Greetings, fellow Embercleave believers. Delmo’s here to give you a kickstart to the day 1 Kaladesh Remastered Historic ladder with Mono Red Aggro!
This is my guide for a theorycrafted deck that, in my opinion, that feels like I’ve tested it many times already. I’m so sure about this deck that I believe it will be the best aggro archetype next to Gruul (that maybe we can discuss in another guide). Here I present you, my new Delmono Red Aggro!
Why am I so sure about this deck? Because I was there, like many of you, during the old Kaladesh/Amonkhet Standard and Mono Red was a POWERHOUSE. The tools we are getting back, combined with the new Mono Red staples we have now like Anax, Embercleave and Burning-Tree Emissary, are gonna put this deck in the Olympus of aggro in Historic for a long time, if not permanently. Let’s analyze the list!
4 Bomat Courier: Our little Beyblade is back. Every red player loved Bomat Courier during Kaladesh Standard and everyone else hated it. The reason is that it’s one of the most efficient hasty one drops ever made, and even cycling it for ONE card is valuable, but imagine two, three, sometimes four cards! We have the card draw value that once was in Light Up the Stage in a 1 drop that doesn’t lose us tempo, keeping up the aggression.
4 Fervent Champion: Do I really need to describe Javier? It’s the best red 1 drops available and will be for a long time. I can see Fanatical Firebrand in a turn 1 Llanowar Elf meta, but this deck plans to keep the drops and not sacrifice them unless something really important happens (like drawing 3 in the late game with Bomat).
3 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider: I know she’s legendary, but old decklists used to have the full four copies. To be able to hit for up to three damage split over two bodies is really something for only a two drop, and Embercleave really benefits from that. With Kari Zev and Burning-Tree Emissary, we are more than likely to be able to drop the cleave by turn 3.
4 Burning-Tree Emissary: Kari Zev was an amazing drop for turn 2, so how about dropping a free 2/2 with her, or more? Burning-Tree Emissary was previously suspended in Historic and now that it’s unbanned, singlehandedly put Gruul and Mono Red back in the tier 1 status. The amount of two drops in the deck is kept high to be sure to have something valuable to drop alongside this auto-include card.
4 Robber of the Rich: Continuing the trend of having good 2 drops to play with BTE, Robber is way stronger in Historic than Standard right now. This is because of the amount of good steals we can potentially have, and we have less blockers than Standard where 1/3 and 0/4 bodies from Rogues and Esper Doom are also a nightmare.
2 Earthshaker Khenra: Semi-evasive hasty 2 drop that give us late game value? Count me in. I’m not playing 4 just because I think that Robber is still better in the meta I’m predicting for Historic, but I can see the list evolving to fit all four of them and two other 2 drops if the meta shifts and Robber becomes bad.
4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge: I was talking about a new tool that we can add to the old Kaladesh Mono Red, and Anax is the cherry on top. Following a good series of one and two drops with Anax to ensure your board and lead to an almost-sure Embercleave lethal. True to say that, compared to the meta and Gruul three drops, it’s the slowest one, but the upside is worth it.
2 Goblin Chainwhirler: I’m not a 100% sure about the two-of or even the inclusion of this card in the list at all, but it’s still an efficient 3 drop for Red and should always be considered. It’s a specific meta call and I’m starting with half the playset that can sure grow, or disappear completely. Playing this on curve in the aggro mirrors is usually a swing good enough to put people behind, even on the draw.
Late Game Bombs
4 Embercleave: Really? Fervent Champion was obvious, but this is really a waste of time to explain. Okay okay, got it, it’s a card analysis. Embercleave is GOOD, IN RED, PLAY IT.
Jokes aside, BTE and, mostly, Kari Zev really want you to play the full playset given the opportunity to reliably slam the Cleave on turn 3 with this list. It forces the opponent to have removal and practically auto-winning on the play due to the amount of damage taken that no one can recover safely on turn 3 without EXACTLY Growth Spiral or Explore.
