"Red is a very hot color. It’s associated with fire, violence, and warfare. It’s also associated with love and passion. In history, it’s been associated with both the Devil and Cupid. Red can actually have a physical effect on people, raising blood pressure and respiration rates. It’s been shown to enhance human metabolism, too.
Red can be associated with anger, but is also associated with importance (think of the red carpet at awards shows and celebrity events). Red also indicates danger (the reason stop lights and signs are red, and that most warning labels are red).
Outside the western world, red has different associations. For example, in China, red is the color of prosperity and happiness. It can also be used to attract good luck."
Color theory is quite an interesting concept in magic and in art. You can find the rest of the article HERE if that interests you.
Those red mages sure are lucky players aren't they? Regardless of the reason you play red, the fact is that it is really good right now. Even if you are not playing it, you will certainly have to play against it. Be ready for the flavors of red!
Fire, Violence, and Warfare:
2011 Worlds Top 8, Standard
Crushing online queues
It might seem ludicrous to compare my friends deck that is doing well online to one that just went undefeated in the Standard portion of the biggest tournament of the year, Worlds, but these two versions are a perfect example building your deck for an expected metagame.
Take a second and look over these two deck lists carefully. Try to see which version is geared towards beating which portion of the metagame.
Both these lists have a lot in common like tons of one cost creatures, eleven and twelve, a lot of cheap removal, and abusing the proliferate of Volt Charge. Both have a low mana curve but Caplan's takes his even lower by not running any four cost spells. This allows him to cut a couple lands to statistically increase his ability to draw relevant cards throughout the game rather than lands.
Anticipating a field of aggro, Caplan dedicates spots in his deck to specifically fighting those decks. One example of this is Gut Shot. Many creatures right now have a toughness of one like the mana creatures, many of the aggressive threats, and illusions in general. Gut Shot allows him to gain a huge tempo advantage against the aggro decks because he can play his threats while dealing with theirs simply by paying two life. Instead of Gut Shot, Josh plays Reckless Waif // Merciless Predator to beat down against the control decks. The free removal was clearly the right choice for the metagame at Worlds, but I am sure that the control decks will rise up again in response. With Josh's version, he sides out the Reckless Waif // Merciless Predators and Hero of Oxid Ridges against opposing white aggro decks for more removal. Just like Caplan, Josh said he removes a land as well once the four costs are out of the deck.
Though these decks have many differences, they do show a trend towards Volt Charge over Brimstone Volley. Volt Charge has a full twelve cards to proliferate and it usually does an effective five damage because of the extra counters added to your permanents. The reason that Volt Charge is so good though is because not only is it a removal or burn spell, it is also a combat trick. This card drastically alters your opponents combat math and makes their decisions much more complex. To further the complexity, I might even go so far as to play one Brimestone Volley so they won't know which card you are representing with your three open mana.
If you want to be playing aggressive red, you have some choices to make. Think about each card you include in your deck and gear your version to beat the expected metagame. With this Standard format especially, you need to modify your deck each week with the metagame in mind. Your local FNM might not change that much from week to week, but if you are making it out to larger events, those players are paying attention to what decks are winning and so should you.
Red Means Danger!
It's a dangerous business, playing aggressive creatures right now. If your opponent goes turn one Mountain pass. You should think to yourself, they are representing Shock. That might change your play. When you are building your aggressive decks, one thing you should take into consideration is the amount of these one cost removal spells being played right now. Any type of controlling deck is going to be running Galvanic Blast, Wring Flesh, or Mortarpod to take out your early plays. Vapor Snag is catching on in a variety of decks as well.
Holy Shocks Batman, take a look at Junya Iyanaga's 1st place deck from Worlds!
I think Junya had aggressive decks in mind when he built this deck. With a whopping FIVE Shock effects and three Slagstorms, he really dominated the early game so his oppressive late game effective TEN titans could smash his opponent. One thing he cut to make room for all these cards was the Green Suns Zenith package. His two Green Suns Zeniths can only be Birds of Paradise, Thrun, the Last Troll, or Primeval Titan. Still an effective package main deck with some more targets in the sideboard. Cutting all Garruks from the deck is the part that is the hardest to believe for me. This might be the first version I have seen that runs zero copies of green planeswalkers. Interesting.
Most opponents could not have been prepared for the amount of removal he played main deck and that allowed him to go undefeated in Standard. His record was a total of 9-0 between Day 1 and the top eight. Even with gearing his deck to beating aggro, he still maintained a good control match by increasing the number of titans they have to deal with and finding room for two Devils Play to finish them off. This deck was built and played with such intellectual elegance, I would expect to see a lot more from this Japanese pro.
Right along the same lines of tons of red removal, is a spicy brew crushing it in online queues. Quiet Speculations own Corbin Hosler has been racking in the tickets on MTGO with a similar concept to to the Wolf Run Ramp deck. Check out Big RED!
This deck shares a lot of cards with Wolf Run, but what it gains is some hard to deal with threats in Kuldotha Phoenix and Koth, of the Hammer. Kuldoth Phoenix seems very good right now as it blocks Hero of Bladehold profitably and recurs against a control deck. Phyrexias Core provides a way to get great value out of Ichor Wellspring and Mycosynth Wellspring as well as gaining a little life in the process. You don't need to fear tapping out on turn two for a wellspring either because you can just wipe the board with Slagstorm and then Blasphemous Act once you sideboard. I might be a little worried about opposing titans and Consecrated Sphinx, they seem like an issue for this deck but with all the burn and hasty creatures, you might just be able to race your opponent. The FOUR Devils Play do a great job of burning opponents out. Big Red seems ready to shine and looks like a ton of fun to play.
Hope you have enjoyed the Fire in Standard, but be careful not to get burned by your deck choice.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force of RED!