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RDW In Standard


About Yann Massicard

Yann Massicard
Yann Massicard

Yann is a Level 6 Magic Pro player from France who has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:

  • Winner Grand Prix Seattle 2009
  • 51 Lifetime Pro Points
  • Level 6 Pro Players Club member
  • Top 16 Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
  • Top 24 Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur 2008
  • Top 16 Grand Prix Strasbourg 2007

Hey everyone!

This month, many of you are going to compete in regional tournaments to try and qualify for Nationals. As those tournaments are being held in Standard, you should be familiar with the decklists from PT San Diego, since you are supposed to playtest against the most successful ones at least. Besides, GP Kuala Lumpur takes place this weekend, which should help us understand Standard better. Will Jund and Naya continue to dominate the field? Is Open the Vaults a serious contender?

Apart from looking at the different decklists, analyzing the most important matchups can actually be highly relevant to prepare for Regionals. As I played RDW in San Diego during 10 rounds of Constructed, I should have enough data to talk about the deck in this particular metagame.

RDW In San Diego

Red Deck Wins by Yann Massicard (PT San Diego)

Converted Mana Cost
Basic Land12

This deck forms part of my feature article:

RDW In Standard

Your rating: None
Average: 4.1 (16 votes)

Kor Firewalker
Worldwake (Foil)

Why did I choose to play this deck at the Pro Tour?

Well, actually, we tested almost every deck in order not to play Jund. As Jund is the center of the metagame, everyone should have been testing around it, trying to beat it, this means that, if you play Jund, you will either be facing decks which should do at least close to 50/50 against you, or you should play a mirror match. That's the theory. Add to this the fact that the deck is known by everyone and you can’t be too excited about playing Jund. So the week after GP Oakland, we tried to find a deck which could beat Jund and still have decent matchups against the rest of the field.

The Ruels had a fun Hedron Crab deck which won against many decks in the metagame, but lost too often to Jund and RDW. Losing against 30% of the field was enough for me not to waste too much time testing it. We tried even some random decks, like Polymorph or Spreading Seas, and quickly figured out that not many decks had a good matchup against Jund. We then tried RDW, and everything changed. We had a deck which could beat Jund pretty easily but also had many other good matchups, like Elves or Naya.

The only big problem of this deck is Kor Firewalker. As we started testing against WW, we just never lost a game where our opponent didn't have it. On the other hand, we never won a game when he had it. The problem is that even after sideboarding you don't have a good answer to it. The best you can do is playing Unstable Footing after it blocked or before an Earthquake. Not only is Kor Firewalker playable in WW decks, it is also playable in many sideboards too. Bant, for example, can easily add 3 copies of it after game 1, making the matchup very bad for RDW, and the same can apply to Naya decks or white control decks like Patriot or UW.

So what did really make me play this deck after all? Well, time is the main reason. In France I just didn't have much time to prepare for the PT, so I tested during the week between Oakland and San Diego. After a few days of testing many decks and drafting as well, you eventually have to settle on a deck before Friday morning. Another important reason which made me play this deck was that it was a Pro Tour. For a Regional Championship, I wouldn't play RDW as I would expect a way too high proportion of white aggro decks, but in a PT, you generally won't see a lot of WW decks, as experienced players tend to play more complicated decks. All in all, RDW seemed to be a fine choice, as well as Jund maybe, but I just didn't feel like playing Jund mirror matches all day long.

Assuming Jund would be at least 25% of the field, Naya maybe close to 10% as it won the World Championships, Elves and Vampires forming together another 10+% of the field, plus random combo decks like Valakut or Crypt of Agadeem decks, I should have a very good matchup against more than half of the field. Let's say I have 30% coin flip matchups, I then end up with less than 20% of rather bad matchups. The coin flip matchups are Junk (aka GWx Angels...), Boros and some control decks like Patriot and the mirror obviously, which is why I have 3 Dragon's Claw after board. Against control decks I played a single Manabarbs, as I never want to have 2 of them in the same game, and even 1 can sometimes screw me more than help me, and the Goblin Ruinblasters, which are also very good against Jund or Junk for example. Mark of Mutiny is here to grab a Baneslayer Angel for the final swing, and Unstable Footing is just here to sell some hope against Kor Firewalker and occasionally Brave the Elements. Now that you are familiar with the deck and my thought process, let's talk about the PT itself.

