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Budget Magic: $45 (13 tix) Standard Insolent Red

ສະບາຍດີ Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week we are heading to Standard to take advantage of the most exciting mechanic in Shadows over Innistrad — madness! When Shadows over Innistrad first came out, I was obsessed with the idea of building a Black-Red madness deck around Olivia, Mobilized for War. There were a couple of problems, the biggest of which being that Olivia, Mobilized for War ate up a lot of the budget. But what if Olivia, Mobilized for War and Black cards in general are a trap, taking our focus away from the potentially better Mono-Red Madness deck? What if, as crazy as it sounds, it's not the exciting Mythic Olivia that deserves our attention, but a horrible, seemingly underpowered Common like Insolent Neonate that makes the Standard madness deck tick? That's right, this week we are playing a Mono-Red Madness deck I'm calling Insolent Red, built around the power of the unassuming one-drop Insolent Neonate!

Let's get to the videos, then I'll talk more about Insolent Red. A quick reminder. If you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Insolent Red Deck Tech

Insolent Red vs Sultai Control

Insolent Red vs Goggles Ramp

Insolent Red vs UW Humans

Insolent Red vs Esper Brains

Insolent Red vs GR Tokens

The Deck

First off, I can't assume the credit for building this one. A similar list made the Top Eight of a States event a couple week ago. I just worked on it and (hopefully) improved it a bit. The idea of the deck is fairly simple: build the best Insolent Neonate deck possible. Basically, we want to play an Insolent Neonate on turn one and/or Ravenous Bloodseeker on turn two, and use these discard outlets to generate a huge advantage with madness cards like Bloodmad Vampire, Incorrigible Youths, and Avacyn's Judgment to win the game before our opponent has a chance to recover.

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When I first saw Insolent Neonate I thought it was completely unplayable. I mean, he's essentially a Raging Goblin that trades haste for menace. It turns out I was looking at it all wrong. In reality, Insolent Neonate is the best aggressive discard outlet in Standard. While he sometimes gets in for a couple of damage when we play it on turn one, his real purpose is to allow our deck to have some incredibly explosive draws and close out the game quickly by playing big madness creatures on turn two or three. As for menace, it is helpful in getting in an extra point of damage every now and then. The best part is that opponents don't realize Insolent Neonate has menace and spend five minutes trying to block it, thinking that a random Magic Online bug is messing up their plans, until they actually realize what's happening. While this confusion might not sound like much, and maybe it isn't, my theory is that it throws people off their game and gives us a few extra percentage points. 

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While technically not a madness card, Skin Invasion is combo number one with Insolent Neonate. Ideally we'll play an Insolent Neonate on turn one, suit it up with a Skin Invasion on turn two, sacrifice Insolent Neonate during our opponent's end step, and end up with a 3/4 Skin Shedder. Basically, we've built our own Tarmogoyf. Skin Invasion can also provide some protection against removal in the late game, or we can use it to get an annoying blocker out of the way (by enchanting our opponent's creature). 

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Bloodmad Vampire is combo two with Insolent Neonate and another card that I didn't really see as Standard playable before playing Insolent Red. While a 4/1 dies to everything, when we can madness it on turn two with the help of Insolent Neonate, use our removal to clear away blockers, and keep attacking, it provides a super fast and ever growing clock. Plus our deck has quite a bit of reach, so we usually only need to get in a couple of hits with Bloodmad Vampire to get our opponent life total within burn range. If they can't kill it, it's entirely possibly Bloodmad Vampire can win the game by all on its own.

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Incorrigible Youths works pretty much the same way as Bloodmad Vampire except we have to wait until turn three to madness it. Thankfully, having haste makes the card very strong. There are plenty of times where our opponent will make a seemingly reasonably attack, thinking they left enough creatures on defense to not die on the back swing, only to get surprised by a Incorrigible Youths for lethal. 

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Being a madness deck, we can't rely solely on Insolent Neonate as a discard outlet, so we have Ravenous Bloodseeker and Lighting Axe as well. Ravenous Bloodseeker functions a lot like a repeatable Insolent Neonate that's better at attacking. The problem is it doesn't curve as well with Bloodmad Vampire. While a Bloodmad Vampire madnessed off Insolent Neonate can be very strong, on turn three off Ravenous Bloodseeker, it's a lot less scary because our opponent has more time to set up their defense. This said, being free and repeatable makes Ravenous Bloodseeker very good with our madness burn spells, Avacyn's Judgment and Fiery Temper. One last note about Ravenous Bloodseeker. If you discard two cards in the same turn it can kill itself, which can sometimes be a good thing. I've definitely had times where I needed to fizzle the lifelink on a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet attack to be able to win the next turn, and blocking with a Ravenous Bloodseeker and discarding a couple extra lands is one of our only ways to make it happen. 

