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Top 8 at the Standard Challenge with Monored Aggro: Tips, tricks & sideboard guide

Lucas Giggs
29/03/2023 · 9 min read
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Quick intro

In my last article, we talked about “Dark Red” Aggro, a Mono-red deck with a slight splash of black that made it to the top 8 in the CityClass Showdown in Brazil, featuring cards like Go for the Throat and Ob Nixilis to improve certain matchups. However, pure Mono-red is also a formidable deck, and ONE has introduced some significant weapons. Today, I'll be sharing my top 8 list from one of the recent Magic Online Standard Challenges and a sideboard guide against key matchups.

My current version of the deck

Mono Red By Lucas Giggs
Mono Red By Lucas Giggs

Red Deck Wins. Builder: LucasG1ggs.MTGO - Magic Online
Top4 in MTGO Standard Challenge #12535606 25-Mar-2023
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [27]
4  Monastery Swiftspear   $0.69
4  Bloodthirsty Adversary   $2.99
4  Kumano Faces Kakkazan   $0.59
4  Thundering Raiju   $0.79
4  Phoenix Chick   $0.79
3  Feldon, Ronom Excavator   $0.49
4  Furnace Punisher   $0.35
Instant [8]
4  Play with Fire   $3.99
4  Lightning Strike   $0.35
Sorcery [3]
3  Strangle   $0.35
Land [22]
16  Mountain   $0.01
2  Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance   $5.99
4  Mishra's Foundry   $1.79
Sideboard [15]
3  Rending Flame   $0.35
3  Chandra, Dressed to Kill   $11.99
2  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $21.99
4  Obliterating Bolt   $0.35
3  Koth, Fire of Resistance   $0.69
Buy this deck:

$45.78 Tix @cardhoarder   $1.14 / Week @cardhoarder   $103.83 @tcgplayer   $148.45 @cardkingdom  


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The deck has gained some crucial cards that have elevated its status in certain matchups, particularly after sideboarding, where you can alter your original game plan to overcome an unfavorable matchup. I'll discuss a few of these game-changing additions to the list.

Key Cards vs the Current Metagame

FURNACE PUNISHER

In the past, the deck featured a far more aggressive approach, where every creature had haste, enabling them to enter the battlefield and apply immediate pressure.

Now, even though we are still running really aggressive creatures, having 3-drop cards like Furnace Punisher makes the deck much stronger in the late game. This monster has been getting more and more impressive, especially in a format full of triomes, channels, and fast lands , where it can deal a lot of damage.

STRANGLE

Strangle is one of those cards that is perfectly aligned with the current metagame . Being able to remove many of the key creatures, like Dennick, Corpse Appraiser, Graveyard Trespasser, or Steel Seraph in their prototype form. However, Strangle has other uses, like serving as an additional burn spell to remove creatures during combat that Play with Fire can't catch, such as Raffine or Sheoldred.

KOTH, FIRE OF RESISTANCE

Koth joins Jaya in the 4-drop spot, acting as a planeswalker who helps you get more lands in play during slower, grindy games. He can also take out bigger creatures, which is a nice bonus. Plus, his ultimate ability is super strong and doesn't take long to use.When you combine Koth with Chandra and Fable, the deck transforms into a more midrange version that is much more resilient against spot removal, a typical sideboard option for many archetypes against red decks.

Playing the deck

Not much mystery in Game 1: keep aggressive hands with a  tight curve, leaving no time for the opponent to develop their game plan. It's essential to keep at least some type of turn 1 play, whether it's a burn spell on the draw or a creature/Kumano on the play.

EXAMPLE HAND #1

Example Hand #1
Example Hand #1

This isn't the dream hand, as we're missing a creature to fully extract 100% of Kumano's value. However, it's still an easy keep. We even have the option to delay playing Kumano until turn 2 so that Furnace Punisher enters as a 4/4, dodging removal like Abrade and Brotherhood's End. However, I believe we should play Kumano on turn 2. We have burn spells to clear the way and make room for it to attack.

EXAMPLE HAND #2

Example Hand #2
Example Hand #2

I was also uncertain about this hand, but I believe that having a Mishra's Foundry might make it worth keeping. Even if we can't fully utilize all the chapters from Kumano Faces Kakkazan, we can maintain the pressure by removing some blockers and dealing 4 damage per turn. However, it also depends on the matchup we're facing. In this particular match, I knew I was up against an Esper Legends deck, so having access to efficient removal spells is crucial since we need to destroy almost everything they play. Plus, we have a decent clock that supports this game plan.

EXAMPLE HAND #3

Example Hand #3
Example Hand #3

In this hand, we have a lot of lands but no direct damage spells to pave the way for Raiju. Even with early threats like Feldon and Mishra, we don't have enough gas to justify keeping it. If we draw two more lands, we would likely lose the match.

