PT Magic Origins in Vancouver marked the end of the Pro Tour season and saw UR Thopters and Mono-Red break out as probably the two decks to beat in the coming weeks. However, Abzan and RG Devotion still are definitely players, and I would not feel comfortable playing a deck that I felt had a really hard time with either of those matchups. With that in mind, I’m advocating an old favorite of mine for the next few weeks: RW Aggro!
This deck is strategically similar to Mono-Red, but with a few key adjustments that I think help out a ton against both the “mirror” and UR Thopters. Against Mono-Red, you have Hordeling Outburst and Seeker of the Way in game 1 and Soulfire Grand Master in game 2. Outburst is extremely hard for Mono-Red to trade against profitably, particularly when you’re killing all their creatures and really just want a threat to stick.
Against Thopters, you get a huge gain in Chained to the Rocks, which helps deal with both Hangarbacks and quick Ensouls—two of the main ways that Mono-Red loses to Thopters. Seeker of the Way is also a huge threat, as their Shrapnel Blasts start to look pretty bad when you’re gaining 3 life a turn.
Of course, there is a price to be paid, and that comes mostly in the devotion matchup. You still have decent game against them, but not nearly as good as Mono-Red’s. You’re slightly slower and have a bit less burn to point at their face meaning that they typically have a bit more time to execute their game plan against you.
Stormbreath Dragon is your plan B, and I think it’s a pretty good one right now. The card saw very little play at the PT mostly because I think people were scared off by Languish. However, after the PT it looks like most of the decks that can play that card have added it at the expense of their Hero’s Downfall, which actually means it’s more likely that your Dragon is going to get to connect at least once before dying.
This is the major reason to play white. Chained has always been one of the most powerful removal spells in Standard, but has waxed and waned in popularity based on how widely played Dromoka’s Command is. Right now, I think it’s well positioned, but be aware that if Dromoka’s Command is resurgent, Chained might lose some of its luster.
One of the more impactful cards from Origins, Abbot is exactly what this deck always wanted! An additional 2-drop for the early game that can help you hit your lands in the games that go longer is perfect, and Abbot also happens to play very well with all the 1-mana removal.
A card I have left out of this deck in previous incarnations, additional 1-drops play so well with Abbot and the format is so fast that Swiftspear is exactly the kind of card you’re interested in.
The only other white card to make the main deck, I think that Seeker is very well positioned right now. This deck is also very good at triggering prowess, so this guy will be a 3/3 lifelinker more often than not.
Wild Slash is at an almost all-time high for targets, with even decks like UB Control turning to Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.
I think Dragon is well positioned right now, but that could change if people start packing more Ultimate Prices. Going slightly bigger against Mono-Red is also a nice place to be, and even though they’ve gained a tool to deal with Dragon in Exquisite Firecraft, you’re still likely going to be getting a hit in first, so the exchange is pretty decent.
I expect that people will be moving away from Drown in Sorrow as their sweeper of choice in the coming weeks. The newer incarnations of Mono-Red are not nearly as weak to that card, meaning that Outburst should have room to shine. It’s also incredible in any kind of red mirror where most of the game is just people trading burn spells for creatures—Outburst takes a ton of work on the opponent’s part to trade with profitably. Rabblemaster is in a similar vein, but takes a tiny bit more work to set up, so I prefer more Outbursts.
This card is still ultra-efficient with Outburst in your deck, although I could imagine a format where 4 damage doesn’t kill much, and you would want to trim down on these. Strike is at an awkward spot right now because there are not actually a lot of 3-toughness creatures to kill, but I think you want about 10 total burn spells, and it’s the next best one.
These are here mostly as additional long-game cards that help fill out the curve. I think Phoenix is a little better than Thunderbreak right now, although I’m not positive about that.
One of the best possible cards against the artifact deck while also efficient enough to be playable against something like Whip.
Gotta kill those Rhinos somehow!
One of the keys to this deck is realizing how the post-board games slow down. Opponents tend to bring in all of the cards they have that extend the game, and having cards like these really help win those longer games by attacking from unexpected angles.
An extremely efficient card, it should be obvious when this is going to be good, and when it is it’s a 10/10.
Part of the anti-red sideboard package, good against just about anyone trying to race you.
Tips and Tricks
- You can sometimes cast an extra blank Chained to either trigger prowess or just to have a junk enchantment to sacrifice to Dromoka’s Command.
- You usually will want to cast Abbot on curve rather than wait to try to hit a land.
- It’s typically wrong to jam your Rabblemaster into opposing mana if you can avoid it. Unlike Abbot, you do want to wait to get value.
- Stormbreath is your plan to beat both Elspeth and Languish, so you should try and save it until after your Abzan opponent has played one of those cards.