Red/White Aggro is one of the top tier decks in the format and today I’m going to break down my post-Fate Reforged list. But I want to take a minute to talk about Goblin Rabblemaster.
This card is not as good as you think it is—it’s much much better than you think it is. I always thought it was a great card but now I think it’s the single best red card in Standard and easily one of the top 3 cards overall. It trades for a card of similar casting cost leading to interactive games with a nice push/pull dynamic between threats and answers—then 20% of the time it wins the game outright.
It punishes bad draws better than any card we’ve seen since Pack Rat—hell it basically just is a red Pack Rat. It also greatly changes the way the games are played since often what would be considered an obvious or free attack previously is now in question: do you attack with Courser of Kruphix on an empty board or do you hold back to possibly block a hasty token should your opponent cast Goblin Rabblemaster? Sometimes it’s a mistake to attack—and a decision players make too quickly.
This list is remarkably similar to the one Sam Pardee took to Top 8 of Grand Prix Denver and it’s seen success before and since then. This deck is the real deal and if you aren’t prepared for it then you should prepare to get completely run over.
People have suggested that I run Monastery Mentor but that card seems out of place to me. It’s lower impact than a Goblin Rabblemaster, obviously, and it’s similar enough to Brimaz where I would prefer the extra toughness, and all you need to do with Brimaz to get a token is attack. I could envision a list that plays Monastery Mentor and possibly even Raise the Alarm, but for my money Brimaz is the more durable and reliable threat.
There were some tough choices to be made with the removal suite here with the addition of both Wild Slash and Valorous Stance. Each have their advantages and disadvantages and they compete for space with Lightning Strike.
In the end I went with the maximum number of Lightning Strikes since they match up the best against Sidisi and Fleecemane Lion which look like the most problematic cards for the deck. Remember that in a race, Lightning Strike is substantially better at reducing the opponents life total to 0—obvious, yes, but easy to overlook in deckbuilding. Many games come down to burning their face, so play to your outs and construct your deck in a way where you can maximize your chance of getting a cheap, non-interactive win. It’s not the prettiest way to win but this is Magic and if you’re reading this column you’re trying to book every win you can.
Wild Slash is at its best against Goblin Rabblemaster and Elvish Mystic, whereas Valorous Stance is a great way to kill a Siege Rhino or even Anafenza, the Foremost. That you can protect a threat like Rabblemaster is what really pushes to card over the top. Just don’t bank on saving your Stormbreath Dragon with it.