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Sligh Primer
By Oscar Tan aka Rakso
BURN AND SLIGH PRIMER
Revised April 5, 2001
Oscar Tan aka Rakso
Type I Maintainer, www.bdominia.com
Moderator, badmagictech@yahoogroups.com
Manila, Philippines

(Note: The T1 Goblin Burn Primer was the first primer written for Beyond Dominia’s archive, and was originally intended as a brief description of a casual burn deck. Following the success and utility of the primers, this one was revised and expanded to discuss the more competitive Sligh decks. However, because the primers are intended primarily for beginners, the primer will still discuss the more homogenous burn strategy before moving to Sligh. This is to give beginners a firm foundation on the use of red’s burn spells before expanding the discussion. Experienced players more interested in the Sligh discussion are advised to skip the entire first part.)


PART I: THE BURN DECK

(Note: Because the purpose of this section is to orient beginners with the intelligent use of burn spells only to tell them at the end that burn spells alone cannot win games, it has been written from a casual player’s perspective. To date, there has been no successful competitive pure burn deck in Type I.)

Beginning players are often attracted to simple but fun decks. Many players, at one point, have fallen in love with a pure red deck and the idea of casting damage spells straight at the opponent without paying attention to the complexities of creature combat. Such decks are called burn decks for obvious reasons.

Imagine playing a deck that does this (numbers in parenthesis track the opponent’s life total):
Turn 1: Mountain, Mogg Fanatic
Turn 2: Mountain, Attack (19), Chain Lightning (16), Lightning Bolt (13)
Turn 3: Mountain, Attack (12), Goblin Grenade (7), Fork (2), Fireblast (-2)

This, clearly, is what is meant by “burnt to a crisp” in Magic.


RAKSO’S CASUAL GOBLIN BURN
Burn (25)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Incinerate
4 Chain Lightning
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Ball Lightning
4 Fireblast
1 Fork

Goblins (10)
2 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Mogg Fanatic (at least 2 become Vandals when Zuran Orb is expected)

Card Drawing (5)
4 Cursed Scroll
1 Wheel of Fortune

Mana (20)
20 Mountain


THE INTELLIGENT USE OF “MINDLESS” BURN SPELLS

Normally, one does not play a Lightning Bolt one has just drawn on one’s opponent; one instead holds it in hand until a Hypnotic Specter or other threat appears. (The exception to this simple rule is, of course, when that Lightning Bolt will finish off the opponent.) Normal decks play cheap creatures to attack the opponent’s life total and hoard their burn spells to defend against the opponent's creatures.

The burn deck, however, is not normal. Because almost half the deck consists of direct damage, one should realize that one will steadily draw more burn. While waiting, burn players should therefore use their mana to begin bolting the opponent with seeming recklessness, rather than wait to accumulate 20 points of damage before beginning to unload.

If one has more than two Chain Lightnings, Ininerates or Lightning Bolts in hand, fire them off (in that order, unless you want to save Incinerate because you expect a regenerator). This also has to be done because you need to empty your hand for the Cursed Scrolls and Wheel of Fortune. Chain Lightning is used first because it is a sorcery and is the most inflexible spell.

The only other rule is to play instant spells during the opponent’s end of turn, to give one flexibility in case a new target presents itself.

The other burn spells (Fireblast and Goblin Grenade) are finishers and should be played more cautiously, especially if one expects a counter, as these require sacrifices of resources. In general, for example, one should not sacrifice his Goblin to a Grenade unless the opponent is down to five life or unless the Goblin cannot attack due to blockers anyway. The Goblin can still deal damage before the finishing blow, and every point counts.

Be careful about attacking with your lone goblin when you have a Grenade in hand, however, as the opponent may destroy it during the attack phase. In your main phase, your opponent cannot prevent you from casting the Goblin Grenade by removing the goblin because of the nature of the sacrifice. This means that you can cast a goblin then the Grenade without giving the opponent an opportunity to Bolt the goblin (you have priority and the goblin cannot be bolted before it enters play).

Ball Lightnings are considered burn spells as they die after a turn and deal 6 of the required 20 points for only 1 card and 3 mana. Cast them at the first opportunity, in general, as they cannot be played outside your main phase. One would hold back only if the opponent has creature removal or counters in hand, and then waits for the opponent to tap out or some other opening. (Note that Ball Lightning’s triple red mana cost requires close attention to the land count. Decks without Ball Lightning and Cursed Scroll can afford to have a mana count as low as 18.)

The Fork, finally, doubles any of your finishers or copies a Lightning Bolt in a pinch. Note that one need not pay the cost again when Forking a Grenade or Fireblast, and tapping two Mountains before casting Fireblast and then Forking the Fireblast makes for a stylish finish. Fork can also copy the range of Type I spells from Demonic Tutor to Ancestral Recall to Disenchant, but note that under the Sixth Edition rules, it also copies counterspells.


The strategy of this deck is simple when facing a creatureless deck: blast with everything as fast as you can.

Against a creature-heavy deck, however, one should also hold back from bolting every creature the opponent plays. If one is not in danger of dying, save the direct damage for the opponent. This is especially true if the opponent plays creatures that cannot block, such as Rath cycle shadow creatures. If, however, the opponent can block, one should burn the only creatures if this clears the way for one’s own attack. Bolting an opposing White Knight so that one’s Goblin Patrol or Ball Lightning can attack is usually worth the sacrifice of 3 potential damage. However, if the opponent has too many blockers (such as three walls), concentrate on the opponent as you only draw one card each turn and every point of damage counts. Exchanging a burn spell for a wall slows one down and is often a losing proposition.

When one is in danger of dying soon and does not have enough damage in hand, calculated risks must be taken. Suppose one has a Mogg Fanatic on the board, only a Goblin Grenade in hand and 10 life, and the opponent is at 8 life and plays a Juzam Djinn. Using the Grenade on the Djinn is the safe option, but the opponent may recover at any time. However, in the two turns one has left, one may draw any of the many direct damage spells to deal the last 3 damage, so one may be better off waiting. In making these calculations, one should consider the opponent’s direct damage, whether other bolts, Psionic Blast, Drain Life or even Berserk and Army of Allah. When one is about to lose, however, one has no choice even if one has to Fireblast 1/1 Elves.

Finally, when an opponent is playing with counters, the game turns into a bluffing match. The cheap instant bolts become crucial as an opponent is watching for the 4 to 6 damage cards. In general, bolt the opponent after the end of his turn. If he counters (or taps mana to cast something on his turn), this reduces the chance of his countering the Fireblast, Grenade or Ball Lightning on your turn. If he does not counter, you have dealt 3 damage and repeat your patient assaults next turn. Note that it is more expensive for him to counter than it is for you to cast damage spells, so you can easily execute this patient bluff strategy and hold back a few turns to increase your hand size so that you can cast three to five spells in one turn, overwhelming the opponent.

Note that one should not fear the matchup against a pure counterspell deck. In the pre-Urza’s Saga Type II, the mono blue deck had inherent weaknesses against the aggressive mono red. It had more land than the latter, making for weaker draws, and it had to compensate by tapping out to draw with Whispers of the Muse, leaving an opening for instant direct damage. Furthermore, it had difficulty with first-turn creatures (especially Jackal Pup). Finally, if a Cursed Scroll slipped through, it could counter every spell but still lose when the red player emptied his hand. In modern Type I play, one may have to be more aggressive and time spells more carefully because Fact or Fiction is a stronger card drawer and Powder Keg sweeps away small creatures and Cursed Scroll. However, the blue player will still have about 1 counter for every 2 damage spells you have, so be patient.

Despite the large pool of burn spells available in Type I, there really are no other choices for the 20 burn spells listed. Cheap spells such as Kindle and Parch are too inefficient while more expensive spells are unplayable. The only viable alternative is Shock, but it deals only 2 damage despite its one-mana cost. Certain burn spells become viable depending on the environment, such as Guerilla Tactics against discard and Thunderbolt against large flyers (Sengir Vampire and Serra Angel have lost popularity, but Serendib Efreet has not). Sonic Burst looks powerful, but the discard of another card is too expensive, and it is bad with Cursed Scroll. A few others such as Rhystic Lightning (extra damage) and Arc Lightning (flexibility) are expensive. Urza’s Rage is simply too expensive and has no relevant ability since one can use cheaper burn to get past counters. Perhaps the only other possibility is Flame Rift, which helps get past Ivory Mask, if it is played.

The choice of Fireblast and Ball Lightning is dependent on one’s land mix. Goblin Grenade is dependent on one’s creature mix. One can substitute the weaker Reckless Abandon, but every point of damage counts. Most efficient red one- and two-mana creatures are goblins or have ready substitutes (ex. Goblin Cadets for Jackal Pup, Goblin Raider for Ironclaw Orcs). More control-oriented creatures such as Orcish Artillery and Fireslinger are not needed due to the sheer amount of burn already in the deck. One, though, does not want too many goblin grenades in one’s hand, and four Grenades with ten goblins or three Grenades with eight goblins is a good benchmark.

On a personal note, the three pieces of Goblin Grenade art are enjoyed by collectors, but some players advocate playing with copies with the same art to keep the opponent guessing as to how many Grenades there are (they remember more easily when seeing two or three different artworks) when Cursed Scroll is used.


THE GOBLIN SUPPORT

As the next section will later show, burn requires support from other damage sources to win games. This part will not focus on the creatures, but it is simply better to have some small creatures that can deal steady damage as the burn assault is unloaded.

The creatures need not be goblins, but Goblin Grenade exists.

The first note is that one should refrain from taking the Goblin theme too seriously. The deck has 8 to 10 Goblins which are there solely because of Goblin Grenade, so 4 Goblin Kings and 4 Goblin Shrines only slow the deck down. The exception comes with decks based around Goblin Lackey, which can efficiently use Goblin Matrons, Mutants and Marshals as long as the Lackey is drawn (if it is not drawn, there is a problem, and basing a deck too heavily on Lackey adds a lot of inconsistency to it, which is why this deck uses 4-mana Goblin Mutants which are at least castable midgame). For example:

MUTANT RED, TIM PALMER, PTQ-NY SYRACUSE (EXTENDED)
Goblins (16)
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Mutant
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Mogg Fanatic

Direct damage (24)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Fireblast
4 Fork
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt

Land (20)
16 Mountain
4 Wasteland

In the listed “Goblin Burn” deck, however, the Goblin Lackeys are there to speed play (three Goblins by turn two is a big difference over two Goblins) and to bluff (opponents fear the nonexistent Mutant and waste spells on the Lackey). The Lackeys are expendable, as are all the creatures. They are there only to provide permanent, consistent damage sources, something that slips past the counterspell wall to soften up the opponent for the Grenade-Fireblast-Fork finish. Because of this, as a general rule, play the creatures first and the burn after they are all down (burn spells do not have summoning sickness).

The creatures make the deck more consistent than those with nothing but burn spells and more of a threat against counter decks. Every point of damage counts, and the small amount of damage from the 1/1 and especially 2/1 goblins is integral to the deck. The creatures, again, are there only to soften up the opponent and not finish him unlike Type II Sligh decks, where the burn is saved to clear the way for the creatures. This is due to the availability of Goblin Grenade, Ball Lightning and Fireblast in Type I, which allows you to go up to 24 damage spells. Knowing the difference of this type of burn deck from pure burn and Sligh is very important. Finally, when faced with larger attacking creatures, your weenies can block and buy time to draw or cast burn, after having dealt their two to three points of damage anyway.

Type I has a large pool of goblins, but, in general, those listed are the best options. Goblin Cadet is clearly the most powerful goblin, but it can be useless against other weenie decks. Aside from Goblin Lackey (which can be done without if one does not like its flavor), Mogg Fanatic and Goblin Patrol are clearly the next best choices, the former for its flexibility and extra “ping” and the latter for its 2-power. Goblin Vandal, is critical against the burn deck’s two greatest enemies: Zuran Orb and Ivory Tower. The number of Vandals depends on how many people consider Zuran Orb a staple in all their decks, though it single-handedly disrupts all artifact-dependent decks (watch a first-turn Goblin Vandal played against an Ensnaring Bridge-based player).

Any 1-mana Goblin will actually fit into the deck. Some judgment is necessary, however. Mogg Maniac attracts beginners, but it is really too reactive to be useful. Raging Goblin is only useful when drawn early, and even then, provides only one extra point of damage (both Mogg Fanatic and Goblin Patrol provide extra damage). After its first turn on the board, it is as useful as a Mons Goblin Raiders.

As a note, some decks have less burn and more creatures (but this subtle change involves a more different strategy already, as the second part will describe). The most famous Goblin player in the world is, of course, David “King of Beatdown” Price:

GOBLIN BEATDOWN, DAVID PRICE, 1999 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (EXTENDED)
Creatures (24)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Goblin Vandals
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Mogg Flunkies

Burn (18)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Shock
4 Goblin Grenade
3 Reckless Abandon
3 Fireblast

Land (18)
4 Wasteland
14 Mountain

Sideboard:
4 Pyroblast
4 Cursed Scroll
2 Mountain
3 Price of Progress
2 Goblin King

The extra creatures were accommodated by the lower land count. The Cadets were put in and the Cursed Scrolls (and extra Mountains to power them) left in the sideboard due to the combo decks in the competition. Finally, the Goblin King was placed to supplement the 16 1-toughness goblins against Engineered Plague, though the mountainwalk was helpful against defensive decks with red dual lands such as Recurring Nightmare.

In his match against Rafael Levy’s Legion Land Loss, he said: “In the second game, I went Jackal Pup, Shock an Elf and cast a Mogg Fanatic, Mogg Flunky, Mogg Flunky... Goblin King, Goblin King. His Walls were too small.”

Other Goblin decks have even more goblins and are already red weenie decks rather than Sligh or burn. These already include Goblin Lackeys, Goblin Kings and even Coat of Arms. As a final note, the most fun are goblin decks with nothing but small goblins and only 8 non-goblin spells: 4 Lightning Bolts or Incinerates and 4 Songs of Blood fueled by Goblin Recruiters.


CARD DRAWING AND OTHER UTILITY

Wheel of Fortune single-handedly wins games by allowing a barrage of burn the following turn and needs little further discussion. Cast Wheel at the earliest opportunity to get the most advantage, unless the cards in your hand can all be cast with the available mana (especially Ball Lightnings), though you should note that you will draw more Mountains from the Wheel. One note, however: When you have three lands in play and a Wheel and Fireblast in hand, Fireblast in response to the Wheel as you will surely draw at least one more land.

(Note: However, when playing in a more competitive environment, see the note on Wheel of Fortune in competitive Type I play in the next section.)

One might question why Cursed Scroll is categorized as card drawing, but that is what it is, essentially a reusable Shock. The conventional sources of card advantage for this deck (all the Tomes, Elkin Bottle, Nevinyrral’s Deck) are too slow while a first-turn Cursed Scroll can be slipped past a countermagic deck. Except in that situation, play creatures, then burn, then the Cursed Scroll, and start Scrolling as soon as the deck starts stalling. Ideally, one should Scroll when one has only one card in hand (when you have an empty hand, Scroll before playing the card; when you have one card in hand, Scroll before you draw), but one should Scroll whenever excess mana is available. The opponent will start seeing what cards are in your hand, but they will soon be cast, anyway. When desperate, one can Scroll when there are many cards in hand and name cards that are not in the deck, to mislead the opponent, even if for the second and third match (example: Goblin Mutant or Impending Disaster).

In environments with slow decks, Cursed Scroll is golden as it is reusable direct damage. Against faster decks, however, it is too slow as it requires an empty hand to function (see Price’s deck). Decks that use the Scrolls, however, must reliably reach 4-5 mana by the mid-game because one needs 3 mana to use the scroll and 1-2 mana to cast the card drawn. As a final note, one should generally play all lands drawn and cast Goblin Grenades when a Scroll is in play. Fireblast is the hardest spell to cast and it should be the spell that is held back and named for the Scroll.

One bonus of the Scroll is its colorless damage, which is key against Soltari Priest. By itself this is not a threat when one is ahead, but the accompanying Empyreal Armor is.


Other slots in the deck can be devoted to other utility spells that can be experimented with, usually in place of two Goblins. Some of these include:

Nevinyrral’s Disk – A staple in early burn decks that were slower because of the more limited pool of spells. Also the only way to remove enchantments.

Pillage – A more control-oriented card, because very few land and artifacts aside from Ivory Tower, Zuran Orb, Sheltered Valley and Glacial Chasm can affect a burn deck’s strategy. This can be used to stunt the opponent’s mana development, but burn decks seldom need such disruption because of their directness.

Impending Disaster – Especially against multicolor, mana-intensive decks such as Recurring Nightmare (Doesn’t work with Scrolls, though).

Seismic Assault – Cursed Scroll is better, though, even if this is free. This deck will rarely have a lot of excess land in hand, anyway.

Ghitu War Cry – Creature light, and excess mana is used by Cursed Scroll.

Spellshock – Probably unnecessary, but produces an effect similar to Ankh of Mishra’s.

Black Vise – Against slow decks.

Scalding Tongs – Supplements Cursed Scroll, but is slower.

Giant Strength – When one has more creatures, this can actually allow small creatures to overcome blockers.

Earthquake – More efficient than Pyrokinesis for weenie control as Pyrokinesis actually uses up two cards and cannot be used against players.


THE LAND BASE

The land in this deck is quite simple with 20 Mountains (or 18 and a Mox Ruby and a Lotus). The main reason, however, is because a lot of red mana is needed to be able to cast as many burn spells as possible each turn and because of the 3 red mana needed for Ball Lightning. Other colorless-producing land can be used, but the deck must have at least 16 red mana sources (18 with Ball Lightning).

Wastelands and Strip Mine are the first choices, and they are used to disrupt and slow the opponent. They should not be used without good reason as your deck is generally faster and you should not slow yourself down (of course, if you see a Thawing Glaciers or Maze of Ith or only one land in play, hit it as the delay in your development will be worth it).

Burn decks before Tempest included Mishra’s Factory as additional damage for the mid-game. They also help by blocking early creatures, although they can slow one down in the early game if they are destroyed once activated. Remember that after Sixth Edition, a Mishra’s Factory can block, tap and give itself +1/+1 and still deal 3 damage to the blocked creature. However, this may not be done if the Factory has summoning sickness, so be aware of this.

Few other lands are usable in Goblin burn, and one should not play any land that comes into play tapped (Dwarven Ruins, Ghitu Encampment, Blasted Landscape, or any of the new Masques lands). One will use all of one’s mana in most turns, and the delay, particularly in the first turn, is not worth it. Dwarven Ruins was used in some Type II decks before Tempest only because Conversion was then a common sideboard option.


APPENDIX IA: TOP BURN SPELLS

Modern aggressive red decks mainly use spells that can be played for only 1 mana. This makes for faster decks, and allows Cursed Scroll to be used with as little mana as possible. The benchmark for efficiency is still the 3 damage for 1 mana of the original Lightning Bolt, and one rarely uses spells that stray too far from this ratio. This ratio is also important for judging the toughness of a creature, and one observes why a 4-toughness creature is very different from a 3-toughness creature (because Lightning Bolt was not in the post-Fallen Empires Extended, this toughness benchmark fell to 3 from 4).

The mana cost to damage ratio is the most important gauge for burn spells (followed by whether the spell is an instant or a sorcery and targeting restrictions). This explains why X-spells are rarely used in aggressive mono red decks, especially with Cursed Scroll to round out the already efficient selection of burn spells. (When an X-spell is desired in more casual play, Kaervek’s Torch is often used because of its built-in ability against counterspells, making it a more potent finisher.)


LIGHTNING BOLT
Cost: R
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Card Text: Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
Rulings: Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have banned this card since 99/10/01.
Artist: Christopher Rush
Released: 8/1993

The original and still the best.


CHAIN LIGHTNING
Cost: R
Rarity: Common
Type: Sorcery
Set: Legends

Errata: Whenever ~this~ deals damage to a creature or player, that player or that creature's controller may pay {R}{R} to have ~this~ deal 3 damage to target creature or player of his or her choice. ; ~this~ deals 3 damage to target creature or player. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
 The chaining effects (after the first one) are not considered "spells". They are abilities. [D'Angelo 00/03/03]
 You can only chain to another target if at least one damage is not prevented on the current target. [bethmo 94/06/15]
 Paying to make Chain Lightning continue is done as part of the resolution of the triggered ability on it dealing damage. [D'Angelo 00/03/03]
 Your opponent is counted as the one choosing any targets they choose (just like you count for your own choices) for things like Autumn Willow that care who is targeting rather than what is targeting it. [Aahz 95/10/24]
 Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.

Artist: Sandra Everingham
Released: 6/1994

The second bolt, Incinerate replaced this as the 2nd best bolt. It is the least flexible because it is a sorcery, but still maintains the powerful 3 damage for 1 mana ratio. This is often cast when the opponent cannot “chain” it back to you to avoid allowing him to destroy a creature without spending cards, but feel free to tempt the opponent if you are ahead and can “chain” it back to him.

Comboed with Blazing Effigy in very old fun decks.


INCINERATE
Cost: 1R
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Ice Age

Errata: ~this~ deals 3 damage to target creature or player. A creature dealt damage this way can't be regenerated this turn. [Oracle 00/02/01]
Flavor Text: Yes, I think `toast' is an appropriate description." --Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
Artist: Mark Poole
Released: 6/1995

The second best Bolt. The extra mana is rarely a problem because it is an instant, and it gives burn decks a way of dealing with regenerators like River Boa if they lose the initiative.


FIREBLAST
Cost: 4RR
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Visions

Errata: You may sacrifice two mountains instead of paying ~this~'s mana cost. ; ~this~ deals 4 damage to target creature or player. [Oracle 99/07/01]
Flavor Text: Embermages aren't well known for their diplomatic skills.
Rulings:
 Note - Also see Alternate Cost Spells, Rule E.1.
 Note - Also see Mana Cost, Rule K.18.

Artist: Michael Danza
N/A Released: 2/1997

This card single-handedly changed the face of mono red decks the moment it came out. It allows these decks to essentially kill an opponent a turn earlier because it can be played with no additional mana cost. It also forces opponents to pay closer attention to their life total earlier, and 10 life is actually dangerous already.

As Alex Murison aka MadEntity wrote on the Dojo in late 1997: “Fireblast changes the rules of burn as Force of Will changed the rules of Countermagic. I heard many people lamenting Force of Will's presence while Alliances was in, yet Fireblast changes the rules just as horrendously. If you have to tap out to burn the opponent away then the opponent can accurately predict whether he or she will live or not. Fireblast forces an opponent to rethink their position. ‘I'm at 4 life, can I afford to let that Incinerate through and try to counter everything else, or counter it and pray he doesn't have a Fireblast....’ Sound's similar to ‘he's tapped out, God I hope he doesn't have a force, God I hope he doesn't have a Force’ doesn't it? Any card that changes the rules changes the way you must play, and Fireblast is the card that makes the modern Deadguy Sligh styles of deck so sickeningly effective.”

Fireblast’s drawback is that it must be timed carefully against decks with counterspells because of the loss of Mountains. Finally, it can severely slow a control player when played in response to Balance.


