A Mono Red Primer for Kaladesh Remastered

This week I decided it was time to take a break from writing about Yorion. Although I managed to secure an invite to the SCG Kaldheim Qualifier #1, I was unfortunately knocked out after three losses, crushing my dreams of qualifying for the Kaldheim Championship with UW Control (for that weekend, at least). While I knew the Kaladesh Remastered set release was coming, I wasn’t thinking about Historic in any way shape or form. Then, StarCityGames announced this weekend’s Kaldheim qualifier weekend would be entirely Historic. I quickly skimmed the spoiler to refresh my memory. Although the go-to deck everyone is talking about seems to be a variation of Aetherworks Marvel, I couldn’t help thinking about what to do with my favorite gift-delivering friend…

The first thing to note about Mono Red in Historic is that the archetype retains a wide card pool, but more importantly contains the card pool of when it was the best deck in standard back three years ago. It retains the wizard package of Viashino Pyromancer, Ghitu Lavarunner, Soul Scar Mage, and Wizard’s Lightning, along with powerful cards like Goblin Chainwhirler. The deck has new additions to it that enhance it from its 2017 standard predecessor. Now we get to add Light up the Stage, Skewer the Critics, Bonecrusher Giant, and even Grim Lavamancer to the list, all cards that synergize well together. Bonecrusher is a nice modal card that triggers prowess and is an insane draw in the mirror (even better if your opponent isn’t playing Bonecrusher Giant for some odd reason). Goblin Chainwhirler triggers Spectacle. Now, Bomat Courier adds a nice one-drop and source of card advantage to push the deck into the long game, even in the face of cards like Uro. 

Now with Bomat Courier the Historic version looks something like this:

Download decklist!

There are a few cards you can change but overall I like how simple and streamlined this version of Mono Red is. The wizard package includes all the relevant cards, throw in the good spectacle cards, Bonecrusher Giant for good measure, add a few Bomat Couriers, and voila! You have a Mono Red deck raring to go. Before I go into the sideboard guide and talk more about the card choices, I think it’s also important to go over some other red lists and important cards in the format and why you should or shouldn’t play them in my opinion.

Along with Bomat Courier we get a few new additions to red aggressive strategies in Historic.

Chandra is another hallmark of Mono Reds of Standard past that is a nice addition to these strategies. Similar in a way to Experimental Frenzy, Chandra is a versatile planeswalker that allows you to ‘draw’ an extra card each turn, remove a creature, or eventually tick up and ultimate to provide a game-ending emblem. I think it’s hard to discern whether Chandra or Frenzy is better, and ultimately I think it comes down to the type of Red deck you’re piloting. Experimental Frenzy is nice in the Mono Red mentioned above since if you hit a clump of spells on top of your deck, you can usually cast multiple in one turn if their mana cost is one or two. Additionally, you can cast cards like Light up the Stage and hold priority to cast the instant speed burn spells on top of your deck before exiling the other two cards. Frenzy is also better with cards like Steamkin, allowing you to cast multiple in a turn when you hit a clump of cheap cards. I feel like Chandra is a little better when your deck is filled with cards like Glorybringer or Goblin Chainwhirlers, usually more expensive cards that pack a punch as opposed to multiple cheap cards. Chandra also provides you an extra two mana can make for some explosive turns when you play something like a Hazoret and an Abrade. 

I think this is one card people are going to overlook, although I’m not sure how much play it will realisticallys see. I played a few events with Mono Red in Pioneer right before the pandemic hit and Aethersphere Harvester was one of my go-to cards for the sideboard. Harvester is a decent attacker and blocker in the mirror, allowing you to also gain six life which is nothing to scoff at in a mirror match. With the rise of Aetherworks Marvel decks in Historic however, Red decks may be packing more copies of Arade, as well as Embereth Shieldbreaker, so Harvester might be more susceptible to removal. I do like that this card can block a Bonecrusher Giant, which is usually one of the biggest creatures in the mirror. Also in board stalls it can chip in for some extra damage as well. It may not be good enough to earn a sideboard slot but it’s something to keep in mind. 

This is another card that saw some standard play back in its day, usually in the Mono Red or R/B vehicles decks with Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran. With Pia you can pump the thopter token, an Aethersphere Harvester, or a Bomat Courier (and sacrifice it for an unblocked attack). I think three mana in Historic is definitely a pretty big investment, and cards like Rampaging Ferocidon, Goblin Chainwhirler, and Anax will take this slot instead. Pia is definitely one to keep an eye on though in case Scrapheap Scrounger or Heart of Kiran aggressive decks become popular. 

