Modern R/G Aggro: Some Hasty Changes

Who had fun this standard season?  I sure did! Even with all of those confounded Lingering Souls, Delevers, and Messengers floating around; I was still able to take a Green and Red deck to a GP and not look like an idiot. Thank you Jackie Lee!!!  Right now I am gleely looking towards to this fall, and the Return to Ravinca.  But at the same time I am sadden by the fact that key parts of one of my all time favorite decks are rotating out of standard.  To overcome this mild depression I have brewed up a modern version of Jackie Lee’s R/G Aggro list.

While the deck plays the same as it did before.  The major difference in the modern incarnation of R/G Aggro is speed.  Before the Deck had 6 dudes with haste.  My modern list has 14 hasty creatures.  That is a whole lot of no holds bar smashing face! There are two cards that have sadly been cut from the deck.  The first is Green Sun Zenith.  Because well this is a modern legal list after all (damn you Dryad Arbor and Gaddock Teeg). The second card is Hunt Master of the Fells.  Believe it or not there is a much better choice for the 4 drop slot for this deck.  And it is even an uncommon.  Can you guess what it is???

At the moment I have not developed a side board for this incarnation of R/G Aggro.  I need to spend some time looking closely at the Modern meta game to fill in the decks weaknesses.  For now I will leave the mana base alone, sticking with the “Standard” mana base.  I will need to do some more testing, but it seems that this deck does not require Shock Lands to function properly.  Which is a good thing due to the fact that Sword of Fire and Ice and Noble Hierarch are very costly additions, however they are well worth it.  The card advantage provided by SoF&I is very important to this deck, allowing you to not over extend and recover from a Damnation The 3 damage speeds the aggro plan of this deck along nicely as well.  Switching out the Llanowar Elves  allows for crazy plays like 1st turn Noble Hierarch.  2nd turn Boggart Ram Gang, swing for 4 on turn two!!!  Thank you for taking time out of your day to read over my brewing ideals.  Please share your thoughts on this.  I will be back shortly with an article on the very crazy and very funky cube that I recently built.

But Dad, two Explorers!!!

One of the awkward joys of being a divorced father, is only seeing your kids every other weekend.  Who I am kidding?  It outright sucks not living with my children.  This past weekend was my time with my kids, and it was GREAT!

The Highlight of the weekend happened on Sunday night.   While I was cooking dinner my 10 year old son and 8 year old daughter were playing Magic.  All of the sudden my son comes to me all flustered and upset.  “Dad it is turn four.  I am on the play, and she has FIVE lands in play!”

I blink “Really???”

He responds with “Yes! Really!”, in a very angry tone.

In a flat unamused tone I say “Let me guess Two Explorers, right?”

Not being familiar with the MTG meme reference, he looks at me very confusingly ponders for a moment and says sheepishly “yes….”

I shake my head and wave arm pointing towards the table “Go back and just play your game.  This is Kitchen Table REL, so just forget about it.  Play the game and have fun”.

“But, but Dad….”

“No buts about it. GO! Judge level Dad has spoken.  And no you may not appeal to the head judge. Now go!”

He scampers off, where his B/G infect deck soundly whooped his sisters mono White deck.  The whole time I was trying not to laugh.  After he went back to the table I had to leave the room, where I busted out laughing.  I was very impressed with the fact that he came up with the phrase “I was on the play”,  I have never said that term around him.  Also I was impressed with my self that I came up with “Kitchen Table REL” on the fly.


Nom Nom Brains!!!

