I dunno about y’all, but I’ve been playing a lot with Guilds of Ravnica Standard. The set has been released on Magic
Online and Arena, and with SCG Columbus this weekend and the Pro Tour on
the horizon, I’d like nothing more than to break the format.
Everyone knows what Step one is.
Yup, it’s still good.
Mono-Red Aggro isn’t as versatile or customizable as last season’s Rakdos
Aggro deck, so don’t expect crazy metagame shares or a deck that’s able to
adapt week to week. While there are distinctly different versions of
mono-red decks, aggro seems much stronger, and it’s very close to
One of the first things to note about Guilds of Ravnica Standard
is how absurd Experimental Frenzy can be. It doesn’t fit into every deck,
but if you’re aggressive and looking for a refill in grindy games, you
can’t do any better. Occasionally you’ll hit pockets of land, which is
rough, but there are ways to get around it if you care enough. Field of
Ruin, Treasure Map, Dark-Dweller Oracle, and card drawing with jump-start
can make your Future Sight basically unbeatable.
If you’re not playing a deck with a bunch of burn, having a Banefire or two
in your deck to close with is important. Control decks can continually
sweep you if you don’t have any reach. This will typically matter if you’re
playing Boros or some other midrange creature deck without reach. Any red
deck with Shock and Lightning Strike shouldn’t have that issue.
Risk Factor is a big question mark. From my side of playing the matchup,
the first Risk Factor will deal four damage in any normal situation. At
that point, you’ll likely be low enough that their jump-started copy will
net them three cards.
Then the onus is on you to end the game before their three cards matter.
Since your opponent has spent six mana doing nothing that affects the
battlefield, hopefully you can capitalize. Having something that turns the
corner quickly or some amount of lifegain will typically do it.
Risk Factor doesn’t fit into every single deck with red mana, but in the
version with all the other burn spells, it does its job. The interaction
with Experimental Frenzy is an odd one, and I still can’t quite tell if
it’s a combo or not. Your opponent will give you the four cards since you
can’t cast them anyway, but that means if you have enough time, you’ll have
a full hand should you ever decide to get rid of your enchantment.
Runaway Steam-Kin has basically died every single time I’ve seen it enter
the battlefield, both in Standard and Modern. However, that’s because the
card is truly terrifying, capable of allowing you to double spell earlier
or fueling massive Banefires and kicked Fight with Fires. It’s truly one of
the best cards in Guilds of Ravnica.
- 4 Fanatical Firebrand
- 4 Ghitu Lavarunner
- 4 Goblin Chainwhirler
- 4 Viashino Pyromancer
- 4 Runaway Steam-Kin
- 23 Mountain
People don’t seem to like Experimental Frenzy maindeck, but I’m not one of
those people. An unchecked copy will usually win the game, especially when
you have enough interaction to prolong the game.
Diamond Mares are of the utmost important for red mirrors. Fight with Fire
and Lava Coil are for bigger creatures, and Fiery Cannonade is mostly for
Selesnya. Treasure Map gives you another tool for midrange and control
matchups, although I’m sure I’m not being creative enough with this
Here’s another take.
- 22 Mountain
Given how hard BOIN is going on Experimental Frenzy, it makes me think I’m
not trying hard enough. I like the additional removal spells and completely
foregoing Risk Factor. With all the Frenzies and Treasure Maps, I’m a tad
surprised to not see any Fight with Fires maindeck, but I’m excited to try
Awkwardly enough, Boros is basically the worst of Selesnya and Mono-Red. It
does the go-wide thing similarly to Selesnya but lacks the real payoffs.
Aurelia just isn’t good enough compared to things like Venerated Loxodon,
Radiant Destiny, Benalish Marshal, and Heroic Reinforcements.
There needs to be something to make their mopey cards stronger, so we
either need to incorporate more anthems or maybe go harder on mentor.
There’s very little respect for Goblin Banneret and maybe that needs to
Big creatures like Aurelia seemed great at first and despite there not
being many removal spells that trade favorably with her, Aurelia wasn’t
great for me. Granted, some of my decks could be refined, and Aurelia
herself was actually fine, but she wasn’t a strong enough payoff to warrant
playing Boros over any of the other options.
I saw some other people trying Response, and it was solid. The Relentless
Assault option came in handy a few times, but that could have been a
product of the deck lacking a good way to close. Regardless, it seemed
potentially strong in creature mirrors.
Again, Experimental Frenzy was incredible. Against control decks, you
definitely want a copy of Banefire or two to be able to close. Going long
enough, they’ll be able to go over the top of your mopey creatures. Sadly,
it wasn’t enough to sway me into thinking that Boros is a contender.
If I wasn’t playing Mono-Red Aggro, I’d be playing this version of
- 4 Benalish Marshal
- 4 Shanna, Sisay's Legacy
- 3 Emmara, Soul of the Accord
- 4 Venerated Loxodon
- 4 Hunted Witness
Even though Boros didn’t pan out, I learned a lot about white midrange
token decks. For starters, investing in a single card, like Aurelia,
Exemplar of Justice, just isn’t worth it. You’re better off focusing on
making your individual threats stronger through other means. A core with
one-drops, the powerful Selesnya two-drops, and Venerated Loxodon is a good
one. Having Flourish to finish is just icing.
