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Is there any better feeling?
You're playing a tense Game 3 of your win-and-in for Top 8. A small crowd has gathered, and the game is starting to slip away. You've had a fast start, but your opponent has begun to stabilize at five life and has a healthy battlefield of a Rogue Refiner, a 5/5 Longtusk Cub, a Servant of the Conduit, and a freshly cast Bristling Hydra. You're out of cards, with nothing but four Mountains, a Ramunap Ruins, and a lowly Bomat Courier on the battlefield. Things are looking grim.
What else is a Ramunap Red player to do?
"End step, sacrifice Ramunap Ruins to itself, put you to three."
And then you untap, slowly peel the top card of your deck over, and flip it on the table.
It's just that easy.
Mountains in All Formats!
With a Team Constructed Open on the horizon at #SCGBALT, we've hit an interesting point in the three major formats where red decks are well-positioned across the board.
Whether you're topdecking Lightning Strike in Standard, Boros Charm in Modern, or Price of Progress in Legacy, each deck is an excellent choice for any aggressive player looking to play in the team event or beyond. In fact, if a team were so inclined, they could bring the full pressure of all the best burn spells and aggressive creatures Magic has ever seen to form...
Imagine the pressure placed on your poor opponents as they must endure an entire volley of burn spells being thrown at their faces across all three formats!
Seat A – Standard
Ramunap Red has been a driving force in Standard since the printing of Ramunap Ruins and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa's win at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. With success in almost every major Standard event since, Ramunap Red has been and continues to be at the forefront of the format. However, there is an issue for Hazoret the Fervent and friends.
Ramunap Red has always struggled against Temur Energy, mostly due to how effective Whirler Virtuoso is. Whirler Virtuoso's 1/1 Thopter army is a nightmare for one-toughness creatures like Bomat Courier and Earthshaker Khenra, while also providing a never-ending cushion against attacks from Hazoret the Fervent. Combine this with the fast clock that Longtusk Cub and Glorybringer provide, and things can get difficult for the Ramunap Red player.
Ramunap Red is already a very solid deck that does well against the rest of the format, so it stands to reason that if you could improve the Temur Energy matchup, success would follow. We saw this evolution on full display at #GPATL last weekend with both Ben Stark's and Trey Van Cleave's unique takes on the deck. Both clearly had improving the Temur Energy matchup on their mind, but they went about it in very different ways.
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 3 Glorybringer
- 3 Rampaging Ferocidon
- 3 Sand Strangler
- 3 Soul-Scar Mage
- 1 Hazoret the Fervent
- 2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Ben decided to go big.
It has been very common for Ramunap Red to sideboard a number of haymakers like Glorybringer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance as a semi-transformational sideboard plan. You beat them down with 2/1s in Game 1, they bring in a bunch of copies of Magma Spray, and then you beat them over the head with Dragons.
Ben decided to just put the "big stuff" plan into his maindeck, supplementing it with other logical cards that make sense with the overall strategy. When you're not trying to deal early damage and empty your hand for Hazoret the Fervent as quickly as possible, cards like Earthshaker Khenra and Soul-Scar Mage lose a lot of their appeal and extra removal like Magma Spray and Sand Strangler is very desirable. The deck takes on a more midrange slant while still maintaining the possibility for aggressive starts.
While this plan is clever and obviously worked for Ben all the way to the finals of #GPATL, I don't expect it to endure. There's a nice amount of rogue/surprise factor going on here and Ben is obviously a world-class player; both characteristics that won't translate well week-to-week for most players.
There's also a big hole in this plan with how Temur Energy players are currently constructing their decks: