All rise! You’re about to enter Merica territory!
Land of the Gain, Home of the Draw!
I’m also about to show off a deck I’ve used since May and, through its many incarnations, has proven to be the most resilient, versatile and loyal deck I’ve had. I call it Merica because simply it flies the Jeskai colors or red, white and blue. And it was just obvious.
Now the disclaimer: this is not a tourney winner. It’s a higher mid-range deck which, at moments, can stand toe to toe with those net decks everyone’s spamming on Arena. I’ve clocked this at about a 60%-65% win ratio. So, it’s not a surefire ‘jank your way to Mythic’. But it hangs with higher end decks rather well and will, at times, surprise you.
Now, to begin with, I’m not a ‘net decker’. I don’t usually go with the going trends or the cool decks although, at times, I WILL try them. No, I like to find my own JANK. I like to go somewhere no one else has gone. And this deck, if anything, is different. I dare say that I’ve not seen ANY other decks that combine so much life gain with card draw shenanigans. Some may accuse me of not being focused enough or ‘trying too much’ in my decks. I can’t say you’re wrong. But, at times, I stumble onto a combination that works and works well.
So, this isn’t a Mythic deck. But it has gotten me midway through Platinum every month consistently. Would I like it to go further? Of course. Will it. Well, I have around two months before a lot of cards in this deck rotate out of standard. Then, it may be the deck that gets me to platinum in Historic.
Now, it may not move as fast as RED AGGRO, but it can hang long term with these decks and many others. Like America, it’s built to last. I usually pack in 3-5 board wipes. This is because you may find yourself a step behind. Who hasn’t? This gives you a much-needed opportunity to reset the game, if needed.
The life gain is real with this deck and can buy you time against some of those ‘surefire’ winners. Have you heard ‘your life total is a resource’? Well, it’s true. I have been down to one or two life and bounced back to end the game with over 50 life easy. This, of course, will make it harder to burn you out that fast.
Between these two facets of your engine, it will allow you to outlast those ‘faster’ red decks, survive the onslaught of black death cards and even recover from the control of white.
So, before I get to the meat of this deck, let me just say, ‘I like options’.
The first fuel for my engine is life gain.
I built, for the most part, your ‘usual suspect’ life gain deck. Ajani’s Pridemate, Impassioned Orator and Gideon’s Company are the main cards here. Add to the fact that, at least half the cards in the deck gain life, and you have the beginning of your engine. I use all of the life-gain taplands in all the color combinations that are useful here and they are all life gainers. Tranquil Cove, Wind-Scarred Crag and Swiftwater Cliffs are as important as any of the other cards in this deck, because they give life just for coming in and THAT will pop a lot of those life gainers. Ajani planeswalkers are always handy, but INSPIRING LEADER can pop in and, not only give life, but can also immediately exile that pesky opponent’s monster.
I added Cubwardens after AKORIA because I love mutating it onto Ajani’s Pridemate or even some of my card draw faries and getting those two cubby cats! The Cubwarden and it’s 1/1 kitties bring life link to the party and, if attached onto the Pridemate, will help feed the +1/+1 counters. You may have some success with Vulpikeet for flying and the Majestic Auricorn also although I opted to not.
Having blue and white in the engine allows some great cards with, not only, life gain, but also fodder for the second fuel for my engine here; card draw.
Dovin’s Acuity, Staggering Insight, Elite Guardmage and Sphynx’s Insight all do double duty for me in this deck. The plane’s walker, Dovin, Architect of Law, is also a major player in both. Other cards that play the middle ground and feed both ends of this deck are Inspired Ultimatum and Dream Trawler.
The second part of the engine, CARD DRAW, keeps our options open. Where LIFE GAIN builds a buffer and buys us time to get our engine going, CARD DRAW feeds power houses like Irencrag Pyromancer and Ominous Seas. It keeps cards coming at a pace that will, hopefully give you what you need when you need it.
Blue is, of course, strong in this area. Cloudkin Seer, Opt and the Tome Raider are just there to feed us cards and keep the wheels greased. The creatures here also make great blocking fodder.
Some strange inclusions into this deck could make many of you scratch your head and wonder if they’re necessary. But cards like Whirlwind of Thought, Gideon Blackblade and Niv-Mizzet Perun are just here to add a bit of punch and, at times, to pour gasoline on the fire. Whirlwind of Thought is really obvious. It will trigger on those non-creature spells (most of which allows you to draw cards) and bring more cards and answers to your hand. Gideon Blackblade comes in as a creature on your turn, will trigger the Orators the first time and can give some of your life gainers that much needed lifelink. He can also give a creature vigilance or indestructible if needed; but only till the end of turn. Niv-Mizzet Perun is the odd one here. He comes in with a 5/5 and flying that, at times, sends your opponents looking for help. He also can be quite damaging as he hits ANY TARGET every time you draw a card. And, in this deck, you are going to draw a LOT of cards.
When you’re almost guaranteed to draw, at least, two cards, with red in the deck, the IRENCRAG PYROMANCER is essential. This card alone has done a great deal of heavy lifting and much needed removal. Every second card you draw allows you to do three damage to ANY TARGET. And having 4 toughness allows it to block a multitude of creatures.
Another card that makes this deck even more versatile is LIGHT OF HOPE. It includes life gain, +1/+1 counters AND enchantment removal.
One other last minute addition would be LIGHT OF PROMISE. I’ve had some unbelievable games with this lifegain, +1/+1 ramper. It reminds me of Hydras Growth for white! If your opponent doesn’t deal with it quick, it can get out of control.
Try this deck out. Give it a spin. And if you see anything that can improve it, let us know in the comments or joint our Brew on our facebook page.