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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
Mar 12 2018 1:00pm
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It should come as no surprise to most people who are familiar with me that I love red decks. One of the first things I did when I started playing Penny Dreadful was to brew a mono-red aggro deck, and that's what I am here to talk about today.

"Wolf Sligh" is the name I gave to my deck, and I have so far been very successful with it. I have played it in three tournaments so far, winning one, coming runner up in another, and finishing in the top four of the third, for a 15-3 record. I have also played it in two leagues so far, with a 9-1 record. This gives the deck a total record of 24-4, which I am pretty happy with! An 86% win rate is nothing to sneeze at.

Mono red decks in Penny Dreadful are nothing new, but mine is a little different to most. My current deck list is this:

 

 

Let's break down the deck.

The One Drops 

These are, in my opinion, the best red one drops in the format. All have, at some stage, seen play in standard red aggro decks, and all of them hit hard. Firedrinker Satyr seems to be an unpopular choice among the red players in the format though; most run Falkenrath Gorger instead of the Satyr, but I think this is wrong. The Satyr can be the best one drop in the deck, especially against control decks. It can also be the worst, but it usually gets sided out aggressively in this case. 

The Two Drops

Most red aggro decks in the format are running some combination of Ire Shaman, Kessig Forgemaster and Stormblood Berserker. I was too until recently. The Shaman and Forgemaster just weren't what I wanted to be doing, and I found that they were probably the worst creatures in the deck. I'm not sure if Firefist Striker is much better, but I am giving it a chance at the moment. Scourge Wolf is another one I might look at.

The Three Drops

These are the best three drops the format has to offer, and they are good ones. Chandra's Phoenix, especially, is great - it is the best card in the deck by far. Unless opponents exile it, it just keeps coming back time and again. 

The Burn Spells

A pretty decent package of burn spells here, and I run 4 of each. Incendiary Flow is especially important, as it can take care of Murderous Redcap and opposing Phoenix's. I usually use burn to clear the way for my other creatures, and then switch to throwing it at the opponents face when I either need a Phoenix back or if I am close to closing out the game. 

The Sideboard

The sideboard here is for utility. Mindsparker is good against the white/blue control or blink decks; Vulshok Refugee is for opposing red decks; Cursed Scroll is one of the best cards you can draw against control or even anything with heavy removal; Magma Spray is again for opposing Phoenix's or Redcaps; Mizzium Mortars comes in against Zombies or Temur Midrange, both of which are difficult match ups; and Sentinel Totem is for anything that likes to use graveyard shenanigans.

The Mana Curve

I have been a red-deck player since the days of the original Sligh decks. In fact, the old Deadguy Red Sligh deck from Tempest era standard is one of my all time favourites. As such, I tend to have a fairly old-school approach when it comes to red decks, and that is that they are all about the mana curve. A quick history lesson:

When Jay Schneider built the first Sligh deck (it's called Sligh because Paul Sligh was the pilot of the first successful one, though when Jay was playing it, it was actually called Geeba), he used the concept of the mana curve to build the deck. The idea was to maximise the chance of using all of your mana each turn (a concept that is still extremely relevant today). The mana curve that Schneider developed was designed to achieve this as often as possible. By having a certain number of one mana cost cards, followed by a smaller amount of two, and a smaller amount again of three, the deck should be able to do this. 

This concept is one I still use today when brewing my red decks. Let's have a look at the mana curve of this deck:

This is pretty much the exact curve I like to have in these types of decks. There are progressively less cards as you go up the mana curve. The deck actually has slightly more three-drops than I normally like, but Flame Javelin is too good to leave out.

A League Report

I thought it would be fun to do a league with this deck and report back on the results. Leagues are five matches long; let's take a look at how I go!

Match 1

I started game 1 on the play, hitting my opponent with Village Messenger. They played an Island, and I hit them again, this time with a transformed Messenger, then played a Firedrinker Satyr. My opponent conceded on their turn 2; I can only assume their hand was terrible and didn't draw any land. 

I hedged a little bit here and sided in Mindsparker, but left Cursed Scroll out. My opponent chose to play and started with a Mountain; at this stage I'm not really sure exactly what I am facing. I played Village Messenger which was killed, then my opponent played Dragon Fodder. I have seen this deck before; it's a tokens deck with (I think) prowess creatures and Goblinslide. That proves to be true when Goblinslide is played a couple of turns later. I end up getting stuck on two lands with four three-drops in hand, which is not ideal; I have played out two Firefist Strikers and a Rakdos Cackler, though my opponent soon takes care of them with Breath of Darigaaz. I do manage to play a Phoenix, have it killed, burn my opponent to get it back only to have it killed again; meanwhile, my opponent is playing Dragon Fodders and Treasure Cruise as well as Elusive Spellfist. In the end I can't keep up and concede.

I took the Mindsparkers back out and replaced them with Vulshok Refugees this time. I keep a one-land hand but draw another one turn two, which puts me in good stead, as most of my hand was one and two drops. My initially attacks are blunted by a Spellfist but I eventually kill it; unfortunately I am left with two Satyrs while my opponent has two Goblin tokens. This was one of those times I probably should have taken them out, but oh well. We both end up dealing with each other's creatures and go into early top-deck mode. It's a race I end up winning, thanks to a couple of Stormblood Berserkers, a Chandra's Phoenix and some well-timed burn spells to take care of blocking Goblin tokens.

