Mono Red Obosh Kaldheim Standard Deck Guide: Who Needs Embercleave?

Obosh. the Preypiercer Art by Daarken
Obosh. the Preypiercer Art by Daarken

Hello everyone! If you know me well, I have a very astounding love/hate relationship with Mono Red Aggro. On one hand, Mono Red Aggro is one of my, if not my favorite, archetype ever. I play it when it’s good in Standard, I force it in every cube I can, I just love playing it. However, a lot of people play Mono Red when the deck simply isn’t good, like in my opinion, the last few Standard metas. Embercleave is one of the best red cards ever, Torbran is quite a powerful 4 drop for Mono Red, Anax is a great 3 drop, and Bonecrusher Giant is Bonecrusher Giant. All those cards are great, but the problem is, that’s all Mono Red had going for it. The rest of the deck was extremely unimpressive and didn’t do a lot of winning. I thought a lot would have to be introduced for Mono Red to be viable again and just assumed it would have to be a 1 or 2 drop, but when I saw Goldspan Dragon, something clicked.

Mono Red Obosh was an archetype extremely briefly before the Companions Rules change, but it was largely overshadowed by the vastly superior Lurrus and Yorion decks. Despite that, the deck was quite strong when it saw play. When a friend of mine mentioned that Goldspan Dragon and Obosh seemed really good together (but he was talking in the context of Temur Adventures, which is a fair point as well) I immediately thought that Mono Red Obosh could be viable again.

So the ultimate question: Is Mono Red Obosh viable again? Yes, and it’s surprisingly strong. I was extremely shocked by how powerful the deck felt when playing it and how well it can be both a fast deck and a grindy deck. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the spice.

Monored Obosh

Export to:
Companion
1
Obosh, the Preypiercer
Creature (28)
4
Akoum Hellhound
4
Anax, Hardened in the Forge
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Fervent Champion
4
Fireblade Charger
4
Goldspan Dragon
4
Phoenix of Ash
Instant (6)
2
Shock
4
Spikefield Hazard/Spikefield Cave
Artifact (4)
4
Heraldic Banner
Land (22)
4
Castle Embereth
18
Snow-Covered Mountain
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
4
Frost Bite
2
Irreverent Revelers
1
Obosh, the Preypiercer
3
Ox of Agonas
2
Purphoros's Intervention
2
Soul Sear
1
Redcap Melee

CARD CHOICES

goldspan dragon

Companion: Obosh, the Preypiercer

It may seem weird that we’re taking out a lot of strong cards to play a Companion in an aggro deck. On the surface, getting rid of Embercleave, Torbran, and all of your 2 drops (and the occasional 4 drop) wouldn’t make any sense. Well that’s the real secret, the deck name is Mono Red Obosh, not Mono Red Aggro Obosh. Despite playing a lot of aggressive cards, the deck plays more like a fast midrange deck than an aggro deck. That may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but when you play the deck you’ll understand.

You do give up some real velocity to play Obosh, but in reality, trying to play a fast Red deck isn’t that good right now anyway. If we can go a little bigger and actually be capable of beating a Bonecrusher Giant or a Lovestruck Beast, I think it makes perfect sense to do so. The main function of Obosh is that it gives Monored a guaranteed play when you have a hole in your curve, and when you cast Obosh, you generally kill the opponent very quickly. 

4 Akoum Hellhound

Akoum Hellhound isn’t the most exciting creature in the world, but it does hit the hardest out of all of the 1 drops. The biggest weakness of Akoum Hellhound is that when you don’t have a land drop, it doesn’t do anything, but we actually have a way to work around that now in Heraldic Banner.

4 Fervent Champion

Javier is either the best or worst one drop in the deck depending on if you have multiples or not. Even when you only have 1, First Strike is such a good key word with the copious amount of cheap burn spells we play.

4 Fireblade Charger

You wouldn’t think Goblin Arsonist would be that impressive and I was very reluctant to play this in the first place, but I’ve been surprised by how good it felt. Whenever you have a Heraldic Banner or Obosh out, Fireblade Charger goes from draft chaffe to a real threat in a hurry. A cute interaction that’s come up with Fireblade Charger is that in some situations killing my own Fireblade Charger with a Burn spell did more damage than the burn spell itself which could help me win a race.

4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge

Anax is sad without his Embercleave, but he’s still great in the deck nonetheless. He’s great with the 12 one drops you can cast before it, and Heraldic Banner synergizes super well with the tokens.

4 Bonecrusher Giant

It’s Bonecrusher Giant, the cards busted and gives us a turn 2 play which is much appreciated in an Obosh deck.

4 Phoenix of Ash

Phoenix of Ash is a fine card, but I was never super impressed by it in general. In this deck though, it fills many more roles. With Obosh and Heraldic Banner, Phoenix of Ash is a much better threat compared to a sad 2/2. Secondly, Phoenix is a solid mana sink whether you’re pumping it to get more damage or Escaping it from the graveyard. One of the issues with Monored in general was the ability to grind and Phoenix helps out significantly.

