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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Dec 15 2010 1:42am
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Red.  Just the color itself brings thoughts of anger and aggression.  Reckless assaults, chaos, no holds barred.  In other words, good times to be had by all!

He has been known to have a temper as well.  And likes to beat down.

I've always liked to live in the red zone, so this should be lots of fun.  Unfortunately, mono-Red has the reputation in EDH of being among the weakest decks played.  There are decks that use Kiki-Jiki to create combos that can take over the game, but that's not what I want to do.  I want to attack with stuff.  Preferably lots of large critters.  Let's see what I can do.


My decision about which commander didn't take very long.  Originally, I was going to use Godo, but I ended up running into a couple of different people playing the big barbarian.  I decided to switch gears, and use someone that I hadn't seen played with very often but who seemed like a lot of fun.  Let's take a look at the Commander we are using today.

homura, human ascendant

Homura has an interesting ability, in that he flips after going to the graveyard to become an enchantment that turns all of your creatures into little dragons!  That sounds pretty cool, right?  Unfortunately, you can't block with Homura, as that is usually the easiest way to get a creature to the graveyard in this format.  Therefore, we need to make sure that we have a couple of different ways to off Homura when we get him in play.  As a side note, when you do get him killed, you have the option of returning him to the Command zone.  DO NOT DO THIS.  He needs to go to the graveyard so that he can return, flipped.  I know that I misclicked once or twice when I first started with this deck.

A couple of other things we need to keep in mind.  We want to make sure that we have a decent amount of creatures to take advantage of Homura after he becomes his Essence.  We also want to make sure that we have a decent amount of accel, as Homura isn't particularly cheap to cast.  Finally, we need to keep in mind Red's lack of card draw and think of answers for this problem.  With all these issues in mind, Let's take a look at the deck:


It took me a long while to come up with this list.  We got a couple different things going on here, so let's break down:

Sacrifice Outlets  
goblin bombardment

Greater GargadonSpawning PitGoblin BombardmentFlingDiamond ValleyMiren, the Moaning Well 
Greater Gargadon, Spawning Pit, Goblin Bombardment, Fling, Diamond Valley, Miren, the Moaning Well:  On top of helping you from getting Homura Bant Charmed while still in human form, each of these helps you flip him.  Obviously the ones that don't require mana to activate are the best, but even Miren gives you a solid benefit for what you put into it.

In addition to these, there are a few other ways to get Homura into the graveyard.  A few sorceries in the deck require that you sacrifice all your creatures, including Hellion Eruption and Mogg Infestation.  There is even some direct damage in the deck in case you have to point it at your commander. 

Token Creation  
mogg infestation Dragonmaster OutcastHostilityKazuul, Tyrant of the CliffsSiege-Gang CommanderMyr BattlesphereRakka MarRapacious OneWarbreak TrumpeterNuisance EngineSnake BasketElemental MasteryGoblin AssaultFirecat BlitzRally the HordeMogg InfestationKher Keep 
Dragonmaster Outcast, Hostility, Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, Siege-Gang Commander, Myr Battlesphere, Rakka Mar, Rapacious One, Warbreak Trumpeter, Nuisance Engine, Snake Basket, Elemental Mastery, Goblin Assault, Firecat Blitz, Rally the Horde, Mogg Infestation, Kher Keep:  There are a good amount of token makers in this deck, but the best one is Rapacious One.  He makes colorless guys that can be used to ramp and to block.  Sword of Fire and Ice is a big concern for me, so having colorless guys to block is always helpful.  Hostility may be worth cutting, but the one time I used him I also had Jaws of Stone and it turned the game. 
Card Draw  
seer's sundial

Mikokoro, Center of the SeaMind's EyeSkullclampSeer's Sundial 
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, Mind's Eye, Skullclamp, Seer's Sundial:  These are some of the better, cheap ways to draw cards in Red.  With all the tokens we plan on creating, Skullclamp should draw us a decent amount of cards.

The deck also has some other incremental forms of card advantage that occur over time.  These include Journeyer's Kite, Thawing Glaciers, and all of the token productions as well.  I really wanted to include Sword of Fire and Ice, but I had run into Acquire often enough recently that it was a risk that I didn't want to take. 

