This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Technology

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By Aaron D. AKA Uncle Landdrops


Yeah, it’s May, but I’ve gained control of target Technology Segment, claimed it for the last words in Red Month, and will be borrowing your attention for a continuation on my Strategy segment, in which we talked about playing Mono-R (pronounced “Arr!”) Control. So go ahead and peep that if you haven’t, because we talked about all the Legendary Creatures that you might want to play if you’re itching to walk the dangerous road between counterspell and crazy.

Today is all about Tech for the Fightin’ 99, as we continue to talk about what kinds of cards we can use to re-create the concept of Control in an otherwise anarchical color. I’m bursting at the seams with comments on all kinds of cards for this, so I’m gonna go straight in and tackle it card-by-card, channeling my best Sheldon Menery.


The Reset Buttons

Red has Wrath, but it’s not as beneficial or cheap relative to other colors. So in a lot of multi-color decks, you’ll see it doesn’t make the cut. However, we’ve got our Sunglasses of Urza on, which means we’re only seeing Red.


Blasphemous Act – People love this card, and it’s never been something I want to cast in a game. Total shame too, because I got a foil copy in a trade a few years ago, and it’s one of the first cards I cut because it either shows up when I don’t want it, or never shows up when I need it most. I just wish I could love it and play it as timely as the various members of my group does.


Inferno – This kind of card is more my speed. As usual, my speed is Instant, and I’d like to think Andy would be proud, because it is in his honor that I consider playing this even when I cut it, and that my only copy is of course, from The Dark.



Starstorm – Again, another card I like better than Blasphemous Act. It scales to the game, or becomes another card when I don’t need it, and it hits everything I want to hit in Heartless Hidetsugu, which is creatures, because Mr. Sam Jackson does the rest.


Mizzium Mortars – Meh. I don’t hate it, but this just isn’t for Commander. If this was an Instant, it would be in every one of my Red decks. Good for Tokens, Tiny Leaders, and pesky, teeny Commanders, I guess.


Rolling Earthquake  – The best Earthquake money can buy. In fact, I don’t think I even like the idea of Earthquake being played here. Everything else is a hell of a lot better.


Fire Tempest – I like this card, but it’s no Inferno. Rock it if you’re playing some serious ramp. Leave it in the cardboard box if you aren’t.

Sudden Demise – Mono-colored decks against Multi-colored decks will love the option of color hosing. This is one of the cool corner cases where you can be rewarded for your narrow card pool, and I love that.


Cheeky & Tricky & Miscellaneous

The best advantage Red has in Control lie in some of the more conventional tricks. This is because they scale and interact to tempo-based situations, which is, in most cases, a lesson in learning how to play with exactly what you need.


Radiate – Because turning other people’s spot removal spells into mass effects is legit. Can you imagine the look on their face when you respond to a Path to Exile? It’s definitely a card that sits on the bubble for any design, make no mistake, but I think it’s worth finding a slot for the occasional rotation.


Fork, Reverberate, Reiterate – Definitely part of the first or second brigade of a Red Fightin’ 99. Against Blue decks, you have a RR counterspell. Against Black, you have a tutor effect. Green, you have a ramp spell if you don’t tap out too early, or a Genesis Wave if your opponent is silly and always tutors and/or plays this card to win. The appeal is just how interactive and variable it can be in power. It’s Magic’s version of the “box o’ chocolates.”


In my playgroup, the Fork effect is actually known as getting two cookies for the price one, as illustrated by Amy Weber.


Wild Ricochet – I separated this from the rest because of the hefty 2RR cost. Most of the time, this is going to be no better than its buddies. However, there will be times when changing the target of the original can really own a boardstate. Play it if you need more Forking, I guess.


Shunt – I feel the same way about this card as I do about Radiate. I love the potential, but I think it’s probably a lot better against me than it is for me. I love removal and answers, but this card has behaved more like a deadbeat dad in decks than a supportive parent. Never around when I need it, and useless when he does show up on my birthday because everything my opponent has is hexproof and/or indestructible.


Solfatara & Turf Wound – In the early days of The General Zone, my pal Grandpa Growth used to share meta-meta technology in a segment he called “Super Secret Sunday.” These are some of my favorite picks. Sol-fuh-tah-ra is appparently a volcano in real life, which is cool, because I thought they just made this word up, which might’ve been better, because I like made-up nonsense, but I guess now we get the flavor of this thing: Volcanos will temporarily force your opponents to miss land drops, and then draw you another card.


This is Solfatara, in action, “SolFARTarin’ it up.” Without a scale, this thing also looks like ants colonized the beach, buried the world’s smallest whale, and that whale is using his blowhole to blow a hole in their hill. Maybe that’s what “Solfatara” means in Italian. I don’t know.


Reroute – Even more meta-specific than Shunt. Tried to play but never worked out.


