I’ve been playing an updated version of Brian Braun-Duin’s R/W Wreck ‘Em deck with good results:
Here’s Why the Deck Is Good:
Chained to the Rocks. The ability to deploy a threat and remove a threat in the same turn leaves opponents in the dust. Stoke the Flames fills this role as well. Turn three Rabblemaster, turn four Hordeling Outburst and Stoke is a formidable sequence.
Additionally, Stormbreath Dragon is great. It demands an answer immediately, and even if the opponent has one, it usually gets in for 4. Protection from white gives immunity to Abzan Charm, Chained to the Rocks, Banishing Light, and Jeskai Charm; and 4 toughness makes it dodge all burn except Stoke.
Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid invalidate most aggressive 2-drops. Luckily we get to play Seeker of the Way which swings past Caryatid and takes down Courser with the help of Lightning Strike. Seeker is at its best in R/W. Lifelink allows for uninterrupted aggression, and early threats connect repeatedly when combined with Chained to the Rocks.
Chandra, Pyromaster acts as additional removal in aggressive draws, and a card advantage machine in slower ones. Again, Chain to the Rocks shines as a cost-effective way to clear the path for Chandra. Because Chain is so cheap, we can stabilize the board the turn we play Chandra and ensure she survives so we can start zeroing in on some value.
Lightning Strike and Magma Jet: sometimes they are great. End of turn Lightning Strike your dork, untap, Rabblemaster is a nice curve. That said, Lightning Strike’s stock is at an all-time low. It matches up poorly against Courser, Caryatid, and tokens.
Lightning Strike is a good game-one card because Drown in Sorrow and other sweepers are unlikely, so it is possible to maximize your aggression. For post-board games, it often gets boarded out for more specific answers.
Changes to BBD’s Version:
Two Heliod’s Pilgrims act as Chained to the Rocks five and six. Against the Siege Rhinos and Doomwake Giants popping up more and more frequently, additional Chained to the Rocks are very useful. Against other Hordeling Outburst decks, they provide a Nekrataal effect—Chain answers their individual threats, and the 1/2 body answers their tokens. I tried one Spectra Ward as a bullet to tutor for, but it proved too slow.
If the opponent makes it to turn six or seven, Hornet Queen is a big problem. It makes a mockery of Stormbreath Dragon, and cannot be answered with one card.
Enter Hushwing Gryff. The Gryff is an essential tool against Hornet Queen, Doomwake Giant, Sidisi, and Siege Rhino. It also inflicts splash damage against Satyr Wayfinder, Reclamation Sage, Wingmate Roc, and Eidolon of Blossoms.
In matchups where Gryff is good, you always want to draw multiple, so four is the right number. If I could play six, I would. Depending on what metagame you expect, trading the two Heliod’s Pilgrims with two Gryffs from the sideboard could be effective.
Scouring Sands is a niche sideboard card that I only board in against token decks with both Raise the Alarm and Hordeling Outburst, but against these decks it is excellent. And, sometimes you get a chance to shout, “We gotta reader!” It is tempting to bring in Scouring Sands against Hornet Queen, but it’s terrible against all of the other cards in decks that play Hornet Queen, and it doesn’t even answer the whole Queen. Hushwing Gryff is a much better solution.
Why not play blue for Jeskai Ascendancy and Treasure Cruise, or black for Crackling Doom, Butcher of the Horde, and Sorin?
RW(x) decks are not as powerful as the green decks, therefore tempo is crucial. Because there are no red fetchlands for Jeskai, blue cuts off access to Chained to the Rocks, one of our main sources of tempo. Although the black cards are good, playing straight RW gives us fewer enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands and better mana, allowing us to curve out more frequently.
Updated Sideboarding Guide
Abzan Midrange (No Whip)
Basically Hordeling Outburst and Hushwing Gryff are both fairly weak, but Gryff helps play around Drown in Sorrow, is decent against Rhino, and hedges in case they have Hornet Queen. I am aware it is not a combo with Heliod’s Pilgrim, but in practice this downside rarely comes up.
The most important cards to play around are Drown in Sorrow and Elspeth. Sometimes it is right to slow-roll Stormbreath for a turn in order to take out an Elspeth.
I am torn on Lightning Strike in this matchup. It is good against Sidisi, which is must answer threat, but weak everywhere else. I like to leave one or two in. On the draw, I often don’t board in the land because I will have an extra card and the game will likely go long.
This is our worst matchup, although it is definitely winnable. Erase and Chain are extremely efficient, which allows us to win some games on tempo advantage. Gryff is also extremely powerful, and sometimes they are just cold to it.
Siege Rhino is worse than Sidisi against us because it is easier to answer one-for-one, and Soul of Theros gets Chained, so this matchup is better than Sidisi Whip.
We have an abundance of cheap removal, much of which exiles, as well as a fast clock and four Stormbreath Dragons. This matchup is fantastic and one of the main reasons to play R/W Wreck ‘Em.
On the draw, the extra land is less important so I often leave in another Lightning Strike. Heliod’s Pilgrim is actually better than Chain much of the time because the 1/2 body is quite relevant.
This board plan assumes they will board into a more controlling plan with Anger of the Gods and/or End Hostilities. If they do not, I recommend leaving the Sarkhans in the board and keeping all the Lightning Strikes.
All of our cards are good, but we get the chance to upgrade our removal a little.
I encourage you to give RW Wreck ‘Em a spin—it’s a blast!
Get ’em dead,
I stream on Thursday evenings at twitch.tv/channelfireball