At Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, all 15 members of Team EUreka registered Red/Green Goggles. I was one of them, and in this article I’ll provide a guide to the deck that Brad Nelson piloted to a Top 8 finish.
Team EUreka’s Red/Green Goggles
How Was This Deck Designed?
On our first day of Constructed testing, we identified Bant Company as the deck to beat. So our efforts on the next day were focused on finding a deck that could beat it. This proved to be difficult, but eventually Pierre Dagen had a “eureka!” moment when, after some meditation, he came up with the idea of hybridizing Pyromancer’s Goggles with a red/green ramp shell. Without Ugin, the Spirit Dragon to take over, Ramp had to look elsewhere for a powerful midgame play, and Goggles provided that.
Pierre’s brew convincingly beat Bant Company, at least before board, and all of us quickly picked up the deck. Although the sideboard went through several iterations before we ultimately settled on a mix between removal spells and creatures, the eventual main deck that most of us ran at the Pro Tour was only 1 or 2 cards off of Pierre’s initial list. That was one stunning “eureka!” moment!
What is the Game Plan of this Deck?
The deck aims to quickly ramp into powerful stuff while casting removal spells along the way. A nearly ideal draw goes as follows:
- Turn 2: Tormenting Voice discarding Kozilek’s Return
- Turn 3: Nissa’s Pilgrimage (with spell mastery)
- Turn 4: Pyromancer’s Goggles and a copied Fiery Impulse (with spell mastery)
- Turn 5: World Breaker, exiling a land and triggering Kozilek’s Return in your graveyard
What are Favorable and Unfavorable Metagames for this Deck?
Good matchups are generally decks built around Reflector Mage or Languish. Since Red/Green Goggles doesn’t rely on creatures (as opposed to Blue/Red Goggles with Thing in the Ice or Red/White Goggles with Eldrazi Displacer) it can easily shrug off those anti-creature cards and go over the top.
Bad matchups include Red/Green Ramp with Ulamog (which ramps up to an even more powerful late-game, and does so more consistently) and decks with Gideon. Fiery Impulse or Kozilek’s Return cannot deal with planeswalkers, and although you have a transformational creature package to attack them post-board, early planeswalkers like Gideon are tough to beat for Red/Green Goggles.
The Green/White Tokens deck with Gideon that Steven Rubin used to claim victory at the Pro Tour is not a good matchup, so this weekend may not be the perfect time to pick up R/G Goggles. Then again, the metagame might cycle, and the deck may become well-positioned in a few weeks again. Positioning notwithstanding, if you like to Fireball out opponents for 20, then this may be the deck for you!
Let’s go over the cards one by one.
The Main Deck: Ramp Spells
You’re always happy to see Nissa’s Pilgrimage in your opening hand, so you want 4. It perfectly curves into Pyromancer’s Goggles and helps ramp up to your 7-drops. Unlike regular RG Ramp, spell mastery is easy to achieve, and the extra Forest can be pitched to Magmatic Insight or Tormenting Voice.
Hedron Archive ramps into a turn-5 World Breaker and turns on delirium later in the game. We also considered Corrupted Grafstone in this slot, but it doesn’t do these things as well as Hedron Archive does. There are only 2 copies because there is a limit to the amount of mana cards that a deck can run.
Goggles represents the powerful midgame engine of the deck. It is both a way to go from 5 to 7 mana and a way to copy every red spell you have. You don’t want 4 Goggles in your deck because it’s legendary, but you still want to see a Goggles in every game. For that reason, we decided on 3 copies.
The Main Deck: Red Spells for Goggles
Even without Goggles, Tormenting Voice would be a fine inclusion because it helps avoid the classical Ramp problem of drawing too much or too little mana. Simply put, Tormenting Voice and similar cheap card draw spells make a deck more consistent.
Once Goggles is in play, things get even better as every Tormenting Voice now yields 4 new cards. You only have to discard once because you don’t have to pay additional costs for the copy. This card drawing engine is tough to beat.
Magmatic Insight is a cheaper, yet more restrictive version of Tormenting Voice. It’s excellent on the turn you cast Goggles, but it’s weak if you draw multiples in your opening hand. For the last-mentioned reason, most of us played only 3 copies.
Since spell mastery is so easy to achieve for this deck and since so many creatures in Standard have 3 toughness, Fiery Impulse is perfect. Your opponent might feel good about hitting Sylvan Advocate and Bounding Krasis off of Collected Company, but a Goggles-fueled Fiery Impulse easily scorches both.
Sometimes you cast this on turn 3 to burn Kytheon, Hero of Akros and Dragon Hunter, but most of the time, Fall of the Titans will be surged. Between Fiery Impulse, Magmatic Insight, and Traverse the Ulvenwald, the deck has plenty of cheap spells to enable surge.
Against Bant Company, a key turn is when you have 5 mana: If you cast a 1-mana spell and pass with 4 mana up, then you can cast a surged Fall of the Titans for X=3 after your opponent hits Sylvan Advocate and Bounding Krasis off of Collected Company. Wrathing your opponent’s board in your own end step is a powerful line of play. Note that Kozilek’s Return plus Fall of the Titans can work equally well, or sometimes even better, in this spot.
