Surprise your opponents with an insta-kill using Cavalcade Red in MTG Standard

Cavalcade Red has broken through to be a challenger in MTG Standard!

Chandra Acolyte of Flame Art Magic Core Set 2020
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Mono-Red decks have been an important wedge of Magic: the Gathering‘s Standard format for a while now, but one new take on the deck is proving a surprising twist. Cavalcade Red is certainly not the “best” take on Mono-red—but it certainly has surprise potential and a, quite possible, turn-four kill.

The Deck

Cavalcade Red revolves around its namesake: Cavalcade of Calamity.

Cavalcade of Calamity Magic Ravnica Allegiance
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Cavalcade has been a gimmicky card since its release, but occasionally makes a presence in low-cost Red decks that load up with one-cost creatures like Fanatical Firebrand and Scorch Spitter.

The deck then doubles-down on 1/1s with token generators in the form of Legion Warboss, Scampering Scorcher, and Chandra, Acolyte of Flame. Couple these with handfuls of burn spells and you’ve got yourself a deck!

Core Set 2020 (M20), however, added a much-needed finisher to Cavalcade Red. Chandra’s Spitfire proved to be the key to bringing this deck out of the jank pile.

Chandra's Spitfire MTG Core Set 2020 Red
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Chandra’s Spitfire triggers for every noncombat damage instance. This includes Cavalcade triggers, Scorch Spitter triggers, and all those burn spells. Set up right, Spitfire can attack for 10+ damage each turn.

The Sideboard

Sideboarding for Cavalcade Red brings it a lot closer to a more typical Mono-Red build. Target powerful creatures like Goblin Chainwhirler, or planeswalkers like Tibalt and Chandra, Fire Artisan.

To deal with threats, look at clean removal like Lava Coil, or Red’s M20 hate card, Fry.

Finally, add a little flavor! Brewers have identified Chamber Sentry as a unique threat for this deck. It doubles as a one-mana 1/1 creature but also can perform big plays in the late game if you can cast it for 6 or more mana using its second ability.

Chamber Sentry Magic Guilds of Ravnica
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Spitfiring to victory

Now that you get the concepts, check out the full deck list. This is Jim Davis’ deck from Fandom Legends earlier this month. Taking 16th place isn’t particularly phenomenal—but no other Mono-Red deck finished as well.

This deck is for real, but nothing illustrates its win potential better than the deck’s turn-four kill. To get there, all you need is three Scorch Spitters, Cavalcade, Spitfire, and three Mountains.

  1. Play a Mountain and Scorch Spitter.
  2. Play another Mountain, and the other two Scorch Spitters. Attack if the way is clear.
  3. Play another Mountain and Spitfire. Again, attack if you can.
  4. Play Cavalcade and all-out attack.

Here’s how the damage works out. First, four Cavalcade and three Spitter triggers go on the stack. That’s seven 1 damage sources, which deal 7 damage and triggers Spitfire seven times. Spitfire becomes a 22/3 flier, and then you deal combat damage, dealing another 25 damage. Without blockers or removal, your opponent will take a total of 32 damage in a single turn. Crank up the victory music and strut around your room in style.

MTG Commander 2019 Ignite the Future
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Flaming up

Of course, that combo won’t happen all the time (or even most of the time). It’s extremely vulnerable to removal or tempo plays that stall the game. It absolutely falls down to a board wipe. But that’s not important.

This deck isn’t about playing the most optimal line or ranking up into Mythic. It’s about going fast, staying low, and busting through your opponent’s face with a gigantic molten phoenix.