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By: HydraLord, Charles Sutphin
Nov 14 2007 9:44am
3.5
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A little bit before States, I wasn't sure what to play. I had more or less decided to play Mono Blue, but wasn't excited about it. Then I found a deck more or less like this - I only changed the sideboard and mana base a bit based on initial testing.

Skred Red
3x Chandra Nalaar
4x Martyr of Ashes
4x Stalking Yeti
4x Stuffy Doll

4x Coldsteel Heart
3x Dead/Gone
2x Disintegrate
4x Skred
4x Incinerate
4x Molten Disaster

1x Fungal Reaches
1x Urza's Factory
1x Molten Slagheap
4x Mouth of Ronom
4x Scrying Sheets
13x Snow-Covered Mountain

4x Sulfur Elemental
4x Detritivore
4x Pyroclasm
1x Urza's Factory
2x Mind Stone

 This decklist really excited me. It seemed really exciting. I love the snow engine. I think it's one of the most powerful things that people were underusing. It gets you a lot of incidental value for not playing too many colors. Mostly, I just love running lots of lands that do things above and beyond the call of tapping for mana. Anyway, I picked up the few cards I needed to finish decklist and had it ready for FNM that night. I won without much effort, and was feeling quite good going into States the next day. I beat up on some Elf deck in Round One. Round Two, I get paired against an....acquaintence of mine. He and I don't really get along. Anyway, he's trash talking me and my deck before the match. Whatever. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. Suspend Plunder. Blow up my Coldsteel Heart. Drop a Troll Ascetic. Blow up a land with Avalanche Riders. Drop a Loxodon Warhammer. Equip. Attack. Plunder? Maindeck Ancient Grudge? I got throw way the heck on tilt. I punted left and right in game two. We're talking not adding a counter to Chandra after playing it. Round three, I get paired against Mannequin.dec and lose fliers and then recurring Mournwhelks.

So if I scrubbed out of States with this deck, why am I saying that you should be playing it? Because it's better than that. It's really quite powerful and has favorable matchups against lots of decks in the field. I have been thinking how I could tweak it to make it more consistent. The only change I've really been happy with is cutting the Disintegrates for two maindeck Pyroclasms and two sideboard Word of Seizing. I never really wanted to draw the stupid Disintegrates and found that Pyroclasm added a fair bit against Mannequin.dec. The Words, naturally, help against mono blue.

Aggro Decks
Some people might think it's disingenuous to lump all the beat down decks together like this. I find that the matchups are pretty similar and generally favorable. The basic strategy is to use your removal to keep your life total up. You have so many cards to make life difficult for beatdown decks that you can more or less kill every threat they throw at you. Being conservative and assuming each card only gets a one for one, you can remove 32 creatures. Thirty. Two. That's quite a few, especially since Chandra Nalaar, Martyr of Ahes, Stalking Yeti, and Molten Disaster often remove multiple creatures with a single card. The moral of the story is that you should never be hesitant to kill things. The only thing to be a little bit careful about is conserving particular kinds of removal spells. There are three general classes of threats that you have to kill. First are normal creatures. They get killed by basically everything. Use the worst available removal to kill them. Dead/Gone, for instance. Next are big creatures. Particularly cheap ones. *cough* Tarmogoyf *cough*. These are harder to kill. Try to save your Skreds for these. Lastly (and this only applies to certain decks) are Planeswalkers, particularly Garruk Wildspeaker. You have a limited number of spells that can deal with them, particularly Incinerate and Molten Disaster. That said, these aren't hard and fast rules. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. In particular, kill turn one elves. Just do it, even if it costs a Skred. Giving your opponent a whole free turn of development is not a good plan. 

As you move into the midgame, things turn more and more in your favor. Your opponent doesn't want to attack into a Stuffy Doll. Stalking Yeti does an excellent job of mopping up whatever idiot dorks your opponent topdecks once the initial rush is over. Chandra, in addition to being an important part of your endgame, wipes out whatever needs to die. Tarmogoyf, for instance. At this point, you can start drawing cards off your Scrying Sheets and charging your storage lands. Both these are lining yourself up for...