Land Hate  

Blood MoonMagus of the MoonRuinationPrice of Glory
Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, Ruination, Price of Glory:  When I first put this deck together, the only one of these cards that I included was Price of Glory.  I figured that it was essentially a City of Solitude and people generally didn't complain about that.  However, in the end I couldn't resist the call of the remaining cards.  Part of the issue was that I was losing a lot with my early versions, and land hate is a specialty of Red that I was not using mainly because I was concerned about hampering people's play experiences.

So the question was, should I include Blood Moon effects, or continue to lose?  I decided to include them, and haven't really had any horrible reactions to them.  Admittedly, I have yet to draw Ruination, which is likely the worst of the lot.  However, the deck as currently built is capable of winning without these cards.  So it is up to you whether you really want to include these cards.

A couple of other cards are worth mentioning.  There were times where I was able to create a bunch of tokens, but had to wait a turn before attacking just like everyone else.  I was impatient and didn't want to wait, so I included Fervor, Anger and In the Web of War to help with this.  In addition, Red has problems with enchantments, so I included All is Dust and Oblivion Stone to help out with that.  There is also a decent amount of accel in here, from Mana Crypt to Palladium Myr.  And to help with artifact destruction, I have Viashino Heretic and Hoard-Smelter Dragon.

There are a couple of cards in here that are dead cards sometimes.  Hellion Eruption and Mogg Infestation are both crappy draws if you don't have any creatures.  Hostility is a hasty beater, but doesn't really do much without some direct damage.  Elemental Mastery requires a decent sized creature to be useful.  And Blood Moon doesn't really work when your opponents are playing mostly basics, like in the game below.  But for the most part you should be happy with these cards.

So the basic plan is to create a bunch of tokens, flip Homura, and beat down with your horde of dragons.  If that doesn't work just make your big dudes fly as well.  Sometimes your token production can come out fast and strong, and you will be on everyone's radar.  In addition, a flipped Homura usually scares the crap out of everyone and is often the target of removal.  Finally, keep in mind that many of the tokens created can be goblins.  As such, you should be careful about playing Goblin Assault, as it can leave you defenseless.

Let's see how this deck runs.


Here are my opponents for this game:

