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Peasant Magic Decks - 2012

In A Teapot:
Using and Abusing Red Tempest Cards in Peasant Magic.

 

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the release of Tempest, an event that seemingly has escaped everybody’s notice. I know it escaped mine, and I feel kind of bad about it. The set has always been a personal favorite; those of us here at La Casa Siems have logged countless hours just on the Tempest block pre-constructed decks alone since October of 1997, and many of the commons have shown up in my personal Peasant decks.

 

And it’s in that spirit that I write this article, even though we’re almost two months past the official anniversary as I type this, but it’s still 2012, and still technically Tempest’s anniversary year. Besides, I have as good of an excuse as I ever need to talk about the best set of red commons Wizards of the Coast has ever printed.

 

Bold words? Sure. But that’s the whole point of living on the plane of Rath: Put up or shut up!

 

The Gathering Storm

 

Tempest is fifteen years old, practically an eternity in terms of Magic: the Gathering sets. I’m certain there are many players who have come to the game since that time who have never even played a card from the set, so for those of you reading this who are new to Tempest red, allow me to briefly break it down into three categories...

 

1) First and foremost, red has always been about the power of burn, and that trend continues here with creatures like Fireslinger (a wizard who taps to deal 1 damage to any target while also pinging it’s controller) and the classic tournament staple of Mogg Fanatic.

 

Tempest also boasts some of the best direct damage spells ever printed in Kindle (an ever-growing Searing Spear) and the board clearing Rolling Thunder, while the 4 damage for 4 mana Lightning Blast and the reusable Searing Touch aren’t slouches, either.

 

2) Red also has suicidal tendencies. These tendencies are stronger in some sets than in others. In Tempest, red is practically a kamikaze pilot.

 

I’ve already mentioned the self-destructive Mogg Fanatic, but let’s not forget Mogg Raiders, who get a +1/+1 for every creature they eat. The uncommon Goblin Bombardment will turn any of your creatures into Fanatics. The instant Blood Frenzy is a pump spell that requires the creature it’s cast on to check out at the end of the turn, while Jackal Pup, another classic tourney card, deals damage to you for every damage it takes.

 

3) There are also a handful of cards that red just plain shouldn’t have access to under the modern day definitions of the color pie. The aforementioned Rolling Thunder is a good example of an X-spell that would never get printed as a common these days, but also consider Aftershock, a Pillage variant that may just be better than the original.

 

And finally we bring it back to the ever versatile Blood Frenzy, a card that can act as pump for your own creatures or pull a Terror on your opponent’s critters. Blood Frenzy is so awesome that I could write an entire article devoted to it alone. (In fact, I already have. You can check it out for yourself over at http://www.pojo.com/magic/StrategyGuide/2005/june/6‑3‑1.shtml.)

 

One final point: there is much overlap between the categories mentioned above. For instance, while Aftershock will kill anything you want, it will also hit you for three points of damage. Hey, no pain, no gain!

 

Storm Watch


Now that we have some idea of what red in Tempest is capable of, let’s take a card-by-card look at the red commons and uncommons of the set. I’ll review the cards in alphabetical order, detailing strengths and weaknesses for each card as well as assigning a 1-5 star rating for each.

 

Aftershock: 2RR (common)

Sorcery

Destroy target artifact, creature or land. Aftershock deals 3 damage to you.

 

In terms of effect, Aftershock is strictly better than Pillage in that it can take out creatures as well as artifacts and lands. It does have the drawbacks of costing one more red mana and jolting you for 3, but you’ll often be happy to trade up when facing down a big, unburnable creature.

 

4 out of 5.

 

 

Ancient Ruins: 2R (uncommons)

Enchantment

During each player’s upkeep, Ancient Ruins deals 1 damage for each artifact he or she controls.

 

A red card that tries to hose the artifact player, Ancient Ruins is a strange card for a color used to outright trashing other people’s hi-tech toys. I can see a use for this as an extra defense against affinity decks, but personally, I’ve never had much luck using or love for this card.

 

2 out of 5.

