With the release of Dragons of Tarkir, red decks finally had their time in the sun with Atarka Red and Mono-Red aggro having great performances at tournaments, including the Dragons of Tarkir Protour where it won against UB Control. Since then, the archetype has diminished a bit, but remains to be a contender. With the release of Magic Origins, we see the introduction of a number of cards that may strengthen the deck, or perhaps even transform it.

At the moment, the game plan of Atarka Red is very basic yet scary: Hit the opponent hard out the gate and swarm them with too many creatures to block and burn them off for the finish before they can get going. It’s a strategy that punished stumbling starts and misplays, though it’s hurt greatly by lifegain, even when you do have Atarka’s Command at the ready. This is the list I’ve been playing:

 

Gruul Story Bro

Spells (44)
Atarka’s Command
Become Immense
Dragon Fodder
Foundry Street Denizen
Goblin Rabblemaster
Hordeling Outburst
Lightning Berserker
Lightning Strike
Monastery Swiftspear
Stoke the Flames
Wild Slash
Wooded Foothills
Zurgo Bellstriker

Land (16)
Mana Confluence
10 Mountain
Forest
Temple of Abandon
Sideboard: (15)
Destructive Revelry
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Goblin Heelcutter
Goblin Rabblemaster
Hall of Triumph
Roast
Scouring Sands

Overall, very straight forward. Now lets go over some of the appetizing cards from Magic Origins. First up, one of the most exciting cards in the set: Goblin Piledriver.

Having not seen a reprint since Onslaught, Piledriver is a card people thought of and wished they got when Goblin Rabblemaster was spoiled. Of course, Rabblemaster performed much more highly than people originally expected. Now that the two are together in Standard last and with all the goblin producing spells in standard like Dragon Fodder and Hordeling Outburst, you can bet this is a card that will see play. With Battle for Zendikar not too far off, we might even see some more Goblins in that set. Will we get a Goblin Guide reprint at long last? A Red player can dream.

I’ll admit that I wish Chandra were a little different when that leak was confirmed to be true. But the more I thought about it and the more spoilers that came out, I began to be very excited for her. The potential damage Chandra can deal out is exhilarating, and  if she was able to ping creatures or had haste, she might a little too strong. Still, it would’ve been nice.

Her planeswalker form is a little underwhelming, but having a plus ability for doing what burn wants to do makes her more welcoming into the archetype. That said, I do wish her minus ability did more damage to a creature, especially for being -2, but I guess we can’t be picky. Her ultimate is basically a finisher on it’s own if your opponent manages to survive that long. I love it, even if it takes a while to fire off.

Admittedly, I was hoping for a different burn spell (Lightning Bolt) to be printed, but this isn’t too bad itself. Sure, it’s double red, but if you’re going to use it, you’re probably well into red anyway. The one thing that’s disappointing about Firecraft is the sorcery speed, meaning you can’t have too much fun with it. However, the spell mastery bonus of being uncounterable makes up for it I think, especially vs control and specifically Esper Dragons, where you’ll be guaranteed to kill their Ojutai if they are foolish enough to swing with it. Now does it belong in Mono-Red aggro? Might be too early to tell. I definitely think it’ll be great after Theros and M15 rotates out.

As a red aggro player, you know what I hate most of all? Getting land flooded. It sucks, which is why Molten Vortex is a card that I can get behind. It can be very frustrating when you’re stuck drawing lands when your opponent is just out of reach to kill. Now, you can use up your lands to finish off your opponent. Sure, it’s only a shock, but it’s a constant reusable shock, effectively making every card in your deck a threat. That said, I wouldn’t play more than two of it.

 

Magmatic Insight

Magmatic Insight on the other hand, I think is a card printed as sort of a test for another way red can draw cards. After all, Red is the main color for land destruction, so hell, why not dispose of your land for card draw? I could see it being more of a four-of in more Big Red style decks, but we’re not talking about that style of red this time. Is it worth running in aggro? Maybe as card draw is very important and when you have something that could effectively replace a useless land for the win, it could be valuable.

