The results from Grand Prix Memphis 2019 are in, and the top finisher of an almost one thousand person field was not, as many would have predicted, one of the more popular archetypes such as Mono-Blue or Sultai Midrange, but instead a Rakdos Aggro deck that incorporated powerful spells from both red and black. Similar to the points discussed in our previous article, this Rakdos list has numerous advantages over the more traditional Mono-Red Aggro decks, while still incorporating several of the red cards from Allegiance. In this article we take a look at what the most recent best MTG standard deck did right, analyzing both the cards it borrowed from previous archetypes and the spells it pulled from obscurity directly into the competitive MTG spotlight.
Although this specific deck list has not previously been considered a top tier MTG standard deck, several cards in Rakdos have seen competitive play, and many are individually considered to be some of the best cards in Ravnica Allegiance standard. To start, the biggest name is the list is Goblin Chainwhirler, a card that has terrorized the format since its release in Dominaria and continues to be played in a number of top competitive decks. A 3/3 first strike for only three mana, Chainwhirler effectively deals with some of the most powerful cards in the format, such as Jadelight Ranger and History of Benalia tokens, with its combat prowess alone. Chainwhirler additionally has one of the most devastating come-into-play effects on a red card printed in years, doing 1 damage to all your opponent’s creatures and Planeswalkers when it resolves. This effect dominates one toughness creatures like Llanowar Elves, Mist-Cloak Herald, and Runaway Steam-kin, and effectively keeps decks from going wide and attacking around this first-striking monster. This new Rakdos list is also incorporating a playset of Rekindling Phoenix, a permanent fixture in standard since its Rivals of Ixalan release. Although many of the mono-red lists were putting Phoenix in the sideboard to keep the main deck as low to the ground as possible, some of the best MTG Arena decks are putting them in the main, as Phoenix flies over the powerful ground creatures of Sultai like Wildgrowth Walker while dodging board wipes like Kaya’s Wrath. Finally, this Rakdos list makes use of Lava Coil, the premier red removal spell of the format. For only two mana, this sorcery deals 4 damage, effectively eliminating some of the best creatures in MTG standard such as Nicol Bolas, Shalai, and Tempest Djinn. Additionally, Lava Coil exiles the creature that it kills, making in exceptional against Sultai decks with recursion or creatures that have death effects such as Rekindling Phoenix or Hunted Witness.
- Written by Vincent A. | Last Updated on 25 February 2019
Although several cards from the latest MTG expansion Ravnica Allegiance have seen competitive play, there is one card that has, in most people’s minds, emerged as superior to the other Allegiance spells, and is arguably one of the best Magic cards in standard. The terrifying and adaptable Hydroid Krasis has certainly had a significant impact on the format, and has enabled otherwise unsuccessful strategies, yet, because of this utility, has similarly seen a meteoric rise in valuation, begging the question of whether Hydroid Krasis is worth the price. In this article, we consider the pros and cons of the only Jellyfish Hydra to ever be printed in Magic, and discuss how to proceed in your purchasing decisions and deck choice moving forward.
Hydroid Krasis is by any standard a fantastic card, and provides the caster with a myriad of benefits for a variety of situations. First and foremost, Hydroid Krasis is an acceptably costed flying creature that can function both as an aggressor against opponents who cannot block creatures with evasion and also as a defender against bloodthirsty sky-decks like Mono-Blue Aggro. Hydroid Krasis also draws half its X casting cost in cards and gains half of X in life, two actions that by themselves are extremely helpful against control and aggro decks respectively, and additionally difficult for opponents to deal with because the draw and life gain triggers of Hydroid Krasis are on cast, not resolution, of the spell. This individual card, then, provides a number of advantages for the player that casts it, making it individually one of the most powerful creatures in standard. In addition to its own functionality, Hydroid Krasis is overwhelmingly strong as a result of the incredible synergies it has with other cards in the format. Wilderness Reclamation, for example, allows the player to tap all their lands to cast the largest possible Hydroid Krasis during their main-phase while also having mana available for counter magic during their opponents turn. Likewise, Sultai decks running Memorial to Folly and Find//Finality can run out Hydroid Krasis early to smooth out land drops and dig to removal only to return the creature during the late game and cast it for a much more significant amount. Hydroid Krasis is also an excellent win condition for the Simic Nexus deck, which its previous Bant iteration had virtually no way of winning the game aside from a concession from its opponent.
- Written by Vincent A. | Last Updated on 21 February 2019
In recent MTG standard tournament results, Mono-Red has been conspicuously absent from the high-place finishers. Few top 8 spots have been awarded to Mono-Red in recent weeks, and not a single deck list with all red devotion made it to Day 2 of the most recent SCG Dallas Open. As some of our previous articles discussed, one reason for this decline in red dominance for the current standard meta is due to the overwhelming power of other decks, such as Sultai Midrange, that make a far better argument for being classified as the best deck in MTG standard compared to Mono-Red. There is still hope, however, for those who long for soul-crushing red decks that dominate tournaments. Although the days of Hazoret, Chandra and Soul-Scar Mage are behind us, here are three ways Mono-Red could find its way back to top tier MTG standard deck status.
Go Big or Go Home
One way that Mono-Red could be returned to its former status as the best standard deck is to up the curve and play some of the powerhouse finishers the color has to offer. A handful of lists, both before and after the release of Ravnica Allegiance, were making use of an odd combination of aggro and control cards, finding success against a variety of archetypes. Dire Fleet Daredevil, for example, offers incredible card advantage in the late game by stealing a spell from your opponent, which is twice as effective if targeting cards with Jumpstart like Chemister’s Insight, but can also function as a defensive 2/1 first-strike for two mana if your opponent’s aggression is overwhelming. Likewise, Banefire is a card that can provide uncounterable reach in the late-game, but can also be used as somewhat costly removal in a pinch. When combined with card selection spells like Rix Maadi Reveler, mana acceleration from Treasure Map, and a host of red removal, a Big Red list could switch from aggro to control quickly with a transformative sideboard and main-deck staples like Rekindling Phoenix and Siege-Gang Commander, out-maneuvering the more rigid decks of the format.
- Written by Vincent A. | Last Updated on 20 February 2019
Mortal Kombat 11 doesn’t officially launch until April, but with all the awesome content now known about the game it seems like a great time to start focusing our attention on this fantastic new PVP fighter for PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch. It has begun, as Shang Tsung would say, and here are some of the best MK11 leaks and features we know so far.
During the MK11 reveal, the audience was thrilled to see the return of a number of classic Mortal Kombat franchise characters, such as Scorpion, Sonya Blade, and Baraka. However, an alleged MK11 roster leak transpired earlier this month when Steam released a list of achievements for the game that may have revealed an almost full list of playable characters. Although this list is still entirely speculative, it includes characters such as Jade, Kung Lao, Frost, Kano, and Kabal. We unfortunately still have no sign of Smoke in MK11, but there is still hope in the coming months!
- Written by Robin G. | Last Updated on 18 February 2019