Matchups & Sideboard guide

GRIXIS MIDRANGE

The matchup is solid, but it also depends on the number of removal spells we face in Game 1. Some lists run up to 4 Cut Down in the main deck, which can make things a bit challenging, but keep in mind that key cards like Furnace Punisher and Thundering Raiju are immune to it. The basic strategy is to apply as much pressure as possible, usually with 1 to 2 creatures and removing the rest with our direct damage spells. Sheoldred is a major issue, so don't be afraid to exchange a creature and a burn spell during combat, or even wasting two burn spells to deal with it as soon as possible.

After sideboarding, we shift gears towards a more midrange game plan, as they typically bring in more sweepers like Brotherhood's End and spot removal like Parasitic Grasp. Since they usually take out Invoke Despair, we can capitalize on the use of Koth and Chandra, who together help make the game more grindy and provide card advantage on our side. This takes advantage of the opponent potentially removing all or at least most of their Invokes.

MONORED AGGRO

Mirror, like most games in this format, heavily relies on who's on the play/draw. Opening with a one-drop is crucial to maintain pressure. One of the few matchups where Furnace Punisher truly falls short, as it's easily dealt with by the deck's burn spells. However, it does slightly aid in the race if left unanswered and draws out Lightning Strikes, paving the way for a Thundering Raiju comeback the following turn. Post-sideboard, the narrative shifts a bit, with matches becoming more grindy; hence, Fables become vital, as does Chandra, a planeswalker that allows you to cast multiple spells in a single turn or generate card advantage.

UW SOLDIERS

One of the best matchups for the deck is crucial to approach with caution so that certain cards don't spiral out of control. A 3/4 Dennick can already cause a lot of issues, but even a Siege Veteran or Skystrike Officer can prove to be a headache. The optimal strategy involves playing one or two creatures and using our burn spells to pave the way. Kumano is extremely helpful in exiling cards that can generate value, such as Dennick and Siege Veteran with their tokens. Post-sideboard, they have more tools like Knockout Blow, Extraction Specialist, and Lantern Flare, but we also increase our removal options, especially Obliterating Bolt and Rending Flame, which can deal with creatures of toughness 4. Another matchup where Furnace Punisher can inflict significant damage if left unanswered.

ESPER LEGENDS

We have a similar game plan to that against Soldiers, but the creatures are bigger and tougher to deal with. Applying pressure from the start, we must remove Skrelv, as it renders other removals useless and save removals for Sheoldred. Raffine is nearly impossible to kill in Game 1, but she's not a great blocker, so we can take advantage of that. Post-sideboard, our removal improves, but it doesn't make our lives much easier; we just have more tools to handle the threats. Furnace Punisher really shines here, and its combination with other removals could be the easiest way to win the match. Another matchup where Raiju isn't the best, as it doesn't get past the main creatures and can be easily answered by Otawara and Eiganjo. I'd prefer to swap it for more low-cost interactions, and in this grindier plan, Fable of the Mirror Breaker becomes one of the best cards.

MONOWHITE MIDRANGE

A tough matchup for the deck. It has many low-cost spells like Lay Down Arms and Ossification, and from the moment it starts playing with 4 open mana, The Wandering Emperor becomes a real threat. Some lists run Steel Seraph and Elspeth Resplendent, gaining access to lifelink and making our life even worse. So, we don't have much to do in Game 1, just attack, apply pressure, and save Kumano when possible to finish Wanderer in the same turn. Post-sideboard, the planeswalkers are really strong because our opponent doesn't have many answers, and we can play a more grindy game, protecting them by killing creatures and trying to reach their ultimates, especially Koth's. Obliterating Bolt also deals with nearly all the relevant creatures and hitting planeswalkers makes it one of the best removal options. This is one of the few matchups where Furnace Punisher isn't very relevant.

Final words

Mono-red has gained some solid cards, with Furnace Punisher being the standout addition, designed to punish the greedy mana bases found in Standard . It is a really aggressive deck in Game 1, where its direct damage spells are key, while having access to a more grind-focused post-sideboard game plan with planeswalkers to combat midrange strategies. All in all, it is one of the top contenders against the current best decks in the format.

Até a próxima!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Legacy Reanimator Primer by the Arcanis Super Legacy Finalist, Esper Legends Tips, Tricks & Sideboard Guide by Mogged, Orzhov Midrange Guide by Mogged

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Lucas Giggs
MTG Streamer
Hi, my name is Lucas de Almeida Hervás. I'm 31 years old, married, and I live in Indaiatuba/SP, Brazil. I've been playing Magic the Gathering since 2009, but I've been making a living off of it since 2019 through leagues and tournaments on Magic Online. For those who don't know me, I'm 2.17 meters tall, hence the nickname "the tallest Magic player in Brazil."

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Published: 2023-03-29 00:00:00
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