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.
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?
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!