With the arrival of Thud in M19, it felt like a brew was needed. Cube decks leap in potency when you get access to good redundancy in key combo- and synergy-cards. My plan for the deck was fairly simple; make a big dork, throw it at my opponents face and Fork it. One of the only upsides of cards with "as an additional cost to play" clause is that Forking them is pretty abusive. This meant I could build a deck full of cards like Tormenting Voice and milk loads of extra value from the Fork effects in the list. In principle, this seemed like a great idea. The support I had for the combo was empowered by elements of said combo. I was pretty pleased with myself and rather looking forward to playing the deck. Sadly I got properly smashed - I won no matches,and only a single game. It wasn't bad luck either, just a pretty unworkable deck. Turns out even with all the synergy and elegance, too much needed to come together and it is all a bit expensive, hopeful and fragile. Some nice ideas in principle, that failed to come together properly. I knew the deck would not be top tier, but I expected it to be more competitive than it turned out to be.
Wheel of Fortune
Chandra, the Firebrand
Daretti, Scrap Savant
So, exactly why was the deck so bad? And more to the point, why did I think it would have a chance? Mostly, it comes down to it being a three card combo, when I subconsciously had it in my head that it is just a two card combo. I set my expectations… poorly. I built it somewhat with the mindset that all you needed was a Thud or Fling and the big dork, whereas you absolutely need the Fork effect as well. Indeed, the one game I won, my opponent had the poor form to gain life, which made the win rather more long-winded! For some reason, I just had the Fork effects pegged "as something the deck does naturally", which is much removed from the truth. It turns out to be one of the most demanding elements of the combo. I would be inclined towards a big mana deck, using Fireball effects like Devil's Play for the win, if trying to build a deck using Fork synergies. It might be a bit more mana, but reducing the combo back to a real two-card combo, and indeed having cards that do useful things outside of that specific pairing is going to be well worth it. More later on how to fix this elegant mess.
I actually ran Primal Amulet instead of Mirari in my testing. Don't do that. Mirari might be weak, but Amulet really isn't for this deck. It is a savagely bad top-deck, super slow to get online in the way you want, not that helpful for your curving, pre-flip, and doesn't have quite enough spells on hand to help flip it.
I would likely cut most of the interactive spells and board clears for my future attempts at this kind of thing, as they are not effective enough to buy you the time you need and they take up valuable deck space, while not assisting the combo. I would certainly cut Pyroclasm, as it cannot do any face damage and thus cannot be used to counter a bit of lifegain, or supplement the 18 damage Fling.
The best thing about the deck are the rummage effects. They are generally pretty good cards and they still scale very well with the Forks, even if the deck itself isn't great. That part of it very much is. It really doesn't get much better than flopping out Pyromancer's Goggles and instantly firing off Magmatic Insight. Who needs blue power nine? Pirate's Pillage is deceptively good as well. Absolutely, it is better than Wild Guess would be in this list. Recoup was another stand-out performer.
Here is a list of the cards I was considering using. The second chunk are all the potential Fling targets that I found, although using many of them would have resulted in a rather different looking deck.
Past in Flames
Eater of Days
So how do you properly fix this list? There are two ways to go with this, I feel - the first I touched on already, and that is simply to keep a similar looking shell with the ramp, Fork, rummage effects and burn, but replace the combo element with more and bigger burn. Essentially, just reverting to a Pyromancer's Goggles deck. While not many cards would need to change, the fact that you are changing the win condition feels like it makes it a different deck. Combo decks are defined by their win condition, as the support cards are so often overlapping with many other decks in large swathes.
The second fix would be to replace the artifact ramp with ritual based ramp and switch to a storm leaning, with cards like Past in Flames. This would be a much quicker way to get to a position where you could combo off. You would need to swap the Colossus for a different Fling target, but that is achievable. The problem with going in this direction is that you just have a directly worse deck than alternative win conditions using the same shell. You are better off running things like Sentinel Tower and actual storm cards and winning with those, when you go that route.
Despite all the cool synergies Fling and Thud might have with Fork effects, it turns out that in practice this route to victory confers no advantages over alternatives, in the shells in which you can frame it. Perhaps there is a direction I have failed to consider, although if so, it’s likely not a mono-red one! As far as I can tell, though, it just looks like any route to improving this deck ends up with you not playing this deck at all! In theory, this deck can pull off a turn three kill in one of the coolest ways possible, and sadly that is all I can really say in favour of playing it. Mono red, non-aggressive decks do some very cool things these days, but this deck is just trying to be a bit too cool. Perhaps a few years down the line, we’ll have some tools that make this deck viable, although I am not sure what such cards would have to look like.