Thursday, October 6, 2011

Electrifying: A MTG Article by Ben Snyder

So last time I ran through a few ideas I had for the shape of post-Innistrad standard.  One thing that I definitely wasn’t expecting was the speed at which the metagame shifts now as opposed to ten years ago.  While I compulsively devour every midnight update of SCG and ChannelFireball, it’s different when you are actively trying to play in the new environments.

With that in mind, I’m going to try and publish an article every week, especially once Innistrad is online and I can actually playtest more than ten or fifteen games every five days.  For those of you who don’t remember, or haven’t bothered to check out my archives from the various websites, I take playtesting seriously.  I do not like small sample sizes.  But now, I think, I’ll have to accept that it isn’t possible to spend three to six months tinkering with a deck any more as the metagame will just evolve around it while you try and do so.

Let’s jump right in.  Here is the list I started with for Mono-Red.  Obviously, I had some good ideas, and some, um, less good ones.  I’ll take you through exactly how it changed based on the local metagame and the results of SCG Open.

High Voltage Red

4 Volt Charge
3 Tezzeret’s Gambit
4 Shrine of Burning Rage
3 Arc Trail
3 Brimstone Volley
3 Chandra’s Phoenix
1 Goblin Arsonist
4 Furnace Scamp
4 Stromkirk Noble
4 Stormblood Berserker
2 Hero of Oxid Ridge
2 Koth of the Hammer

37 Spells

23 Mountain

23 Land

First, I removed the cards that simply underperformed.
-3 Tezzeret’s Gambit
-4 Furnace Scamp
-11 Mountain

I knew that I wanted to play green for Wolf Run and Ancient Grudge, so adjusting the mana base was crucial.   Here is how it ended up:

4 Inkmoth Nexus
3 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Copperline Gorge
9 Mountain

This gives you the Nexus/Wolf Run combo kill.  Since we are playing with Volt Charge, there is almost no reason not to play Inkmoth Nexus. 

For the main-deck, I’ve found that you want 13 direct damage spells, 5 late-game bombs, and close to 20 creatures.  I streamlined the spells to

4 Shrine of Burning Rage – While I fully expect this card to become less useful in the future, it is
                    still a fantastic option at the moment.
4 Brimstone Volley –            Actually playing this card is just silly.  So much damage and utility.
3 Arc Trail –                            A beating against Illusions and WW (Humans). 
4 Volt Charge --                     Some people have asked me why this isn’t Incinerate like it was in the best                                                                                           
                                                 performing red decks.  I genuinely prefer this card.  If you check the     
                                                 coverage of the SCG Open, in none of the matches involving Incinerate
                                                 would Volt Charge be worse, and in most cases, it would have been better.
2 Garruk Relentless --          I was wrong about this one, Garruk is deceptively powerful and makes Volt
                                                Charge even better.
1 Ancient Grudge--               I will go into more detail about this card in the main later.
2 Hero of Oxid Ridge
3 Chandra’s Phoenix
1 Goblin Arsonist
1 Perilous Myr
1 Spikeshot Elder
1 Grim Lavamancer
4 Stromkirk Noble
4 Stormblood Berserker

So while it looks similar, the new version plays very different from the old and is designed to prey upon the decks that made it to the top tables in Indianapolis.  It has positive match-ups against Mono-Red, Illusions, and Solar Flare.  A good Snapblade build is a beating but you can steal game 1’s with Ancient Grudge, and post-board you have a much better chance.

Now that we know the metagame, the sideboard looks like this:

1 Forest
3 Geistflame
1 Arc Trail
1 Perilous Myr
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Hero of Oxid Ridge
1 Garruk Relentless
4 Vulshok Refugee

Your sideboard plans work as follows:

Against Mono-Red: +4 Vulshok Refugee, +1 Perilous Myr, +1 Arc Trail, +1 Ancient Grudge, +1 Hero of Oxid Ridge, +1 Garruk Relentless, -4 Stromkirk Noble, -1 Goblin Arsonist, -1 Shrine of Burning Rage, -3 Volt Charge.  This plan sets you up to defeat Swords, Shrines, and little guys, and you can mix and match as needed.

Against Illusions: +1 Forest, +3 Geistflame, +1 Arc Trail, +1 Perilous Myr, +1 Garruk Relentless.  -4 Stromkirk Noble, -1 Ancient Grudge, -1 Volt Charge, -1 Brimstone Volley.

