Are you sick of losing to Golos decks and want to play something that beats it? Well, I have been farming Golos decks on ladder for the past week with Mono-Red, making it all the way to the #3 ranking in Mythic, where even after a couple of wins I couldn’t move any higher. Whoever is currently sitting in the top 2 spots, you are doing a pretty good job!
A lot of people have been complaining about Golos. Field of the Dead is not super fun to play against, but there are available tools to beat it.
Let me make one thing clear. This is a metagame deck with very polarized matchups. I strongly considered playing this deck at Mythic Championship V because Golos is your best matchup and I expected a lot of them. On the other hand, there are certain green decks with cards like Lovestruck Beast and Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves that are an absolute nightmare to play against.
Mono-Red in Throne of Eldraine Standard
17 Mountain 4 Castle Embereth 4 Runaway Steam-Kin 2 Footlight Fiend 4 Scorch Spitter 4 Fervent Champion 4 Rimrock Knight/Boulder Rush 4 Robber of the Rich 4 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell 2 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator 1 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame 2 Light Up the Stage 1 Skewer the Critics 4 Shock 3 Slaying Fire Sideboard 4 Experimental Frenzy 4 Lava Coil 2 Chandra's Pyrohelix 2 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator 3 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
4 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell (ELD) 147
17 Mountain (MI) 0
1 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame (M20) 126
1 Skewer the Critics (RNA) 115
2 Footlight Fiend (RNA) 216
4 Shock (M20) 160
4 Rimrock Knight (ELD) 137
4 Scorch Spitter (M20) 159
4 Runaway Steam-Kin (GRN) 115
4 Fervent Champion (ELD) 124
3 Slaying Fire (ELD) 143
4 Castle Embereth (ELD) 239
2 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator (WAR) 146
4 Robber of the Rich (ELD) 138
2 Light Up the Stage (RNA) 107
3 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame (M20) 126
4 Experimental Frenzy (GRN) 99
2 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator (WAR) 146
4 Lava Coil (GRN) 108
2 Chandra’s Pyrohelix (WAR) 120
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell is the best card in the deck. It gives you some crazy powerful draws and if other decks aren’t playing a bunch of removal spells and are mostly focused on doing their own thing (like Golos), you should absolutely play 4. It essentially makes Scorch Spitter deal 6 damage and works extremely well with Tibalt and Chandra, Acolyte of Flame. Don’t forget that it’s legendary, though.
Rimrock Knight is another solid addition from Throne of Eldraine. It’s another Knight for Fervent Champion and it lets you punish players for blocking with Gilded Goose and Leafkin Druid. Even killing Arboreal Grazer with it can be important so that your opponent cannot follow it up with Oko, Thief of Crowns and immediately make it into a 3/3.
I’m not playing any Bonecrusher Giants because they currently feel a little too slow. I don’t want to pay 2 mana for Shock and on turn 3 I usually rather want to double-spell or play Tibalt or Chandra and set up for Torbran on turn 4. This deck doesn’t want to play a value game. If you want to be faster than Golos, you need to get under them.
There are only 2 Light Up the Stages in the deck. The reason for that is that I want to be building my board in each of the first 4 turns and Light Up the Stage doesn’t fit well into that. It also usually dictates what spells you have to play and I want to be able to just curve out and play Torbran on turn 4, instead of having to play whatever I just revealed or losing value. I still like playing 2 because it helps you hit your land drops.
Basically, the deck is currently built to goldfish in game 1 and if your opponent is on midrange or decides to start killing your creatures after sideboard, you bring in Experimental Frenzy.
I’m a big fan of Robber of the Rich, which is a nice haste threat that sometimes lets you get some extra cards. You can almost always empty your hand faster than your opponent, so you shouldn’t have a problem with having fewer cards in hand. Just make sure to keep it in mind and play your lands precombat, etc. Also, sometimes you will want to hold priority on Arena when attacking, so that if you reveal an instant-speed removal spell you can still play it before blockers are declared. Keep in mind that if you reveal and send your opponent’s creature on an adventure, you will still be able to play the other part of the card. The last thing to remember is it interacts well against scry from your opponent, denying them the card they kept on the top of their deck.
Footlight Fiend isn’t the most powerful card, but it works well with Torbran and I just really want to start with a one-drop on turn 1. Grim Initiate and Spear Spewer are just too weak. Tin Street Dodger is the next best option but spending one mana every turn seems like too big a price to pay to make sure it actually deals damage. On the other hand, it is a Rogue, which is relevant for Robber of the Rich. Definitely worth considering.