This is another card that saw some standard play back in its day, usually in the Mono Red or R/B vehicles decks with Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran. With Pia you can pump the thopter token, an Aethersphere Harvester, or a Bomat Courier (and sacrifice it for an unblocked attack). I think three mana in Historic is definitely a pretty big investment, and cards like Rampaging Ferocidon, Goblin Chainwhirler, and Anax will take this slot instead. Pia is definitely one to keep an eye on though in case Scrapheap Scrounger or Heart of Kiran aggressive decks become popular. 

Kari Zev’s Expertise is another red card that saw sideboard play in Aether Revolt Standard. I think in Historic this actually has some play, being able to steal a big creature against B/W Boggles or an Aetherworks Marvel’d Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Probably a one or two-of at most if it any at all. 

Kari Zev is another card that I think will see good amounts of play with Kaladesh Remastered. I don’t think Kari Zev fits into the list I mentioned above (maybe as a one of), but Kari Zev is the perfect match for Embercleave. With Bomat Courier (or any other one drop really), you can pump out an Embercleave on turn 3 with Kari Zev and Ragavan. Kari Zev will also fit in nicely with the non-burn decks playing copies of Castle Embereth over Ramunap Ruins. 

Take this list for example that I’ve seen versions of floating around Twitter: 

Download decklist!https://magic.facetofacegames.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Deck-Mono-Red-2.txt

You can also pump out multiple attackers for an early Embercleave with Burning Tree Emissary. I think this is still a good red deck but a worse Bomat Courier deck overall just because of how awkward it is to cast some of the cards in your hand. In the list I first mentioned you’re able to pump out spells pretty quickly since every card costs one or two mana, while in this version you might just get stuck with an awkward hand of Anax and Steamkins. Steamkin has the potential to go off but I think overall this list seems a little clunkier. I also feel in the mirror having access to Goblin Chainwhirler is a real decider. Also with the addition of Aetherworks Marvel into the format I feel like there will also be more artifact hate roaming around. You might get seriously blown out in the mirror by an Abrade if you Embercleave the wrong blocked creature. 

All in all I want to test this version of the deck too. This list might end up being better and faster versus Aetherworks Marvel strategies with an unchecked Embercleave. I think time will tell how the format settles. However if Red ends up being the best deck (or at least in the top 3) it’ll be vital to value your card choices accordingly. The addition of Chandra, Torch of Defiance into these strategies may prompt people to start adding Chandra’s Defeat into their red sideboards as well. 

Taking one last look at my original decklist I want to talk about a few more malleable parts of the deck. 

I could see Grim Lavamancer being a little too slow in the maindeck and better for the grindy Mono Red mirrors. I also think the amount of artifact hate will depend entirely on how well Aetherworks Marvel decks perform although Abrade seems like a safe sideboard card being able to tag Embercleaves or Aethersphere Harvesters in the mirror. Chainwhirlers and Ferocidons are great against Goblins the mirror as well as other random creature strategies. Going forward I’m most interested in seeing if the best version of this deck is the Embercleave or wizard version. It’ll also be worth keeping an eye on Scrapheap Scrounger/Heart of Kiran/Chandra versions, but that’s a story for another time. As always, thank you so much for reading and I hope to catch you next time. 

Which Mono Red cards from Kaladesh Remastered are you looking forward to playing with in Historic? Let me know!

Twitter: @Roman_Fusco

Email: RomanFusco95@gmail.com

Historic Reclamation banhammer incoming!

Field of the Dead rocked the Standard of old hard enough to get a banning. Nowadays people are combining the raw power of mana acceleration, Field of the Dead, Wilderness Reclamation, and Expansion/Explosion. It’s led to a new S-Tier deck in the Historic format that has become “The Deck to Beat”.

After testing it a bunch I was quickly discovering how Field of the Dead wasn’t actually doing much in most matchups. It was however messing up my mana base with Uro being so color restrictive. When I removed that separate element and focused more on the core of the best deck currently in Standard. I found the results came pouring in.

