Historic Mono White Aggro Deck Guide: Can Aggro be Tier 1?
Hello everyone! Today I’m going to go over a deck that has definitely felt like a diamond in the rough: Monowhite Aggro. With the meta being functionally overtaken by Izzet base decks, I was struggling to figure out what new decks I could try to combat that. I remembered that I was tinkering with a Monowhite Aggro deck a few months ago, but didn’t like it at the time because it felt poorly positioned. I exhumed the deck from the archives and decided to give it another shot in Mythic. Let’s take a look at the initial list.
I ran it as is for a little bit to get my bearings straight with it, and ended up with a pretty quick 8-0. I was surprised to say the least, but knew the deck still had room to grow. Before I even needed to do a deep dive on the deck, I saw that CG Smoak had a very similar idea right around the same time. His list propelled him into top 100 and looked really clean, let’s take a quick peek.
So with the ideas I had from the base list combined with the ideas that Smoak gave me, I created a fusion of the two that I think exhibits the best qualities of both. Here’s the list that I’m going to be using moving forward.
So it’s a very similar main deck to Smoak’s with a sideboard that’s super similar to my initial design, a good marriage of the two. After making this list, I had another solid streak with a 3-2 record that should’ve been a 4-1 had I not misclicked in one of my game 3s (accidentally skipped through giving a lethal Adanto Vanguard indestructible, it was very painful).
What makes this deck really viable right now? It’s a similar idea to Monoblack Aggro, but executed differently. Monoblack is seeing a lot of play right now because it’s a fast deck that has disruption with cards like Thoughtseize and removal like Heartless Act. Monowhite doesn’t really utilize non-creature interaction, but instead uses creatures that double as disruption!
If you need to kill creatures, you have Giant Killer to hit large creatures and Skyclave Apparition to hit the small ones (and any other permanent!). If you’re looking to tax your opponent, then you have Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to make spells cost more, Archon of Emeria to slow down their mana and spell development, and Elite Spellbinder to disrupt their hand. Lastly, we have our annoying duo of Selfless Savior and Dauntless Bodyguard to protect these annoying creatures from removal. Lastly, gaining access to Faceless Haven is just great in any deck that can afford it.
With the main deck dedicated to aggression and interaction, the sideboard is all just highly specific and excellent answers to the formats most popular decks. Reidane, God of the Worthy is excellent against any deck looking to cast expensive non-creature spells like Jeskai Control or Temur Koma. Deafening Silence is great against both Phoenix and Auras. Giant Killer seems to be good in a million matchups so including it is no issue. Apostle of Purifying Light was the final board slot and this can realistically be anything, but there’s a lot of Monoblack Aggro running around right now. Baffling End is a solid removal spell and I believe is better than Declaration in Stone as giving the opponent a Clue token can definitely be relevant.
Finally, my by far favorite sideboard card is the 4 Containment Priest. This card is super narrow, but somehow is excellent against most of the best decks right now. This exiles Arclight Phoenix, anything off of Indomitable Creativity, anything off of Collected Company, and Cauldron Familiar coming back from a Food. I owe a lot of the deck’s success to the Containment Priests as it’s won me half of my matches alone, the card is just nuts.
To summarize, this deck does an excellent job at applying pressure to the board while also disrupting the opponent, something that even Monoblack can do simultaneously. You’re definitely a bit more all in comparatively and slower than the other aggro decks for the most part, but disruptive aggro decks are extremely well positioned right now which lets Monowhite shine.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
|+1 Deafening Silence||-2 Skymarcher Aspirant|
|+2 Giant Killer||-4 Luminarch Aspirant|
|+4 Containment Priest||-1 Legion’s Landing|
Admittedly I haven’t faced this matchup yet somehow, but I’m assuming it’s pretty reasonable considering how many cards we have (Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Archon of Emeria, Skyclave Apparition) that are huge headaches for the opponent. Beating Phoenix was one of the objectives of this deck as well so you should have a reasonable chance to do so, especially since most Phoenix lists don’t have an excess of small creature removal due to how few decks it’s good against. Keep the pressure on, play out your hand as much as possible, and protect your Thalias and Archons.
