Welcome back to another Standard Pauper Deck Tech. This series, which originally ran during Season 9 of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, takes the winning decklist from previous week's Monday Standard Pauper tournament (known as MPDC) on Magic Online and offers an analysis of the components, a quick run-down of the deck's strategy and Sideboard, and a video-cast of a sample match showcasing the deck. While we are several weeks into Season 35 of MPDC, Aether Revolt won't be released on Magic Online until the until the end of January, so there's still plenty of time to see new decks rise to prominence and new players to establish themselves as veterans of the format. For this installment, I will be looking at the return of one of the most important archetypes in all of Magic - Mono Red!
While we've seen plenty of decks utilize the powerful removal spells and card draw available to Red in the past few weeks, it's been quite a long time since a pure mono-Red build managed to perform well in the Standard Pauper metagame. But this past week bibbob submitted a build that is a great example of this classic archetype, combining cheap, aggressive creatures with removal and combat tricks to smash your opponent before he or she can bring their more expensive cards to bear. As we will see, this build not only plays a well-tuned balance of creatures and spells, but also relies upon a lethal combination enabled by a little used card in the format: Uncaged Fury. Let's take a look at the decklist.
II. The Decklist
On the surface, this deck seems like it would be simple to play. Get a bunch of creatures down as fast as possible, swing in with them every turn, and maximize their damage using the combination of removal and combat tricks. Insolent Neonate is exactly what this deck wants to do on its first turn, since this little creature can swing in uncontested for multiple turns thanks to Menace, and then can be cashed in by discarding a Land or another extraneous card to cycle it when it has outlived its usefulness. For two drops, the deck runs Makindi Sliderunner and Sanguinary Mage, both of which are powered up either by additional Land drops or spells. At the top end of its creatures are Brazen Wolves, which is simply a very efficient beater that attacks as a 4/3 for only three mana, Pyre Hound, which benefits from permanent Prowess-style counters for every spell you cast, and Renegade Freighter, which not only is a powerful beater in its own right but also gives you something to do with your smaller creatures once they become outclassed on the virtual battlefield.
These aggressive creatures are augmented by a surprisingly large number of combat tricks, including three copies each of Built to Smash, Rush of Adrenaline, and Uncaged Fury. The deck also plays four copies of Fiery Temper for removal that can also be cast on the cheap with Madness when discarding via the Insolent Neonate or by discarding them to Tormenting Voice, which has proven to be a very important way for Red based decks to generate a surprising amount of card advantage. A singleton Magmatic Chasm gives the deck one way to punch through a congested board state, and the lone Looming Spires can be a great way to enable something similar for a single creature.
But when this typical aggressive strategy fails, the advantage of this deck is that it can also enable a powerful one-shot blow to an opponent. Between the creatures and the combat tricks, most of the time you should be able to have Trample active on a creature. Pump that creature up with one or more combat tricks, then finish off with Uncaged Fury, which first adds one additional point of Power and then effectively doubles it, often allowing you to not only destroy whatever creature is blocking it but also Trample over sufficient damage to finish off your opponent, since both the First Strike and regular damage both carry over onto to the other player. I suspect that, more often than not, this is really how this deck plans on winning the game.
In the Sideboard, the deck includes a surprising variety of options for a mono-Red build. First, Galvanic Bombardment gives you additional creature removal, which can be very handy in situations where your opponent is playing so much removal of their own that relying upon combat tricks alone usually leaves you with a stinging 2-for-1 against you. Cathar's Shield can also sometimes help in this instance, as it can make your creatures large enough to sidestep most damage based removal spells. Second, when you want to go bigger, you can bring in the card advantage machine of Self-Assembler along with the singleton Eldrazi Devastator. On the other side of the equation, you can instead push in a more aggressive stance by playing Renegade Tactics and the lone Torch Gauntlet. Finally, you can also just bring in Ember-Eye Wolf, which gives you one more aggressive creature with a decent late-game mana-sink.
IV. The Match
Unfortunately this week I was not able to actually participate in our weekly MPDC tournament, so instead I called upon my friend and fellow Standard Pauper enthusiast joekewwl to play a couple of Standard Pauper matches with me while I got the hang of the deck. While I struggled initially, eventually the different pieces started to make sense, and by our second match I was pretty happy with the results. In this particular match joekewwl was playing the Esper Control archetype I wrote about a couple weeks ago. Enjoy the match!
V. Post Game Thoughts
In MPDC 34.04 where this took the trophy, bibbob managed to defeat several of the dominant contenders in the metagame, including Izzet Control and Simic Big Stuff, but dropped its very first match against a removal heavy MonoBlack control build. Similarly, in my testing with joekewwl, I observed that this deck really struggles against decks with a lot of removal, since that effectively blanks so many of its combat tricks. But this isn't so much a weakness of this particular build as it is of the archetype as a whole, so I am unsure that you could effectively counter that weakness without essentially playing an entirely different deck. Additionally, I also question the inclusion of both Self-Assembler and Eldrazi Devastator in the Sideboard, as I find it hard to believe that this deck would want to run such expensive cards in almost any matchup. I would think you would be much better off utilizing those Sideboard slots for aggressive creatures, or even tokens, as such would improve the deck's ability to outlast an opponent's removal spells.
And with that I conclude this Standard Pauper Deck Tech on Big Red. In closing, let me remind you that you can check out all of my previous articles here on PureMTGO by clicking here. I also publish over on my blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and encourage you to keep up with all my projects there. You can get a sneak peek at any of my videos before they go live here at PureMTGO.com over on YouTube.com. Simply search for "gwyned42," select one of my videocasts, and click the Subscribe button. You can keep up with everything I'm doing on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Finally, I am the host of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, which is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to PDCMagic.com for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EST / 7:00pm GMT in the #MPDC channel.