Coboney's Musings: Rouge Standard

Written by coboney on May 17, 2010

This article is from Coboney's column 'Coboney's Musings'. This article along with all other articles and tournament coverage can be found on our coverage site. A direct link to the article can be found here.

And no, the title isn't a typo :)

Welcome back everyone to Coboneyís Musings. Today, Iím going to go over my deck of choice for Regionals, what its strengths are as well its weaknesses. I know you are all dying to hear just one more random personís opinion of the format so without further ado, I present to you Blightning Deck Wins, Variant 1337

Blightning Deck Wins, Variant 1337
Main Deck Sideboard
4 Lavaclaw Reaches
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn
7 Mountain
1 Swamp
4 Plated Geopede
4 Goblin Guide
4 Hell's Thunder
4 Kargan Dragonlord
1 Hellspark Elemental
4 Blightning
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Burst Lightning
3 Staggershock
4 Searing Blaze
3 Hellspark Elemental
2 Doom Blade
4 Deathmark
2 Quenchable Fire
4 Goblin Outlander

So first off, lets deal with the elemental in the room, why am I not running the Devastating Summons/Goblin Bushwhacker package and mono-red?

The reason for this is quite simple actually. I started my testing there along with messing around with things and I found that version of the deck, while more explosive, to be much less consistent because of how often Devastating Summons or Goblin Bushwhacker would sit around uselessly in your hand. Additionally, everyone is prepared for that now and is playing around it, making the gimmicky combo finish much less use.

BEFORE you run back to the main site to flame me, wait please. Read below and Iím certain your flames will have more ability. In the meantime, you can also start brainstorming some creative insults. It will get quite tiresome reading the same Ďyou suckí responses.


Goblin Guide: Simply put this guy is the best 1 drop in Standard based on his role and power level. Wild Nacatl is more powerful in a vacuum but it is not as important to his deck as Goblin Guide is to this deck.

Plated Geopede: Geopede is a staple in RDW because of his ability to provide high damage outputs, as well as stabilize draws because of his ability to make more land drops live. It can also blast through Wall of Omens with the help of a fetchland.

Kargan Dragonlord: One of the new Rise of the Eldrazi additions, Kargan Dragonlord helps give the deck more mid game power from the two drop slot. While he can be played well on turn 2, he is often best cast on turn 3 and levelled once. Exactly how good he is depends on the match and you need to be careful that he doesnít become a tempo thief especially in removal heavy matches like the mirror or Jund.

Hellspark Elemental: A 1 of in the main and a 3 of in the board, Hellspark is a card that shines in some matches and is awful in others. It is solid against Jund and in the Mirror but decidedly mediocre against U/W and awful against UWr (Especially post-board). The 1 main is essentially a pre-board for those matches and giving you a 9th two drop to help on making sure you have action there.

Hellís Thunder: Hellís Thunder is a creature in name only, and is in fact actually a burn spell. It flies over most creatures in the format and provides you with solid reach and its Unearth gives you late game burn. Its worst matches are Mythic and UWr.


Lightning Bolt: I wonít waste our time discussing this.

Burst Lightning: Another staple for red decks with its shock and kicker for super shock ability.

Searing Blaze: Burn a guy, and them seems good. It comes out in control matches due to lack of targets.

Blightning: A card that has helped define this Standard in Jund, Blightning is a powerful card that provides burn at their face and removing 2 cards from their hand. Both of these things are desirous in this deck as it hurts their ability to staunch the wounds and gives you further reach. It isnít bad anywhere and can be backbreaking at times.

Staggershock: Staggershock is very good for this deck from Rise, giving it another 3 mana 4 damage burn spell as well as allowing it to be split. Itís a Flame Javelin with upsideÖ and a little downside at times.


Hellspark Elemental: The rest of the copies are here for their matches.

Doom Blade: For decks that need extra removal and removal that hits Kor Firewalker and often Baneslayer as well. It comes in with Deathmark as a package.

Deathmark: Doom Bladeís brother in crime, a full four of this cheaper removal spell comes into leave a mark on the match.

Quenchable Fire: Quenchable Fire is for matches where you have super vulnerable dudes you donít want, the match is particularly burn dependant, and they canít pay the blue it provides you with another double burn spell.

Goblin Outlander: Probably the oddest choice, but Goblin Outlander significantly helps your UWr match as well as UW and splash hates Mythic. In the UWr match you often need another 4-6 damage to win without him post-board and he gives you that as their only outs to him are a Gideon stalemate and counters, along with temporary measures of Jace. He evades both of their walls and all but Day of Judgement removal wise making a big difference overall.

