Get To Know Your Metagame: RDW (Red Deck Wins)



18 May 2010


RDW, for those of you new to the tournament scene, stands for Red Deck Wins.

Core cards

Any red creature with haste and unearth. Any direct damage spell. Ball Lightning.

Secondary cards

Elemental Appeal, Zektar Shrine Expedition, Chandra Ablaze.

How it works.

It kills you. With FIRE. Direct damage spells will go to your face, and hasty unearthers like Hellspark Elemental and Hell's Thunder will come back again and again to do their 3 or 4 damage before you even play your first spell. By turn 5, you will not have any life left.

How to beat it

RDW is like a guy with a flamethrower coming at you. You can do a few things.

1 - Poke holes in his fuel tank. The fuel tank is the RDW player's hand- if you force them to discard cards, they will run out of gas and not be able to finish you off. Timing is everything, though. Make them discard too early and they'll just drop their unearthers in the trash to pick up later. Too late and you'll already be a burning cinder. You want to aim for about turn 3 or so, when they start dropping their unearth creatures but leave some direct damage spells, Ball Lightnings, and Elemental Appeal-style big daddies in their hands for next turn. This is convenient, seeing as the two best discard spells in standard, Mind Rot and Blightning, both cost 3.

2 - Wear a flame-retardant suit. The metaphor here is lifegain. You can make the RDW player run out of gas if you have more life than he can take away. Sunspring Expedition works well for white decks, as it will activate right when you get into the danger zone. Ajani Goldmane is another option, as is anything with lifelink, though obviously if your lifelinker costs 5 or more mana ( Baneslayer Angel, for instance ), you're wasting your time.3- Stuff the nozzle of the flamethrower. This means stopping the damage from happening, either by countering the spells, killing the creatures, or throwing up walls. Decks that can do these things reliably, even if it's just a couple answers here and there early in the game, will do well against RDW.

RDW is a known quantity. Most decks will have some kind of answer for it in one of the above three forms. It is not to be underestimated, though, as even with a solid deck, you need to have the right draws. RDW demands the most aggressive mullganing against it than any other deck- who CARES if you only have four cards, if those four cards are plains, path, path, path? You will survive the rush and then sit back and build up as the RDW player will have to topdeck a bunch of damage and hope YOU don't topdeck anymore answers.

Good sideboard choices

Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, and to a lesser extent other instant-speed removal, any counterspell, any lifegain, any discard, Wall of Denial and other low-cost creatures with high toughness.

Tomorrow's Meta: All the rest

This article is a follow-up to Get To Know Your Metagame: Polymorph The next article in this series is Get To Know Your Metagame: All the rest

merubhanot says... #1

I have to say, I'm sad there is no article on Naya. It seems far better than an "All the Rest" deck... :-(

May 18, 2010 8:01 p.m.

KrazyCaley says... #2

Naya's got to show me something. I think it's making a little bit of a comeback now that it has Vengevine; we'll see.

May 19, 2010 12:04 a.m.

bloodcot says... #3

No mention of the card that tears apart RDWs, Kor Firewalker ?

May 19, 2010 12:19 a.m.

KrazyCaley says... #4

Yeah, that's basically an automatic choice. Good call.

Also, check out the deck performances in the Nationals here:

Mythic Conscription is the deck that did the best overall. Jund was most played.


May 19, 2010 12:21 a.m.

guitarhero says... #5

This article has completely filed to mention the new variant - "devastating red deck" which can kill you easy turn 3 or any turn thereafter if you tap out.

May 19, 2010 1:27 a.m.

mattlohkamp says... #6

@merubhanot - I'm guessing Naya Lightsaber and Boss Naya will make an appearance at some point in this series - right, KrazyCaley?

May 19, 2010 4:37 a.m.

RiverRansom says... #7

Heh, when my friend started playing this in casual it really forced me to tweak my metagame.

May 19, 2010 11:50 a.m.

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