Updating RW Aggro with Fate Reforged

Hello everyone! With the release of Fate Reforged I have been getting many questions about updating the RW Aggro (or midrange, if you prefer) deck I played at GP Denver. I’ll go over what I expect to be some of the more impactful new cards and how they might change the deck. For reference, here’s the list I played in Denver:

RW Aggro (Pre-FRF)

Soulfire Grand Master

I think this is the most overrated card in the new set and I would stay away from it for this deck.

The dream for this guy is pretty big—curving it into Hordeling Outburst into a fully convoked buyback Stoke the Flames does sound pretty sweet, but you have to take a step back and think about what it would look like if this was just Seeker of the Way. The games where you curve Seeker into Outburst into Stoke undisrupted are usually going to be games where you have a big advantage to begin with.

It’s possible that you want more than four 2-drops in the deck and that’s where Grand Master could get a shot, but I have a real problem with never being able to attack through a Sylvan Caryatid or Courser.

Another more subtle issue is that this deck needs the lifelink on spells less than most of the other 3-color decks in the format. A big advantage of RW is that you take very little damage from your lands as compared to something like Jeskai or Mardu so you don’t need something to help offset that life loss nearly as badly as they do.

That being said, the lifelink effect is certainly powerful and if BW Warriors or Mono-Red get popular, this could be a nice sideboard card to have available.

Valorous Stance

This card is awesome! Often against more controlling decks, you can’t afford to leave in removal spells because their threats aren’t really that important and you don’t want to dilute your threat density. Well fortunately, Valorous Stance goes a long way toward solving that problem by being a sweet split-card removal spell and Ajani’s Presence.

It’s particularly sweet in a deck like this because between it and Lightning Strike, you really cover most of your bases. Protecting either Brimaz or Rabblemaster is a big game because it usually just takes a few turns of either of them in play to really take over a game quickly.

The only downside to look out for is that you can’t protect Stormbreath Dragon because of its protection from white.

Monastery Mentor

This is definitely the flashiest of the new cards and one I’m somewhat interested in trying out. The only problem is that there’s already a huge glut at the 3-drop spot on the curve.

In game 1 I can imagine that I would prefer this guy to Brimaz, but Brimaz is just too important in helping to play around Anger of the Gods and Drown in Sorrow post-board to warrant the swap. Still, the card plays so well with Chained to the Rocks as a turn-4 play that I would definitely give a few a try and would not be surprised if I end up wanting the full 4.

Flamewake Phoenix

Again, I think this card is super powerful, but that this is probably not the right home for it. You have too many awesome 3-drops already and you’re not really good enough at enabling ferocious to make it worthwhile.

Shaman of the Great Hunt

This guy seems like he would play very well with Hordeling Outburst and Rabblemaster. But he matches up poorly against Siege Rhino and for that reason I think he would be mostly relegated to sideboard duty as a threat against control decks.

I’m also not convinced he’s better against something like UB Control than Ashcloud Phoenix, who also happens to match up decently against Siege Rhino, meaning that it’s unlikely we’re going to be joining the Great Hunt any time soon.

The New Metagame

So those are the new cards I think are interesting to add to the deck, but it’s also going to be important to consider how other decks are changing! Looking at the new cards in this set, traditional Abzan decks gained very little and so may cool off in popularity some, meaning Hushwing Gryff might lose a little of its luster. UB Control also gets a real sweeper and I think will be one of the better performing decks in the new Standard format. BW Warriors also seems like the kind of deck that was just on the brink of playability before Fate Reforged, and might have gotten enough new tools to succeed now.

Taking these changes into account, my starting place for RW in the new Standard format will probably be something like this:

RW Aggro (Post-FRF)

The main new addition is the Monastery Mentor and Valorous Stance replacing a few of the old 1-ofs in the main deck. I think you’ll often end up playing Mentor on turn 4 along with hopefully a Chained to the Rocks or Stoke the Flames to immediately trigger it. Wild Slash is now in the sideboard because I expect aggressive decks to be somewhat more popular and I think the versatility of going to the face is probably going to be better than exiling the creature with Magma Spray.

Thanks for reading and let me know what new cards you’re looking to try out in the comments!

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