CURSED SCROLL
Cost: 1
Rarity: Rare
Type: Artifact
Set: Tempest

Errata: {3},{Tap}: Name a card. An opponent chooses a card at random from your hand. Reveal that card. If the card is the named card, ~this~ deals 2 damage to target creature or player. [Oracle 99/07/21]
Rulings:
 You choose a target creature or player on announcement. You choose the opponent and they pick a card from your hand during resolution. [D'Angelo 99/06/01]
 It does not target the opponent, but you still choose an opponent. [WotC Rules Team 98/02/01]
 If you have no cards in hand, you still have to name a card, but your opponent does not pick one. The card they chose cannot match the card you named, since they didn't get to pick one, so the Cursed Scroll does not deal any damage. [D'Angelo 98/05/18]
 Tempest/Stronghold}/Exodus block format tournaments (see Rule D.18.5) have banned this card since 98/07/01.

Artist: D. Alexander Gregory
Released: 10/1997

Cursed Scroll was discussed in the primer as one of few cards that give red staying power in the midgame. Faster decks or decks expecting a very fast environment decline to use Scrolls in the main deck, though there are fewer cards one would want to draw when one has an empty hand and 4 mana.

When you have just 1 card in hand, Cursed Scroll looks quite powerful, but to some, it may not look powerful enough. Darwin Kastle, who played the 2000 Invitational deck presented at the beginning of the next section, explained why he did not use Wheel of Fortune in his deck and added (to Oscar Tan aka Rakso in private e-mail): “Cursed Scroll could impact a game as much as many restricted cards and it was better against things like permission and discard... it was more removal against creature decks and a relentless threat easy to slip through control's defenses...”


GOBLIN GRENADE
Cost: R
Rarity: Common
Type: Sorcery
Set: Fallen Empires

Errata: As an additional cost to play ~this~, sacrifice a Goblin. ; ~this~ deals 5 damage to target creature or player. [Oracle 99/07/23]
Flavor Text: I don't suppose we could teach them to throw the cursed things?" --Ivra Jursdotter
Flavor Text: Without their massive numbers, the Goblins could never have launched such a successful offensive." --Sarpadian Empires, vol. VI
Flavor Text: According to accepted theory, the Grenade held some kind of flammable mixture and was carried to its target by a hapless Goblin." --Sarpadian Empires, vol. IV
Rulings:
 You cannot sacrifice more than one Goblin to get a greater effect. [Aahz 94/11/15]
 When Forked, you do not need to sacrifice another Goblin. The Goblin was part of the cost and need not be repaid when using Fork. [Duelist Magazine #4, Page 6]
 Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have banned this card since 99/10/01.

Artist: Dan Frazier
Released: 11/1994


RECKLESS ABANDON
Cost: R
Rarity: Common
Type: Sorcery
Set: Urza's Destiny
Card Text: As an additional cost to play Reckless Abandon, sacrifice a creature. Reckless Abandon deals 4 damage to target creature or player.
Flavor Text: The climax of a warlord's career is always death.
Rulings: The sacrifice of a creature is done when announcing this spell. [D'Angelo 99/06/01]

Artist: Ron Spears
Released: 6/1999

Goblin Grenade is a casual burn player favorite, as one can attack with a 1-mana goblin then sacrifice it to deal 5 more damage to the opponent (10 with Fork). Like Fireblast, it is more useful as a finisher because it requires the sacrifice of an attacker. Like Fireblast, it becomes a risky card against decks with counterspells because of the sacrifice, and must be timed very carefully. Reckless Abandon is a more recent variant that allows some decks to use 8 Grenades and others to replace Grenade and use non-Goblin creatures such as Jackal Pup.


FLAME RIFT
Cost: 1R
Rarity: Common
Type: Sorcery
Set: Nemesis

Card Text: Flame Rift deals 4 damage to each player.
Flavor Text: Crovax hungered for power, and the stronghold devoured the sky.
Artist: Ben Thompson
Released: 3/2000

Flame Rift is another finisher card because of its inflexibility, and the drawback is negligible in a deck that usually deals damage faster. It has the additional bonus of being able to finish against Ivory Mask.


BALL LIGHTNING
Cost: RRR
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Ball-Lightning
Set: The Dark

Errata: 6/1, Trample, Haste. ; At end of turn, sacrifice ~this~. [Oracle 99/07/23]
Rulings:
 The creature is sacrificed at the end of every turn in which it is in play. There is no choice about what turn to sacrifice it. [D'Angelo 98/06/05]
 The creature type is "Ball-Lightning" which is considered one word. Before errata, it was two words, "Ball Lightning". [D'Angelo 99/09/20]
 Note - Also see Haste, Rule A.18.
 Note - Also see Trample, Rule A.27.

Artist: Quinton Hoover
Released: 8/1994

Ball Lightning is another beginner’s favorite, and the creature is considered a burn spell because it is practically a sorcery that deals 6 damage for 3 mana and 1 card. The main drawback of Ball Lightning is its inflexibility; it often requires 1 turn’s worth of resources (and forces a player to play more Mountains than usual). Aside from tying up one turn and unlike a burn spell, it can be targeted by creature removal and one must time it carefully (in the Mirage-era, for example, an Honorable Passage could swing the game by 12 life!). If the opponent has counterspells, the red player can “walk” into them by playing Ball Lightning only to have it countered, buying the control player another crucial turn to set up his defenses.

When played right and in less control-oriented environments, however, no other red spell packs such a strong punch in a single card, and no few other aggressive decks can race a mono red deck with Ball Lightnings and Fireblasts.


PRICE OF PROGRESS
Cost: 1R
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Instant
Set: Exodus

Card Text: Deal 2 damage to each player for each nonbasic land he or she controls.
Flavor Text: Man versus nature is not a fair fight.
Artist: Richard Kane-Ferguson
Released: 6/1998

A good sideboard card that can be expected to deal about 6 damage in the right environments. Sideboarded in as additional pressure even though it cannot target creatures since it deals so much damage and is an instant. Note that an opponent sacrifice his Wastelands by targeting themselves (by declaring the target before costs are paid) to get around this card in desperation.

Incidentally, Kim Eikefet reported on the Dojo that Wizards of the Coast Research and Development actually named this card after noted red player David “King of Beatdown” Price. In her article, David commented, "Someone told me that Price of Progress was made for me. I liked that, it was cool."


FORK
Cost: RR
Rarity: Rare
Type: Instant
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: ~this~ resolves as a copy of target sorcery or instant spell except that it doesn't copy that spell's color and you choose the copy's targets as you play ~this~. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
 You need not (and may not) pay any additional mana or other costs (like sacrifices) to use the spell which is Forked. You get control over a complete copy but can change nothing except the targets. [Duelist Magazine #11, Page 57]
 If mana or other costs need to be spent at resolution of the spell, the caster of Fork would still be responsible for paying that cost. [bethmo 94/07/18]
 Extra costs which are in the spell text but not in the cost at the top of the card still count as part of the cost and do not need to be paid by the player casting Fork. This includes extra mana in Soul Burn. [Duelist Magazine #11, Page 57]
 You maintain full control over the copy of the spell regardless of who cast the original. [Snark 94/02/01]
 For spells like Fireball that allow mana to be used for damage or for additional targets, the controller of the copy must use the same number of targets the original spell did. [Duelist Magazine #3, Page 22]
 Forking a spell with an X in the cost like Detonate requires you to use the same X value. In the case of Detonate, you must find an artifact with exactly the cost X. [WotC Rules Team 94/09/30]
 When Fork resolves, it resolves as if it were the copy of the spell. [Duelist Magazine #18, Page 29]
 If something happens to the spell card being copied, the Fork will act completely as that card. For example, Recall removes itself from the game, so a Fork of Recall will remove the Fork card. [Aahz 95/02/17]
 Will not copy changes made by modifying effects to the spell prior to the use of Fork, such as Sleight of Mind or Magical Hack. [WotC Rules Team 98/03/31]
 If you change the color of the Fork from red then the resulting spell will not be red. [Aahz 96/11/07]
 If you copy a spell for which Buyback has been paid, you get the Fork back in your hand as part of its resolution. [bethmo 97/10/14]
 If you copy a spell for which Kicker has been paid, the Kicker has been paid for the copy as well. [DeLaney 00/10/18]
 Does not copy effects upon the spell, such as Ertai's Meddling. [bethmo 97/11/19]
 Does not let you make non-targeting choices about the spell. [Aahz 97/11/17]
 It does copy the mana symbols in the casting cost for the card it is copying, but it uses its own color definition and not the one from those mana symbols. This is so it maintains its color just like the text says. [bethmo 98/07/07]
 Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 95/04/19.
 Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have always banned this card.
 Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have banned this card since 99/10/01.
 Standard (Type 2) tournaments (see Rule D.16) have banned this card since 96/05/02 since it is not in the current edition.
 Note - Also see Copy Cards, Rule E.4.
 Note - This card was of type Interrupt and is now of type Instant. [Oracle 99/09/03]

Artist: Amy Weber
Released: 8/1993

Fork is a very funny red spell because it was one of the game’s original non-blue interrupts, and is actually closer to the flavor of red. The copy ability seems fun enough, but is lethal in a burn deck because it easily doubles the damage of Goblin Grenade or Fireblast without the need for additional sacrifices. Drawing a Fork, a Grenade and a Fireblast in a decent opening hand can guarantee a turn 3 kill. The Extended Goblin deck of Tim Palmer listed above used 4 Forks precisely for this purpose, reflecting the excitement over the card in the original Extended environment.

In a fully-powered Type I environment, Fork becomes very powerful because it can copy spells such as Ancestral Recall, Demonic Tutor, Stroke of Genius, Mind Twist, and Yawgmoth’s Will. Even against opponents without power cards, Fork gives a red deck tricks it normally does not have. It can suddenly Fork a blue deck’s Counterspell or a white deck’s Disenchant at key moments. (In a blue/red casual deck, it can even Fork a buybacked Forbid, Capsize or Whispers of the Muse and return itself to the player’s hand!)

However, Fork has not been used in competitive play in a very long time. First of all, it is a reactive card. Sligh is an aggressive card that cannot afford to wait and hold back mana for an opponent to cast a card for Fork. In fact, if one does not draw a Fireblast or Goblin Grenade, one is better off Forking a Bolt to empty the hand for Cursed Scroll. In other words, Fork is useless on its own. It cannot be used immediately when topdecked, too.

Second, following this first point, Fork is inconsistent. When you draw a Fork, you are not sure what it is going to do. Powerful though it may be, it may not be played. Many players prefer consistency over potential power, even in power-filled environments. (And many control decks that might want to use Fork for its utility have trouble supporting the double-red mana cost.)

In more casual play, however, give yourself a break. Slip in a Fork and laugh at the off-flavor ability, if for no other reason than the chance to finish a game with a stylish Forked Fireblast.


OTHER NOTABLE BURN SPELLS

GUERRILLA TACTICS
Cost: 1R
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Alliances

Errata: ~this~ deals 2 damage to target creature or player. ; When a spell or ability controlled by an opponent causes you to discard ~this~ from your hand, ~this~ deals 4 damage to target creature or player. [Oracle 99/11/03]
Rulings: If it is discarded, the damage done by it is done by an ability and not by a spell. So Suffocation cannot be used on that damage. [D'Angelo 96/11/11]

Artist: Randy Apslund-Faith
Released: 6/1996

Red’s trademark anti-discard card, it can be built in as a tolerable burn spell when discard is expected. Note that discard is more than mono black discard; it is a nasty surprise against Pox or a first-turn Balance. This became less important after Necropotence (and classic Necrodecks’ “Hymn, Hymn, I win” sequence) was restricted in Type I.


DEATH SPARK
Cost: R
Color: Red
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Instant
Set: Alliances

Errata: ~this~ deals 1 damage to target creature or player. ; At the beginning of your upkeep, if ~this~ is in your graveyard with a creature card directly above it, you may pay {1}. If you do, return ~this~ to your hand. [Oracle 99/07/23]
Artist: Mark Tedin
Released: 6/1996

This is one of the more interesting burn spells. It can actually deal a lot of damage in a deck with a good number of creatures because it can be cast in response to an opponent’s creature removal spell, resulting in free damage or free removal against a 1-toughness creature.


CHAOS CHARM
Cost: R
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Mirage

Errata: Choose one - Destroy target wall; or ~this~ deals 1 damage to target creature; or target creature gains haste until end of turn. [Oracle 99/07/01]
Rulings: Note - Also see Haste, Rule A.18.
Artist: Steve Luke
Released: 10/1996

This seemingly weak card was an important sideboard card in mono red’s Mirage days. The first ability destroyed walls that slowed down red’s offense, but the 1 damage was enough to trade for a Jackal Pup or Ball Lightning.


THUNDERBOLT
Cost: 1R
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Weatherlight

Errata: Choose one - ~this~ deals 3 damage to target player; or ~this~ deals 4 damage to target creature with flying. [Oracle 99/07/01]
Flavor Text: Most wizards consider a thunderbolt to be a proper retort." - Ertai, wizard adept
Rulings: The decision to target a flying creature or a player is made on announcement This decision cannot be changed if the spell is redirected. [bethmo 97/10/07] See Rule G.24 on Modal spells.

Artist: Dylan Martens
Released: 6/1997

Though it has a tolerable mana-to-damage ratio, it is worse than Incinerate and useful mainly in certain environments where 4-toughness flyers (most notably Serendib Efreet) are common.


HAMMER OF BOGARDAN
Cost: 1RR
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Set: Mirage

Errata: ~this~ deals 3 damage to target creature or player. ; {2}{R}{R}{R}: Put ~this~ into your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep and only if ~this~ is in your graveyard. [Oracle 00/02/01]
Artist: Ron Spencer
Released: 10/1996

One of the most powerful red cards of its time, it became weaker as red decks became faster and gained Cursed Scroll. It is a source of pseudo-card advantage in a red deck, but decks that use it should have more mana than usual. It takes 5 mana to use this every other turn and 8 mana to use it every turn, compared to 4-5 to use Cursed Scroll every turn.


RHYSTIC LIGHTNING
Cost: 2R
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Prophecy

Card Text: Rhystic Lightning deals 4 damage to target creature or player, unless that creature's controller or that player pays 2. If he or she does, Rhystic Lightning does 2 damage to that creature or player instead.
Rulings: The player gets the option to pay when this spell resolves. [Prophecy FAQ 00/05/25]

Artist: Roger Raupp
Released: 6/2000

Because it is an instant that can deal 4 damage using only 1 card, it is probably the least undesirable of the burn spells that cost more than 2 mana to play. It usually deals 4 damage when timed right, often after an opponent taps out.


PYROKINESIS
Cost: 4RR
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Instant
Set: Alliances

Errata: You may remove a red card in your hand from the game instead of paying ~this~'s mana cost. ; ~this~ deals 4 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures. [Oracle 99/07/23]
Flavor Text: Anybody want some... toast?" --Jaya Ballard, Task Mage

Rulings:
 See Pyrotechnics for other rulings.
 Note - Also see Alternate Cost Spells, Rule E.1.
 Note - Also see Mana Cost, Rule K.18.

Artist: Ron Spencer
Released: 6/1996

Mono red decks often have efficient bolts, but can be raced by fast opponents that play many cheap creatures. The red deck is severely slowed when it has to exchange a bolt in hand for an opponent’s creature, especially since it has no real card drawing of its own (a fact highlighted in old Necropotence vs Sligh matches, where Sligh had to waste Bolts on small knights only to see the Necro player pay life and draw more; each knight essentially saved the Necro player 3 life which translated into 3 extra cards after playing Necro).

In environments with many fast weenies, Pyrokinesis and similar cards that hit multiple creatures such as Earthquake can be very efficient for mono-red. Arc Lightning is the next cheapest spell, but this is far less desirable because it is a 3-mana sorcery that only deals 3 damage.


FIRESTORM
Cost: R
Color: Red
Rarity: Rare
Type: Instant
Set: Weatherlight

Errata: As an additional cost to play ~this~, discard X cards from your hand. ~this~ deals X damage to each of X target creatures and/or players. [Oracle 99/07/01]
Flavor Text: Glok loved storms! He'd sit an' watch an' laugh through the whole thing. I miss him." - Squee, goblin cabin hand
Rulings: Cannot be cast for a value of X more than the number of legal (different) targets. [Duelist Magazine #19, Page 34] You cannot target the same thing more than once. [Fifth Rulebook, Page 37] See Rule G.39.2.

Artist: Jeff Miracola
Released: 6/1997

A seemingly powerful card, it is useless in mono red decks that empty their hands very quickly.


KINDLE
Cost: 1R
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Tempest

Errata: ~this~ deals to target creature or player damage equal to the number of Kindle cards in all graveyards plus 2. [Oracle 99/05/01]
Flavor Text: Hope of deliverance is scorched by the fire of futility.
Rulings: Counts the Kindles in graveyard on resolution. [bethmo 98/04/03]

Artist: Donato Giancola
Released: 10/1997

This card appears powerful, but is weaker than the top burn spells. Because mono red decks often play fast games, one will see only 1, maybe 2, copies of this card. This is the same amount of damage from 2 Incinerates, and the added damage from the third Kindle is less desirable than the consistency of Incinerates.

It becomes interesting when both players are using Kindle, however, because the card counts ALL Kindles in ALL graveyards. A funny rumor after Tempest was released was that Stronghold would contain a “counts as a Kindle” burn spell, but this proved false.


SONIC BURST
Cost: 1R
Rarity: Common
Type: Instant
Set: Exodus

Errata: As an additional cost to play ~this~, discard a card at random from your hand. ~this~ deals 4 damage to target creature or player. [Oracle 99/05/01]
Flavor Text: Music scythes the savage beast.
Rulings:
 You cannot discard more than once to target more than one creature (or player) or to do multiple amounts of damage to a single creature (or player). [D'Angelo 98/06/10]
 You must discard a card as part of the cost. If you do not have any other cards in your hand, you cannot cast this spell. [D'Angelo 98/06/15]
 You pick the target before you pick the random card to discard. [bethmo 99/02/11]

Artist: Brian Snoddy
Released: 6/1998

Another card that looks powerful, this actually trades 2 cards for 2 mana and 2 damage, making it about as good as Shock. Some Exodus-era decks simply used one or two for use in the midgame (holding a surplus Mountain in hand), but the added inconsistency is not really worth it.


URZA'S RAGE
Cost: 2R
Rarity: Rare
Type: Instant
Set: Invasion

Card Text: Kicker 8R (You may pay an additional 8R as you play this spell.) Urza's Rage can't be countered by spells or abilities. Urza's Rage deals 3 damage to target creature or player. If you paid the kicker cost, instead Urza's Rage deals 10 damage to that creature or player and the damage can't be prevented.
Rulings:
 It can be countered by game rules, such as by having all its targets be illegal. Game rules are neither spells or abilities. [Invasion FAQ 00/10/03]
 Counterspells can be played that target it, but when they resolve they simply don't counter it since it can't be countered. [Invasion FAQ 00/10/03]
 The damage is unpreventable, but it can be affected by replacement effects such as Pariah. [Invasion FAQ 00/10/03]
 You can use spells and abilities that target this spell, such as Misdirection. Those spells and abilities just can't counter it. [D'Angelo 00/10/14]
 Note - Also see Kicker, Rule A.20.

Artist: Matthew D. Wilson
Released: 10/2000

This is the SINGLE MOST OVERRATED BURN SPELL in Magic, and is more hype than power. In general, it deals 3 damage for 3 mana, while a Lightning Bolt does the same for only 1 and is a spell that is not frequently countered, anyway. It does nothing against a player without counterspells, and the Kicker cost is wishful thinking in mono red decks. It only encourages a player with counterspells to begin countering burn spells at a higher life total than 4-6, but it does not achieve anything an intelligent burn player could.

Its single important use is against the 1/3 Ophidian and blue players joke that the card text really reads, “Destroy target Ophidian.” However, Ophidian has seen less use since Fact or Fiction was printed, which was at the same time as Urza’s Rage.

Ironically, Urza’s Rage sees more use as a finisher in 5-color Type I control decks as these can make more use of the kicker and uncounterability.


PART II: FROM BURN TO SLIGH

As hinted in Part I, as much fun as burn spells are for beginning players, they cannot win games on their own.

The simple explanation is that they have no staying power. A Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage and a Fireblast deals 4 damage, but after the opponent sucks up the damage, he no longer has to worry about the card. An opponent can take 19 damage as long as he stops the red player from dealing the 20th, and the life loss does not directly affect his game (in the sense that he still draws a card normally and plays spells normally no matter what his life total is).

In contrast, a 1-mana 1/1 creature can deal 3 damage over 3 turns. This is the same amount as a Bolt, though the creature takes longer. Still, the creature can deal more damage if it is not dealt with. In the Tempest-era matches between mono red and mono blue, first-turn Jackal Pups (a 2/1 creature for 1-mana) gave red players fits and forced them to use weaker Force Spikes or stunt their mana development by sacrificing Quicksands, precisely because creatures are the best damage sources when time is not factored into the mana to damage ratio.

Thus, burn decks are made stronger by adding some of red’s most efficient creatures, most notably Jackal Pups. This results in an aggressive deck with almost as much speed and far more staying power than burn decks. This also results in a deck with a diverse array of damage (creatures, burn spells, artifacts) that cannot be completely neutralized by just a single card (The Abyss, Moat, Ivory Mask, Story Circle).

These decks are commonly known as Sligh decks, after the most famous mono-red decks of the first Type II environments. (However, they lack the distinguishing feature of Sligh decks, which is their mana curve. Type I “Sligh” decks have no curve; all their spells simply cost 1 mana.)

Sligh is the most effective of the cheaper Type I strategies as its power stems from its inherent consistency and power, not from a diverse array of options and power cards. In the words of many Beyond Dominia control players, it “keeps control players honest” because it can overrun single-minded control decks unprepared for aggressive decks because of the reasons cited above.

It is a relatively simple yet effective deck in even the most competitive environments, as Ben Rubin showed in the Type I portion of the 2000 Sydney Magic Invitational. Randy Buehler reported on the Sideboard, “Rubin showed up in Sydney with "The Deck" as his best Type 1 deck. He didn't seem to like it very much, but he playtested with Brian Weissman himself and Weissman used his trademark deck to defeat everything Rubin threw at him. However, with Top Two within his grasp, Rubin raced back to the hotel over lunch and got the box of red cards.”

Ben Rubin himself wrote in his Invitaional report on the Sideboard, “With some insights about Type 1 and what felt like a strong deck I felt prepared for the format. Unfortunately, after arriving in Sydney I had gotten some testing in against Bob, Chris, Dave, Mike and had not had a winning record against ANY of them. I'm not sure if luck, lack of experience, lack of ability or inferiority of The Deck is to blame for my failings, but clearly something had to change.

“The only option, with an hour to go before the Type 1 round, was to gather the trusty Pups and Bolts and hope I could be competitive. I overheard someone saying, ‘Ben Rubin found out he was in contention so he went back to his room to get his Pups.’ They hit the proverbial nail on the head.”

