There comes a time in every Magic players life when
they must come to terms with a simple fact, or be
relegated to the halls of Casual Play and 0-3, drop.
What could this bit of arcane knowledge be? Is it a
proverb, a rule of thumb, or some sort of metaphysical
meditation? No. It's this simple paragraph:
There are three kinds of G/R beatdown. Fires, efficient
weenies with efficient burn (not seen sine Jackal Pup)
and the kind that rots of very smelly rotten eggs.
Let's put this another way. I receive many decks from
people, all well meaning and active in their chosen
religion or lack of one, who are new, inexperienced, or
untrained at Magic. This is normal, and should not cause
sufficient emotional scarring to justify suing me.
The decks they send me tend to look like this:
ScRuB bEaTs FrOm PiMp DaDdY 2o01
4 Avatar of Might
4 Avatar of Fury
4 Two Headed Dragon
4 Rushwood Elemental
4 Thorn Elemental
3 Rith, The Awakener
3 Darigaaz's, the Igniter
4 Seal of Strength
My deck loses. A lot. I think it needs dual lands and a
splash of Blue for Morphling.
This is not to ridicule those people. This is to help
them. I understand the predicament very well; all sorts
of big creatures in the collection, huge numbers that
equal the opponents life plummeting like a tech stock.
It's very tempting to stuff them all in a deck with some
lands and run around looking for players to kick around
like small Vietnamese sweatshop workers. You sit down
with an evil look in your eye glancing at the hapless
fool's deck. He wins the die throw, but that's ok.
Waiting will make the victory all the sweeter. He
Ha! You have him right were you want him! There is
nothing he is capable of doing that can stop you now!
Taking the top card off your library, you play. a
Forest, and a Seal of Strength. Won't that be a bonus
for your tremendous creatures? Look, Rith can attack for
NINE DAMAGE! NINE! And then he makes SAPROLING TOKENS! A
lesser man would wet himself at the prospect. Your
opponent draws, and plays another Island. That's it. No
huge creatures or creature pumping tools. Just two basic
land. This is so easy!
Needless to say, another fifteen turns down the road,
you begin to get enough land to actually cast some
creatures; he begins using strange cards. Cards that do
not let Rith come into play. Cards that make Rith go to
the graveyard before he can do nine damage. Your
opponent has a handful of these cards. This is not good.
So you lose. Well, it was just a bad draw. Surely
someone will fall to an army of big creatures today.
Then you play a weenie deck. Then a combo deck. A Necro
deck. Survival. Oath. Skies. Prison. Maybe not Skies,
but you get the idea. There are powerful decks out
there, and a G/R Fattie deck is no match for them.
And that's ok. Maybe you want to play casually with your
favorite cards, I hope you have fun, too. I'll bring my
R/G recursion deck.
There is hope for big creatures in competitive play.
There are a few problems with the deck listed above,
which is my creation, not that I own the cards, it was
just a mean example. I'm going to go over the
problems, and then the hope.
PROBLEM NUMBER ONE: Too Many Big Creatures.
Big creatures are fun, I love mine. But, by the time you
get over twenty, you need to have some sort of trick in
the deck; or else you may have some problems actually
casting them. If you take out some of the
creatures which are hard to cast because of the mana
problems, like color screw (Rushwood Elemental, the
Dragon Legends) or not enough land (Avatar of Might,
Thorn Elemental), you'll find your decks runs much
PROBLEM NUMBER TWO: No Early or Mid Range Creatures or
When all of your creatures wait until turn five or later
to show up, you have a problem. Many decks can kill in
four turns when nothing is in their way, and the rest
will take complete control of the game by then. If you
set up a defense or mount an offense in those first
critical turns, you will be able to survive long enough
to use the big creatures to seal your opponent's fate.
There are a lot of creatures showing up these days that
only cost four mana and are larger than most large
creatures. Hunted Wumpus, Masticore, Blastoderm,
Phyrexian Negator/Scuta, etc. all sneak out early and
begin eating your opponent's life.
PROBLEM NUMBER THREE: No Way to Break the Mana Curve
To break the mana curve means to either use spells that
get you mana, or spells that let you put creatures into
play without paying mana. There are several ways to do
this. The most common is to use Birds of Paradise or
Elves to speed up the mana. During the Urza block,
artifact mana like Grim Monolith and Thran Dynamo was
all the rage, and cards like Oath of Druids, Defense of
the Heart, Show and Tell, and Natural Order all have
their various uses. One of my favorite tricks is
graveyard manipulation. This is when you use cards like
Animate Dead to pull creatures from your graveyard
directly into play. They are usually Black, and some,
like Recurring Nightmare, are quite notorious.
PROBLEM NUMBER FOUR: Creature Pumping Spells for Big
This is based of the idea of cards that help me win
more. I understand using creature pumping
cards to save a Birds of Paradise from a Shock, but if a
Rhox dies to a measly burn spell, your opponent is
cheating. Black removal does kill most big creatures,
but Green never had a great track record against black
thanks to that wonderful spell, Perish. It would be
better to use those slots holding creature-pumping
spells for non-green creatures, removal spells, or mana
Now, if we throw those points together to make decks, we're
either gonna get another Fires deck, or this:
I Can't Believe I'm Doing This.dec
4 Phyrexian Scuta
4 Chimeric Idol
4 Hunted Wumpus
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Dark Ritual
3 Snuff Out
3 Vampiric Tutor
1 Fires of Yavimaya
3 Darigaaz's Caldera
3 City of Brass
Is this a good deck? Probably not. It may be too slow
against Fires, but Hunted Wumpus does take out
Blastoderm, and you have more removal. Rebels, same
thing. You can probably beat U/W control be putting out
two creatures at a time and forcing them to Wrath,
lather rinse repeat. But the ideal is there.
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day,
teach a man to fish, and he will sit in a boat and get
Not as inspiring as I hoped. I'm sure you're all
familiar with the real saying, and that's what I hope I
accomplished in this article. This was not meant to be a
rant or a critique, but a self-help guide, so that you
will learn and conquer. I will no longer be
covering any G/R beatdown decks I receive, since you
should have the tools you need to better your decks. If
you are truly desperate, try another fine mechanic or at
least make your deck interesting enough that I want to
I hope this doesn't sound bad, it's just a pain to write
eight articles about why your deck needs to be like
Until Crovax the Cursed replaces Hannibal Lector as
America's favorite cannibal, Make Mine Magic.
Still can't spell Darigaaz or Caldera.