By Carlos

In this format, white and red have a common reputation for being the two worst colors in the format, and for good reason.  Between the two of them, you don’t have many ways to draw cards or otherwise generate card advantage other than through artifacts, roundabout mechanisms, or mass creature and/or land destruction.  Honestly, I think the secret to this kind of deck is that you have to find a synergistic way to either apply pressure quickly, or generate some kind of card advantage.  Commanders like Godo, Darien, Kemba, and Kiki-Jiki generate that kind of advantage in a pretty overt way, and that’s likely why they’re some of the most popular generals in these colors; because they do powerful, proactive things if left unchecked.
Red/white generals, on the other hand, are pretty hard to come by.  In fact, there are only three generals in this particular color combination, none of which really generate any kind of virtual card advantage.  That means you’ve got to take a little bit of a different approach to building a deck.  If you’re not too particular about your general, you can just assume that they’ll be a win condition that’s particularly hard to deal with, and build a “goodstuff” deck that hopes that its powerful cards will just be better than the synergy and virtual card advantage of an opponent’s deck.  Razia is probably the best suited for this style of deck in R/W, though you could certainly do something similar with Brion if you’ve got some sort of lifegain or equipment theme.

Your other option is to look for less overt synergies, and build the deck in such a way that the sum of various kinds of cards accomplishes something a lot greater than the individual ones.  Something I like to do when trying to explain concepts from this format to newer players is to use decks from constructed formats that they might be familiar with.  In this case, a goodstuff deck is sort of like 4 color control from extended or U/B control from standard, while the more synergistic deck is more like Faeries from extended or Vampires from Standard.
I’ll be honest, I’m not that familiar with building decks that just turn guys sideways  in this format, but if you’re going to do something different, it’s best to take that theme as far as possible, right?  With that in mind, I think Agrus Kos is a better general than Brion, since it encourages attacking as frequently as possible with as many guys as possible.  So, after this pretty long-winded introduction, let’s get started!

The first thing you’ve got to do with any general, but especially a fairly vanilla general is decide what the deck is going to do.  As your deck becomes more focused on the particular things it wants to do, it becomes more consistently powerful.  So the question is, what does Agrus want to do?   You’ll notice that the plan isn’t too complicated; drop guys, preferably hasty, and beat down for as much as possible.

  • Obviously, attack with lots of guys.  Preferably Red guys.
  • Notice that his ability triggers whenever he attacks.  That means if you take multiple attack steps, the pump is cumulative.
  • Haste is going to be HUGE for this style of deck.  Being able to drop Agrus and/or some other guys and swing in one turn will let you get in for large chunks of life out of nowhere.

So with that out of the way, I want to start with the cards that are similar to Agrus, that pump your guys’ power.  Ideally, these guys would all have a similar trigger to Agrus, so that all of the effects accumulate if you take multiple combat steps, but there are only so many cards like that. There’s fewer still that are playable, even in a format like Commander.  Here’s what I’ve got:
Pump my Guys
Patron of the Akki
Marton Stromgald
Duergar Mine-Captain

Nobilis of War
Rally the Righteous
Glory of Warfare

Double-Cleave
Psychotic Fury
True Conviction
Rage Reflection

11 Cards

The first three are pretty similar to Agrus, and I imagine that having any combination of those on the board while untapping your guys and taking extra combat steps would get pretty crazy pretty quickly.  The next set are just global pump; pretty vanilla and uninteresting, though Rally the Righteous will have some interesting interactions with some of the cards a little further down the list.  The last set is a little interesting.  Double-Cleave and Psychotic Fury are there to try to get people with general damage from Agrus.  True Conviction is just a bomb, and allows you to beat down even harder once you’ve got some creatures and ways to pump them.  If you’re just interested in beating down, and not general damage, you could easily use Rage Reflection instead of at least one of the double-strike spells.

