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CardShark Content - Mike Lanigan (6/5/2005)

When you start talking about a red deck in Standard right now many people may be confused as to what you are talking about because there are so many different red decks running around the format. Sligh, Medium Red, Ponza and Big Red are the names you are likely to hear in reference to the red decks these days. One thing that makes it so difficult to play against red decks right now is the fact that you never know what your opponent will be playing because no two red decks are the same. Like every other deck, people have their preferences towards what cards they like and what cards they think should be in their deck. This is the reason that so many red decks are popular right now….card choices. So how do you test your deck of choice for regionals if there are so many versions of red decks? Well the first thing you should do is to figure out what the main stereotypical red decks play. The goal of this article is to go through each of the four mentioned decks (Sligh, Medium Red, Ponza and Big Red) so that effective testing can be done against them.

So first let’s take a look at Sligh. What is Sligh? Sligh is a deck based on a strict mana curve designed to be able to tap out all your mana each turn so that none of it goes unused and is therefore wasted. The reason that this deck was developed back in the day was because in general the first three turns at least were not used at all by most players. The Sligh deck uses this effective mana curve to gain tempo advantage and then burn the opponent to death. For a real Sligh deck it should follow the following mana curve:

1 mana slot: 9-13 cards
2 mana slot: 6-8 cards
3 mana slot: 3-5 cards
4 mana slot: 1-3 cards
X spell: 2-3 cards
Removal/Burn: 8-10 cards

Now decks can deviate from this a small bit but much more than a few cards difference really makes it a different deck all together. The card pool right now allows for an effective build of Sligh and it looks something like the following:

Sligh:
3x Frostling
Frostling
FrostlingSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Frostling Frostling deals 1 damage to target creature.
or Mogg Sentry
Mogg Sentry
Mogg SentrySet: Planeshift
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblin
Rarity:
R
Number:
69
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever an opponent plays a spell, Mogg Sentry gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
if you have a heavy mono blue control metagame
4x Goblin Cohort
Goblin Cohort
Goblin CohortSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblin Warrior
Rarity:
C
Number:
106
Artist:
Darrell Riche
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Goblin Cohort can't attack unless you've played a creature spell this turn.

4x Myr Servitor
Myr Servitor
Myr ServitorSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Sub Type:
Myr
Rarity:
C
Number:
139
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, if Myr Servitor is in play, each player returns all cards named Myr Servitor from his or her graveyard to play.

4x Slith Firewalker
Slith Firewalker
Slith FirewalkerSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Slith
Rarity:
U
Number:
107
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Haste Whenever Slith Firewalker deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

4x Hearth Kami
Hearth Kami
Hearth KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
171
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
X, Sacrifice Hearth Kami: Destroy target artifact with converted mana cost X.

4x Ronin Houndmaster
Ronin Houndmaster
Ronin HoundmasterSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Samurai
Rarity:
C
Number:
184
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Haste Bushido 1 (When this blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)

2x Lava Hounds
Lava Hounds
Lava HoundsSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Hounds
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Steve White
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Lava Hounds is unaffected by summoning sickness.When Lava Hounds comes into play, it deals 4 damage to you.
or Furnace Whelp
Furnace Whelp
Furnace WhelpSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
U
Number:
65
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying. R: Furnace Whelp gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
depending on preference

4x Shock
Shock
ShockSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
206
Artist:
Randy Gallegos
Text:
Shock deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

4x Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma JetSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Text:
Magma Jet deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2

3x Shrapnel Blast
Shrapnel Blast
Shrapnel BlastSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
106
Artist:
Dave Dorman
Text:
As an additional cost to play Shrapnel Blast, sacrifice an artifact. Shrapnel Blast deals 5 damage to target creature or player.

