Someone once asked “Who’s the beatdown?” and left an indelible mark on Magic. While the recipe of “Add more Flores, then bake.” may not be the best introduction I’m certain that there is an appeal about it.
More importantly, beating down is something that happens a lot in Limited. In fact, 60% of the time it works every time. (Actual odds will vary.)
In the not too distant past I added Reckless Charge and found it to be solid. Giving haste is great and the creature pump is often right in line with what any red deck wants to do. While Scars of Mirrodin has been a bountiful harvest of commons in many colors, red is coming up short. There is one creature that looks like a potential fit: Vulshok Heartstoker.
Red has quite a few one, two, and three drops in my cube. It naturally leans towards aggressive decks even if it isn’t using the empirically most powerful creatures.
The Heartstoker lets any third turn Mountain lead into another body as well as a power pump. He may be unexciting later in the game but for the early and midrange battles where trading up and hitting hard create the paths to winning he’s a hero. Pairing him up with some evasion is just icing.
“All-in” aggro is what the black-red decks have been evolving to as of late; feeding shadow or fear/intimidate creatures pumps feels like a natural extension to the theme. I like the potential to push the idea further, especially when it fits better in a curve of creatures unlike Battle-Rattle Shaman.
So who is the beatdown? For starters, anyone on the receiving end of Vulshok Heartstoker’s little pump. And there was no possible way to make that sound right.