Saturday 17 November 2012

Simple RG Beats

Fires of Yavimaya
I think I have some unfounded mystical pedestal upon which I place the red green deck. It has always seemed viable or close to in every format, limited or constructed. It is generally quite an easy deck to play although cube versions are always going to be well above the level of the infamous Fires of Yavimaya deck. If anyone cares at all, the first deck I ever built was a simple RG deck with Orcish Lumberjacks, Elves, Tinder Walls, Ernham Djins, Lightning Bolts, Kird Apes and for some reason Thallids... This is a list of my most recent cube RG beats deck. It had a theme of haste creatures so as to make it harder to play against and provide good tempo, the latter of which is the main strength of the RG deck. Cheap red removal combined with efficient green beaters and a touch of ramp combine to be one of the best tempo packages an agro deck can offer. While some acceleration is nice it is very easy to go overboard and dilute your deck to much, you need to always be applying pressure and running out of gas by turn four because most of your hand was ramp and not gas is a good way to lose, usually slowly and painfully. Not only could the four ramp creatures I played all attack, I also included a decent number of other cards such as Overrun to compensate for having weak monsters in play. For the same reason as with the mana creatures you don't want to go to heavy on the burn as you need to have proactive cards in the early game. On top of needing to apply pressure and have a continued supply of threats you will have very little card advantage in the deck compared to most other cube archetypes and have to make up for this with high quality creatures.

23 Spells

Orcish Lumberjack
Llanowar Elf
Fyndhorn Elf
Orcish Lumberjack
Grim Lavamancer

Kird Ape
Faithless Looting
Lightning Bolt
Chain Lightning

Lotus Cobra
Scavenging Ooze
Strangleroot Geist

Arc Trail
(Impending Disaster)
Boggart Ram-Gang
Boggart Ram-Gang
Chandra's Phoenix

Flametongue Kavu
Garruk Wildspeaker
Bloodbraid Elf

Wolfir Silverheart
Thundermaw Hellkite

17 Lands

Raging Ravine
Raging RavineTreetop Village
Stomping Ground

Karplusan Forest
Wooded Foothills
Fire-Lit Thicket
Rootbound Crag

Windswept Heath
Misty Rainforest
4 Forests
3 Mountains

Impending Disaster
I have placed Impending Disaster in brackets as it shouldn't be in this deck at all, I had recently acquired one and didn't really know how to evaluate it or how to incorporate it into a deck. It seemed like it might work in this kind of deck but it is too unreliable and is yet another card that isn't applying the right kind of pressure. I would have much preferred either a Goblin Guide, a Devil's Play for the even more classic feel, or a Sulphuric Vortex. Seventeen land is highly advisable even without Impending Disaster as you never want to hiccough on lands and throw away valuable tempo. The cards are most effective when cast on or before the curve and the decks curve goes all the way up to 5, which is very rare for a non blue agro cube deck, and means you need to have high lands counts to make the most of all the spells. The man lands are a way to compensate for light card advantage but do mean you have a number of land that comes in to play tapped. Having more land gives you better options about when to drop your come into play tapped lands.

Flametongue Kavu
Faithless Looting is just an incredible card that will enhance almost any deck even without any synergies. It is so cheap and will smooth your curving early game while increasing your card power late game. There are some mild synergies with it in this deck but it would be good without those because of your high land count and mana dorks. Flametongue Kavu doesn't often see play as he is too expensive for most of the deck that might want him and a bit of a liability against decks with minimal creature counts which do still exist. In this deck he is at his best as he allows you to have removal and a beefy threat in one card and you have the ramp to reduce his clunkyness. Flametongue is one of the creatures that can offer the biggest tempo swings for his mana range which is exactly what the RG beats deck is trying to do.

Orcish Lumberjacks are generally called the Lotus Orcs by our group and still hold their cube slot despite having basically no other homes outside of this archetype. In this archetype however they are a brutally dangerous card that gives enough of a power bump to the deck to keep it tier one. Lotus Cobra is a little like a free ramp dork in the way that Flametongue is a free removal spell although not so consistently as it is so flimsy you often can't swing with it, either because it will needlessly die or because you need to have it for mana too much to risk its easy death. Even if you don't swing with it much it still counts for your Overrun effects and is a powerful ramp card with all your sac lands.

Thundermaw Hellkite
Thundermaw Hellkite was a card that I ended up playing mostly as it is still quite new and hasn't had that much play time yet. He performed the best he has to date as greatly impressed. Typically RG beats lacks evasion on its guys and relies on out meating their opponents to force through damage. This is not always viable in the cube where people can clog up the board incredibly fast doing broken things of their own. Hellkite will almost always do a neat 5 to the dome immediately often ending the game or take out a planeswalker and leave you with a big evasive threat.

Kird Ape may seem odd, especially over Goblin Guide however he is better in this deck than he seems. In cube 2/3 is the first golden size for a dork to be as it kills most other early dorks in combat without dying while being much more resilient to removal. Although this deck is all about tempo there are those decks which pack most of their threats in the one and two slot such as white weenie or agro black which also has the capability to burst out of the gates with Dark Ritual and the like, these decks with some cheap disruption and threats can put you on the back foot then finish you off with an equipment or a planewalker you can't get through to kill. Kird Ape stops a lot of that nonsense and will give you a good board presence early in the game. He is at his best against the other cheap agro decks but he is still decent against control and midrange decks where the utility creatures won't be able to trade with him and more removal will miss him.

The choice of burn to go in this deck was quite easy. You can phaff around with Grove of the Burnwillows and Punishing Fire but without ways to find them they are generally just weak cards in your deck and are far from quick at doing anything when you do get them. (It does make Kavu Predator more appealing and it is a really great card to have any way and sadly didn't fit into this list) What you want is cheap, high damage burn, for which lightning in the form of Chains and Bolts are the best contenders. Arc Trail is another attempt to get two cards in one, this time it is two burn spells rather than a threat and an effect. It is also a card that is very good at taking the early tempo which as I might have mentioned, is something you are keen to be doing with this deck. Compared to red deck wins you are going to be using your burn more to clear the way for attacks and slow down your opponent and less to finish them off. Arc Trail is weaker than the alternatives as burn to the dome but is stronger overall at killing creatures and so fits the bill for what we need.

The rest of the deck sort of speaks for itself, it has big efficient dorks that have an emphasis on size and aggression. The deck has little in the way of fiddling around cards, Fauna Shaman is not at all good in this deck as it is a poor beater and slows you down if you try to abuse with things like Vengevine and the Phoenix more often than just casting and attacking would do. Skullclamp is another card that might seem to be good for giving you extra gas and reducing the issue of many small dorks however it also tends to slow you down in your quest to smashing face with big monster. Huntsmaster of the Fells is high power but I feel he is not exactly what the deck is after. To make him into a serious threat you have to flip him at least once which can slow your curve. He is vulnerable and doesn't provide as big a tempo swing as the other 4 drops in the deck.

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