The Type I portion was the last of five before the finals, and Ben’s Sligh deck took him to second place and into the finals, where he lost to Jon Finkel’s Keeper deck. His deck had subtle but very important differences from the conventional Sligh deck, and it will be discussed later. A more “traditional” build that added a few power cards and Cities of Brass was used by Darwin Kastle to win 2 out of 3 of his matches:


4-COLOR SLIGH, DARWIN KASTLE
Creatures (15)
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Jackal Pup
4 Gorilla Shaman
3 Frenetic Efreet

Burn and Damage (11)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Incinerate
1 Seal of Fire
2 Cursed Scroll

Utility (5)
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Balance
1 Seal of Cleansing

Mana (29)
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
4 Mishra's Factory
3 City of Brass
4 Volcanic Island
4 Badlands
4 Plateau

Sideboard
3 Seal of Cleansing
4 Pyroblast
4 Duress
4 Diabolic Edict


Although many 2000 Invitational players knew very little about Type I as Ben Rubin so strikingly demonstrated, one notes that Gerardo Godinez from Latin America and Yoshikazu Ishii chose to minimize this as much as possible by using a powerful and consistent deck type that they were familiar with: mono red Sligh. Ishii even won 2 matches out of 3, just like Ben and Darwin, and his decklist contained the obscure Artifact Blast!

For the benefit of casual players without the power cards and who are not playing in a power environment, this is what I might play in a more “normal” environment:

RAKSO’S CASUAL SLIGH, 2001
Creatures (18)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Patrol
3 Mogg Fanatic
3 Gorilla Shaman (for Zuran Orbs)
4 Ball Lightning

Burn and damage (20)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Incinerate
4 Chain Lightning
4 Fireblast
4 Cursed Scroll

Utility (2)
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Fork

Mana (20)
20 Mountains


ADDING RED’S BEST CREATURES

Sligh decks do not play very differently from the casual Goblin Burn deck this primer began with. One still plays the creatures earlier, attacks with them, then finishes the opponent with burn. However, if the burn deck used the creatures just to get a few extra points of damage, the Sligh deck uses them as the primary vehicle of damage. If one’s hand is full of burn spells, one can begin unloading them on the opponent (especially if he has no creatures), but Sligh uses them more cautiously and uses them defensively on the opponent’s creatures first.

Sligh creatures need to get into play fast and begin doing damage early. Unlike white, blue and black, red has its most efficient creatures at the 1-mana level. A drawback, however, is that Sligh decks that use only 1-mana creatures are vulnerable to Powder Keg, especially since it destroys Cursed Scroll as well.

An alternative to the very short list of creatures below is to add Mishra’s Factory, although this requires an increase in land count to keep the red mana sources at a reliable level. Ghitu Encampment should never be used, however, because they enter play tapped and unnecessarily slow down the Sligh deck.


JACKAL PUP
Cost: R
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Hound
Set: Tempest

Errata: 2/1. ; Wheneveer ~this~ is dealt damage, it deals that much damage to you. [Oracle 99/05/01]
Flavor Text: The first morning after acquiring her familiar, the wizard awoke with fleabites and mange.
Artist: Susan Van Camp
Released: 10/1997

The measure of a weenie is its mana cost to power ratio, and Jackal Pup is a 2/1 creature for 1 red mana with no attack restrictions. This is the best red creature ever printed, and the drawback is negligible in a deck that deals damage faster than almost any other deck.


GOBLIN CADETS
Cost: R
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Goblins
Set: Urza's Saga

Card Text: 2/1. ; Whenever Goblin Cadets blocks or becomes blocked, target opponent gains control of it. (This removes Goblin Cadets from combat.)
Flavor Text: If you kids don't stop that racket, I'm turning this expedition around right now! Artist: Jerry Tiritilli
Released: 10/1998

4 Jackal Pups, however, are not enough to conduct an offense. Goblin Cadets is one of few other creatures that shares its mana to power ratio, but has a severe drawback. The drawback, however, is irrelevant against opponents with no creatures or with just a few creatures that can be burned away before the Cadets attack.

The Cadets become less useful against decks with more blockers, such as opposing weenie decks. While Sligh decks can afford to sacrifice attackers when one or more will get through unblocked and deal damage, the Cadets will switch control before it can be dealt damage, giving the opponent another blocker.


GOBLIN PATROL
Cost: R
Rarity: Common
Type: Creature - Summon Goblins
Set: Urza's Saga Card

Text: Echo
Flavor Text: Take the sharp metal stick and make a lotta holes." -Jula, goblin raider
Rulings: Note - Also see Echo, Rule A.12.

Artist: Greg Staples
Released: 10/1998

Because Goblin Cadets are difficult to use against a number of decks, Goblin Patrol is the easiest 2/1 for 1 mana creature after Jackal Pup. The drawback is severe, however, as losing 1 mana in the early game is like losing part of a turn. Pouncing Jaguar, green’s counterpart in Urza’s Saga, is unplayable in green Stompy decks precisely because of the severe drawback of echo on the aggressive deck’s tempo.

Goblin Patrol faces a different situation, however, in Sligh. Stompy is a deck that has to play three creatures by its second turn, if not the first. Sligh decks have more mana, and need only 2 creatures in play because the burn can deal far more damage than Stompy’s pump spells. Thus, playing a turn 1 Goblin Patrol and a turn 2 Jackal Pup without mana acceleration is not a bad start.

Goblin Patrol is not a very good card, and Goblin Cadets is far better if the drawback is irrelevant due to the opposition. Goblin Patrol, however, is simply the least undesirable card in a general environment.


MOGG FANATIC
Cost: R
Rarity: Common
Type: Creature - Summon Goblin
Set: Tempest

Card Text: Sacrifice Mogg Fanatic: Mogg Fanatic deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Flavor Text: I got it! I got it! I---
Rulings: If you block a creature with Mogg Fanatic, you can sacrifice it before combat damage is assigned (in which case the attacker is blocked but neither the attacker nor Mogg Fanatic deal damage). Or you can sacrifice it after combat damage is assigned but before damage resolves (in which case the blocked creature takes 1 damage from the Mogg Fanatic in combat but deals nothing to the now missing Mogg Fanatic... this is in addition to the 1 damage the Mogg Fanatic's ability can do). So it is possible to block a 2/2 creature and kill it with a Mogg Fanatic. [D'Angelo 99/06/01]

Artist: Brom
Released: 10/1997

Mogg Fanatic was considered red’s most flexible creature in Tempest-era Type II, and was nicknamed, “Mogg Fantastic.” It could kill 2-toughness creatures by itself, or kill two 1-toughness attackers by blocking one then sacrificing to kill the other after damage went on the stack. It was simply the most amazing 1-mana creature in combat during its time.

Mogg Fanatic’s weakness, however, is precisely its strength. It is most useful in combat, but note that this usefulness diminishes considerably against decks without creatures (and therefore do not engage in combat).


KIRD APE
Cost: R
Rarity: Common
Type: Creature - Summon Ape
Set: Arabian Nights

Errata: 1/1. ; ~this~ gets +1/+2 as long as you control a forest. [Oracle 98/07/01]
Rulings: Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.

Artist: Ken Meyer, Jr.
Released: 12/1993

Because other creatures have their individual drawbacks, Beyond Dominia’s Darren diBattista aka Azhrei proposed adding an old red staple into Sligh to give it a second solid creature aside from Jackal Pup. This is done by adding Land Grant and Taigas, and allows the splash of green enchantment removal such as Emerald Charm and Hull Breach.

Land Grant replaces 4 Mountains when used in a Sligh deck. However, players must be warned of other subtle changes that result.

First, Land Grant can be countered or Duressed away early, and this may severely stunt the red player’s development if he does not have additional land.

Second, Land Grant can be a liability in an opening hand where the only land produces colorless mana (Mishra’s Factory, Wasteland or Strip Mine). Once is forced to play that land and have no other turn 1 play except a Cursed Scroll, and this severely slows the deck. An opening hand with a Land Grant and 2 Wastelands is an automatic mulligan, and this additional inconsistency adds up over several games. An extension of this point is that Kird Ape will rarely become a 2/3 in the first turn unless a Taiga is drawn, because the red player has to play his Mountains before he can use Land Grant.

Third, the dual lands used with Land Grant increases vulnerability to land destruction. Sligh is not a mana hungry deck, but one would like to avoid the following precarious situations in Darwin Kastle’s first match in the 2000 Sydney Magic Invitational: “Round thirteen I played ‘the King’ Jon Finkel… Jon mana stalled in Game one after I double Wastelanded him and my aggressive 4-color Sligh deck was unforgiving. Game two, I mana stalled after Jon double Wastelanded me, but two Jackal Pups went the distance for me, while I sat with no land in play.”

For all these reasons, Land Grant has not seen play in non-green competitive Type I decks, and 2000 Invitational Sligh decks that splashed colors like Kastle’s instead used City of Brass and 4 each of the appropriate dual lands. One must be aware of all these subtle drawbacks before adding Kird Ape, Land Grant and Taiga to a Sligh deck that does not normally have Forests.


A NOTE ON OTHER CREATURES

Competitive Sligh decks have evolved to the point where 1-mana creatures are best, with the exception of a few 2-mana 2/2s to help offset Powder Keg. More casual decks, however, can use any creature up to a reasonable limit of those costing 4 mana. They can be built to follow the mana curve that will be described in the history appendix.

The only rule of thumb is that a creature must have power at least equal to its casting cost (or have very good abilities like Suq’Ata Lancer’s flanking and haste) and have no restrictions on attacking. For a time, Ironclaw Orcs (2/2 for 1R with a blocking restriction) was one of the best Sligh creatures available! Other unlikely playable creatures included 4-mana 5/5s with severe drawbacks such as Balduvian Horde and Rathi Dragon, the 6/6 for 5 mana Orrgg and ever 2-power 2-mana creature in the game.

Just to make the point, below are two of the most obscure examples of very playable (though too slow to be competitive) red creatures. Remember that a high enough power is usually the only ability that a mono red deck needs from a creature!


YDWEN EFREET
Cost: RRR
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Efreet
Set: Arabian Nights Card

Errata: 3/6. ; Whenever you're attacked, flip a coin. If you lose the flip, ~this~ can't block this turn. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
 The ability triggers during the declare attackers step (see Rule C.3) and may prevent the Efreet from being used as a blocker. [D'Angelo 00/02/15]
 Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.

Artist: Drew Tucker
Released: 12/1993


LAVA HOUNDS
Cost: 2RR
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Hounds
Set: Weatherlight

Errata: 4/4, Haste. ; When ~this~ comes into play, it deals 4 damage to you. [Oracle 99/07/01]
Flavor Text: What cats bury, dogs eat." - Urborg aphorism
Rulings:
 Note - Also see Comes Into Play Abilities, Rule E.3.
 Note - Also see Haste, Rule A.18.

Artist: Steve White
Released: 6/1997


Ydwen Efreet’s blocking drawback is irrelevant in a deck that is usually losing when it has to block, and it is difficult to kill with damage. Lava Hounds’ haste was very good and it saw use during Mirage-era Type II. The loss of life was tolerable (especially since Swords to Plowshares was preferred removal in that environment) and some decks even used it with Ancient Tomb!

Many other seemingly bad creatures graced Sligh’s long history, and one has to carefully judge just how bad the drawbacks of these creatures are. Again, loss of life and blocking restrictions are often irrelevant when the creature’s power is high enough.


PLAYING THE SLIGH DECK

One of the first and best articles I read about aggressive (or “Deadguy,” for reasons that will be explained later in the history appendix) Sligh was written by Alex Murison aka MadEntity at the time Tempest was released. It is still the best discussion of how to play the deck to date, and I will simply quote it here because the article was so good I archived it in my hard disk four years ago.

This was taken from Alex’s “In-depth analysis: Modern Sligh” on the Dojo in late 1997:

“A Sligh deck operating with a reasonable draw, and up against a good opponent with a reasonable draw will go through several phases of play. Understanding how these phases work is in my opinion the best way to understand how a modern Sligh deck should be designed to operate and how a deck should be designed to beat Sligh.


“Phase 1

“In this phase, the Sligh deck can swarm its opponents with threats, while removing threats simultaneously. The opponent takes several points of damage during this phase. Usually this phase lasts for just 3 to 4 turns, but if the opponent manascrews it can last much longer and if the opponent kills off the creatures as they come it can never occur.


“Phase 2

“In this phase the opponent and the Sligh deck are evenly matched. The advantage can swing either way, and the possibility for creature kill is still high. If the Sligh deck gains the advantage it can return to phase 1 or go to phase 4, however if the opponent gains control it can go on to phase 3


“Phase 3

“The Sligh deck is probably at it's weakest at this point. it's creatures are generally at this stage weaker than it's opponents and it's larger creatures, such as Lava Hounds are being taken out after by either larger creatures or removal. Either way in this phase the Sligh deck is not going to win with creatures in all likelihood and it now has to start ammassing burn.


“Phase 4

“This is where the Burn reaches critical mass and Sligh reaches it's flashpoint and unloads everything at it's opponent. Fireblast, Fireblast, Fireblast, Bolt, Bolt, Bolt, etc...


“In order to win, a Sligh deck must aim to lengthen Phase 1. The longer phase 1 lasts, the less time it will take to reach phase 4 due to the amount of damage the initial rush causes. Also, it must try to gain an advantage during phase 2, as it may be possible to return to phase 1 with enough of an advantage. It is often possible for a Sligh deck to get a good enough draw or a manascrewed opponent and completely eliminate phase 3.

“With an understanding of how modern Sligh works and plays, you can then begin to anaylse what cards will beat Sligh best. In order to be a good anti-Sligh card, a card has to do one of the following:

“End Phase 1
“Gain advantage during Phase 2
“Lengthen Phase 3

“or

“Prevent Phase 4 from occuring.


“Here are some examples of why certain cards are good vs. Sligh

“Chill - Since all the Sligh deck's cards suddenly cost 2 more, it sends the Sligh deck into phase 2. Even if it then gets Pyroblasted, it has delayed the Sligh deck by a turn and suddenly the Sligh deck's creatures are being overpowered, and if it doesn't get Pyroblasted, well.......

“Gerrard's Wisdom - Gerrard's Wisdom nullifies the damage of phases 1 and 2, making it harder to reach phase 4. However unless the Sligh deck's creatures have been taken care of it is of little use.

“Maro - He's big and he's cheap. He hits the table and suddenly all the Sligh deck's creatures are overpowered. Unless the Sligh deck kills him they'll be stuck in Phase 2 for a while, and even if they do kill him they will need to use a Fireblast or a lot of bolts, and this can delay Phase 4. However, if they don't kill Maro it will accelerate Phase 4 as now the main way to win is via burn...”


The phases are slightly accelerated or compressed in Type I and the examples in the latter part of the quote are outdated, but the analysis remains flawless to this day. A more general summary on the latter part is that if a deck can slow Sligh down to the point that its initial hand is used up and it begins to rely on topdecks, it has a good chance of winning if it has not taken too much damage. Chill, blockers, an early Powder Keg and even early walls that slow the initial creature rush are key to preserving one’s life total for the midgame, or Alex’s Phase 2.

The difference between a Sligh deck and a burn deck is illustrated in the way Phase 1 is played. The Sligh deck aims to have 2 or 3 2-power creatures out by its second turn. Then, it will use its burn spells on any blockers. This is true even of 1/1 creatures that may block, such as Gorilla Shaman and Llanowar Elves. Note that a Sligh deck has only about 12 creatures, and the opponent will defensively block and trade to reduce the early creature damage as much as possible. By using a 3-damage Bolt on the 1/1 blocker, one allows the 2-power creature to attack, and it will deal more damage than the Bolt if it attacks just one more time afterwards. Thus, this is not a wasteful strategy; it is necessary.

One only stops using bolts on blockers if it becomes pointless and there are too many creatures to kill. Using a bolt to finish of a 4- or 5-toughness wall is often pointless, for example. This is the point when one computes the amount of damage that can be done with suicide attacks. If one has two creatures and the opponent has one blocker, one considers attacking if the extra damage will bring the opponent into Phase 4.

If the opponent has a large creature that will win the game in a few turns, “chump block” or sacrifice non-Jackal Pup creatures to block just to avoid taking damage in order to buy more time to draw more burn. This is the same kind of calculated risk one has to take when playing a burn deck and hoping to topdeck another burn spell to finish off the opponent. One may be tempted to block with a 2-power creature then finish off the attacker with a bolt, but this should only be done when one is about to lose. Otherwise, hold this off until the last possible moment because an extra burn spell may suddenly be enough to win the game just at the brink of defeat.

Otherwise, one has probably lost and is stuck in Phase 3. There is truth to the old Sligh saying, “If it’s blocking, it’s probably losing.”

The only major note not explicit in Alex’s article is the impact of Cursed Scroll. This card can ease phases 2 and 3 for Sligh as it deals steady damage, bringing the opponent closer to Phase 4 or clearing blockers to bring the game back to Phase 1.

Finally, against permission, do not be lulled into the trap of thinking that the opponent can counter everything. That is what the player with the counters wants you to think; he wants you to forget that you have at least 2 threats for each counter he has in the deck. Overwhelm him with your cheap spells and use burn spells at the end of his turn. If you get 1 or 2 creatures out, he will be forced to counter the rest unless he can get a Powder Keg out. When this happens, you can run him out of counters and slip a Cursed Scroll. Again, though you have far less card drawing, every nonland card you draw is a threat and the pressure on his wall of countermagic will break it if you were able to deal enough early damage.

Here, Wastelands on non-basic lands stall the opponent and keep him in Phase 1 for a few more crucial points of damage. If Balance is cast, unload burn spells or use Fireblast, even, to reduce the opponent’s hand size and mana supply. Remember that Sligh can get going on just 1 Mountain, so do not be afraid to do this to a control deck because he will always have the more difficult recovery.


A NOTE ON WHEEL OF FORTUNE

WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Cost: 2R
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Set: Alpha/Beta/Unlimited

Errata: Each player discards his or her hand and draws seven cards. [Oracle 99/09/03]
Rulings:
 Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) have restricted this card since 94/03/23.
 Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) have always banned this card.
 Extended tournaments (see Rule D.15) have always banned this card.
 Standard (Type 2) tournaments (see Rule D.16) have banned this card since 95/05/02 when it left the environment. It was previously restricted from 94/03/23 to 95/05/02.

Artist: Daniel Gelon
Released: 8/1993


At first glance, Wheel of Fortune appears to be the only true card drawing available to red, and is therefore a must-play in any Type I red deck. The obvious drawback is that an opponent has the first opportunity to play cards from an early Wheel of Fortune. However, the Sligh deck will probably have less cards when Wheel is played, and will gain more cards. The Sligh deck can also unload its hand much faster the following turn, and 2 or 3 bolts in addition to the creatures it already has on the board are often enough to win the game that turn or the next.

Wheel of Fortune will draw the opponent new cards, but even assuming that these are better than the ones they already had in hand, they will rarely be able to win the game before Sligh’s next turn. One-turn combos are rare even in Type I (though a Sligh player should be aware that using Wheel of Fortune against a Pande-burst deck may discard the key enchantments and give the opponent a Replenish!). And even though control decks may play cards that dominate the game (again, assuming these will not be discarded by Wheel instead of being drawn from it) such as The Abyss, Moat or Ivory Mask, none of these can single-handedly neutralize all of Sligh’s threats.

All control players among the Beyond Dominia regulars agree with this analysis, and all would move heaven and earth to counter a Wheel of Fortune played by a Sligh deck. In addition, if Sligh plays Wheel of Fortune when it has 5 or 6 mana, it can draw enough burn to finish the opponent, even one or two Fireblasts that can end the game right there if the opponent has no counterspells or is tapped out.


The debate over Wheel of Fortune, however, springs from the Type I portion of the 2000 Sydney Magic Invitational. Five players played red-based decks, but only Ben Rubin used Wheel of Fortune. Ben, however, can be discounted because his deck was constructed with the thought of using the power cards, and his deck construction story at the start of Part II of this primer did not seem to involve heavy analysis. Gerardo Godinez and Yoshikazu Ishii may also be discounted as not being very familiar with Type I, which is supported by the fact that they used mono-red Sligh decks while others splashed colors for power cards.

This does not eliminate the other players, however. Darwin Kastle’s 4-color Sligh presented at the start of Part II of this primer did not have Wheel of Fortune (and was missing Black Lotus as well). Trevor Blackwell had a Zoo-type deck with a significant red element (and Channel), but was missing Wheel of Fortune. It also left out Timetwister, contrary to conventional Zoo logic.

No plausible explanation was presented. The most interesting theory, by far, was e-mailed to me by Eric Taylor: “Conventional wisdom said red should use wheel, for the obvious reason that it is immense card advantage when you use it. Other than Ben Rubin none of the red beatdown decks used wheel. Apparently something has changed in Type 1 that has caused Wheel to be less good.

“If you look closely at the decks you will notice one card Rubin has that the other beatdown decks don't: Yawgmoth's Will. Could this be the reason that the other decks don't run Wheel? In fact, nearly every deck in the format runs Yawgmoth's Will. It is possible that the presence of this single restricted card has changed Wheel of Fortune from a pure blessing into a sometimes liability, as even though the Wheel moves the cards to the grave, if the opponent casts Yawgmoth's Will they can still access the graveyard cards.

“Certainly something has changed in Type I for so many red aggressive decks to give up the chance to run the Wheel. I can't tell for certain why they have done so. I would have to do some playtesting first, but my inclination is to look closely at this tendency to run Yawgmoth's Will in just about every deck and see if this has changed the way that Type I works.

“It's possible that you can't run Wheel in a Type I deck anymore unless you are also running Yawgmoth's Will, as you might not gain the same card advantage that this card used to.

“Then again, Mind Twist is in newly in the mix now, and having a Wheel of Fortune in your deck gives you at least a chance to recover from a Twist.

“Personally the thing that bothers me more than not running Wheel is how these red decks don't run more Cursed Scrolls. If you're not running Wheel of Fortune why wouldn't you run Cursed Scrolls?

“I'm afraid I don't have an answer for the question, ‘Should red decks use the Wheel?’ Just because Wheel was good in the past in red decks doesn't necessarily mean it is good now. I bet if you did some playtesting with the Invitational decks against each other, you might find out why they don't have Wheel. Maybe it's a mistake, and they should have it. Or maybe the Wheel doesn't work as well as it used to in red decks. --- edt”


One may note that Alex Shvartsman was using a beatdown deck that used Jackal Pup, Kird Ape, Serendib Efreet and Blastoderm, and also broke conventional Zoo logic by not using Wheel. Alex also had a Timetwister in his sideboard, but still no Wheel. This is outside the puzzle, though. Alex e-mailed me, “Twister is a sideboard card against discard decks. I did not maindeck it because I do not want to replenish my opponent's hand as well as mine, and my deck is not Sligh, it is not so fast that I will always play out my cards before they do. Wheel could work as SB against discard too, but I could not afford an extra slot vs them.”

Mind Twist was the only new element in the equation, and EDT reminded me of this. After reading his note about recovering from Mind Twist with Wheel of Fortune, the first thought I had was that the opponent could tutor for Mind Twist to “recover” from one’s Wheel, but it did not seem to explain everything.

When I posted EDT’s theory on Beyond Dominia, many control players reiterated their stories of being overwhelmed by an unexpected Wheel and a barrage of fresh threats right before they would have taken control of the game. Darren DiBattista aka Azhrei e-mailed me: “It's (Wheel of Fortune) been working for me thus far. I think it's a lot like Twister, in that it's something I like to keep maindeck just because it kicks the crap out of some decks, is very good against others, and is only very rarely something I wish wasn't in there.”