Thada Adel, Acquisitor Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind Raksha golden cub
Thada Adel wins the roll. My first hand
Price of GloryVicious ShadowsGhost QuarterFlingStrata ScytheMana CryptJourneyer's Kite
This hand was a definite maybe.  Although it only had one land, it did have Mana Crypt and Journeyer's Kite.  I could play the Kite on the first turn, then start searching for and dropping lands on turn 2.  I thought about keeping the hand, but there wasn't really any offense here.  I decided that I didn't want to risk it, and sent it back.  Here is my second hand:
Snow-Covered MountainWurmcoil EngineSnow-Covered MountainGreater GargadonflingHoard-Smelter DragonIn the Web of War
After seeing this hand I have second thoughts about whether I should have mulliganed.  Only two lands, but at least I can suspend my Gargadon on turn 1.  The other cards are good but all cost at least 5 mana.  However, I didn't want to screw with my chances, and decided to keep this hand.  As usual, T = Thada Adel, N = Niv-Mizzet and R = Raksha.
Round 1
T: Island.
N: Island.
Me: Draw Dragonmaster Outcast. Play Mountain, then suspend Greater Gargadon.
R: Plains.
Round 2
T: Island.
N: Mountain.
Me: Draw Myr Battlesphere, play Mountain.
R: Plains, Leonin Den-Guard.
Round 3
T: Reliquary Tower, then Thada Adel.
N: Reliquary Tower, then Gelectrode.
Me: Draw Strata Scythe. No play, as I have yet to draw a land. Not good at all.
R: Plains, then Helm of Kaldra. Not surprised to see Kaldra equipment in an equipment themed deck.  No attack.
Round 4
T: Island, then Umezawa's Jitte, equipping his Commander. Attacks N (38), but mis-clicks and doesn’t grab an artifact.
N: Island, then hits T with Gelectrode (39). In response, T removes a counter from the Jitte to kill the ‘trode. Then casts Stitch in Time, winning the flip!
stitch in time
Fun times.  A cheap extra turn if you win the flip.
Coin flip cards are pretty fun.  I remember that in Version 2, you could usually predict the flip as the coin would go on runs.  Heads, heads, heads, heads, tails, tails, tails.  All you had to do was stick with whatever came up last for a while.  With V3, it definitely seems to be a lot more random.
N: On his extra turn, N plays a Mountain only.
Me: Draw Mikokoro, Center of the Sea and play it. Then Strata Scythe.  If I don't get a land next turn, I'm going to use Mikokoro to draw.
R: Plains, then equips the Den-Guard with Helm of Kaldra. Attacks T with the Den-Guard (37). Then plays Armament Master.
Round 5
T: Strip Mine, then attacks N with Thada Adel. In response N bounces Thada with Echoing Truth. T then re-casts Thada Adel and equips his commander with Jitte.
N: Island, then Incendiary Command. Chooses to hit each creature for 2, killing Thada Adel and the Armament Master, and has everyone discard and draw a new hand. My new hand is as follows:
Snow-Covered MountainWorn PowerstoneSnow-Covered MountainWild RicochetSnow-Covered MountainSnow-Covered Mountain
So that’s where all my land was.  This obviously works out great for me.
Me: Draw Goblin Assault. Play a Mountain, then Worn Powerstone.
R: Plains, then Wayfarer's Bauble, sacing it for a Plains. Then casts Revoke Existence, targeting T’s Jitte.  In response, T removes the sole counter on the Jitte to gain 2 life (39). Then R attacks me with the Den-Guard (38).
Round 6
T: Island, then Rhystic Study.
rhystic study
Solid early game draw.
So whenever possible, you should pay the tax to Rhystic Study.  I know that often times people think that one or two cards is not really a big deal, but when the whole table it thinking the same way, the player with the Study is going to draw a crap load of cards.  And with T having Reliquary Tower, he will be able to keep them in hand for future use.  Just to figure it out, I'm going to keep track of the number of cards T draws from the Study.
N: Mountain, then Mizzium Transreliquat. That's a fun card right there that I don't see used much.  N lets T draw with the Study (1 card). Copies my Worn Powerstone with the Transreliquat, then plays Whirlpool Warrior, letting T draw another card (2 cards).
Me: Draw a Mountain and play it. Then cast Homura, preventing T from drawing as well.
R: Plains, then attacks T with Den-Guard (37). Casts Raksha, letting T draw (3 cards).
Round 7
T: Island, then Grand Architect. Uses the Architect to cast Solemn Simulacrum, getting an Island. Makes the Simulacrum Blue with Architect, then uses it to cast Altar of Dementia.
N: Island, then Niv-Mizzet, letting T draw a card (4 cards). Attacks T with Whirlpool Warrior (35). Then sacs the Warrior. In response T sacs his Simulacrum to his Altar, milling N for 2, so he can draw a card.   I draw the following new hand:
