- How to beat mono-red consistently in standard: MARDUCK
- Jeremy Dezani
The season has just started and while I had a somewhat off season last season, this one started off better than expected. As I am putting the final touch on this article I am on a bus on my way home after 3 days with some of my best friends battling in Modern at GP Birmingham - which is what I am going to talk about.
As some of you who follow me on Twitter might already know I ended up at 31st place with a 12-3 record using Titan Shift as my weapon of choice. This gives me 3 pro points in the first GP of the season - the fire is lit!
Enough about the small talk - let's take a look at the deck:
4 《Stomping Ground》
3 《Cinder Glade》
1 《Sheltered Thicket》
4 《Wooded Foothills》
1 《Scalding Tarn》
1 《Windswept Heath》
1 《Bloodstained Mire》
4 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》
4 《Primeval Titan》
4 《Sakura-Tribe Elder》
2 《Pia and Kiran Nalaar》
2 《Summoner's Pact》|
2 《Lightning Bolt》
4 《Search for Tomorrow》
2 《Sweltering Suns》
1 《Prismatic Omen》
4 《Obstinate Baloth》|
3 《Nature's Claim》
2 《Grafdigger's Cage》
2 《Witchbane Orb》
1 《Reclamation Sage》
1 《Anger of the Gods》
Titan Shift is a strange piece of art - the deck itself has a linear strategy while also being extremely powerful that it is pretty easy to get a lot of wins early on after just picking up the deck.
What makes it interesting is the way you build it to fight the metagame at large and/or a more specific one. Even though we are narrowed down to only Green and Red, the sideboard options are both overlapping, relevant and powerful; which makes the deck a strong contender in the current metagame.
The deck has a core, like many other decks, which contains ramp spells and big mana threats. When ramping we make use of 《Search for Tomorrow》《Farseek》 and 《Sakura-Tribe Elder》 which are very similar in how they play out - whereas 《Explore》 and 《Prismatic Omen》 is a bit more tricky.
《Explore》 is not necessarily a ramp spell, but being RG we don’t really have that many options to draw extra cards and/or manipulate our draws. This makes 《Explore》 ideal on turn 2 and 3, where we have the option to dig deeper in our deck, while still ramping. This and the fact that the deck often is very good at ramping there are diminishing returns in having yet another generic ramp spell when in top deck mode.
The other non-generic ramp spell is 《Prismatic Omen》. Where 《Explore》 gives us a potential ramp + draw, Omen gives us a potential ramp + speed. Some match ups come down to the fact, who is faster or is better at executing their game plan - and in these match ups it is key that 《Scapeshift》 is lethal with 6 lands, 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》 triggers on itself and that you can tap fetch lands for mana, instead of taking damage or even setting a natural Valakut kill up, by playing and not sacrificing your fetchlands until you have Valakut’s set up.
A lot of these things doesn’t happen often, but when we are playing such a generic deck, it is important to get all the minor edges that we can, and only by knowing all the small interactions, can we manage to exploit them.
The kill cards are 《Primeval Titan》 and 《Scapeshift》, with an honorable mention to 《Summoner's Pact》 that gives us a couple of extra 《Primeval Titan》 - these 10 cards are all ways to find , 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》 and kill our opponent.
As you might have noticed, there are 2 《Pia and Kiran Nalaar》 in the deck. I haven’t put this card in the “kill cards” category simply because it is there merely to block and postpone our death against the more aggressive creature based decks. In some match ups it will shine as a finisher, especially against UW control, but in most of the games it will be 4 mana 3 blockers, with some reach. I see this card having the same role as both 《Lightning Bolt》 and 《Roast》 in the deck.
The reason behind the split between these two, is due to the meta being in a place right now, where bolt can be very good or close to unplayable. The same goes for 《Roast》, but they divide different match ups. 《Roast》 is very good against the 《Thought-Knot Seer》 decks, and 《Death's Shadow》where bolt shines against Affinity and Storm (just to name a few), so I find it important to have the mix to be able to fight against the metagame at large, instead of trying to hedge against a specific deck, when playing in a 1700 player tournament.
This argument follows through to 《Sweltering Suns》>《Anger of the Gods》. Being able to have game against the decks without creatures is key in a big field of 20+ tier1 decks and the cycling makes a useless card into a win or 3: draw a new card in contrary to win or mulligan.
This version of the deck is a grinder version of the archetype, and after roughly 13 leagues on MTGO and some long talks and help from my friend Andreas, this is what we eventually ended up on. I did try out versions with both 《Through the Breach》 and 《Hour of Promise》 and they had both good and bad things going for them.
《Hour of Promise》 is a very strong card, that helps you get even more explosive and get the 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》 online early. When playing a card like this you’re better against decks that are a bit more midrange and depending on the build, you try to become faster than the fast decks.
The problem I find with the card is that you become better at setting up a kill, but you don’t actually win on the spot nor do you win against hate cards like 《Runed Halo》《Leyline of Sanctity》 etc. This makes the card very nice in the match ups you are already favored in, but that isn't giving you an overall advantage for the Meta at large.
《Through the Breach》 builds on the other hand, is an entirely different entity. This deck is built around speed rather than consistency - powering out an early 《Chalice of the Void》 or a hasty Titan with the help of 《Simian Spirit Guide》. This can be very good against the fast decks - but the deck is extremely soft to discard spells, and will become even more dependent on its draws compared to the other builds.
In our sideboard we are trying to have a transformational board with some creatures that are good against Burn and 《Liliana of the Veil》 decks, we have some overlapping tools for 《Blood Moon》, white enchantments and Affinity, additional removal spells; a 《Witchbane Orb》 to be lucky against Storm and 《Ad Nauseam》 decks and give us an edge in the mirror and finally a few cards for graveyard and chord decks.
The Sideboard Guide
It is always fun to build sideboards and getting the puzzle to add up and particularly in modern this is quite hard.
There are too many good decks to be prepared for all the match ups but we can at least try and find as many overlapping sideboard cards as possible for different match ups.
Our current sideboard doesn’t help us against 《Ad Nauseam》 or Storm, so we are trying to get lucky in those match ups with a 《Grafdigger's Cage》 or 《Witchbane Orb》 - but we have a good sideboard against most tier 1/1,5 decks.
This is how I sideboard:
Next upcoming thing for me is GP Metz which is sealed and then Worldwide Nationals. I wish everyone playing good luck and if you have any questions, you are always welcome to hit me up on Twitter.
until next time
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