Top Ten R/W Cards

Hello folks! Welcome to the last in my list of the Top Ten Two Color Combinations!

I have been writing this series for months now, and it’s time to finish with my favorite (enemy) color pair!

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about this color combination that makes me sing.

What is it about these two colors that makes me so freaking happy when I play it? Combos like Goblin Bombardment and Enduring Renewal? Aggro decks? Burn-control decks that play well? Equipment fueled fun times? Piloting extremes with Depala? Going wide with tokens? Power-infused sacrifices led by Brion Stoutarm?

I haven't been able to figure it out, but I realized that I loved this combo when I saw the number of {R}{W} decks I was creating for my articles was more than any other color combo.

I think it may be that these are the best two colors for the Sweep and Keep archetype, which may be one of my (not so) secret faves.

The Sweep and Keep archetypes is simple:

  1. Have a card that sweeps the board.
  2. Have a creature base that is immune to the board wipe, thus keeping them alive.

Take, for example, a deck combining Red damage-based sweeping effects like Magmaquake, Earthquake, or Pyrohemia with White creatures that have Protection from Red. That is a prime example of Sweep and Keep, and I love it!

Sweep and Keep.

Okay, where do we start with {R}{W}?

Please note, we are not taking color identity into consideration. Sunforger, Angelfire Crusader, and Desolation Giant don’t count. If they did, Sunforger would absolutely have made my list, and Desolation Giant might have gotten a shout out. But despite the color identity rules, they are not true {R}{W} cards.

Sunforger
Angelfire Crusader
Desolation Giant
Orim's Thunder

These are not {R}{W}, even though I love them dearly. Especially Orim’s Thunder!

There are roughly 115 cards in this color combo, and I have played the overwhelming majority of them!1

Note that much like {B}{W} and {B}{G}, this is a color combo with a lot of strong utility cards among those 115. There are loads of Lightning Helix effects and solid Limited picks like Skyknight Legionnaire.

So, what ultimately makes the list?

Honorable Mention — Wear // Tear

Wear // Tear
Order // Chaos

With a shout out to Order // Chaos, Wear // Tear is an awesome card and versatile tool. It reminds me of the best modes of cards like Orim’s Thunder, taking out two permanents when you have the need.

This beauty, of course, has Fuse. You can fuse for just 3 mana, {1}{R}{W}, giving Wear // Tear one of the best and cheapest fuse options printed in Dragon's Maze. And it works quite well, as I'm sure you'll see when you play it. Wear // Tear for the win!

Now, it's time for the Top Ten!

10. Waves of Aggression

Waves of Aggression

Red has a serious love for Relentless Assault effects that grant you an additional combat phase. In fact, I am confused by the White hybrid cost for Waves of Aggression. Mono-White has never had Relentless Assault effects. Despite that small color misfire, the card is awesome. For one mana more than a Relentless Assault, you can retrace it. Most Aggro decks will love to turn their extra lands into Relentless Assaults, thereby hitting for a ton of damage over and over again.

I like to run two in a Mono-White Aggro deck to give me some game-ending power.

Attack again and again!

9. Boros Charm

Boros Charm

The option to make your stuff indestructible is what makes Boros Charm one of the best Charms ever printed in any color combination. I’ve found making your stuff indestructible is the default mode for a Boros Charm. The card even gives you a set of two other awesome options to consider for when you don’t need to turtle up. I really like the double strike option and use it regularly to win a combat I otherwise wouldn’t or to get double triggers from a “Deals combat damage to an opponent” trigger, such as Shadowmage Infiltrator or Avenging Druid. I also love the ability to shoot someone for four damage and finish them off as needed. Like #5 below, it’s great to pull out of your deck with a Sunforger.

