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Mono-Red Aggro is one of the most popular decks on Magic: The Gathering Arena's Explorer format. Explorer is a format exclusive to MTG Arena that is the client's version of Magic: The Gathering's Pioneer format. All Pioneer legal cards available on MTG Arena are legal in Explorer and eventually it will become Pioneer once enough of the card list is added.

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Mono-Red Aggro is a deck built around winning games as fast as possible, dealing enough damage to your opponent to win the game before they even have a chance to set up their defenses. It is especially popular with climbing the ranked ladder due to how quickly wins (and losses) tend to be.

Sample Decklist

Image of the Soul-Scar Mage card in Magic: The Gathering, with art by Steve Argyle

Sample Decklist

4 Bonecrusher Giant

2 Goblin Chainwhirler

4 Monastery Swiftspear

4 Soul-Scar Mage

2 Torbran, Thane Of Red Fell

4 Light Up The Stage

4 Skewer The Critics

4 Lightning Strike

4 Play With Fire

2 Spikefield Hazard

4 Embercleave

4 Kumano Faces Kakkazan

2 Den Of The Bugbear

13 Mountain

2 Ramunap Ruins

1 Sokenzan, Crucible Of Defiance

Sample Sideboard

2 Abrade

2 Chandra, Torch Of Defiance

2 Nahiri's Warcrafting

2 Rampaging Ferocidon

3 Rending Volley

2 Roiling Vortex

2 Unlicensed Hearse

Key Cards

Bonecrusher Giant and Skewer The Critics card artworks

Monastery Swiftspear

Image of the Monastery Swiftspear card in Magic: The Gathering, with art by Gabor Szikszai

Monastery Swiftspear is one of the most important cards in the deck. It comes down as early as turn one and immediately starts making an impact thanks to its haste. It has a great statline at 1/2 for a one-drop, and that can be boosted with prowess triggers.

Since your deck is loaded with noncreature spells, you can combine the burn spells with Monastery's Swiftspear prowess trigger to deal giant amounts of damage in just one turn. It can also be used to catch the opponent off guard when you're on the defense by pumping its stats to win combat, removing another creature with a burn spell at the same time.

Bonecrusher Giant

mtg bonecrusher giant full card with art background

A card that acts as both a burn spell and a creature, Bonecrusher Giant is another card that's a must-run at four copies. Its adventure side that deals two damage to any target can remove any early blockers or deal damage directly to the opponent.

Once it's on the battlefield, Bonecrusher Giant is a burn spell if the opponent ever tries to remove it with a spell, since it'll deal two damage to them to do so. It also has a great statline that can win most early combat against other creatures. When combined with other cards in the deck, Bonecrusher Giant can win games.


Embercleave MTG Card

Embercleave is one of the main ways Mono-Red Aggro wins the game. One of the deck's weaknesses is closing out games if the opponent can get creatures onto the battlefield. Thanks to Embercleave's effect to give the equipped creature trample, it creates a way to deal the last amount of damage needed to win. It also has flash so that you can equip it to any creature that needs it the most during any combat.

Embercleave helps to win combat while dealing trample damage. Since it gives double strike and a +1/+1 stat boost, it can lead to massive damage being dealt. Bonecrusher Giant is one of the best targets in the deck as it will deal a ton of damage in most situations.

Light Up The Stage

Image of the Light up the stage card in Magic: The Gathering, with art by Dimitry Burmak

Mono-Red Aggro can run out of cards in its hand rather quickly. Light Up The Stage helps to circumvent that issue. It is very easy to cast it for its spectacle cost as there is rarely a turn you cannot deal damage.

It lets you play both the cards it exiles for its effect and you have until the end of your next turn to do so. This allows you to be efficient with your mana and not have to worry about the cards that get exiled being wasted.

Kumano Faces Kakkazan

MTG: Kumano Faces Kakkazan/Etching of Kumano card

Kumano Faces Kakkazan is a very powerful Saga available for Mono-Red Aggro. It does a small amount of burn damage when it enters the battlefield in its first chapter. The second chapter is its most useful effect, as it can turn a creature into a much more powerful one with a +1/+1 counter on it. When put onto a creature like Bonecrusher Giant or Goblin Chainwhirler, this turns them into massive threats.

When Kumano Faces Kakkazan transforms into Etching Of Kumano, you get a creature with haste and a decent statline. It also makes it so any creature that dies from something in your control will exile instead. There are plenty of graveyard-centric decks in Explorer, so this effect is a very solid one to have on an already powerful permanent.

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How To Play Mono-Red Aggro

Soul-Scar mage and skewer the critic card artworks

Mono-Red Aggro's gameplan is to win the game as soon as possible while the opponent has no to low defenses. While the only creature that can attack the turn you play it is Monastery Swiftspear, the rest of the cards help to push your advantage further. Soul-Scar Mage makes all of your burn spells more permanent so you can ensure you'll be able to remove any creature outside of combat. Both Monastery Swiftspear and Soul-Scar Mage have prowess that turns your burn spells into stat boosts for them, as well as to be able to deal massive amounts of burst damage in just one turn.

The deck plays a plethora of burn spells. Play With Fire is the cheapest and will scry one if you use it on the opponent, which allows you to control the top card of your library to make sure you don't draw a dead card. Both Lightning Strike and Skewer The Critics will deal three damage, the latter of which is easy to cast thanks to having a spectacle cost of just one red mana. Lightning Strike is an instant that allows you to either use it as burn or as a removal spell to destroy one of your opponent's creatures; that way they don't have a blocker when your turn comes back around.

While it is tempting to deal damage directly to your opponent's life total, burn spells should be used on creatures if they are on the battlefield. It's more important to handle potential blockers as that can shut you off from being able to close out the game. There are other ways to close out the game rather than using these burn spells to get the last amount of damage in, so don't be afraid to use them on creatures.

If you have an instant burn spell available, it is good to attack with Monastery Swiftspear/Soul-Scar Mage. If the opponent blocks one of these creatures, the burn spell will trigger prowess so it will have enough toughness to survive combat while destroying your opponent's creature.

The two main ways to win the game are with Torbran, Thane Of Red Fell, and Embercleave. Torbran turns all of your red sources into extra damage as it makes it so they all deal two extra damage. This turns something like Lightning Strike into a spell that deals five damage - a quarter of the starting life total. Embercleave can often win games on its own. It equips itself to any target when it enters the battlefield, and since you have so many creatures to attack with, this can often be done for just two red mana.

Since by the time you can cast it the opponent is usually low on life, Embercleave's trample and double strike are helpful to ensure you win the game. If Torbran is also on the battlefield, it's almost a guaranteed win.

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