Threat Evaluation, Part Three: Mountain, Go.

The order of these Threat Evaluation articles is listed by historic power level. Grixis will always be the most powerful combination of colors in Magic in my mind because of how long the game existed before Tarmogoyf. Control Slaver and The Perfect Storm are two format defining decks in the most powerful format: Vintage.

All that aside, what are we up against if we see a Mountain, pass? Burn. You’re up against Burn, and you are 25% done with game one.

For this period in time, the article could end there. [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] has gotten everyone all shook up, and time will tell whether it is just a flash in the pan. In fact, stay tuned for an article about how it shakes up the game, not just the format.

Nevertheless, if we’re being fair, there are lots of other options. As we did in the Swamp, Go article, we will similarly ignore the lists we have already posted.* First, let’s cover the mono-red lists. It is interesting to see once again that there are more mono-red options than mono-blue.

*- I have realized that there are already omissions in previous articles of decks that I have missed. These will be covered in the final article six, and the first five will be edited to include them for easier reference.

Bringer of the Red Dawn

A look at the mono-red decks in Modern.


Or, how this same effect is reaching critical mass, this is distinguished from Red Deck Wins by fewer creatures and the inclusion of [c]Lava Spike[/c] or any other card that targets the player only.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Spark Elemental[/c]. Other than that, trust me, you’ll know.

Red Deck Wins

Here the player is using burn to remove blockers but still bringing the heat with [c]Goblin Guide[/c], [c]Vexing Devil[/c], and [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c].

Tell-tale signs: [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] is used here and not in Burn. Also, maindeck [c]Molten Rain[/c], [c]Blood Moon[/c] and/or [c]Shrine of Burning Rage[/c] may show up.

Skred Red/Snow Control

This deck is perfect in the right meta, and today’s meta is not it because of all the combo. Any deck trying to beat Skred Red with creatures is going to have a tough time: it has mass removal with [c]Pyroclasm[/c] and [c]Blasphemous Act[/c], the best spot removal with [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] and [c]Skred[/c], and [c]Boros Reckoner[/c]. Dragons will come to clean house at the end of the day.

Tell-tale signs: Unless some Burn player is being cute, [c]Snow-Covered Mountain[/c] without any source of Green mana lets you know what you’re up against.


Well, the thing is, this is a pretty consistent turn four aggro deck against a goldfish. Some decks function as goldfish for four turns, so sometimes Goblins gets there. It loses so much in the port from Legacy, though, that it can’t consistently compete.

Tell-tale Signs: [c]Foundry Street Denizen[/c], any spell that puts a 1/1 Goblin token into play are used here and nowhere else.

Red Sun’s Zenith

The decks listed in this category are seen frequently and not mono-red but also do not include blue or black.

Gruul Scapeshift

Omitting the blue element for [c]Primeval Titan[/c], Gruul Scapeshift has the combo kill or a potent beat-down plan with giants and [c]Polukranos, World Eater[/c]. The deck is required to play a significant amount of Mountains for the [c]Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle[/c] kill, so the double green mana costed beaters can be awkward.

Tell-tale signs: If it looks like [c]Scapeshift[/c] but plays [c]Khalni Heart Expedition[/c], [c]Magma Jet[/c], or [c]Explore[/c], don’t breathe a sigh of relief thinking your opponent is screwed off blue.


Once again, a deck has cards that include “Mountain” in their text, and this time it’s the once-banned [c]Wild Nacatl[/c]. Now we’re left scratching our heads as to why it was banned. Variants include [c]Tribal Flames[/c] Zoo that splashes blue for [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c] and [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c] or little zoo with [c]Loam Lion[/c], [c]Kird Ape[/c], and even maindeck [c]Gaddock Teeg[/c].

Tell-tale signs: Looking at a Naya-colored mana-base, you may be tempted to think you’re up against Kiki Pod, but that deck doesn’t play [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], burn spells, or [c]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/c].

