eThis week, we take a look at Red’s contribution to Premodern and how great of a day you can have while ruining someone else’s. As always, this is not a definitive list of Premodern staples, it’s more or less just hitting the high notes while sprinkling in a couple sleepers. I’ll leave it to the brewers to do their thing. Red gives us some wonderful options for removal, creatures, and combos. Let’s take a look!
Thankyfully, the only Mono Red cards banned in Premodern are Goblin Recruiter, Tempest Efreet (It’s hard to believe that ante was still a thing in 1995!), and Worldgorger Dragon (many abusive interactions that can cause infinite combos). As of the writing of this article, there are no multicolored cards on the Ban or Watch Lists nor any Mono Red cards on the Watch List.
PREMODERN DECKS THAT USE RED
I’m not going to waste too much time on Sligh. A decklist can be found here and most of the innovation is in the sideboard. Here’s a primer on how to play Sligh:
2. Land Destruction.
Instead, let’s start with land destruction! As discussed in my Black and Green articles, Mono Red is the Land Destruction deck archtype of choice, but don’t be afraid to splash one or more of those colors!
Lands in general.
One other Premodern legal spell worth noting is Misguided Rage. It has the same cost as Stone Rain, and tends to hit a land anyways, but has the added benefit of targeting the player, not the land, so it gets around Skyshroud Blessing, as discussed in our Green article.
Nonbasic lands like Serra’s Sanctum, Gaea’s Cradle, Rishadan Port, Kjeldoran Outpost, painlands, and manlands run at-large in Premodern. Mono Red has a particular affinity for destroying or otherwise rendering nonbasic lands unusable. The ultimate nonbasic hoser, Blood Moon, is quite legal in this format (thanks a lot, Chronicles) and has been a well-known problem child in other formats for decades.
Red’s enemy (opposite) colors are Blue and White, so most of its sideboard kit is geared at disrupting control decks or weenie decks.
Sideboard against Blue
Against Blue, Red disrupts Blue with Island destruction. For a mere (1) more than Stone Rain, Boil destroys all Islands, instead of just one land. Red Elemental Blast (“REB”) and Active Volcano are both flexible cards because they both destroy a Blue permanent but also give you the option of some other form of disruption. Also keep Price of Glory and Pyrostatic Pillar in mind.
Sideboard against White
Like Islands, Red also targets Plains, but focuses on mass removal of small white creatures instead of targeted Blue permanent removal and uncounterability.
Brutal Suppression, well, brutally suppresses Lin Sivvi and her Rebels.
Sideboard against Artifacts
You know what Red hates perhaps even more than it hates Blue and White? Artifacts! Boy does Red hate those pesky reminders of the past. It’s time we smash all of them!
The main culprit here is Gorilla Shaman, You even have your choice of calm or angry art.
The rest of these are situational. Sometimes you may need to kill one small artifact fast, sometimes you need to kill a couple small ones fast, and sometimes you need to hit the reset button.
Sideboard against… Red?
Yes! Red has plenty of cards that can win you the mirror. If you are reading this: you aren’t the first person to think about playing Sligh. Somebody already beat you to it. Learn to beat them by including some of these in your sideboard!
Finally, although some amount of Sulfuric Vortexes should be in your Mono Red 75 anyways, it really shines against Carnophages and Grinning Demons. Additionally, Guerrilla Tactics can give discard decks some pause and Price of Progress is the ultimate finisher in certain matchups.
Red’s chaotic nature lends it to many combos and combo enablers.
We also already talked about using Sneak Attack to cheat a Serra Avatar into play and “Slide” decks that use Cycling to trigger Astral Slide and Lightning Rift.
Red has so many ways to flip coins that, for a host of reasons, I will not get into, but here’s Chance Encounter in case you had no idea it existed.
Atog has always been a fan favorite and has been tearing it up by eating old Black Vice and cheap artifacts in the Old School 93/94 format.
Goblin Welder is a centerpriece to the Stax archtype, which excels at cheating expensive artifacts into play and rotating limitations on their gameplay.
Finally, we talked about the interaction between About Face and Tireless Tribe in our White article.
