I dunno about y'all, but I've been playing a lot with Guilds of Ravnica Standard. The set has been released on Magic Online and Arena, and with SCG Columbus this weekend and the Pro Tour on the horizon, I'd like nothing more than to break the format.
Everyone knows what Step one is.
Yup, it's still good.
Mono-Red Aggro isn't as versatile or customizable as last season's Rakdos Aggro deck, so don't expect crazy metagame shares or a deck that's able to adapt week to week. While there are distinctly different versions of mono-red decks, aggro seems much stronger, and it's very close to one-dimensional.
One of the first things to note about Guilds of Ravnica Standard is how absurd Experimental Frenzy can be. It doesn't fit into every deck, but if you're aggressive and looking for a refill in grindy games, you can't do any better. Occasionally you'll hit pockets of land, which is rough, but there are ways to get around it if you care enough. Field of Ruin, Treasure Map, Dark-Dweller Oracle, and card drawing with jump-start can make your Future Sight basically unbeatable.
If you're not playing a deck with a bunch of burn, having a Banefire or two in your deck to close with is important. Control decks can continually sweep you if you don't have any reach. This will typically matter if you're playing Boros or some other midrange creature deck without reach. Any red deck with Shock and Lightning Strike shouldn't have that issue.
Risk Factor is a big question mark. From my side of playing the matchup, the first Risk Factor will deal four damage in any normal situation. At that point, you'll likely be low enough that their jump-started copy will net them three cards.
Then the onus is on you to end the game before their three cards matter. Since your opponent has spent six mana doing nothing that affects the battlefield, hopefully you can capitalize. Having something that turns the corner quickly or some amount of lifegain will typically do it.
Risk Factor doesn't fit into every single deck with red mana, but in the version with all the other burn spells, it does its job. The interaction with Experimental Frenzy is an odd one, and I still can't quite tell if it's a combo or not. Your opponent will give you the four cards since you can't cast them anyway, but that means if you have enough time, you'll have a full hand should you ever decide to get rid of your enchantment.
Runaway Steam-Kin has basically died every single time I've seen it enter the battlefield, both in Standard and Modern. However, that's because the card is truly terrifying, capable of allowing you to double spell earlier or fueling massive Banefires and kicked Fight with Fires. It's truly one of the best cards in Guilds of Ravnica.
- 4 Fanatical Firebrand
- 4 Ghitu Lavarunner
- 4 Goblin Chainwhirler
- 4 Runaway Steam-Kin
- 4 Viashino Pyromancer
- 23 Mountain
People don't seem to like Experimental Frenzy maindeck, but I'm not one of those people. An unchecked copy will usually win the game, especially when you have enough interaction to prolong the game.
Diamond Mares are of the utmost important for red mirrors. Fight with Fire and Lava Coil are for bigger creatures, and Fiery Cannonade is mostly for Selesnya. Treasure Map gives you another tool for midrange and control matchups, although I'm sure I'm not being creative enough with this sideboard.
Here's another take.
- 22 Mountain
Given how hard BOIN is going on Experimental Frenzy, it makes me think I'm not trying hard enough. I like the additional removal spells and completely foregoing Risk Factor. With all the Frenzies and Treasure Maps, I'm a tad surprised to not see any Fight with Fires maindeck, but I'm excited to try this out.
Awkwardly enough, Boros is basically the worst of Selesnya and Mono-Red. It does the go-wide thing similarly to Selesnya but lacks the real payoffs. Aurelia just isn't good enough compared to things like Venerated Loxodon, Radiant Destiny, Benalish Marshal, and Heroic Reinforcements.
There needs to be something to make their mopey cards stronger, so we either need to incorporate more anthems or maybe go harder on mentor. There's very little respect for Goblin Banneret and maybe that needs to change.
Big creatures like Aurelia seemed great at first and despite there not being many removal spells that trade favorably with her, Aurelia wasn't great for me. Granted, some of my decks could be refined, and Aurelia herself was actually fine, but she wasn't a strong enough payoff to warrant playing Boros over any of the other options.
I saw some other people trying Response, and it was solid. The Relentless Assault option came in handy a few times, but that could have been a product of the deck lacking a good way to close. Regardless, it seemed potentially strong in creature mirrors.
Again, Experimental Frenzy was incredible. Against control decks, you definitely want a copy of Banefire or two to be able to close. Going long enough, they'll be able to go over the top of your mopey creatures. Sadly, it wasn't enough to sway me into thinking that Boros is a contender.
If I wasn't playing Mono-Red Aggro, I'd be playing this version of Selesnya.
