When Standard rotated, Falkenrath Gorger and Village Messenger were no longer part of the equation for Mono-Red. Many of my early attempts to build decks for Worlds involved going for a bigger version of the red decks. If the cheap creatures weren’t as powerful and we were going to board into a bigger deck each round, why not just start off that way?

Bomat Courier is still an amazing card. A single colorless mana allows you to slant your mana base into more colorless utility lands, cash in your 1-drop for new cards in the middle stages of the game.

My earliest versions cut Soul-Scar Mage entirely. I thought it was weak before the rotation, and that things wouldn’t change much afterward. With enough ways to trigger prowess and some burn spells to shrink larger creatures, Soul-Scar turns out to be a good weapon to get on the board early.

Almost every version of Mono-Red has a minimum of seven 2-drops available, and others increase this number further. Kari-Zev is excellent on an empty board, but dies to Fatal Push and all of the red 2-mana removal spells. Harsh Mentor has also been gaining in popularity, and while the Mentor doesn’t have powerful stats and dies to all of the removal in the format, the ability adds up quickly against activated abilities. This version of Red opts for only four 2-drops.

If you’re only going to play one, Earthshaker Khenra is the right direction to go. It’s a great early attacker, has haste, turns off a blocker, and is a great mana sink late in the game.

This deck goes way up on mana compared to most Mono-Red builds. There are 26 lands here and a package of 15 total Deserts. This makes your Ramunap Ruins consistently great, although you have lots of use for mana in the later stages of the game. It lets you go up on Scavenger Grounds to interact with the graveyard, but it also lets you run a play set of Desert of the Fervent. This gives you another pain-free red source and the ability to cycle late. It also makes your Sand Stranglers in the sideboard extra reliable.

To make sure that all of your creatures are high impact, and Ahn-Crop Crasher adds another haste threat that makes it tough on opponents planning to block. Getting in a hasty attack with your creatures to punish opponents for adding to the board is great, since even if they untap and deal with your threats, you will have already connected for some damage.

Hazoret the Fervent is definitely weaker in this build than the other versions of Mono-Red. The more mana you have to pay for your cards, the harder it will be to empty out your hand. This deck will really struggle to keep 7 and attack with Hazoret on turn 4, but it’s certainly possible. The good news is that Hazoret is so ridiculously strong that even slightly weakening it still leaves you with a great card.

Most versions of Red have their Chandra, Torch of Defiances and Glorybringers in the sideboard. They’re trying to maximize damage early, make Hazoret the best she can be, and don’t play enough lands to consistently make more expensive cards work. This version goes up to 26 and is happy to play the haymakers. Chandra can clear the way or just start dealing damage immediately. This deck also makes extra use of Chandra’s ability to add mana to your pool. Glorybringer is super powerful and demands that your opponents have an instant speed answer with mana untapped or risk falling criminally far behind.

This deck decides to just cut Abrade entirely from the main, moving all copies to the sideboard, and sticks with the cards that can hit players right in the face. Shock and Lightning Strike can clear the way of blockers or finish opponents off with help from your Deserts.

Going big with the Red decks is a great way to approach things if you expect the metagame to adjust to Aggro’s popularity. When players are preparing themselves to beat an early rush from Mono-Red or B/R Aggro, having some planeswalkers and Dragons to go over the top is the perfect counterpunch.

Big Red

WWEHBK, 5-0 in an MTGO Competitive League