8. Huatli, Warrior Poet

Huatli, Warrior Poet

Ah yes, Huatli, Take One. Our good Dinosaur Rider is bringing out those mad poetry Ixalan beats. She can make a 3/3 trampler for free every turn and rock the block while doing so. I also really like her +2 life gainer in a 20 life environment. And while you *can* ultimate her immediately after arrival to Arc Lightning some folks, you’ll probably just want to build her loyalty up with the life gain or produce the 3/3 tokens to help your board position. She’s “good enough to smash”! Huatli for the Win-Tli.

7. Figure of Destiny

Figure of Destiny

Speaking of “Good Enough to Smash”, how about this lil’ ol’ Figure of Destiny? It’s one of the best 1-drops for ramping and building over time. Cast it on turn one, activate on turn two and swing for two damage with our 2/2, then activate it on turn three and swing with a 4/4, and on turn six you can turn it into a nightmare for anyone, although you may not get that far. The Figure is also good later in the game as you can bump it up to 4/4 and then 8/8 in a turn or two.

This Figure of Destiny can be quite the threat early or late!

6. Searing Meditation

Searing Meditation

Searing Meditation is a cornerstone enchantment for a lot of decks that include lifegain as a key component. Did you gain some life? Great! Why not invest two mana and shoot something for two damage?

Seriously, why not?

There are many engines Searing Meditation plays into. We have some good life-gain triggers like:

Tamanoa
Well of Lost Dreams
Archangel of Thune
Cradle of Vitality
Drogskol Reaver
Lich's Mastery
Sanguine Bond

Here are a ton of life gain cards to remind you of how good and pervaded this stuff is. There are tons more effects too!

My favorite is Tamanoa, which will allow you to turn the damage Searing Meditation does into more life gain, which triggers the Meditation, etc. Cool stuff!

5. Deflecting Palm / Reflect Damage

Deflecting Palm
Reflect Damage

One of the best things this color combination can do is to prevent damage from something and then send it elsewhere. I especially like Deflecting Palm in a deck with Sunforger or on a Isochron Scepter . . . 

Anyway, having cards like these in hand provides a level of safety. Cast whatever junk you want, or attack with impunity. I don’t care. I. am. protected. I can send it back.

Note that the Palm is cheaper, thus increasing its ability to come out of nowhere, but it only works to redirect damage that was going to be dealt to you. So, it can’t protect one of your creatures, nor another player. It also only redirects the damage that was going to be dealt to you from that source, so if that damage was going to deal damage elsewhere too, it still will. If I use it to protect myself from the damage an Earthquake deals to me, it won’t redirect other damage.

That’s why, despite its age and larger converted mana cost, Reflect Damage remains the perfect example of this effect. I have killed many people out of nowhere who were casting a simple mass damage effect for just creatures, like activating a Silklash Spider for 10 or something. It’s awesome in its majesty. You can also kill someone with their own Phage the Untouchable damage. Also, if you like this effect, cards like Mirror Strike or Captain’s Maneuver might want to have a word with you.

4. Nahiri, the Harbinger

Nahiri, the Harbinger

Ah yes Nahiri, the Best Planeswalker in {R}{W}! Here is the Harbinger version of the previously protagonistic Nahiri.

Why is Nahiri so good? Great question! Let’s take a look!

Before we consider anything else, don’t forget she can reverse Loot for +2 loyalty, which quickly gets you to her ultimate ability. Card flow in these colors is important, as is getting double loyalty, and having both on a four-mana ‘walker is great.

Then she has the -2 to exile any enchantment, tapped creature, or artifact. Again, don’t sleep on that value. She answers, permanently, a lot of stuff. The best part is that people often won’t tap and use stuff if they think Nahiri is just going to exile it, and often creatures won’t get used. Plus, I drop her all of the time and exile a tapped target out of nowhere. She is an answer and rocks card advantage.

Finally, she’s good at fetching a creature or artifact from your deck onto the battlefield, and with haste! Then it returns to your hand, so you can grab something with a cool enters-the-battlefield trigger, and then recast it to get another trigger.