Accelerated Blue afficionado “Deranged Parrot” gave the most interesting counter-theory: “True to Eric Taylor form, he assumes that the Invitational T1 decks knew what they were doing. They didn't. Almost all of the red decks were basically Extended with Mox and Lotus thrown in. Ben Rubin, in my opinion, had the most interesting deck there, but it had problems with not having enough aggro creatures.

“How do we get the pros' attention? I'd love to see Zvi (Mowshowitz) play a halfway decent version of Accelerated Blue next year, and the thought of (Jon) Finkel with an optimal Keeper version makes me shudder. ”


I forgot about the debate until I finished the first revision of Beyond Dominia’s Sligh primer. Darwin Kastle, whose Invitational deck I used as the example for this section, e-mailed me in response to my questions on why he did not use Wheel of Fortune and Black Lotus in his Type I deck. He said, “Hmmm. Black Lotus and Wheel of Fortune... these cards seem good. In fact, they are good. I playtested both of them. I find that design changes have a cascade effect... at some point I had Yawgmoth's Will, Wheel, Twister, Mind Twist, Sol Ring, and Lotus in my deck.

“At that point I found while all these cards are powerful, they had some or all of the following drawbacks: they were not powerful enough in the early game (the only game that mattered for that deck); they were vulnerable to Mind Twist's return because they were sitting in my hand for one or more of the following reasons: they were more than 2 to cast, they were too situational, they were off color; they were vulnerable to permission for the same reasons; they weren't good in the mirror; etc.

“Then, the cascade effect came into play... when I pulled some of these cards, others became weaker. Without cards like Wheel, Twister and Will, Lotus became less useful.

“I tried to design my deck to use low casting cost red or colorless threats that could impact the game from turn one and straight off the top of the deck. This worked well with my decision to use Cursed Scroll.

“Cursed Scroll could impact a game as much as many restricted cards and it was better against things like permission and discard... it was more removal against creature decks and a relentless threat easy to slip through control's defenses. There you have it.-DK”

This seemed to be a solid explanation. Eric Taylor e-mailed me after I forwarded Darwin’s reply, “Good answer. At least Darwin played Cursed Scroll when he took out the Wheel. Now to explain the other red decks. Rubin's makes sense running all the power cards (including Wheel) over Cursed Scroll, but Gerardo Godinez', Yoshikazu Ishii's decks don't run Wheel or Cursed Scroll. I would be a lot happer with both the Godinez and Ishii decks if they just ran some Cursed Scrolls like Darwin did. It's kinda sad that there is only one high level t1 tournament a year anymore, which makes progress in t1 deck technology like running in molasses. --- edt”


Yet, on the other hand, supporting conventional wisdom and contradicting Darwin’s conclusions were thoughts reflected in Ben Rubin’s Invitational report on the Sideboard: “Game 3, he was able to stabilize until I got a Timetwister through and, with a new set of creatures and more mana, he could not keep up. My deck does very well at working with a fresh 7 cards.

“In retrospect, I probably should have included a Memory Jar without including a Tinker. Instead I included neither but, in reality, Memory Jar would have been plenty powerful, even at 5 to cast. My reasoning against this inclusion was that my opponents could probably cast spells during my Jar and at 5 mana it might be too slow to reliably cast before I got Mind Twisted/Wastelanded/Balanced/combo'd.”

Again, the 2000 Invitational had the first publicized Type I portion held after Channel and Mind Twist were unbanned. Whether the change in the use of Wheel of Fortune was due to a new emphasis on Mind Twist, an overestimation of “silver bullet” cards such as The Abyss and Moat, or simple ignorance of Type I, nothing has been conclusively proved (Almost every Beyond Dominia red-based deck still runs Wheel of Fortune, however.)

Type I players are advised against over-analyzing the Type I decks in the Magic Invitationals; as Alex e-mailed me, “You have to keep in mind that we did NOT work very hard on those decks. It was more of the cards that were handy, etc.” On the other hand, it is difficult to discount the experience of Invitational players, especially the longtime players who do play Type I.

I still remember the time the Dojo posted a discussion on Beyond Dominia that I initiated where regulars unanimously criticized the 1999 Invitational decks as unoriginal creations by pro players with no appreciation for Type I. Kai Budde replied to the forum that the Trix decks that dominated were in fact well-playtested, and that players independently concluded that Trix was near unbeatable in Type I. Soon afterwards, Trix dominated and caused an incredible stagnation in Type I, prodding the DCI to restrict Necropotence.

Whether conventional wisdom is right or wrong in this debate over Wheel of Fortune has yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure: It reminds me why Type I is so much fun. No other format can stimulate a near-obsession over the effect of a one-card change in your deck, or whether your opponent has a certain card in his.

APPENDIX IIA: CONTROL SLIGH

The earliest Sligh decks were actually control decks, with creatures such as Orcish Librarian and Orcish Artillery. In the days before Jackal Pup and Fireblast allowed a more aggressive Sligh, these Sligh decks focused on playing early creatures then maintaining midgame board control through a more methodical process than the aggressive tactics and calculated risks “Deadguy” Sligh decks use.

These early control strategies will be fully detailed in the history appendix, but control Sligh strategies have resurfaced as I hate strategies that attack the nonbasic lands of many Type I decks. The core of the new control Sligh decks is formed by two cheap but lethal creatures (and to a lesser extent, Goblin Vandals, which is similar to but slower than Gorilla Shaman):


GORILLA SHAMAN AKA MOX MONKEY
Cost: R
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Gorilla

Errata: 1/1. ; XX1: Destroy target noncreature artifact with converted mana cost X.
Flavor Text: Frankly, destruction is best left to professionals." --Jaya Ballard, Task Mage---AND---"Each generation teaches the next that artifice is the enemy of natural order." --Kaysa, Elder Druid of the Juniper Order
Rulings:
 Note - Also see Converted Mana Cost, Rule K.8.
 Note - Before errata, it was of creature type Gorilla. [Oracle 99/07/23]

Artist: Anthony Waters
Released: 6/1996


DWARVEN MINER
Cost: 1R
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Dwarf
Set: Mirage

Card Text: 2R,T: Destroy target nonbasic land.
Flavor Text: Fetch the pestridder, Paka-we've got dwarves in the rutabagas!" --Jamul, Femeref farmer
Artist: JOCK
Released: 10/1996


CONTROL SLIGH, BEN RUBIN, SECOND PLACE, 2000 SYDNEY MAGIC INVITATIONAL
Creatures (16)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Dwarven Miner

Burn (5)
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Kaervek's Torch

Utility (11)
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Mind Twist
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Timetwister
1 Time Walk
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Red Elemental Blast

Mana (28)
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Sol Ring
4 Mishra's Factory
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
4 City of Brass
4 Volcanic Island
4 Badlands
2 Sulfurous Springs

Sideboard
4 Boil
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Mogg Fanatic
1 Zuran Orb
2 Balduvian Horde


Ben Rubin departed from the more aggressive strategies the other 2000 Invitational beatdown players used, and removed some burn for the above control creatures and splashed power cards. His Invitational report paints a picture of how Control Sligh plays differently from the conventional decks, yet is aggressive in its own way.

Ben wrote on the deciding game of his first Type I match, against Dave Price’s Teletubbies deck: “It all came down to game 3 and Dave had a pretty amazing draw. He played Workshop, Lotus, Sol Ring, Mox Sapphire to cast Juggernaut and Su-Chi with a Tinker remaining in his hand. All I could do was Bolt the Jug and say go. He attacked and passed the turn back. My draw wasn't particularly stellar but I slowly gathered some troops, including a Miner. On the turn of truth (when I was at 4 and he was going to attack with Su-Chi) Dave Tinkered, sacrificing his Sol Ring and I had the Red Elemental Blast. He then attacked and I didn't have the mana to activate factory anymore so my Miner chumped. I then drew a Kaervek's Torch and was able to Bolt/Torch the SuChi. With Dave down to a lonely Mox, I had taken control. He Hydroblasted my next creature but eventually a Gorilla Shaman and Wasteland wiped his board. Lethal damage soon took him down and I had won what had appeared to be the impossible game and match.”


CADETS HO!, DAVID PRICE, MINDRIPPER TEST DECK
Creatures (20)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Goblin Vandals
4 Dwarven Miner

Burn and Damage (14)
1 Black Vise
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
4 Shock
2 Fireblast

Others (3)
2 Red Elemental Blast
1 Wheel of Fortune

Mana (22)
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
15 Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine

Type I hate was an idea since the Mirage block. David “King of Beatdown” Price articulated the modern idea on Mindripper when his column took a brief turn into Type I play. He noted at the end of his column, “Just because you don't have thousands of dollars worth of cards doesn't mean you can't play a killer deck at the next Type 1 tournament. Feel free to give one of these a try or make one of your own Type 1 monstrosities. Good luck.”

It must be emphasized, however, that hate cards such as Red Elemental Blast and Dwarven Miner still cannot win games on their own. Eric Taylor discsussed refinements on a pure hate deck on the Meridian Magic e-group:

----- Original Message -----
From: "eric taylor"
To:
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2000 8:06 AM
Subject: Re: [meridianmagic] Type I decks - Red Hate

I really like the red deck in Type I. It is one of the strongest decks in Type I, but it is not that popular among Type I addicts because it suffers from the "Where are all my Toys?" syndrome. That is, a real Type I addict has a Lotus, Sapphire, Moats, Abyss, Mana Drain, Mirrors, this that and the other thing. The problem is when you build a good red deck you don't need hardly any power cards.

My version of this deck has 4 Wastelands, not 3. I think the Wasteland is better than a Mishra’s Factory. I also play 4 Chain Lightnings and 4 Jackal Pups. . . I mean why not? I don't think you need both Gorilla and the Vandal. I agree on the assessment on Fork and not playing very many Mogg Fanatics (I don't play any), and Ball Lightning (I play 3 balls) which is surprisingly good in Type I. The problem with the Fanatic is there are just so few creatures you can shoot down in Type 1 with the Fanatic, that you want a Chain Lightning or Incinerate in that slot instead.

I think that you also want 2 Red Blasts main deck. It's ok vs Ancestral Recall, but what is even better, it gives you a way to smash the Type I Necro/Donate decks. I think Red Blast is a tiny bit better than Pyroblast because while the Red Blast can't be targeted on a land in order to drop under a Black Vice nor kill a Skulking Fugitive which is a disadvantage, if you are trying to stop the Illusions, the Red Blast is better because it can't be Misdirected and thus overall is probably better as that situation will come up a lot more often than you trying to blast a Skulking Fugitive.

Last, I think you should absolutely play Cursed Scrolls. These things are really very powerful. I used 3 in my red deck. I think you definitely want Incinerate over Flame Rift. It would suck if someone played a Negator on you and you couldn't touch it.

--- edt

> dansnd@geocities.com wrote:
>
> > This is the sort of deck people without power nine play if they hate
> > type I players. (Or necro!)
> >
> > Type I Red Hate
> >
> > 1 Strip Mine
> > 3 Wasteland
> > 3 Mishras Factory
> > 1 Mox Ruby
> > 1 Black Lotus (both these not really needed but good if you've got them)
> >
> > 13 Mountains
> >
> > 4 Lightning Bolt
> > 4 Goblin Vandal
> > 4 Gorilla Shaman
> > 1 Mogg Fanatic
> > 2 Jackal Pup (obviously you can vary these ratios to suit your
> > style of speed vs control)
> >
> > 2 Dwarven Miner
> > 1 Mogg Flunkies
> >
> > 4 Incinerate (thinking about Flame Rift)
> > 4 Guerrilla Tactics (main deck hate for Necro but good vs Wheel of
> > Fortune and Windfall as well)
> >
> > 4 Ball Lightning
> >
> > 2 Blood Moon
> > 1 Wheel of Fortune
> > 1 Seismic Assault (Good vs permission and Prosperity, Timetwister, Time
> > spiral, etc)
> >
> > 4 Fireblast
> >
> > Side
> > REB, Pryoblast, Anarchy, Null Rod
> >
> > I found Fork too limited since I often had it sitting in my hand.The
> > Incinerates are the most likely cards to be changed, either to Shocks,
> > Flame Rifts or Chain Lightnings (such choice in type!)!!!
> > Any comments?
> >
> > Dan
> > Magic from deepest Slovakia


One notable feature of the control Sligh decks that emerged from Type I hate theories and post-Tempest Sligh strategies was the absence of “finisher” cards such as Ball Lightning, Fireblast and Goblin Grenade/Reckless Abandon. As noted in the first part of the primer, these require an overcommitment of resources to win the game quickly, which is excellent against many decks but very poor against counterspells (which, incidentally, quite a lot of competitive Type I decks have). Instead of trying to bluff and time red’s most powerful spells, control Sligh decks simply forego them in favor of greater utility and a more consistent offense. Even Flame Rift would not fit in a control Sligh deck even though it requires no additional sacrifices simply because it cannot affect the board.


A more evolved version of the hate decks was refined on Beyond Dominia:

RUBEFACERE, DARREN DI BATTISTA AKA AZHREI, 2001
Creatures (15)
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Jackal Pup
4 Kird Ape
4 Gorilla Shaman
3 Dwarven Miner

Burn and Damage (10)
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Cursed Scroll

Utility (9)
4 Pillage
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Regrowth

Mana (22)
4 Land Grant
1 Mox Ruby
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
3 Mountain
1 Bayou
4 Badlands
4 Taiga

Sideboard
3 Hull Breach
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Null Rod
4 Red Elemental Blast


The control Sligh strategy was first explicitly proposed on Beyond Dominia by dedicated Keeper player Darren diBattista aka Azhrei, who was actually proposing how to beat his own control deck. Note how the mana deprivation strategy is further supported by the addition of 4 Pillages (which also happen to kill Masticores, the bane of weenie decks) and 4 Null Rods in the sideboard (which happen to neutralize Masticores and Powder Kegs in addition to Moxen). The creature base is also made more consistent by the addition of 4 Kird Ape, although this trades some stability in the mana base as discussed earlier. The creature base is important because although the deck contains many Type I hate cards, it does not rely on them as much as previous Type I Hate decks and plays closer to Sligh decks.

The mana deprivation is lethal against many control decks, especially those that cannot deal with early utility creatures because they rely on The Abyss or Moat to stop creatures. The creature base and its 12 2-toughness 1-mana creatures can still mount a fast offense. However, the mana deprivation is far less effective against mono-color decks that use basic land and less Moxen. Again, this Sligh version is an anti-control version, and the more conventional aggressive versions are better in less control-oriented, less power-filled (though not necessarily more casual) environments.


APPENDIX IIB: THE HISTORY OF SLIGH

SUB-APPENDIX I: THE ORIGINAL SLIGH DECK AND ITS CONCEPTS

GEEBA, PAUL SLIGH, SECOND PLACE, ATLANTA PRO TOUR QUALIFIER, 1996 (PT 1 FORMAT)
Creatures (25)
4 Brass Man
2 Goblins of the Flarg
2 Dwarven Trader
3 Dwarven Lieutenant
4 Ironclaw Orcs
2 Orcish Librarian
2 Orcish Artillery
2 Orcish Cannoneers
2 Brothers of Fire
2 Dragon Whelp

Burn and Damage (11)
1 Black Vise
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Detonate
1 Fireball

Utility (2)
1 Immolation
1 Shatter

LAND (23)
2 Dwarven Ruins
4 Mishra's Factory
13 Mountain
4 Strip Mine

Sideboard
3 Active Volcano
1 An-Zerrin Ruins
1 Detonate
1 Fireball
4 Manabarbs
1 Meekstone
2 Serrated Arrows
1 Shatter
1 Zuran Orb

The above looks like a player’s list of spare junk cards in 1996 with a few burn spells. The assessment is probably correct, and many people thought the same thing about the deck designed by Jay Schneider until it swept a 1996 Pro Tour Qualifier and did not lose a game until the finals (though it defeated the eventual winning Necrodeck during the elimination). The deck soon spread over the Internet.

Incidentally, the deck was built for the PT1 format which required a minimum number of cards from each of the 5 legal Type II expansions, which party explains why the deck looks eccentric. It was originally named Geeba, after a made-up word in the Goblin language, but mono red decks with their distinct mana curve soon became known as Sligh decks.

Frank Kusumoto, beloved headman of the original Dojo, recorded his comments on the original deck: “Concept #1: The most important one. The Mana Curve. A true Sligh deck (and any good active deck) is optimized to use the mana curve that comes from playing one land per turn, and using ALL of it's mana on every turn. This is done using a ‘tiered’ system. When you look at a Sligh deck you should see ‘slots,’ not specific cards. Taking this approach Sligh looks like this:

“1 mana slot: 9-13
“2 mana slot: 6-8
“3 mana slot: 3-5
“4 mana slot: 1-3
“X spell: 2-3

“Lightning bolt (critter kills): 8-10
“mana 23-26 15-17 of color


“In a deck designed to use it, it is highly effective to use all of your mana each turn. Think of how often Sligh's 1 casting cost critters do 5 - 10 points of damage before they are neutralized
or dealt with.


“Concept #2: Card Advantage. It doesn't look like it but Sligh is built on card advantage. The key is selective card advantage. All of the cards in Sligh are effective by themselves. Sligh is very effective at killing all of an opponents creatures, thereby rendering creature support
cards useless. Orcish Artillery represent the culmination of this principle, i.e. a useful card in and of itself that also gains card advantage if it’s special ability is used just once.


“Concept #3: How the attack progresses. First on the ground, which an opposing deck should eventually stop. Then in the air. If this attack is stopped then finish them off with direct damage.


“Other concepts:

“No color problems. Fast but steadily increasing pressure (a result of the tiered progression.) ManaBarbs are the sideboard answer to (almost) everything. Artifact Damage, i.e., the Brass Men, plink away through COP:Red, thus providing a colorless source of damage. Mishra’s Factories have the same advantage. With the current heavy use of mass creature destruction Factories provide a hedge.

“Current Alliances Sligh is still evolving but has at least 2-3 Thawing Glaciers - they go in the one slot. It totally changes your mana curve but if you analyze it you can build the deck to work with the square wave that Glaciers provide. The Thawing Glaciers also give you card advantage, thus strengthening Concept #2. Pillage works well, a stone rain and shatter rolled into one, which makes it the red counterpart to to a Disenchant.

“Using exactly two Orcish Librarians came about through trial and error. One criticism of the deck is that it is hosed by COP:Red. Besides the use of Artifact damage sources and Manabarbs, another common solution to the COP is the siege. Attack with waves every turn, don't let them use their mana and eventually draw more critters than they have mana.

“One of the more entertaining aspects of Sligh is the looks on opponents faces as they die to a Orc or a Dwarf. In the many of my games with the Sligh deck people look at it and give me advice on how to improve it. (Adding white, bigger creatures etc.) Also, don’t expect to get much respect with this deck (the first time around). Comments such as ‘I shouldn't have lost to
this, My deck always beats this deck...’ etc., will abound.

“Orcish Captains are a great card for the deck (they kill a Serra 1 in 4). In earlier incarnations Atogs were a good creature choice. In non-Alpha restricted tourney Alpha Orcish Artillery are doom. With 4 Pillage and a strip you get strong L/D. Also they make great combos with everything.”


Messages detailing Sligh’s original deck were the first public description of the mana curve that is now a standard theory in even Sealed Deck. The above article, quoted at length, accurately captures the Ice Age-era environment and deckbuilding discussion. Hardly any theory was established, the power of Necropotence had just been discovered, and many players were still trading for Reverse Damage and Shivan Dragon.

Most of the theories presented are still until today, although they require adjustment. Modern Sligh decks still aim to use all their mana in each turn, for example, but the spells are now so cheap that they can empty their hand of 1-mana spells in the first 3 turns then spend all the mana on Cursed Scroll in each succeeding turn.

Card advantage is still there, but the deck relies mainly on Cursed Scroll now. Either that, or it relies on raw speed to overcome an opponent before the card advantage of an opponent begins to affect the game.

There is no longer any need for a big flyer, though some old Type II decks used Rathi Dragon and Lightning Dragon. The original Sligh decks did not have a wide enough burn selection and had Dragon Whelp for added punch, but Fireblast easily replaced big flyers as a faster knockout punch.

Finally, artifact damage is usually built into the deck with Cursed Scroll, and this doubles as the ready defense against protection from red creatures. Other common components are Masticore and Mishra’s Factory.

Of course, Dwarves and Orcs are rarely seen in today’s Sligh decks, and have given way to Pups and Goblins. Strangely, the passing comment by Frank about getting beat down by a funny creature still holds true in the sense that Jackal Pup, Goblin Cadets and Mogg Fanatic have goofy card art.


SUB-APPENDIX II: ORIGNAL TYPE II SLIGH (1996)

SLIGH, ARTHUR KIMES, SEPTEMBER 1996
Creatures (23)
2 Gorilla Shaman
1 Brass Man
3 Ironclaw Orcs
2 Orcish Librarian
3 Dwarven Soldier
2 Brothers of Fire
4 Orcish Artillery
2 Storm Shaman
1 Sabretooth Tiger
2 Dragon Whelp
1 Walking Wall

Burn and Damage (10)
1 Black Vise
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Death Spark
4 Incinerate

Utility (3)
2 Pillage
1 Lodestone Bauble

Land (26)
3 Mishra's Factory
2 Thawing Glaciers
4 Strip Mine
2 Dwarven Ruins
15 Mountain

Sideboard
2 Meekstone
1 Serrated Arrows
1 Tormod's Crypt
2 Winter Orb
1 Zuran Orb
4 Manabarbs
2 Pillage
2 Anarchy

The deck was refined for normal Type II and Arthur Kimes from Hollywood, California took it to a number of Top 4 and Top 8 finishes. The refinements made the deck even more consistent, and the land destruction subtheme allowed it to disrupt slower opponents.

The seeming mediocrity of the individual cards was captured in Arthur’s notes on the Dojo on playing against permission, “Cast a lot of spells. There shouldn't be combos in the deck so if the permission player doesn't counter the Orcish Gunner because he plans to save the counter for the Spirit Link he's in for a surprise. Control Magics aren't scary - what creature in the deck is WORTH stealing?” Against weenie decks, Arthur advised to trade creatures, something not done by modern Sligh decks. The difference, again, is one of structure: the original Sligh decks had a narrower selection of burn and used far more creatures. In addition, Thawing Glaciers is a card too slow for modern decks, but aided the control-oriented originals. Some, in fact, commented that Thawing Glaciers gave the deck a “square” mana curve.

Frank made a memorable comment on 1996 Sligh decks on the Dojo: “Many people only realize what this deck does after the second game. Most people do not take it seriously, and figure
anybody playing it is a newbie (after all, who plays with Ironclaws and Dwarven Lieutenants?), that is their mistake... and I believe it works to the advantage of the Sligh player in a great many situations.”


The restriction of Strip Mine slowed the disruption in Sligh (until the printing of Wasteland), but the control-oriented deck evolved through the next expansions. The rotation of Fourth Edition removed Lightning Bolt and Strip Mine from the pool. Nevinyrral’s Disk was employed by some as a control card that was red’s only way to destroy enchantments, and Hammer of Bogardan (the predecessor of Cursed Scroll as red’s midgame plan) was added as one of red’s most solid control cards.