 

 

Barbed Sliver: 2R (uncommons)

Creature - Sliver

Each sliver has “2: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.”

2/2

 

Man, that is a costly amount of mana to pay for a power pump, even for a sliver. Not something I care to pay for, but I suppose sliver decks don’t want to entirely rely on Muscle Slivers for an extra boost.

 

2.5 out of 5.

 

 

Blood Frenzy: 1R (common)

Instant

Target attacking or blocking creature gets +4/+0 until end of turn. At end of turn, destroy that creature.

 

To sum up this card in three words: the red Terror! Blood Frenzy looks comparable to Blood Lust for comparison, but it really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the +4 power pump is nice so long as you don’t have any long-term plans for your critter. But where it really shines is as an unexpected defensive measure to take out an attacking creature you otherwise couldn’t take out; simply chump block, cast the Frenzy on the attacker and laugh as it dies. (Yes, your critter’s going down, too, but you won’t care as your chump was probably roadkill anyway.)

 

4 out of 5.

 

 

Boil: 3R (uncommons)

Instant

Destroy all islands.

 


At first blush, Boil seems not to be as good of an anti-blue measure as Red Elemental Blast or Pyroblast, but that’s only because RED/Pyro set the bar so high. The anti-blue version of Flashfires, Boil is better than one would think; blue players need their island mana, and if they get hosed by a one-sided Armageddon...

 

3 out of 5.

 

 

Canyon Wildcat: 1R (common)

Creature - Cat

Mountainwalk

2/1

 

Dave Price ran this in the Tempest block deck he used to win Pro Tour: Los Angeles back in ‘97. An aggressive enough little critter, it’s underrated as a red sideboard card against other red decks. I suspect that if Jackal Pup had never existed, it would have been more of a contender in tourney decks of Standard back in the day. Maybe.

 

3 out of 5.

 

 

Crown of Flames: R (common)

Enchantment - Aura

R: Enchanted creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

R: Return Crown of Flames to owner’s hand.

 

Take it for what it is; a recyclable Firebreathing. And nobody plays Firebreathing these days. Or ever.

 

1.5 out of 5.

 

 

Enraging Licid: 1R (uncommons)

Creature - Licid

R, tap: Enraging Licid loses this ability and becomes an aura enchantment with enchant creature. Attach it to target creature. You may pay R to end this effect.

Enchanted creature has haste.

1/1

 

This card is a hosing...usually for yourself. Again, another card that I always thought would be more awesome in practice than it actually is.

 

1.5 out of 5.

 

Firefly: 3R (uncommons)

Creature - Insect

Flying

R: Firefly gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

1/1

 

A flying, red 1/1 with built in Firebreathing for four mana? On the one hand, it’s a red flyer. On the other, it’s fragile and expensive. I think that if I wanted to play with pricey red flyers, I would rather play with Furnace Whelp.

 

1.5 out of 5.


 

Fireslinger: 1R (common)

Creature - Human Wizard

Tap: Fireslinger deals 1 damage to target creature or player and 1 damage to you.

1/1

 

The original Prodigal Pyromancer, for one less mana and one ping at yourself for every use, but trust me. You won’t be concerned about the life loss when you second-turn drop him and start locking up the board in the early game. Yet another card Dave Price ran in his winning Pro Tour: LA deck, and certainly worthy of consideration for your own home games.

 

4 out of 5.

 

 

Flowstone Giant: 2RR (common)

Creature - Giant

R: Flowstone Giant gets +2/-2 until end of turn.

3/3

 

A surprisingly defensive creature for red. The Giant’s best use may be on the chump block, but I could see using it’s pump as a Blood Frenzy style play, too. Of course, a card like Fling makes it five to the dome...just the same as a Lava Axe.

 

2.5 out of 5.

 

 

Flowstone Salamander: 3RR (uncommons)

Creature - Salamander

R: Flowstone Salamander deals 1 damage to target creature blocking it.

3/4

 

I like this far more than I do Firefly. It doesn’t fly, true, and it costs too much, but it’s amazing how a little direct damage in hand-to-hand more than makes up for that drawback. On the downside, a five mana casting cost is too slow for red.

