There are some decks that we all remember exist in a format, but that doesn't mean we think the deck can do well. We saw that yesterday with Ari Lax's proud Restoring of Balance, and we see it now with Texan Kevin Mackie playing Skred Red at 9-1.
Skred has always been one of those cards that everyone admits is powerful, but that building the shell is often not worth it. Skred Red, a big mono-red control deck flouts this convention, delivering cheap red removal and big red monsters to swing for the win. It's always been on the fringes, but never really in the spotlight.
Mackie admitted that he started playing the deck as a joke. “Well, not as a joke, but I didn't expect anything from it,” he said. But then the fun talons of Skred hooked him and he was done. “It's just so fun. You've got super-linear lines, and randomly super-great matchups ... and who doesn't like have someone read your cards 100% of the time?!” He laughed. “Skred, Scrying Sheets, and Koth of the Hammer—every time.”
The deck can swing from the quite controlling to decidedly midrange, with Demigod of Revenge and the combo of Blasphemous Act and Boros Reckoner almost seeming combo-like. Mackie's build has landed somewhere in the middle of the Skred continuum. “It's not the big Skred, but it's also not the one that's really low to the ground with all the hate cards [like Ensnaring Bridge and Chalice of the Void].” It took a bit of iterating to land where he did, and he was sad to take the Reckoner combo out.
“I started with [it], but everything died and I didn't do anything,” Mackie said with regret. Adding, “Man, Reckoner is like my favorite Magic card.” He shook his head, but said further that based on the rounds this weekend, Reckoner would have been terrible, and liked his call.
This control deck looks so different from what we know of Modern, just what does an optimal start even do? Mackie explained, “Kill a guy on Turn 1; Mind Stone on Turn 2; and a four-drop on Turn 3. The four drops in this deck are disgusting.” Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Koth of the Hammer, and a singleton Chandra, Torch of Defiance that Mackie admits should be at least a two-of were the objects of his desire. “I've ultimate'd her twice so far, and she's never been bad. Ever.”
He said of the Nalaar parents that they just sit perfectly on your curve. “You spend the first three turns killing permanents, and if something falls through the cracks, or Affinity did its ‘go-wide' strategy, you need a catch-up. Pia and Kiran is that catch-up.” He also added how you can sacrifice the Mind Stone to them to kill something in a pinch.
“And the Koth ...” he opined, “...the Koth.” He said there is no better card in the deck to cast into an empty board than Koth of the Hammer. “And when they go Lily–sacrifice a guy, or Lily–discard a card [Liliana of the Veil], you just say Koth, kill your Lily.” Koth reaches just out of Lightning Bolt range at four damage, so when opponents think their Planeswalker is safe, Koth can hit like a ton of bricks. “And then your Planeswalker is out of Lightning Bolt range.” Mackie chuckled.
It's because of the power of the four drops, Mackie says Mindstone is likely the most important card in the deck, and definitely your best turn-two play.
Though he's thoroughly in on the deck, he's only been playing it for a few weeks, and would definitely make some changes for the future. “It really needs a 23rd land, bad.” And added that there's no way his sideboard is right. “Probably need more hate for Dredge. You have a better Game 1 than most because of the maindeck Relic of Progenitus. But Relic is not enough.”
The oddest-looking card choice for the deck might be Eternal Scourge. The innocuous 3/3 for three man doesn't really seem like it does much, and sometimes it doesn't. But when it's good ... “OOooo,” Mackie said. “I like that card a lot.”
“There's just so much removal in the format right now. And if it dies to combat damage, you can just eat it with Relic and cast it again.” That method allowed him to beat Jacob Wilson on the first day. “He had gone Affinity all-in on a 10/10 Arcbound Ravager, and I just kept chump blocking with the Scourge and returning it over and over until I found the win.”
The last card we'd yet to discuss is the eponymous card of the deck, Skred. That was almost because it was such a given, but it was nonetheless an oversight. “It kills literally everything in the format ... I killed a Platinum Emperion, and a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet after two zombie sacrifices.” He added, “All for one mana. It's crazy.”
It's not all roses for the deck though. If you're looking to sleeve up a similar 75, Mackie would remind you that it's very metagame dependent. “If you're expecting a lot of non-creature decks or Remand, DO NOT PLAY THIS DECK. Not close.” Adding, “If you don't like losing to Blue decks, don't play this deck. Please.”
But despite this shortcoming, and how slow the deck seems for the format, Kevin Mackie was confident in his choice. “You turn the corner usually turn four or five, and that's definitely fast enough.” You know when you've made it, Mackie says, “when you untap and say, ‘Ok, my Koth lived, now I can Stormbreath Dragon ; I'm OK.'”
... And we haven't even mentioned the main deck Blood Moons. :) Enjoy!