2x Mask of Memory
Mask of Memory
Mask of MemorySet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Sub Type:
Equipment
Rarity:
U
Number:
203
Artist:
Alan Pollack
Text:
Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you may draw two cards. If you do, discard a card from your hand. Equip 1 (1: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)


4x Chrome Mox
Chrome Mox
Chrome MoxSet: Mirrodin
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
152
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Imprint - When Chrome Mox comes into play, you may remove a nonartifact, nonland card in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) T: Add one mana of any of the imprinted card's colors to your mana pool.

19x Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.


Now the reason that this deck is so good is because it is the most consistent deck you will ever play (if it is built according to the correct mana curve). This deck usually wins consistently on turn four or five but is capable, with a remarkable hand, of winning turn three. The reason this deck is always viable is because of its consistency and because of its ability to win very fast.

The next deck that you are likely to play against is a new creation called Medium Red. One thing about the Medium Red deck that makes it distinguishable from the rest is the lack of land destruction and the inclusion of a ton of mana acceleration in the form of both Chrome Mox
Chrome Mox
Chrome MoxSet: Mirrodin
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
152
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Imprint - When Chrome Mox comes into play, you may remove a nonartifact, nonland card in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) T: Add one mana of any of the imprinted card's colors to your mana pool.
and Seething Song
Seething Song
Seething SongSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
104
Artist:
Martina Pilcerova
Text:
Add RRRRR to your mana pool.
. The reason that this deck was built was based upon a theory that land destruction is not good in Standard right now because of all of the green decks running Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sakura-Tribe ElderSet: Commander
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Snake Shaman
Rarity:
C
Number:
169
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Sakura-Tribe Elder: Search your library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
, Kodama’s Reach, and possibly more mana acceleration as well. The goal of this deck is to power out an early creature with a Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Fire and IceSet: Darksteel
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
148
Artist:
Mark Zug
Text:
Equip 2 Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has protection from red and from blue. Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card and have it deal 2 damage to target creature.
or an early Arc-Slogger.

Medium Red:
4x Frostling
Frostling
FrostlingSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Frostling Frostling deals 1 damage to target creature.

4x Hearth Kami
Hearth Kami
Hearth KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
171
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
X, Sacrifice Hearth Kami: Destroy target artifact with converted mana cost X.

4x Slith Firewalker
Slith Firewalker
Slith FirewalkerSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Slith
Rarity:
U
Number:
107
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Haste Whenever Slith Firewalker deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

3x Vulshok Sorcerer
Vulshok Sorcerer
Vulshok SorcererSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Shaman
Rarity:
C
Number:
80
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Haste. Tap: Vulshok Sorcerer deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

3x Zo-Zu, the Punisher
4x Arc-Slogger
4x Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Fire and IceSet: Darksteel
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
148
Artist:
Mark Zug
Text:
Equip 2 Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has protection from red and from blue. Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card and have it deal 2 damage to target creature.

4x Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma JetSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Text:
Magma Jet deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2

2x Shock
Shock
ShockSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
206
Artist:
Randy Gallegos
Text:
Shock deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

4x Seething Song
Seething Song
Seething SongSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
104
Artist:
Martina Pilcerova
Text:
Add RRRRR to your mana pool.

4x Chrome Mox
Chrome Mox
Chrome MoxSet: Mirrodin
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
152
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Imprint - When Chrome Mox comes into play, you may remove a nonartifact, nonland card in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) T: Add one mana of any of the imprinted card's colors to your mana pool.

4x Blinkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth NexusSet: Darksteel
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
163
Artist:
Brian Snöddy
Text:
T: Add 1 to your mana pool. 1: Blinkmoth Nexus becomes a 1/1 Blinkmoth artifact creature with flying until end of turn. It's still a land. 1, T: Target Blinkmoth gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

16x Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.