SLIGH, PAT CHAPIN, SEMIFINALIST, PRO TOUR DALLAS JUNIOR DIVISION, 1996
Creatures (23)
4 Goblin Balloon Brigade
3 Gorilla Shaman
4 Ironclaw Orcs
2 Dwarven Miner
2 Orcish Librarians
4 Orcish Artillery
1 Orcish Cannoneers
1 Ball Lightning
2 Dragon Whelp

Burn and Damage (13)
1 Black Vise
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Death Spark
4 Incinerate
1 Guerrilla Tactics
1 Hammer of Bogardan

Other removal (3)
3 Pillage

Land (20)
1 Strip Mine
3 Mishra's Factory
17 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Anarchy
3 Manabarbs
2 Meekstone
3 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
2 Shatter


SLIGH, JU-NEON KIM, 1997 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, TOP TYPE II DECK
Creatures (18)
4 Ironclaw Orc
4 Brothers of Fire
4 Suq'Ata Lancer
2 Viashino Sandstalker
2 Ball Lightning
2 Orgg

Burn (12)
4 Incinerate
2 Hammer of Bogardan
2 Fireblast
4 Pyrokinesis

Others (7)
2 Jokulhaups
4 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Phyrexian Furnace

Land (23)
17 Mountain
4 Quicksand
2 Thawing Glaciers

Sideboard
2 Anarchy
2 City of Solitude
2 Emerald Charm
4 Karplusan Forest
1 Phyrexian Furnace
2 Pyroblast
2 Tsunami


GEEBA, JAY SCHNEIDER, AUGUST 1997
Creatures (25)
4 Goblin Soothsayer
4 Goblin Vandal
4 Dwarven Miners
3 Goblin Tinkerer
4 Ironclaw Orcs
4 Orcish Artillery
2 Viashino Sandstalker

Burn (12)
4 Death Spark
4 Incinerate
4 Hammer of Bogardan

Others (1)
1 Phyrexian Portal

Land (23)
1 Thawing Glacier
4 Quicksand
16 Mountain
2 Sheltered Valley


SUB-APPENDIX III: DEADGUY SLIGH (1997-1998)

MIRAGE SLIGH, PAUL FERKER, QUARTERFINALIST, PRO TOUR PARIS, 1997
Creatures (21)
2 Dwarven Miner
3 Goblin Soothsayer
3 Goblin Tinker
4 Keeper of Kookus
1 Searing Spear Askari
4 Suq'Ata Lancer
1 Talruum Minotaur
3 Viashino Sandstalker

Burn (15)
4 Incinerate
4 Fireblast
4 Hammer of Bogardan
3 Kaervek's Torch

Others (1)
1 Final Fortune

Land (23)
19 Mountain
4 Quicksand

Sideboard
2 Bogardan Phoenix
1 Builder's Bane
2 Sand Golem
2 Subterranean Spirit
2 Termor
2 Wand of Denial
4 Wildfire Emissary


The Mirage block tournaments proved that Sligh is not a collection of cards, it is an elegant deck structure that functions as long as even mediocre cards fit the bill. Sligh has been a block constructed archtype ever since.

As the Mirage block expansions were released, however, the nature of red changed. Creatures such as Viashino Sandstalker and Suq’Ata Lancer were built for the attack, unlike the older utility creatures such as Orcish Artillery and Orcish Librarian. In Type II, Lightning Bolt left the pool, and one of its replacements eventually changed the face of Sligh: Fireblast.

As Alex Murison aka MadEntity wrote on the Dojo in late 1997: “Fireblast changes the rules of burn as Force of Will changed the rules of Countermagic. I heard many people lamenting Force of Will's presence while Alliances was in, yet Fireblast changes the rules just as horrendously. If you have to tap out to burn the opponent away then the opponent can accurately predict whether he or she will live or not. Fireblast forces an opponent to rethink their position. ‘I'm at 4 life, can I afford to let that Incinerate through and try to counter everything else, or counter it and pray he doesn't have a Fireblast....’ Sound's similar to ‘he's tapped out, God I hope he doesn't have a force, God I hope he doesn't have a Force’ doesn't it? Any card that changes the rules changes the way you must play, and Fireblast is the card that makes the modern Deadguy Sligh styles of deck so sickeningly effective.”

Fireblast characterized the new approach that became associated with David “King of Beatdown” Price. A Computer Science and English major who played with Chris Pikula, Tony Tsai and David Bartholow in Cornell, David played Sligh when he won Pro Tour LA and in other World and US National Championship finishes. He insisted on calling the new mono red style “Deadguy Red” and Kim Eikefet quoted him on the Dojo, “"All Paul Sligh did was to qualify for the Pro Tour with the deck and post it on the Net. It bothers me, it boggles my mind why this guy is so famous… I think people having their names on the deck is a bit silly. It isn't a big deal that I don't get any credit for the deck - as long as Sligh doesn't either."


Deadguy red did away with the control strategies of the original decks and focused on what David called “total beatdown.”

DEADGUY RED, DAVID PRICE, 1997 US NATIONALS, UNDEFEATED IN TYPE II PORTION
Creatures (23)
4 Goblin Vandals
3 Goblin Digging Team
4 Ironclaw Orcs
2 Dwarven Soldier
4 Ball Lightning
2 Viashino Sandstalkers
4 Lava Hounds

Burn (15)
4 Incinerate
4 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Fireblast
3 Kaervak's Torch

Land (22)
4 Dwarven Ruins
18 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Anarchy
4 Detonate
4 Straw Golem
3 Pyrokinesis

As Price was quoted by Mike Flores on the Dojo, “The decision to play a beatdown red deck in US Nationals, instead of a control red deck like I used to qualify for Paris, was largely a result of the loss of Lightning Bolt, which is an efficient removal spell, and the gain of Fireblast, which is not well suited for removal but is an excellent card to finish the game with.” Even the Straw Golems in the sideboard were additional beatdown against creature-light decks.

Interviewed by Kim Eikefet on the Dojo, he shared, “It (original Sligh deck) didn't look good, it was like ‘Why play Ironclaw Orcs when you have Black Knights?’ But then I playtested it, and realized that it was good.” He explained the difference between the old strategies and Deadguy Red, “The modern decks aren't really Sligh decks. It is more red weenie, or mono-red beatdown… I made the deck as aggressive as possible. Orcish Artillery went out, Ball Lightnings and Lava Hounds went in, the Hounds only for that tournament because no-one played red. People were very surprised. A lot of people are under the impression that Sligh doesn't require thinking. They say that bad players play the deck. But in some environments, it is a very good deck."

He elaborated his philosophy: “People like control because they think it shows that they're good Magic-players. Active decks, on the other hand, produce threats, and control decks must have the right answer to the right threat. If not, they're in trouble.” As Price put it, there are no wrong threats (as opposed to “answers” such as Disenchant and Swords to Plowshares).

Mike Flores commented on the Dojo, “Price's deck simply aimed to kill the opponent. Creatures were not chosen for their overall versatility, but rather for how much damage they were able to do. Consider the use of Dwarven Soldier: although conventional tactics such as the Dwarven Miner or Orcish Librarian would have maintained the Sligh standard with regards to creature utility, only the Soldier had the 2 power in which Dave was interested, supplementing the 4 Ironclaw Orcs. The Orcish Artillery-style creatures, previously ubiquitous by 4 or 5 in previous incarnations, were totally absent in this deck. Instead, Dave went with Ball Lightning and Viashino Sandstalker at the 3 casting cost slot, because their power exceeded their toughness, a key element with regards to Daves choice of ‘beatdown’ creatures.”

A note of caution was added by Mike in his Dojo article, however, about the less successful performance of red player after David’s showing at the US Nationals. Mike quoted David, “I played that deck in one tournament, US Nationals. Sure, I tested it and tested it before hand, but it was not designed for an environment where players would bust out second turn Freewind Falcon on a regular basis, or have mad Honorable Passages in the sideboard; it was designed for a control heavy environment in which most of the players would disdain cards that wrecked my deck."


In 1997, with the release of Tempest, David wrote on the Dojo:

“Jackal Pups are exciting, but I'd still prefer Goblin Vandals, instead. Often, you'll play a first turn Goblin Vandal and it will just shut down your opponent's game. They can't play second turn diamond, and end up mana-screwed...

“If I were to run Sligh, now, I'd probably make it like so:
4 Goblin Vandals
4 Mogg Fanatics
4 Ironclaw Orcs
3 Canyon Wildcats
4 Ball Lightenings
2 Viashino Sandstalkers
3 Lava Hounds
4 Incinerates
4 Kindles
4 Fireblasts
2 Hammers of Bogardan
1 Fireball
4 Sulfurous Springs
2 Cinder Marsh
15 Mountains”


Apparently, David was able to explore the Tempest cards more thoroughly and used the Pups after all, the best weenie in red.

DEADGUY RED, DAVID PRICE, PRO TOUR LOS ANGELES CHAMPION (TEMPEST BLOCK CONSTRUCTED), MARCH 1998
Creatures (26)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg Raider
4 Mogg Conscripts
4 Canyon Wildcat
4 Fireslinger
2 Rathi Dragon

Burn and Damage (10)
4 Kindle
4 Cursed Scroll
2 Scalding Tongs

Others (4)
4 Giant Strength

Land (20)
4 Wasteland
16 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Shatter
1 Rathi Dragon
1 Torture Chamber
2 Scalding Tongs
2 Jinxed Idol
4 Stone Rain
1 Apocalypse

Giant Strength is normally dismissed as a cheap enchantment, but it speeds up the creature rush against the right decks, and Stone Rains in the sideboard help slow a slower opponent further. In the finals, David faced Ben Rubin, and described the fifth game of the finals on the Dojo, “My opening draw was the biggest beatdown ever: 3 Moutains, Jackal Pup, Fireslinger, 2 Stone Rains. I was playing first, and I drew a Wasteland at the start of my second turn. At the end of my fourth turn, he was at 12 life and he had no land in play. Game over.”

Randy Buehler praised Price’s design in his own report, which featured CMU’s Iron City Beatdown mono green deck, “I do think our green deck was better than our red deck, but I also think that our green deck wasn't quite as good as Dave Price's Deadguy red. We thought green gave us a nice position in the meta-game where we could beat control with our disruption (8 main deck L.D. plus 4 Chokes in the 'board) and we could beat red with green creatures with big butts (note the 3 Canopy Spiders in the 'board ... they're SO much better than Bottle Gnome against red).

“As it turned out, the 16 1-casting cost creature version of red was still tough to beat because it had 5 more spells than us. Price (and others playing similar decks) ran only 20 land while we had to run 25. Our deck required 25 land to get to 3 without missing a land drop (and what's the point of 4 Skyshroud Rangers if you aren't going to have 3 land by turn 2), but it meant that we sometimes didn't draw enough spells. And we _still_ lost games to mana-screw, because the deck can't operate effectively on 2 mana.

“Anyway, when we faced mono-red, they could still win even if they had to waste 2 cards on a Canopy Spider because they had 5 more spells than us. The other big advantage is that Price (or Slemr, or whoever) could keep a 1 mountain draw while we had to take a mulligan whenever we drew only 1 land.”


David designed the Type II decks that took Jon Finkel and Chris Pikula to 3rd and 6th place, respectively, of that year’s World Championships. The decks were very much beatdown-oriented, though Finkel used an extra Mountain and extra Hammer due to his preference for control. The Fireslingers also seemed to be a concession to the original control-oriented Orcish Artillery, and it helped swat away the mana creatures of RecSur.

DEADGUY RED, JON FINKEL, 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, 3rd PLACE
Creatures (19)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Fireslinger
4 Ironclaw Orcs
4 Ball Lightning

Burn and Damage (19)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Incinerate
4 Shock
3 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Fireblast

Land (22)
4 Wasteland
18 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Bottle Gnomes
1 Final Fortune
3 Phyrexian Furnace
4 Pyroblast
2 Shattering Pulse
1 Torture Chamber


That tournament marked the high point of Deadguy Red shortly before Fireblast rotated out of Type II. The finals also featured another red deck. Dwarven Thaumaturgist, incidentally, was an interesting choice against the walls of the RecSur deck type that eventually won the tournament.

SLIGH, BEN RUBIN, 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, 2nd PLACE
Creatures (21)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Goblin Vandal
4 Ironclaw Orcs
2 Mogg Flunkies
4 Ball Lightning
1 Viashino Sandstalker

Burn and Damage (18)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
4 Incinerate
2 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Fireblast

Land (21)
4 Wasteland
17 Mountain

Sideboard
3 Bottle Gnomes
3 Dwarven Miner
2 Dwarven Thaumaturgist
1 Final Fortune
1 Firestorm
4 Pyroblast
2 Shattering Pulse


Incidentally, Deadguy Red proved a perfect foil to the Draw-Go or Cuneo Blue Type II decks expected at the tournament. Chris Pikula, who placed 6th, entered the Type II portion with a 5-2 record and one thought: “I went into Thursday hoping that I would not regret ‘the Audible,’ our decision to play red. I wanted to face Cuneo Blue every round.” Jackal Pup applied early pressure on Draw-Go and force it to use its Quicksands and stunt its mana development. Cursed Scroll was easy to slip in difficult to remove. Finally, red could simply stop the blue player from using Whispers of the Muse by forcing him to spend mana to counter a spell played every turn, while still Scrolling.

Chris described Round 10, “Game 2 (against Sigurd Eskeland) was very long and complicated. For many turns I was in danger of being killed by a Golem/Stone beating. There were numerous points where if Sigurd drew a Hydroblast, he would be able to Blast my non-Pup blockers and come over for the win. As it worked out, I was able to fill the table with lots of small red creatures and swarm him. He was forced to animate a second Stone, tapping him out of all his blue mana but a Temple. I Wastelanded the Temple during combat and double Fireblasted for the win. Wastelands are absolutely amazing vs Draw-Go.”

Chris’s teammate, Jon Finkel, also played Sigurd in Round 8 and reported on the Dojo, “I played Sigurd Eskeland, as we were the only 2 7-0s. He won the coin flip, and we prepared to play the first game, in which I felt I had a huge advantage.”

The first game described Draw-Go’s best possible draw against Deadguy Red: “I played a first turn Pup, and it got Force Spiked. I was now in a bad position, because I hate to let Draw-Go use their counters. I'd rather just keep hitting them for 1 or 2 pts/round. Because I had no threats I was forced to try for a second turn Orc, which got countered, and then I had to cast a Hammer, in the hope that he didn't have a Dissipate. I usually prefer to wait on the hammers, but he was at 20 and I had no threats, so I had to try something. He had the Dissipate, and proceeded to beat me fairly handily.”

Jon, however, continued, “I now had to play him 2 games after sideboarding, which are decidedly less advantageous for me. The second game, I had the all burn draw, but I kept it since I had land. He then dropped a third turn Steel Golem and started to serve. I got out a Fanatic and was trading 1 for 3. I did, however have a Hammer, and a lot of burn, and I recursed the Hammer twice. The last turn when I was at 1, he had 1U untapped and I had the Hammer and he was at 2. I topdecked a Pyro to counter his Memory Lapse and won that game.

“The third game I dropped a first turn Pup, he dropped a second turn Legacy, which, on my next turn, I Pyro'd and dropped a Fanatic. He then dropped a Steel Golem, bringing my ground assault to a stop. I then wasted his Temple and dropped another 1cc creature and a Scroll. I then proceeded to keep drawing creatures, which I played, but no burn, and no 3rd Mountain for my 2 Ball Lightnings or my Scroll. He was stalled at 2 lands too, so It was fairly even. I then proceeded to bum rush him with all my creatures, losing a Jackal Pup. Sigurd actually put his Golem in his graveyard after it blocked the Pup, but I reminded him that it didn't die. The next turn I drew a Shattering Pulse, and when he Hydro'd an attacking creature, I responded by killing his Golem, and it was all over from there.”

(Jon was even briefer in his recollection of round 11: “I played Jakub Slemr, playing Draw-Go. He played perfectly, but he didn't have the Spike for my first turn Pup, and Sligh just rolls over Draw go. Second game, 2 Hammers were more than he could handle, with a little help from 4 Pyroblasts. That was about 2 more Pyros than I actually needed, but I wasn't complaining.”)


Jon’s own tenth round opponent was the eventual champion, Brian Selden, but the match described how a well-played Deadguy offense could still overrun the defensive RecSur deck: “I played Brian Selden, who was playing a Recur deck, as I'm sure everyone knows. The first game, I dropped a first turn Pup and Wasted a land letting me do some early creature damage. A 4th turn Ball Lightning Ran over a wall bringing him to 13. A couple turns later he Recurred a Verdant Force, which would feed his Recur 4 life/turn via Spike Feeders. He was at 10 life. He never got to untap. Game 2 was over in about 2 minutes, as a couple of Ball Lightnings paid Brian a visit, along with a Fireblast and a couple of random burn spells.”

As Brian wrote in his own Dojo report: “Sligh. A good matchup for me but I am playing Finkel. I lose 0-2.”


The most interesting part of Jon’s Dojo report detailed the Deadguy Red mirror match: “13th Round, I played Ben Rubin, who as everyone knows was playing Sligh as well. Going into the match, I felt my having an 18th Mountain and no Flunkies would give me an advantage. At the beginning of the game we traded creatures for creatures and damage. I was worried though, cause he had a Scroll and I didn't. I did have 16 points of direct damage in my hand, but it was hard to cast, 2 Hammers a shock, and 2 Fireblasts. Plus, I only had 3 Mountains.

“The key play was when Ben was at 18 and I attacked with a Fanatic, and he scrolled the Fanatic with 2 cards in hand. Realizing that getting him to 17 was irrelevant, I went with the 50-50 chance and won. I couldn't however, draw a fourth mountain for my second Fireblast, and Ben's Scroll was taking me down fast. Over the next 2 turns I drew a short lived Orc and a third Fireblast. Finally, the turn before I was going to die, I drew a 4th Mountain and killed him.

“The second game he once again drew Scrolls and I didn't, and this game I wasn't able to race them. The third game we traded first turn creatures, and I Hammered him 3rd turn. He once again got a scroll going, and 6th Turn, I recursed my Hammer while taking some constant damage. Luckily, he had a lot of land, so the game didn't get away from me. At the end of his 7th turn, with me at 8 and him with a Fireblast in hand, I double Incinerated him, untapped, Hammered him, Shocked him, and double Fireblasted him for a total of 19 damage.”

Ben Rubin, however, beat Jon in the semifinals. Jon ended, “Everyone knows how I did in the Top 8. I beat Comer 3-0 before Rubin ended my dreams with his 3-1 win. I was obviously happy though, and Ben's a great guy and a great player, so I really didn't mind losing to him.”

Ben wrote in his own Dojo report, “Daniel Clegg went 5-2, Casey went 6-1 and Ryan went an unhappy 3-3-1. The dickheads sucked, no pun intended, and Jon ‘the machine’ Finkel went 7-0. After our respective starts my mission was clear, I am coming for Finkel.

“I caught Casey about round ten and we played a feature match. Our decks were identical but I won the coin flip deciding who wins, and I continued winning. At the end of my run I had won 10 matches in row. Then I played Finkel, he beat me. That was horrible. One game included him doing 19 points of damage to me between my discard phase and his main phase. We would meet again.”

Ben eventually defeated Jon in the Top 8 and faced Brian in the finals but lost. In his Dojo report, Brian felt that Deadguy Red was a good matchup with his RecSur deck’s defenses, and he defeated both Chris and Ben’s red decks in the Top 8, though he felt the games were close and he had to take risks that paid off.


David Price’s deck remained a force when Urza’s Saga entered, after the banning and Tolarian Academy. The Dojo noted, “With the banning of Windfall and Tolarian Academy in Type II, its reign as the only tier one deck is over. What will the new Type II hold? Its hard to tell. One would imagine that Deadguy Red, which has consistently been a strong contender in almost every constructed environment, will continue to be one of the tier one decks.” The sideboarding of Cursed Scroll reflects the speed of the environment at the time.

DEADGUY RED, DAVID PRICE, JANUARY 1999 DOJO DECKS TO BEAT
Creatures (26)
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg Flunky
2 Goblin Raider
4 Ball Lightning

Burn (12)
4 Shock
4 Kindle
4 Incinerate

Land (22)
4 Wasteland
18 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Pyroblast
4 Bottle Gnome
3 Detonate
4 Cursed Scroll
3 Torture Chamber
1 Shivan Gorge


Sligh proved its power even in the first Extended tournaments, where it was reunited with old friends. By this time, any mono red deck with a weenie- and burn-based offense was called Sligh whether its strategy was control or beatdown.

SUPER SCRUB SLIGH, ROB SWAROWSKI, GRAND PRIX SAN FRANCISCO 1997 CHAMPION
Creatures (19)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Ironclaw Orcs
1 Fireslinger
2 Dwarven Miner
4 Ball Lightning

Burn and Damage (17)
2 Cursed Scroll
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Death Spark
4 Incinerate
4 Fireblast
1 Goblin Bombardment

Land (24)
4 Wasteland
3 Mishra's Factory
4 Badlands
4 Plateau
9 Mountain

Sideboard
2 Anarchy
4 Disenchant
2 Dwarven Miner
2 Forsaken Wastes
2 Perish
3 Pyroblast


The Sligh structure fared well in Tempest Block Constructed as well, especially with Seismic Assault available to replace the banned Cursed Scroll and Torture Chamber killing Soltari Priest.

SLIGH, ROD HO, 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS RATH CYCLE PORTION, 2nd PLACE
CREATURES
4 Canyon Wildcat
4 Fireslinger
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg Raider
4 Mogg Flunkies
SPELLS
4 Kindle
4 Maniacal Rage
3 Seismic Assault
4 Shock
LAND
17 Mountain
4 Wasteland

Sideboard
2 Boil
3 Hand to Hand
2 Jinxed Idol
2 Rathi Dragon
3 Shattering Pulse
3 Torture Chamber


One Rath innovation was the addition of Sphere of Resistance to slow the opponent, much like land destruction did.

SPHERE OF RESISTANCE SLIGH, RENE HIDALGO, 1998 FLORIDA PRO TOUR QUALIFIER
Creatures (22)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg Raider
2 Duct Crawler
4 Fireslinger
4 Mogg Flunkies

Burn (6)
4 Shock
2 Sonic Burst

Others (12)
4 Giant Strength
4 Maniacal Rage
4 Sphere of Resistance

Land (20)
4 Wasteland
16 Mountain

Sideboard
3 Ancient Tomb
3 Bottle Gnomes
3 Jinxed Idol
3 Portcullis
3 Torture Chamber


SUB-APPENDIX IV: THE POST-FIREBLAST ERA (1999)

After the Tempest block and red stars such as Jackal Pup and Cursed Scroll (the red decks were best equipped to use it), later expansions were not as good for red relative to the other strategies.