 

3 out of 5.

 

 

Giant Strength: RR (common)

Enchantment - Aura

Enchanted creature gets +2/+2

 

A classic enchantment that did see a wee bit of tourney play in Tempest block (Dave Price again), but still, it’s an aura. And like all auras, it’s fragile in the wider world or Magic.

 

3 out of 5.

 

 

Goblin Bombardment: 1R (uncommons)

Enchantment

Sacrifice a creature: Goblin Bombardment deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

 


The little combo engine that could! Often a key piece in cards that want to play the mass resurrection game with cards like Enduring Renewal or Living Death, it combos great with Blood Frenzy. Used by itself, it helps give you that final push to deliver the game-ending blow to your opponent. Pro tip: timing is key. Just because you can launch all of your creatures at your opponent’s head the second this is cast doesn’t mean that you necessarily should.

 

4 out of 5.

 

Havoc: 1R (uncommons)

Enchantment

Whenever target opponent successfully casts a white spell, he or she loses 2 life.

 

What I said about Boil vs. REB applies here as well; Havoc only looks bad next to other anti-white hosers like Anarchy or Flashfires. That being said, it’s not as good as either of those two options as it does nothing about white cards already in play, and a CoP: White hoses any damage your opponent would take.

 

2.5 out of 5.

 

 

Heart Sliver: 1R (common)

Creature - Sliver

All Slivers have haste.

1/1

 

Better than Barbed Sliver, because it’s cheap and has haste. This makes it great for the slivers, but just kind of “eh” otherwise.

 

2 out of 5.

 

 

Jackal Pup: R (uncommons)

Creature - Hound

For each 1 damage dealt to Jackal Pup, it deals 1 damage to you.

2/1

 

Another tournament staple, the 1 damage the Pup deals to you is negligible as he’ll be dead before he can cause you too much pain and he’ll dish it out to your opponent in the process.

 

4.5 out of 5.

 

 

Kindle: 1R (common)

Instant

Kindle deals X damage to target creature or player, where X is 2 plus the number of all Kindle cards in all graveyards.

 

The best one-on-one burn spell in the set, maybe one of the best ever.

 

5 out of 5.

 

 

Lightning Blast: 3R (common)

Instant

Lightning Blast deals 4 damage to target creature or player.

 

Lightning Elemental: 3R (common)


Creature - Elemental

Haste

4/1

 

Let’s talk about these two together, as they are almost functionally identical. As a creature, the Elemental is a target for tricks like Blood Frenzy and Goblin Bombardment. But with a 1 toughness and no trample, he might as well be a spell that reads “3R: deal 4 to a blocker of the opponent’s choice.”

 

On the other hand, the Blast is a true burn spell. If you’re only expectation is to use the Elemental as a one-shot shock troop (no pun intended), than the Blast might be a better option. But creatures are reusable until they die, where as a spell is a one-time thing.

 

Both cards are good at what they do (kill things), but you have to ask yourself if you really need 4 of each in the same deck.

 

3.5 out of 5. (For both cards.)

 

 

Lowland Giant: 2RR (common)

Creature - Giant

4/3

 

Vanilla. Waaaaaaay vanilla. But it will survive longer than Flowstone Giant or Lightning Elemental.

2.5 out of 5.

 

 

Mogg Conscripts: R (common)

Creature - Goblin

Mogg Conscripts cannot attack unless you have successfully cast a creature spell this turn.

2/2

 

You have to put some work into making this card shine, but 2/2's for one mana are worth it. Best in a highly aggressive, cheap casting cost weenie deck. Or as the rest of the world calls it, a goblin deck. (With that said, when you’re mana screwed, having it just sitting there on the board is a whole new level of frustration.)

 

3.5 out of 5.

 

Mogg Fanatic: R (common)

Creature - Goblin

Sacrifice Mogg Fanatic: deal 1 damage to target creature or player.

1/1

 

Yet another tournament staple, and maybe the best (common) creature in the whole of Tempest. He has been nerfed by rule changes to the game since the time of his printing (back in the day, he could tap to attack, deal the combat damage and then sac himself for another point of damage to drop 2/2's), but “Mogg Fantastic” is still worth his weight in cardboard.