No Goblin Ruinblaster: While Goblin Outlander is the oddest inclusion this is the oddest sideboard omission. The reason for this is when playing it against Jund I found it normally mediocre because of the fact that it came down slowly and running head first into Sprouting Thrinax. Also, Jund decks are evolving with him and Spreading Seas in mind making him worst as they expect to see him.

So, thereís the deck explained in more detail then is probably necessary. Please, continue holding the flames, as Iím certain thereís more to come, as match-ups ALWAYS get them. Iíll die in fire soon enough anyways.

First of all for matches I rate them on the following scale Ė Very Favourable, Favourable, Indifferent, Unfavourable, and Very Unfavourable. These are approximations and it can change significantly on the configuration of the specific deck.

Vs Mythic

Rating: Very Favourable

Wait, I can see you releasing those flames. Please, wait a moment while I explain.

Mythic is a match where many Red players take the wrong approach. Your goal here, is not to be super fast and beat them before they do much, but rather to stop them from doing that to you. You are the control deck here.

Your goal, is to burn their little mana dorks every which what way and rely on your creatures to get damage in against their complete lack of removal.

If they run Rhox War Monk main, that does help their game 1 as main you have no real answer to it overall, but then they have no answer to a pumped Kargan Dragonlord other then 2-3 Jace, Mind Sculptor.

Game 2, you bring in more removal, stuff that takes out the Rhox War Monk, the Baneslayers and Kor Firewalkers. Your plan is identical though and be aggressive mulliganing here. You want at least 2 removal spells you can cast, at least one on turn 1. Goblin Outlander also comes in to help blunt edge any War Monks who do resolve and be mostly unblockable.

Iíll leave you with this opinion of the match-up from my testing partner: ďItís like Iím playing against Mono-U. You wonít let me do anything.Ē

Board: -1 Hellspark Elemental, -4 Hellís Thunder, -4 Blightning. +2 Doom Blade +4 Deathmark +3 Goblin Outlander.

Blightning, Hellís Thunder and Hellspark just donít fit your slower plan here as well. Blightning seems like it should, but the Outlanders ability to blank random Rhox War Monks makes it important to bring in for their good draws. If you know they arenít running Rhox War Monk, feel free to leave 3 Blightning in and the 3 Outlanders outside.

Vs UW Control

Rating: Indifferent to Slightly Favourable

Please note, I am distinguishing UW and UWr Planeswalkers as for Blightning they are VERY different match-ups especially post-board hence grouping them together is just bad. Many people are still making this mistake but their approach is different.

The UW match-up game one is a pure race and also depends on their exact build. Kargan Dragonlords need to be played carefully around path, beware of Baneslayers and donít waste burn on that Wall of Omens typically speaking. Jace should also be ignored as it is rarely relevant overall. Burn is your friend here and play that properly; namely by tossing it at their face.

Post-Board the match-up dynamics change a lot. First of all, if they donít have it already, they will have Baneslayer and they will be bringing in Kor Firewalker, Flashfreeze and if boarded, Negates. You bring in on the other hand Doom Blades, some Deathmarks and some Goblin Outlanders.

With these changes Game 2 requires that you play more cautious as you can expect at least 8 counters for your spells. You want to use your creatures to get in a few points of damage but you are relying on burn here. Outlander is unblockable here and unkillable aside from Day of Judgement. Hold onto your black removal for actual threats (Firewalker, Baneslayer) and push your advantage as much as you dare.

Sideboarding: -4 Searing Blaze -1 Hellspark -2 Kargan Dragonlord +2 Doom Blade +3 Deathmark +2 Goblin Outlander. This is your generic Sideboard plan, if you see Knight of the White Orchid; it is probably worthwhile going to the full 6 black removal as you wonít be lacking targets.

Vs UWr Planeswalkers

Rating: Indifferent-Unfavourable

This is a very different match-up then UW because of the tools they use specifically to fight you despite both being UW based control decks.

Game 1, you are favoured, especially if they donít have turn 2 Wall of Omens. If they donít, you are normally able to beat them down quickly and burn them out. They have no counters game 1 and only a couple Day of Judgements and their best card for you is Ajani Vengeant so play accordingly. Kill any Ajaniís on sight with the hottest fire you can and otherwise just go straight at them.

