Mono-Red Aggro will be the most played deck at SCG Indianapolis.
It’s the deck that you absolutely must prepare for and will likely play the
most matches against this weekend. It’s probably going to put the most
copies into Top 8 because linear aggression, historically, does very well
week one of a new format.
This will be the most played 75-card decklist at SCG Indianapolis or at
your local card shop tournament:
- 22 Mountain
- 4 Shock
- 4 Lightning Strike
- 4 Wizard's Lightning
- 4 Experimental Frenzy
- 4 Light Up the Stage
- 2 Skewer the Critics
This is the only 5-0 Mono-Red Aggro decklist released on Monday, January
21, 2019, piloted by SCG Invitational Champion Max McVety. This is enough
time for people to digest the list, build it, and practice with it if they
There’s only a single list because of the way Wizards of the Coast curates
content; each decklist they publish must be twenty cards different than
each other. There’s way more Mono-Red running around than what one decklist
“We’re changing what we mean by ‘distinct’
decklists. Currently, distinct is defined as having at least ten cards
different between lists, and we list five different distinct decklists
per day. We have found that ten-card differences often didn’t create
enough archetype differentiation. Initial testing at 20 seems to be
leading to better diversity, showing a wider spread of the metagame, so
we’re moving the definition of distinct to 20-card differentiation.”
This is the first piece of real data that Wizards of the Coast has
released, as they don’t release lists from Magic Arena. Believe me though,
it’s everyone on the Magic Arena ladder. My last five ranked games were
against various flavors of Mono-Red Aggro.
Mono-Red Aggro doesn’t need much from Ravnica Allegiance.
Mono-Red Aggro was already a fairly cheap deck to build. At the time of
writing, you can buy this entire Mono-Red Aggro deck here on
StarCityGames.com for $120, with your 5% Premium discount. The four
Light Up the Stage and two Skewer the Critics accounts for a whopping
$10 of the deck’s total cost.
Magic Arena has incentivized players to jam Mono-Red Aggro for at least
some portion of their hopeful climb to Mythic. The deck doesn’t break
the bank on rare and mythic Wildcards, is simple to pick up and play,
and the games go quickly so it gets in a large quantity of them. I
expect Mono-Red Aggro in some form to be on the majority of players’
Magic Arena accounts if they’ve ever dabbled in Constructed. If it’s
true that Magic Arena is onboarding new players to the game of Magic,
Mono-Red Aggro seems like the first choice for someone new to tabletop
Mono-Red Aggro has a reputation of tearing through new formats or when
people start to outthink themselves. There’s a reason it’s won so many
recent Pro Tours. The combination of consistency and power is a formula
to taking down 10-15 rounds of Standard.
- 3 Firedrinker Satyr
- 4 Monastery Swiftspear
- 4 Lightning Berserker
- 3 Zurgo Bellstriker
- 4 Abbot of Keral Keep
- 21 Mountain
- 4 Falkenrath Gorger
- 4 Village Messenger
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 3 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
- 3 Hazoret the Fervent
- 4 Ahn-Crop Crasher
- 4 Earthshaker Khenra
- 3 Bomat Courier
- 2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
- 4 Hazoret the Fervent
- 2 Ahn-Crop Crasher
- 4 Soul-Scar Mage
- 4 Earthshaker Khenra
- 3 Rekindling Phoenix
- 4 Goblin Chainwhirler
- 24 Mountain
Despite “hate” cards and people wholeheartedly confident that their deck
beats Mono-Red Aggro, it still finds its way to the top of the heap year
after year. Will Ravnica Allegiance bring a different era where
red decks finally get squished? Unlikely.
Enemy Number One To Mono-Red Aggro
Golgari Midrange, the previous biggest threat to Mono-Red Aggro, will
likely be shelved as players experiment with other midrange strategies.
Sure, some of them will contain Wildgrowth Walker and explore creatures,
but none will be as tuned as Golgari. Mono-Red Aggro needed to
load up on Lava Coil to deal with Wildgrowth Walker but has Skewer the
Critics as another early answer that can also hit players and planeswalkers
If you’re on the draw without a way to connect, Skewer the Critics can be a
touch too slow, which may require you aiming a Shock or Fanatical Firebrand
at the opponent to turn on spectacle. Overall, it’s still better than
falling miles behind to Wildgrowth Walker triggers.
A case could be made for Rekindling Phoenix making a comeback at SCG
Indianapolis. Lava Coil is seemingly on the decline, or at least relegated
to the sideboard. The pinpoint removal like Skewer the Critics, Bedevil,
and Mortify line up poorly against Rekindling Phoenix.
Speaking of Mortify, the presence of Wilderness Reclamation putting
pressure on players to get enchantment removal into their decks makes cards
like Seal Away, Ixalan’s Binding, and Conclave Tribunal worse, which were
always great answers to Rekindling Phoenix. Black has more options, but I
haven’t seen more than a single copy of Vraska’s Contempt in people’s
Yep, looks like it could be a good time to be a fiery bird.
Splash Black Or No?
One of the great things about Mono-Red Aggro are the different ways to
build it. You can splash for extra power if you need. You could
play Risk Factor if you want to just burn people out.
With Blood Crypt and Dragonskull Summit, it’s not tough to splash a few
high-impact black cards into Mono-Red. We’ve seen Mono-White Aggro
splashing for Heroic Reinforcements and sideboard Experimental Frenzy. Rix
Maadi Reveler is the easiest to slip into the Mono-Red shell since it’s
still castable without having the black for spectacle. What’s holding it
back is the low-impact 2/2 body and other good card advantage options in
Light Up the Stage and Experimental Frenzy. It could be fine to play just
one or two Rix Maadi Reveler instead of the full four, but at that point,
is it worth playing eight black dual lands just to support it?
