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Budget Mono Red Cavalcade Deck Guide

Ciao Zoners, Delmo’s here!

A lot of people ask me for advice about which deck they should run in ladder to rank up, and sometimes, when I show them lists, they say that they don’t have enough Rare or Mythic Rare Wildcards to craft them. So today I’m bringing you a deck that I tested on stream and refined with my chat, that can rank up in ladder without having any rare or mythic card in it! A full proper Artisan list that is actually viable even in the Mythic ladder! Remember also, you can check out the full range of budget MTG Arena decks in this guide that we update every set release!

Of course I’m talking about Mono Red Cavalcade.

Budget Mono Red Cavalcade Decklist

[sd_deck deck=”luIMrWken”]

As you can see, the whole deck and sideboard is made only with Common and Uncommon cards, and still is capable of winning a lot of games and improve your ranked position, especially in this moment of the metagame dominated by Temur Reclamation.

Play Strategy and Card Choices

You may know already that the deck’s strategy is to drop Cavalcade of Calamity and use our 1 power creatures to do a lot of damage to opponent’s face without even caring about removal or blocking. The whole point of the deck is to develop a board and close in 1 or 2 big swings with Cavalcade down. Let’s check out the cards in the deck!

Cavalcade of Calamity


This is the deck engine. Without this on the board, we are basically playing a bad Mono Red deck. You usually only need one to function properly, but the more the better of course. Most of the time, it is not the best turn 2 play we can make, since you want to establish a board presence before playing the Cavalcade and swing. If you have the opportunity to go double one drop creature on turn 2, is usually the better choice.

The 1 Drops

Scorch Spitter is Cavalcade’s best friend since its release, and it’s your best choice for turn 1. Grim Initiate give us a bit of insurance against sweepers and removal and help us in the early turn against aggro because of First strike. Tin Street Dodger is our only 1 drop with evasion, as it’s good to sneak the extra points of damage we need. You don’t want to use the ability if you can play something else with, unless for some reason you really want to activate a Light Up the Stage. Torch Courier is a card that a lot of people sleep on – its ability to give a Chandra's Spitfire or Anax haste is huge and ends games out of nowhere.

Forbidden Friendship


Though the deck itself has been around for a while, this new card in Ikoria gave us is a super reliable source of 1 power creatures and hasty damage. In an environment where Extinction Event and Blast Zone are played a lot, 0 CMC on the tokens means that they can stick around when people Blast Zone = 1, or Event declaring odd for our problematic 1 drops.

Light Up The Stage


Our only source or card advantage, easily activated by the Cavalcade triggers. Remember to only play this when you are actually searching for value, and if you don’t have a proper plan for the next turn, you’ll find yourself in awkward situations where you exile your own cards without being able to play them.

Anax, Hardened in the Forge


We are lucky this super good bad boy is in the uncommon slot. Anax gives us insurance against sweepers, good burst damage with the Courier and 1 attack Satyrs after death to activate our Cavalcade triggers.

Chandra’s Spitfire


Being full budget without rares or mythics, Spitfire is our big finisher. With a Cavalcade down, Spitfire is almost good by itself, going completely bonkers with even only two creatures more attacking with it. The only problem with it it’s that a little slow and is a removal magnet, but Torch Courier can make it a 13-16 burst damage out of nowhere.

Removal/Burn Spells

I decided to go a 2-3 split between Shock and Heartfire, this give us flexibily against both aggro and control. Heartfire is amazing when you respond to a removal from the opponent, and it’s a game finisher with an already attacking Spitfire if you just sacrifice a 1 drop after the Cavalcade trigger. Shock is good against Gilded Goose, every early drop in general and, mostly, against early Shark Typhoon tokens that get in your way.

Matchup and Sideboard Guide

Temur Reclamation

In: +1 Soul-Guide Lantern, +3 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
Out: -2 Shock, -2 Anax, Hardened in the Forge

Reclamation is the reason this deck is viable on ladder even being budget. You need to be aggressive and close the game as fast as possible. Lantern and Tibalt are both against Uro, which is our worst enemy in the matchup – just aggro them down while keeping their life total in check.

Sacrifice Decks

In: +2 Shock, +1 Soul-Guide Lantern, +4 Scorching Dragonfire
Out: -3 Scorch Spitter, -2 Light Up The Stage, -2 Anax, Hardened in the Forge

This matchup can be an absolute disaster if you don’t focus and play it correctly. You need to play around Claim the Firstborn, baiting it with something else before dropping Anax or Spitfire, or dropping Courier and Spitfire in the same turn to OTK them without giving them the opportunity to interact with the Spitfire. Soul-Guide Lantern is not good against Cats, as they can take them back without passing priority, but it’s good against escaping Woe Striders which can be a pain to deal with.

Bant/Sultai Ramp

In: +4 Unchained Berserker, +3 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator, +1 Soul-Guide Lantern
Out: -2 Shock, -2 Light Up the Stage, -4 Forbidden Friendship

Berserker is amazing against Teferi and still attacks as a 1 attack creature, triggering Cavalcade. Same as for Reclamation, we need to aggro them down, and is almost always the right choice to wait for a Courier for dropping a Spitfire, otherwise it will just be removed. It’s always better to play Anax before anything else on turn 3 to avoid being completely destroyed by Shatter.

Cycling Decks

In: +1 Blazing Volley, +4 Scorching Dragonfire, +2 Shock, +1 Soul-Guide Lantern
Out: -4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge, -4 Scorch Spitter

This matchup is pretty even, it all depends on an early Fox with us not having removal for it. If you can start the aggression, we win 99% of the time, if we need to start the game on defence since turn one due to the early Fox, it’s really hard to come back and close the game before Zenith Flare.

Azorius/Esper Control

In: +4 Unchained Berserker, +3 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
Out: -2 Shock, -3 Heartfire, -2 Light Up the Stage

This matchup is a lot easier that it seems if played correctly. Courier + Spitfire is the best combo you can pull off, and if you are aggressive enough, you should be able to close the game with it in a turn when they are tapped out. A perfect pattern should be cavalcade on 2, Anax on 3, they shatter our board, you go Courier + Spitfire on 4 and win the game, but usually is safer to drop Berserker on 2 to avoid removal and Teferi, as we are in no hurry to close the game and we have burst potential out of nowhere.

Aggro Decks

In: +1 Blazing Volley, + 2 Shock, + 4 Scorching Dragonfire
Out: -4 Forbidden Friendship, -3 Torch Courier

Aggro is our worst matchup, but not impossible. Game 1 can be a pain because even a 1/2 creature on turn 1 is not easy to deal with, but with the removal arsenal we bring from the sideboard, we can control the early turns and close in a 2 turn swing when our life total is safe. Remember to use the damage correctly and not waste, for example, Heartfire to kill a 2 drop and being completely open to a Questing Beast the turn after.

With this super budget list, you should be able to rank to Mythic – of course you will not win every single game, but for a list this cheap, if you manage to play it properly, you’ll be amazed by the win rate you can achieve! You can ask me for advice whenever you want in the comments, on Twitter and on my Twitch stream.

Hope you have the best luck on ladder, ciao!

– Delmo

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