5. Slower Red Aggro.
Unlike Sligh and instead more akin to its allied color green, Red also has some undercosted fatties with negligible drawbacks.
We start with Roc Hatchling, our super secret Premodern tech. I mean, it’s basically Delver of Secrets. Next up is everyone’s favorite physically disabled cat, Scarred Puma. It’s just another Jackal Pup, but only if you are playing R/B or R/G Zoo.
Back in the day, Balduvian Horde rounded out the four spot, but Flametongue Kavu is arguably one of the most influential Magic cards of all time. It terrorized anyone for what seemed like a decade during Invasion and Onslaught Standard but then vanished into mediocrity. I also like Fledgling Dragon as an undercosted Shivan Dragon here if you are going with more of a Burn-heavy approach.
As discussed earlier, Red gives us the removal that Green lacks! I present to you, Big Red!
Edit: Yup, I forgot the artifacts. Add in some Phyrexian War Beasts!
6. Card Draw / Tutoring.
Mono Red typically does not have straightforward card draw or tutoring, and instead requires you to jump through some sort of hoop like discarding random cards afterwards. Gamble and Burning Wish are among some of the best tutors in Premodern.
Obviously, Red is home for most Goblins and many of the good Slivers, but did you know that there are other more unusual tribes to be played? They aren’t very competitive, but they could be a lot of fun for Premodern casual play.
Red is the color of Mountains, volcanoes, peaks, and the winged terrors that reside thereon: Dragons. There have been many Dragons over the years and there have even been an entire set dedicated to Dragon synergy: Scourge. Take a look at that set for some ideas, specifically Dragonspeaker Shaman!
Another tribe can be found in Torment: Barbarians! There are a couple of decent Barbarians, including Barbarian Bully and Hell-Bent Raider. Both of these guys lend themselves to Madness and Threshold strategies. The Bully is especially interesting, because he is either a 4/4 or a Flame Rift on a stick! Finally, there is of course the Lord: Balthor, the Stout, whohas since been errata’d to be a Dwarf Barbarian himself!
Speaking of Dwarves, Dwarven Recruiter is just Goblin Recruiter for Dwarves, and Goblin Recruiter is banned, so Dwarven Recruiter has to be good, right? 😦
Although many of the best Kavu are Green, the Lord, Kavu Monarch, is Red!
Unfortunately, hilarious art and flavor text are about all that the Orcs offer. Sorry!
The elusive Lizard people are not Dinosaurs and instead have their own creature type. They were always a favorite of mine.
8. Reanimator Targets.
The best creature that Red offers to Reanimator is Petradon, who acts as a double Stone Rain and a 5/6 bootie all for the low price of Reanimate. Destroying your opponent’s very first two lands of the game and putting them on a four turn clock can be enough to win games outright. He’s inexpensive and was only printed in Torment, so grab a foil copy now if you plan on playing Reanimator anytime soon!
I intend to finish the last remaining monocolored article (Blue) before moving on to multicolored (Gold) cards, but I came across something interesting while sorting through all Premodern cards that have a Red symbol in their mana cost. Bladewing the Risen is a great Buried Alive target alongside Reya Dawnbringer (discussed in [Premodern] Staples: White) and Crosis, the Purger. You can Buried Alive, Reanimate Reya, and then next upkeep Reya back Bladewing who will in turn resurrect Crosis! That’s three Reanimates for the price of one! If you play B/r Reanimator, you can even use Bladewing’s Firebreathing ability!
Speaking of B/r Reanimator, how about the spicey tech Search for Survivors? Search for Survivors is a very “unRed” card insofar as it reanimates, but very Red insofar as it leaves the reanimation up to chance! After a Buried Alive, and with this card still on the stack, you have a 3/4 chance of reanimating a creature. For three mana, it’s not great, but it is noteworthy!
Easily some of the best art in the game. So, so sic.
And now, as a reward for reading the entire article, I now present you some crudely drawn memes!
…wow… just… wow…
In general, Red does not have many impactful Premodern cards. Look for it to be either a monocolored hyper aggro deck or a complimentary color that either adds removal to the package or combos with a card from another color.
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