Posted - March 26, 2014

Deck: Nissa the Red Witch

My experience with mono Red decks is that they are very straightforward, and, quite frankly, too powerful. The burn spells available to Red can get very overwhelming, particularly for slower decks.

This deck started out with four copies of Lava Axe and equivalent playsets of Turn to Slag, Flames of the Firebrand and other burn spells. Play testing revealed the deck to be very fast and very deadly - and extremely, extremely, boring. I'm talking from the context of what I want from my Magic cards, of course. I don't compete, I don't enjoy winning matches if the game isn't fun, I am into Magic for the Fantasy, for the story. My original mono Red deck had one story to tell: it came and it staged a beatdown in a few turns. The deck had no story behind it and it created no tales during gameplay. I would have to revise it. And I did. This revamped mono Red deck I call, for reasons I will explain later, Nissa the Red Witch.




The very first thing I did with this deck was remove the redundant spells. After doing this, I was left with one copy of each red spell, but not enough spells overall - I view non-creature spells as core to the strength of Red decks so I wanted this deck to have twenty spells; more spells than creatures. So off I went to the hobby shop. When I started grabbing singles, I didn't give the cards any kind of read, as long as they were red Instants, Sorceries or Enchantments I got them. I did that because I wanted the range of red spells with no particular consideration whether they would be burn, removal, devotion or what not. And I ended up with something I was really satisfied with during play. Twenty different kinds of red spells that made for some very fun games because they had such varied effects. Exactly what I wanted. Also noteworthy, is that my random picking of non-creature spells resulted in my not having the quintessential Red spell: Lightning Bolt. Oh well.

Now I'm looking at all these spells and I'm thinking about the story behind the deck. Who is casting all these disparate spells? And that's how I invented the mage behind the deck who I started calling Nissa. Once I had the idea of Nissa, she served as an anchor for me to build around the rest of the deck.


All the creatures shown above are Elementals. Except for the Wall of Fire, but since it is a wall made of fire, I'm including it with the Elemental group. If I had my way, all of Nissa's creatures would be Elementals of fire or stone. Nissa strikes me as cleaving very strongly to the archetype of a pure spellcaster - a mage who only has non-creature spells. Nissa is not nearly as adept as she wants to be so she still finds herself with the need to summon creatures, but she has a preference for Elementals because they follow her commands explicitly. Nissa doesn't like creatures who can think for themselves.

Unfortunately, its not a perfect world, so Nissa has to deal with the creatures shown below.


These non-Elemental creatures are here because I ran out of fire and earth Elemental cards. Storywise, Nissa doesn't like these creatures and they don't like her. But they have to live with each other because they live in the same Mountain. Nissa is strong enough to be Nissa the Red Witch (or, as she is privately known among the Goblin and Vampire tribes of the mountain, Nissa the Red Bitch) de facto ruler of the Red Mountains. But she is not strong enough to kick out the various Goblin, Vampire, Minotaur and Human settlements in the mountains and they aren't strong enough to depose her. So this deck maintains a tense balance, by virtue of power, Nissa commands these non-Elementals but they would turn on her if they could.

I want my MTG!

There are also non-tribal, purely animal creatures here like the Craghorn. Some of them are fantastic creatures like the Tenement Crasher. These animals are easily controlled by Nissa but she despises them nonetheless considering them 'dirty, smelly beasts' not like her 'pure and beautiful' Elemental conjurings.

Lastly, and most irrelevantly, Nissa is good in the sack, some of the Humans (and Goblins!) go around the taverns saying so. Nissa laughs insanely upon hearing such rumors then promptly orders her Elementals to hunt down and kill the rumormongers. Just another day in the Red Mountains.

I want my MTG!