Big Red/Drain Life

A while back, there was some talk on Discord about a High Tide, Initiates of the Ebon Hand, Drain Life deck as a possibility. Seeing as how I love big mana, High Tide and Candelabra, I was all in on this brew. I tossed around some ideas and came up with this decklist, and played around with it a bit, but couldn’t seem to get it to really work. There are some great synergies in there, but it didn’t flow.

It’s no secret that I’m no blue mage, so I decided to revisit this plan but shift into the other big mana color, red. With red, I was able to get Mana Flare, Gauntlet of Might, Bolts, some great creatures, and of course X spells. These all unlocked other lines of play, and led to the current incarnation.

Big Life

This was taken for a couple hours of test driving on Monday night, and I’ve gotta say, it was a lot more fun than High Life was. The Rukh Eggs are great for making your opponent re-evaluate their decisions, especially when the Gauntlet is in play. A 1/4 creature makes for a solid blocker, and forcing the opponent to decide between letting it live or killing it to bring about a 5/5 flyer is a tough one. I also really appreciate the “if you do this more than 3 times, the creature dies” mirroring between the Whelp and Initiates. I know that it’s a drawback, but it’s still a cool theme, in my opinion, and I plan to pull the Terror and a basic land to get either another Whelp or a Nalathni Dragon and a Wheel. Earthquake is more of a Hail Mary play than something I depend on regularly, as it wipes my Initiates, but it can also rekindle my Rukh Eggs, so…

There are some changes that I feel I need to make, like the aforementioned addition of Wheel, but I find making cuts to be a bit tricky. Terror is probably better in the board, especially in the Toronto meta where black aggro is very prominent. Another Shivan would help out at the high end, and another Fork or two would add some more consistency and interaction to it. I love my Unlimited Uthden Troll, but I don’t think it jives w/ the deck too well, making it a good candidate for removal. The card that I’m really considering adding in is Inferno.

Sure there are better cards, but this card solves a lot of problems, and getting 7 mana isn’t so difficult for this deck to get to. I’ve found that Serra Angels and other T4+ creatures require me to spend my X spells on them instead of to the face. Not the worst thing, especially w/ Drain Life as an easy eight point swing, but having something to really clear the field feels right to me.

Overall, the deck is similar to my CandleFlare deck, I mean, the engine for this deck is literally Candelabra and Mana Flare, but it plays considerably differently. It’s not as much of a control deck as it is a midrange/tempo deck. Kill off the early threats, use a Drain Life here and there to get ahead, and eventually either red X them out or Initiates plus Drain Life them out. I’ll be playing some variation of this for quite some time to come.

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