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Taking another look at Big Red

12.09.04  So here we are in a new week. Sometimes it's hard to know what you guys want us to write about. But that's one of the beauties of the internet. There are a ton of articles to read. And there is a ton of information covered in those articles. That's part of what makes doing what we do difficult.

There is a theory that no game designers are TRULY designers. Most of them are "game modification specialists." The reason I say this, is because there is a strong believe that every game on the planet originates or is derived from a variation of Dice, Chess, Checkers, and Playing cards. True, dice and playing cards are "games" per se, but they are the ground work for the basic concepts. But the point that I'm getting at is that we write and discuss things, but sometimes there are facts that just repeat themselves. There's nothing wrong with it. There are just some concepts that never get old.

That's one of the reasons that I'm glad you, as a reader, keep coming back to Pojo. I've been writing here for years. Some of our feature writing staff are pretty new to all of this, but they are a great group of folks. I know in the beginning, when the Magic site was just starting out, it took a while for some of you to find us. So, we had to give you a reason to come here. We've assembled a group of writers that focuses on different things. Paul Hagan is the deck garage guy. Jonathan Pechon focuses on tournament play and competitive situations. Jeff Zandi usually breaks down the numbers from different tournaments and brings you deck lists from recent events. Ray Powers gives you info about the behind the scenes workings of the tournament system. Judge Bill brings you rulings and clarifications on the game of Magic.

With all of this going on, it's hard to find my place in there for you guys most of the time. I'm glad everyone still enjoys reading my pieces of work. I usually try to bring you a different perspective on whatever my weekly topic is. I like to open a reader's eyes to industry wide situations. I like discussing how to handle tournament situations. And of course every once in a while, I have to break down and give you some decklists and such. Otherwise, what use would I be? :)

Well, this week is one of those weeks. I was trying to figure out a deck that would be fun to cover that people haven't talked about a whole lot. So, I went looking and I think I've got something worthy of your viewing pleasure this week. Let's take another look at Big Red. Or if you prefer the other popular name, Ponza.

This is a list that I've seen many people playing:

3 Arc-Slogger
4 Hearth Kami
4 Slith Firewalker

4 Demolish
4 Electrostatic Bolt
4 Magma Jet
4 Molten Rain
3 Pyroclasm
4 Shock
4 Stone Rain

2 Blinkmoth Nexus
20 Mountain

3 Boil
4 Flashfires
3 Oblivion Stone
1 Pyroclasm
4 Shatter

This seems to be a decent list, but nothing exceptional. Other than Arc-Slogger there doesn't seem to be any late game measures, which seems can be a small problem with me. Everyone seems to know that when you go up against this deck you need to deal with Arc-Slogger. This version is also heavy on the landkill. This strategy is OK, but it doesn't hold a lot weight against a couple of different decks.

The landkill seems to be great against Tooth and Nail. They obviously need a lot of resources to operate. Also, landkill is a bit lackluster against Affinity. Every third game or so, killing one land can hamper them, but that's usually dependent more on their draw than yours. The damage spells in this version seem OK, but I would much prefer to have a Shrapnel Blast or two hanging out. That card can finish games all by itself. Back to the landkill issue though. It's seems mediocre against U/G, because many times they counter just one or two of them, and the rest don't matter. Against decks like White Weenie, they only need a couple. And many of them are even using Chrome Mox. This means you are playing catch trying to destroy their lands. And truth be told, there will be at least two turns where you aren't killing lands, because your mana will be spent killing creatures.

So here is a version that I would propose if I were to play it this week at a local Friday Night Magic tournament:

3 Arc-Slogger
4 Hearth Kami
4 Slith Firewalker
2 Kumano, Master Yamabushi

4 Electrostatic Bolt
4 Magma Jet
3 Pyroclasm
2 Shock
3 Shrapnel Blast
4 Molten Rain
3 Isochron Scepter

3 Chrome Mox
2 Blinkmoth Nexus
17 Mountain
3 Great Furnace

3 Boil
2 Flashfires
3 Oblivion Stone
1 Pyroclasm
4 Shatter
2 Scrabbling Claws

In the main deck, I added the one card that most definitely should be in this deck. And that's Kumano, Master Yamabushi. This guy is stellar in so many ways. The fact that he can outright burn things down by himself is great. Also, In the right situations, this card can keep creatures from getting extra counters and such. Because it removes the creature from the game, and doesn't put it in the graveyard when his ability is used. Also, that helps this deck become a little stronger against blue/green decks.

The land destruction cards have been removed except for Molten Rain. Since land destruction isn't a completely reliable strategy, it seemed safe to keep the best one of them all for the deck. Since for all practical intents and purposes, Stone Rain and Molten Rain cost the same for this deck, you might as well play the one that has a chance of doing more damage.

I found a way to pack Shrapnel Blast into the deck. In doing so, I had to change the lands to include a couple of Great Furnace. I didn't want to put enough to get you into trouble if they draw artifact kill, but it needed to be enough that you can use a Shrapnel Blast. That also brought in Chrome Mox and Isochron Scepter. There are 13 potential spells to use on your three scepters, so you shouldn't get stuck too often.

And in the sideboard, I didn't change a ton. I simply adjusted the numbers enough to include Scrabbling Claws. This is a card that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle over the past couple of months. This card can be very good with all the Eternal Witnesses running around. Also, I felt that having a ton of Flashfires wasn't completely needed. Most of the white decks you will see will be of the small creature variety. Pyroclasm will help you more in those situations that Flashfires in my opinion.

On a final note, I want to tell everyone that hasn't figured it out yet that Hearth Kami is REALLY FREAKIN' GOOD. It's great in multiple matchups. And this card is just super against Affinity. So use it wisely and don't under appreciate it.

Anyway, there's something to think about and something to play. I hope you guys enjoy it.

And again, thanks for reading :)

Until next time,

DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com

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