gains, which can get shut off by Tormod’s Crypt. They can also use Diminishing Returns, but this can be difficult to cast with all the disruption that you are playing. This matchup should be favored post-board for you and probably pre-board as well. Though the speed of Belcher seems worrisome and could be a problem if you lose the die roll.


This matchup can be very difficult but also depends largely on the build of your opponent’s deck. UGW Threshold is much easier especially if they are playing maindeck Meddling Mage. UGR Threshold is much more difficult because Lightning Bolt is very strong against Negator. In general your strategy pre-board is to be the aggressor. Play your creatures as soon as possible. Your disruption should be considered secondary as it often doesn’t do enough and often builds Threshold for them. You have to try and get them way down on life before they have a chance to play Mongoose and Werebear with Threshold. Once this happens your ground assault will be completely stalled, but you can try to finish them off with some burn spells. Meddling Mage is important here as if they play him its like a bonus for you. He competes with none of your creatures and does very little to disrupt your offensive attack. Tarmogoyf may change this matchup even more severely for the Threshold player, as they don’t need to reach Threshold to play Tarmogoyf and prematurely stall your creatures.

Post-board this matchup is different as you get access to 4 Dystopia and 3 Cabal Therapy or 3 Tormod’s Crypt (depending on what you play). You should cut the 7 burn spells, as they hit none of the Threshold creatures. Dystopia allows you to answer multiple threats for just a few life. Cabal Therapy can be important in protecting Dystopia or even hitting creatures in your opponent’s hand that have not reached Threshold. Crypt is also very strong here if you play it over Therapy then you can use it to make your opponent’s creatures small. This will give you enough time to attack them when they don’t have Threshold. Crypt is much weaker with the addition of Tarmogoyf as it can still use your graveyard to fuel his power. This matchup will never be easy but it is winnable especially post-board.

These are likely to be the most important matchups you are likely to face going forward. While this is not an exhaustive list, it is an exemplary one. It serves as a good model on how to play against different types of decks. Applying these ideas to similar decks will usually lead to success.

VI. Conclusion

Red Death is a strong contender in modern Legacy as it has the ability to beat Goblins and combo decks both of which are seeing heavy play. While not nearly as strong against Threshold it still has the means to win a difficult matchup. Its cards are almost always useful in any given matchup, which allows it to deal with the wide variety of decks that are available in Legacy. It is also a relatively unexpected strategy that can take advantage of the element of surprise.

Just like the Red Death in the story this deck provides a brutal assault that can end your opponent’s existence in half an hour. It is rarely forgiving to a tormented opponent who has no time to cure what it is killing him or her.

Anwar Ahmad

AnwarA101 on The Source, StarCityGames Forums

I would like to thank Edward “Legend” Paltzik for writing an excellent primer and inadvertently inspiring this deck and this primer. I would also like to thank all those who gave me constructive ideas some of which were incorporated into this deck. Finally, I would like to thank Christopher Coppola for convincing me to write this primer.