Running the Gauntlet – UB vs. Mono-Red

Well, it had to happen sometime. Playing UB is all well and good, but at some point you do have to face the music, the music of course being mono-Red. I don’t think I’ve ever played a UB deck that didn’t have a horrible mono-Red matchup, and today really was no exception. To make matters worse, I was even going to battle Owen, who I tend to make a habit of beating in RtG. Hopefully after this thrashing he can stop claiming I always pre-board against him (I don’t, I swear).

As promised, I used the list I talked about in my last Running the Gauntlet. The changes to the sideboard should have been pretty decent against mono-Red even:

[deck]4 Darkslick Shores
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Ghost Quarter
9 Island
2 Nephalia Drownyard
6 Swamp
3 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Grave Titan
1 Wurmcoil Engine
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Black Sun’s Zenith
4 Dissipate
3 Doom Blade
3 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Geth’s Verdict
4 Mana Leak
1 Negate
4 Think Twice
2 Wring Flesh
2 Nephalia Drownyard
2 Steel Sabotage
3 Spellskite
3 Bloodline Keeper
1 Negate
1 Doom Blade
1 Black Sun’s Zenith
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Wring Flesh[/deck]

First, here are the games:

Channel LSV: Standard Gauntlet – UB vs. Mono Red

Channel Owen: Standard Gauntlet – Mono Red vs. UB


I won the first game (and match) pretty handily, but things went downhill from there. UB just doesn’t have enough of a clock, and particularly in game one, you just trade one for one until you die. Alchemy and Think Twice aren’t fast enough to really be a reliable source of card advantage, and tapping out for any six-drop usually spells doom. Wurmcoil is obviously the best, but even then, Shrine often clocks you for lethal by the time the Wurmfather comes calling.



[draft]2 steel sabotage
3 spellskite
1 wring flesh
1 doom blade[/draft]


[draft]2 dissipate
1 forbidden alchemy
1 grave titan
1 black suns zenith
1 consecrated sphinx
1 think twice[/draft]

You can definitely tell that I wasn’t happy in the video, seeing as how I tried a bunch of different sideboard plans. In particular, [card]Steel Sabotage[/card] may or may not be worth it, especially if you think your opponent is going to take out Shrines if they expect Sabotage. Likewise, I really wasn’t a fan of the Spellskite plan when he got to board in [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]s, which really won’t be uncommon among decks of the mono-Red persuasion. Obviously, [card]Batterskull[/card] and [card]Witchbane Orb[/card] run into the same problem, and I’m not sure what the solution is (without adding white, for example). In any case, I think that something like the above plan is close to what you want to do, but I’m open to suggestions.


As alluded to above, this was pretty tough. Between Grudge and my random assortment of sideboard plans, Owen beat me in just about every game. When I drew all the right answers, and in the right order, it felt pretty good, but it’s way easier for that not to happen than it to work perfectly. Again, I felt the lack of a real trump card, and a trump card is exactly what you need when you are talking about such a bad matchup. UW and Solar Flare have a similarly bad matchup game one, but they get to board in [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card], and that card is a beating. UB gets to board in expensive artifacts that just get Grudged. Yeah.

Possible Changes

Assuming that you don’t want to splash white, your options are somewhat limited. I will admit that the Spellskite/Batterskull type of plan is decent against the actual mono-red decks, the ones without Ancient Grudge, and that isn’t unreasonable. Plus, all the white decks have solid mono-Red matchups, so between the fact that mono-Red isn’t a huge percentage of the field and the fact that some number just won’t have Grudges, all is not lost. Were I to recommend changes, it would probably just be to add 1-2 Batterskulls to the sideboard, since they at least crush mono-Red if they work, whereas Spellskite is just solid.

Hopefully things turn around for UB, though I’m certainly not ready to pass judgment on it yet.



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