Mono Red is both loved and hated by all players — and now is the best time to return to playing it.
The Adventures archetype complicates Mono Red’s situation. Lovestruck Beast is the deck’s main enemy, and beating this card requires considerable resources. Bonecrusher Giant and The Great Henge are overwhelming for the deck and create difficulty in achieving good plays.
However, the rise of Sultai Control and UR Midrange, which are two good match-ups for Mono Red, and the slow decay of all versions of its worst enemy (RG/Naya/Temur), make now the right time to return to play Torbran and his friends.
MONO RED AGGRO – DECKLIST
Adding new cards to a deck this balanced is difficult, so this deck didn’t gain much from Strixhaven.
This is the classic list except one of the lands is replaced with a Hall Monitor to have a ninth one-drop. Fervent Champion and Fireblade Charger are aggressive drops and it’s necessary to have at least one copy in hand to make a good start. They complete the curve to one mana.
Robber of the Rich is the MVP of two-drops. It’s a key card that will be difficult to replace when it’s rotated out. It has damage in the early game and card advantage in the late game, making it perfect for this deck.
Rimrock Knight is the first card to cut from the deck if you have another good drop to play. This card can be used as a 3/1 vanilla on turn two, and more rarely as a combat trick before playing it as a creature.
Bonecrusher Giant is played in all red decks and is one of the best cards printed in Throne of Eldraine. It’s versatility includes removal, direct damage, and a 3 mana 4/3 when you need to push with damage. It’s difficult to imagine a stronger card.
Anax sustains Red Mono. It allows us to restart from any mass removal thanks to its trigger, which is important due to the deck’s limited resources. It is a creature with an interesting body that increases constantly. Playing it on turn three and following with Embercleave or Torbran puts pressure on your opponent.
The creature pack closes with Torbran, an important card for this deck that makes even a 1/1 a constant threat. If you made creatures in previous turns, then playing him on turn four is best. It can be preferable to Embercleave, for example, decks that play a lot of removal or tempo cards will be forced to play them, and Torbran will take damage already present on the field.
Frost Bite is a cheap removal spell that deals 3 damage, and it’s essential for a deck that plays with mana count. It removes blockers in early game that otherwise would not allow your low-body creatures to attack and kill dorks or useful cards, such as Innkeeper or Clarion Spirit.
Embercleave is the strongest card ever printed for an aggro deck and is the biggest reason for the archetype being tier one.
My recommendation for playing Mono Red stems from Sultai Control being the most played deck in the ladder. The match-up is the best possible. If you play around your opponent’s removal, then it will be a nightmare for them to handle your threats, and they will struggle to keep control of the board.
Four useless cards, like Frost Bite, are removed in post side and replaced with four annoying cards for your opponent. Before resolving your opponent’s Ultimatum, they will be forced to resolve your Roiling Vortex because they can afford to pay 10 life points. Phoenix of Ash is a great restart after Extinction Event to put some immediate damage on the board.
This is an average match-up where the lack of mass removal is in your favor. Your opponent has a lot of single removal and card time. However, their resources are limited and doing 1×1 in the long run will not pay much.
The situation gets better post side. Redcap Melee kills the two strongest cards in your opponent’s deck. Don’t remove more than one Frost Bite because they kill threats, such as Brazen Borrower or Bonecrusher Giant, that could be problematic if played on turn three.
Roiling Vortex is a clock that gives the deck more reach. It causes 5/6 damage and prevents your opponent from gaining life that turn, making it effective against control decks. Phoenix of Ash is a solid creature in this match-up that can return from the graveyard and force your opponent to use more resources. Ox of Agonas lets you restart, even in late game if your resources are depleted.
Winning the die roll in this match-up is 70% of the job. Starting allows you to force your opponent to stay behind your threats and prevent him from developing the board. You must play around Embercleave, especially if you don’t start, and try to make as many removals as possible.
There are more removals post side, which are fundamental in winning the game.
Mono Red has lost its leading role in Standard on account of this archetype. Your opponent’s cards are mostly obstacles for you and their creatures are hard to defeat.
You’re helped in post side with Soul Sear to kill the Lovestruck Beast and The Akroam War to steal your opponent’s creatures. However, this isn’t enough to improve the terrible match-up, and it’s best to avoid these decks.
This desk has the right balance between ease and effectiveness. This is the perfect time to play this deck if you are a lover of this archetype or are new to this format. Mono Red is destined to return as one of the most played decks in the ladder — at least until the rotation of the format when the balance changes again.