The air is filled the rancid smell of rotting flesh.  The unholy moans of the Damned, and the screams of the living assault your ears.  That’s right folks it is time for the tribal Zombie Commander deck time.  And the man with the plan is Grimgrin, Corpse-Born! While there has been a lot of steam around the inter-webs about why Thraximundar should be used over Grimgrin.  To all that say this; I say “That you are doing it wrong”.  ‘Cause real zombies eat other zombies for breakfast, because zombies make you stronger.  On a slightly more serious note.  While Thraximundar does give you access to Red, and therefore has access to more cards, and therefore can do more shiny and cool things, and not to mention Thrax has haste, and Thrax is not targeted…… BLAH BLAH BLAH.  What it really boils down to is from flavor aspect a Red zombie just doesn’t make sense.  Actually a Red zombie is just plain loco.  Red being the color for Fire and Flames; and last time checked zombies really really do not like fire.  I am pretty sure Pyroclasm reads “Quell target Zombie Apocalypse”.  Honestly Zombies should be rotting and all soggy.  Not burnt and crispy.  Wait did I say that I was going to be serious?  Never mind.  Don’t get me wrong Thrax is very good, and possibly is better that GrimGrin.  But GrimGrin fills a niche that Thrax can not fill.  Thrax is an amazing Vol-Tron style commander, but GrimGrin is Vol-Tron and is a combo piece at the same time.

Combo?  That’s right my friends combo, and GrimGrin has some crazy combo’s that will leave the entire table groaning like a hoard of zombies.  Aside from the obvious Heavy Arbalest and Viridian Longbow.  There are some real fun tribal zombie based combos.  Let’s start off by playing Noxious Ghoul and follow it up by playing Tombstone Stairwell.  Take a minute read Tombstone Stairwell, very carefully.  Wait for it.  Yes, you read that correctly.  During each upkeep, each player puts a zombie token into play for each creature in his/her graveyard.  Then Noxious Ghoul triggers when ever a zombie comes into play; regardless of who controls it.  So after one upkeep of this the board should cleared.  If not on second upkeep the board will be cleared with out a doubt.  Yes, I know Damnation costs just 4 mana, and requires just one card, and just one turn to clear the board.  But this is just so much fun to pull off.  Besides combos like these are the kind that people laugh about when they are killed by them.  Ridiculousness, having a good time, and silliness is what Commander is all about right?  Also I should point out another power house card the synergies with the rest of the deck is Dire Undercurrents.  This card is bonkers at controlling the table and placing everybody in top deck mode.  Especially if you have a good token generator online like Army of the Damned, Endless Ranks of the Dead, and the aforementioned Tombstone Stairwell

The great thing about tribal Zombies (or most tribal decks for that matter) is that they are like pencils.  Meaning if you take one pencil you can easily snap it in half.  But it you try to snap two dozen pencils in half at the same time it is much harder to deal with.  Running champ zombies like: Lich Lord of Unx, Death Baron, Lord of the Undead, and Undead Warchief with turn your average 2/2 token into monster to be reckoned with.

In closing this is a fun deck to play.  At the very least in the early game you get to turn guys sideways and moan “Zombie Apocalypse” or even better “MMMM Brains!!!!”.  Your friends will laugh, and it will be all fun and games until you use kill one player withHeavy Arbalest, then in the same turn attack the other player with lethal General damage with a 30/30 GrimGrin.  Until next, keep tapping that cardboard.

EDIT- So the Deck List widget does not like me, and refuses to work like it is suppose to.  I am going to continue to try and figure out how to make it work.  Until then my list for this deck can be found at:


I Bleed Purple.

Hello, and I would thank you for taking time out of your day to read my rantings.  My name is Scott Holmes.  I starting playing Magic in 1994, my favorite formats are Commander (I still call it EDH) and Draft.  I also love legacy, however to do work schedule and lack of local interest I rarely get to play legacy.  If you are wondering what in the world is that on my icon, it is Nin, the Pain Artist holding Stuffy Doll like a baby.  It comes from my altered Nin, which was done by the talented MJ Scott.  She can be reached on twitter @moxymtg

