Red Deck – You don’t need to be a good player to win with this deck! by Tan-Tai Ellul-Nguyen

Red Deck – You don’t need to be a good player to win with this deck! by Tan-Tai Ellul-Nguyen

Red Deck – You don’t need to be a good player to win with this deck!– I’m living proof!

Hi. My name is Tan-Tai Ellul-Nguyen and before you ask, no, im not related to Tu Nguyen (I’ve had this at least 10 times at tournaments). I play Magic in Wales. It isn’t very competative here. Mainly casual players with a couple of serious players. I’ve been playing since 2001. I have tried to quit magic more times than Terry Funk has quit wrestling but i can’t stay away. Ever since the serious players gave up, these players being the one’s who drive, I decided to sell my collection off but this game is so addictive.

My story begins with a phonecall. I had been arranging a place to stay for GP London. Im staying with “Former pro” Nick lovett (inside joke and I I hope everyone will start calling him this too lol). He told me about a PTQ in Birmingham. I agree to go as I rarely have a Saturday off work. Unfortunately we could not persuade any other players to join us, so its just the two of us. Nick would be lending me a deck so we decide on a Time Sieve deck for him and as I had access to 4 Figure of Destiny; I might as well play RDW.

The night before, I go out and get drunk. obviously. Its just a tradition I have. The less sleep I have; the better I play. I get picked up at 8am and we get to the venue at 10am. Nick hands me the deck:

Me – “I guess I just burn people to the head and swing with creatures right?”

Nick – “Yes Tan.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have played RDW in extended before. Infact, Dan Ruiz– a good friend of mine, and I both piloted an exact same deck 2 seasons ago. He won the PTQ and I went 5-2. That was when I gained faith in red.

We didn’t have access to Koths so I put the 1 we had in the sideboard and we decided on 1 Arc Trail (yes Jon, it was a one of. Sorry).

The deck looked like this:

4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Teetering Peaks
12 Mountain

4 Goblin Guide
4 Figure Of Destiny
4 Plated Geopede
4 Hellspark Elemental
2 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Volcanic Fallout
4 Flame Javelin
4 Searing Blaze
2 Staggershock


1 Everlasting Torment
1 Koth Of the Hammer
1 Arc Trail
4 Dragons Claw
4 Slagstorm
4 Smash To Smithereens

I had to borrow an Arid Mesa from Richard Bland too. Cheers dude.

I apoligise for not knowing anyones names, when the DCI reports come up I shall forward them to Tu and add them to the report. Or if I played against you and you are reading this then please comment here and I will update accordingly.


Round 1 – Ali Aintrazi’s Transmuter Deck (Lee Garner).

Think this was rogue. I don’t remember too much about this game other than just as I was about to kill him, he played a Forgemaster and hasted it up fetching a Platinum Emperion. And I’m stuffed.

I board in Smash to Smithereens. I take out the Staggershocks, 1 Geopede and 1 Searing Blaze. Just to let you all know, I don’t know how to sideboard. I just pluck random 1 of cards out.

Game 2 went better. I make dudes and swing. Burn to the head and RDW does exactly what it says.

Game 3 went the same. A well timed Smash to Smithereens to a Wurmcoil Engine against Plated Geopede and thats game.


Round 2 – White Weenie (Dave Inker).

I have played Dave many times in PTQ’s. He is a great guy and fun to play against. We were 50/50 against each other but today it was my time again. He made lots of creatures but it is no match for the mighty Volcanic Fallout. I make Geopede out of range, wipe the board and go to town.

I board in Slagstorm and the Arc Trail. I pull out random cards again.

Game 2, Dave starts with Leyline of Sanctity in play. I make Tattermunge Maniac, Goblin Guide and Figure early and save all my burn for his creatures. I had an answer for all of his creatures and win quickly. Dave then shows me the 4 Forgetenders and 4 Kor Firewalkers he sided in. Wow, I feel lucky.


Round 3 – Mythic??

Can’t remember this match up as the guy I was playing against didn’t seem like a happy chappy. I just got on with it and played fast. I believe the game was over in like 10 mins. I can’t remember anything about how I played or what I boarded in. I was just relieved to be finished and not playing any more. I play magic to enjoy the game and when the opponent is moody it doesnt make for a fun game :/


Round 4 – Faeries.

This was the only match I lost all day. I learned a valuable lesson here that would help me win the finals this time. I kept a hand of a Tattermunge, Goblin Guide, Geopede, Javelin, 2 Fetches and a Mountain. Foolishly, I played the Tattermunge first as I thought I could hit for 4 turn 2. I was playing second so I should have known that would be lurking. This is the joy of not playing competative in Wales. I don’t know how to play against any match-up.

I board in 2 Smash and the Arc Trail. I guess Sword of Feast and Famine would stay in. It didn’t.

I kept a slower hand this time. I failed to draw my third land and lost. In fact, I got spanked. Oh well, I would have to win out.


