Mono-Red Aggro is a low to the ground aggressive strategy that aims to use its creature pressure to push early damage on the opponent and its efficient burn spells to finish them off. Shaking up the typical aggro deck formula however is Experimental Frenzy which also provides overwhelming access to resources later on in the game and does a great job addressing the issue of running out of gas as the game goes on.
Immensely powerful creature that demands an immediate answer. Given that we are mono-red every spell we cast will buff this guy. The simple evaluation here is that this quickly becomes a 2 mana 4/4, but there is much more going on than that. You can bait bad blocks by holding onto instants until and then pumping him last minute. You can also set up good blocks through the same methodology. The mana ability is also highly useful because it allows your deck to function smoothly even on land-light draws, it allows you to quickly play out your hand in preparation for Frenzy, and once the Frenzy is on the table, this enables you to play potentially huge amounts of cards off the top of your deck with ease. When using the mana ability to cast other spells, consider attacking with the 4/4 beforehand and using the ability to continue casting in main phase 2.
The 2/1 body is not the best but simply having the 2 damage burn stapled to a body is enough to justify his inclusion. Provides wizard synergy for Wizard's Lightning. Later in the game this serves as reach and to widen the board to help push lethal through blockers.
The 1 damage aoe can be absolutely devastating against the creatures your opponent will have played in the early turns of the game, and also serves as a great way to supplement other removal later on when you have mana to support it. The 3/3 body combined with First Strike allows this to plow through many creatures your opponent will be playing, and also enables some combat tricks in which, if the opponent makes what appears to be a favorable block (with a 6/6, for example) but you then burn their creature before the damage step, the First Strike will be able to kill it before it is able to damage you and you will come out of the exchange ahead.
While once a situational pick, Rekindling Phoenix has begun to settle itself in as a 2-of in most current lists. It offers a difficult-to-remove 4 damage in the air which can not only put pressure on the opponent but can also, in many cases, clog up the board with its ability to make favorable trades to buy you time to drop a Frenzy.
Very effective removal against key early game creatures such as the x/1's mentioned on the listing for Fanatical Firebrand, as well as key x/2's. Later in the game this serves as a cheap and easy 2 damage to the face.
3 damage is very useful for both removal and pushing damage. When to use these as removal and when to use them for damage is a complicated decision and will be a large part of the difficulty of playing a deck of this sort, but some rules of thumb are 1) remove a creature if you will do more damage in the long run by killing it than by bolting face 2) if a creature is must-kill, like Wildgrowth Walker, then you must kill it and 3) if your opponent is outracing you, then you are forced to remove their creatures to avoid dying
The best card in the deck. The basic idea is to use the first 3 or so turns of the game to empty your hand out and then play this and generate insurmountable advantage. Excepting games where your opponent cannot stabilize and you are able to go under them, you will spend most of your games pushing as much early damage as you can with your creatures, and then trying to keep the board under control to stall until you can land this, and then use the extreme advantage to push for lethal. Don't fall into the trap of completely emptying your hand before playing this card; it is a low tempo play and you may not have opportunities to drop it once your opponent starts getting their lategame threats on the board, and the earlier you play it the more advantage you stand to get. Not to mention, you can always kill it should the need arise to play from your hand in an emergency or for lethal.
IV. Flex Cards
On paper this card is great. 4 damage to the face or draw 3, and you can do it again? It is undeniably powerful, but the reasons it is not played as commonly in current builds are twofold. Firstly, there is a bit of a nonbo between this and Frenzy: an opponent who is aware can freely choose the draw 3 mode since you cannot cast these cards from your hand. It is true that you are able to ditch the Frenzy to use them but this brings us to the second point: getting full value out of this card costs a lot of mana. At the end of the day, you are going to be paying 6 mana and 2 cards for 8 damage most of the time, or in the case of Frenzy, 3 mana for Risk Factor plus 4 mana to ditch Frenzy plus whatever the mana costs for the actual cards you drew are. These reasons combined with the fact that you cannot control the board with the card are major reasons why it is not a staple card at this time.
This card represents a large threat which, if able to attack even just once uncontested, can snowball the game out of control super fast. The trick here is that it can be difficult to stick a turn 3 or later 2/2 onto the board, and it is not the greatest flip to get off of Frenzy, which are major reasons why this is not a staple card at this time.
V. Sideboard Cards
A way to convert your excess mana into damage that gets better as the game goes on. Very useful against durdly control decks because they can give you lots of time to make land drops and at a certain point there's nothing they can do to avoid getting blasted in the dome.
Useful against go-wide strategies like Tokens and White/Boros Weenie to blow out their board, and the instant speed is icing on the cake. Don't forget that Firebrand is a pirate, and is unaffected by the wipe.
5 is an important number because it kills the angels, namely a certain Lyra Gameoverbringer. The secondary function is very expensive but worth mentioning because if you have that kind of mana it's more than likely going to spell victory for you.
