Weekly Random Brew #2: Charging Cinderhorn
In this series, I discuss the deckbuilding process while building casual 60-card decklists based on cards chosen by Scryfall's Random Card function. This is intended as a creative exercise, to give new players a sense of how deckbuilding works while giving more experienced players examples of the kinds of brewing challenges they might encounter in Limited formats. The decks in this series will not be optimized for competitive play, especially when the random seed is not an especially powerful card. My goal is to use the properties of those seeds to make interesting decks.
Today's seed is Charging Cinderhorn.
Here are some of the interesting things I see on this card that can help me constrain my choices:
- This is a red card, and red has a history of strong mono-colored decks. I might want to take this deck in the same mono-red direction.
- Cinderhorn has two subtypes: Elemental and Ox. I'll look at both of these subtypes and see if one of them will make an interesting deck with tribal themes.
- It has haste, which suggests that I should make an aggressive deck.
- It's from Commander 2016. I'm not making a whole Commander deck here, but I will make a singleton deck in honor of the card's Commander roots.
Cinderhorn also has some abilities that are less useful for deckbuilding. It has an ability that gives counters, but they're not +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters. This makes it harder to find interesting interactions. Its ability also punishes players for not attacking, which might not be a big deal because I'm already planning to build a deck that wants to attack every turn. But even though it isn't something I need to build around specifically, this ability is really interesting to include in an aggressive deck because it also applies to my opponents, creating a problem for them. An opponent will want to hold creatures back to block my attackers with, but Cinderhorn will punish them for blocking instead of attacking.
There are about 150 red Elementals in Magic. That's an overwhelmingly large number. If I go this way, I'll have to come up with more limiting criteria to get under about 75 results. There are 14 Oxen, and only five of them are red. That's enough for a deck with 4-ofs, especially if I add in some of the white or green oxen. It's also not a very fast or synergistic deck, since three of the Oxen are vanilla (see Pillarfield Ox) and only one costs less than 3 mana (Yoked Ox). Let's go back to the Elementals.
It might be interesting to use only cards that are the same age as or newer than Cinderhorn, so I've limited the Elementals search to only those with printings in or after C16. I don't particularly want to use the Elementals from Unstable right now, and after filtering those out, I get 38 results. That's a number that allows me to make some interesting decisions about what to include.
From these results, I'm going to keep 25 creatures and focus on cutting spells that rely on interactions I'm not going to be including: some of these cards want me to play lots of instants and sorceries, and some, like Rumbling Ruin, are looking for +1/+1 counters that I don't have.
The mana curve is higher than I expected, so when I search for noncreature spells, I'm going to look for both ways to make my smaller creatures more powerful and to get mana faster so I can cast my bigger creatures early. I'm also limiting my search for noncreature spells to those with printings in or after C16, and I'm excluding silver-bordered cards. One spell I'm especially excited about using is Chandra, Novice Pyromancer, who can both make my Elementals stronger and give me extra red mana. I'll fill out the rest of the list with some cheap removal.
There aren't many nonbasic lands that are helpful in a fast monocolored deck, especially because most of the good ones come in tapped, but I'm excited about trying Castle Embereth, which I can use to buff my creatures and which will probably enter the battlefield untapped.
The result is a hard-hitting mono-red deck that can win with small creatures, big creatures, or even by stealing your opponent's creatures.
1Chandra, Novice Pyromancer
1Door of Destinies
1Goblin War Drums
Another Option: Ox Tribal!
If your playgroup enjoys building and playing with tribal decks, it might be worth considering the Oxen tribal deck I mentioned earlier. This deck still wants to attack every turn, but it takes things a little more slowly and focuses on building a massive wall of cows and buffing them with tribal effects.
Let us know what other decklists you come up with for this seed, or if there's a card you want us to try building around. Happy brewing!