In our second Super Series article we are going to be looking at another aggressive deck in Monored. Now you may remember at the beginning I said that these articles will be based on decks that Khans of Tarkir has inspired and Monored Aggro is a long standing archetype in Magic the Gathering; however with the release of KTK I felt that four cards were real and true game changers for the Monored archetype moving into standard. First of all, it is important to note that at pre rotation you had the monored that was purely creature or purely burn and for the most part the combination decks truly didn’t work. This deck won’t be a work off of devotion, and blends both efficient creates and efficient spells together. I truly believe that KTK monored is at the most powerful it has been in quite a while. So without further ado let us take a gander at the build.
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 War-Name Aspirant
4 Borderland Marauder
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
Noncreature Spells (12)
4 Titan’s Strength
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Trumpet Blast
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Spray
3 Stoke the Flames
This is exactly what you would expect from a monored deck, small quick creatures that can rely on a pure mana base, which plays fast and aggressive. Red decks have always been known for their inconsistency or their ability to burn out, and I feel this deck is able to get around it better than most, it has a consistent mana base, a low mana curve, and the mana base doesn’t punish you in anyway. With the likely mana bases about to take over Standard, this type of strategy will be very effective, more so early on in the format while people are still trying to figure everything out. If you like to play fast and lay the pressure on your opponent this is the deck for you; why don’t we take a deeper look into the deck itself.
In the early going (turn one) this deck is running twelve creatures that are dropping in for one mana. Two of them were regulars in our last standard rotation and have proven their worth in Foundry Street Denizen and Firedrinker Satyr. FSD managed to do its work because red was so fast and dropped a lot of creatures, it became great friends with Goblin Rabblemaster when M15 came out and the new card it will take advantage of is Hordeling Outburst which drops three creatures into play making it a 4/1 instantly that turn. Satyr similarly found success because of the 2/1 body, and because of the firebreathing pump ability which gave it added value when your hand ran dry or in the late game, even with the drawback of it dealing damage to you based on the damage it takes.
But the new addition from KTK is the highlight of the one drops; Monastery Swiftspear is a 1/2 creature with Haste and prowess (gains +1/+1 whenever you cast a noncreature spell). This creature might be the best one drop red has had since Goblin Guide was legal in Standard, and it also gave us an excuse to add in noncreature spells that will help us be successful. With two toughness and the ability to get bigger at instant speed, this card provides a serious threat to your opponents and is hard to chump block and kill. Mark my words that this card will stand as an all-star in the format.
The very efficient and well liked Borderland Maurader comes down as one of the two slot options, being a 1/2 on defense and a 3/2 on the attack this creature is efficient and punishing. The all-star here once again comes with KTK and that is the War-Name Aspirant! The War-Name uses one of the other new KTK mechanics, and that is Raid; regularly she is a 2/1 body that can’t be blocked by creatures with power 1 or less, but if you attack and then play her she becomes a 3/2 body with the same ability. Her only drawback in the deck comes with having a bad interaction with our Foundry Street Denizen, but with 8 other one drops to choose from this doesn’t hurt too much, and later game doesn’t matter. She provides a nice advantage when running into weenie decks, tokens, mana dorks, or walls.
Our end game cards are quite obvious, Goblin Rabblemaster and Purphoros, God of the Forge which are both stars and interact very well with each other. Rabblemaster can get big and make constant token threats. Combine that with our wonderful Hordeling Outburst and you are just getting more value. Purphoros himself can be a big creature, deals damage whenever another creature comes into play, and finally can pump all of your creatures late game when your mana has nothing better to do. Just a very efficient cards for the deck once again.
Notable Exclusions: For this article, I am running all of the creature exclusions together as I don’t feel there are as many. I will openly admit I am not brave enough to run Eidolon of the Great Revel in the mainboard as all our spells pretty much deal us damage, and we don’t know if it hits the opponent. The card provides a good sideboard option for possible mirror matchups where you are all racing anyway. Mardu Heart-Piercer was a consideration from KTK also, but this type of deck with the Denizen couldn’t invest too much into raid, and the Hearth-Piercer was just too high up the curve. The Valley Dasher as a 2/2 with haste for two also drew my attention, but the fact it must attack each turn, and didn’t really have any other abilities made it quickly outclassed.