1 Hazoret the Fervent: Times have changed. Hazoret was a four-of auto-include in every single Mono Red lists at the time, with her big brother Glorybringer to top the curve. The Historic meta is a lot faster now but you really wanna see Embercleave on turn four almost every single game instead. She’s still very good against basically anyone, and the best top deck in your deck and it’s worth the one-of. I’d never choose her as the card I want on turn 4 between Embercleave and…
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance: THE BEST RED PLANESWALKER IS BACK. Everyone missed her. It should never be considered as only a sideboard card against control. It has reliable damage, mana ramp, removal and a game breaking ultimate. If I’m not closing the game exactly on turn 4 with Embercleave, I want Chandra to hit the board and stay, bringing misery to the opponent.
4 Shock: So, this is the safest choice I can think of as a cheap removal and damage source without being completely sure about the meta after the release of Kaladesh Remastered. I was considering Bonecrusher Giant too, but the one mana difference can be huge if the meta is full of aggro decks. You can still switch it and try, but it’s hard to go wrong with Shock.
2 Shatterskull Smashing: In Historic, there’s way less time to choose between modal lands or basics, and people are even not playing a single one in full aggro lists like Gruul sometimes. You just really want to hit your land drops and develop threats without bolting you for free in an aggro mirror. I think in a mono-colored list like this we can afford to play at least two and be flexible.
Choosing a sideboard it’s hard without a proper test in the meta, but we can’t go wrong with some choices if you just plan ahead countering general archetypes instead of specific decks (exception made for Harsh Mentor that I’ll explain below).
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance: Another Chandra is always good against grindy matchups, and against aggro too if you see that they can’t have a safe way to deal with planeswalkers.
2 Harsh Mentor: This card was amazing in the Kaladesh days because he countered Energy strategies alone, and I firmly believe that at least a couple of Energy lists will pop up. Taking a free Shock every time you active an Energy ability really puts you in awkward situations and makes you do inefficient things to not take too much damage. If Energy becomes a high tier deck, I think we can even consider the full playset.
2 Aethersphere Harvester: This is another old friend for people that farmed Kaladesh like me. It’s the best 3 drop against aggro in the card pool we have right now in Historic, no competition. A 3/5 body for 3 with lifelink is a nightmare for aggro, and will most of the times force an Abrade that will leave your Embercleave open. If they don’t have efficient removal and Harvester sticks for a turn or two, you are more than likely to win that game.
3 Rampaging Ferocidon: Historic red all star. Good against control, against swarming aggro and Goblins.
3 Abrade: The best red general removal spell, 3 damage is good against any aggro list and the artifact destruction flexibility makes it good against a plethora of matchups.
2 Chandra’s Defeat: Why are we playing Redcap Melee? You are siding this against red. You are gonna face a lot of Chandras. I swear to you, mark my words. A LOT, OF CHANDRAS. One mana instant speed 5 damage to a red creature or a red planeswalker is everything we want against red, and why not looting a card as a potential bonus?
2 Grafdigger’s Cage: I believe that graveyard decks, Goblins and Neostorm are gonna stick in the meta even when Kaladesh Remastered arrives, so be sure to bring at least a couple of these in your sideboard. Not only in this Mono Red list, I mean in every deck.
Remember, this is a theorycrafted list and I can be wrong about a couple of predictions of the new meta that may come. This, I believe is a really good list to start digging into the new meta, and slowly adjust it as the decks come out. Or maybe this is already the final list and will be tier 1, in that case I’m a genius and you all should love me.
Why Mono Red and not Gruul? Well, I’ll brew Gruul too, don’t worry. But I started with Mono Red because I think this can be even faster and stronger that the Gruul list, which can slowly switch to a higher curve Energy Gruul Midrange plus Goblin Chainwhirler.
I hope you like this list and my explanations, and I hope you try this list on day one to farm the Historic ladder while people are still figuring out what to do! I will.