As cool as Magmaquake seems on paper, I’m quickly finding it to be just a mediocre card in the deck. Sure, it’s good for beating up your basic Goblins opponents, but I think the format will evolve to the point that this card becomes played in fewer numbers and maybe even relegated to the Sideboard over time. I would love to be wrong because that means we will have a resurgence of aggro decks in a format, which tends to be rare nowadays.

The mana base was an important area that we see improvement from the Standard version of Reclamation decks as well. Sulfur Falls and Hinterland Harbor provide a lot of value to a deck trying to produce multiples of three different colors while not harming our life total. There are a soft 17/ hard 16 lands to keep these lands coming into play untapped. The reason for distinguishing soft and hard is Mountain doesn’t allow Hinterland Harbor to come into play untapped, but it does Sulfur Falls.

Because we now have Explore on top of Growth Spiral, we also have upped the land count from the Traditional 28-29 in Standard lists to an even 30. That’s right, we want a 50% chance to draw a land with each draw step. The utility Blast Zone provides makes the additional mana source also not a flooding liability.

Even though the rest of the deck is Standard legal the metagame consists of a vastly different field. So our sideboard is constructed in a slightly different way to prepare for a much more diverse metagame. Fry is the main card that jumps to mind as a card that doesn’t quite make the cut in most Standard lists, but in Historic provides a pivotal edge against both Mono Blue and Mono White strategies currently in the format.

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3261708

If you’re going to pilot this deck on Arena and haven’t had many reps with the deck there’s a few things you should prepare for. Arena will skip right through a Reclamation trigger unless you set a stop on your own end step. You can do this by clicking to further right button on the bottom middle of your screen. You should see it light up Red and indicate that it will stop on your end step.

Next, you’re going to want to float all your mana and in a deck that plays a lot of dual mana. This can get quite time consuming. To shortcut on Arena, simply press QQ on your keypad to have the program float your mana for you. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t float your mana precisely as you would like. If there’s a specific combination you need to ensure, manually add those colors of mana and then use the QQ function.

Just like in live magic there are bluffs and tells on Arena. For those unfamiliar with the terminology. A bluff is similar to a feint. A move in which one lures into a situation through misinformation. Meanwhile a tell is the leaking of relevant information. Often mistakenly done as is basic human nature. Now on a program devoid of human expression a tell comes from familiarity with the program. For instance, if you play a spell and it immediately resolves, this often indicates that your opponent does not have anything in hand with which they could have responded.

To ensure you do not give away information on Arena you’ll often need to prompt your settings to gain full control. This can be done by hitting the Ctrl button. The unfortunate part of this feature is you then have to click one million times to make it through a turn which can again be time consuming. It’s important to learn how you can both protect your tells and also bluff when you begin to become proficient with the full control aspect of Arena.

One last tip, there’s often benefit to entering into combat but producing a Petty Theft effect before attackers are declared. This can be tricky with the programming, but to do this you’ll need to again use the Ctrl function to retain full control. Then on their first main phase when it asks to go to combat, you select okay (using the spacebar) once. Then if you are in full control mode, you’ll be able to make plays at the ideal time. This comes up a lot due to haste creatures and really needs to be practiced to ensure it doesn’t cost you games.

Some final thoughts going back to the decklist itself. There will be weird situations where its better to Explosion your opponent for five damage when they are at 20 life, rather then the threat that has you clocked in two more turns. The reason for this being that you’ll often draw into another Explosion and Reclamation if you do not already have them in hand. From there you’ll be able to produce a KO with the next Explosion rather than continue to worry about the opponent producing more and more threats. This is a corner case however and certainly don’t make it your go to move.

Casting Shark Typhoon is another favorite of mine but often works best if you already have a reclamation in play. This allows you to immediately start reaping the benefits and not fall too far behind. Thanks to the Expansion/Explosion value of X, you can also create some rather large sharks at instant speed. Sometimes you’ll even want to use Mystical Dispute or Aether Gust on your own permanents to survive or achieve value. Using Mystical Dispute on your own Mystical Dispute is an easy way to create 3/3 flying creatures at instant speed for one mana.

Expansion serves a lot of functions as being a counterspell deterrent, but also comes up in very strange plays across Historic. Be prepared to think intuitively to utilize this half to its fullest. It may not be the intended card for this deck, but it can also save you games if you’re clever enough.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading as always. Hopefully you found this enlightening and it helps you bring home the bacon from home. Don’t forget to join our Team BCW Patreon to stay on top of all the latest and greatest hits from one of the best teams on the circuit!