Over the last several years, a big part of red’s identity in Modern has been access to the best one-mana creatures in the format. Before Modern Horizons 2, Goblin Guide, Monastery Swiftspear, Flameblade Adept and Soul-Scar Mage at one point or another were incredibly dominant cards in red aggro decks that outclassed any other one-mana creature your opponents could be playing. This dynamic became greatly exacerbated when MH2 brought us Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar and Dragon’s Rage Channeler. These three cards were not only more powerful one-mana threats than their predecessors, but they also fit into a wider array of strategies than just aggro decks fitting into tempo/midrange strategies like Izzet Murktide or Jund as well as combo decks like Underworld Breach or Food variants.
This being said, I’ve spent some time over the last few months working on mono-red artifact shells that try to pair these powerful one-mana mono-red creatures in decks that tries to maximize these creature’s artifact synergies, while also getting access to a smooth mana base with lots of utility lands while simultaneously maximizing the power of Urza’s Saga by filling out their lists with lots of cheap artifacts. Historically, I have not been a fan of fair decks in Modern while playing Urza’s Saga unless they either have a way to recur the card with Wrenn and Six or a way to power up their Construct token by flooding the board with artifacts. Maintaining a high degree of card quality by using cards like Ragavan and Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar to power up your Urza’s Saga allows your deck to be more resilient to artifact/Saga hate and provide early pressure with an extremely low mana curve while also generating enough value to win a grindy game. This formula of powerful one-mana red creatures in an artifact-based Urza’s Saga deck has felt strong, but finding the best 75 is incredibly difficult as there are so many possible viable combinations.
I’ve found a decent amount of success testing these ideas and have come to conclusion that since this mono-red artifact shell can be built in so many different ways, that there’s room in the format for players who take this shell and tune it week in and week out to adjust for changes in the metagame. However, I’ve also found that building this archetype can often feel like knocking over dominos, as some deckbuilding directions will require you to fall down a path of different deckbuilding decisions depending on the direction that you want to go down for any given weekend.
In this article, I’d like to go over three different versions of this mono-red artifact archetype that I’ve put together.
- A recently developed build that tries to backup your threats with Trash for Treasure to return expensive artifacts for a flashy combo finish.
- A slower more midrange build that tries to use Academy Manufactor and Ghirapur Aether Grid to control the board.
- A hyper aggressive build with lots of burn spells and more creatures.
The purpose of this article is to both introduce you to the archetype, while also giving you my thoughts on why I’ve made some of the deckbuilding decisions I have while trying to give you the tools and ideas to work on the archetype yourself and potentially put your own spin on it.