 

5 out of 5.

 

 

Mogg Raiders: R (common)

Creature - Goblin

Sacrifice a Goblin: target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.


1/1

 

Not much to say about the fine young cannibals other than they’ve been a staple of goblin decks since 1997. Not so hot without other goblins, obviously.

 

3.5 out of 5.

 

 

Mogg Squad: 1R (uncommons)

Creature - Goblin

Mogg Squad gets -1/-1 for each other creature in play.

3/3

 

No. Just no.

 

0.5 out of 5.

 

 

Opportunist: 2R (uncommons)

Creature - Human Soldier

Tap: Opportunist deals 1 damage to target creature that was damaged this turn.

2/2

 

I love the flavor of this card; he really does know how and when to pick his shots. This guy was always more of a Limited card, but he does offer support to help kill big game. Most of the time you’ll be happier playing another pinger like, say, Fireslinger.

 

2.5 out of 5.

 

 

Renegade Warlord: 4R (uncommons)

Creature - Human Warrior

First strike

If Renegade Warlord attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

3/3

 

While I see the advantage of giving all of your attackers a power boost, five mana for a first striking, mass pumping critter is too expensive for red. I’d rather play Flowstone Salamander and pick ‘em off one at a time.

2.5 out of 5.

 

Rolling Thunder: XRR (common)

Sorcery

Rolling Thunder deals X damage divided any way you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players.

 

The best mass-burn spell in the set, if not the best red X-spell ever printed. They don’t make ‘em like this at common anymore, kids.

 

5 out of 5.

 

 

Sandstone Warrior: 2RR (common)

Creature - Human Soldier Warrior


First Strike

R: Sandstone Warrior gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

1/3

 

Also a surprisingly defensive creature, much like the Flowstone Giant, although the first strike and pump that doesn’t reduce his toughness makes him a slightly better creature on offense. He also makes for great Fling bait.

 

3 out of 5

 

 

Searing Touch: R (uncommons)

Instant

Buyback 4 (You may pay an additional 4 as you cast this spell. If you do, put this card into your hand as it resolves.)

Searing Touch deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

 

Let’s compare this card to its’ closest equivalent, Firebolt. The Bolt is reusable only once, at a cost of five. Searing Touch lets you return it to your hand for five, as long as you have the mana. Neither card is what you would call “cheap”, but they’re good in a pinch.

 

2.5 out of 5.

 

 

Shadowstorm: R (uncommons)

Sorcery

Shadowstorm deals 2 damage to each creature with shadow.

 

In a deck packing a host of shadow creatures, Shadowstorm is a Pyroclasm. Beyond that, it’s not relevant in the wider world of Peasant Magic.

 

2 out of 5.

 

 

Shatter: 1R (common)

Instant

Destroy target artifact.

 

Good ol’ Shatter still remains relevant in modern Magic.

 

3 out of 5.

 

 

Stone Rain: 2R (common)

Sorcery

Destroy target land.

 

Stone Rain is still useful, too, even if Molten Rain makes it look a little sad.

 

3 out of 5.

 

 

Stun: 1R (common)

Instant

Target creature cannot block this turn.


Draw a card.

 

A little combat trick that is admittedly more of a card for Limited, but the cantrip is always nice. Extra style points if you can combine this with Blood Frenzy and Lightning Elemental for the win.

 

2 out of 5.

 

 

Sudden Impact: 3R (uncommons)

Instant

Sudden Impact deals 1 damage to target player for each card in his/her hand.

 

I must admit, I never cared for this card, either. This is just my personal experience talking here, but even assuming I play it early game (I’m talking the first four-five turns), I never hit for more than two or three. Four mana for a Shock is not optimal. That being said, it does supplement a dedicated Black Vise deck nicely.

 

1.5 out of 5.

 

 

Tangarth’s Rage: R (uncommons)

Enchantment - Aura

If enchanted creature is attacking, it gets +3/+0. Otherwise, it gets -2/-1.

