Standard Mono White Aggro Deck Guide

Usher of the Fallen Art by Anastasia Ovchinnikova
Usher of the Fallen Art by Anastasia Ovchinnikova

Hello everyone! Today we’re going to talk about one of Standard’s premiere aggro decks: Monowhite. Most players should be rather familiar with the archetype as it’s a mainstay on ladder and a lot of the lists have functionally the same core cards. Let’s take a look at my iteration of it for reference.

Monowhite Aggro 

Creatures (29)
1
Halvar, God of Battle
3
Reidane, God of the Worthy
4
Giant Killer
4
Selfless Savior
4
Usher of the Fallen
4
Luminarch Aspirant
4
Seasoned Hallowblade
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
4
Skyclave Apparition
Artifacts (4)
4
Maul of the Skyclaves
Enchantments (4)
4
Alseid of Life's Bounty
Lands (23)
4
Faceless Haven
19
Snow-Covered Plains
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Tormod's Crypt
1
Scalding Cauldron
4
Drannith Magistrate
4
Glass Casket
2
Idol of Endurance
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
1
Archon of Absolution

I know it’s pedestrian, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Monowhite has one primary game plan that it does very well: curve out and beat down. We start the deck with our crew of 16 1 drops to nearly ensure we have one every game. Usher of the Fallen is the sole 2 power 1 drop so on the blind, this is the one we’re most likely to deploy first if you’re on the play. Selfless Savior is great if you’re looking to protect one of your plays over the next few turns. Alseid functions similarly to Selfless Savior, however you trade free protection for Lifelink which can be nice in aggro matchups. Giant Killer comes in last as generally you want to save this for the Adventure half, but if you have to play it turn 1, you will just to start establishing board presence.

Functionally every version only plays 2 two drops, Seasoned Hallowblade and Luminarch Aspirant. Seasoned Hallowblade is a huge pain to kill and has 3 power which makes it great for beating down. Luminarch Aspirant starts a bit slow, but gives you incremental advantage every turn to increasingly grow your board. It can be challenging to know which one to deploy first, but generally speaking if I don’t have a way to protect my creatures I’ll start with Hallowblade, and if I do, you can deploy Luminarch (only if you can protect the turn it comes down, this doesn’t work if you go Alseid into Luminarch).

Finally, we have our curve toppers. The lone Halvar sits atop his throne as the only 4 drop to give random bursts of damage or become a powerful equipment to grind out opponents. Reidane is great to tax expensive spells and the flipside, Valkmira, can be backbreaking for any deck looking to hit you with incremental damage. The lone Lurrus is a great mana sink in the late game and we really don’t want multiple copies of it anyway. Skyclave Apparition functions as much needed removal in a deck that doesn’t have a lot of it while advancing your board state. Lastly, Maul of the Skyclaves is our Embercleave surrogate as it makes the creature near impossible to block and chunks the opponent’s life total.

Monowhite had a bit of a rough go at the last MPL splits, but I think it was a victim of its own fame. Plenty of decks came prepared with a lot of Glass Casket and Archon of Absolution to make the deck look a lot worse than it should’ve been, but for our purposes, Monowhite is still one of the best decks you can take to the ladder.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Reidane,_God_of_the_Worthy

NAYA FURY (EVEN)

INOUT
+1 Scalding Cauldron-1 Halvar, God of Battle
+4 Drannith Magistrate-3 Reidane, God of the Worthy
+4 Glass Casket-4 Usher of the Fallen
-1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den

There’s never a time your game plan is going to change from just beating the opponent to death, but we definitely slow ourselves down a bit by adding a lot of interaction and Drannith Magistrate. Try to keep their board clear and your Magistrate alive to stymie their Adventure creatures and Showdown of the Skalds.

TEMUR TURNS (EVEN TO SLIGHTLY FAVORED)

INOUT
+2 Glass Casket-1 Reidane, God of the Worthy
+4 Drannith Magistrate-4 Usher of the Fallen
-1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den

The game plan is very similar from Naya, but instead of being worried about a combo kill you have to be worried about getting run over by their top end. Reidane is good at stopping Alrund's Epiphany and The Great Henge, but is very bad against Brazen Borrower so you have to be careful there.

Glass Casket is awkward as it feels great if you nab a Bonecrusher Giant or a Embercleave. The plus side in the matchup is that, on average, their creatures are worse than yours so if they don’t have Bonecrusher Giant or Anax, or you can mitigate then, you’re likely to win the game over time. Avoid getting blown out by Embercleave or timely removal as best as you can.

CYCLING (SLIGHTLY UNFAVORED TO MODERATELY UNFAVORED)

INOUT
+2 Tormod’s Crypt-3 Selfless Savior
+4 Glass Casket-4 Usher of the Fallen 
+1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den

This matchup is rough as their game plan lines up really well against ours. They have a bunch of ways to make 1/1s and they work towards Zenith Flare which circumvents normal matchup conventions. Your best plan is to either hope you kill them before Zenith Flare matters or to draw a Crypt before they can kill you. Cycling is prone to awkward hands so it may not seem like the matchup is that bad, but their average draw is likely to beat your average draw.

SULTAI ULTIMATUM (SLIGHTLY FAVORED TO MODERATELY FAVORED) 

INOUT
+3 Drannith Magistrate-2 Giant Killer
-1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den 

I wouldn’t say this boarding is perfect, but it’s acceptable on the blind. Drannith Magistrate isn’t great, but it prevents Emergent Ultimatum from working so I think it’s acceptable. Giant Killer has functionally no targets beyond Yorion or Esika’s Chariot, so shaving some is fine.

Lurrus is decent, but doesn’t work in the face of Shadows’ Verdict which is the most common Wrath Sultai plays. I really don’t want to keep in Skyclave Apparition, but exiling Wolfwillow Haven, Esika’s Chariot, or Binding the Old Gods is pretty important.

ROGUES (EVEN TO SLIGHTLY FAVORED)

INOUT
+2 Tormod’s Crypt-1 Halvar, God of Battle
+4 Glass Casket-4 Giant Killer
+1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den-4 Usher of the Fallen
+2 Idol of Endurance-1 Maul of the Skyclaves

The matchup will depend a lot on their individual list, but I would say most of the time it’s going to be pretty even. We have a good curve, but they’re good at mitigating that. We have great board cards, but so do they if they run Dead Weight or Crippling Fear. I think we’re probably favored against the average Rogues list as we have a host of great tools, but it’s hard to say in a vacuum. Keep the pressure on, keep your graveyard low, avoid getting bodied by Crippling Fear.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • There’s generally more nuance, but as a guideline, use Halvar’s front side when you’re trying to race and the Sword half when you’re trying to grind. Furhtermore, Halvar can only move around Equipments and Auras that are already attached to creatures, he can’t move unequipped Mauls.
  • Unlike Halvar, Reidane has less nuance. Use the creature half when trying to race or the keywords matter and the Shield half against small aggressive decks. Against something like Gruul, both halves can be relevant.
  • Be mindful that Alseid gives protection so you can use it to make creatures unblockable, but in the same vein, if you give something protection from White, a Maul of the Skyclaves can fall off.
  • I said this above, but don’t be afraid to run out Giant Killer as a creature if you have a hole in your curve.
  • If you have to choose between boasting Usher or playing a 2 drop, play the 2. If it’s playing 1-2 one drops though, boasting could be more appealing.
  • Luminarch gives continuous advantage so try to bait out removal before deploying it.
  • Use Skyclave Apparition to clear blockers rather than accrue value (like if you have to choose between an Edgewall Innkeeper or a Lovestruck Beast).

Thank you for reading! 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 the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

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