Big Red Standard Deck Guide

Irencrag Feat (Throne of Eldraine) Art by Yongjae Choi

I’m a simple man, I play my creature decks and I win matches, it’s how I roll. However, out of every deck I’ve faced recently, this is the one that’s been giving me the most headache. How am I supposed to beat an Ugin on turn 5 with a green creature deck!? IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. My last 3 matches against this deck my opponents had turn 5 Ugin EVERY GAME, so to say the least, I was frustrated. Ok, I was mad. So I schemed, how best do I punish these greedy Ugin players? Well, I joined them so I can do that to other people obviously. What? You thought I was above that? Absolutely not. My good friend, Ginky, was having a great time crushing people with his iteration of the list, so I had to give it a spin. It was time to give people the CHONK.

The deck performed quite well and executed it’s game plan as advertised. Ginky is a great deck builder so I didn’t need to change much, but did fine tune a few aspects of the deck. The deck is reliant on getting to land 8 so I added a land and changed the sideboard a bit.

Chonky Red v2

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Planeswalker (4)
Sorcery (10)
4
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Instant (11)
4
Spikefield Hazard/Spikefield Cave
Artifact (4)
Cards 60

Although I felt this deck was a little gimmicky, according to MTG Data on Twitter, Big Red sports an extremely impressive 55.3% win rate from the past week! This is the second highest win rate behind the tie between Esper Yorion and Mono Green Foo at 55.4%. Why is this deck doing so well? If you can stall your opponent then slam an Ugin, a lot of strategies simply aren’t prepared to deal with that game plan. On a similar note, due to how strong this is against creature decks, this list also works perfectly in Best of One as well! I wouldn’t change anything personally, but if you want the last Storm’s Wrath, you can cut a Shredded Sails.

The best and worst part of this deck is that the game plan is extremely linear. Beyond Ugin and the occasional Crawling Barrens beatdown, you don’t really have other avenues to win, so functionally all your games revolve around resolving an Ugin. With that in mind, this deck is excellent for those who are looking to break into competitive play as the deck is much easier to operate than most. Although it is an easier deck, if you understand the function of each card, your ability to pilot this deck will improve massively. Let’s get to it.

CARD CHOICES

4 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: The only reason this deck can even exist. Big ol Ugin is a nasty board wipe and brutal win con wrapped in one, expensive package. Functionally every creature deck in Standard right now is extremely soft to Ugin (as are most of the Yorion decks), which makes this deck well positioned.

4 Bonecrusher Giant: I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve written a deck guide with Bonecrusher Giant as a 4 of in it. It’s the best red card in Standard and should be a 4 of every time you’re playing Red. The card simply does everything well, killing small dudes or pressuring slower decks, Bonecrusher will be there for you.

4 Solemn Simulacrum: Unlike my Naya Giants deck, Solemn isn’t color fixing, but the ramping and the stall is excellent for any ramp strategy. Furthermore, Solemn not getting wiped away with Ugin is a small bonus as well.

2 Ox of Agonas: You won’t always draw Ugin quickly so Ox is there to help you dig deeper in your deck. This is helpful if you’re grinding late into the game or you’re facing Rogues where you can get this for free when it’s milled over.

4 Shatterskull Smashing: Bolt Mountain or great removal spell? Sounds like a 4 of.

3 Irencrag Feat: I never thought this card would see play, but it saw play in Historic to cast Muxus, Goblin Grandee or Deathbellow War Cry; it was only time before Feat would see play in Standard too. As I mentioned in the introduction, the ability to cast an Ugin on turn 5 makes this deck terrifying to play against. If you’re facing a really grindy deck, you probably want to shave these as you use them for explosiveness.

3 Storm’s Wrath: We’re all about removal, so Storm’s Wrath fits the bill nicely. Storm’s Wrath also is a very clean answer to Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate which has seen a big uptick in play so that’s super nice.

4 Spikefield Hazard: This will be a tapland most of the time but sometimes you can ping off an x/1. When you’re one color, you can afford some more utility lands than most other decks.

4 Scorching Dragonfire: MORE REMOVAL. Dragonfire’s exile ability is really good right now against decks like Rogues or Escape creatures like Ox of Agonas and Phoenix of Ash

3 Shredded Sails: The Great Henge is a really, really good card against this deck as it dodges Ugin’s minus ability the turn he comes in, so we need main deck answers. At worst, you can just cycle this for 2 for something else.

4 Mazemind Tome: The card draw of choice (not that we have a choice) for ramp decks right now. You’ll generally have extra mana lying around and being able to cash it in for cards is huge.

4 Crawling Barrens: I LOVE this card. Mutavault this is not, but it’s much more reasonable to kill someone using one Crawling Barrens than it was to kill someone with one Mutavault. There are very few removal spells that can cleanly answer the Barrens, so combined with removal, you make a very real and scary wincon.

