Peasant in Standard: Toasty Winter

More rambling

Reality wasn't invited to my 21st. He
knows why
Every time I stop playing Magic for a while, I begin to miss it. The cards, the social interaction, the limitless possibilities! Then Reality has to come along and ruin it all by informing me that cards are still more expensive than food, the last time I had the opportunity to play FNM was more than 6 months ago and worst of all, that despite the "limitless" possibilities presented by such a large cardpool, making a deck that is: 1)fun to play, 2)decently competitive and 3)relatively inexpensive decreases the ACTUAL possibilities down to single digit numbers. Reality and I are no longer on speaking terms.

Red, the new Blue
If you have acquainted yourself with Coldsnap since its release, you would most likely have the feeling that Red has been given the shaft. By that, I mean that Red is the colour with the worst overall cards in the set (at least for Standard purposes). That was the impression that I got when I went over the cards myself, and also after reading various set reviews. Still, despite the overall lack of power, I did manage to find several cards that are worth analysing and testing.

But first, the deck:

ToastyWinter.decMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Skred
4 Lava Spike
4 Seal of Fire
4 Volcanic Hammer

2 Scorched Rusalka
4 Frostling
4 Karplusan Wolverine
4 Goblin Furrier
4 Hearth Kami
3 Phyrexian Ironfoot

1 Path of Anger's Flame

22 Snow-covered Mountain

Assuming commons/lands are ~$0.25 each and uncommons ~$0.50 each, this deck should cost you about $AUS20. That may seem like a trivial matter to point out, but my local card store sells Sensei's Divining Tops for $AUS4 each. I'm pretty sure the Rusalka and the Ironfoot are fairly cheap compared to the Top, so if you ever want to make this deck, just sell a dual land!

Card Analysis:
What Coldsnap has to offer
1. Skred - I'm not going to repeat what everyone already knows, but suffice it to say, this is the cheapest, most efficient creature removal card that has appeared in Red in a long time (provided you're using snow permanents of course, which I am).

When not flinging them at her enemies,
the female Wolverine likes to use her
claws for acupuncture. Treated ailments
include sore backs, arthritis and mana
2. Karplusan Wolverine - attacking into x/1's with this creature will now be both fun AND safe. This ability allows you to kill the blocker long before any combat damage is dealt, first strike or otherwise, not to mention allowing you to kill any other innocent, bystanding x/1's, or even ping the opponent if their life total is low. All this potential makes this creature very efficient, and the fact that this is a snow permanent just makes Skred all the better.

3. Goblin Furrier - This is about as close to a Red bear as we're going to get, and with only 24 snow creatures in the set (of which less than 5 are playable in Standard), I believe this is a solid 2-drop. Any mono-red weenie deck on a budget should seriously consider this Goblin. Just in case your opponents do play snow creatures, an assortment of burn is available for your choosing.

4. Phyrexian Ironfoot - a colourless 3CC 3/4 with a minor drawback is definitely welcome in this deck, as all the other creatures lack the bulk that is sometimes required to break through your enemy's defense. The untap ability can become a strategic advantage late game. This is one creature that definitely should not be overlooked. I just realised: Snow Artifact Creature! More snow for Skred to play with!

5. Icefall - This is Demolish as a common, with Recover and a slightly inferior casting cost. The very thought of playing small creatures and Icefall makes me giggle like an evil overlord fresh out of a world domination seminar. That doesn't necessarily mean it's good, but the comparisons with Demolish should be pretty convincing. Definitely sideboard material.

6. Martyr of Ashes - I'm not gonna use the T word, but let's just call our subject "Terri Rhist". Terri is the modern day, MTG equivalent of a "resistance/liberation fighter" with an instant, non-player Earthquake in her backpack, capable of wiping the board on turn three. Trust me, I wouldn't be using awkward, real world analogies if this wasn't a good card.

And the Rest
Seal of Fire replaces Shock as the 1CC burn, primarily because casting it first turn allows you to activate the ability later for free. Another convenient feature is the ability to circumvent late counters when two damage to the player becomes more crucial. At the 2CC slot, we've got Volcanic Hammer, which is the only 2CC red card that deals more than 2 damage consistently. Glacial Ray and Surging Flame suffer from requiring more than one copy before it becomes more effective, and Pyromatics would require 8 mana before it becomes more efficient than Volcanic Hammer. It was either Yamabushi's Flame or Lava Spike, and with the Skreds dealing exclusively with creatures already, paying two less mana to deal the same damage is probably more effective in this situation. As a result, if you expect to go against more creature-based decks, then consider taking out the Lava Spikes and the one Path of Anger's Flame and put in one more snowy mountain and four Yamabushi's Flames. For those of you curious about the one random Path of Anger's Flame, it is possible sometimes to break through your opponent's defenses for 6 or more damage (two unblocked creatures), which is considerable when you're grilling them constantly with burn. Also, should you find yourself the unfortunate victim-to-be of a rather large creature, using this could also help you chump block into relative safety.