- 4 Benalish Marshal
- 4 Hunted Witness
- 4 Venerated Loxodon
- 3 Emmara, Soul of the Accord
- 4 Shanna, Sisay's Legacy
Even though Boros didn't pan out, I learned a lot about white midrange token decks. For starters, investing in a single card, like Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice, just isn't worth it. You're better off focusing on making your individual threats stronger through other means. A core with one-drops, the powerful Selesnya two-drops, and Venerated Loxodon is a good one. Having Flourish to finish is just icing.
The white one-drops are important, but so is being able to play Benalish Marshal and the Selesnya two-drops. Trying to hit your curve requires one of the eight dual lands, which is far from a guarantee. Thankfully, Unclaimed Territory can sub in as additional copies because Shanna and Benalish Marshall are both Humans. If I ditch Emmara altogether, I could play Knight of Grace instead, which is a reasonable option.
It's possible that March of the Multitudes is the all-star, and I need to be building around that more. The one-drops are great at fueling Venerated Loxodon, but maybe March is a stronger payoff. It seems worse if you're continually getting hit with sweepers so I'm reluctant to go all-in on it, especially without additional support from Saproling Migration, Yavimaya Sapherd, or Song of Freyalise.
Honestly, the worst thing going for Selesnya is the wealth of options, which makes hammering down the best build incredibly difficult. Overall, it's not a bad problem to have, but you'll have to adjust your deck from week to week to be successful. If tokens does well, I imagine a plethora of Deafening Clarions and the like will enter the format. At that point, maybe Selesnya Ghalta or Knights will be a better choice.
- 4 Dusk Legion Zealot
- 3 Elvish Rejuvenator
- 4 Glowspore Shaman
- 3 Molderhulk
- 4 Plaguecrafter
- 3 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 4 Stitcher's Supplier
- 2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
Using bad creatures to prolong the game and having Izoni, Thousand-Eyed to lock it up will crush many decks in this format. If your engine gets going, a cheap Molderhulk being looped by Memorial to Folly will beat another portion of the format. Burn spells and creatures with evasion are your enemy, but Golgari has several good sideboard options for those sorts of things.
Plaguecrafter impressed me, especially against control decks, so it's something to keep in mind. I'm not high on Assassin's Trophy in general, but it might be necessary to combat Experimental Frenzy. Granted, maybe not everyone will be on it for the first week, but if you want to win your tournament, you'll have to get through someone who's in the know.
While this deck is cool and does many of the things I enjoy doing, the best performing Golgari deck will likely have more interaction. The Eldest Reborn doesn't look great, but Find backed up by spot removal does. Your sideboard can beat up on control with Duress and Arguel's Blood Fast.
I haven't gotten around to playing any Dimir-based decks quite yet. From what I've seen, there doesn't seem to be much reason to do that because of how much aggression there is online. I'm not a believer in Disinformation Campaign. Unhinge with buyback doesn't seem to be what Standard is about these days. Moment of Craving and, to a lesser extent, Vraska's Contempt, are excellent. Find is so much better than anything blue has to add, so Golgari is probably where you'll want to end up if you're trying to midrange.
Doom Whisperer is a payoff, as is Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, but the rest of the sorcery speed Dimir nonsense is medium. Thought Erasure doesn't line up well against the aggression and neither does Notion Rain. I'm a believer in something like VTCLA was playing though.
- 3 Doom Whisperer
- 1 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 4 Thief of Sanity
- 2 Lazav, the Multifarious
- 3 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Golden Demise is mostly a better Ritual of Soot at the moment. Similarly, Thief of Sanity is likely a better option than Notion Rain, especially once you have Lazav, the Multifarious in the equation. Big threats like Nicol Bolas and Doom Whisperer is exactly where you want to be.
Is actual control any good? Azorius Control has been doing alright, but the real trick seems to be splashing another color.
Given the landscape of Standard, I'm actually a control supporter.
The finer details need hammering out, but Jeskai is where it's at.
Having access to red's spot removal is incredible, as is Deafening Clarion. Having Expansion as a way to double up on removal spells or win counter wars is nice, and Explosion is a fine lategame card.
I'd seriously look into finding a better sideboard plan, but I'm very happy with where this deck is.
Finally, if you want a sleeker control option, I recommend this deck from former Pro Tour regular STI.
I have massive respect for STI as a deckbuilder, and this deck makes me happy. Maybe people have been looking for a place to play Niv-Mizzet, Parun, and this seems like the perfect spot. "Splashing" the Sarkhan, Fireblood / Niv-Mizzet combo works well, especially for a deck that's trying to fill its graveyard for Crackling Drake anyway.
Preparing For SCG Columbus
Realistically, if you want to win at #SCGCOL , you should play Mono-Red Aggro. White token decks are also great, but difficult to figure out the correct configuration because of how many great options there are.
If you want to be brave and play control, I actually support that too.