Andrea Mengucci Mono Red Standard Deck Embercleave Banner

Standard Mono-Red Deck and Sideboard Guide

With Temur Reclamation and U/G Ramp on the rise in Standard, it’s the perfect time to play Embercleave, and I believe Mono-Red (with Anax in particular) is the best deck to carry that heavy sword! I mentioned this deck last week, and today I’ll go more in depth about my deck choice and sideboard plan:

Standard Mono-Red

16 Mountain
4 Castle Embereth
4 Scorch Spitter
4 Fervent Champion
4 Rimrock Knight/Boulder Rush
4 Runaway Steam-Kin
4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge
4 Bonecrusher Giant/Stomp
4 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
4 Light Up the Stage
4 Shock
4 Embercleave

Sideboard
4 Unchained Berserker
4 Lava Coil
3 Embereth Shieldbreaker/Battle Display
4 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

Arena Export

4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge (THB) 125

16 Mountain (ELD) 265

4 Scorch Spitter (M20) 159

4 Light Up the Stage (RNA) 107

4 Runaway Steam-Kin (GRN) 115

4 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell (ELD) 147

4 Fervent Champion (ELD) 124

4 Rimrock Knight (ELD) 137

4 Shock (M20) 160

4 Embercleave (ELD) 120

4 Bonecrusher Giant (ELD) 115

4 Castle Embereth (ELD) 239

Sideboard

4 Unchained Berserker (M20) 164

4 Lava Coil (GRN) 108

3 Embereth Shieldbreaker (ELD) 122

4 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator (WAR) 146

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Phoenix of Ash

Many people on my stream have asked me why I’m not playing any copies of this new Phoenix. I do believe Phoenix of Ash is a very good card, but I think Mono-Red is better off as a 20-land, low-curve deck. If you love this card yourself and want to try some copies, you can cut Scorch Spitter for 2 Mountains and 2 Phoenix. It’s a great mana sink and a decent late game draw, my biggest problem with it is that you can’t afford to miss your 1-drop if you get paired against the Simic decks, and these are the decks in the metagame you prey on by playing this deck.

Infuriate

When I got paired against a red deck with Infuriate for my first time on Mythic Ladder, I assumed it was a budget player, but as I started to see it more and more, I began questioning whether it really was a legit card to put in your red deck.

Infuriate serves multiple roles. It could be a Lava Spike, or save your creature in combat—both important roles in a red creature deck.

Infuriate is also a cheap trick that can let you put the last charge counter on Runaway Steam-Kin and then play an Embercleave in an unexpected spot for your opponent. Embercleave + Infuriate is a great combination.

I’m still on the fence about this card, and don’t want to include it in my deck because it’s too bad against Brazen Borrower or Aether Gust, or any other sort of removal, and there’s already Rimrock Knight that fill a similar role, with the upside of being a 3/1 Knight.

Experimental Frenzy

The time when Experimental Frenzy + Runaway Steam-Kin were dominating the Standard scene is long gone. Torbran, Thane of Red Fell is better at closing the game quickly , and you can’t play more 4-drops. I started with some Frenzys in the sideboard, but the card never delivered.

Post-sideboard against control, I kept facing Elspeth Conquers Death, and I ran into plenty of Disenchant effects (since they hit all your best threats: Anax and Embercleave), so I ended up cutting Frenzy for Tibalt which was very impressive versus U/W and Esper Control, since its life gain stops your opponent’s Absorb, Birth of Meletis, Oath of Kaya, and Dream Trawler.

Sideboard Guide

Temur Reclamation and Simic Ramp

No changes.

This deck is made to crush this matchup. Tibalt can stop Uro from gaining life, but you need to have a cheap curve to pressure them as fast as possible. Make sure to play an Anax before Storm’s Wrath, and be careful to play around Brazen Borrower and Aether Gust.

U/W & Esper Control

-4 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
-4 Runaway Steam-Kin

+4 Unchained Berserker
+4 Tibalt, Rakish lnstigator

Playing 4 Tibalt might seem like too many, but the card is amazing against control decks, which are able to gain tons of life.

Unchained Berserker is very good, and a great upgrade to Runaway Steam-Kin since it doesn’t get bounced by Teferi or killed by Oath of Kaya, which are usually the easy ways to deal with Steam-Kin.

Torbran is too expensive and dies to Wrath. Sure it can help you get in a lot of damage, but it’s an expensive sorcery-speed threat that’s not ideal against decks with counters.

You still need four copies of Embercleave—never cut it, it’s your best card and the reason you’re playing this deck. Just remember to kill Teferi, because with Teferi around you can’t cast Embercleave with flash.

Mono-Red

-4 Scorch Spitter
-4 Runaway Steam-Kin

+4 Lava Coil
+4 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

We’re boarding out Scorch Spitter and Steam-Kin because they will be equipped with a ton of removal spells, ready to trade one-for-one. This is where Experimental Frenzy shines most, and if you expect a lot of mirror matches, then I could see putting some in your sideboard.

Jund & R/B Cats

-4 Scorch Spitter
-2 Rimrock Knight
-1 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

+4 Lava Coil
+3 Embereth Shieldbreaker

This is a tough matchup. The recursion of Witch’s Oven + Cauldron Familiar is very hard to beat with Mono-Red, and you need to go all in on Embercleave.

I don’t think you ever want to put Sorcerous Spyglass in this sideboard, and Embereth Shieldbreaker is better as it’s always a creature you can cast if you draw multiples and your opponent hasn’t played any Witch’s Ovens.

If you want to play this deck in best-of-1, I can recommend the same 60 cards, as I don’t think the hand smoothing algorithm changes the ratio of lands you should play here, because you still want to reach your third land drop every game.

While Mono-Red was almost forgotten with Throne of Eldraine, Anax, Hardened in the Forge is the card that will push it to tier 1 this season.

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