The endgame. Your maindeck is geared towards having an excellent game against beatdown decks, so most of your possible endgames are effective against them. It's easy to clear the path so charge Chandra for two turns before dropping the freaking apocalypse on your opponent's face. Urza's Factory provides lots of defense while letting you mount your own offense. Lastly, don't forget to kick your Molten Disaster hellbent (yes, I miss Demonfire too) on killing your opponent. Don't die to their Incinerate. You don't look smart.
The sideboarding plan against small beatdown decks is basically

-3 Coldsteel Heart
+2 Pyroclasm
+1 Urza's Factory

This isn't much of a change. Pyroclasm is obviously great and does a better job than the two mana sources you cut for it. The Heart/Factory switch is to ensure that you hit untapped mana when you need to. It isn't a major change, but I'm 80% sure it's right. Against decks that fall more in the midrange category (i.e. decks without lots of things that die to Pyroclasm), I would take out the Pyroclasms for Sulfur Elementals or Detritivores against decks with lots of nonbasic lands.

Mono Blue Control
I think this is one of the best decks in Standard these days. There's a reason that it put three players in the Top 8 of GP Krakow. This deck is for real, and I think it's important to be able to beat it. This deck does that, and does a rather good job of it. Game one is difficult and mostly unwinnable. You can  win it, but you have to get really lucky. Or altenatively, they have to get mana screwed. You have to attempt to resolve threats every turn and hope one gets there and goes the distance. If they get their mana online and you don't have a threat (which you most likely won't) on board, you're done. Move along.
You sideboard 13 cards for this matchup.

-2 Pyroclasm
-3 Chandra Nalaar
-4 Stalking Yeti
-4 Stuffy Doll
+4 Detritivore
+4 Sulfur Elemental
+2 Mind Stone
+2 Word of Seizing
+1 Urza's Factory

That's a lot of sideboarding, but it really changes the matchup around. I win maybe 15% of my game ones, and at least 75% of my matches. That definitely says something about the strength of the post board game. It's almost all about Sulfur Elemental. If you don't have one in your opening 7, ship it back. If you've got an Elemental and at least two lands (even one on the draw), keep it. They equate to a win most of the time. The only things that matter to your new game plan are their win condition, which are few and far between. Even those can be turned against them with Word of Seizing or removed with Skred. Ever tried to keep a Guile on board against four Skred's? It ain't easy. Speaking of which, did you know Guile doesn't have flying? I thought it did. You aren't block it much (you don't normally have three blockers), but Molten Disaster and Martyr of Ashes do kill it. I've lost to not knowing that, so don't do it yourself. Detritivore makes sure you have Factory advantage if it comes to that (and it usually shouldn't) and kills storage lands. Mind Stones get you to lethal Disasters, and the extra Factory gives you a late game edge. This matchup is seriously excellent games two and three. Rejoice as the Islands boil in lava and sulfur! And...detritus? Whatever. Me red mage. Me smash blue mage.

Mannequin.dec
This is where things start to go wrong. I would say that the matchup is about 40-60 against you. You basically try to control their board and keep them from getting too far ahead while pushing towards a position where you can win the game. It isn't easy, since they pick up so much card advantage that you're hard pressed to keep up with their threats. Pyroclasm is solid gold. Molten Disaster and Martyr of Ashes solve some of your problems but don't deal with Mulldrifter or Riftwing Cloudskate. If you manage to stabilize without being a million cards behind, it looks pretty good for you. But play with the goal of closing the game sooner rather than later, since you don't want to let them back in. The matchup is highly draw-dependent on both sides, they're just more likely to draw the good cards than you.

-4 Martyr of Ashes
-2 Stuffy Doll
+2 Pyroclasm
+4 Detritivore

Here you kind of shift your gameplan. Pyroclasm more or less wipes the board, so you obviously want more of them. They also have so many freaking nonbasics that a medium Detritivore can put quite a dent in their resources. Then he gets in for some damage. Many of my wins come from this sort of plan. Is it great? No.  But I feel like it's good enough given the otherwise positive matchups that Stark Red has. Actually, if your opponent doesn't have Mournwhelks, it's about even after boards. Sadly, this deck seems pretty popular. Fortunately, so are lots of other decks. In particular, Mono Blue seems to be seeing more play. That's good news.

I'll talk briefly about other matchups. Green/Black "Rock" decks are highly variable, and those variable make or break the matchup. You want to have creatures, particularly slow creatures. Discard is bad, if not backbreaking. Troll Ascetic is bad with a Warhammer. I think the matchup ranges between 40-60 and 70-30, depending on the deck. Sideboard however seems most appropriate. The other most successful decks from Krakow - Teachings and Blink -  are both somewhat favorable. The Teachings matchup depends on their endgame. Aeon Chronicler is good. Triskelavus is bad, at least before you board in Detritivore. Blink just makes you play a little conservatively with your removal, but ultimately, isn't nearly as powerful as you are.