3 Radiant Fountain: An untapped land that gains 2, why not? You have enough red sources so may as well get some more utility.

21 Lands + 8 MDFCs

SIDEBOARD

Soul-Sear-Core-Set-2021-MtG-Art

2 Soul-Guide Lantern: Good against Rakdos or other random decks that utilize the graveyard heavily. 

4 Phoenix of Ash: Phoenix serves double duty in the sideboard as both a good win condition against other slow decks and it’s excellent against Rogues. Whenever the game is going to go long for one reason or another, having ways to accrue extra value out of your cards is super important, and Escape is perfect for that. Furthermore, most decks will board out most of their creature removal against you.

4 Soul Sear: Lovestruck Beast sees an obscene amount of play right now and this answers it cleanly. It’s niche, but this can hit Planeswalkers as well which has come up for me a few times. Killing Lovestruck Beast is doubly important as The Great Henge (as previously mentioned), is so scary for this deck. 

1 Molten Blast: I know what you’re thinking, what is this draft chaff doing in this deck? As I keep iterating, The Great Henge is really scary, but we definitely don’t want to play 4 Shredded Sails as it does nothing but kill The Great Henge or Embercleave against Gruul. It’s not impressive, but dealing a creature 2 damage can be relevant against Gruul where Cycling a dead Shredded Sails can be too slow. If you’re not convinced, this can be the 4th Shredded Sails instead.

1 Storm’s Wrath: Finishing up the playset with the 3 in the main, nothing surprising here.

3 Tectonic Giant: This card is also a little out there, but it fills a similar role to Phoenix of Ash. I really like decks that can pivot it’s game plan post board, and with Phoenix and Giant, you can put a real clock on your opponent when they’re boarding to beat your Ugin! Tectonic Giant can draw you cards if you’re low on gas or Lava Spike them with every attack to increase your clock. Same with Phoenix, it’s pretty unlikely your opponent will have a lot of removal post board so the chance of this sticking around increases dramatically.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARD GUIDE

GRUUL AGGRO

InOut
+4 Soul Sear-4 Solemn Simulacrum
+1 Molten Blast-2 Ox of Agonas
+1 Storm’s Wrath

The game plan is simple, stall and get an Ugin down before they kill you. Keep their large creatures off the board so they can’t cast the Great Henge or Emberclave you and you should be all set.

DIMIR ROGUES

InOut
+4 Phoenix of Ash-3 Irencrag Feat
+1 Storm’s Wrath-3 Shredded Sails
+1 Soul Sear

Rogues can be a challenging matchup since it can have a fast clock and disruption, but fret not! According to MTG Data, it’s still a somewhat favorable matchup with a 54.2% win rate. They are a powerful deck, but with all our Escape cards and a boatload of removal, our gameplan is surprisingly good against theirs. If they seem to have more counterspells than the average Rogues list which only runs 4 Drown in the Loch, you can consider cutting the Ugins for Tectonic Giants, boarding out Storm’s Wrath and adding in Soul Sear. Always keep 1 Ugin in though, card is still extremely powerful.

RAKDOS MIDRANGE

InOut
+2 Soul-Guide Lantern-3 Storm’s Wrath
+4 Phoenix of Ash-3 Shredded Sails

Rakdos really struggles with Ugin, so good thing we play 4! Their only avenue to win is Kroxa, so having cards that matchup up well against it like the Lantern and Phoenix is important for keeping this matchup favorable. If they seem to board out most of their creatures, consider shaving more removal for additional threats like Tectonic Giant.

MIRROR

InOut
+3 Tectonic Giant-3 Storm’s Wrath

This matchup will be a coinflip on who can resolve their Ugin first and there’s not much you can do about that. Storm’s Wrath is bad so Tectonic Giant can help add additional pressure which can be very helpful. There’s consideration for boarding in Phoenix of Ash as well, but I feel like most opponent’s would keep in Scorching Dragonfire which is too good of an answer in my opinion.

ESPER YORION

InOut
+2 Soul-Guide Lantern-3 Storm’s Wrath
+4 Phoenix of Ash-4 Scorching Dragonfire
+1 Soul Sear
+3 Tectonic Giant

Unfortunately for the chonk, the Yorion decks are difficult matchups. Ugin is your best card against them so trying to resolve that is paramount. The good news is that, with this board plan, you have additional ways to win in Phoenix and Tectonic Giant so stealing games when they’re expecting to grind you out is definitely a viable option.

That’s what I have for today! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Have a great day!

DoggertQBones

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP and PTQ Top 8, has 3-0d 3 professional draft pods, and loves writing and teaching!

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