Chandra’s Spitfire and Key Changes to Mono-Red

It’s All About Chandra’s Spitfire

Chandra’s Spitfire gives Mono-Red a whole new endgame.

Aaron Barich took down the first big Standard event of Core Set 2020 Standard with… Mono-Red Aggro!

But Aaron’s Mono-Red was a whole new flavor. While related to previous incarnations of the deck, the Barich build featured four copies of Chandra’s Spitfire. What a weird three drop, you might muse to yourself: But this isn’t just a creature that you might play… It’s a dramatically different direction for Mono-Red that preserves most of what made the deck good before, but adds a Pyromancer’s Ascension-like end game.

Aaron’s build chooses Ember Hauler over Viashino Pyromancer, and consequently, Skewer the Critics over Wizard’s Lightning. While Viashino Pyromancer kind of always burns for two (and Ember Hauler only sometimes burns for two), the ability to choose when you do this for buffing Chandra’s Spitfire or setting up Skewer the Critics is a big deal in this more strategic build.

Of note: Both Runaway Steam-Kin and Chandra’s Spitfire are Elementals. As such, they don’t die to the sweeping [-3] of Chandra, Awakened Inferno.

Ember Hauler versus Viashino Pyromancer

Ember Hauler costs RR instead of R1… Which isn’t an issue in a deck with literally 20 basic Mountains.

The ability to deal two damage to a creature is of course an upgrade over Viashino Pyromancer’s 187 ability.

The downside, of course, is that Viashino Pyromancer always hits, and “hits” even if it would die in combat or to removal. That’s not necessarily true for Ember Hauler. Under Sixth Edition rules, Ember Hauler would have had the benefit of “damage on the stack” … But those rules haven’t been in play for years. If Ember Hauler is going to trade with something in combat, it will not also be able to deal its extra two.

There are pros and cons to both two drops. Ember Hauler is a little better with Skewer the Critics and Chandra’s Spitfire. Viashino Pyromancer is a little better at loading up damage against Planeswalkers.

The tiebreaker?

2/2 versus 2/1!

The second toughness on Ember Hauler, combined with the presence of the three-toughness Spitfire, makes Aaron’s Red Deck a bit more resilient against other people’s Goblin Chainwhirlers.

And that’s not a small thing if Mono-Red is once again Standard’s early leader…

But Don’t Sleep on Cerulean Drake…

Cerulean Drake is absolutely incredible against Mono-Red.

It’s like a Sea Sprite — and Sea Sprite was a legendary sideboard card against Deadguy Red “back in the day” — but has an additional ability!

Cerulean Drake’s most important function in the modern age is being able to wear a Curious Obsession. Decks that only have red removal (like Mono-Red, but probably not only Mono-Red) will probably just lose to that two-card combo.

But Cerulean Drake can be played in more than just Mono-Blue Tempo! This card seems like an outstanding sideboard card for Esper Control. Not only will it buy you a ton of time and life against the hated Mono-Red deck… It’s outstanding for Planeswalker defense!

Putting it All Together…

Patrick thinks the Mono-Red deck may want to be splashing green in the longer term.

Cindervines is one of the best sideboard cards in the format; and a great tool if Wilderness Reclamation decks return to popularity.

But maybe more importantly? Kraul Harpooner to knock Cerulean Drake out of the sky!

For more sick tech like this, listen up to this week’s podcast now!

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We are ALL ABOUT this New Nightpack Ambusher Deck

Meet Nightpack Ambusher from M20:


2GG
Creature – Wolf
Flash
Other Wolves and Werewolves you control get +1/+1.
At the beginning of your end step, if you didn’t cast a spell this turn, create a 2/2 green Wolf creature token.
4/4

It’s all about the Risen Ree… Err… Breeding Pool

The new Standard is chock full of awesome new Breeding Pool decks. Big mana ramp is giving our old buddy Hydrod Krasis new life.

Risen Reef is appearing in a variety of Temur Elementals decks, slapping palms with two different types of M20 Chandra, going wide, and going tall.