Fall of the Titans plays other roles as well: it’s an answer to planeswalkers and a win condition in the late game. Once you have Goggles in play and have cast several ramp spells, many games end with a copied Fall of the Titans for X=10.
The Main Deck: Big Threats
Chandra doubles as a way to sweep the board against Humans and a way to deal with opposing planeswalkers. The zero ability can also help you cash in a bunch of Forests for fresh cards in the late-game. There are only 2 Chandra in the deck because there is a limit on how many 6+ drops you can run.
Dragonlord Atarka always provides a huge impact on the battlefield when she comes down. More importantly, she is an answer to planeswalkers that you can tutor up with Traverse the Ulvenwald. There is only one because you don’t want too many 7-drops, and most of the time World Breaker is better.
World Breaker deals with Lumbering Falls, Pyromancer’s Goggles, Always Watching, and more. Against control decks, you can rebuy it infinitely with Drownyard Temple. Against creature decks, it triggers Kozilek’s Return so you can sweep the board completely and turn the game around.
The “front” part of Kozilek’s Return is a good answer to swarms of tiny creatures or tokens, but it’s the “back” part that makes the card so good. Paired with World Breaker, it offers a 0-mana way to sweep the board (even if it contains big creatures like a 4/5 Sylvan Advocate or a 3/5 Archangel of Tithes), which can turn around a game completely.
Traverse the Ulvenwald is good at every point in the game. Early on, it searches for a basic Mountain, filling up your graveyard for spell mastery. In the mid-game, it enables surge on Fall of the Titans. And in the late-game, especially after you’ve cracked Hedron Archive or Chandra, you should be able to tutor for Dragonlord Atarka or World Breaker.
The card becomes even better after sideboard because Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Den Protector can (i) hit the graveyard to tick off the creature card type for delirium and (ii) recur Traverse the Ulvenwald for a value chain.
When discarded to Tormenting Voice or Magmatic Insight, Drownyard Temple helps you ramp into a turn-4 Goggles. It is also a great land to sacrifice for getting back World Breaker—this comes up more frequently than you might expect because World Breaker is sometimes discarded to Tormenting Voice. Either way, this interaction turns World Breaker into a resilient late-game threat against control decks not equipped to deal with it.
Game Trail is the best dual-land because it allows you to cast Magmatic Insight or Traverse the Ulvenwald as early as turn 1. In the late game, you still often have a Forest to reveal thanks to Nissa’s Pilgrimage.
Cinder Glade is also a good dual-land, but if you draw multiples early on, then too many of your lands may enter tapped. Since the deck already has a sufficient amount of green and red sources, we tried to avoid that fail-state by playing a basic Mountain instead of the fourth Cinder Glade.
8 Forest was determined to be the perfect amount. With 7 Forests only, we found that there were too many games where the second Nissa’s Pilgrimage couldn’t find enough Forests, and then we lacked lands to pitch to Magmatic Insight or Tormenting Voice.
Good old Mountain. Nothing beats Mountain.
In some matchups, especially against decks with planeswalkers, you want another.
Tireless Tracker is part of the transformational creature package in the sideboard. You need a bunch of creatures so that you can replace your dead Kozilek’s Return and Fiery Impulse against control or ramp decks. Moreover, several decks have Gideon or Negate in their sideboard and will board out their creature removal spells, which means that creatures become more valuable after sideboard.
We wanted all of our creatures to generate some kind of value so that Reflector Mage wouldn’t wreck us, and we wanted all of our creatures to be able to profitably attack Gideon. Tireless Tracker ticks both boxes. We also found it was valuable against Bant Company as a card that forces them to react, that ensures we don’t run out of gas in the late-game, and that blocks Lumbering Falls.
Den Protector fills a similar slot as Tireless Tracker. It is not as good against Bant Company, but it is great against control decks, where it can return key cards like Pyromancer’s Goggles or Fall of the Titans. Thanks to Traverse the Ulvenwald, you can also easily assemble a loop with multiple Den Protectors that return each other in the late-game.
Goblin Dark-Dwellers is another 5-drop, so you can’t have too many before you have to cut Goggles for mana curve reasons. It acts like a Shriekmaw/Silverglade Elemental/Mulldrifter/Caldera Hellion/General Tazri split card, depending on what you have in your graveyard, with menace as a bonus ability for pressuring planeswalkers. Note that if you “flashback” Tormenting Voice, you still have to discard a card.
We wanted extra removal spells against Bant Company, and this one worked best against Bounding Krasis, Sylvan Advocate, and so on. The Dragon part was largely irrelevant, but the instant part gave it the nod over Roast.
An excellent answer to Thalia’s Lieutenant, Dragonlord Ojutai, Thing in the Ice, Archangel Avacyn, and more. Against Town Gossipmonger, remember to cast it before they can transform it into a red creature.