The white one-drops are important, but so is being able to play Benalish
Marshal and the Selesnya two-drops. Trying to hit your curve requires one
of the eight dual lands, which is far from a guarantee. Thankfully,
Unclaimed Territory can sub in as additional copies because Shanna and
Benalish Marshall are both Humans. If I ditch Emmara altogether, I could
play Knight of Grace instead, which is a reasonable option.
It’s possible that March of the Multitudes is the all-star, and I need to
be building around that more. The one-drops are great at fueling Venerated
Loxodon, but maybe March is a stronger payoff. It seems worse if you’re
continually getting hit with sweepers so I’m reluctant to go all-in on it,
especially without additional support from Saproling Migration, Yavimaya
Sapherd, or Song of Freyalise.
Honestly, the worst thing going for Selesnya is the wealth of options,
which makes hammering down the best build incredibly difficult. Overall,
it’s not a bad problem to have, but you’ll have to adjust your deck from
week to week to be successful. If tokens does well, I imagine a plethora of
Deafening Clarions and the like will enter the format. At that point, maybe
Selesnya Ghalta or Knights will be a better choice.
- 3 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 4 Dusk Legion Zealot
- 3 Elvish Rejuvenator
- 4 Stitcher's Supplier
- 2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
- 3 Molderhulk
- 4 Glowspore Shaman
- 4 Plaguecrafter
Using bad creatures to prolong the game and having Izoni, Thousand-Eyed to
lock it up will crush many decks in this format. If your engine gets going,
a cheap Molderhulk being looped by Memorial to Folly will beat another
portion of the format. Burn spells and creatures with evasion are your
enemy, but Golgari has several good sideboard options for those sorts of
Plaguecrafter impressed me, especially against control decks, so it’s
something to keep in mind. I’m not high on Assassin’s Trophy in general,
but it might be necessary to combat Experimental Frenzy. Granted, maybe not
everyone will be on it for the first week, but if you want to win your
tournament, you’ll have to get through someone who’s in the know.
While this deck is cool and does many of the things I enjoy doing, the best
performing Golgari deck will likely have more interaction. The Eldest
Reborn doesn’t look great, but Find backed up by spot removal does. Your
sideboard can beat up on control with Duress and Arguel’s Blood Fast.
Dryad Greenseeker is catching on, and although it’s not as bad as it seems,
I’m holding out hope we can find a better way. Maybe Doom Whisperer is all
the setup you need.
I haven’t gotten around to playing any Dimir-based decks quite yet. From
what I’ve seen, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to do that because of
how much aggression there is online. I’m not a believer in Disinformation
Campaign. Unhinge with buyback doesn’t seem to be what Standard is about
these days. Moment of Craving and, to a lesser extent, Vraska’s Contempt,
are excellent. Find is so much better than anything blue has to add, so
Golgari is probably where you’ll want to end up if you’re trying to
Doom Whisperer is a payoff, as is Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, but the rest of
the sorcery speed Dimir nonsense is medium. Thought Erasure doesn’t line up
well against the aggression and neither does Notion Rain. I’m a believer in
something like VTCLA was playing though.
- 1 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 3 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
- 3 Doom Whisperer
- 2 Lazav, the Multifarious
- 4 Thief of Sanity
Again, some of the specifics of this deck could change, but this sleeker
Grixis list is better suited for the metagame than my clunkier version with
Dream Eater and The Eldest Reborn.
Golden Demise is mostly a better Ritual of Soot at the moment. Similarly,
Thief of Sanity is likely a better option than Notion Rain, especially once
you have Lazav, the Multifarious in the equation. Big threats like Nicol
Bolas and Doom Whisperer is exactly where you want to be.
Is actual control any good? Azorius Control has been doing alright, but the
real trick seems to be splashing another color.
Given the landscape of Standard, I’m actually a control supporter.
The finer details need hammering out, but Jeskai is where it’s at.
Having access to red’s spot removal is incredible, as is Deafening Clarion.
Having Expansion as a way to double up on removal spells or win counter
wars is nice, and Explosion is a fine lategame card.
I’d seriously look into finding a better sideboard plan, but I’m very happy
with where this deck is.
Finally, if you want a sleeker control option, I recommend this deck from
former Pro Tour regular STI.
I have massive respect for STI as a deckbuilder, and this deck makes me
happy. Maybe people have been looking for a place to play Niv-Mizzet,
Parun, and this seems like the perfect spot. “Splashing” the Sarkhan,
Fireblood / Niv-Mizzet combo works well, especially for a deck that’s
trying to fill its graveyard for Crackling Drake anyway.
Preparing For SCG Columbus
Realistically, if you want to win at
, you should play Mono-Red Aggro. White token decks are also great, but
difficult to figure out the correct configuration because of how many great
options there are.
If you want to be brave and play control, I actually support that too.