Today, Nahiri is going to be the Harbinger of Awesome. She’s great! Nahiri for the Win-hiri!

3. Iroas, God of Victory

Iroas, God of Victory

The amazing thing about Iroas is that this God has two abilities which, unlike the other gods, are both highly useful for the same thing: Bringing the heat. {R}{W} is all about swinging into the red zone. It seeks to tap and attack, and giving your stuff menace is something the color combo has had since Goblin War Drums way back in Fallen Empires. That’s not nothing. Getting an indestructible Goblin War Drums for one more mana alone is worth the price of admission in many decks. Preventing damage when you swing is a way to encourage you to bring the whole team into the fray without worrying about push-back and block-killing the things that had to get double blocked.

You also have the ability to turn any Iroas-led combat into a Sweep and Keep situation where you cast Starstorm or something after swinging all out. Note that Iroas doesn’t prevent combat damage, just damage to your attackers.

That makes Iroas a strong contender in his colors, as well as a force of nature if your four-mana investment can achieve the devotion needed to swing for seven damage. Iroas for the Win-oas!

2. Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

Gisela remains one of the best shut down creatures ever printed! Her ability to simultaneously double all damage to your foes and their stuff while also halving all damage dealt to you or your stuff is incredible. She wins games all on her own, and creates a powerfully difficult place to infiltrate.

She also works amazingly with what this color combination already wants to do. You have an aggro or mid-range deck swinging for heavy damage. Gisela is your high-end creature that will take you home. She obliterates double strike. She abuses haste by doubling potential damage out of nowhere. She is also hard to kill with damage. You have to deal ten to her to kill her, and that ain’t easy.

Consider Commander as one quick example. You could likely win with one spell;

Price of Progress

This is Price of Progress, a card that punishes everyone at the table who is using too many powerful nonbasic lands. You would take half with Gisela out, so just a single damage per nonbasic land you are running, while your foes double, so essentially four damage per nonbasic land they control.

That’s who Gisela is. That’s why she’s at #2.

Gisela for the Win-Sela! She is respected and feared by all who cross her path, and yet, she is not even the highest charting Angel on my list . . . 

So what’s number 1?

As if you had to even ask.

1. Archangel Avacyn

Archangel Avacyn
Avacyn, the Purifier

Does Archangel Avacyn count as {R}{W}? I think so. But if you wanted to argue it doesn’t, I gave you an Honorable Mention too. But it’s not as if you need me to expound on the many ways that Archangel Avacyn is worth this spot if she counts.

To be fair, I had Garruk Relentless in my Top Ten Last Week for {B}{G} without pushback so I think she counts too!

Anyway, the combo of flash, flying, and vigilance on the front end while also giving your team indestructible for the turn is awesome on a 5-drop 4/4. You are hard-pressed to find a better answer to a sweeping damage effect or removal spell. Meanwhile, you can sneak into Angry Angel Mode very easily by having anything of your other creatures die. She’ll burn a bunch of stuff on the way over, and then smolder with a bigger body. There is nothing to dislike here! Avacyn for the Win-acyn!

And there we have it. WHEW! That was a fun ten-chapter series of articles. But it’s a little sad that it’s all over. Thanks ever so much for reading my thoughts. What did you think of my list? Where did I go wrong?

Appendix:

Did you like this Top Ten list? Want to read more? Great! Here are the rest of my two-color lists for you to check out:

  1. Top Ten R/G
  2. Top Ten U/W
  3. Top Ten U/B
  4. Top Ten R/B
  5. Top Ten W/G
  6. Top Ten U/G
  7. Top Ten U/R
  8. Top Ten B/W
  9. Top Ten B/G

1 Of the approximately 115 {R}{W} cards, I have not played Battlegate Mimic, Firesong and Sunspeaker, Foundry Champion, Martial Glory, Scourge of the Nobilis, Suleiman’s Legacy, and War Flare.


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