Part 1: Creatures | Part 2: Spells and Lands
Okay, so yesterday we started covering what the “perfect” mono-red deck would look like in the Holiday Cube on MTGO. Go read that article if you want detailed discussion of the creatures in this thought exercise. If you just want the summary, here you go:
Perfect Mono-Red Creatures
I’m proposing that 15 creatures is the right amount, which is pretty standard for Limited formats in general. As the curve for this deck is stopping at four, I’m planning on including only sixteen lands, so that leaves space for nine additional spells.
Three are obvious and immediate includes: Shrine of Burning Rage, Sulfuric Vortex, and Koth of the Hammer. I mentioned yesterday that these are three of the five cards that will often push one into mono-red, so let’s just get them out of the way now, since we all know they’re coming.
As for burn spells, Lightning Bolt is obviously the gold standard and Chain Lightning is not far behind. Searing Spear, Lightning Strike, and Incinerate are all fine cards, but do they deserve a spot in the perfect deck? Probably not. The same goes with the two-damage burn spells with upside, like Firebolt and Burst Lightning. A case might be made for Rift Bolt or Searing Blaze, but I’m going to say Fireblast gets our third and last burn slot, as being able to target an opponent’s face for four while tapped out will often end the game a turn sooner than usual.
Equipment is a must. Any of the Mirrodin or Mirrodin Besieged block swords are fine, with Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of War and Peace the best for aggro decks. However, since we don’t want to be hitting five lands, these are actually a little slow. I prefer Umezawa’s Jitte or Skullclamp, but let’s say only Jitte makes this list. I like that Burning-Tree Emissary casts or equips it, too.
I have a lot of nostalgia for Cursed Scroll, but if I’m being perfectly honest with myself, it’s probably a little slow by modern standards. Repeatable damage is fantastic and I happily play this card in this style of deck, but I don’t think it makes the ideal list. Tangle Wire, on the other hand, is remarkably good if you get off to a fast start, and the curve for this deck all but guarantees that. It might be a little worse in powered cube, where permanents come out much more quickly, so this is the slot I am most willing to be swayed from.
That’s 23. We’ve got one more.With such a low-curve deck, Wheel of Fortune is at its best. It’s also one of the most powerful red spells ever printed, so it’s getting the nod.
We have our spells:
Perfect Mono-Red 24
That. Is. Sweet-looking.
Now, we’re living in Magical Christmas Land, so let’s get ambitious with the mana base. First, we’re giving ourselves Mox Ruby and Black Lotus to replace two lands, but we’ll be realistic and stop there with power. Obviously other Moxen and Sol Ring and Mana Crypt would be incredible pickups, but let’s at least be somewhat realistic here, okay? One is so unlikely to get three or more pieces of power in a single draft, and there’s only so ideal one deck can get.
Speaking of ideal, we’ve got Grim Lavamancer, so let’s include Arid Mesa, Scalding Tarn, Wooded Foothills, and Bloodstained Mire. You can play them early to thin your deck if you start with a land-heavy land, or play them last if you’re hoping to draw additional lands. The fuel for Grim Lavamancer absolutely makes them good. As for thinning, usually you don’t want to play fetches only for that reason, but with a deck that is so weak to flooding and that cares so little about its life total, this may be an exception. The fact that Lavamancer benefits too just makes them great.
I don’t want lands that come into play tapped, so Ghitu Encampment and Teetering Peeks are not considerations. I do want a mana-denial package, though, so let’s include Strip Mine, Wasteland, and Rishadan Port. This leaves us with the question of man lands. If we include both Mutavault and Mishra’s Factory, that will leave us with slots for Ruby, Lotus, the four fetches, and five mountains. That’s only 11 red sources, one of them a one-time use, which is a little lower than I feel comfortable with. Let’s say only Mutavault gets a nod.
That leaves us with our final list:
What do you think? Does this look like the perfect build, or should we slot in some different cards and remove some others? Let me know what you think about this very powerful and very hated archetype.