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Andrea Mengucci Mono Red Standard Deck Embercleave Banner

Battling with Standard Mono-Red at Worlds

I wrote about Mono-Red in Standard a few weeks ago, but I changed multiple cards in my list for Worlds, so I figured I would update the article and sideboard guide so that it’s completely up to date, as I believe me and Seth Manfield, my team partner for this event, reached the ideal build of the deck.

Why We Played Mono-Red

Our metagame read was that the two most popular decks would be Temur Reclamation and U/W Control. I was loving Esper in testing, and it was performing very well against these two archetypes. But once Seth threw Mono-Red at me it really felt unwinnable after an 0-6, 0-12 in games. During my future streams I’ll try to tune Esper to beat Mono-Red so make sure to check it out.

Robber of the Rich

My previous version of Mono-Red contained four copies of Shock and zero copies of Robber of the Rich. I always made fun of Robber calling it unplayable and not a worthy mythic rare, but once Seth played it against Temur and U/W it really shined, but most importantly, cutting Shock just made the deck way better against these two archetypes.

Overall the matchup vs. U/W was slightly negative, but the one versus Temur was heavily positive, and since we expected Temur to beat U/W (and it definitely did before the Czechs replaced Dream Trawler with Thirst for Meaning), we were very happy with our choice.

Mono-Red Aggro (Standard)

Other two players chose Mono-Red at Worlds, but I do like my list best, as Loveman was still playing Shocks, and Pozzo decided to cut Bonecrusher Giants too, which is way too extreme in my opinion as Bonecrusher is one of the best cards in the mirror, and the mirror match will be popular going forward.

Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp

Other than cutting Shocks for Robber, we also cut Torbran and Embercleave for two lands, the reason being that with Robber we raised our curve and had to make some cuts there. Also, in Mythic Championship V and Players Tour Richmond, both Seth and Javier registered Gruul with 3 Embercleave, saying that yes, it’s sometimes the best card ever, but other times could be clunky, and especially post-sideboard your opponents might have cheap interaction that would make you unable to cast it (for example Aether Gust and Brazen Borrower).

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

We made a few last-minute changes to the four value slots with some Experimental Frenzy and Chandra, Acolyte of Flame.

Frenzy mainly shines against Mono-Red and Esper, but it’s weak against U/W, generally the card has become way weaker since Elspeth Conquers Death has hit the format, much like Nissa and Cavalier of Thorns.

Chandra was there mainly as a way to deploy a 3-drop that would survive Shatter the Sky or Storm’s Wrath (but you have to +1 her), and a way to get card advantage with Light Up the Stage and to rebuy removal spells in grindy matchups.

Redcap Melee

As we came to the conclusion that Mono-Red was playable, we figured that others would as well, and Redcap Melee felt like one of the best cards we could play there.

Also, Melee killing Mayhem Devil and Anax, Hardened in the Forge against R/B Sacrifice was pretty cool and the card felt good overall.

Sideboard Guide

U/W Control (PV’s version)

On the Play

+4 Unchained Berserker
+2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
+1 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

-4 Runaway Steam-Kin
-1 Embercleave
-1 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
-1  Bonecrusher Giant

On the Draw

+4 Unchained Berserker
+2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
+1 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
+3 Lava Coil

-4 Runaway Steam-Kin
-2 Light Up the Stage 
-2 Embercleave
-1 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
-1  Bonecrusher Giant

This was how we sideboarded against Paulo and Ondrej’s version of Blue-White Control, which I assume will be the way to go moving forward.

Lava Coil is necessary on the draw since it could be very hard to beat a turn-4 Archon’s of Sun’s Grace if they don’t decide to walk into your combat trick, although if you are on the play you can force them into blocking and then finish the Archon off with an Embercleave or a 2-damage pump spell. In a pinch, Lava Coil can get rid of the Wall from The Birth of Meletis.

Temur Reclamation

On the Play

-2 Bonecrusher Giant

+2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

On the Draw

-1 Embercleave
-1 Bonecrusher Giant

+2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

This matchup is very good, almost unlosable if you’re on the play. Post-sideboard they have plenty of ways to interact with you, so play accordingly, and don’t slam Embercleave as much as you would in game 1.

Chandra helps to play around Storm’s Wrath, so it’s your perfect play if you don’t have an Anax, Hardened in the Forge.

Mono-Red

+3 Redcap Melee
+4 Lava Coil
+1 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
+1 Experimental Frenzy
+2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

-1 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
-2 Embercleave
-4 Runaway Steam-Kin
-4 Rimrock Knight

The Mirror is tricky, if you are on the draw, you have to defend, don’t attack with Fervent Champion and kill their creatures before deploying yours. Experimental Frenzy is your best card, and you could play more moving forward if you expect the Mirror to be more and more popular.

Jeskai Fires

-4 Runaway Steam-Kin
-3 Bonecrusher Giant

+4 Unchained Berserker
+2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
+1 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

We didn’t expect this deck to be as played as it was, and our reaction after seeing the deck lists was that this would have been a bad matchup, but after playing a few matches of testing on Wednesday, we found that the matchup was closer than we thought, especially against the Nassif/Levy version that played Brazen Borrower over Dream Trawler and Aether Gust.

Jund Sacrifice

-4 Fervent Champion
-4 Scorch Spitter
-3 Rimrock Knight

+3 Redcap Melee
+4 Lava Coil
+2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
+1 Experimental Frenzy
+1 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

This matchup didn’t feel very good main deck, since we had way too many X/1s that were dying to their Mayhem Devils and Massacre Girls, although post-sideboard we become way more controlling and are able to grind them out and eventually win with our expensive threats.

I think Mono-Red is still a solid deck choice going forward, but I’ll do my best to explore the format more and see what other decks it can offer. Don’t forget to tune into my stream or check my YouTube Channel for more Standard content!

Discussion

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