Game 2, they bring in the Sideboard from Hell. 3 Wall of Denial, 1 Kor Firewalker, 4 Negate, 3 Flashfreeze, and 1 Celestial Purge, is the standard package though some lists go up to 3 Firewalkers, removing the Meddling Mages. You on the other hand, have more limited tools, but take out the Searing Blazes for Goblin Outlander.

Game 2 and 3 this game relies on you dealing with the Walls of Denial well and pacing your burn properly. Try and get your creatures in as quickly as you can before they shut the flood gate with walls and sneak the Outlanders in past counters as they cannot handle it, they actually are worst to it then plain UW.

Sideboard: -4 Searing Blaze +4 Goblin Outlander

Vs Jund

Rating: Variable? Indifferent butÖ thereís so many different builds out there. It really depends on their build, board and such with all the next lists coming out with large variance between them.

Jund is a beast that is tough to say what to expect as it varies a ton. Expect, normally, Bloodbraid Elf, Blightning, Putrid Leech, and Sprouting Thrinax, beyond that is very deck dependant though heavy removal is normal.

Overall Putrid Leech is a card that doesnít annoy you, but Sprouting Thrinax is bad news overall. Your plan in this match-up, both games 1 and 2/3 is to hit them quickly with creatures without relying on them at all. Whereas in other matches like UWr or Mythic where you have a creature that you are relying on more in the Jund match you cannot rely on any creature because of the bundles of removal they have. Blightning is more important to this match then most, because of the fact that they can generate insane and quick card advantage against you and it helps slow them down on that front.

Out of the sideboardÖ they can be bringing a lot of things. The two worst for you are Consuming Vapors and Basilisk Collar which give them some very annoying life gain. From your sideboard you bring in more Ďburní in Hellspark Elementals and Quenchable Fire.

Sideboard: -4 Kargan Dragonlord -1 Plated Geopede +3 Hellspark Elemental +2 Quenchable Fire.

Vs Polymorph

Rating: Favourable

Alright, Polymorph is *not* a hard match-up. Why is this? Because of the multitudes of cheap burn you have. Now, they tend to run a combo/control shell with polymorph in there along with Emrakul and Iona to win.

Your plan here is to stick a threat or two and as soon as they could potentially polymorph keep at least 1 burn spell open. As soon as they hit 6 mana, you need to keep two burn. Do NOT waste burn on random tokens, other then Garruk Tokens depending on the situation. Wait till they target with Polymorph and precision shoot it down. Even if you do not have the burn, keep the mana up, to force them to worry about it as they have to respect it. UWG versions will feature more control elements with UG being more tempo based so expect Days of Judgement in the former and Fogs in the latter for example.

Post board they get to add moreÖ counters. Some versions will run Pelakka Wurm which they can hard cast and can be bad news. You bring in some Doom Blades just for extra removal here.

Sideboard: -1 Hellspark -1 Blightning +2 Doom Blade

Vs Devastating Red/Mirror

Rating: Indifferent Ė itís the mirror and you bring no mirror tech.

Iím tossing these all together because they are different takes on the same plan.

In this match, you tend to have more burn but they have more speed. Creatures do not live in this match-up. Ever. A lucky creature might get one swing in and then die but most will die on hitting the battlefield. This gives you an advantage in that they cannot match your burn spells and Blightning is officially rigged in the mirror, but they have the ability to kill from nowhere.

What does this amount to? Basically you are the Ďcontrolí in most games but toss burn at them liberally and use your creatures as burn bait. Hellís Thunder and Hellspark Elemental are your best dudes here because of the fact that they function as burn spells more anyways.

Post Board Ė they may have Dragonís Claw, which is bad news if it hits, though you can win through it. You side out Kargan Dragonlords of Removal Magnetism and a Plated Geopede for more burn and burn-like creatures.

Sideboard: -4 Kargan Dragonlord -1 Plated Geopede +3 Hellspark Elemental +2 Quenchable Fire

Vs Naya Allies

Rating: Very Favourable

If Mythic isnít your best match up, this is. You follow the exact same plan here of burn everything and get in with your dudes taking advantage of their limited to no removal. Donít worry about what Ally they play normally, just burn it on sight as each ally provides an important number factor for their growth and plan.

The exception to this is Kabira Evangel, who if no Allies must be allowed to live, he must be drawn and quartered on sight for the crime of speaking too much. He is their best card main against you.