It is interesting to present, at this point, David Price’s thoughts on the Urza Block Constructed format, as he captures the point that Sligh is a structure of “slots” (the term used in discussing Schneider’s original deck). The following is taken from his Dojo column “Price of Progress”:

MONO RED BEATDOWN DECK, DAVID PRICE, DOJO TEST DECK (URZA BLOCK CONSTRUCTED)
Creatures (26)
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Patrol
2 Goblin Welder
4 Goblin Raider
4 Molten Hydra
4 Ghitu Slinger
4 Keldon Champion

Burn (12)
4 Reckless Abandon
4 Parch
4 Arc Lightning

Land (22)
4 Ghitu Encampment
18 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Scald
4 Keldon Vandal
2 Rack and Ruin
3 Masticore
2 Steam Blast

“Naturally, when any new format comes around, the first thing I do is try to build a mono-red beatdown deck. Keeping the mana curve in mind, I took a look at the creatures in various casting costs. There are very few one casting cost red creatures to choose from: Goblin Lackey, Goblin Patrol, Goblin Cadets, and Goblin Welder. Because of the limited card pool, I expect a large number of creature decks, so Goblin Cadets are right out. That leaves the Lackey, Patrol, and Welder, all of which have their merits. Since I expect fewer Tinker/Artifact decks with post-PTNJ bannings, I decided to maximize Goblin Lackeys and Patrols instead of the Welder.

“The two casting cost slot presents us with more options. Molten Hydra is a definite for the deck. It acts much like Fireslinger does in Standard mono-red beatdown decks, serving as both board control and beatdown. For two red and a colorless you can put a counter on the Hydra, making it a bigger beatdown against decks with no creatures in play or giving it the ability to break through an annoying creature stalemate. In addition, those counters can be removed from the Hydra to deal damage to another creature. Aside from the Molten Hydra, we have room for additional two casting cost creatures and this choice in unclear. Goblin Raider, Goblin Masons, and Pygmy Pyrosaur are all viable options. Because of the presence of Goblin Lackey in the deck, I've decided to use a goblin. Due to the large amount of removal that deals with one toughness creatures such as Engineered Plague, Sicken, and Shower of Sparks, I prefer the Goblin Raider. In the end, mono-red beatdown decks are designed to do 20 damage as fast as possible and the Goblin Raider has a greater chance of living to deal damage to the opponent.

“As for more expensive creatures, I've decided to use Ghitu Slingers and Keldon Champions. The Ghitu Slingers are simply amazing, providing both removal and additional beatdown to the deck. The Keldon Champions, combined with early beatdown and red burn, can help the deck go over the top and finish off the opponent. Its tempting to use Avalanche Riders or Viashino Cutthroats instead, but with the banning of the ultrapowerful mana producers like Tolarian Academy and Gaea's Cradle, land destruction seems less necessary, and the Viashino Cutthroat may end up dealing no damage to the opponent if he or she has a chump blocker or protection from red creature.

“Its also tempting to get tricky with the burn spells, using Flame Jet, Scent of Cinder, Lava Axe or Landslide. In environments with limited card pools, there tends to be more creature based decks than in environments with many sets, like Extended. For this reason, its important that your burn spells also do damage to creatures, not just the opponent. Otherwise, you may find yourself holding that Lava Axe as your opponent beats you in the head with Pouncing Jaguars. Scent of Cinder also seems powerful in an all red deck, but it doesn't fit well with the beatdown theme. Beatdown decks are designed to get creatures into play as fast as possible, as creatures are the most efficient ways of damaging the opponent. Following this strategy will leave you with very few red spells in hand (hopefully), making Scent of Cinder weak and unreliable. I decided to include the most straightforward burn spells in the deck, Parch, Reckless Abandon, and Arc Lightning. All three of these spells have already proven to be effective in the Standard environment, so they should be good enough for our Urza's Block deck.

“Finally, I've sketched out a rough sideboard for the deck. I expect to see a great deal of monoblue in the environment, so Scald is a must. If the red deck plays first and gets a second turn Scald, it makes it very hard for a blue deck to win. Scald is even good in the mid- and late game if the blue deck is forced to tap out or runs out of counters, as it prevents the blue deck from getting the most use out of its kill card, Morphling. The other sideboard cards are more a matter of taste. Its important to have artifact destruction, as artifact-based Wildfire decks will surely be present in the environment. There are plenty of viable options, Viashino Heretic, Keldon Vandals, Scrap, Rack and Ruin, and Meltdown. Find a combination of these cards that you feel comfortable with and you'll be fine. In addition, its a good idea to have a sideboard against other beatdown decks. Masticore and Steam Blast are both fine spells in the mirror match or against an aggressive monogreen deck.

“Give this deck a try when you are playtesting for the upcoming round of qualifiers. Even if it isn't your style and you aren't likely to play it, its a good idea to play against it and see how you fare. Good luck.

“David Price, King of Beatdown, dep6@ix.netcom.com”

David’s commentary provides an interesting glimpse of the format from the red player’s point of view. Seth Burn, however, was successful with a more aggressive version. Much like the modern Type I Sligh decks, it did away with more expensive spells such as Keldon Champion and focused on cheap damage, even spells with drawback such as Goblin Cadets and Scent of Cinder.

STUPID RED BURN, SETH BURN, NEW YORK PRO TOUR NEW YORK QUALIFIER, OCTOBER 1999 (URZA BLOCK CONSTRUCTED)
Creatures (20)
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Goblin Raider
4 Goblin Masons

Burn (16)
4 Reckless Abandon
4 Parch
4 Scent of Cinder
4 Arc Lightning

Land Destruction (4)
4 Raze

4 Ghitu Encampment
16 Mountain

Sideboard
3 Acidic Soil
2 Impending Disaster
2 Keldon Vandals
4 Rack and Ruin
1 Scrap
3 Shower of Sparks


Type II Sligh with Urza’s Saga hardly changed, and new spells merely replaced old ones in the structure. A few decks added new tricks, and Goblin Lackey was the most striking of the new cards. It must be noted, however, that more red decks during this time followed the “Ponza” build which used land destruction. This will be discussed in the next section.

LACKEY SLIGH, APRIL 1999 DOJO DECKS TO BEAT
Creatures (24)
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg Flunkies
2 Goblin Raider
4 Ball Lightning
2 Lightning Dragon

Burn and damage (16)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
4 Incinerate
4 Parch

Mana (21)
4 Wasteland
17 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Pyroblast
2 Price of Progress
3 Portcullis
3 Thrans Lens
3 Steam Blast


STUPID RED BURN, SETH BURN AND DAN SMITH, US NORTHEAST REGIONAL CHAMPION, MAY 1999
Creatures (24)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
1 Mogg Raider
4 Ironclaw Orcs
2 Mogg Flunkies
3 Viashino Cutthroat
4 Ball Lightning
2 Viashino Heretic

Burn (14)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
4 Incinerate
2 Parch

Land (22)
4 Wasteland
3 Ghitu Encampment
15 Mountain

Sideboard
3 Bottle Gnomes
1 Impending Disaster
2 Price of Progress
4 Pyroblast
1 Rack and Ruin
4 Shattering Pulse


When the Masques block was about to replace the Tempest Block in Type II, many red players worried about the cards that would be lost. David Price wrote, in a Dojo column entitled “Is red dead?”:

“Farewell, Cursed Scroll. So long, Jackal Pup, Mogg Fanatic, and Fireslinger.

“I'll miss those little guys.

“Now that I've said my goodbyes to my favorite cards from Rath Cycle, it's time to welcome in all the great red beatdown cards in Mercadian Masques. Hello, um... Hello?

“It’s not quite that bad, but its pretty close. What are we going to do without broken artifacts like Cursed Scroll and red Savannah Lions? Trust me, I'm working on it. Mercadian Masques gives very little to alleviate the pain. Kris Mage, a 1/1 spellshaper for R that can serve an adequate beatdown and do a point to a creature or player, isn't so bad. Squee, Goblin Nabob, which returns to your hand during upkeep if he ends up in your graveyard somehow, seems to work well with Kris Mage and Masticore and might be playable... and that's about it.”

He proposed the following list as a red deck that did not go the way of Ponza:

GOBLIN BEATINGS, DAVID PRICE, DOJO TEST DECK
Creatures (24)
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Raging Goblin
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Goblin Raider
4 Goblin Masons
4 Goblin King

Burn (16)
4 Shock
4 Reckless Abandon
4 Parch
4 Hammer of Bogardan

Land (20)
1 Shivan Gorge
19 Mountain

David continued, “Lo and behold, I discovered a few gems that might keep red alive and kicking in the new Standard environment… You might have noticed that there are zero cards from Mercadian Masques in this deck. Masques has no efficient goblins or direct damage, which is all I want in this deck.” This trend signalled the decline of Sligh, and the archtype disappeared from the tournament gauntlet in the Sixth Edition / Invasion environment.

Even during this decline, however, David gave Sligh a try.

THE KING OF BEATDOWN, DAVID PRICE, MARCH 2000 DOJO DECKS TO BEAT
Creatures (20)
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Raging Goblin
4 Kris Mage
4 Goblin Masons
4 Keldon Champion

Burn (19)
4 Seal of Fire
4 Shock
4 Reckless Abandon
4 Flame Rift
3 Hammer of Bogardan

Land (21)
20 Mountain
1 Shivan Gorge

Sideboard:
1 Cursed Totem
4 Arc Lightning
2 Disorder
4 Keldon Vandals
2 Pulverize
2 Mountain


Sligh disappeared from Type II tournaments altogether, and the last Sligh deck that did well in a major tournament was played in the 2000 Asia-Pacific Championships.

SLIGH, FUJITA TSUYOSHI, 2000 ASIA PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS, TOP 16
Creatures(12)
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Goblin Patrol
2 Veteran Brawlers
2 Keldon Champion

Burn (23)
4 Seal of Fire
4 Shock
1 Reckless Abandon
4 Earthquake
3 Arc Lightning
4 Hammer of Bogardan
3 Rhystic Lightning

Others (2)
2 Pillage

Land (23)
4 Rishadan Port
3 Ghitu Encampment
16 Mountain

Sideboard
2 Crater Hellion
1 Cursed Totem
3 Meekstone
2 Scald
2 Tangle Wire
3 Thran Foundry
2 Thran Lens


Sligh also experienced a similar decline in Extended because it could not deal with the fast Trix combo with its burn and weenies. Nevertheless, many Sligh variants were observed in Extended before Trix dominated the format. These two decklists are from the Extended format that still included Fourth Edition and Fallen Empires:

SLIGH, GARY WISE, 1999 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (EXTENDED), TOP 8
Creatures(16)
4 Ball Lightning
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic

Burn and Damage 20)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Shock
2 Incinerate
2 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Fireblast


Land(24)
4 Mishra's Factory
4 Wasteland
16 Mountain

Sideboard
1 Anarchy
2 Blood Moon
2 Guerrilla Tactics
2 Orgg
4 Pyroblast
4 Tormod's Crypt


SLIGH, NICOLAI HERZOG, 1999 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (EXTENDED), TOP 8
Creatures (17)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Cadet
2 Goblin Patrol
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Ball Lightning

Burn and Damage (21)
3 Cursed Scroll
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Shock
4 Guerrilla Tactics
2 Incinerate
4 Fireblast
2 Pyrokinesis

Others (1)
1 Final Fortune

Land (21)
4 Wasteland
17 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Pyroblast
3 Price of Progress
1 Pyrokinesis
3 Sirocco
3 Bottle Gnomes
1 Tormod's Crypt


David Price played mono red in both the Type II and Extended portions of that World Championships, and his Extended deck, curiously, featured Goblin King.

GOBLIN, DAVID PRICE, 1999 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, 4-2 IN EXTENDED PORTION
Creatures (24)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Goblin Vandals
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Mogg Flunky

Burn (18)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Shock
4 Goblin Grenade
3 Reckless Abandon
3 Fireblast

Land (18)
4 Wasteland
14 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Pyroblast
4 Cursed Scroll
2 Mountain
3 Price of Progress
2 Goblin King

David wrote on the Dojo, “I needed to go undefeated to have any shot at the top 8. I felt that the Goblin red deck was THE best deck in Extended. Everyone knew, but since when have sideboard cards mattered against red? Well, they matter when everyone plays them main deck. The field was stacked against me, blue decks were running Sea Sprites or splashing black for Engineered Plague. Black decks had Engineered Plague main deck as well.”


When Fourth Edition rotated out and the Urza Block brought Donate, Sligh had to make changes. Steven Valkyser, despite the possible inconsistency of using both Land Grant and Wasteland, used Taigas to add Emerald Charm in an attempt to combat Trix.

LAND GRANT GOBBO, STEVEN VALKYSER, JANUARY 2000 DOJO DECKS TO BEAT (EXTENDED)
Creatures (22)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Patrol
2 Goblin Cadets
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Fireslinger
4 Ball Lightning

Burn (15)
4 Shock
4 Incinerate
3 Reckless Abandon
4 Fireblast

Mana (23)
4 Land Grant
4 Wasteland
4 Taiga
11 Mountain

Sideboard:
1 Boil
3 Bottle Gnomes
3 Cursed Scroll
4 Emerald Charm
4 Pyroblast


Seth Burn wrote on Mindripper, “Sligh had an interesting last season… This came to an abrupt end as Trix proved to be the best deck in the format. Sligh really was too slow to beat old Trix. This is no longer true as Sligh has a lot of options against the current field (after new restrictions).”

Seth presented a number of draft Extended decklists in the same Mindripper column:

SWAROWSKI SLIGH, SETH BURN, MINDRIPPER TEST DECK
Creatures (19)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Fireslinger
4 Ball Lightning

Burn and Damage (19)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
4 Incinerate
3 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Fireblast

Mana (22)
18 Mountain
4 Wasteland

Sideboard
4 Pyroblast
4 Chaos Charm
3 Anarchy
2 Bottle Gnomes
2 Shattering Pulse

Seth commented, “The key maindeck tech is the Fireslinger. Patrol over Cadet, no Seal of Fire, no Price of Progress anywhere, 4 Scrolls, 4 Balls, no maindeck Pyros are the distinctive features of this deck. It went 7-0 with byes on day one and won the Swiss in Phoenix. The Chaos Charms were wonderful for clearing the path and killing Birds and Elves. Killing walls for 1 mana is also very nice. Keeping your opponent stuck in the early game is often how Sligh wins. 4 Scrolls main gives him a clear edge over most other creature decks. I don't agree with no Price of Progress but you can't fit in everything. The Fireslingers are great against Trade-Survival and not bad vs. other Sligh decks. They are weak vs. Trix and usually weak vs. Slivers though. The Bottle Gnomes can annoy Trix and are great against other aggro decks. The Anarchys are necessary. White has too many good cards against you. Shattering Pulse over Gorilla Shaman? Huh? I don't get that call. Even Pillage might make sense. Null Rod might also have been an interesting call. This deck is in a bit of trouble against Oath.”


LACKEY SLIGH, SETH BURN, MINDRIPPER TEST DECK
Creatures (24)
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Patrol
4 Goblin Cadet
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg Flunky

Burn and Damage (10)
4 Seal of Fire
2 Shock
2 Reckless Abandon
2 Fireblast

Others (4)
4 Tangle Wire

Land (22)
4 Wastelands
4 Rishadan Ports
14 Mountains

Sideboard
4 Pyroblast
3 Anarchy
4 Price of Progress
4 Cursed Scroll

Seth commented on this mana-denial variant, “Ports and Wire take advantage of the Lackey. You can't run Balls or too many Fireblasts with only 14 Mountains. Seal and Shock clear the way while Fireblast and Abandon finish. The Scrolls come in against decks where the Wires won't be effective. The Prices come in effectively against decks without basics and Trix. The Pyros are obvious. Ditto Anarchy. I can't say this is best, but it does what it is supposed to and it does it well.”


STUPID RED BURN, SETH BURN, MINDRIPPER TEST DECK
Creatures (16)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Goblin Cadet
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Ball Lightning

Burn and Damage (22)
2 Cursed Scroll
1 Reckless Abandon
4 Shock
4 Seal of Fire
4 Incinerate
3 Price of Progress
4 Fireblast

Land (22)
4 Wasteland
18 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Pyroblast
3 Anarchy
1 Price of Progress
2 Cursed Totem
2 Cursed Scroll
2 Bottle Gnomes
1 Gorilla Shaman

Seth commented, “The Shaman is designed to crush Trix by denying Moxen. The Totems should handicap Oath and Survival. Perhaps Slivers as well. The Problem with this deck has to be Trade-Survival due to the fact that Price won't beat them. Swarowski Sligh is the only real Sligh designed to beat Trade-Survival.”


ANTI-OATH SLIGH, SETH BURN, MINDRIPPER TEST DECK
Creatures (14)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Ball Lightning
2 Viashino Sandstalker

Burn and Damage (23)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
4 Seal of Fire
4 Incinerate
2 Price of Progress
1 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Fireblast

Land (23)
1 Ghitu Encampment
4 Wasteland
18 Mountains

Sideboard
2 Price of Progress
4 Pyroblast
3 Anarchy
3 Masticore
1 Gorilla Shaman
2 Pyroclasm

This version was geared against Oath of Druids, with only 4 creatures that remained on the board if Oath was played. Seth commented, “Designed against Oath. Also designed to beat other creature decks with an anti-creature sideboard. I play the Hammer and cringe, it seems way to slow to me. I'd almost rather have another Encampment. Oh well.”


Trix still proved dominating, however, even with Mox Diamond replacing Dark Ritual. Still, Sligh was represented in the September 2000 Masters Tournament, the first major tournament where the banning of Dark Ritual and Mana Vault was in effect. Here was one of the decks, a more control-oriented one with the safeguards against Oath that Seth presented.

SLIGH, KURT BURGNER, SEPTEMBER 2000 MASTERS
Creatures (12)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Ball Lightning
2 Viashino Sandstalker

Burn (20)
3 Cursed Scroll
2 Shock
2 Seal of Fire
4 Incinerate
3 Price of Progress
2 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Fireblast

Others (4)
4 Pillage

Land (24)
4 Wasteland
3 Rishadan Port
1 Ghitu Encampment
16 Mountain

3 Bottle Gnomes
1 Dwarven Miner
2 Ruination
4 Pyroblast
3 Pyrokinesis
2 Anarchy


Despite the Sligh’s decline, it remained a deck type of choice for players desiring a simple, consistent but powerful strategy. This was seen in block formats, and was highlighted in the Bring Your Own Block portion of the 2000 Sydney Magic Invitational. Alex Shvartsman e-mailed me, “BYOB format never existed in the past and it was clear from the start that mono red would be one of the defining strategies.” This format, incidentally, again showed why Tempest-era was the height of Sligh.

SLIGH, NOAH BOEKEN, TEMPEST-VISIONS-URZA’S DESTINY
Creatures (28)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg Conscripts
4 Goblin Mason
3 Canyon Wildcat
3 Fireslinger
2 Suq' ata Lancer
3 Viashino Sandstalker
1 Keldon Champion

Burn (13)
4 Kindle
4 Reckless Abandon
4 Fireblast
1 Goblin Bombardment

Land (19)
15 Mountain
4 Wasteland

Sideboard
2 Boil
2 Apocalypse
2 Keldon Vandals
1 Fireslinger
3 Scalding Tongs
3 Masticore
3 Bottle Gnomes


SLIGH, ALEX SHVARTSMAN, TEMPEST-VISIONS-WEATHERLIGHT
Creatures (28)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg Conscripts
4 Canyon Wildcat
4 Fireslinger
4 Viashino Sandstalker
4 Lava Hound

Burn (9)
4 Kindle
4 Fireblast
1 Goblin Bombardment

Land (23)
4 Wasteland
19 Mountain

Sideboard
3 Phyrexian Furnace
4 Bottle Gnomes
2 Firestorm
2 Boil
4 Steel Golem

More players ended up playing mono red Ponza but asked why he stuck to mono red Sligh, Alex explained, “That's easy. A) I dont enjoy playing LD. B) I earned many of the PT points that qualified me for the Invitational via playing a Sligh deck and was happy for the opportunity to revisit it.”


SUB-APPENDIX V: PONZA AND A RETURN TO CONTROL (1999-2000)

As David Price explained in the preceding section, expansions after the Urza Block did not have enough cards to supply the Sligh strategies. Red players adapted by adhering to the mana curve and other Sligh principles, but using land destruction in place of some creatures. They were forced to use more expensive spells than previous Sligh versions and thus had more mana sources. This also allowed them to use larger and more expensive creatures than usual, however. One would be surprised to find a red deck with more than 22-24 mana sources, but those were the developments forced by the card pool after the Tempest block rotated out, though the roots of the mono red variant were traced as far back as 1997.


The staff of The Dojo, before it closed, compiled an excellent reference which will make up the bulk of this last section:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE HISTORY OF PONZA ROTTA RED BY THE DOJO STAFF

"The best thing about playing this deck is that people just do not understand how it works. They always tell you you got lucky. You started out with the worst Sligh start ever and then you topdecked the only Lightning Dragon you probably play. And how the hell did you expect to cast Wildfire with Sligh? It is like the jankiest card in Urza's Saga." -Brian Kowal, 5 January 1999

Ponza Rotta Red is an interesting and relatively young deck archetype. Unlike many other decks, which seem to creep up in many places simultaneously with the release of powerful cards in a new set, Ponza has had a very distinct and easy to follow history, directly attributable to the fact that it was largely developed by a single geographic area (the little-known tech Mecca, Wisconsin), and grew out of that area by the reputation and publication of a small group of loyal Ponza players. Although the history of the archetype at this point seems to be the story of just a handful of Magic players, Ponza's influence can be seen in decks far-flung from the Midwest, especially in some of the more recent major championships.


CHAPTER I: WAKEFIELD SLIGH

Ponza creator Brian Kowal credits a great deal of the archetype's principles to Wakefield Sligh, a reset-based burn deck developed by the King of the Fatties. Jamie Wakefield first played Wakefield Sligh in the 1997 Vermont State Championships; though he earned an undefeated record in the Swiss portion, Jamie fell to (future) Cabal Rogue teammate (and eventual State Champion), Kevin McLaughlin, in the Top 8.

PHOENIX-HAUPS, JAMIE WAKEFIELD, 1997 VERMONT CHAMPIONSHIPS
Creatures (20)
3 Orcish Settlers
4 Suq’Ata Lancer
3 Ball Lightning
4 Talruum Minotaur
2 Lava Hound
4 Bogardan Phoenix

Burn (14)
4 Incinerate
4 Guerilla Tactics
3 Disintegrate
3 Fireblast

Others (3)
3 Jokulhaups

Land (26)
2 Dwarven Ruins
4 Crystal Vein
20 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Dwarven Miner
4 Anarchy
3 Thunderbolts
1 Fireblast
2 Pyrokenisis
1 Omen of Fire

Note that Phoenix-Haups is a classic Wakefield deck that flies in the face of most accepted convention. There is no mana curve: the creature base starts at 2 Orcish Settlers at 2 mana, and then progresses to a variety of 3, 4, and 5 casts. No 1-mana spell, even, with the burn starting at Guerilla Tactics and Incinerate, progressing to the 6-mana Jokulhaups as a finisher. Lots of fatties, of course.

