This week, let us begin with a new (or at least new-old / reborn) deck.

As an archetype strategy R/W Heroic had already shown some potential, up to and including a Pro Tour Top 8 pedigree already; but a new card from Khans of Tarkir has put it over the top for current Standard. That card, maybe surprisingly, is Defiant Strike.


Defiant Strike was a card that I kind of glossed over when I first saw it but is apparently transformational for a strategy like R/W Heroic, and the main reason Phil wanted to explore the deck to begin with. Sure, it is a buff spell like so many others... but (remember I glossed it over initially), Defiant Strike is much more exciting and important locally for other reasons…

It's one mana. This card stands next to Dragon Mantle as a one mana cantrip. It's not that Defiant Strike is such a spectacular effect… It's that you get a desirable set of effects for such a compact cost.Because it is a cantrip in a low mana deck like this one (so many of the cards cost only one or two mana) you can cut a land! Thanks to a time traveling Alan Comer [] Phil and Osyp could greedily run 18 lands only.
Monastery Swiftspear (Taylor Swiftspear) is also a sweet new card!

It's not quite the card that we see in Legacy alongside all those zero and one mana blue cantrips, but Monastery Swiftspear is redundant, exciting, and quite powerful in the archetype.

Monastery Swiftspear stands next to Akroan Crusader and Satyr Hoplite as a red one drop that can be exciting with buff spells… Whether or not they actually target it! Swiftspear is potentially a disaster for the opponent when combined with instant speed buffs (which isn't the case across the board). I don't think it is currently the default for mages to play around Coordinated Assault; but Monastery Swiftspear actually changes the paradigm when contrasted with the Theros Block Heroic guys.

The thing that caused me to raise my eyebrow on this deck is the white mana. I do think that over the course of this year we will see the parallel maturation of mono-red Heroic (or some kind of approximation with either all one-drop guys or one-drops and Goblin Rabblemasters)... In this deck the white mana gets you not only the extraordinarily valuable Phalanx Leader but a number of buff cards that straight red just can't approximate. Launch the Fleet can get so much damage rolling.

So… Hot new deck piloted by some pretty spectacular players at the recent Standard Open in New Jersey (Pro Tour and Grand Prix winner Osyp Lebedowicz and 2014 Grand Prix and WMCQ Top 8 competitor Phil Napoli).

I'm walking by Osyp playing a fun game between rounds and see an amazing early game sequence that I just had to share with you.

Me: Smile
Osyp: Huh?
Me: You're going to be Make the Play Monday next week!
Osyp: Sweet!

This was Osyp's fun game opening hand:
Dragon Mantle
Coordinated Assault
Favored Hoplite
Monastery Swiftspear
Monastery Swiftspear
Mana Confluence

Simple question on this one… You're on the play; run out your first turn.

That's it! Make the Play! Put your answers in the comments below!

This is Make the Play Monday. We believe that Magic, competitive Magic, is a series of decisions. Every decision you make can ultimately bring you closer to ultimate victory or push what you want further and further away.

We focus on making the best decisions in this column, and talking them through, so that when similar situations come up for you you can maximize your chances of winning. To that end, we bring in a Celebrity Guest every week to consult on the plays; unsurprisingly (this week at least) we'll be tapping the brain of Pro Tour Venice and Grand Prix Orlando winner Osyp Lebedowicz!

This week we are going to do things a little bit differently. Instead of rewarding anyone making "my" play (as I didn't actually have a horse in this particular race) two different responders making Osyp's play are each going to get a $25 gift certificate this week. Want a chance at some sweet $25 love (and show off your first turn finesse)?

Haha, approve of the nickname Taylor Swiftspear. For God's sake, she wrote an entire album named Red!

— Evan Erwin (@misterorange) September 29, 2014