We lost Lightning Strike, which means there is now less good direct damage that goes to face, but we got Slaying Fire, which is important at killing cards like Questing Beast. I tried Heartfire but didn’t like it. Skewer the Critics also isn’t very exciting, but I wanted one more cheap spell, so I replaced 1 Slaying Fire with it.
The worst matchups are green decks with multiple Lovestruck Beasts, Questing Beasts and other annoying cards like Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves. My logic is that these decks don’t match up very badly against Golos and its multiple Wrath effects and infinite 2/2 Zombies, so they shouldn’t currently be played in big numbers. Standard is really missing a card like Roast or Fight with Fire, because there is currently no good way to kill a 5/5 out of a red deck.
Some cards I tried and didn’t like or wasn’t sure about:
Cavalcade of Calamity
As I already mentioned, I think it requires you to play too many cards that are just too weak individually, but I’ll admit I didn’t try too hard to make the deck work.
Claim the Firstborn/Act of Treason
Not a good answer to Lovestruck Beast, Voracious Hydra or Questing Beast. Those decks are usually pretty good at stopping your early aggression and flooding the board with multiple creatures, so trying to steal their big creature for one turn usually doesn’t work.
There are currently no real good targets.
My plan for the mirror is to win with planeswalkers and Frenzy. It might be a good cheap answer to Questing Beast and Wicked Wolf, but I’m afraid sacrificing a land is too costly.
Kills too many of your own creatures.
I think it’s bad without Lightning Strike and there are already too many good 3-drops.
I was hoping that it could be good against Nissa+Oko decks, but even if you name Nissa, it still gives your opponent double mana for Hydroid Krasis and if you don’t name Oko first, it can just turn it into a 3/3 Elk.
What I haven’t fully explored yet is Mobilized District. Now that you don’t have to worry about triple red for Goblin Chainwhirler, it could have a place in the deck. The only problem is that you still need to play a lot of Mountains to make sure Castle Embereth comes into play untapped.
A potentially interesting sideboard option could be Irencrag Feat + Drakuseth or Chandra, Awakened Inferno, but I’m not really sure where it would be useful. Drakuseth seems like it would be pretty good against the green decks, until you realize that all they need is just to +1 Oko and turn it into a 3/3.
After sideboard, be careful with having too many planeswalkers against decks with Questing Beast because you usually have no way to block it and it just kills your planeswalkers for free.
I usually open with Scorch Spitter when I have multiple one-drops in hand because it deals the most damage. Don’t be afraid to keep one-landers with Light up the Stage and sometimes even without it. This deck mulligans pretty well, so mulligan aggressively and make sure you send back hands that are too slow. For example, a hand of 2 Mountains, Steam-Kin, Robber, 2x Tibalt and Chandra is an easy mulligan against Golos on the draw. Robber of the Rich also helps you get out of mulligans sometimes.
Out: 4 Shock
Your best matchup (after Mono-Blue Mill). Be as aggressive as possible and mulligan slow hands. I’d rather start on 5 cards and curve out 1-2-3 than keep a hand where I start with Steam-Kin into Tibalt.
The idea here is to play creatures in the first two turns and follow it up with a planeswalker. Then if they sweep the board, you still have something in play that can continue pressuring them. If you follow up Chandra with Torbran, that’s 6 damage on the very next turn after they clear the board. On the play, I bring in the fourth Chandra instead of Skewer.
The last 3 cards I take out usually depends on what version they are playing. If I know they also have Tibalts, I’ll take out Scorch Spitters, because they match up extremely poorly against the tokens. Skewer the Critics is also bad and Steam-Kin is a reasonable card to sideboard out as well because it just always dies.
You want to trade creatures and removal spells and eventually outvalue your opponent with planeswalkers and Frenzy. I’ve yet to lose a mirror match even when every single one of my opponents had 4 Bonecrusher Giants.
U/G/x Oko decks
In: 4 Lava Coil
I tried playing the value game against them with Frenzy but the more I play the more I think just trying to curve out with Torbran is the best way to go. Planeswalkers are bad because of Questing Beast.
Green adventure decks
Sideboarding here largely depends on what exactly they are playing. Light Up the Stage and Rimrock Knight can be mediocre if they have a lot of small creatures you won’t be able to get through. If they have a lot of removal (G/B), I usually swap 4 Torbran for 4 Frenzy.
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