Red decks did not win the opening weekend of this Standard format, but they definitely showed their power. One total slam-dunk four-of is Runaway Steam-Kin. This 2-drop has the ability to attack for tons of damage and even add some mana throughout the course of the game.

Another new card out of Guilds of Ravnica, however, is a little harder to evaluate. Red decks have seen no shortage of powerful 4-mana spells over the past couple of years. Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Hazoret the Fervent were total game-changers, and are now gone. While we still have Rekindling Phoenix, Experimental Frenzy is threatening to shake up how we build red decks.

Many people were confused about Experimental Frenzy when it was first spoiled. When it comes to Limited, this is the type of card that can totally take over a game—or it can force you to sit there, having spent 4 mana to not impact the board while you get beaten over the head by Boros Aggro.

For 4 mana, Experimental Frenzy doesn’t necessarily give you any immediate advantage, and it instantly renders the cards in your hand dead. But, being able to play the top card of your library is a big advantage. This card is Future Sight with a serious downside and a much easier casting cost.

Frenzy is already going to be the top of the curve for any red deck in the format, and that’s perfect as you would prefer it to be the last (or close to last) card that you play out of your hand. Turning off the rest of what you have access to means that the top of your library has to give you production, but you’re nearly guaranteed to have that happen.

Experimental Frenzy doesn’t do much when you’re about to die, but it’s a great way to come out ahead in cards. By playing a bunch of cheap cards, and with many red decks running 12+ cards that cost a single mana, you’re very likely to play multiple cards in a single turn. You’re looking to kill an opponent quickly when you’re playing cheap spells as their more expensive options are sure to take over the game given enough time, but Experimental Frenzy can change that. Clearly your 2-power creatures are no match for a 3/3 on the other side of the battlefield, but if you’re able to consistently play multiples of them every turn, it won’t matter.

It can feel bad when you hit multiple lands in a row. While true, you were going to still draw those two consecutive lands whether you had a Frenzy to help clear one out or not. Games where you flood with your 22-land red deck can be hard to win, and while this doesn’t totally fix that, it definitely helps quite a bit.

I haven’t had the pleasure of playing much with Experimental Frenzy in Standard yet, but I’ve had it quite a bit in Limited. There hasn’t been a game I’ve played (and untapped to see another turn) where I haven’t eventually paid the 4 mana to destroy my own Frenzy. This is a great option and helps to put you even further ahead on cards. A couple of turns with Frenzy in play should leave you up 4-5 cards pretty easily, and you will still have the option to gain access to your cards in hand when all is said and done.

It’s going to be interesting to see how red decks are built throughout this Standard season. Rekindling Phoenix doesn’t play well with having a bunch of Frenzies in your deck. Maybe the Frenzy becomes a sideboard card, or maybe the Phoenix moves to the sideboard. The fact that Risk Factor was printed in the same set as a great way to deal some damage and draw extra cards makes things even more interesting!

Frenzy

Max McVety, Top 4 at SCG Team Open