There is an unbelievable new Simic Deck with an infinite combo driven by Drawn from Dreams. Imagine having four permanents in play and then free-playing Omniscience (and everything else you might want to do right after). Mike thought this was going to be his favorite deck — or at least Simic deck — of the week.

That is, until Patrick introduced him to Nightpack Ambusher.

Nightpack Ambusher in Simic Flash

We’ve seen Azorius Flash decks for years… But URZA2109 gave us a sweet new Simic deck… That plays almost entirely on the opponent’s turn!

Check out this lineup:

  • Brineborn Cutthroat – Flash… And a ton of upside based on your other 16 flash guys (and permission)
  • Frilled Mystic – Flash… That utterly destroys last season’s crop of “big spell” decks
  • Merfolk Trickster – Flash (and flashy)
  • Spectral Sailor – Flash; flashy on one… and really flashy on five (Whispers of the Muse, anyone?)

The unbelievable beauty of Nightpack Ambusher in this deck is that you almost never cast anything on your own turn. The only card in the entire main deck that plays main phase is Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer. That means that — unless something is going waaaaay wrong — you are making a 3/3 Wolf every turn.

With 10 permission spells (and 3 Unsummons for those Frilled Mystics) this is a tough setup to beat once you get the big Wolf down.

Shifting Ceratops Ain’t no Slouch, Neither

URZA2109 put together a heck of a sideboard. All these cards are great; but the Core Set 2020 additions are super great!

There are already four Shifting Ceratops to kill Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to death (with haste); we just think a fourth Aether Gust might make sense… To counter other players’ Shifting Ceratops 😉

There were a ton of new Core Set 2020 decks revealed this week, from B/W Vampires to Jund Dinosaurs. Check them all out now!

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Goblin Engineer in All the New Modern Stuff

Goblin Engineer

Goblin Engineer

Creature – Goblin

When Goblin Engineer enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an artifact card, put it in your graveyard, then shuffle your library.

{R}, {T}, Sacrifice an artifact: Return target artifact card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.

1/2

Goblin Engineer in Grixis Urza

… Mike initially thought (from the deck title) that this was a newfangled color combination for the classic Modern UrzaTron shell… Turns out it’s an all-new infinite combo deck!

The “Grixis” part just refers to some black mana to activate Nihil Spellbomb or hard-cast your Leyline of the Void after sideboarding.

Here, Goblin Engineer does a Stoneforge Mystic Impression, when you… Get your Sword of the Meek!

Sword of the Meek

In fact, Goblin Engineer puts the Sword right where you want it… In the graveyard! If you naturally draw a Thopter Foundry you have a soft lock already.

Adding Urza, Lord High Artificer to an Already Established Combination…

… Makes it “boundless” according to Patrick.

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek can already make lots of tokens and life points based on how many times you can produce one mana. Urza’s ability to turn every incoming 1/1 token into a blue-producing Llanowar Elves means you can make… lots.

This is to say nothing of the Construct that comes in and gets buffed for all the artifacts you have.

Not only are there multiple different flavors of Urza, Lord High Artificer decks emerging in Modern… There are distinct new Goblin Engineer ones, too!

Example: Goblin Engineer in Rakdos Prison

What if you use your Goblin Engineer to get essentially just Ensnaring Bridge and Nihil Spellbomb.

Did you notice that Nihil Spellbomb can pay you back for being sacrificed to Goblin Engineer if you have a spare black mana? Mondo combo or what?

Combine with Karn, the Great Creator and you have an all-new Modern deck!

Don’t look now, but Karn might just search up a Snare Thopter. Yes, that Snare Thopter. Not quite a Slash Panther; or kind of a Bloodbraid Elf without the Cascade, Snare Thopter is… Certainly a creature you could potentially get with your Karn.

There are so many things going in on Modern due to War of the Spark and Modern Horizons we couldn’t really write about all of them here… But we probably talked about most of them. Was all that Hogaak worry overblown? Is Izzet Phoenix still a top contender? Is Mike’s beloved Burn still viable at all?

Find out in this week’s podcast:

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