Against Humans: +1 Arc Trail, +1 Perilous Myr, +2 Hero of Oxid Ridge, +1 Garruk Relentless.  -1 Goblin Arsonist, -1 Grim Lavamancer, -1 Spikeshot Elder, -1 Ancient Grudge, -1 Volt Charge.

Against UBw Control: +2 Hero of Oxid Ridge, +1 Garruk Relentless, +1 Forest, -1 Perilous Myr, -1 Ancient Grudge, -1 Spikeshot Elder, -1 Volt Charge.

I’ve very much enjoyed playing with this deck, and the “technology” involved certainly makes a number of matches easier.  More than likely, this would be the 75 I would sleeve up for a tournament tomorrow, but I do want to mention two other decks.

The first is Burn:

4 Brimstone Volley
4 Volt Charge
4 Arc Trail
4 Slagstorm
4 Shrine of Burning Embers
4 Koth of the Hammer
4 Incinerate
3 Devil’s Play
3 Tezzeret’s Gambit
2 Fireball
2 Chandra the Firebrand

4 Inkmoth Nexus
3 Ghost Quarter
15 Mountain

I’m sure most people have tried this, or built something similar, but the deck is easy to play and will steal wins in a fairly consistent manner.  Brimstone Volley is less good here, but you can do funny things with Inkmoth Nexus/Ghost Quarter/Koth of the Hammer if you need to get the 2 extra damage.  Cerebral Eruption and the flashback Pyroclasm are considerations, but Slagstorm does the trick in the main and Fireball is a poor man’s Blasphemous Act in this deck (although you can certainly run the act in the ‘board).

Here is the Snapblade build I am currently using:

4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Invisible Stalker
4 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Phantasmal Image
2 Sun Titan

3 Sword of War and Peace
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
4 Mana Leak
1 Twisted Image
2 Dismember
2 Dismiss
3 Mental Misstep
4 Gitaxian Probe
1 Oblivion Ring
3 Divine Reckoning

4 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coast
8 Island
6 Plains

3 Timely Reinforcements
1 Sword of War and Peace
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Venser, the Sojourner
4 Revoke Existence
4 Nevermore

This version has been working very well for me.  In general, you don’t want Day of Judgment because the whole point of the deck is to play a guy with a Sword on him.  You don’t care if they get to keep their Hero of Oxid Ridge, because your suited up Geist of Saint Traft is going to kill them in two turns any way.   Just to be safe though, it is extremely important not to blow any targeted removal (Dismember, O-Ring) early unless you absolutely have to.  You can get your Dismembers back and the Sun Titan will summon up the Oblivion Ring, but you’d rather not have to do that unless necessary.  The Probe/Nevermore tech is beautiful and broken.  Venser and Nevermore work together nicely as well after boarding.

All in all, it is a neatly synergistic deck that does fundamentally broken things each and every turn.  I still prefer the Red Deck, but Snapblade is certainly the real deal.

Lastly, here is the Tezzeret build I’ve been working on.  I don’t really see any allure to playing it, but it is possible I just have the wrong design.  It creates interesting game-states, but in most cases, I’d really rather just win instead of trying to look cute.

2 Wurmcoil Engine
3 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Spellskite
3 Contagion Clasp
2 Throne of Geth
3 Ichor Wellspring
1 Mycosynth Wellspring
2 Mox Opal
3 Sphere of the Suns
2 Forbidden Alchemy
3 Black Sun’s Zenith
2 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Ratchet Bomb
4 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

35 Spells

4 Darkslick Shores
4 Drowned Catacombs
2 Buried Ruin
4 Inkmoth Nexus
6 Island
5 Swamp

25 Land

I’m going to focus on Innistrad Limited in the next article with the PTQs starting this weekend.  I’m very curious about some of the builds that I have been seeing across the Internet, and I plan to spend the next week trying to figure out if I’m crazy or if most people are just constructing their pools wrong.

Good luck this weekend, and as always, feel free to leave comments here or write me with questions at

BJSnyder8478 *at* gmail dot com

1 comment:

  1. Great Article! i have been looking for a 'mageblade' list. And i also want to say, the read with Kluwe from the Vikings was excellent! everything that i wanted to know about him was found out. That is awesome to see Pro sports players playing MAGIC! Great post SNY!