This last slot was hotly contested, and no agreement was found in the team. At the Pro Tour, some players had Chandra (against Cryptolith Rite decks), some registered Roast (against Thought-Knot Seer), others chose World Breaker (for the mirror match), and some considered Exquisite Firecraft (against Gideon). Since Brad Top 8’d, I am writing this article from the perspective of his list with Chandra.
Tips and Tricks
- You can tap Goggles to float a red-copy mana, tap 5 lands to cast a second Goggles, add another red-copy mana to your pool, and use both to make 2 copies of Fall of the Titans or Tormenting Voice. In the process, you’ve even put an artifact in your graveyard for delirium.
- Suppose your graveyard contains creature, land, and sorcery. In this situation, you can cast Traverse the Ulvenwald and respond by casting Fall of the Titans. This way, you’ll have surge for Fall of the Titans, and once Traverse the Ulvenwald resolves, you’ll have delirium.
- Likewise, if your graveyard contains only one instant or sorcery, you can cast Fall of the Titans in response to Fiery Impulse for both surge and spell mastery.
- If both players have Chandra, Flamecaller in hand, then you don’t want to be the first to cast the planeswalker because it will just fall to two 3/1 Elementals. Instead, wait until you have 9 mana so you can cast Chandra with Kozilek’s Return or Fall of the Titans up.
- Kozilek’s Return always triggers when you cast World Breaker, but you make the choice of whether or not to exile it for 5 damage when the trigger resolves. So if your opponent casts Archangel Avacyn in response, you can opt not to exile Kozilek’s Return upon resolution.
- Against Bant Company, Lumbering Falls is typically the target of choice for World Breaker, but if your opponent has 4 mana available, then they can turn it into a hexproof creature in response to keep their land around. You can get around that by stacking a Kozilek’s Return trigger to resolve after the land-exile trigger: Either your opponent doesn’t animate their land and it is exiled by World Breaker, or your opponent does animate their land, and it is burned by Kozilek’s Return.
- Fall of the Titans reads “up to two targets” so you can target your opponent as the only target if there are no creatures on the board.
- If your opponent has Gideon and a single 2/2 token, then Goggles plus Draconic Roar (with Dragonlord Atarka in hand) won’t be able to take out Gideon: the second Draconic Roar will be countered because its only target, the creature, is gone.
- Fall of the Titans can target players, but not planeswalkers. If you want to burn a planeswalker, you have to redirect the damage there upon resolution. This means that you can’t target both an opponent’s planeswalker and your opponent with a single Fall of the Titans.
- You need to mulligan somewhat aggressively with the deck, as your opening hand needs to do something before turn 4. It could be a card draw spell, a Nissa’s Pilgrimage, or a removal spell against a creature-based deck. Mana-heavy opening hands are usually bad, but hands without a green source can still be reasonable keeps because the deck basically only splashes green.
Against many decks, the “combo” plan of Kozilek’s Return plus World Breaker still crushes them after sideboard, so you shouldn’t overboard. Generally speaking, if you don’t know what to board out, you can always shave a card draw spell (Magmatic Insight on the play, Tormenting Voice on the draw), Hedron Archive (especially when you’re boarding in creatures to turn delirium on in an alternative way), or Traverse the Ulvenwald (especially when you’re on the draw and can do with slightly fewer mana sources). Against decks with few 1-toughness or 2-toughness creatures, you can remove one Kozilek’s Return as well.
As always, your specific sideboard strategy should depend on what your opponent is doing exactly, but guidelines are useful. We had a big meeting on the Thursday before the Pro Tour where we went over all the key matchups and drew up generic plans. But right now as I’m typing this, I’m flying back home, and I’m talking to Thomas Hendriks about how we often did something different than these plans during the actual tournament. Listed below is how I would approach it right now.
On the Play
On the Draw
On the Play
On the Draw
You can consider cutting Dragonlord Atarka, World Breaker, Kozilek’s Return, or Fiery Impulse for the third Rending Volley, but this is a matchup where their late game is decent, so you cannot overload on cheap interactive cards—you need to retain enough high-impact cards in your deck to reliably go over the top.
This is a plan against decks without mana dorks. If you see Deathcap Cultivator and friends, then don’t board in all creatures and keep Fiery Impulse instead.
You are one of the most sweeper-heavy decks in the format, so you should be able to keep their board clean and never allow them to set up a Zulaport Cutthroat kill or a Westvale Abbey transformation. If you have Roast in your sideboard, be sure to add that one as well since it’s a decent answer to Nantuko Husk.
On the Play
On the Draw
This is how Brad told me he boarded in his quarterfinals against Steven Rubin. Sadly, it didn’t work out for him, but at least his mom remains a big fan.
Thanks for reading. I hope that my explanation of card and sideboard choices provided useful insight into the deck. I believe that Red/Green Goggles is the best shell for Pyromancer’s Goggles in Standard right now, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Standard is going to develop from the coverage booth in Toronto this weekend!