Snow-Covered MountainMyr RetrieverSnow-Covered MountainKumano, Master YamabushiSnow-Covered Mountain
N only drew 1 card, so he hits T with Niv’s ability (34).
Me: Draw Seer's Sundial, and play a Mountain. Equip Homura with Strata Scythe, making him 9/9. I then attack R with Homura because I’m worried he’s going to start dropping a bunch of cats soon. R doesn’t block (31). Then I play Myr Retriever, paying extra so T doesn’t draw.
R: Plains, then Shield of Kaldra, letting T draw (5 cards). Equips Raksha with the Shield, making both the cats huge. Attacks T with Raksha (24) and me with Den-Guard. I block with the Retiever, getting my Wurmcoil Engine back from my graveyard and dropping to (31).
Round 8
T: Island, then Gauntlet of Power, set to Blue. Then Proteus Staff, using it to put Raksha on the bottom of R’s library. R gets Taj-Nar Swordsmith, paying 0 to get nothing, but has the effect of shuffling his library. T then plays Sensei's Divining Top and Sword of Body and Mind.  By playing the Gauntlet and the Staff, T basically made himself the number 1 threat.  Nevermind that he was already threatening being the mono-Blue player.
N: Hits R for 1 with his draw (30). Copies the Sword of Body and Mind with the Transreliquat, and equips Niv. Attacks T with Niv (17) getting a wolf token. 
Me: Draw Sol Ring. Play a Mountain, making Homura 10/10. Cast Sol Ring, paying extra to prevent T from drawing. Attack T with Homura (7). Then cast Wurmcoil Engine, again preventing T from drawing.
R: Casts Hammer of Ruin, paying extra to prevent T from drawing. Finally someone besides me is paying. Then equips Den-Guard with the Hammer. Attacks T with Swordsmith (5) and N with Den-Guard (34), destroying T’s Sword/Transreliquat with the Hammer. T then casts Kitesail Apprentice (letting T draw(6 cards)) and equips it with the Hammer. N casts Capsize, paying extra and bouncing T’s Proteus Staff.   
Round 9
T: Island, then spins the Top. Tries to play Proteus Staff again, but N has Arcane Denial, paying extra to keep T from drawing from the Study. 
arcane denial
A counterspell that doesn't hurt so bad.
Then T plays Steel Overseer, Mimic Vat, and Thada Adel.
N: Draws from Arcane Denial and his regular draw, hitting T both times (3). Then casts Vision Skeins, hitting T 2 more times (1). I draw Temple of the False God and Marton Stromgald. Then N casts Preordain, killing T. Unfortunately, due to some bug, T’s Gauntlet of Power remains in play and active after he is gone, pumping N’s Blue creatures and allowing his Islands to tap for extra mana. N plays Seat of the Synod, then Nucklavee, returning Arcane Denial and Incendiary Command to his hand. 
Me: Draw a Mountain. At this point my Gargadon only has 2 suspend counters on it, so I sac Homura and a Mountain to it, getting it into play. Homura comes back flipped, so now I have 2 large flying beaters. I equip my Engine with Strata Scythe, making him 13/13. I then attack N with the Engine and the Gargadon (10), going up to (44). I play Temple of the False God then try to play Kumano, but N Arcane Denial’s it. I then play Marton Stromgald.
R: During R’s upkeep I draw Palladium Myr and Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs off of the Arcane Denial. N uses his draw to hit the Kitesail Apprentice, which does nothing. R plays a Plains, then Raksha. Follows that up with Explorer's Scope, equipping it to Raksha. Then attacks me with Kitesail Apprentice, which I block with Marton, killing both. Also attacks N with the Swordsmith and Den-Guard. N casts Snapback bouncing Raksha, and blocks Den-Guard with Nucklavee and Swordsmith with the wolf token, killing both. For some reason the wolf is 4/4, but I don’t know why. At the end of turn N draws a card with Niv, hitting me for 1 (43).
Round 10
N: Hits me for 1 with his draw (42). Casts Oxidda Scrapmelter, destroying my Scythe. Draws a card with Niv, hitting me again (41), and plays Voltaic Key. Hits me with a kicked Burst Lightning (37). Attacks me with the Nucklavee and wolf token (30).
Me: Draw Oblivion Stone. I attack N with both my big guys in case he has a bounce spell, but he doesn’t, and dies. I go up to (38). I then play Seer's Sundial and a Mountain, drawing another Mountain from it. Then I play Kazuul. 
R: Plays Sword of Kaldra, and makes Kaldraaaa!!!! Equips Kaldra with Hammer of Ruin and Explorer's Scope and attacks me (27), giving me an ogre token by not paying Kazuul's tax.
Round 11
Me: I attack with my team of four large flying monsters for the win.


