You may have noticed that Dominaria brings not only a push toward legends, Sagas, and plain nostalgia, but also toward mono-color. Dominaria isn’t as all-in on the theme as Theros was with a keyword such as devotion, but each color received a triple-colored creature.
The reason for these mono-colored cards, as I understand it, is to help new players get into competitive Standard more easily. With only one color in the deck, you have limited options and you aren’t trying to jam all of the best cards in the format into one multicolored deck, but instead to have a solid and straightforward game plan. The other reason a mono-colored deck would help newer players play Standard is that they will often be cheaper than a deck with more colors, given that it can’t jam as many mythics into the deck as a multicolored deck. It also doesn’t have to play any dual lands, which spikes the deck price even more.
I think this initiative is fantastic and not only do I believe that these cards and decks are interesting for newer players but also for competitive players such as myself, since the raw power level can’t really be denied. Without further ado, let’s begin.
There are actually a ton of great alternatives, despite the deck being mono-colored. When the format becomes as big as this Standard will be with Dominaria—8 sets in total—that benefits mono-colored decks. Usually, a mono-colored deck will have to sacrifice some power to gain consistency solely because there aren’t enough choices, which isn’t the case for this deck.
Also, the sideboard will always be worse. One color will only cover so much ground, giving you more space in the sideboard for a card like Knight of Grace. But don’t get me wrong. Tons of decks will have problems with Knight of Grace. All the best removal is black.
Another card choice that some of you may be suprised by is Gideon of the Trials. I think Gideon is great, but haven’t really found a home for him yet, or there’s always been a better choice that overshadowed him. I’m excited to try it again here.
Mono-Blue Flyers is playing a fish type strategy to tempo your opponent out. With almost all flying creatures, more games turn into races as your opponent will have a hard time stopping your flyers. That means cards like Unsummon or Aethersphere Harvester will go up in value since they are great at playing that kind of game.
The real backbone of the deck is in the two enormous undercosted flyers: Tempest Djinn and Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp. Having 22 Islands in your deck turns Tempest Djinn into a pretty scary creature. It attacks with evasion for 4 on turn 4 and scales so it can attack for 6 or 7 if you draw it much later in the game. He’s also hard to kill since you can’t Abrade, Lightning Strike, Moment of Craving, or at times even Fatal Push him. You often will have to spend more mana than Tempest Djinn costs, which makes him extra scary. Speaking of hard to kill…
Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp can’t be killed by Cast Down, Fatal Push, Glorybringer, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Moment of Craving, Vicious Offering—the list goes on. It even blocks a Hazoret the Fervent with ease! This behemoth reminds me of the delve creatures and should not be underestimated.
Since these creatures are hard to kill, you will get time, and time that’s worth spending to protect them with cards like Metallic Rebuke and Siren Stormtamer, since they will rule most battlefields and race most boards. Since you’re in the business of protecting your threats, Curious Obsession becomes a natural home for a deck full of evasive creatures. Curious Obsession is one of those cards that is so powerful in Limited that I have to try it in Constructed. Finally, it may have a chance to shine in a tier 1 home.
Lastly, there’s the combo of Warkite Marauder and Walking Ballista that helps you interact with the board better, something a mono-blue deck usually has trouble doing. What’s great about this combo is that both cards are naturally powerful and work well within the deck. Warkite Marauder fills the curve and works well as an aggressive flier and Walking Ballista is a mana sink, especially if you flip Dowsing Dagger.
The mono-black deck is the only reactive deck in the bunch. Not only do its cards scale better later in the game, but black has the best reactive cards in Standard and some very powerful grindy tools.
Arguel’s Blood Fast is one of the best, if not the actual best, card advantage effect in Standard right now. The Greed throwback gets even better if you pair it with incidental life gain such as Moment of Craving, Gifted Aetherborn, Vraska’s Contempt, Noxious Gearhulk, and even Azor’s Gateway. Speaking of Azor’s Gateway, it’s a great complement to Arguel’s Blood Fast since Mono-Black Control has so many reactive cards that could become useless in specific matchups. You’ll appreciate the ability to loot them away, and flipping it and producing tons of mana isn’t anything to sneeze at, especially in this deck.
Mono-black didn’t get just one tool, but Cabal Stronghold as well, a throwback to the beloved Cabal Coffers. LSV wrote about the card in more detail in his preview, but all in all I believe it’s worth playing all Swamps for the upside of Cabal Stronghold. As I mentioned before, mono-black’s cards scale well with the game going longer. Of course, you have Dread Shade, but also Walking Ballista and the sweet newcomer Josu Vess, Lich Knight. Even having extra mana for activating Arguel’s Blood Fast or casting the spell from Gonti, Lord of Luxury in the same turn isn’t without value.
Red Deck Wins
We’ve seen Red plenty of times before and it’s definitely been living up to its name lately. Gan Yan recently made history by being the first person to ever go 18-0 in GP Seattle. This is his list, but with some minor changes from Dominaria.
Goblin Chainwhirler is the only card out of the cycle that doesn’t deserve a full 4-of in the main deck. That doesn’t mean the card is bad at all, but more of a reaction to its midrange nature and narrow use. Goblin Chainwhirler is oozing with power, but doesn’t really fit Mono-Red Aggro since it doesn’t have haste and will guarantee damage less often than Ahn-Crop Crasher.
Where Goblin Chainwhirler shines the most is against other creature decks where it can be absolutely backbreaking. Take the Mono-White Aggro deck above. Without a Benalish Marshal in play, Goblin Chainwhirler is devastating. To add to that, it has first strike, which makes it troublesome to both block and attack through. For these reasons, having four in 75 seems like a powerful tool.
Last but not least, I’ve added Siege-Gang Commander to the sideboard. Siege-Gang Commander seems unassuming at face value, but fills an important role that has been vacant for a while in Mono-Red: the possibility to go wide. Siege-Gang Commander comes in against decks with tons of removal, because sweeper effects are naturally bad against RDW. Why? Because every threat has to be answered as fast possible so the reactive player can retain a high life total after the early aggression is over. Otherwise, you risk getting burned out if you’re too greedy. That means that since you have to kill everything, sweepers usually become overcosted removal spells and lose value.
Last, but definitely not least, we have Mono-Green Stompy. Stompy has the largest most undercosted creatures in Standard and Steel Leaf Champion seems super pushed. The card is similar to Tempest Djinn in terms of what it survives, its evasion, and how much damage it will normally deal, but Steel Leaf Champion has something Tempest Djinn doesn’t.
Llanowar Elves might be the most dreaded and awaited return of a card to Standard in a long time. Llanowar Elves makes this deck about tenfold better and can’t be underestimated. The times you draw it in your opener feel like Search for Tomorrow in Scapeshift. Everything becomes one turn faster and it becomes a lot easier to hold up mana for Blossoming Defense or to sneak in a Greenbelt Rampager here and there. It especially leads to some pretty absurd starts.
Yep. That’s a turn-3 Ghalta friends. Not only did Ghalta, Primal Hunger get a lot better with Llanowar Elves, but of course Steel Leaf Champion makes it a lot easier to reliably get a fast Ghalta.
What I especially like about this Mono-Green Stompy deck is that it has a lot of tools Mono-Green Aggro normally doesn’t, like flexible graveyard hate and enchantment/artifact hate in great creatures. It also has ways to combat its worst enemy: removal. Both Shapers’ Sanctuary and Lifecrafter’s Bestiary will help a lot post-sideboard, and having access to “extra spells” with both Hashep Oasis and Memorial to Unity helps more than you might expect.
Which mono-colored deck do you feel most drawn to?