When asked if I am a Johnny, Timmy, or Spike my response is “I am an Izzet Guild Mage”.  I still remember day Niv-Mizzet the Firemind was spoiled.  It was a day that changed my life forever.  My favorite deck of all time was the deck I had during the two years that Ravnica was in Standard.  The backbone of the is 2x Niv-Mizzet, 2x Mindmoil, and 4x Gelectrode. Then the rest of the deck was basically cheap burn and cheap counter.  How I killed you went something like this. Tap Gelectrode deal one point of damage to you.  Cast Shock thats two more… this caused both mindmoil and gelecltrode to trigger.  Gel untaps and mindmoil cause me to put my hand on the bottom of my deck and draw that many cards.  Drawing cards causes Niv to trigger… lets say I drew 4.  So take 4 more. I tap Gel take one more.  I then cast volcanic hammer take 3 more…. and the cycle goes on.  To make sure I didn’t run out of gas I ran two Magus of the Jar just to make sure I get the job done.  Unlike most Burn Decks this one was really good in multi-player games.

Well a few years have passed since then, and a few things have changed.  I have become a huge addict of EDH, and Izzet has gotten some amazing toys in the past few years.  However there is a problem, a really big problem for Izzet as far as EDH is concerned.  General selection.  Up until recently Izzet has had 3 generals to choose from.  Niv-Mizzet is a hated douche-bag.  Sadly it is not even the poor guys fault.  Three cards make my pal Niv insanly good; Curiosity, Mind Over Matter, and Ophidian Eye.  These cause Niv to just draw cards over and over and kill everybody.  Then there is Jhoira of the Ghitu.  Well what can I say Jhoria is a bitch on her own accord.  Paying two mana to cast any spell you want seems pretty good.  Paying 2 mana to cast “One Shot the Robot” is just not right.  And that leaves us with Tibor and Lumina.  Ummm errrr yeah…. Tibor and Lumina is Mormir Vig’s mentally handicap little brother.

With the release of commander Izzet has new friend.  Nin, the Pain Artist.  This four armed purple Dominatrix has found a special place in my heart.  I have a feeling that before too long Nin will be placed right up there with Jhoira and Niv.

Why is Nin, so good?  One could look at Nin and say she sucks.  You CAN kill your opponents critters, but they get a huge card advantage.  To all of those narrow minded scrubs that think this I say “Open up your minds, step out of your conservative shell, and embrace the pain”.  Nin real power does not come from killing your opponents creatures (however this is always an option), but rather from targeting your own creatures and drawing lots of cards.  Simply put Nin is pure card advantage and tempo all rolled into one package.

With that in mind Nin number one favorite toy is Stuffy Doll.  I burn you in the face, and I will draw a bunch of cards, thank you very much.  Old stand-byes like Niv-Mizzet, Mindmoil, and Gelectrode have made it into the deck.  As for those new toys Izzet have gotten over the past few years.  Psychosis Crawler, Consecrated Sphinx, Thought Reflection, and Archmage Ascension are all amazing in this deck.

Now I refuse to run Curiosity, Mind Over Matter, and Ophidian Eye.  While these cards are really good….but these cards are not fun to play against/play with.  And these cards gave my guild a bad rap, so they have left a bad taste in my mouth.  Also you will not find Reliquary Tower in my deck.  The reason being is that it is to easy deck myself.  Instead I run Ulamog and Elixir of Immortality.  I do run Laboratory Maniac however it sucks to have Laboratory Maniac die while you have a draw effect on the stack, so having a shuffle effect that can be done as a fast effect is a life saver.

My main win condition is Psychosis Crawler and then to clone it as many times as possible.   If that fails Niv works as well, it is just a little slower.

Well I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings about Izzet.  If you have thoughts or suggestions please feel free to share them.  I have to apologize, due to holidays I am separated from my deck box (use I am suffering from de-tox symptoms), so at this time I can not post the deck list.  I will post the list early next week. Also stay tuned next time I will explaining why Grim Grin is cooler than Thraximunder, with my Zombie Apocalypse Commander deck.  Until then have a Happy Holidays.