This was one of the few games where I didn't have a decent amount of tokens.  It was also one of the few games where Homura didn't get destroyed after he was flipped.  Most times, I could start producing tokens by turn 4 or so.  If you start making a lot of tokens quickly, people will get really freaked out and you will be the main target throughout the game, even if they have been neutralized.  So that's something to keep in mind.

Most of the deck is available for purchase and download HERE.  I guess it didn't upload any of the SOM cards (Wurmcoil Engine, Strata Scythe, Hoard-Smelter Dragon, and Palladium Myr, Myr Battlesphere), nor the Sol Ring.  If you included those, it comes out to about $75, which is pretty cheap.  Something that you can add is Koth of the Hammer, who can accelerate you into a bigger play.  And I'm sure the ultimate wouldn't be bad either.

Again, Goblin Assault can bite you in the butt if you aren't careful, as many of the tokens you create are goblins and you don't want to be stuck without a blocker. But other than that the deck is pretty straight forward.  Make tokens and have fun!  There are a couple of reactive cards in Reiterate and Wild Ricochet that are fun as well.  And who doesn't like Gratuitous Violence!  I really wanted to add Rage Reflection as well.  Maybe take out Ruination for it.

So there you go, another fun deck!  I'm almost done with my quest to build a deck for every color combination, all that is left is colorless.  So you are going to be seeing Karn, Silver Golem next week. 


In case you haven't heard, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn recently got the banhammer, as you can read HERE

emrakul, the aeons torn
Don't let the door hit you in the tentacles on the way out!

I gotta say that I'm not all that said to see the giant flying squid go.  Sure, I've seen games where people have taken multiple hits from C'thulu and lived, but those games were rare.  He was extremely powerful, and generally annoying.  I think that games will generally be more fun now that he is gone.

Of additional importance is the fact that the following legends are now legal commanders:

memnarch bosh, iron golem rhys the exiled
 thelon of havenwood

Prior to this these cards were not legal commanders as they had mana symbols in their text that did not match their casting cost.  But these cards now have the mana in their activation costs associated with their "color identity" meaning that you can play with Red cards in your Bosh deck.  Daughter of Autumn isn't available online yet, so don't worry about here.  My thought is that Memnarch is likely the most powerful of the new commanders, but I'm sure you are going to see a few saproling decks using Thelon.  I don't know how long it will take for MTGO to update Commander games with these new rules, and it is possible that it will be updated before this article gets published.  Just keep in mind that you may see some new and interesting stuff out there now.

Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com




This change also hoses by Paul Leicht at Wed, 12/15/2010 - 01:52
Paul Leicht's picture

This change also hoses several cards that have multiple colors in their activation costs.

Your articles are really by Westane at Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:45
Westane's picture

Your articles are really bugging me, but in a good way. I've been thinking more and more about commander lately as a way to unwind from the Daily (Event) grind, and the option's looking more and more appealing.

I do have one question regarding a comment you made in another article. I really like the idea of Zur the Enchanter >.< Whether I'm playing spiky or not will running him as my commander pretty much ruin my chances of having a relaxed game every time? He "is" my idea of fun XD

If you use Zur, you have to by Leviathan at Wed, 12/15/2010 - 14:05
Leviathan's picture

If you use Zur, you have to expect some hate, especially if you are playing against experienced players. You aren't going to have a "relaxed" game most of the time unless you are playing against newer players, in which case I'm pretty sure you will be able to steamroll them.

However, if you want a more relaxed game, you want to avoid casting him on turns 3 through 7. Most Zur decks rush him out there as fast as possible and try to use his ability to search stuff up quickly. So if you show that you aren't one of those types of players, you should be in better shape.

Hopefully that answers you question. If not, feel free to follow up!

It's amazing how much by Scartore at Wed, 12/15/2010 - 15:57
Scartore's picture

It's amazing how much goodwill you can engender even with a nut commander if you sit back for a bit and let the board develop

I have a similar question by Paul Leicht at Wed, 12/15/2010 - 14:05
Paul Leicht's picture

I have a similar question which I plan to answer at some point by trying it out. (I have relatively relaxed Zur deck I am waiting to try in the wild. I expect the laidbackness of it will come across eventually.

Politics by Lythand at Wed, 12/15/2010 - 18:42
Lythand's picture

If you promis everyone at the table you are playing a casual Zur deck, this might help. Again the defenition of casual magic is not defined.

I personally will give you the benefit of the doubt, but unless you say something, then more then likely I will be beating down on you first.

Zur is my number one hated general and will go out of my way to beat down the zur player

I tend to jump on Rafiq by Scartore at Thu, 12/16/2010 - 10:28
Scartore's picture

I tend to jump on Rafiq faster, but its a close race.