I remember the days when Grixis Energy was dominating the tables and people were advocating the ban of The Scarab God or Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Now the tables are turned—Mono-Red runs the tables and people are demanding the ban of Goblin Chainwhirler.
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager will take you back to the days of Grixis Energy before Dominaria, so let’s explore that deck, and how it can adapt to the current metagame.
Dominaria was a great set for Standard, but U/R/B didn’t gain much from it, and as a result we haven’t seen Grixis Energy on top of the metagame. As control and aggro decks get better, midrange decks are falling behind.
After looking over Core 2019 I didn’t see many newcomers, other than a Dragon shell with Sarkhan, Fireblood, Spit Flame, and Glorybringer. The only one that caught my attention (and probably yours) is Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager isn’t just a threat that dies to Fatal Push and doesn’t play very well against Rekindling Phoenix. It’s a threat that creates card advantage when it enters the battlefield, and that’s a powerful ability you shouldn’t sleep on.
On top of that, Nicol Bolas provides good late game for the deck without needing you to play expensive cards like more Torrential Gearhulk, Liliana, Death’s Majesty, or Nicol Bolas, God Pharaoh, since Nicol Bolas, the Ravager can flip into this:
I don’t think I need to explain how great this planeswalker is, and how easily you’ll win if your opponent lets you pay 7 mana during your turn to flip Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. They are probably going to concede even before you reach for your dice.
What I will discuss is how this deck deals with aggro decks. Goblin Chainwhirler may or may not get banned before this article is published, so I’m going to say that Glint-Sleeve Siphoner can be either the best card in Standard or a fine 2-drop based on that.
You still need removal spells, since Mono-Red is a powerful deck that won’t let you overload your deck with expensive threats. You need to play four Magma Spray, just to start.
Arguel’s Blood Fast is an interesting one. While playing versus U/B Midrange with red decks on Magic Online, I noticed how many of my opponents boarded this in against me. I was shocked at first, but when I kept losing to it plus The Scarab God, I realized that it was a good choice. This is a good main deck card.
Whirler Virtuoso used to be the main way Temur Energy stayed on top of Ramunap Red. The names of the decks have changed, but Whirler Virtuoso continues to be great versus Bomat Courier and Earthshaker Khenra.
I love myself a good old midrange/control deck like this, and I would love if this deck came back as one of the best in Standard.