Very useful in almost every matchup. 2 mana for 4 damage to a creature is good value and kills most things we care about killing. The exile is relevant because it prevents Golgari from recurring Wildgrowth Walker and prevents opposing Phoenixes from rezzing. Most post-board games we prioritize away from the go-under aggressive plan in favor of the control the board and stall until Frenzy plan, and this card is so efficient and useful it is just perfect for such a strategy.
This card has great synergy with Frenzy because it allows us to find Frenzy and/or the lands needed to cast it, and then it allows us to filter the cards on top of our deck in order to remove dead cards [ie Mountains] that would stop our Frenzy turns short. Outside of that it gives us extra mana for use in a pinch as well as card draw when digging for an answer that you need immediately. All in all a great card that fits right in to our usual grindier post-board plan.
Difficult matchup. Their topend is overwhelmingly stronger than ours, with Carnage Tyrant being a card we cannot deal with and loads of removal and recursion making a grind game nigh impossible. They have answers to everything our deck can do, between lifegain to combat aggression, exiles for our Phoenix, enchantment destruction for Frenzy, and a finisher that we can't deal with. Our goal is to start very aggressive, push as much early damage as we can, land an early Frenzy or Phoenix, and hope that they cannot deal with it in time. Pushing enough early damage will force them to use their removal in ineffective ways, such as using Vraska's Contempt on something besides Phoenix, which is how we can gain enough advantage to leverage a win.
Wildgrowth Walker: This card is remove on sight. We cannot afford to let this proc even a single time, and it is much better to eat a 2-for-1 to kill it than to let it live, get huge and difficult to remove, and gain unholy amounts of life. Carnage Tyrant: Our goal is to have pushed enough damage so that by the time this drops it is already too late for our opponent, because otherwise this is a card we cannot reasonably deal with and will only allow us 2-3 more turns to find lethal. Vivien Reid, Assassin's Trophy, Vraska, Relic Seeker: These are all outs to Experimental Frenzy. We are dependent on Frenzy to gather enough resources to win many games, but luckily these are low tempo plays for our opponent. If we have enough damage represented on board, our opponent will be forced to choose between removing our Frenzy or controlling the board. That all being said it is not very worthwhile to play around these, as our best chance of winning is to slam the Frenzy ASAP and hope for the best. Vraska's Contempt: This is their out to Phoenix. Ideally we can mount enough pressure that they are forced to use it on another creature instead just to survive. One line worth mentioning is that we can bolt our own Phoenix in response. This is still a 1-for-1, and we also only lose out on 1 damage (considering the 2 lifegain we deny). In other words, we trade 1 damage for the ability to keep our Phoenix.
One additional interaction of note is that we can hold back Firebrands to kill the exploring merfolk in response to their trigger. I do not recommend this at the expense of damage if we are ahead, but if the opponent is at advantage it can be useful to control the board and stall until Frenzy/Phoenix
We have two goals to accomplish with our sideboarding: we need to be able to permanently deal with Walker, for which we bring in the Lava Coils, and we need to find Phoenix and/or Experimental Frenzy as soon as possible, for which we bring in the Treasure Maps. As for cuts, Viashino cannot contest their board and is blocked favorably by almost everything they play, so we are removing all 4. We are also removing 2 Lavarunners as the ping from Firebrand is valued higher in this matchup than the value provided by Lavarunner. Lastly, we are removing 1 Shock as it is our lowest value burn spell. This leaves us with 6 1-drops and 4 2-drops to balance between ability to mount early aggression and ability to meet our goals of killing Walker and reaching our Frenzy/Phoenix ASAP.
Love this deck! Here is my timeline for expansion of the guide:
Next 24 hours: Add Situational and Sideboard Cards categories and correct basic formatting issues
Next 72 hours: Add matchup and sideboarding section
Stretch goal: Improve presentation to be cleaner and more professional
Well written guide. I agree with most of it though I am pondering your sideboarding strategy against golgari. Once you cut 6/8 wizards from your deck, your wizard's lightning loses much of it's fervor. It will usually just be a 3 mana lightning bolt.
My sideboarding strategy for this matchup would be to take out the wizard's lightning together with 3/4 viashino pyromancers and leave in the shock. In my current build I run 4 lava coil in the sideboard so all pyromancers go out. Note that ghitu lavarunner is still a viable 1 mana threat since your instant and sorcery count stays about the same. It's not a stellar card in the matchup but there isn't a better alternative in the current 75.
i have a question regarding golgari matchup: if the goal is to "push damage," isn't it better to board out Ghitu Lavarunners and keep Viashino Pyromancers because the latter deals 2 damage instantly while the former gets brickwalled easily? if late in the game the opponent has managed to build a board and i'm on topdeck mode, Viashino Pyro's a much better topdeck than Lavarunner, especially if opponent is down to 1-2 life.