To help complement the Standard 2023 articles, we have enough cards to start building the decks of the future! I’m going to focus on the decks least likely to change as we want these to be as accurate as possible moving into the new format.
- Standard 2023 Izzet Control Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Grixis Vampires Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Mono Black Aggro Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Boros Aggro Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Selesnya Enchantments Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Rakdos Anvil Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Gruul Werewolves Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
To me, the key of finding the best new decks of a format is to find the base from the previous Standard that was good or close to being strong and see if it has a lot of cards that can be added on top of it.
For this article, I’m focusing on a deck that hasn’t been strong in far too long, but looks great now, Mono Red Aggro.
Let’s take a look at the deck.
Starting off our threats, we have the cutest card I’ve ever done seen in Phoenix Chick. Not only is this card excellent in tempo decks, this is the perfect aggro card as well! Being able to constantly peck in for damage and then threaten coming back if it ever dies is really brutal for anyone trying to get rid of your threats.
Up next we have the innocuous Voldaren Epicure! While nothing it does is impressive by itself, the full package is what makes it enticing. A 1/1 body that generates a Blood token and guarantees a damage is good enough for us.
Finally we have the absolutely obscene Kumano Faces Kakkazan to bring us up to a full 12 one drops. Simply put, getting 3/3 in stats for one mana is absolutely bonkers and assuming you have enough creatures to make that happen (which we should most of the time), this is going to be your most threatening opener that’s still good in the late game.
Next we move up to our two drops!
We have our next new two drop option for this deck in Radha's Firebrand. While relatively simple, just having a 3/1 that’s very tough to block in the early game is going to help force through a good amount of damage. Then in the late game if you start flooding, you can utilize the pump ability to make combat even tougher on the opponent.
For our other two drop, we have the Mono Red staple with Bloodthirsty Adversary. Most of the time this is simply going to be a 2/2 Haste, but if you reach five mana, you’ll be able to flashback a Play with Fire or Lightning Strike for additional value!
Finally we reach the top of our curve!
Starting with the quintessential Mono Red planeswalker, Chandra, Dressed to Kill is better than ever in this deck. Whether it’s generating mana to help us deploy one of our 16 one mana spells (or more later in the game) or accruing card advantage, Chandra will put massive pressure on the opponent very early into the game.
Speaking of massive pressure, we also get to play Reckless Stormseeker as a brutal haste threat. If I learned anything from playing Hulking Bugbear in Goblins, 3 mana 3/3 Haste is just a solid stat line and this is so much better. Being able to create pressure out of nowhere and being an absolute terror if it ever flips, Stormseeker is an excellent threat all around.
Speaking of Goblins, we have to play the king himself, Squee, Dubious Monarch! Joining the pantheon of Goblin Rabblemaster variants, this deck is really good at pushing Squee through between cheap burn, Radha’s Firebrand, and just having a lot of threats to deal with overall. Furthermore, like many other of our threats in this build, Squee also gives you a mana sink in the late game which is excellent to have for aggro decks.
Speaking of mana sinks (ok, I’ll stop), I’m playing a singleton Shivan Devastator. I’ll admit that this may be a little cute, but having a functional Fireball on a stick I think could be good enough. Maybe I’m biased from my cube experiences, but I really like having a single copy of an X burn spell in my decks and being able to cast it for relatively cheap makes it versatile.
Now I know what you may be thinking, where are the Thundering Raiju? I could definitely be wrong, but I like having lower curve threats in my decks that can also be mana sinks later. With only 22 lands, there’s going to be a non-negligible amount of games that you’ll be playing on 3 mana a lot and if you’re not consistently playing threats, you’re going to fall behind really quickly. Raiju may be too strong not to play regardless, but the Alchemy version of Mono Red rarely plays it and doesn’t seem to miss it, so I’m taking a lesson from that build. Again, Raiju may very well be good enough, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to consider excluding it, especially since it gets killed by Lightning Strike which I envision being a really popular card.
Now what’s Mono Red without Burn?
Everyone knows about Play with Fire as it’s arguably the best Shock variant to date so it’s no surprise we’re playing four. Furthermore, gaining access to Lightning Strike again probably benefits Mono Red more than any other archetype. Killing big early creatures or having extra reach are both effects that are invaluable in this deck.
I know Mono Red has had a tough time in Standard for awhile, but this is the first iteration that has so much Reach in a really long time. This deck is really good at forcing through incidental damage which will very quickly add up and ideally culminate into a win.
Tips and Tricks
- As I said before, don’t be afraid to make a small Shivan Devastator if it fits your curve well. Even a 2/2 Flying Haste is a pretty reasonable threat on the right board states.
- Unless you’re really in dire straits, I would try to avoid cracking the Blood token until you are absolutely desperate to do so. In a similar vein, if you don’t need the mana, holding one land in hand to potentially loot away could be a good idea.
- Remember that Radha’s Firebrand makes the targeted creature not be able to block at all, not just itself.
- Even if you don’t have a spell to flashback, Bloodthirsty Adversary can still get +1/+1 counters from the kicker.
- If you have a choice in your one drop ordering, Kumano Faces Kakkazan should go first with Phoenix Chick second. Voldaren Epicure is the only one drop you don’t have to worry about too much about playing on curve.
- Even at the expense of value, this deck has a lot of chip damage so chump attacking to force some damage through is likely more correct in this iteration of Mono Red than it would be in most other versions.