Greetings Gladiators! Did you know that Mono Red is not just an Aggro deck? It turns out that it can go bigger and have card advantage as well! Wait no, put away your Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, I didn’t mean that big! In the Armory #6 we’ll be playing Mono-Red Midrange, a deck that can even fight blue decks as the game goes long. The deck’s plan is to deploy efficient threats that apply pressure quickly and to keep them coming using repeatable sources of card advantage. Will I be able to bathe my opponents in dragon fire or will my opponent’s douse the flames? Let’s find out!
About The List
This deck was inspired by the list I saw TeIemachos brewing. I thought that if I added some more card advantage engines it could compete better in the late game. I also just love red cards, so of course I wanted to try a new way to play Mono-Red.
When selecting early threats for the deck, instead of prioritizing a higher power and damage output I instead selected cards that generate card advantage. I wanted my early plays to be threatening enough to demand an answer, but also to help me set up for the mid and late game if they stick. Cards like the ones above are able to draw me cards if I untap with them and therefore are highly effective against one-for-one removal.
What would any red deck be without haste creatures? I have 13 threats with haste, and many other threats that have an immediate board impact despite being unable to attack right away. Reckless Stormseeker is my favorite haste threat since it gives my other creatures haste as well! The goal with cards like these is to apply pressure to planeswalkers or recover from a wrath. While evasion is important to getting damage through, I have always found that haste is even more powerful.
This is my favorite part of the deck, and the reason it is so different from Mono-Red Aggro. These cards are what give us the edge against other Midrange and Control strategies. By drawing additional cards we gain access to more threats and better answers. Planeswalkers are the best way to do this since they have threatening ultimates and a multitude of abilities for versatility, but our enchantments are also great at providing options and dealing damage. You have to be careful when deploying these though, as if they are countered you gain no advantage, and the turn you play them you leave yourself vulnerable to attack.
One of the downsides of going bigger than an Aggro deck is that you need to run more mana sources to cast your top end spells. This results in flooding more often, and so to mitigate this we both run mana sinks and the previously mentioned sources of card advantage. Most of our mana sinks are stapled to threats or are in our mana base, making them less costly includes that will give us many two-for-ones or better against our opponent.
These lands help mitigate flooding by giving us a use for our mana. They also give us additional ways to pressure the opponent that avoid sorcery speed removal and trade for nonland cards. While Faceless Haven is the most powerful, our other lands are also strong and help us get through damage and dig for answers.
This deck is great against Aggro decks and non-green midrange. Our damage based removal has a low mana value and is excellent at efficiently taking out small creatures. Our Dragons and other flyers are able to get us over the top of many creature-based strategies, and our direct damage excels at winning races against them.
Our deck is weaker against Blue Control and Green-based Midrange. Blue Control has a better late game card advantage than us, and Green-based Midrange has many threats resilient to our removal. Both matchups are by no means unwinnable, but they are certainly difficult.
I ran one league with the deck, and our overall match win-loss record was 1-4. The deck certainly can do better, and had some unlucky draws that contributed to such a poor record.
My first match was against Yawgmoth playing Orzhov Angels, and I lost 1-2. However, every game was really close, and the card advantage from Chandra, Fire Artisan and [card]Vance’s Blasting Cannons was able to keep up with their Phyrexian Arena. The way I ended up losing was to fliers, since I have less Dragons than Yawgmoth has Angels. The one game I did manage to steal was from a top decked Embercleave attached to my Volt-Charged Berserker.
My second match was against Yawgmoth playing Esper Doom Foretold, and I lost 0-2. In game one we both had card advantage engines in Karn, Scion of Urza and Sarkhan, Wanderer to Shiv. I took down Karn with Reckless Stormseeker giving haste to a conjured Shivan Dragon, but he brought it back using The Eldest Reborn. However despite drawing two four-mana Chandras, I could not defeat him once Doom Foretold was in play, forcing me to sacrifice all my nonland, nontoken permanents. I held off for seven turns of its trigger, but eventually it just proved too much.
My third match was against Kazerox playing Mono-Green Midrange, and I lost 1-2. Game one they were able to play a Froghemoth while I was tapped out that immediately grew to a 6/6, and I could just never kill it as it kept getting bigger. Game two I was able to steal by ulting a Chandra, Fire Artisan and having removal for all of Kazerox’s mana dorks. Game three was a nailbiter, as I was racing Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, but once Kazerox gave it vigilance by transforming a Dormant Grove all hope was lost.
My fourth match was against Alan on Orzhov Midrange, and I won 2-0. Game one was very grindy. We traded many threats and answers, but eventually I stuck a Chandra, Torch of Defiance and the combination of her mana advantage and card advantage proved unbeatable. Game two I was able to use Goblin Chainwhirler to wipe away his fodder, then an Unholy Heat and a Lightning Bolt to kill the bigger creatures. He started to come back with a Meathook Massacre but was defeated by my Purphoros’s Intervention using all the Treasure tokens I had saved up from both Goldspan Dragon and Fable of the Mirror Breaker.
My fifth match was against raaabr on Black Mold, and I lost 0-2. In game one I could not answer a Yahenni, Undying Partisan which just kept getting bigger. In game two I flooded and hit an Embercleave off of my Vance’s Blasting Cannons. This matchup really made me wish I was running Burn Down the House.
I’ve gotta go rekindle the flames after such a thorough dousing from my opponents. In order to improve the deck, I think I want to add more cheap removal spells like Shock and a few wraths like Burn Down the House and Conductive Current. Thanks for the read, and I hope this gives you a cool deck to add to your Armory. If you have any questions about the article, or any suggestions for a future one, let me know by messaging me on Discord at WreckDeck#4901. Also, if you have a card for me to build around or an exciting deck idea to brew, mention me in the #brewers-corner channel on the official Gladiator Discord server and I’ll get to work!
I am an avid Gladiator player who wants to support the community! I’ve been playing Magic since 2007, and Gladiator since Season One of the AM League. My favorite Gladiator deck is Green Aggro.