Mono-Red Isn’t Dead

Bad news if you dislike burn spells, haste creatures, and players being allowed to block: red is still here. GerryT can find his footing in a format early and often, and he wants to help you find yours before SCG Dallas.

The general consensus post-banning is that Temur Energy and Ramunap R-I
mean, Mono-Red Aggro are potentially dead and not exactly worth trying.
Magic Online (and I) say otherwise.

It’s difficult to get motivated to a deck whose (second) best cards just
got banned, especially when there are so many other potential decks to try.
For better or for worse, people will eventually realize those decks are
still just fine. In the meantime, let’s pretend Temur doesn’t exist.

Behold, the Magic Online darling, R/W Aggro:

Look at all these “bad” cards!

My article last week
actually started with brewing Path of Mettle, but I eventually didn’t
include it in my article because I couldn’t find a decklist I liked. My
problem was that I was brewing from a white-based perspective and wanted to
take advantage of the ramping aspect. One of the issues I kept running into
was a lack of great things to actually cast for six or more mana.

Ramping incidentally in white decks will always be appealing, but it’s
clear that the red activation is the more powerful one. I was trying to be
an honest mage and use the hidden third ability: tap for any color of mana.
Apparently, I should have been trying to make a Ramunap Ruins that you need
to jump through hoops in order to use. Since Ramunap Ruins is apparently
good enough to be banned, maybe that’s worth it.

In reality, maybe Path of Mettle isn’t so difficult to transform. There
isn’t a single creature in the above decklist that doesn’t help transform
it. How often do you get to attack with two creatures? The answer is a lot.
Realistically, the issue I have with Path of Mettle isn’t how difficult it
is to transform, it’s how difficult it is to cast. The manabase isn’t
great, but that’s the case for every enemy-colored deck that can’t support
the Foul Orchard cycle. I’d be a big fan of Needle Spires, which isn’t
something I thought I would say.

I’ve seen Relentless Raptor get straight clowned by Ripjaw Raptor, but
that’s the price you pay, I suppose. I’d be completely fine with adding
more Dire Fleet Daredevils and another Kari Zev, Skyship Raider in place of
the Relentless Raptors if they consistently perform poorly. That should
ease some of the strain from the manabase.

Ixalan’s Binding out of the sideboard is a nice way to get an edge in the
Hazoret mirrors, but there are plenty of ways to accomplish that,
especially if you’re willing to splash. The other white cards like
Slaughter the Strong and Sunscourge Champion kinda seem like nonsense.
Obviously Sunscourge Champion could be powerful against Mono-Red and
Mono-Black, but if the mirrors are all about Path of Mettle, it doesn’t
seem like it does enough.

One of the main questions going forward is how well the deck holds up
against scrutiny. With the various green decks being forced to play
additional mana sources, it shouldn’t be all that uncommon for them to
maindeck or sideboard Field of Ruin, especially now.

Either way, Path of Mettle isn’t the only thing to be doing with Hazoret
the Fervent though.

Supernatural Stamina can be kinda nice. There are no Hazoret the Fervents
in this deck (or even Mountains, for that matter), but it’s important to
know what your options are.

Also, why not just add Hazoret the Fervent to the deck?

After playing with Mono-Red Pirates and playing against B/R Aggro, I’m
firmly in the B/R Aggro camp. If I had a Standard tournament this weekend,
this is what I’d be playing.

This is the best Glint-Sleeve Siphoner deck and arguably the best Hazoret
the Fervent deck. Additionally, you have recursive threats in Dread
Wanderer and Scrapheap Scrounger, plus Hazoret the Fervent, Yahenni,
Undying Partisan and Aethersphere Harvester to dodge most of the format’s
removal spells.

Outside of Glint-Sleeve Siphoner (and Gifted Aetherborn, which doesn’t
necessarily have to be maindeck), removal as a whole is rather poor against
this deck. With your own removal spells, it’s easy to clear the way. That
staying power is a huge boon in the current metagame.

The miser’s Bone Picker has a very low opportunity cost. Drawing multiples
can be awkward at times, even with several ways to make them cheaper. If
you only ever draw one per game, you lose out on the potential nut draws,
but it will make your draws more consistent overall. If, for some reason,
Bone Picker was well-positioned or you needed a boost in power level, you
could look at a build of B/R that contained more copies.

Maindeck Aethersphere Harvesters should give you a huge edge in aggro
mirrors, especially as people are currently light on Abrade. There really
aren’t many matchups where it’s bad, so I’m very excited about getting to
play three copies maindeck.

Lightning Strike is a worthy consideration over Abrade, but I’m absolutely
terrified of Aethersphere Harvester and God-Pharaoh’s Gift. The extra reach
could potentially help, but that might be better suited for a more
aggressive version with Vicious Conquistador. Playing Abrade maindeck also
frees up sideboard slots, and B/R has no shortage of good options, so those
slots get put to good use.

