April 24, 2016

Tamir Shalev

Age: 27 Location Israel
2010 member of the Israeli national team Chiba Japan,
GP Warsaw top 32
2012 MTGO constructed top 200 players.

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Hello everyone.
My name is Tamir Shalev and this will be my first article for MTG Madness. Today I will describe a deck that in my opinion is the best deck in Standard – Mono Red. Yes, surprisingly enough Mono Red surges again and boy, this time it’s for real…
So basically, this is my card choice:


19 Mountain
2 Mutavault


4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Ash Zealot
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Fanatic of Mogis


3 Shock
4 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Jet


3 Skullcrack
3 Peak Eruption
4 Burning Earth
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Flames of the Firebrand
1 Act of Treason



1 drops: Firedrinker Satyr and Rakdos Cackler. Well, it’s been a while since Red had two SOLID one drops and that’s what’s really pushing Red over the top. If I have them both in my hand and I don’t know what my opponent is playing, I would most likely start with the Cackler, since it can attack easily through other 1drops. The Satyr’s text is a liability in a lot of matches and especially in the mirror, since it’s making opponents Magma Jet / Lightning Strike into a Searing Blaze. On the other hand, its raw power vs control decks and Mono Black is impressive. It can trade with three toughness creatures like Nightveil Specter, which otherwise constitutes a great threat for this deck. The 3 Shocks in the deck are excellent vs the mirror since they deals with all of the creatures, with the exception of Boros Reckoner
2 drops: Burning-Tree Emissary is quite an odd addition to this deck since it has some problems synergizing with Boros Reckoner and Ash Zealot. Even though it would seem a strange choice, the card is really strong and is an integral addition to the deck.Playing multiples of them in turn 2 is a blowout and allows you to run through the gates quickly. Alternatively, playing it and then continuing to burn your opponent’s creatures with Lightning StrikeShockMagma Jet is amazing. I won’t lie. There were cases where Burning-Tree Emissary was a bit clunky but bear in mind, playing a turn 1 Satyr following Burning-Tree is usually free extra damage, and every life point counts when you’re playing RDW. Next is Ash Zealot. This card is just solid. While it’s true that Snapcaster and flashback are not around anymore (hence, no more free 3 damage), this card is still exactly what this deck is trying to do– attack for 2 on turn 2, first strike to be hard to block and can be used defensively when needed.
4 Magma Jet: I saw some people cutting Magma Jets to play Firefist Striker and even though I agree that the card is solid, I would prefer playing the former since it allows you to plan your next steps carefully, find lands or put them on the bottom if needed. In many cases I just played a Burning-Tree Emissary and then Magma Jeted the opponent, just to be able to plan my next turns and sift through the top cards of my library.
3 drops: 4 Boros Reckoner: This is quite straightforward. This guy is the bomb at the moment! He gives you outs against Mono Blue and crushes any other creature deck. The only matchups I feel this card was not good against are vs Mono Black and Esper Control, since they can just go over the top. Against Mono Black, this card is basically a slow 3/3 that receives a removal once it hits the board. The triple Red manacost is occasionally problematic – I think that out of over a 100 matches there may have been five cases when it wasn’t cast-able on turn three due to the Mutavaults. This is the reason I only run 2 Vaults – I do feel that the raw power of this deck’s early game just overcomes the advantages of playing 3 Mutavaults.
4 Chandra’s Phoenix: Boy, is this card making a reappearance or what. Yes, it’s a 2/2 flyer with haste that returns from your graveyard. Most decks will have some way or another to deal with this card: Last Breath out of Esper’s sideboard, Anger of The Gods in the mirror and RG’s Scavenging Ooze. To be honest, I’ve never sideboarded this card out, since its resilience is something that RDW needs when the situation is dire. On several occasions I’ve sacrificed it to tap Desecration Demon only to Magma Jet my opponent and immediately hit for another 2 in the air.
4 drops: 4 Fanatic of Mogis: Another bomb, this card steals stalemate games out of nowhere! It can easily deal 10 damage or more and is a solid 4/2 body to stay after. Despite this, I sideboard it quite often in the mirror since sometimes it’s a bit too slow.
2 Mutavault: The only reason I do not play more of this staple is the fact that I dislike losing to screws. Whenever you have a Burning-Tree Emissary or a Boros Reckoner in hand,Mutavault becomes a fourth drop. The only real matchups that it shines at are vs Esper, Mono Black and Mono Blue.The reason I included it is that it’s the only thing in the deck that could handle Master of Waves
I’ll comment briefly on how I’m sideboarding against the majority of the most common decks in the format:
Out: x3 Shock (it is useless against them), x4 Boros Reckoner (Esper usually doesn’t play creatures, and if it does they would probably have protection from White…).
In: x3 Skullcrack,x4 Burning Earth

Mono Black:
Out: x3 Shock, x1 Boros Reckoner
In: x3 [/card]Skullcrack, x1 Act of Treason
You just want to overrun them with creatures since they usually go 1 for 1 with removal spells and then play a huge Desecration Demon – into which Boros Reckoner COULD attack.The problem is that you don’t want to waste three mana on a creature that just receives a removal and doesn’t affect the board when it enters.

Mono Red:
Out: x4 Firedrinker Satyr (Satyr is just a liability in this matchup).
In: x2 Anger of the Gods, x1 Mizzium Mortars, x1 Flames of the Firebrand

Mono Blue Devotion:
This is a very hard matchup for the Red mages. The Blue deck’s cards just overpower ours. The cards you want least to see are: Frostburn Weird, Nightveil Specter, Tidebinder Mage and obviously the notorious Master of Waves. This deck is your worst matchup, though I foresee it losing popularity due to the surge of UW and Esper control decks. I usually sideboard like this:
Out: x4 Satyr.
In: x1 Mizzium Mortars, x2 Anger of the Gods, x1 Flames of the Firebrand
Note: I’ve seen some lists running Electrickery in their sideboard that seem valid enough.Weapon Surge is also a possibility.

RG Monsters:
Another difficult matchup, although this deck lost popularity since PTQ Dublin.
Out: x4 Satyr x1 Rakdos Cackler
In: x2 Eruption Peak x2 Anger of the Gods
The reason for this is that they run 4 Sylvan Caryatid that just block all day long all of our 2/2 critters. The best way to deal with this deck is to use our three mana guys, Phoenix and Reckoner (RG Monsters doesn’t have a proper answer for them), and later finish them off with Fanatic of Mogis. 2 Peak Eruption may seem odd but you just really have to get lucky in this matchup since if they have Xenagos, the Reveler in play, you’re in trouble.

RW Control:
Out: x3 Shock
In: x3 Peak Eruption
They do not run a lot of creatures and Peak Eruption really unleashes the shackles from Chained to the Rocks

Future changes to the sideboard: Since I’m extremely happy with the main deck even though the most sideboarded card is Satyr (in every creature matchup), I’m always trying to improve the sideboard. I’m trying out Weapon Surge and I must say it has been impressive. Other viable options are: Electrickery and Ratchet bomb. Other options I would consider for the main deck: Legion Loyalist (seems in its prime vs GW) and Firefist Striker – though every time my opponents played these cards against me I was happy because they just trade badly with your other creatures.

Until next time,

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