Hello dear reader, and welcome to Mystical Teachings.
Hey all it’s Dan back again with another Deck Tech. Last time, we talked about Queen Marchesa and the subtle politics of subversion. Today I have another deck built on politics. The plan for this deck however, is to flip everything into the air and find gold in the process. Grenzo has two distinct and powerful abilities. He can either make your opponents attack each other or he let’s you play something off the top of their library. My favorite part of games with him is when someone says either “wait what does goad mean?” or “how are you exiling my stuff?”. No one knows how this card works until we’re about four turns in, I’ve played about three spells from exile and I’ve caused a few early creatures to swing at each other.
The most important thing to note is that we need to deal combat damage to get Grenzo’s triggers. We do this in two ways: We get small evasive creatures out early that consistently hit for combat damage and we go wide with tokens to breakthrough our opponents’ defenses.
We want to hit the ground early and start wheelin’ and dealin’. Our game plan here is very simple:
- Attack our opponents early and a lot
- Play the cards off the top of their libraries or send their creatures at each other
- Jumble together some sort of advantage from their resources
- Talk our way out of sticky situations
- Win probably
Getting In Damage:
We have a wealth of little guys that get in early in this deck. Most of them have some form of evasion. We play a total of 10 one drop creatures in this deck. 7 of which have defined evasion and three of which generate value.
These are some of my favorite one drops because Fire Shrine Keeper and Goblin Balloon Brigade are so obscure and useful only in this deck and having Bomat Courier setting up a second hand for us in mono red always feels good
We play 4 two drop creatures, mainly because we want Grenzo out on turn two. Our three drops are mainly value oriented and beyond that our creatures bring the spice.
Yellow Scarves Cavalry is another powerhouse in this deck. No one plays horsemanship. The Prophetic Flamespeaker draws cards, Tramples through chump blockers, and gives two Grenzo triggers. Etali is a powerhouse in any deck, it is just as useful here and it fits right in with our debauchery.
When our opponents start outclassing our low drops, generally by turn four, we need to move to creating tokens. Going wide allows us to guarantee we will get our triggers. The more hits we get in the less blockers our opponents are going to have because they’ll all be pointing their creatures at each other
Hanweir Garrison is a ridiculous token creator. It gives us 2 tokens for each attack and they are courteous enough to be attacking as well! This one gets removed on sight. Also transforming it feels fantastic. Chancellor of the Forge is a nice late drop that can refill our board and it has the bonus effect of starting us off with a goblin on turn 0.
Our final strategy of getting damage in is hampering or outright stopping our opponents’ abilities to block. This is where cards like Heat Stroke, War Cadence and Bedlam come in to play. These cards do zero work in any other deck but are all-stars here.
Heat Stroke gives your creatures quasi deathtouch. They are destroyed too but very few players are willing to trade their creatures for 1/1 goblin tokens
This is one of my favorite cards in the deck. It’s so strange. It is basically a reverse Ghostly Prison. Instead of paying mana to attack, your opponents will have to pay mana to block. Again, no one wants to waste mana blocking a 1/1. This one needs to be used wisely however. We want as much mana in our second main phase as possible
This card fundamentally changes the game. With it out we can guarantee Grenzo triggers and send the biggest creatures on the board at our opponents and away from ourselves. This card has a high chance of backfiring also. Magic players despise being told what to do, Grenzo gets the blood boiling and players will swing their threats at you as soon as they can, so don’t let em.
The first time I played this deck, I thought it was terrible. I focused all my efforts on the Gishath player who I knew would have good ramp spells and lots of creatures to send around. Then Gishath hit the field, trampled through my little guys on the ground and loaded my opponent’s board with a bunch of big dinos that I had zero answers for. I was in the game for about ten more minutes after that and I spent them scrambling to defend myself.
The key to this deck is managing resources and opponent agitation. We mainly exile cards to play to maintain a sort of card advantage and get ramp or tutor spells when we’re lucky. We want to spread our goad triggers so players are less likely to feel targeted and don’t target us as a result. If they have big swingy creatures like a Kozilek or a Pathrazer of Ulamog, we want to keep those annihilator triggers pointed at our opponents.
This deck is not designed to take out the strongest opponent. This deck is built to be threatening enough to notice and harmless enough to then be ignored. We want to have fun with other people’s decks and find some neat synergies.
With very few exceptions, playing creatures is something done strictly in our second main phase. Even on turn three when we’ve only got a one-drop and Grenzo on the board we can hit something spicy like a cultivate or a demonic tutor.
Do Not Overextend:
This is something all red players should keep in mind, especially with decks like this that are so susceptible to board wipes. It’s a good idea to keep 2-3 creatures in hand in case the board gets wiped and we need to rebuild quickly. A couple of our creatures have undying and Vicious Shadows puts a pause on board wipes but this deck folds to board wipes like any aggro deck that is low on draw power. Having a few creatures in hand generally allows us to drop them all post-boardwipe and start the rabble rousing anew.
Put this in any aggro deck with red. It lets us bank each attack that connects with an opponent for later use. It builds up counters quick. Having 10 is formidable but every time I’ve played this card I’ve gone up to 20 at least and often at 30. Being able to deal 30 damage to any target at instant speed is often a big enough deterrent to keep people from people targeting us with anything.
This card also shines in this deck. We’re going all out with our attacks and its always great to have our opponents join the fray. This cards main strength is the mana restriction. Any control player that lets this stick has to decide whether they play their turn or respond to one thing in someone else’s turn
Exile removal is the best kind of removal. 4 mana to get rid of any pesky Eldrazi or Indestructible Gods or a poorly protected Voltron General, the list goes on. The best thing is this is a threat on board and people are willing to negotiate their attacks if you promise to leave their creatures alone
This works fantastic in any aggro deck that has red. Just keep a red open when we can and you can refill our hand easy.
This is another card that works in any deck with red. A 6/5 for four with flying and haste is an absurd rate. The best thing about this is it attacks randomly so your opponents feel less targeted when taking 6 damage on turn four.
I can not over state how fun this card is. It speeds the game up and that’s just what we need. This deck runs out of steam quick. We want our opponents chipping away at each other as well. It feels good to let our opponents use their creatures for their best purpose, attacking each other.
Lantern of Insight
The first time you see a diabolic tutor on top of someone’s library you will fall in love with this card. It gives us the best targets for attacks and has the upside of shuffling away something we otherwise wouldn’t be able to deal with before it becomes an issue.
Throne of the God-Pharaoh
Every aggro deck needs a slot for this. It wins games, each opponent loses the life. Each! Our creatures are tapped already, having each opponent lose life for our tapped creatures is like gasoline on a wildfire
This card is finally catching on in red decks. It’s effectively a mini Insurrection and a board wipe that is uniquely red flavored.
This card is a bit of a sleeper hit. With all our block breakers we will be able to guarantee this card hits. It has double strike so it gives us two triggers when it connects, and its self-buffing gets out of hand quick. It adds the +1/+1 counter from the first strike damage on to the creature before it deals regular combat damage. So the damage done goes like this: t1: 1+2 = 3 total damage, t2:2+3=5 total damage, t3:5+6=11 total damage. Opponents will remove this card early and that is always the right call
Go forth and raise havoc,
This deck was inspired by the following Deck List/Primer:
All images belong to Wizards of the Coast