Hello and welcome to the CFB Deck Doctor! Today’s article is going to be a bit special. Instead of showing you my own brews, I will take a look at readers’ creations! Last week, we asked for your Standard brews. Among those we found most interesting, we selected a few winners. The decks that are selected will receive a makeover from myself and other deck builders here at ChannelFireball, alongside $25 store credit. While doing so, I will try to explain what changes were made and why, ending with an updated list.
Congratulations Noah! Your Red-Blue Heroic deck caught my interest:
As Noah pointed out in his submission, the interaction between Valduk, Keeper of the Flame and Cartouche of Zeal together is an impressive amount of hasted damage for 4 mana. 7 in total! And a creature can’t block! But that’s only the lowest upside. What makes it really interesting is that Valduk scales with multiple Auras and Equipment as well, meaning that left unchecked, it can the win the game on its own.
The other powerful thing the deck tries to do is combine Champion of the Flame with Auras for a huge early threat. Champion of the Flame can catch tons of opponents off-guard, and with a well-timed attempt to protect, it can win a game as early as turn 4. With these two plans being your best, you want to do it as consistently as possible. Going to from three to four copies of each card would be my first change.
Since this isn’t Modern and there are no good hexproof creatures in Standard, you have to play more creatures, given that they have a much higher chance of being killed. To supplement Champion of the Flame and Valduk, Noah has chosen to also include Slither Blade, Storm Fleet Sprinter, Ghitu Lavarunner, and Protean Raider. I do like Slither Blade. It’s cheap, has built-in evasion, and survives Goblin Chainwhirler. The other three I like less.
I like the idea of Storm Fleet Sprinter, because both haste and unblockable make sense with aggressive Auras, but the Sprinter’s power level is slightly too low. On its own, it’s an underwhelming card, and it doesn’t scale with Auras in any way. The best-case scenario is most likely to combine it with Consuming Fervor the same turn to get in for 5 damage, which isn’t even close to as good as Valduk is with Cartouche of Zeal.
Protean Raider doesn’t make a ton of sense. Given that the nature of the deck, playing a Bogles-esque game plan, you don’t have tons of creatures since you are trying to build up a select few. This also means that it’s going to be harder to have creatures to trigger raid consistently. The second reason is that Protean Raider doesn’t really synergize with creatures getting better with Auras since it doesn’t copy the benefits from the Auras. Copying Valduk is an even worse choice. That means that in this deck, Protean Raider is mostly here to copy opposing creatures, making it more of a good stuff card—something that doesn’t really fit this deck.
Lastly, Ghitu Lavarunner is similar to Protean Raider. Don’t get me wrong—a 2/2 haste for 1 red mana is great, but much like Protean Raider, enabling it is the problem. Ghitu Lavarunner pushes for instants and sorceries, rather than Auras, which your game plan revolves around. That means that it’s impossible to fit both components in the deck, and trying to do so will muddy the game plan, making it incoherent.
So what do you replace them with? I wish I could use Bomat Courier, but this isn’t the deck for it. The reason it’s so good in Mono-Red Aggro is because it gets a lot of help from various removal spells and making creatures unable to block. You could slam an evasion Aura like Arcane Flight, but that contradicts the fact that you want to sacrifice it later, making Bomat Courier a no-go. A creature that does fit is Siren Stormtamer.
Siren Stormtamer isn’t just a creature with evasion for 1 mana you can slap your Auras on, but it’s also a great complement to Dive Down. Siren Stormtamer applying pressure, as well as protecting your game plan, makes it into a multitasking beast, and you are definitely interested in all of its options. Remember that it even counters Settle the Wreckage, a card your Bogle would have a hard time beating otherwise. It’s sad that it naturally dies to Goblin Chainwhirler, but given its flexibility and power for this deck in particular, I think it’s worth it.
The second creature I’m adding is Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. Having an aggressive creature to put pressure on your opponent makes it so they will have a harder time answering creatures with Auras and will force them to react. Kari Zev is also a solid 2-drop that doesn’t need much help, which is necessary given that you want to cast Champion of the Flame on turn 3. The way to do this is either by protecting it versus a reactive deck or to cast an Aura on it right away, putting it out of reach from burn spells.
The last major change I would make is not a creature, but an Aura. Curious Obsession is the best Aura in Standard and is what’s keeping this archetype alive. I believe not running four is a mistake, because it’s one of the few Auras that replaces itself with upside and scales immediately. It’s fantastic on Champion of the Flame, Siren Stormtamer, and SlitherBlade, since they are almost guaranteed to trigger it.
With that being said, and some small number of tweaks, this is my updated list!
Red-Blue Heroic 2.0
Lastly, Noah asked for me to construct a sideboard. You’ll have to dedicate yourself to playing matchups and seeing how the games play out to get a perfect sideboard plan, but I can show you where I would start.
First, I would want more cheap interaction, since that’s something you lack versus other proactive decks. Without it, it can be hard to race properly, especially on the draw.
Additionally, I would want some more ways to counteract removal spells against reactive decks. Drawing more cards and diversifying your threats will help, since removal is most likely the deck’s biggest concern.
The Kari Zev’s Expertise is for the Mono-Green Stompy matchup. Since having the right interaction versus them can be hard, given that many of their creatures are so large, Kari Zev’s Expertise helps you race them. Taking Ghalta, Primal Hunger is the dream.
Lastly, congratulations Noah once more, and thank you all for the contributions that were made to the challenge. Sifting through the lists was definitely interesting, and I’m hoping to do it again.