This next deck has been a deck type for a while now and many players try to build a version of this deck no matter what the format looks like. This deck is called Ponza. Ponza is characterized by early creatures followed up by land destruction to slow your opponent down so you can then finish them with your direct damage. Now you may be saying, well why are we talking about land destruction if you just said that it was not viable in Standard? Well the answer to that is I did not say that. I said it was a theory and it should be treated as such. This deck plays against that theory and looks something like the following:

Ponza:
3x Shock
Shock
ShockSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
206
Artist:
Randy Gallegos
Text:
Shock deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

4x Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma JetSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Text:
Magma Jet deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2

2x Pulse of the Forge
Pulse of the Forge
Pulse of the ForgeSet: Darksteel
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
66
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Pulse of the Forge deals 4 damage to target player. Then if that player has more life than you return Pulse of the Forge to its owner's hand.

4x Stone Rain
Stone Rain
Stone RainSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
Destroy target land.

4x Molten Rain
Molten Rain
Molten RainSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
101
Artist:
Hugh Jamieson
Text:
Destroy target land. If that land is nonbasic, Molten Rain deals 2 damage to the land's controller.

4x Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of Ruin
Thoughts of RuinSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Text:
Each player sacrifices a land for each card in your hand.



4x Hearth Kami
Hearth Kami
Hearth KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
171
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
X, Sacrifice Hearth Kami: Destroy target artifact with converted mana cost X.

4x Arc-Slogger
4x Slith Firewalker
Slith Firewalker
Slith FirewalkerSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Slith
Rarity:
U
Number:
107
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Haste Whenever Slith Firewalker deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

3x Zo-Zu, the Punisher or Adamaro, First to Desire
Adamaro, First to Desire
Adamaro, First to DesireSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
R
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Adamaro, First to Desire's power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in the hand of the opponent with the most cards in hand.
for a more aggressive approach

4x Chrome Mox
Chrome Mox
Chrome MoxSet: Mirrodin
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
152
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Imprint - When Chrome Mox comes into play, you may remove a nonartifact, nonland card in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) T: Add one mana of any of the imprinted card's colors to your mana pool.

20x Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.


P.S. if you see a deck called French Red, that deck is basically Ponza with a little bit different card choices.

The final major stereotype red deck in the format right now is called Big Red. The Big Red deck was developed for Mirrodin Block Constructed to combat the beast that was Ravager Affinity. When everyone started focusing on Standard again, they wanted to see if Big Red was playable in Standard also. The initial thought was that it was not playable and so it was tossed aside.

Not many players used this deck until recently when a Pro Tour player used a version of this deck to qualify for a Pro Tour. Once the deck was thought viable it is getting some hype now as one of the decks to watch out for. This deck does not play anything like the other three decks. I would say the closest relation would be Ponza but even then it would be a stretch.

If I had to compare this deck to something, I would compare it to the 1999 Necro deck that took second place on Pro Tour Chicago. The reason I make that comparison is because the way Necro abused the enchantment Necropotence
Necropotence
NecropotenceSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Skip your draw phase.Whenever you discard a card, remove that card from the game.Pay 1 life: Set aside the top card of your library. Put that card into your hand at the beginning of your discard phase.
I think is very similar to the way that this Big Red deck abuses Sensei's Divining Top
Sensei's Divining Top
Sensei's Divining TopSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
268
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
1: Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order. T: Draw a card, then put Sensei's Divining Top on top of its owner's library.
. On the one hand Necro draws you a ton of cards and on the other the top lets you draw what you need so you don’t need extra cards because you can play what you want.

From playing the deck I would say that the deck may have even been designed specifically to break the top in Standard. With all the shuffle effects, you can search for whatever card you need at the time. So exactly what does this Big Red look like? Well here is the typical listing and I was actually surprised that other decks do not vary too much from this build.

Big Red:
4x Arc-Slogger
4x Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn SimulacrumSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
245
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
When Solemn Simulacrum comes into play, you may search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. If you do, shuffle your library. When Solemn Simulacrum is put into a graveyard from play, you may draw a card.


4x Sensei Divining Top
4x Wayfarer's Bauble
Wayfarer's Bauble
Wayfarer's BaubleSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
C
Number:
165
Artist:
Darrel Riche
Text:
2, Tap, Sacrifice Wayfarer's Bauble: Search your library for a basic land card and put that card into plya tapped. Then shuffle your library.