RDW 2K10

What Went Wrong In San Diego?

Though it seemed like a good choice to run the deck at this particular event, I only managed to go 5-5 with it, a rather disappointing record.

Round 1: Jan Ruess - GWu

This is probably the 3rd time that we play each other in one year, I'm 0-2 so far against Jan, and so winning would be a very good start to this Pro Tour. His version runs a lot of expensive creatures, not the aggro kind of Bant, which is better for me. I simply kill his Noble Hierarch and Lotus Cobra the turn they hit the table and he then is too slow. A fine sideboard plan against this deck would be to add 2 Goblin Ruinblaster and 2 Mark of Mutiny for 2 Hell's Thunder which become bad against Angels and 1 Hellspark Elemental (subpar against Rhox War Monk) and 1 Goblin Guide, as you don't want to give him free lands.

So far I don't like my sideboard. I didn't have time to test it and I don't really know what to change, and worse, I don't even like the cards I side in, though they are still better than the ones I side out. Here, I don't want too many Ruinblasters as those decks don't play many non-basic lands, and 2 Mark of Mutiny seems to be the maximum you can have, as it is mostly a finisher.

In game 2 he has double Rhox War Monk and too much ugly stuff for RDW, while in game 3 his draw is just slow and rather poor. The key is to kill his accelerators so that you won't have to face a Baneslayer Angel too early in the game. On the other hand, you also want to keep some removal spells for his threats, as every big guy he plays is just awful for you. Even Knight of the Reliquary, while accelerating him, can destroy you thanks to Seijiri Steppe. Luckily I won this round, let's pray for better matchups now.

Round 2, 7, 8 and 10: Jund

I put all the Jund rounds together as it is basically the same thing every time. Amongst my Jund opponents, Adam Koska and Tomoharu Saito are the most famous. As I mentioned earlier, the Jund matchup should be pretty good. Game 1, you shouldn't be afraid, as they are just too slow for your deck. They have some removal spells for your early guys but almost all their lands enter play tapped. The most annoying thing they can do, is to play a turn 2 Putrid Leech followed by a Sprouting Thrinax and some backup while they are on the play, which is basically the perfect Jund draw and beats almost any deck anyway. After board, they may have extra removal spells, Basillisk Collar or some disruption spells, but still nothing as annoying as a Kor Firewalker.

Now you might assume that I went 4-0, or maybe 3-1 because of some mulligans. Unfortunately I went 1-3. It’s always disappointing to take a deck which beats the most popular deck and then get destroyed by it at the tournament. So what happened? Well, first of all, I found Goblin Ruinblaster to be not that great in this matchup. It used to be excellent when all the Jund decks ran a lot of expensive cards, but they now tend to play cheaper cards, which gave me the impression that it often arrived after the war. I would still add at least 3 of them on the play, but on the draw, a pair of Quenchable Fire could be a nice addition to the sideboard. Goblin Guide would be the card to side out on the draw while it can deal some damage on the play. The thing is you don't want to alter the curve of your deck too drastically as you side-in rather expensive cards, and you then become more vulnerable to Blightnings. About the games themselves, well a lot of things went wrong in every game and they were really close even when I mulliganed or was flooded. Saito got the perfect Jund draw twice, with a turn 1 Lightning Bolt, something else turn 2 and then a pair of Sprouting Thrinax and more (he is a level 8 mage after all) and still the games were extremely close. The best sideboard card I've seen so far for the Jund matchup is Magma Spray.

Round 3: Jun Fen Jack Ho - WW

The matchup I really don't want to face, with maindeck Kor Firewalker and Stoneforge Mystic with Basillisk Collar. He is lucky enough to have Kor Firewalker game 1 and 2, though game 2 I miraculously get rid of it thanks to my awesome combo Earthquake + Unstable Footing and I’m then about to win next turn, when he topdecks a second one. This is the reason why I'm not even sure Unstable Footing has a place in the sideboard as you lose this matchup anyway.