Post board expect Ondu Cleric to be irritating but if you are killing them with fire it shouldnít be too bad. A little bit of removal may come in especially if you levelled Dragonlord up all the way. You sideboard similar to Mythic, taking out Hellís Thunder and a couple Blightning for more removal to make the match worst for them.

Sideboard: -4 Hellís Thunder -2 Blightning +4 Deathmark +2 Doom Blade

Time Sieve

Rating: Favourable

Time Sieve is a race match pure and simple and they arenít in your calibre most of the time, especially poorer players. This game will make it a lot worst for them, as turn 2 Howling Mine might as well read, Turn 2 Concede most of the time as the extra fuel is killer.

Game 1 you should almost always be able to out race them, their limited number of Angelsong being nowhere near enough and if they run Safe Passage, it isnít enough though it makes it a little tougher. Regardless, Game 1 is strongly in your favour.

Game 2 and 3 depends on their board a lot. Realistically, if they use the Thropter Factory switch plan that helps them a lot and evens out the match over the next two games though your chances are solid given you normally win game 1. If they donít have the Thropter Factory planÖ well itís about to get long for them. Some might bring in Kor Firewalkers to help and they can be a nuisance as always.

Your sideboard plan is to bring in the Goblin Outlanders for two reasons. One, it can block Glassdusk Hulk if they try that, and two it gets past any Wall of Omens or Kor Firewalkers. Also, you need to take out Searing Blaze for something.

Sideboard: -4 Searing Blaze +4 Goblin Outlander.

Overall, I think Blightning Deck Wins is a solid Tier 2 deck that can beat at least one of the top tier decks and compete with others. Depending on how the format turns out, it may be able to evolve into a Tier 1.5 or possibly Tier 1 deck but I do not thing it is there currently. It still has some inconsistency issues internally even with the more resilient Blightning build that hold it back some.

If you are playing in the Ontario Regionals, I hope to see you there and I wish everyone else the best of luck this weekend on qualifying for nationals.

Till next week, when we take a look at an evolving format,

Don Parsons aka Coboney

Back to Magic: the Gathering Articles

by VylePhinder on 2010-05-17 06:44 CET

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Goblin Outlander won't be blocking any Glassdusk Hulks from Time Sieve as stated in the next to last paragraph of your article, as he is "unblockable" whenever another artifact comes into play for them.

by Mizukage on 2010-05-17 06:56 CET

I disagree on allies being very favourable, a timely Talus Paladin is just a game-breaker against red decks.

by Squirrels4L on 2010-05-17 07:24 CET

Talus Paladin is only backbreaking if they have other allies out..which...outside of bloodbraid elf-into-random dork, isn't happening. My question is, if kargan dragonlord is such a tempo loss the majority of the time, why not kiln fiend instead? It hits for 4 the majority of the time, combos well with staggershock, and can randomly hit for 7 or 10 turn 3-4.

by CalebD on 2010-05-17 08:19 CET

"Your sideboard plan is to bring in the Goblin Outlanders for two reasons. One, it can block Glassdusk Hulk if they try that [...]"

Something tells me you could've tested this a bit more. "Especially poorer players" indeed.

by Nickname7 on 2010-05-17 13:25 CET

agree with Mizukage, and Kabira evangel really sucks in this MU.
Actually i think br blightning is a mu i wanna play against if im playing allies

by coboney on 2010-05-17 14:02 CET

Mizukage, Nickname7, I've played the match a good amount. Talus Paladin is their best card against you followed by Kabira Evangel, they both still require there to be allies on the field. Which your game plan is to stop.

CalebD and vyphinder - I have, it just slipped in there as I was writting. My apologies on the error. Can you please forgive me for that? **looks at them with puppy dog eyes**

by darkwizard42 on 2010-05-17 14:59 CET

Mythic dies to this...Doom Blade/Deathmark package helps wipe out the big drops and burn takes care of the manadorks...Unfortunately Mythic lacks significant removal outside of sided-in Oblivion Ring, so a resolved Kargan Dragonlord is usually bad news since you can't get rid of it.

Nice deck! Go go Team Triple Shot

by kreff on 2010-05-17 22:01 CET

great article :) i will forgive you the errors XD

by JBieber12 on 2010-05-17 22:09 CET

how can you reliably cast oulander turn 2 with only 9 black sources

by coboney on 2010-05-18 02:45 CET

JBieber - you don't always need to play it on Turn 2. You often can play it on turn 2 or 3 - on average you'll see a black source every 6.66 cards. In addition, WU and WUr run Path to Exile which often serves to fix your mana for you.