Risk Factor has lost stock in my book. It was always the “worst burn spell”
in the deck and was just waiting to be replaced. Skewer the Critics and
Light Up the Stage are better cards that bump Risk Factor out. Still, you
can jam them all together, cut some creatures, and call it a day. There’s a
world where creature combat isn’t appealing for Mono-Red Aggro or that even
having creatures on the battlefield isn’t great either.
Cry of the Carnarium, Kaya’s Wrath, and Settle the Wreckage are examples of
cards that really want to see a bunch of small creatures on the battlefield
rather than burn spells. Regardless of which Mono-Red Aggro deck you choose
to pilot, you should have a mix of creatures, burn spells like Banefire,
and a card that operates on another axis, like Treasure Map. That way you
can shift away from whatever angle your opponent is trying to
Standard is still wide open as far as particular decks and card choices are
concerns, but we can still prepare for the macrostrategies.
VS Mono-Red Aggro
My default is to limit my vulnerability to Goblin Chainwhiler and take a
control route, eventually racing to Experimental Frenzy with Treasure Map
and burying them in card advantage. Alternatively, you can sideboard in
Fiery Canonnade if you believe your opponent doesn’t have Fanatical
Firebrand or has another small creature, like Rix Maadi Reveler. This is
quite the gambit as Fiery Canonnade has the potential to be slow or dead
and, of course, doesn’t deal with Fanatical Firebrand. If you get them with
a good Fiery Canonnade game 2, I suggest taking them out for game 3.
VS Bant Nexus
Here you take out your worst burn spell for Fight with Fire to answer Lyra
Dawnbringer and Banefire as simply a better burn spell. They can go pretty
big if Experimental Frenzy gets going or you get hit by a midsized Settle
Goblin Chainwhiler looks slow on paper, but it does finish off Teferi if it
must minus and Knight of Autumn if they gain four life or hit Experimental
Frenzy. If you see them showing up with Negate and/or Carnage Tyrant, you
can be pretty sure they’ve taken out their entire engine to shift to a
midrange deck. In that case, matching back with this route is reasonable: I
like sideboarding out some burn spells, likely two copies of Skewer the
Critics and a copy of Lightning Strike, for those Treasure Maps. Their
Knight of Autumns are overloaded with good abilities, and I’m not worried
about giving their already great card a different mode.
VS Temur Reclamation
Your best bet is having their deck hit their fail rate of not finding
Wilderness Reclamation in time or to have too many “air” cards like Radical
Idea, Opt, and Chemister’s Insight and to run them over while they spin
This is a matchup where you wish you had Fanatical Firebrand to not
overcommit to Fiery Cannonade and Risk Factor instead of Experimental
Frenzy when they’re leaving up clear Negate mana. If they come with
Niv-Mizzet, you want Fight with Fire over Skewer the Critics too.
VS Golgari/Sultai Midrange
The name of the game is to not have their Wildgrowth Walker grow out of
control. After that box is checked off, move onto removing their blockers
and pushing through as much damage as you can before they get the mana for
a Finality or an enormous Hydroid Krasis. Without Experimental Frenzy in
the deck, I’m comfortable siding out a Mountain when the curve is lower.
Also, without Experimental Frenzy, their Vivien Reids get worse.
VS Esper Control
Runaway Steam-Kin draws tend to get you to overcommit onto the battlefield,
which can be bad against a bunch of Kaya’s Wrath and Cry of the Carnarium.
The weaker burn spells come out and we ask them if they’re well-positioned
to beat a Treasure Map or can finish the game before a lethal Banefire
I predict a lot of lethal Banefires to get Absorbed at SCG Indianapolis
simply for the three life (which will likely be enough). If you can help
it, don’t fire off your Banefire if you think they have the Absorb and you
can afford to wait.
VS Boros Aggro
I like sideboarding into a full-blown control deck. Fiery Canonnade is the
best card against them, and after sideboard we’re setting up to minimize
losses on our side. Shocking their creatures and otherwise killing them is
much better than attempting to block when they have convoke cards like
Venerated Loxodon and Conclave Tribunal and when they’re trying to attack
with three creatures for Legion’s Landing. They can outsize you on a
stalled battlefield with Benalish Marshal or Pride of the Conquerors, so
the plan becomes to kill everything on sight and get ahead a few cards.
Wizard’s Lightning becomes Open Fire without any Wizards in your deck, so
that’s an easy cut. I like Fight with Fire in case they show up with
something like Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice or Lyra Dawnbringer. It takes
care of bigger things in case they got off a Venerated Loxodon or have a
Benalish Marshall out.
Lighting Up The SCG Indianapolis Stage
has everyone’s wheels turning trying to break the format for week one at
SCG Indianapolis. Will Wilderness Reclamation take the format by storm,
perhaps to the brink of banning the outrageous mana accelerant? Will a
control deck with Kaya’s Wrath and Absorb solve all the problems the
tournament has to offer?
I must wait two weeks after the Prerelease to let everyone else catch up to
a format since I worked on Ravnica Allegiance at Wizards of the
Coast, so I’ll be watching SCG Indianapolis on Twitch rather than attending
myself. My choice would be the proactive and tried-and-true Mono-Red Aggro
for this weekend, and I expect more people to agree with the choice than
any other, so you better be ready to beat it if you aren’t casting the red