Lightning Axe is not only a discard spell, but also our best creature removal spell. Dealing five damage means it can kill not only a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, but also a Sylvan Advocate with six lands in play. While it's fine when we are discarding an extra land, it's amazing when we are able to use the discard effect to madness one of our creatures or other burn spells. 

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Finally, the rest of our madness package. Fiery Temper allows us to get a blocker out of the way and can go to the face in the late game. Meanwhile Avacyn's Judgment is a really powerful effect when you can madness it consistently. 

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The rest of the creatures in the main deck don't really synergize with our madness plan, but instead help fill in gaps on the curve. Lightning Berserker and Zurgo Bellstriker give us a total of six one-drops, so even when we don't have Insolent Neonate, we still have a way of pressuring our opponent. Pia and Kiran Nalaar is pretty much a value play, while also offering another reach card to push through the last couple points of damage after the board gets clogged up with creatures. 

I put a couple copies of Sin Prodder in the deck mostly because I wanted to test the card out, and my experiences with the Devil were mixed. The card is extremely high variance. About half of the time it did literally nothing because our opponent was at a high enough a life total they could just put whatever card Sin Prodder revealed in the graveyard at a very low cost. On the other hand, if we managed to play it when our opponent was low on life, it drew us an extra card most of the time and that felt pretty good. Whether this means Sin Prodder is a horrible win-more card or great because it provides reach to close out the game, I'm not sure. I feel like I need to play some more games to get a better feel for just how often it is good/bad. 


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Per usual, I'm not going to go over every card in the sideboard. Rending Volley essentially says "destroy Archangel Avacyn," Magmatic Chasm helps break through board stalls against Bant Company and Humans, Uncaged Fury lets us steal games against decks heavy on sorcery speed removal, and Malevolent Whispers is great against decks playing huge Eldrazi and also fine when stealing a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet or Archangel Avacyn. However, I did want to take a minute to talk about Goldnight Castigator

Now, obviously, Goldnight Castigator isn't a card for every matchup. If the opponent is playing some aggressive deck and has a board full of creatures Goldnight Castigator is utterly unplayable. However, there are some matches where Goldnight Castigator is one of the best cards in our deck. Against Seasons Past Control, it's pretty much a free roll that gets around most of their removal (i.e. Languish and Grasp of Darkness), against Esper is offers a really good way of pressuring planeswalkers, and it can even be good against Goggles/Eldrazi Ramp. However, in Goggles Ramp the main risk is doubling up a Fall of the Titans. I think it's good enough to deserve a slot in the sideboard, but be selective in the matchups where you bring her in. In her good matchups she is often game winning, but in bad matchups she is really, really bad. 


Not a whole lot to change here, most because the version in the videos is already pretty cheap at $45 and 13 tix. The easiest cut is Westvale Abbey which, as a one-of, felt weird in the deck to begin with. I never came particularly close to being able to transform it. By the time we had five creature on the battlefield and six lands, we'd usually already won (or lost) the game. That said, it doesn't hurt to play a copy just because the deck can easily support some number of colorless lands (although Drownyard Temple might be better). 


Since there really aren't many upgrades to be made to the Mono-Red build (other than playing a few more colorless lands like Drownyard Temple or Westvale Abbey), I decided to go Blue-Red to take advantage of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. That said, I'm not really sure the upgrades are worth it because apart from Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Blue doesn't really add that much to the deck. If you have some copies of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy lying around, give them a try, but don't go out an spend $320 on a playset of the planeswalker just to play this deck. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Over all we went 3-2 in games, which is a fine record, but more importantly I was impressed with some of the matchups we managed to win, especially consistently beating turn-four Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet backed up by removal from Sultai Control/Midrange. If you enjoy aggro decks, or just want an excuse to abuse the madness mechanic, give Insolent Red a shot. I don't think you'll be disappointed, especially considering it's super cheap!

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

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