|+3 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-2 Skymarcher Aspirant|
|+2 Giant Killer||-3 Luminarch Aspirant|
|+4 Containment Priest||-4 Skyclave Apparition|
Funny enough, the main reason I built Monowhite was to beat Temur Koma, an objective I think I succeeded in doing. With all the disruptive creatures and the Bodyguard and Doggo to protect them, this matchup seems really rough from the Koma side. It’s certainly not impossible to lose as a hand of all interaction into combo can definitely still win, but Monowhite looks to make that as difficult as possible for them.
|+3 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-4 Skyclave Apparition|
|+1 Giant Killer|
The last of the Izzet/x crew. Jeskai is a very interesting matchup as some of their draws are going to feel unbeatable and some are going to feel laughable. They don’t have an excess of interaction, but what they do have is really high impact like Lightning Helix, Wrath of God, and Magma Opus.
I believe this matchup is in your favor, but if they have a really strong draw you functionally can never win which is disheartening. That being said, if you curve Selfless Savior into Thalia, Jeskai is going to monumentally struggle to do anything relevant as well, so it’s more about what you draw more than anything here.
|+2 Giant Killer||-2 Dauntless Bodyguard|
|+4 Baffling End||-4 Adanto Vanguard|
|+4 Containment Priest||-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben|
Here’s a classic example of we have more cards we want to take out than cards we have to board in. This matchup is not great as Selesnya is really good at gumming up the ground, but far from impossible as we have loads of interaction to help put them off balance. There’s not much to say about this matchup except try to keep hands that are more top heavy as the aggressive hands can just be completely nullified by a single Lovestruck Beast or Collected Company.
|+2 Giant Killer||-2 Skymarcher Aspirant|
|+1 Apostle of Purifying Light||-4 Adanto Vanguard|
|+4 Baffling End||-1 Elite Spellbinder|
I don’t want to be preemptive, but Monoblack Aggro has felt extremely easy for Monowhite so far. I haven’t dropped a game to it in 6 matches and only came close once when I flooded out really badly. We just have so many disruptive elements and strong creatures that they have a hard time getting a foothold and even something like Spawn of Mayhem which is traditionally their best card against aggro decks isn’t even that good here. Keep their board as clean as possible, and just beat them to death with your strong creatures.
|+1 Deafening Silence||-3 Selfless Savior|
|+2 Giant Killer||-4 Adanto Vanguard|
|+4 Baffling End|
Auras is another great reason to consider playing Monowhite because holy moly you have so many cards that are nightmares for them. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a huge pain for them and really limits their plays. Archon of Emeria completely stops them from going nuts on a creature until they kill it. Skyclave Apparition can eat a creature as can Baffling End.
You can still definitely lose if they land a creature or two and pop off with them before you can interact, but you just have to mulligan any hand without interaction and take it from there. Considering how much interaction we have, you shouldn’t be mulliganing that often.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- It’s niche, but Dauntless Bodyguard can be sacrificed at any time, not just if it has a creature it’s protecting. The most common use of this is to fizzle a Bonecrusher Giant’s Stomp half. Another niche thing about Bodyguard is that if you choose an animated Faceless Haven, you can protect it at any point in the future, including if it’s not animated as a creature.
- Don’t be afraid to play out Giant Killer if it fits in your curve well and you don’t believe you’ll definitely need it soon.
- This may be obvious, but avoid putting +1/+1 counters from Luminarch Aspirant onto creatures you’re looking to sacrifice.
- Archon of Emeria makes it that each player can only cast one spell per turn, not just the opponent. With that, if you want to double spell the turn you’re looking to play Archon, make sure to cast the other spell first.
- Don’t be afraid to throw away a crappy creature to trigger Legion's Landing as that’ll let you double spell most turns.
- Although Reidane is mostly for the Control decks, don’t discount the ability to bring it in against aggro decks or Sacrifice for the Valkmira side. Valkmira is the perfect answer to Mayhem Devil!
- Deafening Silence is unilateral but only affects non-creature spells instead of all spells, so that should very rarely matter. However, it’s the same deal as Archon, if you want to say play this and Baffling End, make sure you sequence them correctly.
- Although I like holding onto Containment Priest as long as possible for the surprise value, if it’s your only two drop, you can definitely just play it out to maintain your curve
Thank you for reading!