Ricochet Trap – Do you like to take poops on Blue players? Did you like Yu-Gi-Oh! growing up, stop playing the game because it’s not well designed, but still want to say, “You activated my Trap Card!” Well, this is the card for you… and for me, and again, those people who apparently have an irrational fear/hatred for Islands.


Incendiary Command – Not a the biggest fan of Incendiary. I’d rather play older cards that show how much design teams knew about power level, or some of the new cards that that have the explicit purpose of being relevant for us. This sits in the middle when you look at most of its modes, and isn’t going to be good if you’re ahead or behind.


Non-Basic Burninating


Basic Burninating at its best. Miss the reference? Click Here!


Beacon of Destruction & Red Sun’s Zenith – Red cards that smash face over and over and over. Card advantage being so low, I feel like both of these cards are solid inclusions. At their worst, you’re using contributing to the bottom line, which is dealing damage to the face. At their best, you’re eliminating threats. Yeah. This is what happens when Red tries to play control Everything is the opposite. Except what I’m saying about it being the opposite.


Price of Progress – You know me. I’m down with PoP. When it comes to lands I love fundamentals, and most of my decks crave Basics. With few exception, my group has followed suit, seeing this mana base technique, so I don’t get to whip out my PoP and pop them for a bunch.


Acidic Soil – This is almost as good as PoP, but definitely harder to justify in design. I guess if you’re able to prevent damage dealt to you, it works.



Blood Moon – Again, this isn’t getting played in my group because most decks rock 25+ basics, effectively skirting any incentive to play it. That’s mostly my fault, but I’m totally alright with this. Even if it was, I’ve begun to pack a lot more answers into my decks, so I don’t think it’d be difficult to stop.


Burning Earth & Manabarbs – Not big on these cards, even though they do contribute a finite ending to the game. I might consider playing them with access to more life gain, but they require a lot of special restrictions for me to feel good about having a winning strategy.


Burning Sands – Meh. I don’t like this is in pure Mono-Red, but I really don’t like this at all. It’s expensive, still requires adding value in the form of removal spells, and there are few places this will be good.


Hand to Hand – Back when we got Basandra, Battle Seraph in Commander 2011 stuff, I would’ve laughed and said don’t waste time on this kind of effect. I might’ve even said this a year ago. My level of resistance to Basandra and cards like Hand to Hand have changed drastically though. With the addition of Xenagos, God of Revels, and other cards that trigger “at the beginning of combat,” as well as several great Blue Instants that have “Aether” in their name, forcing our opponents into a “play it if you got it situation” pre-combat might be beneficial. Especially if you have someone that plays Turbo Fog.


Ashling’s Prerogative – This is one of the few cards I play that constantly puts a smile on my face, especially when someone has to read and think about what this card does for the first time. Context: I play in Heartless Hidetsugu, where I’m always going to choose odd, because HH needs Haste, and it shuts down the turn 6 “Titan” or equivalent. I’m not going to tell you it’s good, but I love it, I’ve found a great home for it, and it’s one of the most powered-up pieces of questionable tech I play. Special fun fact: “0” is even, as noted on the card, and is the CMC for tokens, specifically ones that come down via Avenger of Zendikar, or a 4/4 colorless token assembled by having all the Kaldra pieces.


Ashling’s Prerogative is #2 on my Top 5 List of cards that make me feel like I’ve won the game without actually winning the game. Number one being ye olde Solemn Simulacrum.


Uphill Battle – This is actually something new I found in my little Gatherer search for this article, and I really like it. Again, probably for the same reasons I love Ashling’s Prerogative, but it’s awesome against other Red and Haste-driven decks looking to play with a lot of tempo.


War’s Toll – A volatile card, but it really shuts down the second main phase and multiple responses on other people’s turns, which is again, what Red decks want to do.



Aether Flash – The ultimate Red Token and White Weenie hoser.


Magnetic Mountain – Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for another weird-ass card! This week’s oddity of oddities comes to us from Revised, where apparently Blue Creatures resonated with a certain polarity that could be harnessed and controlled by a mountain Enchantment. If that explanation sounds like an acid trip, I agree with you. Much like a stripper’s positive pregnancy test, I get the sense there is no sober explanation for the creation of this card. Still, this is something that I would play for the explicit purpose of hilarity, and nothing more. Magic before they knew what they were doing is great.


This art is the lolz.



Mudslide – Another weird one, but not so weird that it can’t serve a functional purpose. I think this would be better in a Splash-Red Control deck, for more creatures with flying, but there are plenty of Dragons to go around.


Price of Glory – I like shutting down control decks, and so can you. Let them counter spells at their own risk.


Smoke – This is a great card for Control, and really any Red-based combat-narrow deck archetype like Voltron. Gotta defend against “The Overrun Guy,” amirite? Awesome piece of old Magic technology that can find a home in Commander.


