Deck of the Week: Standard B/R Aggro

Simon IrvingStandard

Dominaria Standard is still a new and shiny format, open to all kinds of innovation and originality. Early results have shown a massive swing away from the previous Standard metagame, with nary a Scarab God to be found. Without that great bug-headed monstrosity casting its ominous shadow over the battlefields and graveyards of our Standard matches, many new archetypes are cropping up. From Llanowar Elf-fueled Mono-Green lists to resurgent Blue/White Control lists leaning on the power of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, it’s a bold new format to navigate.

Mox Boarding House regular Andrew Blackwood found success against the unknown this weekend with an innovative Black/Red Aggro list, winning a PPTQ at Geek Fortress in Snohomish, WA. Traditional Mono-Red strategies have lost a step, in large part thanks to the defensive strength of Seal Away and Lyra Dawnbringer, so Andrew grafted a small black splash and a whole pile of artifact synergies onto the Hazoret & Co. lists we’re all used to seeing.

Andrew Blackwood’s B/R Aggro 

4 Soul-Scar Mage
4 Bomat Courier
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
2 Pia Nalaar
1 Hazoret the Fervent
2 Rekindling Phoenix
4 Heart of Kiran
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained
3 Abrade
4 Unlicensed Disintegration
4 Dragonskull Summit
3 Canyon Slough
3 Spire of Industry
14 Mountain

1 Abrade
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Aethersphere Harvester
2 Arguel’s Blood Fast
2 Doomfall
2 Duress
1 Fiery Cannonade
1 Glorybringer
2 Magma Spray
1 Sweltering Suns
1 The Eldest Reborn

Andrew credited Goblin Chainwhirler with a lot of his success, calling it “probably the reason for playing the deck in its current form.” For just three red mana, Chainwhirler pings your opponent, wipes the board of pesky Llanowar Elves and Bomat Couriers, crews Heart of Kiran, and can team up with Soul-Scar Mage to permanently shrink an entire board of larger creatures. Andrew says that this list wants to constantly apply pressure in Game One, and Chainwhirler‘s vast utility accomplishes much of that goal.


Heart of Kiran was the other card that drew Andrew to this particular build. With vigilance making it immune to the ubiquitous Seal Away, Heart is back to its old tricks of dealing egregious amounts of damage in the early game. What’s more, all these artifacts enable Spire of Industry, fixing an otherwise-clunky Black/Red manabase without jeopardizing Andrew’s ability to resolve Goblin Chainwhirler on curve.

The black splash offers answers to the cards most troublesome to Mono-Red, specifically Lyra Dawnbringer. Unlicensed Disintegration is back to kill angels and take names, all while adding in a sizable amount of chip damage if any of the deck’s many artifacts are in play. Duress, Doomfall, and The Eldest Reborn give the deck versatility against a slew of defensive answers. Meanwhile, Angrath, the Flame-Chained substitutes for Glorybringer – you don’t know true joy until you snatch a Lyra away from your befuddled Blue/White opponent and smack them for five damage with it.

Moving forward, Andrew believes that the balance of high-end threats could still use tweaking. Karn, Scion of Urza was a non-factor for him throughout the PPTQ, and he notes that Chandra, Torch of Defiance has lost utility, since her damage can no longer be redirected to opposing Planeswalkers. He still feels the core of the deck is well-positioned against the meta, though. What’s more, Andrew’s close friend and fellow Mox regular Campbell Glass made Top 4 of the same PPTQ with a nearly identical list, showing that the two of them read the metagame well.

Between versatile early threats and a diverse collection of late-game haymakers, this list is poised to adapt to whatever you face from match to match.


Header design: Justin Treadway
Header image: “Goblin Chainwhirler” by Svetlin Velinov