This next set of cards are just all the best ways to take extra combat steps that I could find.  I picked these over most of the other options because they’re either repeatable, or abusive.   Savage Beating is pretty notable as a way to get in huge amounts of damage by using entwine.  It also goes infinite with Spellbinder, one of the few pieces of equipment that made the cut in this deck.  One notable card that’s missing from the list is World at War.  I honestly don’t like this card very much, even though it does effectively the same thing as a lot of the other cards in this deck.  I think the difference is that World at War is more obvious; it just sort of sits on the table, alerting people that you’re going to be swinging for the fences next turn, as opposed to Seize the Day or Waves of Aggression, which sit in your graveyard.
Bring the Beats!
Waves of Aggression
Savage Beating
Aggravated Assault
Seize the Day
Hellkite Charger
Breath of Fury

18 Cards

The last big piece of the deck is token generation.  Making creature tokens is a huge boost to the aggressive power of the deck, especially when they accumulate power buffs.  Unfortunately, red is not the best color at making creature tokens, and red/white isn’t that good at it either.  If you wanted to take a bit of a goblin theme, you could run Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician and Goblin Warrens, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it.
Bring on the Tokens!
Goblin Trenches
Rise of the Hobgoblins
Firecat Blitz
Siege-Gang Commander
Goblin Marshal
Goblin Assault
Rakka Mar
Warbeak Trumpeter
Goblin Offensive

27 Cards

There’s a slight goblin theme to the tokens, which is the real reason that you can start adding other goblin-themed cards if you want to.  It’s also worth Noting that Rakka Mar gets pretty dumb when you start untapping your guys to take extra combat steps.  Honestly, I think this card is pretty criminally underplayed.  Firecat Blitz is the real gem here, which is great because it’s one of my favorite cards.  It gets you approximately infinite power out of nowhere if you want to go all in on it, and let’s be honest, that’s the whole point of playing an aggressive deck in EDH.  Going all in on Firecat Blitz to try to kill a table in one turn has got to be some kind of epic play, right?

These next few cards are some of the few ways that this deck has to tutor up some of its pieces, or that it can generate card advantage.  As previously discussed, red/white is notoriously bad at these kinds of things, so it’s important to get as much value out of these as possible.  The way this is accomplished here is that a lot of the cards interact positively with things like Seize the Day, where you untap your guys.

The Card Advantage “Engines”

Brightflame
Solemn Simulacrum
Knollspine Dragon
Mimic Vat
Academy Rector
Godo, Bandit Warlord

Elemental Mastery
Stonehewer Giant
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Splinter Twin

37 Cards

The first set of cards are really just the goodstuff.  They’re great ways to either tutor or generate some kind of card advantage, and it’s pretty silly to play red white without playing some combination of these guys.  The second set of cards really start to abuse your ability to untap your guys.  Tutoring up multiple things with Stonehewer Giant, or making a million siege-gang commanders seems pretty good to me.  I don’t even want to think about something like Splinter Twin on a Duergar Mine-Captain.

So the next question is: what equipment are we getting with Stonehewer Giant and Godo?  There are two equipment here that are just really good, and two that are kind of gimmicky, but I still think they pull their weight.

The Equipment Toolbox

Sunforger
Lightning Greaves
Spellbinder
Runed Stalactite

Allay
Shattering Pulse
Master Warcraft
Orim’s Thunder
Final Fortune

46 Cards

I don’t think anyone’s going to argue with Sunforger and Lightning Greaves being really good equipment.  The second set of cards below is the sunforger toolbox.  You’ll notice that my generic artifact and enchantment removal spells are tutorable via Sunforger, and are repeatable.  To me, this means I can devote even fewer slots to answers, and focus even more heavily on bringing the beatdowns.

Spellbinder is there pretty much exclusively to go infinite with Savage Beating.  I mean, sure you could stick an Allay or Orim’s thunder on it, maybe even a Rally the Righteous, but really, it’s there for the infinite combo.  I’m usually not a fan of infinites, but I don’t think anyone can be too upset when that combo relies on both a creature and an artifact AND dealing combat damage to multiple players.  Besides, how many other ways are there to generate infinite beatdown?

Runed Stalactite is there exclusively for the interaction with Godo.  Godo tutors up Stalactite, give Stalactite to Agrus.  Beatdown for 11, untap your guys and beatdown for 15.  Oh by the way, that’s 14 general damage.  That’s basically a 1 card combo (plus your general) that’s going to deal 28 damage.  That seems like it’s worth a slot to me, especially since it lets you maximize the value of your two creatures, and lets you avoid overextending if you don’t have to.