Match 2

This time I'm playing against a Jeskai opponent, as evidenced by their first turn Mystic Monastery. I get off to a good start with three Rakdos Cacklers, while my opponent does nothing but play tap lands. Not where you want to be against mono red. I end up claiming a turn 4 win.

I bring the Mindsparkers in again and this time also the Cursed Scrolls. My opponent played exactly one spell in the first game, which was Hieroglyphic Illumination, so I assume they are a control deck. This proves to be accurate. I keep a one-land hand again with a few one-drops, but this time I don't see another land for a few turns. My opponent casts Radiant Flames to wipe my board and I am way behind already. When they play Sphere of Law I know it is going to be an uphill battle. Still, I have Cursed Scroll in hand; I can win this if I can just draw lands! Unfortunately it is not to be, and my opponent eventually finishes me off with Eternal Dragon

We go to game three and my opponent mulligans to five. My hand has a perfect curve out happening and my opponent concedes on turn three after the fail to draw any land other than Thawing Glaciers

 

I really, really dislike this card.

Match 3

I began on the draw. I started out by playing a Rakdos Cackler and Stormblood Berserker, while my opponent started with Aethergeode Miner and Seeker of the Way, both of which promptly died to a pair of Burst Lightnings. I kept drawing removal, while my opponent kept playing creatures; a second Miner died to another Burst Lightning and a Butcher of the Horde died to Flame Javelin. Meanwhile, I was all the while hitting them with my two creatures, eventually finishing them off with an Incendiary Flow to the face.

We went to sideboarding, and I took out a couple of Satyrs and the Incendiary Flows, putting in two Magma Sprays and all of the Mizzium Mortars. I didn't have as much in the way of removal this time; their Seeker of the Way died to a Magma Spray, and they were able to use Arc Trail to deal with my first two creatures. They then played an Ashcloud Phoenix while I ran out a Village Messenger and a Stormblood Berserker. We both started racing; they played Butcher of the Horde which died to a Mizzium Mortars, while I played out another Stormblood Berserker and a Boggart Ram-Gang. They had no answers and I took the match 2-0.

Match 4

I won the die roll and chose to play first. I kept a risky hand: five Mountains and two Rakdos Cacklers. If I started drawing land I'd be in trouble but with only 15 out of the remaining 53 being land I decided to risk it. My first draw was a third Cackler followed by a Phoenix, so I was off and running. For my opponent, they played an Island and Plains and used Power Sink on my Phoenix, which meant they were playing Azorius Control. An Azorius Charm and an Immolating Glare slowed my momentum somewhat, but I had my opponent on 2 life when they tapped out to play Stroke of Genius on themselves, giving me a window to cast the Burst Lightning in my hand to finish them off.

The Mindsparkers and Cursed Scrolls came in again. I was able to get in some early damage with some Cacklers and Firefist Striker, but Azorius Charm and Immolating Glare again from my opponent slowed me down. I was able to play Cursed Scroll, which and dealt 8 damage with it across the game; that combined with Mindsparker almost won me game two. Except... I made a massive mistake. My opponent had tapped out to play Aetherling, while I had Mindsparker and Cursed Scroll out. I had another Scroll in hand. I drew for my turn (a Mountain), and realised my opponent had to block the Mindsparker or die this turn (they were on 5 life). With the Mindsparker having first strike, I would be able to kill it. Except, I forgot to play the Mountain before attacking so, when I activated Cursed Scroll, I only had a 50% chance of succeeding. Alas, I failed. My opponent then proceeded to play Pulse of the Fields and we were on to game 3.

Another card that is not a favourite of mine...

On the play again for game three, and I'm pretty confident I can win. The red deck just slaughters Azorius Control on the play, and I hope this game is no exception. I started with two Village Messengers which transformed and stayed that way for the match. For their part, my opponent played Elixir of Immortailty but really didn't do much else. As predicted (and despite them using the Elixir), I was able to overrun them with the Messengers, Firefist Striker and some Cacklers.

Match 5

4-0 going into the last match and on the cusp of a perfect league run. I'm on the draw, and start with a Village Messenger into a Stormblood Berserker, while my opponent starts playing Morph creatures face down. This is not a deck I have come across before. I start killing the Morphs, revealing cards like Fathom Seer and Echo Tracer. I keep the pressure up, and a second Berserker is the final nail in the coffin.

Sideboarding, and I'm really not sure what I am facing. I drop two of the Satyrs for the two Magma Sprays and hope for the best. The game goes in a similar manner to the first, with my opponents Morphs being Icefeather Aven, Rattleclaw Mystic and Willbender. I again keep up the pressure, attacking through his creatures thanks to Firefist Striker. Eventually they play a Sagu Mauler but it is too late; I have 6 points of burn in hand and a Phoenix attacking in the air, and my opponent dies a short time later.

Conclusion

So, my second 5-0 League run in a row with Wolf Sligh. The deck is very, very strong and that now brings my record with it to 29-4, or an 88% win ratio, which is insane. 

I hope you enjoyed this deck tech. This is a first for me, and I'd like to know if it is something you like and want to see more of. Please let me know down below in the comments. 

As always, I hope you try Penny Dreadful out - the format is amazing fun.

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