4x Molten Rain
Molten Rain
Molten RainSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
101
Artist:
Hugh Jamieson
Text:
Destroy target land. If that land is nonbasic, Molten Rain deals 2 damage to the land's controller.

4x Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma JetSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Text:
Magma Jet deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2

4x Shrapnel Blast
Shrapnel Blast
Shrapnel BlastSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
106
Artist:
Dave Dorman
Text:
As an additional cost to play Shrapnel Blast, sacrifice an artifact. Shrapnel Blast deals 5 damage to target creature or player.

4x Pulse of the Fields
Pulse of the Fields
Pulse of the FieldsSet: Darksteel
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
11
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
You gain 4 life. Then if an opponent has more life than you return Pulse of the Fields to its owner's hand.

3x Beacon of Destruction
Beacon of Destruction
Beacon of DestructionSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
61
Artist:
Greg Hildebrandt
Text:
Beacon of Destruction deals 5 damage to target creature or player. Shuffle Beacon of Destruction into its owner's library.

1x Sowing Salt
Sowing Salt
Sowing SaltSet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
97
Artist:
Todd Lockwood
Text:
Remove target nonbasic land from the game. Search its controller's graveyard, hand, and library for all copies of that card and remove them from the game. That player then shuffles his or her library.


4x Blinkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth NexusSet: Darksteel
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
163
Artist:
Brian Snöddy
Text:
T: Add 1 to your mana pool. 1: Blinkmoth Nexus becomes a 1/1 Blinkmoth artifact creature with flying until end of turn. It's still a land. 1, T: Target Blinkmoth gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

20x Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.


From my testing the only change I made was to put one Fireball
Fireball
FireballSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Fireball does X damage total, divided evenly (round down) among any number of targets. Pay 1 extra mana for each target beyond the first.
main deck in place of one Blinkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth NexusSet: Darksteel
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
163
Artist:
Brian Snöddy
Text:
T: Add 1 to your mana pool. 1: Blinkmoth Nexus becomes a 1/1 Blinkmoth artifact creature with flying until end of turn. It's still a land. 1, T: Target Blinkmoth gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
. This evens out the draw so you do not get mana flooded and it gives you one extra removal/finisher in the deck. This deck averages a turn six kill. Now you may say that a turn six kill is too slow but with all the removal and a little land destruction turn six is just fine. The reason that this deck is becoming so popular is the same reason that it became popular during Mirrodin Block Constructed; it beats the best decks in the format right now. It has great game vs. Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail
Tooth and NailSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
134
Artist:
Greg Hildebrandt
Text:
Choose one - Search your library for up to two creature cards, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle your library; or put up to two creature cards from your hand into play. Entwine 2 (Choose both if you pay the entwine cost.)
pre and post board. It loses horribly first game to Mono Blue but second and third game it is almost unbeatable once it sides in Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Boseiju, Who Shelters AllSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Color:
Land
Type:
Legendary Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
273
Artist:
Ralph Horsley
Text:
Boseiju, Who Shelters All comes into play tapped. T, Pay 2 life: Add 1 to your mana pool. If that mana is spent on an instant or sorcery spell, that spell can't be countered by spells or abilities.
. And, the third tier one deck, Mono Green Aggro is a very favorable match for the deck as well.

One thing you may have noticed about these four decks is that a lot of the card choices for the decks are very similar. This does not mean that they play the same though, and they should not be treated the same by any means. Each of these decks plays very differently and hopefully from this article you now have the knowledge to be able to play them or at least know how to play against them all effectively. If you like red in Magic, now is a great time to play a red deck with all the different choices you have. Make sure not to underestimate red at regionals. Whether it be Sligh, Medium Red, Ponza or Big Red you can expect to see one or more of these decks sitting across from you and then watching your life total quickly going down.

As always if you have any questions about the decks, the article, or any of my other articles, feel free to email me.


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