Visions: Wild-Eyed Frenzy Review (Part 2 of 2)
Before we diverted to cover the most recent Duel Decks release, Venser vs Koth, we were looking at the Theme Decks of Mirage block. Unlike Mirage’s decks, Visions were entirely created in-house at Wizards, and we’ve enjoyed seeing how the expanded card pool has helped deliver higher grade of deck. The mono-Red Wild-Eyed Frenzy is an aggressive Red deck featuring a gaggle of Goblins, some fat beaters, and some burn. To see how well it delivers, I challenged Sam to a match. For her part, she’s piloting the Red/Green beats deck, Savage Stompdown.
Sam and I spend our opening turn dropping land, with her on the play. She continues to build the next turn, while I bring out the game’s first creature, a Goblin Elite Infantry. Our roles reverse on turn 3, as it sees her bring out a Raging Gorilla while I’ve got nothing to play but land.
Now turn 4, Sam adds a pair of Quirion Elves for mana ramp, choosing Red for each. Not willing to let her have access to that much mana so early, I Flare one of them at the end of her turn. Back to me, I draw my free card off the Flare, then send in the Elite Infantry to attack. Sam lets them through, going down to 18. I follow with a Goblin Swine-Rider and a Goblin Recruiter, bumping a pair of Keepers of Kookus to the top of my library off the Recruiter. Things go pear-shaped next turn, however, as Sam uses Natural Order to upgrade her remaining Quirion Elves into a Crash of Rhinos. For my part, all I can play is a Viashino Sandstalker, which Sam trades out with her Gorilla. I play a Keeper of Kookus and pass.
There’s little time to celebrate the demise of the Gorilla, for Sam is ready with its turn-6 replacement. Deciding she’s not ready to trade her beautiful Rhinos for a quartet of stinking Goblins, Sam declines the attack. I simply add more bodies to the pile- the second Keeper of Kookus, as well as a Goblin Tinkerer. Next turn Sam unveiles her air force, a Kyscu Drake. For my part, I welcome the first substantial body to the fold in the form of the Talruum Champion.
That seems to convince Sam to act, as she turns every creature sideways on turn 8. Smelling a rat, I make sure to gang-block the Rhinos so ferociously that not even a combat trick can save it. The Elite Infantry, Swine-Rider, Recruiter, and Tinkerer all join the steadfast Talruum Champion in taking down the Rhinos, giving Sam a wonderful five-for-one trade (technically a five-for-three if you count the cards it took her to land the Rhinos). I don’t escape damage, however, as her Drake and Ape waltz through unopposed, putting me at 16 life. My forces decimated but for worthy purpose, I counterattack with my Keepers of Kookus for 2, then add a Talruum Piper. I take a further 4 the turn following as Sam keeps the pressure on, then she adds an Ekundu Cyclops. For me, it’s another underwhelming Goblin card, the Elite Infantry, and I end my turn at 12 life.
Now turn 10, Sam holds back the Gorilla but sends the Cyclops and Drake. The Cyclops is a waste of time- the Keepers of Kookus have it squarely blocked thanks to their protection ability, but the Cyclops has no choice in the matter. The Drake knifes in and I’m now at the halfway mark. Sensing an opening, however, I fire back for 5 with my Piper and Elite Infantry to put Sam at 11. Next turn the Drake carves off another 2-point chunk while I have a Keeper thwart the Cyclops, then I fire back with my attacking tandem again. Sam looks for the trade by blocking my Piper with her Gorilla, but I give my Piper first strike thanks to a Chaos Charm to make it a more one-sided affair. I then play a second Piper and pass.
On the ropes, Sam holds her forces back on turn 12, but has no other play. I stick a Mob Mentality on a Piper and alpha strike for the win.
Sam gets into a rut, playing land but having no play for her first three turns. With less of a hurdle to jump, Wild-Eyed Frenzy takes full advantage of the vacuum. It leads with a Goblin Swine-Rider, followed by the Goblin Tinkerer and a turn-3 Viashino Sandstalker.
