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Against the Odds: Red-Black Minotaurs


Hello everyone and welcome to episode thirty-one of Against the Odds. First off, thanks to all of you for voting in last week's poll; Time Sieve came is first with nearly 6,000 votes being cast! This said, as I started to build a Time Sieve deck I ran into a major problem: the deck really, really, really wants the Sword of the Meek / Thopter Foundry combo. Unfortunately, since Magic Online lives in this weird time delay, the new Banned and Restricted changes have yet to go into effect, so Sword of the Meek did not officially become legal in Modern in time to make this week's video. 

So here's the deal. I promise I'll do Time Sieve at some point in the future, but I had to switch the deck for this week. The good news is I switched to the deck I've gotten the most requests for and comments about over the past couple weeks: Red-Black Minotaurs! So this week we'll be playing Red-Black Minotaurs in Modern, next week we have a very special Shadows over Innistrad Against the Odds (so no poll this week), and then after that we'll get back on track with the poll.

We'll talk more about Red-Black Minotaurs in a minute. First let's get to the videos. A quick reminder. If you enjoy Against the Odds and other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Against the Odds: Red-Black Minotaurs Deck Tech

Against the Odds: Red-Black Minotaurs Games

The Deck

Here's a quick refresher on how we ended up playing Red-Black Minotaurs — one of the least powerful tribes in all of Magic — on this week's Against the Odds. Two weeks ago, while we were playing the Mishra's Ark deck, we ran into an opponent playing Red-Black Minotaurs in the Modern queues. I immediately made some comment about how we were getting a bye and would finally win a match. Unfortunately, this didn't happen. Instead we got absolutely crushed, losing 0-2 in what might have been the most depressing loss ever on Against the Odds. Anyway, after a million comments and requests that I tried my best to resist, the stars aligned, and now RB Minotaurs are getting their chance to shine.

One-Drops

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The Good

  • Only costs one-mana. 
  • Has two power.

The Bad

  • There's only one one-drop Minotaur. It's really hard to build a successful aggro deck with only one one-drop. 
  • Can't block. 
  • Missing an arm.

Two-Drops

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The Good

  • Only cost two-mana. 
  • Have two power. 

The Bad

  • Don't block very well. Deathbellow Raider because it has to attack each turn and Felhide Brawler because it needs another Minotaur on the battlefield. 
  • Aren't especially powerful compared to "real" Modern two-drops like Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.
  • Deathbellow Raider tends to suicide itself into opposing blockers and the regeneration ability is so expensive we basically have to time walk ourselves to keep our bad two-drop alive. 
  • Not enough options. Much like one-drops, there just aren't enough Minotaur two-drops to make a competitive aggro deck. It says a lot that Deathbellow Raider and Felhide Brawler, neither of which were especially playable in even in Theros limited, are the two best options in Modern.

Three-Drops

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The Good

  • The only Minotaur that I would consider a legitimately good card. Easily the best Minotaur ever printed. 
  • On-curve as a 3/3 for three-mana.
  • Relevant abilities that make it hard to block and strong on defense. 
  • Has the potential to steal games with the help of cards like Harvest Pyre and Blasphemous Act

The Bad

  • Once opponents realize what's happening, they always save their removal for our Boros Reckoner, because it's the only good creature in our deck. 
  • Can be hard to cast thanks to the triple red mana cost. 

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The Good

  • Currently bugged on Magic Online (so it reduces mana costs by two of any combination of black, red or generic mana), which makes it way more powerful than it should be (for example, we can cast a Fanatic of Mogis for free with two copies of Ragemonger on the battlefield). 
  • In a vacuum, reducing mana costs by two colored-mana is a powerful ability and can allow for explosive turn fours. 

The Bad

  • Is bugged on Magic Online, so you probably shouldn't play it in tournaments at the moment. 
  • The mana reduction ability isn't as powerful as it looks because of the cards around it. Apart from Kragma Warcaller, it only reduces mana costs by one. 
  • Isn't an especially relevant body as a 2/3 for three-mana. 
  • Doesn't do anything until turn four, which sometimes forces us to play less efficiently to make Ragemonger meaningful. 