Boros Angel Twin

This midrange combo deck eschews [c]Pestermite[/c] and [c]Deceiver Exarch[/c] for [c]Restoration Angel[/c] and [c]Palace Guard[/c]. Alternatively, some flickering brews combine enter-the-battlefield effects such as [c]Blade Splicer[/c] with [c]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/c] and the angel.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Rugged Prairie[/c] is not played anywhere else. Also a Boros mana-base with any creatures that have a hint of Death and Taxes give the heads-up.

Norin The Wary

Here’s a very rarely seen deck in dailies that is seen quite frequently in the 2-man queues. Part Human aggro, part Soul Sisters, part EDH-level triggers, this deck is all fun, if underpowered.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Champion of the Parish[/c] is a good indicator, and this deck packs the Soul Sisters with red mana sources. [c]Norin the Wary[/c] and [c]Genesis Chamber[/c] are sure bets.

Red Scarab

Like a red scarab, you won’t see these as often, but they do happen and include Mountains.

Gruul Beats

This was a thing before the un-banning of [c]Wild Nacatl[/c]. Some players use [c]Faithless Looting[/c] and [c]Vengevine[/c] with all of the 1-drops, while others combine cards like [c]Burning-Tree Emissary[/c] and [c]Priest of Urabrask[/c] with [c]Myr Superion[/c] or [c]Storm Entity[/c]. These topped out at about $20, which is significantly less than the $1k Zoo decks of today.

Mono Red Storm

Here is a budget storm deck that skimps on sources of blue mana for purely monetary reasons.  Cards like [c]Goblin Electromancer[/c], [c]Desperate Ravings[/c], and the efficient draw package are replaced by [c]Empty the Warrens[/c], [c]Reforge the Soul[/c], and sometimes [c]Young Pyromancer[/c]. Some players run some number of [c]Burning Inquiry[/c], [c]Goblin Lore[/c], and [c]Locket of Yesterdays[/c]. The [c]Pyromancer Ascension[/c] and [c]Past in Flames[/c] engine is still the same.

Tell-tale signs: In the early game, you may see [c]Fungal Reaches[/c], [c]Wild Guess[/c], or a discarded [c]Increasing Vengeance[/c] or [c]Reforge the Soul[/c] without any blue sources. These cards aren’t used anywhere else.


The Mountains are essential for the turn 1 [c]Greater Gargadon[/c]. The player builds his resources with the Borderpost cycle while building up for a crippling [c]Restore Balance[/c] from a cascade spell.

Tell-tale signs: It’s easy to see this in the early game with the above mentioned cards. Other suspend spells may see play such as [c]Riftwing Cloudskate[/c].


I mean, who can resist? [c]Stormbreath Dragon[/c] and [c]Thundermaw Hellkite[/c] are played on their own and quite hard-castable, and there are a host of other dragons that finish the game quite well when combined with [c]Dragonstorm[/c].

Tell-tale signs: A [c]Lotus Bloom[/c] is not used in UR Storm, but it will see play here. Also you may see a [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] combined with what otherwise looks like a storm deck.

Rumbling Crescendo

You can observe that these articles are getting smaller. We have precious few lists that are Green or White without including the other three colors. Fortunately, some of these decks are my favorites, so maybe I can flourish the descriptions up some for you all. In the meantime, here’s a Modern Silverblack brew with Mountains.

[d title=”Modern Silverblack Skred Red”]


20 Snow-Covered Mountain


4 Spitemare

4 Stormblood Berserker

4 Vulshok Refugee

Other Spells

2 Into the Maw of Hell

4 Lightning Bolt

4 Molten Rain

4 Pyrite Spellbomb

4 Pyroclasm

4 Pyrohemia

2 Shrine of Burning Rage

4 Skred


4 Aura Barbs

1 Boil

4 Cryoclasm

2 Shrine of Burning Rage

4 Smash to Smithereens[/d]