By the time turn 4 rolls around, Sam is already at 13 life, though she finally pulls a creature in the form of the Kyscu Drake. I play the Sandstalker again, then pop two Mountains to a Fireblast to clear off the Drake. Unopposed, my forces hammer in for 6 more damage. Back to Sam, she picks off the annoying Swine-Rider with an Unyaro Bee Sting, but has no other play. I resummon the Sandstalker and carve off another 5 life alongside my Tinkerer. Sam’s down to 2. Next turn she draws, and scoops with a pair of Hulking Cyclops and a Feral Instinct in hand.
Sam opens the final game with a Granger Guildmage, which gets a swing in on turn 2. My first creature is the trusty Goblin Elite Infantry. Next turn sees Sam add a Raging Gorilla, while my turn is a blank.
Now turn 4, Sam keeps her creatures at home, unwilling to trade either for the ferocious Elite Infantry. Instead, she simply adds an Ekundu Cyclops and passes. My turn again is a blank, so next turn Sam simply wipes my lone defender aside with an Unyaro Bee Sting and sends in her forces. Down to 13 life, I finally land a creature of consequence, the Ogre Enforcer.
Back to Sam on turn 6, she attacks with the Gorilla and Cyclops for 5, which drops me to 8. Then she goes into overdrive with the Viashivan Dragon. I have no answer to it, and keep my mana open for my defense. When the next turn’s assault arrives, I Flare her Guildmage, which pings me on its way out. I then use the Ogre Enforcer to block and kill her Cyclops, but that’s essentially game. I’ve drawn a Fireblast, but I can’t hope to kill the Dragon so long as Sam has the ability to simply pump its toughness. I concede after my next draw, with Savage Stompdown finally living up to its name.
Thoughts & Analysis
Following after the solid Legion of Glory and superb Unnatural Forces, Wild-Eyed Frenzy hits something of a dissonant note. The deck’s biggest issue is that it wants to have its cake and eat it, too. Put another way, it wants to be both an “Aggro Red” and “Big Red” strategy (not unlike Koth’s deck, but with far worse cards). You have a fully-loaded one-drop slot with eight cards, which needs to have an equally substantial presence at the next slot up to press its early advantage. Because these one- and two-drop cards are comparatively weak, a deck using them needs to be able to develop momentum almost right away, and keep the pressure on until the game is won.
Instead, Wild-Eyed Frenzy lets off the reins a bit, with only a half-dozen two-drop creatures, and then screeches to a halt. You only get one card for three- and four-drop slots, then a bunch at the top of the curve. Although its nice to have closers for when the games go long, the deck just doesn’t have the support it needs to consistently avoid having to do just that, and by the time you’re bringing the bigger bombs on-line, the weak Goblins are completely outclassed. This is where a card like Overrun pays its own wages, turning even the scrawniest creature into a trampling powerhouse, but the closest you get here is Song of Blood.
Removal, sadly, is also lacking. Though you’ll find fewer spells better than Fireblast, the rest of the burn suite is woefully underpowered. Take Flare for instance. Though the fact that it lets you draw a card is a huge help in an archetype that often sees itself running out of team and playing from the top of the library, the fact remains that you’re paying three mana to do a single point of damage. It’s just not worth it, even with the free card. Frankly, the deck begs for Incinerates, and perhaps a Kaervek’s Torch. Instead, you get an Unerring Sling. Enjoy.
Hits: Fireblast is one of the all-time best burn spells ever printed, and you get two copies here
Misses: Tries to accomplish two goals that have little overlap, and becomes something of a muddle in the middle; burn suite lacking, which is shameful for a mono-Red deck; many of the Goblins are quite underwhelming options
OVERALL SCORE: 3.40/5.00
Great article! I really need to read up on these older decks. They each have a card or few that perk my interest.