Just as the Ponza archetype grew out of Wakefield Sligh, this deck is a direct descendant of the R/W Ivory Gargoyle-Jokulhaups decks that dominated early qualifiers for PT Dallas in 1996. Jamie Wakefield was one of the players who was lucky enough to make it to the Pro Tour with that archetype: note how the Bogardan Phoenix performs similarly to the Ivory Gargoyle post-Jokulhaups… a substantial creatures is left on this player's side after the world blows up (just as the Ivory Gargoyle could be put back into play)… Phoenix-Haups is an attempt to bring a successful deck into the then-current Type II environment.

"It’s got a lot of heat, but the Pheonix and the Haups is the way I prefer to finish off an opponent." -Jamie Wakefield

The biggest criticism of this deck is the lack of then-legal Thawing Glaciers. Obviously they would have fit in perfectly in a deck designed to destroy its own land, especially one built on the eccentric 26 land / 62 card Wakefield model. However, Jamie's personal aversion to that card prevented the Glaciers from making the deck.

On the other hand, Crystal Vein and Dwarven Ruins serve as interesting acceleration. The Phoenix-Haups player can both cast Jokulhaups at least one turn earlier and save himself the destruction of an additional land once the Haups resolves. This is a less efficient strategy against blue-based permission decks, of course… if the Jokulhaups becomes countered, the Phoenix-Haups player will nonetheless lose the sacrificed Crystal Vein or Dwarven Ruins.

Jamie continued to play versions of Wakefield Sligh as sets rotated in and out of Standard, but this deck is the basis of the archetype. General deckbuilding notes:
1. The mana Curve for Wakefield Sligh is "fat = GOOD."
2. 26 land and 62 cards, which is usual for this designer.


CHAPTER II: RATH CYCLE QUALIFIERS FOR PT ROME

It was during the Rath Cycle qualifiers for Pro Tour Rome that Ponza Rotta Red proper made its first appearance. Brian Kowal constructed this deck, based on the Wakefield fatty model. According to Adrian Sullivan, a Ponza Rotta is "like a calzone, but deep fried instead of baked." Kowal named it for "the finest delicacy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It includes all of the key ingredients: the cheese (shock, etc), the meat (Giant, etc), and the sauce (Stone Rain)."

PONZA ROTTA RED, PRO TOUR ROME QUALIFIERS
Creatures (17)
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Fireslinger
4 Flowstone Giant
2 Ogre Shaman
3 Shard Phoenix

Burn (12)
4 Shock
4 Kindle
4 Lightning Blast

Others (6)
2 Seismic Assault
4 Stone Rains

Land (27)
4 Wastelands
4 Stalking Stones
19 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Seething Anger
4 Boil
3 Ancient Tomb
1 Shard Phoenix
3 Torture Chambers

This deck runs 27 lands of its 62 cards. The high land count in this deck is designed to ease the play of some of the more expensive power cards in Rath Cycle red. It also lessens the threat of Chill somewhat, and opens up the Seismic Assault path to victory.

Unlike a lot of Rath Cycle decks (certainly Rath Cycle red decks) Ponza plays primarily fat creatures and a lot of spot removal. Fat creatures were difficult to remove in that environment, and spot removal was particularly keen against creature decks that employed a lot of creature enchantments, for example Giant Strength or Curiosity.

Flowstone Giant was considered "supertech." He could not be easily stolen via Legacy's Allure, and he generally stole two or more cards from an opposing weenie player. Flowstone Giant also proved excellent vs. Living Death, able to kill Walls of Blossoms and "survive" a Living Death. On a less exciting level, he could smash into the opponent for 5, or fizzle a Capsize, as well.
Seething Anger was a solution to Humility, Ancient Tombs to Chill or any slow deck without a lot of fast damage sources, and Torture Chamber was in the sideboard against white weenie. Boil came in "against everything," according to Kowal, and for a time, he toyed with playing one main deck. The global reset available for the Rath format, Apocalypse, was not present in the original draft of Ponza, but was added late in the qualifier season, further allying the deck style with Wakefield Sligh.

Ironically, Kowal himself never qualified for the Pro Tour with this deck, but it spread like wildfire in the Milwaukee area (no pun intended), and came to define the Midwest Magic scene over the next few months.


CHAPTER III: PONZA CROWNED STATE CHAMPION

Probably the most successful player during Ponza's early existence was Jake Welch. A little-known player from the Milwaukee area, Welch and other players from the Virtual Gaming Center (Team VGC) took Kowal's deck, modified for Type II, to November 1998's Wisconsin State Championships.

Teammate Mike Heinrich played to a first place 6-0-1 record in the Swiss, but it was Welch who actually won the whole thing. More impressive than the actual Championship, perhaps, was that Welch defeated a variety of decks to earn the title, including multiple "broken" Academy decks… including PT great Bob Maher in the finals!

PONZA ROTTA RED, JAKE WELCH, 1998 WISCONSIN STATE CHAMPION
Creatures (14)
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Fireslinger
4 Lighting Dragon
2 Orgg

Burn and Damage (12)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
4 Incinerate

Others (10)
4 Stone Rain
1 Aftershock
3 Apocalypse
2 Wildfire

Land (26)
4 Wastelands
4 Stalking Stones
18 Mountains

Sideboard
1 Grizzly Bears (“I said I only need 14 sideboard cards and because I have over 1,500 bears, I decided that it was the extra card to put in for Good Luck” – Jake Welch, Dojo tournament report)
2 Wildfire
1 Aftershock
4 Meltdown
4 Pyroblast
3 Nevinyrral's Disk

Overall, Ponza translated well into the Standard environment, where even better burn options became available, including Cursed Scroll. The deck ended up being an exceptional deck against weenie beatdown strategies, which prompted Welch and the VGC to coin the clever phrase “Thanks for the bye, Sligh." Interestingly, based on Ponza winnings alone, Welch earned over 250 DCI points in just a few tournaments

The most interesting aspect of this Ponza deck, especially in historical retrospect is the selection of fatties and sweepers. Orgg has strong interaction with Wildfire: basically, the only thing on the board after a Wildfire is the Orgg!

However, Lightning Dragon and Apocalypse might seem sub-optimal given some of the other choices available… In the words of Brian Kowal,

"[Lightning Dragon] is just the beefiest creature alive. Typically your opponent will wait to see if you remember to pay echo… and then scoop. This is a 'there's no way I can win’ card… If you have Lightning Dragon in play and cast Wildfire, you should not be playing Wildfire. You should be hitting him for 10 damage and extending the hand." -Brian Kowal

Apocalypse is a trickier choice. Faced with problems versus Living Death, Wildfire was only mildly useful. Apocalypse, on the other hand, was crippling. During the Rath Cycle season, many speed red decks proved that Apocalypse could be useful despite its drawback - topdecking solutions was often simple for those speedy red decks. Ponza, with its extremely high land count, was also able to "out-topdeck" most opponents after an Apocalypse. At the VGC, where Ponza originated, the unusual 3 Apocalypse and 2 Wildfire soon became the standard, with 4 Wildfires being a common alternative.

By mid January, the Academy/Stroke deck had been at least somewhat crippled by bannings, and Ponza looked to have an even better time in Type II. The problem was the Nightmare Survival archetype…

"Before Urza's Saga it looked better for Ponza. The deck was 50/50 for the most part against Death during Rath Cycle (4 Lightning Blasts were some good and I keep trying to fit some Lightning Blasts into Ponza)… but Rec/Sur is just annihilating Ponza out here." -Brian Kowal

With the deck losing to one of the more popular and consistent archetypes, the deck seemed to need a reset like Apocalypse (which would remove lands and creatures from the game) rather than one which would simply allow Cartographer or Living Death an easy recovery to removal and land destruction… even when in the form of a powerful sweeper like Wildfire.
Nonetheless, other players still found a lot of success in Ponza. Through bannings and the rise of other power archetypes, Ponza remained relatively consistent in the Wisconsin area.

"My deck list stayed the same for most of Type II. The only real change was moving the Disks from sideboard to the main deck. With Academy being banned there was no real reason for Meltdown, either, so Bottle Gnomes went in. The best change was the "burn change," changing some Shocks to Arc Lightnings… the best thing that ever happened to the deck! The deck won me five straight tourneys of a 15-match winning streak. I stopped playing the deck for a while because Dream Halls and Earthcraft were really big and I had a very hard time beating those… The deck list has been the same the entire time with only about an 8-card difference at any one time… Not many changes were ever made." -Jacob Welch

(The following portion has been inserted from the tournament report of Jake Welch, taken from the Dojo – Oscar Tan aka Rakso

FINALS vs. Bob "The Bomber” Maher, Jr. playing Academy

GAME 1
I go 1st turn fanatic and it hits him for a couple of turns and I try to Apocalypse and he counters it. Then Time Spirals and off of the Spiral he pull many land and artifacts so he has to Scroll Rack and off of that he get 3 Moxes and more land. I win and now I am very happy because I am now one game way from state champ.

I start sideboarding and I take my sideboard and take 11 cards and throw them on the table and no I didn't put in the bear. I hear Dan Bock say someone ways read for Academy and I take out the Orggs, Dragons, 1 Scroll, 2 Apocalypse, 1 Aftershock and 2 Wildfires.


GAME 2
I draw 5 land in opening hand and draw more land and he goes off and Strokes me for many


GAME 3 FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP
I look at my opening draw and see a Meltdown and 2 Pyroblasts but I have no land so I squander. My new hand is Pyroblast, Fanatic, Stalking Stone, and 3 of David Price’s favorite cards the "Mountain." He goes, he squanders, and I was told that he does squanders to get 1st turn Chill so I don't know if his hand was bad or no Chill. Later I was told that it was very BAD. He new hand has two land in it. Here is the play by play:

Me: land
Him: land, Mana Vault
Me: land, Fanatic
Him: Academy
Me: Wasteland top-decking skillz, attack for 1
Him: go
Me: Stone Rain land, attack for 1
Him go
Me: land, attack for 1
Him: Academy, Mox, tap for 2 blue and tap Vault Chill, Chill
Me: land, DISK, attack for 1
Him: Vault deals one, go

This continues till he is at 2 and I attack with fanatic to put him at 1 and say done and he goes and takes damage from mana vault and dies. I win the State Championship by beating Bob Maher. I am going crazy and everybody I know is asking me questions and I am in shock and I receive my award, a bag that says 98 Wisconsin State Champion and a box of Urzas Saga. It was kind of sad that the game ended in him getting mana screwed but that is a part of the game and I will take every win I can get. After the match is over I hear Brian Kowal and Adrian Sullivan say "Jake Welch you just won WI state championship, what are you doing next?" I reply by saying "I'm going to Jimmy's Grotto"

So, I end up 9-1, 17-5 and Mike that played the same deck went 7-1-1 with his only lose to Bob in the finals so the deck went 16-2-1. The only two losses to academy decks. That’s pretty good I hear.)


CHAPTER IV: THE PRO TOUR

The next major event in Ponza's short history was probably its play at Pro Tour New York 1999. Multiple members of Cabal Rogue played Ponza variants, including Cabal founder (and Brian Kowal's teammate) Adrian Sullivan, as well as Ponza's grandfather, Jamie Wakefield. Jamie went with a 26 / 62 setup, but Adrian made his best finish in his Pro Tour career.
With a 10-3-1 record, Adrian had the record, but not the tiebreakers, to make Top 8, and finished 10th.

CAFÉ PONZA, ADRIAN SULLIVAN, PRO TOUR NEW YORK 1999, 10th PLACE
Creatures (14)
4 Goblin Welder
4 Molten Hydra
2 Viashino Heretic
3 Avalanche Riders
1 Crater Hellion

Burn (8)
2 Shower of Sparks
2 Parch
4 Arc Lightning

Others (10)
4 Wildfire
2 Lay Waste
4 Rings of Gix

Mana (29)
3 Worn Powerstone
1 Phyrexian Tower
4 Ghitu Encampment
1 Shivan Gorge
20 Mountain

Sideboard
1 Mishra's Helix
3 Thran Lens
1 Crater Hellion
1 Goblin Welder
1 Karn, Silver Golem
3 Rack and Ruin
2 Heat Ray
2 Shivan Hellkite
1 Viashino Heretic

This version of Ponza was dramatically different from all previous ones, and ended up being quite influential in Ponza construction for Regionals and Nationals. For one thing, with Lightning Dragon legal (a defining card for Type II Ponza) one would think that Sullivan might select it for his Saga/Legacy deck. Instead, he went for smaller, yet efficient, utility creatures. The Hydras ended up being backbreaking against fast green decks with weenie creatures. The Heretics punished decks that relied on artifacts, particularly expensive ones, like Mishra's Helix or Phyrexian Processor (ouch). Goblin Welder simultaneous served as an early speed bump for beatdown and single-handedly destroyed Tinker decks.

Thran Lens ended up being a strong card against decks with protection from red creatures. With colorless Crater Hellions and Shivan Hellkites, Café Ponza was able to make short work of small creatures, even ones named "Disclipe of Law."

In retrospect, one of the 3 Rack and Ruins should probably have been a Meltdown, evidenced by Sullivan's skillful 0-2 performace against Zvi Mowshowitz playing the Zero Effect.


CHAPTER V: POST-NEW YORK: VEGETARIAN PONZA AND REGIONALS 1999

Less than a week after the Pro Tour, a semi-legitimized Ponza had made some some impact over the wider Magic world. As far away as Georgia, Matt Ranks won a weekly store tournament at Neutral Ground: Atlanta with a Ponza variant. At the time mislabeled "8 Year Old.dec," (for this was one of the deck's earliest steps beyond the Midwest), the Ranks version shows some parallel design to the Sullivan Pro Tour version.

Andrew and Matt Ranks worked with many of the New England Pro-Tour players for Pro-Tour New York, developing an aggressively mana-controlling deck with Rings of Gix, Wildfire, and Rain of Salt. While none of them played that deck, conversations with Chicago player Timothy McKenna about the Midwest's "control red" deck fueled parallel development of Ponza.

"I had started to become really impressed by the Wildfire decks I'd been seeing around Chicago," said McKenna. "I talked to some people in New England about the deck. They really liked it, but we were all terrified by the thought of actually playing Apocalypse."

Dropping the Apocalpse in favor of more main deck Wildfires and using main deck Nevinyrral's Disks to increase the board control, this deck was all about owning the table. In a far departure from any other Ponza deck, Matt Ranks chose Shivan Dragon as his primary creature. Able to survive Wildfires and hard to eliminate, the inclusion of the Shivan Dragon perhaps drew more focus than the actual deck itself. Interestingly, Jake Welch's version of Ponza at this time (including main deck Nevinyrral's Disks) was only a few cards different at this time.

ATLANTA PONZA, MATT RANKS, 5 MAY 1999
Creatures (12)
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Molten Hydra
4 Avalanche Riders
2 Shivan Dragon

Burn (10)
4 Shock
4 Incinerate
2 Arc Lightning

Others (12)
4 Wildfire
4 Stone Rain
4 Nevinyrral's Disk

Land (26)
4 Wasteland
4 Ghitu Encampment
18 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Meltdown
4 Pyroblast
1 Ruination
4 Ankh of Mishra
2 Raze

In no other Region than the Midwest (predictably) did Ponza make as big an impact. Adrian Sullivan squeaked into the Top 8 and qualified for Nationals with the unusual "Vegetarian Ponza"… in ninth place, with a more traditional version (but no slot) was Jake Welch.

VEGETARIAN PONZA, ADRIAN SULLIVAN, 1999 US MIDWEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, TOP 8
Creatures (9)
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Avalanche Riders
1 Shard Phoenix

Burn (11)
4 Shock
4 Incinerate
3 Arc Lightning

Others (12)
4 Stone Rain
3 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Apocalypse
4 Wildfire

Land (28)
4 Ghitu Encampment
3 Stalking Stones
4 Wasteland
1 Shivan Gorge
16 Mountain

Sideboard
1 Apocalypse
1 Arc Lightning
1 Jokulhaups
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
4 Pyroblast
3 Shattering Pulse
4 Ticking Gnomes

Called "Vegetarian" because it lacked any main-deck "meat," or fat finishers, this is a pure red control deck. Every single card in the deck except for the lands (and in some cases even this is not true) destroys something (or in some cases, lots of things).

A metagame choice against the dominant Living Death and Necropotence archetypes, Vegetarian Ponza used a combination of land destruction and overall removal to stunt these decks' developments in order to prevent them from generating degenerate or explosive turns… it is sort of difficult to Corrupt an opponent out with 1 Swamp in play.

The biggest criticism of this deck from most Ponza players was that it had no fast finisher. This may be a valid argument in relation to an archetype that had previously won via huge Orgg or firebreathing Dragon beats. Vegetarian Ponza did a point or two here or there with Mogg Fanatics or Avalanche Riders, finishing with man-lands… an endgame more reminiscent of decks like CMU blue than most red decks.

Nevinyrral's Disk was primarily as an answer to Survival of the Fittest and Oath of Ghouls, although it also offered redundancy in terms of global sweepers. Vegetarian Ponza's absence at Nationals can largely be attributed to the loss of the Disk… while Powder Keg is powerful, it isn't very good at removing problem enchantments, one of the few types of permanents that Ponza has difficulty destroying.


CHAPTER VI: A CURIOUS STANDARD ENVIRONMENT AND THE GERMAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 1999 German National Championships took place during a curious Standard season. Although 6th Edition was legal during June of 1999, the bannings of certain "broken" cards, such as Mind Over Matter, had not yet taken effect. This environment should have been rife with decks powered by Mind Over Matter, Prosperity, and other classic combination elements, but the roguish Ponza deck peeked out its head.

PONZA, MARO BLUME, 1999 GERMAN NATIONAL CHAMPION
Creatures (15)
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Fireslinger
2 Ticking Gnomes
4 Avalanche Riders
1 Balduvian Horde

Burn and Damage (12)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
2 Hammer of Bogardan
2 Earthquake

Land destruction (8)
4 Stone Rain
4 Pillage

Land (25)
4 Wasteland
1 Maze of Shadows
1 Shivan Gorge
19 Mountains

Sideboard
4 Jackal Pup
1 Balduvian Horde
1 Lightning Dragon
4 Shattering Pulse
1 Earthquake
2 Ticking Gnomes
2 Fire Diamond

The Blume deck lacks Wildfire, but it has considerable disruption in the form of Stone Rain, Pillage, Avalanche Riders, and Wasteland. With utility creatures like Mogg Fanatic, Ticking Gnomes, and Fireslinger, this deck was well-prepared for weenie decks, and could morph into a more aggressive version with Jackal Pups in the sideboard.

The Blume deck is most important, however, because it is the first Ponza deck to have done well in a larger field (that is, outside of Wisconsin).


CHAPTER VII: THE 1999 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
Ponza did not perform spectacularly at Origins 1999. Jake Welch made the Top 4 of the first US Open, but was defeated by the Ponza-like Sped Red, played by now-PT great, Jamie Parke.
Welch's deck was very much a classic Ponza deck, with lots of land, several fat creatures, and lots of creature elimination.

NEO-CLASSICAL PONZA, JAKE WELCH, US OPEN, TOP 4
Creatures (12)
3 Mogg Fanatic
3 Fireslinger
3 Lightning Dragon
2 Masticore
1 Shard Phoenix

Burn and Damage (13)
4 Cursed Scroll
3 Shock
3 Arc Lightning
3 Parch

Others (8)
3 Wildfire
1 Apocalypse
4 Pillage

Mana (29)
3 Fire Diamond
2 Ghitu Encampment
1 Shivan Gorge
3 Stalking Stones
4 Wasteland
16 Mountain

Sideboard
2 Repercussion
1 Viashino Heretic
2 Shattering Pulse
4 Magmasaur
3 Boil
3 Powder Keg

This deck seems to have some eccentric number choices, but the burn count, for instance, was designed to answer a wider field… Arc Lightning against weenie swarms, Parch against blue, etc.

The Repercussion + Magmasaur sideboard may have been sub-optimal, but the combination yields at least one amusing story… with his opponent at close to twenty life, Welch used the Magmasaur's ability to kill him via Repercussion!

Although not strictly a Ponza deck, Jamie Parke's Sped Red was at least originally categorized as such. A loose definition during the U.S. Opens was "any base-red deck that goes for board control, high mana, and mana denial as tempo control (not as a dedicated land destruction strategy)." Parke's deck did, indeed, gain time via land destruction in order to allow its board control to become effective.

SPED RED, JAMIE PARKE, US OPEN
Creatures (15)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Fireslinger
4 Avalanche Riders

Burn and Damage (13)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
2 Arc Lightning
3 Hammer of Bogardan

Land Destruction (8)
4 Pillage
4 Stone Rain

Land (24)
4 Wasteland
2 Ancient Tomb
3 Ghitu Encampment
15 Mountain

Sideboard
1 Arc Lightning
2 Shattering Pulse
2 Torture Chamber
4 Spellshock
2 Balduvian Horde
3 Mountain
1 Hammer of Bogardan

Parke's deck is also important in that it was the first American Ponza (or base-Ponza) deck to be proved effective in either a wider field (outside Wisconsin) or to win a major championship; Parke of course was a finalist in the first Open and won a slot at the 1999 U.S. Nationals. His deck echoes the Blume deck in its Pillage + Stone Rain + Riders + Wasteland redundancy, although it advances the strategy even more via the use of Ancient Tombs (which allows land destruction one turn earlier) and main-deck Jackal Pups. Moving the Pups to the main deck allows the deck to grab the turn economy generated by destroying land, as opposed to the original Blume deck, which gained a slower control base to kill with a more endgame-oriented finisher (i.e. Balduvian Hordes or Lightning Dragon).

Sped associate Kartin' Ken Krouner played Parke's deck to a Top 8 finish in a later U.S. Open, but was unable to actually qualify.

SPED RED, KARTIN’ KEN KROUNER, US OPEN, TOP 8
Creatures (17)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Fireslinger
4 Avalanche Rider
2 Masticore

Burn and Damage (11)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
3 Hammer of Bogardan

Land Destruction (8)
4 Pillage
4 Stone Rain

Land (24)
4 Wasteland
3 Ghitu Encampment
2 Ancient Tomb
15 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Spellshock
2 Shattering Pulse
2 Balduvian Hordes
1 Arc Lightning
1 Hammer of Bogardan
2 Torture Chamber
3 Mountain

The main difference is of course Masticore over Arc Lightning in the main deck. Masticore is probably a superior choice: while both are excellent weenie defense, Masticore could also remove protection from red creatures like Soltari Priest, or de facto protection from red creatures like Mother of Runes or Warrior en-Kor. Note that white weenie was a powerful choice in the Nationals Type II metagame, and that deck - especially the versions packing a pre-errata Wayaly - saw Sped Red as a virtual bye.

More recently, at a $500 tournament at Your Move Games (a premiere game store in Massachusetts, and home to some of the Pro Tour's best players), the Ponza archetype has peeked past the Wisconsin area and found some success. This version, played by Scott West, made a respectable 4th place.