Bringing the beatdown is always a risky proposition in multiplayer, because you run the risk of getting wrath’d before you even do anything.  We’ve all seen the Rys the Redeemed G/W tokens deck that spends 15 minutes tapping and untapping Rhys and Gaea’s Cradle just to have his opponent untap and cast Damnation.  That’s why haste is such an important ability for aggro decks.  Here’s how we’re generating haste for our guys:

Feeling Hasty?

Surge of Zeal
Mass Hysteria
In the Web of War
Flamekin Zealot
Goblin Bushwhacker

51 Cards

Seems pretty straightforward.  The thing about Goblin Bushwhacker is that I can’t help but want a way to tutor it up.  That means Ranger of Eos.  I love me an excuse to run a Ranger of Eos Package in my decks; I have an unhealthy obsession with that card in almost every format it’s legal in.

Ranger of Eos Toolbox
Ranger of Eos
Mother of Runes
Figure of Destiny
Spikeshot Elder
Dragonmaster Outcast

56 Cards

I think most of these are pretty self-explanatory.  They’re either a huge threat on a small body or help protect Agrus.  Spikeshot Elder in particular could be hilarious with all the ways you have to pump your guys.  Lastly, I’d like to round out the deck with some quality Boros-colored creatures that are on theme and will help for some stupidly explosive starts.

The Boros Guild

Boros Swiftblade
Hearthfire Hobgoblin
Boros Swiftblade
Brion Stoutarm
Duergar Hedge-Mage

61 Cards

The last thing I’d lke to take a look at is the artifact mana and the manabase.  There are a lot of subtle ways you can generate advantages by using key utility lands.  I’ve kept myself in more than one game where I was flooded beyond belief just by activating Springjack Pasture and Vitu-Ghazi every single turn, and I’ve won a number of games by flipping crazy stuff off of hideaway lands.  Here’s what the mana base for this deck looks like:

Artifact Mana
Gauntlet of Power
Expedition Map
Mind Stone
Boros Signet
Coalition Relic
Everflowing Chalice

67 cards

The Manabase

Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle
Vesuva
Windbrisk Heights
Spinerock Knoll
Boros Garrison
Kher Keep
Hall of the Bandit Lord

79 Cards

15 Mountain
6 Plains
Plateau
Sacred Foundry
Arid Mesa
Rugged Prairie
Battlefield Forge

So the weakest slot here is Valakut by a pretty big margin.  I’m just such a fan of uncounterable ways to win long games that I would prefer to leave it in.  Other than that, there’s some really good utility to be found here.  Kher Keep gives you a way to generate a board presence that’s pretty respectable for Kobolds when Agrus is on the board.  Hall of the Bandit Lord is an uncounterable source of haste, and really should see more play.  Vesuva and Boros Garrison give you ways to get additional activations out of your hideaway lands, both of which WILL get activated very regularly.  The conditions for activating the lands are even on theme in this deck; hit you for enough to activate Spinerock Knoll, cast Savage Beating entwined?

The rest of the lands are miscellaneous dual lands and basics.  The land base leans heavily towards mountains since the deck is really splashing white for things like Agrus, Brion, Allay, and True Conviction.  Most of the deck is red, and there are a number of cards that rely on having Mountains, like Valakut and Firecat Blitz.

There’s just a little bit of artifact acceleration to help you get out of the gates a little faster when you don’t have some aggressive 1 and 2 drops.  I’m honestly not a huge fan of artifact acceleration in most decks; but when your plan is to beat down as fast and hard as possible, the extra speed helps.

So this is my first real expedition into building a beatdown deck for this format.  I’m pretty happy with the attempt, and it’d be a deck I’m sure I’d have fun building, playing, and tweaking.  I don’t think it’s quite as aggressive as I’d like; it honestly seems to have more of a midrange/combo feel to it.  Granted, your combo is Agrus + guys + more combat steps, but still.  I think aggro in this format is something I’d like to revisit later, to try to build a “true” beatdown deck that tries to take out a whole table as quickly as possible.

Just like last week, I’m looking for some help to keep the content coming.  If you’ve got some comments on this week’s deck (especially if you play Agrus), an off-the-wall theme you’d like to see me build around, or a deck you’d like me to take a look at, I’d be glad to hear from you.

Carlos
cag5383(at)gmail(dot)com