4 Goldspan Dragon

The King of this deck. As my friend predicted, Goldspan Dragon and Obosh are a match made in heaven. Furthermore, the mana Goldspan Dragon gives you is insanely powerful in a deck with so many mana sinks. A very common curve is to play Goldspan Dragon, attack, next turn get Obosh and play it for lethal.

4 Spikefield Hazard

I want to play a lot of lands but flooding can be a real issue for the deck, even when you have a lot to do with it. Spikefield Hazard is the perfect compromise to that as neither a deal 1 nor a tapped Mountain is amazing, but definitely serviceable.

2 Shock

I wanted to play a few more pieces of interaction, but I don’t think Shock is that amazing right now so I think 2 is reasonable. If Shock becomes a lot better in the metagame, then shaving some of the 3 drops for more Shock is very reasonable.

4 Heraldic Banner

I always thought this card sucked whenever I saw it in deck lists, but now with playing it, I actually think it’s one of the best cards in the deck. An anthem that ramps you is the perfect card for a strategy that wants to start fast and then start slamming scary permanents over and over. This synergizes so well with so many cards and the decks game plan, it’s just nuts.

4 Castle Embereth

We’re Mono Red, so playing Castles is free.

18 Snow-Covered Mountain + 4 Castle Embereth +4 Spikefield Hazard

SIDEBOARD

4 Frost Bite

Frost Bite is a really underappreciated card for  Mono Red, but this card is way better than I expected it to be. Having a 1 mana deal 3 is such a powerful Tempo play, especially with Heraldic Banner. You ever kill a Kazandu Mammoth for 1 mana? It’s great.

2 Purphoros’s Intervention

This Intervention hasn’t gotten much love on release, but I think it’s pretty reasonable here. It’s nice having the flexibility of a removal spell or a bad burn spell, but I love having versatility in my spells as you can bring it in so much more often when you have options.

1 Redcap Melee

Initially I didn’t play any Redcap Melee, but with the ridiculous popularity of Izzer Flash, we need good, cheap answer to Goldspan Dragon. 

2 Irreverent Revelers

I don’t love Revelers really, but you do need answers to The Great Henge, and you can do worse than a 2/2 that destroys it. On the plus side, if you’re really not seeing an artifact, this can be a 2/2 Haste as well.

2 Soul Sear

Lovestruck Beast is a scary card, so we have to play cards that kill it. 

3 Ox of Agonas

Ox is the best card in Standard against Rogues and is generally great against any deck looking to grind you out. 

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Frost-Bite-Kaldheim-MtG-Art

GRUUL / NAYA

INOUT
+4 Frost Bite-2 Shock
+2 Purphoros’s Intervention-4 Akoum Hellhound
+2 Irreverent Revelers-1 Fireblade Charger
+2 Soul Sear-4 Phoenix of Ash
+1 Ox of Agonas

The Adventures deck used to feel like an impossible matchup for Mono Red, but it feels much more reasonable now with a higher curve. We have a lot of tools to deal with their creatures and strong top end to close the games out. I wouldn’t say that the matchup is now good, but it’s definitely way better than it used to be.

ROGUES

INOUT
+4 Frost Bite-4 Fireblade Charger
+1 Purphoros’s Intervention  -4 Goldspan Dragon
+3 Ox of Agonas

With 7 Escape creatures and copious amounts of cheap removal, this matchup is a joke. Rogues always struggled with fast decks and that’s when they only have a few Escape creatures. Unless they have the absolute nuts, you should be able to crush them easily.

IZZET TEMPO

INOUT
+2 Purphoros’s Intervention-4 Akoum Hellhound
+1 Redcap Melee-2 Shock
+1 Soul Sear
+2 Ox of Agonas

Unfortunately for this deck, Izzet Tempo has felt very challenging so far. They have a lot of cheap interaction to put you off balance then kill you with a Goldspan Dragon. For what it’s worth, if you have a strong curve backed up by a way to kill Goldspan Dragon, there’s no reason you can’t win.

RAKDOS

INOUT
+2 Purphoros’s Intervention-4 Akoum Hellhound
+2 Soul Sear-2 Shock
+2 Ox of Agonas

I told everyone Rakdos was good, but nobody wanted to listen! I only played the matchup once, but our game plan seems to match up well against theirs as our threats are generally on the cheap side and the Escape creatures can be a real annoyance for them. I don’t love bringing in removal, but Shock is pretty bad against them in general and I rather have ways to kill Immersturm Predator and Kroxa rather than having Shock.

SULTAI YORION

INOUT
+2 Ox of Agonas-2 Shock

Sultai Yorion is the new kid on the block so I haven’t had the opportunity to face it with this deck yet. That being said, I feel that this matchup should be good for us barring they don’t have too much interaction early on. That being said, they don’t play that many interactive spells anyway so running them over shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

That’s all that 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

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