Round 4: Martin Juza - Junk (GWb)

After Adam Koska, Martin is the next Blackborder feature writer I'm paired against in this Pro Tour. Winning the die roll is really important, as game 1 is close to 50/50 on paper, but the one who starts is ahead with regular draws, and winning game 1 means you'll at least start game 3. I win the roll, kill his accelerators and easily take game 1. The other games should be more difficult, I hope he doesn't have Kor Firewalker and side in some Goblin Ruinblasters and a pair of Mark of Mutiny. I only remember that his draw was rather slow and he did not draw his Wall of Reverence.

Round 5: Brad Nelson - Naya

Searing Blaze and Earthquake are the 2 key cards he can't really deal with. You have to pay attention to his equipments which can take the game, but otherwise, your maindeck is made to beat Naya, no need to side anything. After board, Baneslayer Angel is the other real danger.

Round 12: Koutarou Ootsuka - Valakut Combo

He played an Expedition Map game 1 and scooped a few turns later. I didn't really know the deck that well, and as I saw no creature I sided out Searing Blaze for Goblin Ruinblaster, which doesn’t seem that good as Koutarou runs Harrow in his deck, but Searing Blaze would be a dead card if he has no creature. Game 2 he has Lightning Bolt and Burst Lightning for my early guys, but that’s just not enough, because his deck is way too slow.

Round 13 or 14: Can't remember who my opponent was, sorry - Bant

A bad matchup at the end of the day. I win game 1 and wanted to be original for the last one, therefore I side the same way as I did round 1. Unfortunately after board I have to face Rhox War Monks and Baneslayer Angel in addition to Kor Firewalker, which is too much for the deck to deal with.

Summing Up

10 rounds, 6 good matchups (4 Jund, 1 Naya, 1 Valakut), 2 coin flips (2 GWx) and 2 bad matchups (WW and Bant). Well this is about what I hoped for before the PT. 5-5 is a bad result considering the matchups I played, but looking back at the games, there is just not much I could have done differently. The maindeck is really good, I wouldn't change it, but the sideboard can be improved.

Goblin Ruinblaster

I would certainly keep the 4 of them as it is good against control decks, but if you need more space you can cut 1 as it is not that good against Jund. Don't forget that against control, you often side out 4 Searing Blaze, so you need 4 cards to side in, like 3 Goblin Ruinblaster 1 Manabarbs.

Unstable Footing

Definitely not a huge fan of it. You might need it though, but I wouldn’t play more than 3 copies.

Dragon's Claw

I never used it, but if you believe RDW is going to be played, keep it in the sideboard.

Mark of Mutiny

I thought it could be good, but it's actually just a gimmick. 2 of them is the maximum I would play, as in the matchups where you want to bring them in you already want to board Goblin Ruinblaster too.

Chandra Nalaar

It did not make the cut, but I think it would be pretty good against all those GWx decks.

Quenchable Fire

Good against Jund, but is it better than Goblin Ruinblaster? Well, this time you have to do the testing, as I just don't know.

Relic of Progenitus

I've played no game against Open the Vaults, but maybe after board you could need some of these.

Deathmark or Path to Exile

You can try a splash to have an answer to Kor Firewalker. The black splash makes you run 4 Dragonskull Summit and 2 Lavaclaw Reaches. If you play White, you need Terramorphic Expanse and a basic Plains and can then change the deck a bit, with Ajani Vengeant and Zektar Shrine Expedition, though it would then be another deck...

A Final Word

Though I like this deck and I think it is quite strong, I wouldn't play it at Regionals as I expect too many White aggro decks, and generally too many Kor Firewalkers in sideboards, or even random hate cards like Dragon's Claw. But if you believe Jund, Naya and Vampires are the decks to beat at your next Standard tournament, you should give this deck a try. If I personally had to play one of those events, I would play a rather stable deck such as Naya, Jund, Junk or a good list of a control deck with Day of Judgment, or even White Weenie, as it seems fine against Jund. I know that leaves you with many options, but that also means the format is pretty open after all.

Good luck at the tables, and see you in Brussels!


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Deck Analysis with Level 6 Pro Yann Massicard


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