Night Market Lookout and Vicious Conquistador do a good job of nickel and
diming your opponent out, but are weak cards overall. Gifted Aetherborn
could potentially get the axe in favor of an additional one-drop, and that
might not be the worst choice. Right now, I’d prefer to be a little bigger
to beat up on creature mirrors, but that might not be a viable strategy
against control decks.

Pia Nalaar is another possibility for creature mirrors, but Dread Wanderer
and Scrapheap Scrounger allow you to grind well enough. I’m far more
interested in Dire Fleet Daredevil and Ravenous Chupacabra for those
matchups anyway. Whereas Mono-Red might struggle against the giant monsters
in a Winding Constrictor deck, Ravenous Chupacabra dominates them.

If you’re looking for a different Aethersphere Harvester deck, there’s
always ole reliable.

Will Mardu Vehicles ever die?

Standard seems to be infested with different flavors of aggressive decks at
the moment, and that’s not a format Mardu is well-suited to existing in.
Your creatures don’t explicitly say it, but “can’t block” is a hidden
downside on many of them. Ideally, you’re not in that situation, but not
all games play out the same. Any deck with Shock and Abrade will take the
wind out of your sails quickly. If the format is all about Ripjaw Raptors
and the like, I certainly like Unlicensed Disintegration’s place in the
metagame though.

Heart of Kiran is still a powerful card and with the nerf to Energy, it may
have gotten even better considering Harnessed Lightning won’t always take
it out. Again, if you get to maindeck Aethersphere Harvester, that’s
typically a good place to be. Mardu might be so bad against Mono-Red that
it’s not enough though.

Having access to cards like Sweltering Suns and Settle the Wreckage out of
the sideboard is cute, but are they going to get the job done when you
can’t fully transform into a control deck? Authority of the Consuls and
Settle the Wreckage help you race, but it’s a narrow solution. Sweltering
Suns alongside vehicles is kind of nice against other aggressive decks like
Merfolk and Mono-Black Aggro, but it’s probably not going to make enough of
a difference.

This isn’t the time for Mardu, but things could circle back around. I’ve
personally been working on this and wouldn’t be surprised to see something
like it 5-0 soon:

This deck is simple and slightly more all-in than previous iterations of
Mono-Red, but that’s because they took away all of our toys that allowed us
to go long.

Soul-Scar Mage isn’t bad, and depending on the metagame, Fanatical
Firebrand isn’t bad. Both can be low impact at times, so it’s difficult to
gauge which version you should lean toward. So far, I’ve been enjoying the
Pirate addition of Daring Buccaneer, but I’m unsure how much it’s worth it.
If you were only playing main deck games, I’d take red’s Isamaru, Hound of
Konda. However, the majority of your games are played post-sideboard, which
makes things more difficult.

In sideboarded games, both players will likely sideboard in some amount of
cheap answers, which means your cards will trade more often in the early
game and the games will be more attrition-based, and therefore, go longer.
In longer games, you would prefer to have as few weak topdecks as possible,
and that means cards like Fanatical Firebrand will likely be sideboarded
out more frequently than your other cards. That can significantly hurt your
chances of playing Daring Buccaneer on turn 1.

Dire Fleet Daredevil started as a two-of, but I quickly increased it to
four. It might be better in sideboard games, but the body is completely
reasonable enough to play on turn 2 and not be embarrassing. On top of
that, there’s a necessity to play early removal in the format, and Dire
Fleet Daredevil can give you the edge in those matchups. Maybe Ramunap
Ruins doesn’t allow you to go long, but Mono-Red still has some staying

Maybe Metallic Mimic is worth playing for the additional synergies, but I’d
be cutting good two-drops for them, and it’s unclear whether Metallic Mimic
would be better. Still, it’s worth trying.

Rekindling Phoenix and Glorybringer have both fallen short for me, at least
for now. Glorybringer isn’t great against a format full of aggro and
control decks. It really needs midrange decks to beat up on, otherwise
there are better options for fighting the other two decks, especially at
five mana.

At four mana, Rekindling Phoenix needs to have an immediate impact on the
game state. Being a good blocker and annoying threat to deal with often
isn’t good enough, especially when people are ready to deal with Hazoret
the Fervent already. Even against Merfolk, an Unsummon might be game over.

Since the control matchups got worse, the sideboard needs to hit them a
little harder. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is the go-to option and that
seems correct. Maybe Path of Mettle is somehow a necessity, even though I
have my reservations.


However you decide to build your Hazoret the Fervent deck, you’re going to
be just fine. Ramunap Ruins and Rampaging Ferocidon might be gone, but
multiple cores are still alive and kicking. Temur Energy, the enemy, was
significantly weakened. It’s time for Hazoret to take the official top spot
in the metagame.