Hi! My name is Jake Tilk (@JakeTilk on Twitter), and last weekend I placed first in a 5K in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’ve never done one of these before, but I want people to see why Mono-Red is a good choice for any event. Here is the list.
As you can see, my deck is a little different from what you saw at the Pro Tour. But, what can I say about mine? It is extremely consistent. At first, I was a little apprehensive about playing mono-red at a big tournament like this. Mono-red, in my experience, has the possibility of running red hot, and then sort of petering out.
What was the solution to this?I had to find a red list that bested the top decks in the format. That is exactly what it did. The deck’s game plan involves using my creatures for the first three or four turns to swing as fast as possible then burning the opponent out with the average of about two burn spells in my hand on turn five or six. So, let’s go into my deck choices. As you see, a lot of this is pretty stock. But, then you get to the four main deck [card]Searing Bloods[/card]. Over the course of the day, I had a lot of people asking me how many Searing Bloods I was playing. When I said four, I was met with varying amounts of responses. Whether it was, “What about the control matchup?” or “How does that get over [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card]?” I can honestly say that Searing Blood over-performed for me that weekend as the card was absolutely ridiculous when it killed something.
Oh, and Courser? She ain’t no thang. Sure, that card is an absolute pain in the ass. But I will gladly trade my Zurgo the Bellstriker and a Searing Blood for a big ass body and life gain any day of the week. Another card that I got some skepticism for was [card]Break through the Line[/card]. After not really drawing this card except for the finals, I do not really have a huge opinion on it other than as a one-of, it is probably fine but needs more testing.
Here was the situation:
In the finals, I played against a really nice dude playing Abzan Aggro. I had a Break through the Lines on board for two turns or so. He was at five life and tapped out for [card]Wingmate Roc[/card]. I was at only one after chumping all of the Snuggasquad NA. In my hand I had a [card]Lightning Berserker[/card], and a Mountain. Commence my turn: I played the Mountain (now I have 6), dash Berserker, break her through the lines, and then I pump her four times for exacties.
I admit, when I was on the draw, I sided out Break against creature decks for [card]Magmatic Chasm[/card]. I feel like nothing else in my deck is that weird besides maybe the one-of [card]Roast[/card]. That was personal preference, and it actually over-performed in game ones getting rid of so many big ass bodies.
Let’s Talk About Sideboarding
Against Abzan Aggro/Mid, and G/R. Play: -1 Mardu Scout -2 Hordeling -4 Wild Slash; +2 Harness By Force +3 Roast +2 Magmatic Chasm Draw: -1 Mardu Scout -2 Hordeling -3 Wild Slash -1 Break Through The Lines; +2 Harness by Force +3 Roast +2 Magmatic Chasm
Against Control: Play: -2 Hordeling -1 Break Through The Lines -1 Roast -4 Searing Blood; +3 Eidolon of The Great Revel +2 Outpost Siege +3 Arc Lightning Draw: Same thing.
Against the mirror: Play: -1 Mardu Scout -2 Heelcutter -1 Roast -1 Break Through; +3 Arc Lightning +2 Eidolon Draw: -1 Mardu Scout -2 Heelcutter -1 Break Through; +3 Arc Lightning +1 Roast
G/W Devotion: Play: -1 Mardu Scout -2 Hordeling -4 Wild Slash +1 Magmatic Chasm +3 Roast +3 Eidolon of the Great Revel. Draw: -1 Mardu Scout -2 Hordeling Outburst -1 Wild Slash -1 Break Through The Line +2 Magmatic Chasm +3 Roast
Round One: Abzan Midrange. I won the die roll and start slamming down little dudes. Game one is done in three minutes. People next to us were still resolving mulligans. Game two, I saw his deck was a little weird so I sideboarded like I normally do for Abzan and kept a bad hand. Still made it work though, through a Sorin, and Doomwake Giant.
Round Two: This round I played against my friend Travis Cullum. He was playing the Chris VanMeter Red Green deck, and I am not going to lie when I tell you guys I was a little worried. After a close match, with me closing the game out sub optimally Harnessing By Force his Thunderbreak instead of Searing Blooding his morph, I was put into top deck range with me at 11 and him at 1. I learned from this mistake and carried on. Thankfully he did not top deck what he needed to close this game out.
Round Three: G/W Devotion. This guy was extremely nice, and although I would like to say it was close, it was not a fun game of magic because I did Mono Red shenanigans game one, and game two he chose to mulligan to probably the best three card hand I have ever seen. It just was not quite enough.
Round Four: Also a nice guy. He made an awesome play in game two where he used Setessan Tactic’s to fight his Hornet’s Nest with my board and my Magmatic Chasm I was holding back became awful. Mostly because it does not get me past those flyers. However, in game three I pulled it out. My opponent was at 9. I had a Lightning Strike in hand, a Stoke the Flames, and 3 creatures on board. One of which was Eidolon of the Great Revel. He had a revealed Mastery of the Unseen off of his Courser. I also do not think that he expected me to have double burn spell in my hand. As most red decks do not play the amount of burn that I play. He slams the Mastery hoping to turn his dudes into some life. I respond by dumping my hand. That was a close one. If I was in his position with mana dorks I would probably do the same.
Round Five: Mono White Hate Bears?! This deck was insane. Also, the woman piloting it was very nice. All I can say is, I see how it ended up at table one. This is a deck I would love to test at FNM. It had main deck Banishing Lights, Silk Wraps, Valorous Stances, God’s Willings, Seeker of the Way’s, and wait for it. FABLED HERO. This guy was absolutely insane. God’s willing this guy and you push through a ton of double strike damage. A lot of the time he got through because I had to deal with his one and two drops. (Especially Seeker of the Way). The card that almost sealed the close game three with her was Secure the Wastes. In a trading one for one matchup, this card for six mana for her straight up almost blew me out. I definitely cannot stop something even that wide, even with Arc Lightning. I won the game three by burning her one blocker out, and swinging for game. She was racing me, which I admire.
Round Six: There were three undefeated players. I was in second, hoping to double draw in. Lucky me, I got the pair down. I offered him the draw in the hopes that he would win the last round. No dice. Jeskai Dragons wanted a piece of me. I sat down, and due to easy to Searing Blood Seeker of the Way’s,Soulfire Grandmasters, and tapped lands. I clutch stole the win.
Round Seven: I drew into first seed for top 8.
Round One Top 8: Played against my friend Travis Cullum again. He beat out two people in tie breakers finishing 5-1-1. This was an extremely close game three where I had two draws to end the game or else I lost. He had Courser of Kruphix, and four life. So basically my only real out was one turn. I had one card I could draw. With four left in the deck, that is exactly what I did. I slammed Stoke The Flames and praised the prophecy for drawing my one out.
Round Two Top 4: I played against Ryan Hovis, and his Esper Control deck. His list seemed much better placed against Red than many of the Esper decks that I was testing with. Although, that was not quite enough and the Outpost Siege pulled me through.
Round Three Top 2: Played against a new buddy of mine named Rick. He was playing Abzan Aggro. As I mentioned earlier, he got me really close and slammed Wingmate Roc. Break Through The Line definitely won me this match.
Now, what would I change about my deck for next time? Although, I really like my deck list. I think the only significant changes I would make would be the inclusion of Circle of Flame in my sideboard. I would take out a Magmatic Chasm for it. In the main deck, I would consider taking out a Hordeling Outburst for a fourth Dragon Fodder to get lower to the ground.
Play tight, and long live Atarka! See you in Cleveland!