 

Not quite a mini-Blood Frenzy, is it? The +3/+0 boost is not worth losing your one toughness geek on the next turn. It will get the job done if you really need to push through your opponent’s defenses, though...

 

1.5 out of 5.

 

 

Wall of Diffusion: 1R (common)

Creature - Wall

Defender

Wall of Diffusion can block creatures with shadow.

0/5

 

See the above comments on Shadowstorm. Also, it’s a wall. In red. Red does not want walls. Red wants to smash things into walls.

 

1 out of 5.

 

 

Wild Wurm: 3R (uncommons)

Creature - Wurm

When Wild Wurm comes into play, flip a card. If you lose the flip, return Wild Wurm to your hand.

5/4

 

The stats on this guy are tempting; 5/4 for four mana! But don’t be seduced. Yes, he’s a usable fattie, but only 50% of the time! My recommendation? Team this guy up with Goblin Bookie from Unglued. Or better yet, use a two-sided coin.

 

1 out of 5.

 

The Thunder Rolls...

 


And finally, a Peasant Magic deck to wrap this up.

 

Frenzied Peasants of Rath 2.0

(Uncommons marked with one asterisk, rares with two.)

 

RED CREATURES

4 Canyon Wildcat

4 Fireslinger

2 Lightning Elemental

4 Mogg Conscripts

4 Mogg Fanatic

4 Mogg Raider

 

RED SPELLS

4 Blood Frenzy

1 Goblin Bombardment*

4 Kindle

4 Lightning Blast

1 Rolling Thunder

2 Searing Touch*

 

LANDS

22 Mountains

 

SIDEBOARD

4 Aftershock

1 Boil*

1 Havoc*

1 Rolling Thunder

4 Shatter

4 Stone Rain

 

This all Tempest deck is a revamp of a PEZ deck I created a few years back. (Hint: you can find the link to it embedded in the Blood Frenzy article linked near the beginning of this article.) It’s a classic aggressive red deck with a very simple game plan; go in swinging and don’t stop until there’s nothing left to kill or nothing left to kill with.

 

With twelve one-mana creatures and eight at two-mana, the deck can cast an offensive threat nearly every turn. One of the very first plays should be Mogg Conscripts. Drop him on turn one, and then keep casting creatures every subsequent turn. You’ll be amazed at how much damage they can rack up. Once the creature rush stalls out, feed them to a Mogg Raider or launch them at your opponent’s head with Goblin Bombardment.

 

Speaking of dying, this deck has nothing but 1 toughness creatures. Blood Frenzy can make any of your weenies into a heavy hitter, at the cost of its’ life. It’s totally worth it to play on defense, whether on one of your own critters as it blocks, or as a way to clear the board of an enemy blocker/attacker.

 

You don’t necessarily want to suicide all of your own troops. Mogg Fanatic is a burn spell on legs, while Fireslinger is pure board control, sniping at any and all threats to the board. Lightning Elemental is a fifth and sixth Lightning Blast, both of which are costly (and runs counter to my previous “we should run both in the same deck” commentary, but what the hell.)

 

For support, the decks sports eleven burn spells. Complimenting the Blasts is Kindle. The first Kindle played is some good all by itself, but it gets even better with multiples in the graveyard. Searing Touch is reusable, but never be afraid to use it without paying for the buyback. Rolling Thunder will clear the board in a pinch, or finish your opponent in one fell swoop.


 

The sideboard is designed to deal with a general purpose PEZ metagame environment. Shatter is here to deal with affinity decks, while Boil and Havoc hose blue and white, respectively. Stone Rain, and especially Aftershock, give us the tools to take this deck down to the local game shop and deal with nonbasic lands and huge creatures that a typical Peasant Magic deck usually can’t handle.

 

After the Rain...

 

To sum up: the color red in Tempest is no slouch. The set of cards offers possibilities for today’s modern goblin casting, burn spell-slinging Peasant Magic player. If you’re looking to add some “new” power cards to your favorite red decks, I would encourage you to give Tempest a try.

 

Until next time, I remain...

 

B. Siems

 

 

 


 

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