Every now and then, I’ll see a deck that has some success and I feel legitimately confused. As someone who has been a professional Magic player for as long as I have, and who reads through hundreds of decks seemingly every day to try to write a daily column, it doesn’t happen often.

It happened with this deck.

On the surface, this deck is Mardu Dragons, but it’s also basically a mono-red deck. There are cards you tend to only find in red aggressive decks, such as Titan’s Strength and to a lesser extent Abbot of Keral Keep, but then there’s Monastery Swiftspear and Goblin Heelcutter. You can’t get much more aggressive than these creatures, but there’s quite a top end as well.

This is also a Dragons deck. Starting with 4 Thunderbreak Regent makes perfect sense no matter which direction you want to go. Splashing for Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury is a reasonable option in any deck as the card is extremely powerful. Akoum Hellkite? Ok—interesting. The Hellkite is nice with fetchlands, especially those that can only get Mountains and guarantee dealing 3 damage each time, but it comes at 6 mana for a not-so-huge body. This card isn’t even that amazing in Limited, so it’s hard to wrap my head around it being Constructed playable.

Fall of the Titans is not a card I’ve seen in any other decks. This is another card that is good in Limited, but far from exceptional enough that I would consider it for Standard. Sarkhan, Dragonspeaker and Chandra, Flamecaller are both awesome planeswalkers, but I wouldn’t put them in many of my decks with Titan’s Strength.

Abbot of Keral Keep is an awesome Magic card, but it peaks in decks that are likely to turn the revealed card into a full card drawn. With a bunch of 4-, 5-, and even 6-mana spells, this seems less likely than in most decks. And only 23 lands to try to play Akoum Hellkite and trigger landfall!?

This deck went 4-1 in an MTGO Standard Champs Qualifier, a very reasonable record, and that fact only further blows me away when I look at the bottom of the deck list. That’s a FOUR-card sideboard! Froggy300 decided to go with a sideboard that had 4 individual 1-ofs, not even opting to throw some lands in there in case he wanted to cast his spells post-board.

Oh, and when it comes to casting spells, I would not try to splash a bunch of Crackling Dooms in a deck with FIVE total white sources (yes, none of the fetchlands can even produce white).

The fact that this player pulled out a 4-1 record with what I think are mistakes across all levels of deckbuilding actually shows how powerful this type of strategy could be. How would you go about trying to construct a similar deck?

Mono-Red Mardu

FROGGY300, 4-1 in a MTGO Standard Champs Qualifier