While everybody else is understandably caught up in the hype surrounding War of the Spark, I've been doing my best to get the word out on what I believe is the best deck in Ravnica Allegiance Standard. I sailed to Mythic this season and posted my take on mono-red to the @ArenaDecklists on Twitter. Since then, I've been bombarded with notifications of people having success with my list including a number of people reaching Mythic for the first time and most recently my friend Kanye Best (@KanyeBestMTG on twitter) reaching the coveted Rank 1 Mythic spot.
RANK ONE BABY! Shouts to @lucasfaley for the list, @JRolfMTG for telling me the only play was to go for 1, and everyone in various discords who has helped me get good at this game.— Kanye Best (@KanyeBestMTG) April 16, 2019
cc: @arenadecklists one last time - I suppose knowing what deck hit rank 1 is pretty dece. pic.twitter.com/TzDrsFhb1n
Here's the list:
While at first glance this might look like your typical mono-red aggro list, there are a few modifications that I believe really set this deck apart and improve your matchups against most of the field. The first is that this list doesn't play Experimental Frenzy in the main. While it's an incredibly powerful card, not all matchups call for a card advantage engine and it can be a little too clunky in game one. The next major change is that this deck only plays 18 lands across the full 75. I know many think this seems like too few, but all I can say is to give it a whirl. A number of your cards regularly have cost reductions, Runaway Steam-Kin can produce extra mana, and Light Up the Stage often helps you to hit land drops.
This matchup is about applying enough early pressure to force the opponent to react, then taking advantage of the openings to either stick more must-answer threats or fire off lethal burn spells. One of the harder choices in the matchup is when to attack their planeswalkers, especially Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. A lot of that decision is situational, but when I'm on the fence I usually lean toward taking them out as the cards and mana they generate can be difficult to overcome.
Gruul is a bit tricky to sideboard against, as they are usually aggressive but can be much more controlling post-board. Strange as it sounds, I think their best bet is to be aggressive with light removal, so that's what I default to sideboarding against. If you notice they've really slowed down their clock and haven't brought in Cindervines, you can cut some copies of Fanatical Firebrand for Experimental Frenzy. I know KanyeBest does that from the start, so feel free to test what works for you.
For the most part, you play the control role in this matchup and should be aggressively burning creatures in order to take your opponent off of a Venerated Loxodon turn. Goblin Chainwhirler is great against their X/1s, but don't feel the need to get too greedy with it, as the body is great in combat against them as well. Post-board it's generally better to maintain the board than to slam an Experimental Frenzy, as they are more than capable of racing you if you have a bad Experimental Frenzy turn.
If you focus on not losing to Wildgrowth Walker, this matchup isn't that bad. Most of their deck is fairly clunky and you're generally making favorable trades on mana. After sideboarding Experimental Frenzy allows you to go over the top, and it will win the game by itself if unchecked.
The red mirror is usually a race to stick a recurring damage source or an Experimental Frenzy. One of the keys to the matchup is to not let your opponent get value off of Goblin Chainwhirler—this means I side out all of my X/1s and won't play Runaway Steam-Kin turn two on the draw.
These matchups are just a race against the clock and you're usually pretty heavily favored. They often bring in creatures like Biogenic Ooze or Murmuring Mystic, but most of the time by the time they play them you're ready to point burn spells at their dome.
My biggest concern in this matchup is usually keeping my opponent off Ghalta, Primal Hunger. That means I'll occasionally be willing to two-for-one myself to kill something like a Steel Leaf Champion, and will often throw a burn spell at a Kraul Harpooner with the trigger on the stack if it would make Ghalta, Primal Hunger castable. If you can manage that, you usually get enough early game pressure to force the opponent to hold back until you can burn them out in a couple of turns.
I hope you've found this guide helpful. I'm eager to hear more stories of people reaching new heights or winning tournaments with this list. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @lucasfaley if you have any questions!
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