It’s All About Chandra’s Spitfire
Aaron Barich took down the first big Standard event of Core Set 2020 Standard with… Mono-Red Aggro!
But Aaron’s Mono-Red was a whole new flavor. While related to previous incarnations of the deck, the Barich build featured four copies of Chandra’s Spitfire. What a weird three drop, you might muse to yourself: But this isn’t just a creature that you might play… It’s a dramatically different direction for Mono-Red that preserves most of what made the deck good before, but adds a Pyromancer’s Ascension-like end game.
Aaron’s build chooses Ember Hauler over Viashino Pyromancer, and consequently, Skewer the Critics over Wizard’s Lightning. While Viashino Pyromancer kind of always burns for two (and Ember Hauler only sometimes burns for two), the ability to choose when you do this for buffing Chandra’s Spitfire or setting up Skewer the Critics is a big deal in this more strategic build.
Of note: Both Runaway Steam-Kin and Chandra’s Spitfire are Elementals. As such, they don’t die to the sweeping [-3] of Chandra, Awakened Inferno.
Ember Hauler versus Viashino Pyromancer
Ember Hauler costs RR instead of R1… Which isn’t an issue in a deck with literally 20 basic Mountains.
The ability to deal two damage to a creature is of course an upgrade over Viashino Pyromancer’s 187 ability.
The downside, of course, is that Viashino Pyromancer always hits, and “hits” even if it would die in combat or to removal. That’s not necessarily true for Ember Hauler. Under Sixth Edition rules, Ember Hauler would have had the benefit of “damage on the stack” … But those rules haven’t been in play for years. If Ember Hauler is going to trade with something in combat, it will not also be able to deal its extra two.
There are pros and cons to both two drops. Ember Hauler is a little better with Skewer the Critics and Chandra’s Spitfire. Viashino Pyromancer is a little better at loading up damage against Planeswalkers.
2/2 versus 2/1!
The second toughness on Ember Hauler, combined with the presence of the three-toughness Spitfire, makes Aaron’s Red Deck a bit more resilient against other people’s Goblin Chainwhirlers.
And that’s not a small thing if Mono-Red is once again Standard’s early leader…
But Don’t Sleep on Cerulean Drake…
It’s like a Sea Sprite — and Sea Sprite was a legendary sideboard card against Deadguy Red “back in the day” — but has an additional ability!
Cerulean Drake’s most important function in the modern age is being able to wear a Curious Obsession. Decks that only have red removal (like Mono-Red, but probably not only Mono-Red) will probably just lose to that two-card combo.
But Cerulean Drake can be played in more than just Mono-Blue Tempo! This card seems like an outstanding sideboard card for Esper Control. Not only will it buy you a ton of time and life against the hated Mono-Red deck… It’s outstanding for Planeswalker defense!
Putting it All Together…
Patrick thinks the Mono-Red deck may want to be splashing green in the longer term.
Cindervines is one of the best sideboard cards in the format; and a great tool if Wilderness Reclamation decks return to popularity.
But maybe more importantly? Kraul Harpooner to knock Cerulean Drake out of the sky!
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