Speaking of red card draw, here’s another in that line of ‘temporary value’. A 2/1 for 2 with prowess would be a nice uncommon for the color, but giving it that exile card draw makes it a good contender as it provides value both early only and late in the game. Not sure if it has a place now, but again, I think it will be quite valuable post rotation.

Eidolon of the Great Revel you have a follow up. I was scared we were going to lose you for a minute there. I really like Scab-Clan Berserker. It’s a little less universally hitting than Eidolon was, mainly being good versus control, but it’s a VERY GOOD card against control. Once again, I think it’s a card that will definitely see play post rotation, even if it’s just sideboard play. It might even see pre-rotation play as red players could just shift their Eidolons to main board and have the Berserker fill in the ranks behind them.

There are other red cards, but these are the ones I’m certainly most excited for. So with that in mind, how will Atarka/Mono Red change and evolve? The way I look at it, there are two forms that the deck can take. Lets start with the most obvious approach:

Atarka Goblins

Maindeck (41)
Atarka’s Command
Dragon Fodder
Foundry Street Denizen
Frenzied Goblin
Goblin Piledriver
Goblin Rabblemaster
Hordeling Outburst
Lightning Strike
Obelisk of Urd
Stoke the Flames
Titan’s Strength

Land (19)
Wooded Foothills
Mana Confluence
10 Mountain
Forest
Sideboard: (15)
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Hall of Triumph
Roast
Scouring Sands
Searing Blood

This deck is more emphasizing the strength of a horde of goblins while backing it up with the power of Atarka’s Command. Now, I might just be really greedy in this regard, going two colors, but Atarka’s Command’s mode to prevent life gain is just too good to pass up, even if you hurt yourself a lot from your mana base.

The deck is based on the Goblin Deck that made top 8 a few times at Star City Opens and hopefully and with the addition of Piledriver to the mix, it might be quite the contender. Other possible additions are the Goblin Glory Chaser also in origins, but that might be more a post-rotation card as we’ll be losing all our goblin one drops. Still, Goblins is a deck that practically builds itself. You have more trouble finding stuff to cut more than anything.

Chandra Burn

Maindeck (40)
Abbot of Keral Keep
Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
Dragon Fodder
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Exquisite Firecraft
Lightning Strike
Magma Jet
Monastery Swiftspear
Outpost Siege
Stoke the Flames
Wild Slash
Zurgo Bellstriker

Land (20)
20 Mountain
Sideboard: (15)
Molten Vortex
Roast
Scab-Clan Berserker
Scouring Sands
Searing Blood

On the more creative side of things, we have a burn archetype. The general idea is to take advantage of the new Chandra and the abundance of burn spells and creatures that benefit from casting non-creature spells. And Zurgo can come cause why not have a 2/2 for R?

Admittedly, the deck can change wildly as the meta evolves. There might be better cards to run than Dragon Fodder or maybe it’s worth running Hordeling Outburst in this deck after all, but the idea is to burn out your opponent and typically not through creatures. Exquisite Firecraft and Abbot of Keral Keep help in that regard, as Firecraft easily becomes uncounterable and the Abbot provides another strong prowess-y creature to use both early and late game. Turn 3 Chandra can be especially devastating if she lasts to Turn 4, which can go something like…

Tap Chandra: 1 Damage to Opponent.
Cast Firecraft: 4 Damage to Opponent, untap Chandra.
Tap Chandra: 1 Damage to Opponent.
Cast Wild Slash: 2 Damage to Opponent, untap Chandra.
Tap Chandra: 1 Damage to Opponent, Transform Chandra.
+1 Chandra: 2 Damage to opponent

11 Damage. I repeat. 11 Damage! And that’s before you even swing with any creatures you have. Even if Wild Slash is counterable, Firecraft and Chandra’s tap ability are not. Even if you’re expecting kill spells and just hold your instants according. Once she’s flipped, it’s just a matter of holding out as she whittles down your opponent.

Overall, these may be a cases of archetypes that will be strong post rotation, but I feel they’re something worth experimenting with as red got a long of good tools in Origins and as a red player, the set makes me very excited! Here’s looking forward to any other brews that come out of it!