WEST SIDE PONZA, SCOTT WEST
Creatures (17)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Fireslinger
2 Avalanche Riders
4 Lightning Dragon

Burn and Damage (10)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
2 Arc Lightning

Land Destruction (8)
4 Pillage
4 Stone Rain

Others (2)
2 Powder Keg

Land (23)
3 Wastland
2 Ghitu Encampment
1 Ancient Tomb
17 Mountian

Sideboard
4 Scald
2 Powder Keg
3 Shatterstorm
2 Earthquake
4 Havoc

West Side Ponza is one of the first versions to embrace Powder Keg as a post-Classic replacement for Nevinyrral's Disk. While less powerful than the Disk against a deck like Living Death (because it cannot destroy enchantments such as Survival of the Fittest or Oath of Ghouls), the Keg is nonetheless an excellent sweeper against fast decks. The Kegs actually free up slots that were previously filled by Torture Chambers in the Origins-era Sped Red decks, and can be used as artifact defense as well.

Note the use of Scald in West's sideboard. Scald is a powerful tweak card in the matchup against a base-blue opponent. It generates a great deal of virtual card advantage by deterring the opponent from casting any spells (he is likely afraid of the burn packed by the Ponza player), and simultaneously slows down the use of any Islands in play… sort of like a number of mini-Stone Rains. The West Side Ponza player can also choose to destroy only non-Island lands with his targeted land destruction, making the use of remaining lands all the more painful.


CHAPTER VIII: THE 1999 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Two copies of Sped Red made the Top 8 of the 1999 World Championships, piloted by Jamie Parke and finalist Mark LePine. These decks were more-or-less the same as the Origins version played by Parke, except with superior sideboards, including Scald.

PONZA, JAMIE PARKE, 1999 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, TOP 8 IN STANDARD
Creatures (15)
4 Jackal Pup
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Fireslinger
4 Avalanche Riders

Burn and Damage (13)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Shock
2 Arc Lightning
3 Hammer of Bogardan

Land Destruction (8)
4 Pillage
4 Stone Rain

Land(24)
4 Wasteland
3 Ghitu Encampment
2 Ancient Tombs
15 Mountain

Sideboard
1 Arc Lightning
2 Flowstone Flood
2 Masticore
4 Scald
2 Shattering Pulse
4 Thran Foundry


However, the deck that might impact Ponza history most is the Champion deck, a Mono-Brown design played by German Kai Budde.

MONO BROWN, KAI BUDDE, 1999 WORLD CHAMPION
Creatures (8)
4 Covetous Dragon
3 Masticore
1 Karn, Silver Golem

Other Artifacts (10)
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Temporal Aperture
2 Mishra's Helix

Others (4)
4 Wildfire

Mana (38)
4 Voltaic Key
4 Fire Diamond
4 Grim Monolith
2 Worn Powerstone
4 Thran Dynamo
3 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
13 Mountain

Sideboard
1 Mishra's Helix
1 Phyrexian Processor
2 Boil
3 Earthquake
2 Rack and Ruin
2 Shattering Pulse
4 Spellshock

Budde's deck is not strictly a Ponza deck by any means, but it does share a number Ponza-like attributes. While its overall land count is quite low (20 lands only), it has a massive amount of mana acceleration, from the Ancient Tombs to the one-card engine, Thran Dynamo. Like most Ponza decks, Mono-Brown has some measure of mana denial: here a lot of mana combined with Mishra's Helix is probably better than actually blowing up land with cards like Stone Rain or Avalanche Riders.

In a classic Ponza move for this not-really-a-Ponza deck, Mono-Brown has the power combination of Wildfire with actually keeping a creature on the board… instead of Orgg, this deck finishes with Covetous Dragon.


CHAPTER IX: THE FUTURE OF PONZA
Ponza's initial strength as a deck came from its ability to handle two very different kind of decks: weenies and control. With its excellent board control, most weenie decks would find themselves quickly dismantled; the mana disruption coupled with heavy burn has long proved its worth against control. Most Ponza decks could annhilate the typical blue control deck from sheer mana advantage, with only decks like Buehler Blue actually able to resist Ponza's combination of threats and mana deprivation. After the introduction of 6th Edition, Pyroblast and Nevinyrral's Disks rotation from Standard hurt the deck greatly. Ponza found itself mostly helpless to both fast combo decks and Survival of the Fittest.

After the Rath Cycle rotates out of Standard, an entirely new, perhaps extremely pro-Ponza environment. Ponza retains most of its extreme board control in cards like Arc Lightning, Powderkeg, and Wildfire. Fast decks, on the other hand, find themselves losing staples like Cursed Scroll, Jackal Pup, and Sarcomancy. Huge threats like Survival of the Fittest and Oath of Ghouls also disappear, making the lack of enchantment elimination much less hazardous.
The Ponza-like Sped Red will also have to undergo radical changes. Losing Mogg Fanatic and Jackal Pup, Sped Red will probably steer back towards its more controlling roots, as it loses its primary aggressive characteristics that differentiate Ponza from Sped Red. The primary characteristics of Ponza, time advantage and board control, will remain for the Sped deck, but without many of its punch cards or colorless removal, a move towards Powder Keg will perhaps prove necessary.

As we enter into a post-Rath Standard, Ponza's core pieces will remain. Stone Rain and Pillage, (occasionally) coupled with Avalanche Riders and Wildfire provide plenty of options for mana-control. Arc Lightning, Powder Keg, and Masticore are quick board control, and a great deal of burn remains available. Ponza could be one of the few Standard decks that translates into the new Type II.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(I have added the notes that follow to complete the history of mono red up to the release of Planeshift. As noted earlier, Sligh decks became infeasible, and mono red became synonymous with Ponza until it, too, became infeasible with Invasion. – Oscar Tan aka Rakso)

When the Tempest block rotated out, Ponza lost its best weenies (Jackal Pup and Mogg Fanatic) as well as Cursed Scroll. Ponza decks generally adapted by replacing the weenie element with more burn. Sandstone Needle replaced Ancient Tomb to some extent, and Tectonic Break supplemented Stone Rain and Pillage.

SANDSTONE PONZA, DAVID HUMPHREYS, MARCH 2000 DOJO DECKS TO BEAT
Creatures (10)
4 Avalanche Riders
4 Masticore
2 Lightning Dragon

Burn (12)
4 Seal of Fire
1 Shock
4 Earthquake
3 Hammer of Bogardan

Land Destruction (10)
4 Pillage
4 Stone Rain
2 Ring of Gix

Mana (28)
3 Fire Diamond
2 Dust Bowl
4 Ghitu Encampment
4 Rishadan Port
4 Sandstone Needle
11 Mountain


SETH BURN PONZA, JIMMY OMAN, SWEDISH NATIONAL CHAMPION, JUNE 2000
Creatures (10)
4 Avalanche Riders
4 Masticore
2 Lightning Dragon

Burn (13)
4 Shock
4 Seal of Fire
2 Hammer of Bogardan
3 Cave-In

Land Destruction (10)
4 Pillage
4 Stone Rain
2 Tectonic Break

Mana (28)
4 Rishadan Port
4 Dust Bowl
4 Ghitu Encampment
16 Mountain


PONZA, CHRIS BENAFEL, SECOND PLACE, US NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, SEPTEMBER 2000
Creatures (8)
4 Avalanche Rider
3 Masticore
1 Lightning Dragon

Burn (12)
2 Shock
4 Seal of Fire
3 Earthquake
2 Hammer of Bogardan
1 Cave-In

Land Destruction (10)
4 Stone Rain
4 Pillage
2 Tectonic Break

Others (2)
2 Powder Keg

Mana (28)
3 Fire Diamond
4 Rishadan Port
3 Dust Bowl
4 Ghitu Encampment
14 Mountain

Sideboard
3 Mogg Salvage
3 Pulverize
2 Tectonic Break
4 Boil
3 Thran Foundry

Ponza was well-represented in the diverse 2000 World Championships environment with 16 players (with Replenish “dominant” with 59 players and about 20% of the field), and they won a total of 52 games and lost 58. Its last hurrah was in the Team Finals between the United States and Canada where the US won, though Chris Benafel lost his match with Canada’s Murray Evans.

Tom Guevin reported on the Sideboard, “Evans' Stompy is a fast aggressive deck designed to maximize damage on the opponent. Benafel's Ponza is a control deck designed to disrupt the opponent by destroying critical resources like lands and mana producing creatures.”

“Game 1, Murray won the flip and played a Vine Dryad (discarding a Lyrist) and a Rancor on it. Chris played a Seal of Fire, while Murray attacked and played Wild Dog. Chris Shocked Murray and Sealed him down to 16 to steal the Dogs and then chump block the Dryad for a turn. Murray played a River Boa that was met with Shock. Benafel then dropped a Keg. This was huge because then Murray played Tangle Wire. The Keg was an additional permanent to tap under Wire.

“Murray continued to attack with the Dryad, but Chris Stone Rained the Cradle. Murray played a Lyrist, but Chris dropped Masticore. Murray said go as did Benafel, getting his Keg up to 4 along the way. Murray attacked, showing Giant Growth and the Dryad was blocked by the Core. The Growth went off, but Chris Kegged the Dryad and Regenerated his Core. Benafel then shot the Lyrist, clearing Murray's board. He attacked for 4 and played a Ghitu Encampment. Murray played a Wire, but with Chris at 6 land he simply tapped his land and attacked with the Core.

“Finally when it looks like Murray will go down, he pops an end step Vine Dryad and with Chris at 5 looks for a miracle. He draws a second Rancor and double Rancors the Dryad. He had 5 trample damage and thought he had the win. But the Ghitu was back to chump for a point, so Murray couldn't attack. Instead he had to chump the Core. He had a chance to draw a land and cast Blastoderm, but didn't and lost the first.”

Chris, however, lost the next two games.


In 2001, after mono red ceased to exist in Invasion-era Standard, Brian Kibler wrote about resurrecting it as a rogue deck on the Sideboard, “Land destruction as a strategy has been largely overlooked at the highest levels of Standard deckbuilding recently, and precisely why isn't clear. Ponza style decks enjoyed a great deal of success in Standard prior to the Urza's Block rotation, but since have lost the extremely potent Avalanche Riders, which doubled as land destruction and a potential win condition, as well as Masticore and Ghitu Encampment, which, like the Riders, served multiple purposes in the deck. The general power level of cards in the Standard environment has dropped, however, so one might suspect that these losses can be compensated for.”

THUNDERCATS, BRIAN KIBLER, SIDEBOARD TEST DECK
Creatures (7)
4 Scoria Cat
2 Flowstone Overseer
1 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero

Burn (12)
4 Seal of Fire
3 Hammer of Bogardan
3 Earthquake
2 Ghitu Fire

Land Destruction (11)
4 Stone Rain
4 Pillage
3 Tectonic Break

Mana (30)
4 Fire Diamond
2 Star Compass
4 Rishadan Port
2 Dust Bowl
18 Mountain

Sideboard
4 Boil
3 Lightning Dart
4 Flametongue Kavu
2 Flashfires
1 Earthquake
1 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero

Brian proposed the deck type against a number of mana-intensive decks, with Scoria Cat “tech.”
He wrote, “Without the land destruction overload Avalanche Riders, it is foolish to think that one can keep an opponent to three or less land indefinitely. With the regenerating blocker Masticore provided gone, a monored deck must look for another answer to large creatures that slip through the bombardment of Stone Rains and Pillage.”

SCORIA CAT
Cost: 3RR
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Cat
Set: Prophecy

Card Text: 3/3. ; Scoria Cat gets +3/+3 as long as you control no untapped lands.
Flavor Text: Like a volcano, it too can erupt without warning.
Artist: Andrew Goldhawk
Released: 6/2000


Brian continued, “That answer can be found in the beast that is Scoria Cat. The Prophecy uncommon was always a high draft pick due to its ability to dominate the table in creature combat, and current Standard is scarcely different. Against Fires, Scoria Cat sits back and roars at incoming Blastoderms, who - conveniently enough - cannot be targeted by Fires of Yavimaya to make them large enough to punch their way through the Cat's enormous toughness. It also deals very well with Saproling Burst, picking off the tokens one by one and living to tell the tale. As Pro Tour-Chicago showed, Fires decks have a very difficult time dealing with six toughness creatures - especially when their land is getting blown up. One can easily keep land tapped by playing land destructions spells, recurring Hammers, or just playing more enormous beasts to keep the opponent's fading monsters in check - and once they're gone, the six power Scoria Cats end games VERY quickly.” Flowstone Overseer also replaces Masticore to some extent.

Brian went on, “In the testing I have put this deck through, it has performed reasonably well against almost every popular archetype. One of its most potent advantages is that it can easily take advantage of an opponent with an even slightly mana-light draw, turning what would otherwise be a slight stall into a crippling paralysis of their development. It is nearly impossible for a Fires deck to beat your land destruction without a mana creature on the draw, and even then you have a plethora of direct damage to remove them. This direct damage - along with your large creatures - is devastating to Rebel strategies, and Hammer of Bogardan punishes slower decks. Blue Skies is a relatively bad matchup, but Boil, Lightning Dart, the second Tahngarth, and Flametongue Kavu after sideboard turn a previously disadvantageous matchup into a virtual slaughter.

“However, like I have said, this listing is only a rough version, although it has gone through a number of previous incarnations. Cards like Chimeric Idol, Veteran Brawlers, and Tangle Wire have all been in and out of the main deck at various times, and are notably absent from the current version due primarily to the fact that they are nearly useless against at least one of the popular decktypes in the current environment. This particular listing is designed for a relatively open field, consisting of Fires, Rebel, Control, and Skies decks, and can stand to benefit from tuning more in the direction of beating a particular metagame. I encourage you to tinker with both the numbers of various cards in the deck, and to experiment with other cards entirely. Thundercats is meant to illustrate a particular principle, that of foil deckbuilding, rather than to provide you with a ready-to-play decklist, although in its current incarnation I would not put it above winning a few tournaments.”


APPENDIX IIC: GOBLIN SONG

SONG OF BLOOD
Cost: 1R
Rarity: Common
Type: Sorcery
Set: Visions

Errata: Put the top four cards from your library into your graveyard. ; Whenever a creature attacks this turn, it gets +1/+0 until end of turn for each creature card put into your graveyard this way. [Oracle 00/10/24]
Flavor Text: Purraj sang slaughter and danced death.
Rulings: If a creature attacks more than once in a turn (due to Relentless Assault), it gets the bonus each time. [D'Angelo 99/09/20]

Artist: Eric Peterson
Released: 2/1997


Army of Allah was a popular card in old White Weenie decks, and this looked like a poor imitation of that ability. It, however, formed the core of a cheap but consistent and quite effective deck. Windsor’s informal Team Weedwhacker (featuring Mike and Jeff Donais), however, floated a few ideas and gave the card its place in Magic history.

One idea was, “Ornithopter+Phyrexian Walker: Another thought is to go with all 1 cc Goblins and 4 Ornithopters and 4 Phyrexian Walkers. Imagine this draw: 7 cards: 2 Mountains, 4 Ornithopters, 1 Goblin. Turn 2 draw: 1 Song of Blood. Cast everything, turn 2 attack for 21. Obviously this is a god draw, but you get the idea.”


THE STAIRWAY TO HELL, MIKE DONAIS, APRIL 1997
Combo (6)
2 Tombstone Stairwell
4 Song of Blood

Creatures (34)
4 Shadow Guildmage
2 Sewer Rats
2 Vampire Bats
4 Skulking Ghost
4 Pump Knight
4 Black Knight
4 Fallen Askari
2 Dwarven Miner
4 Mind Stab Thrull
3 Nekrataal
1 Necrosavant

Land (20)
4 Sulfurous Springs
1 City of Brass
1 Mountain
1 Undiscovered Paradise
13 Swamps

The Weedwhacker website read, “Well with tons of cheap creatures, you would think Tombstone Stairwell would rock. Not only that but black has tons of great weenies. On top of that, Song of Blood actually puts creatures in your graveyard, amazing with Tombstone Stairwell. This is a very viable deck suddenly… This is a fairly violent and straightforward song of blood/stairwell deck. The exact creatures you choose to use don't matter that much as long as they are cheap and you have a lot of them. The cheap costs let you play with less lands which can improve the Songs of Blood. Song of Blood itself can easily be a game ender, and if it does not win you the game then atleast your graveyard will contain more creatures for the Stairwell.”

With one-time Weedwhacker Gary Wise, this idea was later converted into Mirage block constructed decks that added Ertai’s Familiar to fuel the graveyard. Song of Blood was eventually discarded, however, and the deck (renamed ErTog) focused on the Familiar and Necratog.


ERTAI’S SONG, TOMAS LINDOHF, GRAND PRIX COPENHAGEN, SEPTEMBER 1997 (MIRAGE BLOCK CONSTRUCTED)
Creatures (35)
4 Shadow Guildmage
4 Circling Vultures
4 Ertai's Familiar
4 Barrow Ghoul
4 Skulking Ghost
4 Fallen Askari
2 Fledgling Djinn
4 Man O'War
2 Necratog
3 Nekrataal

Others (4)
3 Song of Blood
1 Kaervek's Torch

Land (21)
1 Bad River
1 Rocky Tar Pit
3 Gemstone Mine
3 Undiscovered Paradise
2 Island
1 Mountain
10 Swamp

Sideboard
2 Bubble Matrix
3 Serrated Biskelion
2 Bone Dancer
1 Enfeeblement
1 Forsaken Wastes
1 Nekrataal
2 Mind Harness
2 Disenchant
1 Serenity


ERTAI’S SONG, JOHN ROBERTSON, 1997 ONTARIO REGIONALS, 5th PLACE
Creatures (33)
2 Circling Vultures
3 Hermit Druid
4 Dauthi Slayer
4 Wall of Blossom
2 Ertai's Familiar
4 Uktabi Orangutan
2 Bottle Gnomes
2 Spike Feeder
2 Necratog
3 Man o War
3 Nekrataal
2 Cloudchaser Eagle

Others (6)
1 Corpse Dance
2 Song of Blood
3 Living Death

Land (21)
4 Reflecting Pool
3 Gemstone Mine
2 Undiscovered Paradise
3 City of Brass
7 Swamp
2 Forest


Sideboard: 3 Hydroblast (there wasn't alot of red, but these were very useful) 3 Ebony Charm (didn't play a deck I needed them against, but they were around) 3 Tranquil Domain (needed these so badly sometimes) 4 Pyroblast (I would have played with 6) 2 Sacred Ground (so so, a nice shock value card)

SONG OF LHURGOYF, MIKE DONAIS, APRIL 1997
Creatures (25)
2 Granger Guildmage (Flexible, especially with elves for white)
4 River Boa (very little in 5th allows you to regenerate)
2 Dwarven Miner (some disruption)
2 Jolrael's Centaur(flank vs pump knights) =25 non-mana creatures
1 Uktabi Orangutan (wildebeest)
4 Lhurgoyfs (my only answer to wrath, song of blood!)
4 Yavimaya Ants (good with goyfs)
4 Stampeding Wildebeests (wall,orang,pacifism etc)
1 Kaysa
1 Elvish Bard

Mana creatures (14)
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Quiron Elves
4 Wall of roots (wildebeest)
2 Elvish Spirit Guide (Flexible)

Combo (4)
4 Song of blood (tramplers, double for lhurgoyfs!)

Land (17)
1 Undiscovered Paradise
1 Mountain Valley
4 Karplusan Forest
2 Mountain
9 Forest

The Weedwhacker website read, “Very light on land, but heavy on creatures. This deck can work very well if your opponent doesn't draw too many Wraths. And if he does hope he doesn't have anything for the Lhurgoyf that you cast right after the Wrath.

“One of my better sample games that I played vs sleight/knight went like this:

“Turn1: Forest, Llanowar Elf

“Turn 2: Karplusan Forest, Quiron elf, and Llanowar Elf.

“Turn 3: Forest, River Boa, Granger Guildmage.

“(I was sort of annoyed that I had no big creatures)

“(At this point he had a pump knight Sleighted to green)

“Turn 4: (Draw a second song of blood, had 1 in my hand) Undiscovered Paradise, Song of Blood, Song of Blood

“Turn over 8 cards, 7 are creatures!

“Attack with 5 weenies (by weenie I mean 8 + Power). He blocks the river boa and takes 32 Damage

“Obviously the deck isn't usually that violent but with Ants and Wildebeests trampling with song of blood, it can get pretty big.”


Their initial idea, which they dismissed, was the one that stuck. The Weedwhacker website read, “I started thinking about Song of Blood, and how it could be made into a strong card. The obvious was a goblin deck and with Goblin Recruiter. You could put 4 or more goblins on top of your library. This is a 2 card combo, and you have to have lots of weenies in play. Plus your standard goblin deck has only about 20 creatures, 20 burn, 20 land so the song of blood alone only turns over 1.6 creatures. Not quite good enough for me.”

GOBLIN RECRUITER
Cost: 1R
Rarity: UnCommon
Type: Creature - Summon Goblin
Set: Visions

Errata: 1/1. When ~this~ comes into play, search your library for any number of Goblin cards. Reveal those cards, then shuffle your library and put them on top of it. [Oracle 99/06/30]
Flavor Text: "Next!”
Rulings:
 You can only put "Creature - Goblin" cards on top of your library. Not any card with "Goblin" in the title. [D'Angelo 99/05/01] Note that older cards say "Summon Goblin" and "Summon Goblins".
 Note - Also see Comes Into Play Abilities, Rule E.3.

Artist: Scott Kirschner
Released: 2/1997


The mono red Song of Blood Goblin deck was represented in a few tournament reports on the Dojo, and had strong surprise value. A group of Type I players from Washington Pennsylvania used the deck as a $5 deck that could win against many unprepared power decks, and attributed the Type I refinement to JP Flores.

TURBO TURKEY, TERRENCE WONG, AUGUST 1998 (TYPE I CASUAL PLAY)
Creatures (28)
4 Raging Goblin
3 Mogg Raider
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Goblin Tinkerer
2 Goblin Digging Team
4 Goblin Balloon Brigade
3 Keeper of Kookus
4 Goblin Recruiter

Burn (11)
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Fireblast

Others (6)
4 Song of Blood
2 Shattering Pulse

Land (15)
15 Mountain

This deck was posted on the Dojo with a very amusing introduction: “For those of you who feel that Type 1 is way more expensive than Type 2, this is to convince you otherwise. First of all, you DO NOT need Power 9 to win. Power 9 merely creates the illusion that one wins, since only the experienced and able players have them. Also, in the city that I live in, Washington Pennsylvania, there have been no T2 tournaments since August of 1997 when there was a 3 player tournament. T2 ‘power cards’ like Impulse and Intuition, the ‘T2 demonic tutors’ are sacrificed to the fire gods almost daily. Others, like the Scroll, which me and 95% of the people here think are way overrated (you: ‘I've won with a scroll many times’ me: ‘I've won with a fireball just as many, and paid $1.00 for 4’) and even cards like Living Death and Reflecting Pool are relatively cheap. Besides, with the rate that new cards are coming into the T2 mix and the amounts going out, virtually every deck will need new cards. Watch as your hard earned Hammer just collects dust as MirViLight goes out and you spend more furnishing your deck with Urza's Saga rares. For those of you who are not yet convinced, build the following deck.”

A swarm of 1/1s could actually take down a number of unprepared decks, but lost horribly to any deck that could deal with the single-minded offense. More resilient versions added larger 2-mana goblins such as Mogg Flunkies to overcome other weenies. This also made better use of the Recruiter; drawing a 3/3 every turn was not something every deck could handle or handle fast enough.

Read More Articles by Oscar Tan aka Rakso!

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