In closing, here are pros and cons of the deck.
Pros

  • Excellent aggro and Mono Blue matchups
  • High card quality
  • Inevitability in lots of matchups
  • Moutains

Cons

  • Poor Mannequin matchup
  • Sometimes slow as dirt
  • Can get randomly burned out
  • Can lose to a deck that craps on it's manabase early (fortunately, I don't know of nay such deck that's much good)

And that about wraps it up. If you haven't played with it, seriously give this deck a try. I think you'll like it.

Cheers,
Charles Sutphin
charles dot sutphin at gmail dot com

P.S. Didn't I tell you Molten Disaster was good? Now it's $2.94 instead of $0.97.  Go figure.

 

0 Comments

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.197.249.55 (not verified) at Tue, 11/20/2007 - 02:58
Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.197.249.55's picture

I must say i like your deck improvements and match ups. Previously I struggled with Counters but after sideboard i usually win easily. After 25 matches in the tourney practice room of MTGO I was 23-2 the only 2 i lost 1 guy played 3x moss against me killing my lands if he would have only had 2 I would have been fine. 2nd game I lost to mana screw partly because I didnt mulligan when i should have.

 

Overall, this deck is sick and will be winning many std tournies to come. 

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 199.74.103.190 (not verified) at Thu, 11/15/2007 - 11:45
Anonymous (Unregistered) 199.74.103.190's picture

Yeah, that white deck sounds like a nightmare for me. It isn't a 100% matchup, since you could still get mana screwed/flooded. Put it's probably something like 10-90 in your favor. Good job making a profit, but I think the virtual auto-loss against U/W or Mono Blue is bad now.

I'd play this in a metagame of THAT by Judah (Unregistered) 24.58.199.5 (not verified) at Thu, 11/15/2007 - 02:14
Judah (Unregistered) 24.58.199.5's picture

Heh, I love people who play that deck.  I have a 100% win rate against it, playing snow white with a small splash of blue (Flashfreeze out of the Sideboard.. oh yeah!).  7 Main deck ways of stopping Chandra (3 Pithing Needle, 4 Oblivion Rings), 3 Crovax main is good against Stuffy Doll, and 4 Martyr of Sands often give me unrealisitically high life totals.  Main deck Story Circle: Red is pretty good... as the only realistic answer the deck has is a Word of Seizing, and that only works for one turn.  By the time Molten Disaster is online against me... I'm usually at above 20 life.

Anyway, here's my list (which won 35 packs of Lorwyn for me in the 8 man constructed queues and financed my online Lorwyn release experience (only a net gain of 25 packs, as I sold LLL for 14 or 15 to finance the tournament entries):

23 Lands: 4 Scrying Sheets, 4 Boreal Shelf, 4 Mouth of Ronom, 11 Snow Plains 

11 1cc -- 3 Piting Needle, 2 Porphyryr Nodes, 2 Condemn, 4 Martyr of Sands 

4 2cc -- 4 Coldsteel Hearts

9 3cc -- 2 Mobilization, 3 Story Circle, 4 Oblivion Ring

5 4cc -- 4 Wrath of God, Ajani Goldmane

3 5cc -- Teferi's Moat, 2 Gauntlet of Power

5 6cc -- 3 Crovax, Adarkar Valkyrie, Beacon of Immortality

Sideboard: 2 Disenchant, 3 Dodecapod, 2 Flashfreeze, 2 Imperial Mask, 3 Jester's Scepter, 2 Pull From Eternity, Return to Dust

 

Match-ups: 100% vs mono-red

100% vs elves

50% vs mono white kithkin (might be higher, but I did lose one of two matches)

90% vs red-green (I lost one match out of 20 against this deck, though I did drop several games)

50% vs blue/black control (2-2 in tournament matches, have a feeling it is more in their favor though)

0% vs white/blue control (they have card drawing AND counterspells... I lose)

0%  vs blue/black/green 187

Other archetypes were not played against me in the tournament queues.  I saw a lot of decks with red, which made it the perfect meta-game choice.  I don't recommend playing this deck is a control orientated meta game.  I modified the decklist from a first place states deck (from either Ohio or Illionois).   I'd expect this deck to fail against mono-blue, yet dominate the deck listed above.  Remember after game two to only play your Matryr of Sands as immediate life gain, as Sulfur Elementals are expected.  A 12-15 point life swing usually wins against red.

I dont' mind revealing this, since 8-man construct is no longer profitable (post release), and constructed PE's are down. 