Stranglehold – No-Brainer. Stop that searchin’. Stop that (Time) Stretchin’.


Tectonic Instability – Another “use it or lose it” card that’s nice against Control decks. Looking forward to snagging a copy of this and finding a home for it.


Widespread Panic – Not a fan of the jam band with this name, but I do like that in successive Commander products, we got neat restrictions and penalties for tutelage.


This is the band Widespread Panic. It’s hard to believe that none of these guys were extras on Sons of Anarchy. Once you see it, you can’t unsee the leather vests.



Capricious Efreet – Destroying stuff. If you can get two successful turns with this bad boy, I think it’s worth the 4RR you paid for it. Bonus points if you’re hitting enchantments.


Dualcaster Mage – We talked about how highly I rate its Instant-speed copy brethren. One of my friends has informed me that its conjunction with Rite of Replication and basically any other “Copy Target Creature” spell make an infinite number of things if you time it correctly (HINT: Respond with Dualcaster Mage!).


Dwarven Blastminer & Dwarven Miner – Definitely less relevant in the late game without Haste, but I’ve had positive results when they show up in an opening hand.


Orcish Settlers – Settlers are the premier creature LD spell, the most compelling reason being that they are always going to force a removal spell immediately, or be played on an even-numbered turn so you can activate on the odd turn and max out their mana (I always liked casting on Turn 4, and blowing up two lands Turn 5).


Firewing Phoenix – The most affordable of the Phoenix creatures I want to talk about, both in cost and recursion. A 4/2 body is good in most cases, helping to chump block most creatures without Trample.


Skarrgan Firebird – Another great piece of tech brought to my attention by my pal Jordan. Essentially, you have a bigger, more useful Chandra’s Phoenix that can be recurred at the point in a game when you need more threats. The longer you draw the game out, the more palatable the RRR and 4RR costs become. This creature can really replace some of those turns when Red seems to run out of steam.


Holy Secret Tech, Batman!


Kuldotha Phoenix – My favorite Phoenix, hands down. I have drowned my opponents in midrange flyer value with this one for a couple of years. It combos well with a lot of these discard, seemingly anti-value cards that help us dig in Red, and caters to that Artifact crutch that most players (myself included) like to rely on.


Magma Phoenix – If you have to play Pyroclasms, why not play them with a penchant for additional damage? I haven’t had a chance to see how this goes, but Magma Phoenix has the potential to chump and trade with Titans over and over again. That’s appealing to me, even if it costs some mana to get back over and over.


Flametongue Kavu – More than playing this card, I think Eric likes saying, “Fuh-LAME-tung Kah-voo,” and I enjoy his rather emphatic Canadian idiolect. As a card, I’m not a big fan, but I won’t deny its usefulness in certain metagames, or even decks where immediate copies can be manufactured. #DoubleDamageAllTheWayAcrossTheSky #WhatDoesItMean


Hammer Mage – I was turned onto this tech by my pal Jordan, AKA my group’s Squee player, and it’s a legit threat to everyone’s board in most games. Combining this with Squee helps replace the anti-value, and it’s awesome.


Viashino Heretic – A past piece of CommanderCast technology, and one of my favorite utility dudes. You haven’t lived until you’ve made your opponent pay a Darksteel Ingot tax.


Invader Parasite – It’s a little expensive, but this is a card that I used to play quite a bit. The only place its exile ability is going to be bad is in Red mirror matchups, but it plays very well against its Temur Counterparts. And if you have to, the Parasite does remove pesky Cabal Coffers and Nykthos.


Stingscourger – I stumbled across this in a Modern sideboard as an answer to Emrakul, and immediately snagged a copy. Much like Dead & Gone, this is some hot cardboard that benefits Goblin and non-Goblin decks alike.



Urabrask the Hidden – I know there are some people out there that love and have had a lot of success with Urabrask as a Commander, and maybe I’m wrong for not including him as an overarching Control choice in the Strategy segment. However, I feel like coming from the general zone would make players focus more on the Haste, and less on the other half of his ability. Maybe I’m off base, but I think he’s a card that excels when he’s part of the team in Control Strategy, and more Aggro when he’s made more important.


Tyrant’s Familiar – Haste combined with a nice removal spell in the combat phase make this card pretty okay. I believe that most of the Commanders we talked about aren’t innately beatsticks in the control variant, and this is a solid threat.


Tyrant of Discord – Most of the time, I don’t like my threats to cost too much more than 6 mana, but that’s just my playstyle, and I can stick them and usually make them go a long way. I really like ToD though. I’ve seen this card do some serious destruction entering the battlefield, and my only regret is that he doesn’t cost 5RR, because Triple Red makes him pretty tough to justify in my Animar curve.


Well, that should be enough to get you started! Here’s to having fun in a way you never could with a color you’d never guess could aim its chaos!


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