The deck uses Koth, Fire of Resistance as its key card.
It also utilizes Chandra, Dressed to Kill and Jaya, Fiery Negotiator.
Koth’s plus two ability allows you to get a mountain from your deck. His minus three ability does damage to a creature equal to the number of mountains in play. His ultimate ability costs seven loyalty. When you can activate it, any time you play a mountain you get to do four damage to any target.
New creatures in the deck are Sardian Cliffstomper from The Brothers’ War and Vindictive Flamestoker from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. Sardian Cliffstomper costs two mana for a 0/4 minotaur barbarian with its power on your turn equal to the number of mountains in play if you have four mountains in play.
Vindictive Flamestoker cost one red mana for a 1/2 Phyrexian wizard. Its ability puts an oil counter on it each time you play a non-creature spell. Then for six mana and a red mana you can sacrifice Vindictive Flamestoker, discard your hand, and draw four cards. This ability costs one less for each oil counter on Vindictive Flamestoker.
The deck includes two new instants from Phyrexia: All Will Be One: Volt Charge and Rebel Salvo. Volt Charge costs three mana. It does 3 damage to any target and allows you to proliferate. Rebel Salvo also costs three mana. It deals 5 damage to target creature or planeswalker and that permanent loses indestructible. With Sheoldred in standard, being able to deal 5 damage to a target is important.
Crokeyz’s build also takes advantage of the enchantments from Kawigawa: Neon Dynasty: Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Kumano Faces Kakkazan. Both see extensive play in standard, but rarely in the same deck. Together they form an interesting combination that gives you value at each chapter. Then leaves you with a good creature that affects the board state.
Another new card in the sideboard is All Will Be One. This five-mana enchantment has one of the most interesting abilities of any card from Phyrexian: All Will Be One. Whenever you put one or more counters on a permanent or player, All Will Be One deals that much damage to target opponent, creature an opponent controls, or planeswalker an opponent controls. When you combine this ability with the cards in the deck that have some type of counter it looks like it should be a good part of a winning strategy.
HOW IT PERFORMED
I ended up 2-2 using the deck at Friday Night Magic. I won the first two matches relatively easily because I was able to get Koth and the other planeswalkers in play and they took over the games. In my third match against Esper Midrange, I split the first two games with my opponent. The match came down to a tight game three. I had him at a low life total and I was going for the win when he played The Wandering Emperor that targeted my Vindictive Flamestoker. I had the mana available to activate Vindictive Flamestoker’s ability and I did. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the wrong choice because I had to discard Rebel Salvo. On the next turn he played Sheoldred and that was the game. In match four, I was run over by Bant Soldiers. Game 1 was somewhat close, but I was not able to deal with the wide variety of threats he presented. Game 2 was a blowout. I got stuck on two lands and could not play my hand.
Then over the weekend, I played over a dozen best-of-three matches on Arena. I finished with a 7-12 record. The overall power level of the top standard decks made Mono-Red ineffective. Not having some type of board wipe really hurt the deck. The deck needs either Brotherhood’s End or Burn Down the House in the sideboard to deal with threats the opponent presents.
Koth did a great job of thinning out the deck by getting lands turn after turn and his minus three ability was able to deal with almost any threat my opponent’s presented, but he was almost impossible to ultimate because the deck did not have enough creatures to defend Koth effectively. Chandra, Dressed to Kill was a star in the deck. Her ability to do chip damage while adding a mana and getting an additional card as a plus ability helped to filter through the deck to get to card that you needed to win the game. Jaya was not very effective overall because usually when I played her in a game, I did not have the creatures able to attack to use her minus ability and her plus one does create a 1/1 monk creature token with prowess, but rarely was I able to use the ability effectively.
The creature package was not enough to consistently beat my opponents. Vindictive Flamestoker was an easy target for my opponents to remove and many times I did not have the mana to activate its ability. Sardian Cliffstomper was explosive in games when my opponents only had a few creatures on the field but did not perform well as a blocker because it could not kill opponents’ attacking creatures. I think that for the deck to be consistently effective different creatures must be added because you need to have a way to finish off an opponent more consistently.
Volt Charge and Rebel Salvo had limited impact on games. First, three mana proved to be a high cost for Volt Charge because rarely did the proliferate ability impact the game, so I would have rather had a two-mana removal spell instead. Rebel Salvo did perform well overall, but many times it killed a creature with toughness less than five.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Kumano Faces Kakkazan performed as expected overall. The low creature count did make it difficult to consistently take advantage of Kumano Faces Kakkazan’s chapter two ability. Also, I found it difficult to take advantage of Fable’s chapter two ability to discard cards and draw new ones because many times I did not have cards I wanted to discard.
Finally, All Will Be One was not the one. It was difficult finding games to bring it into. And when I did it did little to help win the game. For All Will Be One to truly be effective, it needs a deck dedicated to putting counters on permanents.
Overall, I feel that the deck needs significant changes to compete with the Tier 1 decks in standard. The addition of more dual lands in Phyrexia: All Will Be One just makes it easier for three color decks to consistently have the mana they need to cast their spells on a curve. This makes it difficult for mono-color decks to consistently perform well. Even Mono-Black, which has been the best mono-colored deck in standard, will have difficulty keeping up.
I think that Mono-Red will need to move away from a mid-range deck and into an aggro deck to truly compete with the best decks in standard. This makes it difficult to include Koth, but I think if a deck could take full advantage of the extra mana Koth provides then using him makes more sense. Two cards that come to mind are Light Up the Night and Shivan Devastator. Light Up the Night is a direct damage spell. This sorcery costs X and a red mana. This allows you to pump as much mana as you have available into the spell. Similarly, Shivan Devastator is an X and a red mana spell. Since Shivan Devastator has flying and haste it can become a one-shot kill spell if your opponent does not have any defenders with flying.
That’s it for this week. I’ll see you next week.