Remember also, good players will board out at least some number of Spreading Seas against you meaning that its harder for them to colour screw you.

by fatalthumbs on 2010-05-18 18:30 CET

How would you side against white weenie and vamps?

by derflippi on 2010-05-18 18:53 CET

What I missed is some explanation of why one should play RDW, and not another deck, like Jund. What makes this deck "better" then all others?

by Florasten on 2010-05-18 18:59 CET

First time I played Blightning deck on ml, I made top 4, 1 week before Leong at Kuala Lumpur. They called it "Red black deck wins" :) .
So, I know very well this deck and I never stoped to play it. I tried all possibilities including outlander.
I am totally agree with all you said here, you should have played it a lot to know it so perfectly.
Difference is that we side in the same things but we don't side out the same. I use to side a spell by a spell and a creature by a creature, which is very common and not very intelligent.
"Bravo" coboney and thanks, you saved this deck, improving it, when all control decks wanted to kill him.....

by Dinnella on 2010-05-19 22:00 CET

I like the list, but I have to disagree with you about goblin guide being the best one drop in the format. It's imo on par with noble hierarch, vampire lacerator, and student of warfare. It does have an advantage in speed, but your opponent won't be missing many land drops with him attacking them.
Anyway, have you considered smother main deck? It deals with main decked firewalkers as well as rhox war monk and most anything in an aggro matchup like WW or vamps. Even in the control matchup it will kill wall of omens to push damage, as well as man lands.

Just my reactions, nice article. =)

by Sebas_ on 2010-05-21 21:15 CET

go Coboney

by eternal42 on 2010-05-22 06:33 CET

Naya allies is a really hard matchup for this deck and if you say otherwise you have not tested it enough.

by coboney on 2010-05-24 13:14 CET

Sorry for the slow replies here but I'll go in order.

FatalThumbs - against WW I would go the same as Mythic. A good WW list isn't an easy match but in this format WW is a really bad deck. Against Vampires - I haven't tested that match as much as I'd like but I'd go -1 Hellspark -1 Dragonlord +2 Quenchable Fire. This match seems to be rough due to recurring Bloodwitches and Tendrils though.

CMA-Flippi - I think from my play experience that this is the top of tier 2 decks. You have a very good game against one of the top decks (Mythic) and can play with the other top ones. Oh and you can play without paying a pound of flesh.

Dinnella - I'll give you Hierarch. Lacerator isn't even auto-include in vampires and while I like Student it doesn't have a place in the current format. As for Smother - Firewalker is rarely maindecked - only in White Weenie. Basically I'm willing to say that Vampires and White Weenie will make up under 5% of any given field and hence, its not really worth it to shape your decks plan around it. Smother doesn't fit your plan ideally game 1 with not being burn against several decks and it cannot deal with Baneslayer, a trouble card.

Eternal42 - I have tested the match and if you ever want to sit down and play it I'll gladly do so with you.

by Dinnella on 2010-05-24 20:25 CET

yeah, it would make much more sense to MD terminate over smother =)

by tkgons4st on 2010-05-25 01:07 CET

another comment on naya allies, you actually probably want to NOT kill kabira evangel. It honestly does nothing vs burn decks because you are not sitting back and blocking and it does not grow or gain life.

by Sleeyp on 2010-05-25 13:07 CET

ROGUE NOT ROUGE. Seriously, if you're going to write for a website please don't embarrass yourself.

by coboney on 2010-05-25 19:26 CET

Sleeyp, if you are going to comment on stuff, please know what you are talking about.

Rouge means red in french so the title is Red Standard which is quite intentional. The deck isn't rogue.

Please, next time you feel like insulting people check your sources first.

by Weedmonkey on 2010-05-25 19:36 CET

Coboney is correct. And considering that 1) i posted it and had to make sure it wasn't a typo myself and 2) I even put in the article at the beginning that it wasn't a typo I find your flaming both useless and absurd.

As for the article itself, I like the depth. You can clearly see Coboney's thinking and thus it is easier to discuss in depth individual card choices. Thumbs up :)

by RDoom on 2010-05-25 19:43 CET

just got pwned :)
and yes, nice article

by darkwizard42 on 2010-05-25 21:32 CET

Team Triple Shot wins again

by Sleeyp on 2010-05-29 12:24 CET

Fair enough. My bad

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