Frostling is In My Humble Opinion the best 1CC common creature, due to its flexibility and also that the activation doesn't require mana (unlike War-Torch Goblin and Kill-Suit Cultist). Hearth Kami is efficient and useful against artifacts (can't wait until Umezawa's Jitte goes out). Finally, Stone Rain and Akki Blizzard-Herder are part of the sideboard "land" plan.

A bit of Theory
A quick aside: there are two reasons why the uncommons in this deck are creatures and not burn. Firstly, there are few good, versatile burn cards in the uncommon slot for mono-Red. The only thing that comes close is Hanabi Blast, but the inherent risk of losing a crucial card only to deal 2 damage for 3 mana is too great. This is essentially an aggro deck, and as such cannot afford the luxury of not, well, being Aggressive by keeping too many cards in hand. Secondly, the uncommon creatures fill two big holes in this deck's weakness. The Lazy Evil Robot plays the role of mid-game beefy beatdown, while the Burning Girl circumvents a creature stall by setting your creatures on fire, and flinging them directly at the opponent. These contributions far outweigh any advantages gained by having (if any) more efficient (but one off) direct damage cards.


It would be terribly naive to think that
Red Riding Hood would go to her
Grandma's house unarmed.
Against Aggro
4xKarplusan Wolverine
4xMartyr of Ashes

Be the Control. Depending on your opponents' build, play Frostlings and Goblin Furriers to maintain board stability, but if you see your opponent over-committing, don't be afraid to cast and blow up your Martyr of Ashes. Keep your burn for the bigger guys, especially your Skred. If you find your creatures are just not big enough to break through, go into a creature stall and burn them out. Yamabushi's Flame may come in hand if you see possible reanimation targets (eg Dredge, Debtor's Knell, Firemane Angel etc).

Against Control/Combo
4x Frostling
4x Karplusan Wolverine
3x Goblin Furrier
4x Icefall
4x Stone Rain
3x Akki Blizzard-Herder

You've heard of the Man plan. Now feast your eyes on the LAND plan. If Ravnica has taught us one thing, it's this: Don't get colour-screwed. In this day and age of extremely stable three, four and even five-coloured decks, it's important to point out just how mana/colour dependent some decks can be. As this deck curves out at 3CC (pre-board), Stone Rain and Icefall can be put to good use turns three to six, once you've already played a few small creatures to maintain pressure. The reason I use Stone Rain and not Crack the Earth is due to the need to target specific lands to disrupt your opponents' mana. Akki Blizzard-Herder serves two purposes: to make the opponent sacrifice lands (or threaten to) and get your Icefall back via Recover (or, once again, threaten to do so). Recurring land/artifact destruction is fairly useful, In My Humble Opinion. Also, the Hearth Kamis in the main help destroy Signets, furthering your mana disruption cause.

Beyond Peasant:
Or why I shouldn't be (Surging) Flamed

Guerilla may have the better cards,
but I have the better jokes
If you want to make a fully Standard mono-Red deck, just check out Guerilla's article, where he takes the ideas of burn, beatdown and mana disruption and makes them work in a more competitive, albeit expensive, environment.

Before you go on the forums and flame me for copying him, keep in mind that even though the goals of the two decks are similar, the original purpose for building these decks were quite different (Standard vs Standard peasant), and if you look closely, you'll find that the two decks are also structurally different. Even though I would not have made the same choices as Guerilla, I do feel that his build is a fairly accurate representation of the power of mono-Red in the current Standard environment. Thanks for the good work, Guerilla :).

(Note: I want to make certain things clear here instead of having to explain myself in the forums later. While Guerilla plays MTGO, I do not. And according to the prices at my local store, Guerilla's deck will cost around $AUS80-100, compared to my $AUS20-25. Perhaps if he can make his deck for 30 tickets, my deck can be made for much less. So don't complain in the forum saying my deck isn't really cheap at all :p)

(Cheap+Overlooked)*Cards+Marginalised Colour=Fun!
If you don't understand the above equation, let me explain it in simple terms: this deck is fun! Not just fun, but also competitively so! In fact, if I may be so bold, I predict that this deck will NOT be an auto-loss against ALL the archetypes mentioned in Guerilla's article. There, I said it. I DARE you to prove me wrong. And by prove, I don't mean insulting me and my choice of cards. That's just bad form.

So in conclusion, if you want to play something fun and different (that you can make in less than 10 minutes with spare coins), then give this a go. There's nothing more satisfying than winning against a deck that costs 10-20 times more, and it's a testament to Magic that such a thing is possible. Until next time, please apologise to the ticket booth man/woman when buying a $20 weekly train ticket with half a kilogram of shrapnel.

Thanks to Yang for helping me playtest


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