After my first sealed Magic Origins experience I was intrigued by a card I happened to pull three of in my Sealed Pool. Infectious Bloodlust.
The entire night, this card was a powerhouse. It felt to me like red’s version Rancor. If my opponent killed my bloodlusted creature, I just kept getting another copy of bloodlust to replace it. Because of infectious bloodlust, all of my otherwise not so exciting creatures were threats throughout the progression of the game.
This led me to an idea. What if we were to combine the renewable resource of bloodlust, with quick cheap red creatures that have an added benefit of being enchanted?
The first ability that comes to mind is Heroic. There are two Red one drops that are very impressive heros, Satyr Hoplite and Akroan Crusader. What I like the most about the two, is how they attack the game at different angles. Hoplite grows with the more spells you boost him with, while the Crusader tries to create a swarm of soldiers. This means our deck has ways around both sweeper and single target removal.
The second ability that has an added benefit to casting infectious bloodlust is Prowess. Currently, one of the best red one drops in the history of the game exists in standard, Monastery Swiftspear. With the release of Origins, we also have access to another powerhouse with prowess, the Abbot of Keral Keep. What makes Abbot more interesting is that it is most of the time going to cast you a spell off of the top of your library. Everything in our deck is going to be 2 mana or less, with the majority of the spells being only 1 mana. With infectious bloodlust off of the top, a late game 4 mana Abbot becomes a 5/3 haste with the Prowess trigger. Can’t afford the Abbot of Keral Keep? Mage-Ring Bully is a fine replacement as a 2/2 for 2 with prowess, although I do admit this a much weaker card than the abbot.
Rounding out our 20 creatures is Lightning Berserker. Although this slot as been switched up many times trying to find the best fit for our last creature slot, I found it more reliable than Firedrinker Satyr or Zurgo Bellstriker. The 1 red dash ability is not to be underestimated. A dashed berserker is often key to sneaking in that last bit of damage.
The next cluster of cards are other spells to buff up our red army. Two more auras are key to our strategy: Hammerhand and Dragon Mantle. Dragon Mantle serves as a cantrip, mainly allowing us to play a very tight land count. It also gives a creature the ability to breath fire and serve as a mana dump for unused mana. Hammerhand is probably the best spell in the deck. It is another key card that you can find off of the top of your library with Abbot, enchanting the Abbot to give haste and possibly unblockable, which adds up to 4 damage. Hammerhand also acts as your early evasion. When your opponent thinks they have stabilized with a Siege Rhino or Courser of Kruphix, Hammerhand nullifies their ability to block for a turn, often providing the game winning damage.
Lastly, we have a few spells and combat tricks in the form of Titan’s Strength, Temur Battle Rage and Coordinated Assault. Titan’s strength and Temur Battle rage pair up very well. On either a heroic or prowess creature you are adding a whopping +5 damage and double strike. Your opponent can never feel safe with these cards looming around in your deck. The scry off of Titan’s Strength is also key for setting up your next play. This is another card that allows us to play such a low land count. Often I cast a Titan’s strength on my upkeep, to ensure I either hit or don’t hit a land.
Although we only have room for two Coordinated Assaults, they are very deadly addition to the deck, again with prowess or heroic, adding at least +2 damage and first strike per targeted creature, helping us push through Coursers, Caryatids, Fleece-Rams and Rhinos.
What I like most about this deck, is that it comes out swinging. A very common scenario is dropping a turn 1 Crusader or Hoplite followed by a turn 2 swiftspear, then casting Coordinated Assault or Hammerhand, resulting in 5-6 early points of damage. The fastest kill I was able to manage was a third turn Temur Battle Rage and Titan’s Strength on my already hammerhanded Hoplite.
With so many lands coming into play tapped, this deck is very capable of consistently capitlizing on slower midrange decks by usually turn four or five. It attacks the meta at a different angle than traditional red aggro decks that utilize burn as finishers. One game against Sultai Control, I was able to blaze past a Tasigur and not one, not two, but three feed the clans. That was 30 additional the deck had to be able to deal, and did so without much of a setback!
Speeking of the metagame, what do we have in the sideboard?
With Red aggro decks so prevelant we need a way to kill their early swiftspears, berserkers and rabblemasters. 4 Wild Slash and 3 Twin Bolt does the trick here. Wild Slash also has the ability to stop damage from being prevented, which there are a few turbo fog decks running around.
For decks hoping to clog up the board through Dragon Fodder, hordeling outburst or Thopter Tokens, we also have 2 Scouring Sands.
Against Abzan decks, I bring in 2 Roasts and an additional 2 Coordinated Assaults if they are playing Fleeceman lions or Raksasha Deathdealers. The last spot in our 15 is specifically for Monogreen devotion. What usually happens against green devotion is they do a good job clogging up the board early on. For this we have recruited the skills of Akroan Line Breaker, that regardless of how many coursers, caryatids or genesis hydras are in our way, line breaker ignores them with intimidate. Paired with Temur Battle Rage, Line-breaker is an allstar in this matchup.
Now that you have looked over the 75 cards in our deck, you can see that this also has the added benefit of being a budget brew. Every card in the deck is an uncommon or common except for the Abbot of Keral Keep, which at the time I built this deck was under two dollars. However, with such a strong showing at pro tour Magic Origins, currently the Abbot has skyrocketed to around $8-10. Again, if this is too much for your wallet, Mage-ring Bully will do the trick. Even with the Abbots, if you were to compare this to the cost of other current standard decks, this is quite the bargain and yet still a very powerful deck!