This is when my memory gets hazy. I’m sorry guys but I wasn’t planning to be writing up about the tournament.

Round 5 –  Control.

This seemed rogue to me. Then again, I don’t know anything about Extended. All I remember about this match up was that my opponent got mana screwed. I saw Cryptic Command. We were a game a piece and in the final game, I got him to 3 life. He had to use the last of his mana to Cryptic a creature back to my hand. Then I re-casted it and made some burned for the win I believe.


Round 6 – Jund.

This was the I.D round as I call it. If I win I can I.D to get into the top 8. I had an answer to everything my opponent played. If he made a creature, I killed it. If I attacked and he blocked with a Putrid Leech, I Searing Blazed it in response to the paying of life. In the end I think I won by overloading the board with creatures. I think I won 2-0?


Round 7 – I.D.

Luckily, my tie breakers were high enough to be able to I.D into the top 8. I didn’t get paired down so I was very happy. Now to watch Wales beat Ireland in the rugby!

Top 8

Quarter Finals – Mono Red (Wen Jie Lee)

I was playing against a weird version of red. It had Ball Lightning in it. That wrecked me game 1 hitting me for 8 with the help of a Teetering Peaks. I was 1-0 down.

I board in my Dragons Claws. It’s then I hear my opponent say “I hope he isn’t running Dragons Claw.” I’m guessing someone forgot theirs…

Game 2 I make a 1 drop followed by Dragons Claw. I must have gained 12 life from this card. It won me the game. When he boarded in Ratchet Bomb to destroy it, I played the second one which I kept in hand. I get a Figure on the table and the rest is history.

Game 3 was very close. I had a very fast start and won quickly I believe. Flame Javelin is such an awesome card. Especially when your opponent is on 4 life :-)

Semi-Finals – Bant (Matt Light)

This was the first time I played against this deck. I just played like I normally would. I won the first game quickly. I think my opponent got slightly mana screwed :/

I board in Slagstorm at this point to kill his accelerants in Hierarch and BoP. Plus my Arc Trail. I don’t remember what I boarded out and I’m guessing it was singles of various cards.

I lose the second game to Gideon and Elspeth. Planeswalkers no good :(

Final game, my opponent drops an Elspeth. I finally hulk up a Figure and as I attack my opponent scoops. I’m in the finals!

Finals – Faeries (Jonathan Randle).

I asked Jon if I could sit with my back against the wall as I absolutely hate people looking over my shoulder when I play. Call me supersticious but I play very bad when people are watching me from behind when I play. He agreed and we are off!

The first game was very close but Jon isn’t known as the master of Faeries for nothing. He got himself out of a pickle and beat me. I wasn’t expecting to win and to come across a pro in the finals, well, just my luck I thought.

I board in my 1 Arc Trail and Slagstorms. Again I take out my 1 of’s and we play again. This time I remember to cast Goblin Guide over Tattermunge. Best decision ever. Jon played a Bitterblossom and it helped me kill him. Geopede on 3 toughness vs lots of faeries followed by Volcanic Fallout won me this game I think.

Game 3 I kept a hand that included a Goblin Guide and Geopede I believe. Jon didn’t see his third blue mana source and I was told he had 2 Cryptic Commands. Jon casts a Vendillion Clique and chooses not to make me swap a card. I draw my 1 Arc Trail. I ping it for 1 and burn to the dome for 2. Swing with my creature.

Later in the game when Jon was on 7 life and only 1 mana untapped I Flame Javelin him to 3 and he has Bitterblossom in play. I drop a Goblin Guide and just as I’m about to attack I remember he had missed several land drops. I mention that to him and decide not to attack. I pass to keep as a blocker. He goes down to 2. Swings for 1. I’m above 15 life here. I draw, its a land. I pass. 1 life. No blue mana source, Jon extends his hand and I’m over the moon.


I basically piloted a deck I had only seen a day or so prior with no knowledge of Extended. I’m proof that a fast, aggressive deck can beat anything.

The only things I need to worry about now are getting a passport asap and finding someone to share a hotel room with for the events. I played a GP in Strasbourg about 4 years ago but this time I have nobody to travel with or stay with. Bit worried so if anyone going would like to offer me somewhere to stay it would be greatly appreciated. I’ll be posting my travelling details here and if you are going can you do the same? I’m not bad to stay with– honest!

I would like to than Nick Lovett for supplying the deck, Rich Bland for the lending of 1 Arid Mesa, the staff who run the ptq and Jonathan Randle for being a nice guy and offering to help test. Unfortunately, I don’t have regular access to Magic Online and I live way too far away to playtest live. At least I have access to all the cards the Welsh players need as I appear to be the only Welsh player going.

If anyone has any deck ideas then I’m happy to hear them. Untill then, see you all at GP London.

“TOA” Tan-Tai


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