The leagues on Magic Online are in a weird place right now. While we can’t start drafting Ixalan, we’ve seen the new cards implemented into the system. So cards that are rotating out aren’t available, but the new cards also aren’t available… except for the reprints! This means that your red aggro deck has access to Dragonskull Summit, and you have a first look at how this deck might turn out.
The departure of Village Messenger and Falkenrath Gorger left red aggro in an interesting place, but you actually can go with a more artifact-centric strategy. By doing so, you get to play an even more powerful 1-drop in Inventor’s Apprentice. A 2/3 for 1 mana is a great rate and the extra toughness means that it’s harder to trade with. You get an amazing artifact and creature in the 1-drop slot in Bomat Courier. This is one of the most important cards to the Ramunap Red decks as it’s an early threat that turns into pure card advantage later in the game. For a single mana, this is an amazing card that is never a dead draw.
Earthshaker Khenra really given red some staying power. Yet another great early aggressive creature on turn 2, Khenra doesn’t get worse as the game goes on. Should they deal with it, and they’re going to have to deal with all of your creatures to protect their life total, it just comes back bigger and better as a 4/4 haste that stops a blocker in the late game.
Scrapheap Scrounger is much better in the red decks thanks to Dragonskull Summit. Another awesome creature to get aggressive with early, it also gives the deck some late-game depth as a recurring threat that will give fits to anyone looking to trade 1-for-1 with removal spells and sweepers.
Pia Nalaar isn’t the most powerful 3-drop on the surface, but the additional artifact synergies and the ability to then pump those artifacts is quite useful. The combination with Scrapheap Scrounger to make several creatures unable to block in a single turn is strong and does a great job of mitigating the Ahn-Crop Crasher cut.
By playing black and adding all of these artifacts, you get to play Unlicensed Disintegration. This was called the best card in Standard by many top pros not too long ago in a world where Aetherworks Marvel and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar were legal. If the format slows down and people are putting their mana into Dinosaurs, Unlicensed Disintegration just gets better.
You still get to play some copies of Shock, which should go up in value as there are a number of very powerful 2-toughness creatures for 3 mana in Ixalan. Then there’s the return of Lightning Strike, which is a huge upgrade as an instant to play during a control opponent’s end step, to use your mana on your opponent’s turn when you don’t have a play, or to be able to threaten using something like Hazoret or Scrapheap.
A couple copies of Key to the City give your large creatures evasion while providing more artifacts and some card selection. Discard Scrapheap Scrounger or Earthshaker Khenra for value, and dig to your most important spells. Maybe you can even put an aftermath card in your graveyard?
Cut gives you a great rate on a removal spell, and Ribbons will do a great job of mitigating the fact that you aren’t playing Ramunap Ruins. With so many great ways to use your extra lands in the late game between Ribbons, Key to the City, Hazoret, and eternalizing, the Desert has been pushed out for the time being.
While this list doesn’t have access to all of the Ixalan cards quite yet, it’s possible that a version similar to this will be the one to beat in the very near future!