For some reason, I felt the need to explore Mono-Red in this new Standard format. That’s very unusual for me, considering I’ve rarely ever registered a mono-red aggro deck in a tournament before. But I have to say, Light Up the Stage is a great way to make me want to give it a shot.

The other reason is because I feel like no one has really discovered a good and tuned version of the deck yet. I made it my mission over the last few days to find one.

It all started with the Burn deck I recorded a video with recently. I was somewhat pleased with it, and since then I’ve changed a few cards, mainly adding more Risk Factors to the deck and streamlining the sideboard.

R/b Burn 2.0

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
1 Rakdos Guildgate
11 Mountain
4 Ghitu Lavarunner
4 Viashino Pyromancer
4 Electrostatic Field
4 Skewer the Critics
4 Shock
4 Light Up the Stage
4 Risk Factor
4 Sovereign's Bite
4 Wizard's Lightning

Sideboard
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
3 Theater of Horrors
3 Lava Coil
3 Banefire
2 Carnival/Carnage

I’m not happy at all to play Rakdos Guildgate, but Swamp is just awful in the deck, and I think I am already somewhat borderline on the number of black sources in a deck that wants to cast Sovereign’s Bite turn 2 and Theater of Horrors turn 3.

I moved away from this version of Burn so that I could try decks with lighter splashes, but I think this one was nice if you don’t mind getting mana screwed from time to time.

Mono-Red Splash Green

4 Stomping Ground
4 Rootbound Crag
10 Mountain
4 Ghitu Lavarunner
4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Runaway Steam-Kin
4 Viashino Pyromancer
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
4 Shock
4 Lightning Strike
4 Skewer the Critics
2 Light Up the Stage
4 Wizard's Lightning
4 Collision/Colossus

Sideboard
4 Cindervines
4 Lava Coil
2 Rekindling Phoenix
2 Dire Fleet Daredevil
1 Gruul Guildgate
2 Fiery Cannonade

With Hydroid Krasis, Tempest Djinns, and Drakes floating around, I found Collision // Colossus to be a great card in Standard right now. That’s not even mentioning the second half of the card, which fits perfectly in an aggressive deck with creatures. Specifically, Runaway Steam-Kin and Goblin Chainwhirler are great pump targets.

This version’s mana is a lot smoother since you can cast Collision with hybrid mana, making it not an entirely dead card if you don’t draw your red/green dual lands. Light Up the Stage is a bit awkward with Collision // Colossus, however, especially since you’re often relying on your creatures to deal damage to enable spectacle. That’s why there are only two in this version.

Cindervines is a nice sideboard option that acts as an Eidolon of the Great Revel against decks like Esper Control and Wilderness Reclamation strategies. Again though, it’s a card you want to cast on turn 2 with only 9 green sources.

Overall, I think this version has potential, but I was not convinced it was the best version.

Mono-Red Splash Reveler

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
11 Mountain
4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Ghitu Lavarunner
4 Viashino Pyromancer
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
3 Rix Maadi Reveler
2 Footlight Fiend
4 Shock
4 Skewer the Critics
4 Light Up the Stage
4 Lightning Strike
4 Wizard's Lightning

Sideboard
4 Lightning Mare
3 Rekindling Phoenix
2 Risk Factor
2 Lava Coil
2 Dire Fleet Daredevil
2 Fiery Cannonade

I don’t believe that Rix Maadi Reveler sees enough play. When I first tinkered with the Burn deck I wanted to splash it alongside Sovereign’s Bite, but then realized that I didn’t have enough creatures to be able to enable it for 4 mana in one turn.

Why not cut some burn spells and defender creatures for good ol’ Fanatical Firebrand and Chainwhirlers? Similar to Collision // Colossus, Reveler is an even easier splash since you can always cast it for 2 mana and it’s less situational than a Plummet.

I wanted a few more cheap creatures to make sure that I could empty my hand before I cast Rix Maadi Reveler, but also another way to trigger spectacle easily. I tried Spear Spewer, but that card is just embarrassing. As soon as you fall behind just a little it becomes so bad, and I didn’t like that I was never able to play defense if I drew that card. I landed on Footlight Fiend. It’s not ideal, but I believe that it’s the best option for that slot.

You will notice that none of my lists have Experimental Frenzy and that’s because I’ve had pretty bad experiences with it due to Mortify and Vivien Reid both seeing quite a lot of play.

I’ve been impressed with this last list for a red deck, but sadly this is where my endeavor with red ends for now.

My conclusion is that I think Mono-Red is not a tier 1 deck, but it’s really not that far off. I can’t say that I’ve tried every possible combination. In fact, I didn’t try versions that go big like the one Jody Keith used to win GP Memphis this last weekend. Maybe that’s the way to go?

Mono-Red Aggro

Jody Keith, GP Memphis Winner

4 Blood Crypt
1 Cinder Barrens
4 Dragonskull Summit
1 Rakdos Guildgate
14 Mountain
1 Swamp
4 Dire Fleet Daredevil
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
4 Rekindling Phoenix
4 Rix Maadi Reveler
3 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
3 Carnival/Carnage
4 Lava Coil
2 Shock
2 The Eldest Reborn
4 Treasure Map/Treasure Cove

Sideboard
1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained
4 Duress
2 Fiery Cannonade
1 Fight with Fire
3 Legion Warboss
1 Shivan Fire
1 Status/Statue
2 Theater of Horrors

As I’m writing this, I’m still unsure of what I will play at the Mythic Championship, but I’ve at least narrowed it down to either a Wilderness Reclamation deck or Sultai Midrange. Wish me luck!