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The Good

  • Rageblood Shaman isn't horrible for a three-mana lord. Granting trample is actually pretty sweet and being a 2/3 instead of the more common 2/2 is nice. 
  • They work really well with each other, since the deathtouch from Felhide Petrifier allows us to assign one damage to a blocking creature and trample over for the rest. 

The Bad

  • Every good, or even passable Minotaur is three-mana, which means we have 14 three-drops in our deck and our curve is horrible. 
  • Lords are less good in Minotaur tribal because we don't have enough early drops to really support them. If we could consistently go one-drop on turn one, two one-drops on turn two, into Rageblood Shaman we could actually win some games. But more often than not, our three-drops are our first or second play, so Rageblood Shaman and Felhide Petrifier don't really have many tribe members to pump up. 

Four/Five-Drops

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The Good

The Bad

  • Both are underpowered in most situations; 4/2's for four and 2/3's for five are not really where you want to be in Modern. 
  • Both are really poor in combat and often trade down for opposing two- or three-drops. 
  • We don't really have enough red mana symbols to make Fanatic of Mogis good, so a lot of the time it deals only one or two damage when it enters the battlefield. 
  • Being five-mana really limits Kragma Warcaller. Since we've usually (hopefully) dumped our other Minotaurs on the battlefield, the haste ability doesn't really do all that much a lot of the time. 

The Matchups

I'm not sure Red-Black Minotaurs has any good matchups in Modern. We are worse than other aggressive decks because their creatures are more powerful at pretty much every point on the curve. On the other hand, against control decks we aren't really fast enough to kill them before they stabilize and start dropping powerful midgame threats. Meanwhile, against midrange decks it only takes one Loxodon Smiter or Tarmogoyf to invalidate most of our deck.

There are two big problems with Minotaurs in Modern, which I've hinted at before. First, our deck is really, really bad at blocking. Some decks in Modern (think Gravecrawler / Bloodghast decks) can get away with being bad at blocking because their threats are fast and resilient. Well, our threats are neither; many are just Grizzly Bears with the downside of being unable to play defense. The other problem is that our curve is amazingly bad. You simply can't play a successful aggro/tribal deck when all of the best creatures in your deck cost three-mana. There were so many games where we did nothing of note until turn three, and then when we finally started playing creatures, they were only 2/3's. 

The Odds

Overall we won 5 of 17 games (29 percent) and 2 of 7 matches (also 29 percent). While this might not sound all that bad, the bigger issue is that most of our other matches didn't feel particularly close. This said, after playing a bunch of matches, we did figure out that there are two things that are closely associated with Red-Black Minotaurs winning a game or match. The first is the opponent getting a bad draw. For example, our win against GW Hatebears where our opponent spent most of the game Ghost Quartering themselves to try to get the proper mana to cast their spells. The second is drawing three or more copies of Boros Reckoner, which is how we managed to beat Grixis Control. Otherwise, we are pretty much hoping that we get lucky and draw the right cards to combo-kill our opponent with Boros Reckoner and Blasphemous Act or Harvest Pyre

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. Since Shadows over Innistrad is finally releasing on Magic Online this Friday, we'll have a very phobic special Shadows over Innistrad edition of Against the Odds next week. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. While I'm glad we tested our Red-Black Minotaurs in Modern, I can't recommend playing the deck. There just aren't enough good Minotaurs to go around at the moment, although this could change if we get another Minotaur-focused set in the future. So what could be printed to make Minotaurs a playable deck? First, we really need a second two-powered one-drop. Second, we need more two-drops, preferable two-drops that are powerful, or at least playable. Third, more Ragemonger synergies would be nice. If I could invent one card to make Minotaurs a playable tribe in Modern, it would probably be a Burning-Tree Emissary that cost BR and was a Minotaur. 

As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.                                                                                                         


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