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 70.113.1.32 (not verified) at Wed, 11/14/2007 - 16:35
Anonymous (Unregistered) 70.113.1.32's picture

I also played this deck at States to a 1-2 finish, losing to GR midrange (when I couldn't deal with Garruk in time) and a random 5 color deck that drew 3 lightning angels.

Good Article by Basic Land at Wed, 11/14/2007 - 15:33
Basic Land's picture

It was a great read. I really liked how you talked about the different matchups. Who could possibly know for 100% sure how the deck does against each matchup without infinite testing. At least it is a basis for playing Stark Red. I would love to see you do the same with another deck.

By far, my favorite line was "And...detritus? Whatever. Me red mage. Me smash blue mage."

Cheers 

I'd play this in a metagame of THAT by Judah (Unregistered) 24.58.199.5 (not verified) at Thu, 11/15/2007 - 02:14
Judah (Unregistered) 24.58.199.5's picture

Heh, I love people who play that deck.  I have a 100% win rate against it, playing snow white with a small splash of blue (Flashfreeze out of the Sideboard.. oh yeah!).  7 Main deck ways of stopping Chandra (3 Pithing Needle, 4 Oblivion Rings), 3 Crovax main is good against Stuffy Doll, and 4 Martyr of Sands often give me unrealisitically high life totals.  Main deck Story Circle: Red is pretty good... as the only realistic answer the deck has is a Word of Seizing, and that only works for one turn.  By the time Molten Disaster is online against me... I'm usually at above 20 life.

Anyway, here's my list (which won 35 packs of Lorwyn for me in the 8 man constructed queues and financed my online Lorwyn release experience (only a net gain of 25 packs, as I sold LLL for 14 or 15 to finance the tournament entries):

23 Lands: 4 Scrying Sheets, 4 Boreal Shelf, 4 Mouth of Ronom, 11 Snow Plains 

11 1cc -- 3 Piting Needle, 2 Porphyryr Nodes, 2 Condemn, 4 Martyr of Sands 

4 2cc -- 4 Coldsteel Hearts

9 3cc -- 2 Mobilization, 3 Story Circle, 4 Oblivion Ring

5 4cc -- 4 Wrath of God, Ajani Goldmane

3 5cc -- Teferi's Moat, 2 Gauntlet of Power

5 6cc -- 3 Crovax, Adarkar Valkyrie, Beacon of Immortality

Sideboard: 2 Disenchant, 3 Dodecapod, 2 Flashfreeze, 2 Imperial Mask, 3 Jester's Scepter, 2 Pull From Eternity, Return to Dust

 

Match-ups: 100% vs mono-red

100% vs elves

50% vs mono white kithkin (might be higher, but I did lose one of two matches)

90% vs red-green (I lost one match out of 20 against this deck, though I did drop several games)

50% vs blue/black control (2-2 in tournament matches, have a feeling it is more in their favor though)

0% vs white/blue control (they have card drawing AND counterspells... I lose)

0%  vs blue/black/green 187

Other archetypes were not played against me in the tournament queues.  I saw a lot of decks with red, which made it the perfect meta-game choice.  I don't recommend playing this deck is a control orientated meta game.  I modified the decklist from a first place states deck (from either Ohio or Illionois).   I'd expect this deck to fail against mono-blue, yet dominate the deck listed above.  Remember after game two to only play your Matryr of Sands as immediate life gain, as Sulfur Elementals are expected.  A 12-15 point life swing usually wins against red.

I dont' mind revealing this, since 8-man construct is no longer profitable (post release), and constructed PE's are down. 

Matchup by drob (Unregistered) 167.88.201.100 (not verified) at Wed, 11/14/2007 - 12:38
drob (Unregistered) 167.88.201.100's picture

Can't agree on most of the matchup probability. how can Mannequin.dec be 40-60? More like 20-80. Rack should be 30-70 by default, discard then rack basically = loss for you. Also mono-white life gain kills your deck.

by HydraLord at Wed, 11/14/2007 - 13:03
HydraLord's picture

The Mannequin matchup is build dependent. Opponents running lots of Grim Harvests are better against you, but otherwise you really aren't that far behind against them. So you're better against the Top 8 Mannequin decks from Krakow then some versions.

The Rack isn't that bad for you. You have lots of sources of card advantage, like Scrying Sheets and Stalking Yeti. Also, if they get the nuts discard draw, they don't have many other threats. It can be rough, but its a lot better than 30-70.

I haven't tested much against Mono White (I don't think the deck is very good).  They really need to draw their Oblivion Rings, or Stuffy Doll, Chandra, and Sulfur Elemental (post board) are bad news for them. I would say its about 40-60, though it's pretty draw dependent.