Akroan Crusader and Satyr Hoplite were considered, but only four spells triggered Heroic while Forge Devil was too much of a risk in an unknown setting. I considered an Archetype of Aggression in the deck and it may still find its way into the sideboard as a good way to pile damage through, or take away your opponents ability to pile on damage, but in the early testing it didn’t live up to the hype. Fanatic of Mogis and Flame-Wreathed Phoenix were also cards I thought to include, and if I wasn’t running with spells they may have made it. But as it stands Mogis was lucky to do 4-5 damage and wasn’t consistent enough. The Flame-Wreathed Phoenix might still make it later on; I really do not think this card has received enough love or attention and maybe a rotation might change that. I had briefly considered a build with Generator Servant, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix, Stormbreath Dragon, and Ashcloud Phoenix for some major flying punishment, but at the end of the day this wasn’t the build for it.
I’ll start with the All-Star of the three that I have included and that is the Hordeling Outburst; three mana for three 1/1 goblins which is a card I can get behind. This card is also good because of the insane synergy it has with the deck, it can deal 6 damage when Purphoros is on the field, pumps the FSD three times, gives three more goblins for Rabblemaster, and activate Prowess for the Monastery Swiftspear. If you are keeping track, every card in the deck that relies on another card to activate it, is activated by Hordeling Outburst which is synergy at its finest.
Our other two spells were at first burn spells, Lightning Strike and Stoke the Flames to be exact, but I opted for something a bit more direct in pump spells. Titan’s Strength is a great pump card both offensively and defensively with a wonderful scry cantrip. Turn one FSD, turn two Monastery Swiftspear and a Titan’s Strength is dealing out 7 damage on your second turn and you won’t even be trading with any chump blockers. Trumpet Blast was another good KTK card that I liked in the deck, more so in a deck that has Rabblemaster and Hordeling Outburst in it, but I also like it because it is a very easy card to side out after game. +2/0 to your attacking army of red dudes can be a game changer. If your turn three was a Hordeling Outburst, followed by a turn four Trumpet Blast, that sequence with the one above is game almost 100% of the time.
Notable Exclusions: There are far too many options to discuss and honestly this part is very subjective, you can choose to run burn in here, choose to cut some and run more creatures, even choose to run a few efficient enchantments to help you out. I could talk all week about the options alone here, so my suggestion is to figure out your play style and build to where you are comfortable, this combination is just the one I happen to feel the most efficient. I will note that I tested Hall of Triumph and didn’t like it, it was far too slow in the deck and didn’t do enough to get past Anger of the Gods.
I love sideboards in red decks as I always find them the most simple. You’ve got a burn/control suite and a card for a mirror match. If you run into a control match up, Burst Lightning and Stoke the Flames go right into the deck to start getting extra damage to the face, or holding back to deal that extra damage to one of big creatures. In these match ups your Trumpet Blast and War-Name Aspirant can slide right out and improve your deck. Magma Spray is great against other weenie decks or against recursion cards and will be such an important card when dealing with Bloodsoaked Champion.
Eidolon of the Great Revel is a great card against the mirror match or cheap aggressive deck as a matter of fact your whole sideboard should just come in with you in this case. Dropping Trumpet Blast, Titan’s Strength, Firedrinker Satyr, two War-Name Aspirant, and one Foundry Street-Denizen. Being able to control their creatures, increase your direct to the face damage and understand that Eidolon is going to mess you up as well and your goal is to find a way to advantage yourself in the race at this point. This is the only time Eidolon is a good card, and honestly I still think him a bit risky and would be the ONE sideboard card I would consider replacing, with perhaps a flying finisher or something along those lines.
Overall my excitement level isn’t as high as it is for my Warriors build, but this is the type of deck that can do damage and can always find itself being competitive and I still like it more than the Monoblack aggro counterpart. The deck is very efficient, rocks a lot of synergy, and has some pretty powerful early kill potential and overall is actually pretty cheap to assemble if you are looking for a deck that is quick to assemble and win you some FNM’s or even some bigger tournaments.
Until … well tomorrow!