Red decks are a prominent force in Magic: The Gathering Arena, the newest non-rotating format, Explorer. The midrange is the most important force to contend with, but there are aggressive and controlling iterations as well. This list looks at mono-red cards that are suitable for any deck that plays red as its primary source of mana.
When playing in a best-of-three format, it is necessary to have a sideboard. Otherwise, your deck isn’t optimized for the wide variety of decks you’ll face. So whether you’re splashing black, green, white, or blue with your red deck, a variety of red cards come in handy.
Control decks are obnoxious little things that don’t let anyone have fun. The best answer to Teferi, hero of Dominaria, or an equally annoying planeswalker that resolves, is a two-mana uncontrollable burn spell. WOTC explicitly designed Fry as a sideboard card with control decks in mind.
It doesn’t matter that Teferi releases mana for a potential counterspell in the next end step, because Fry can end her existence long before that. He can even knock out planeswalkers like Narset, Parter of Veils, and The Wandering Emperor the same turn they come into play. Keep two or three of these cards ready to bring up against those blue decks.
seven lava coil
Mono-green decks are on the rise in Explore, but few burn spells take care of their 4/4 creatures — not to mention that those creatures cost three mana and enter play on turn two.
Lava Coil is the answer you’ve been looking for to handle such effective spells. Additionally, his exile clause thwarts the Old-Growth Troll’s secondary function, allowing him to become an enchantment – and inevitably return to the battlefield. Exiling creatures isn’t a bad idea either with Greasefang lurking around.
6 Raging Ferocidon
Cards like Absorb and Meathook Massacre prolong games and give opponents a chance for victory. The rampaging Ferocidon extinguishes any glimmer of hope by preventing them from gaining life. Having this dinosaur in play might be painful for you if you play more creatures, but it affects your opponent a lot more, so don’t be afraid of a little pain.
Not only do you not have to worry about lifelink, but Rampaging Ferocidon is a good beater. Its 3/3 body, coupled with Menace, allows Ferocidon to land good swings against your opponent.
Red does two things well: deal damage and remove artifacts. Abrade is the quintessence of this corner of the color pie. Dealing damage to creatures is essential for red decks – whether you’re playing an aggressive or mid-range deck, you need to clear the way for your creatures to deal damage to your opponent.
Summon Abrade when your opponent has a fair amount of creatures scrambling the battlefield, and/or playing some artifacts that need to be removed. Unlicensed Hearse is an artifact worth destroying, to protect cards like Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger.
4 Wrath of the gods
Not all red decks are aggressive. Sometimes they are mid-range, with a touch of another color like black or green. When you’re facing a deck that overwhelms you with creatures, especially small creatures, it’s time for a sweeper who can control things.
Including an Anger of the Gods or two is great for your sideboard when you encounter those decks that like to go far. Swap it for something with a similar mana value, or a card that will mostly be dead in your hand.
3 Chandra, Awakened Hell
Control players have a bad habit of always having a counterspell handy and not letting you solve anything impactful. Chandra, Awakened Inferno is your go-to for those pesky blue control decks. She is one of the best Chandra cards ever printed and puts your opponent on a clock.
Keep one or two in the sideboard and bring it in when you suspect a counterspell. Even if Chandra survives for a turn, you will get an emblem and this damage is unavoidable. She is also useful in place of a sweeper against mob laden bridges.
2 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
Nothing is more frustrating for an aggressive deck than having your opponent on the ropes before they gain life and put that victory out of reach. Tibalt, Rakish Instigator performs a similar function to Rampaging Ferocidon, except it’s harder to kill and spawns creatures that deal damage when they die.
Tibalt might be more appropriate for decks that don’t play as many creatures as other red decks, since Ferocidon pings you for one life each time someone plays a creature. No more than two copies of this planeswalker are needed on your sideboard.
1 Akroan’s War
Red decks struggle to deal with legions of creatures, and sometimes a typical sweeper isn’t good enough as it destroys your own creatures. Akroan Warfare is useful because it destroys creatures, while allowing you to prevent your own from getting caught in the crossfire.
A single copy of The Akroan War will suffice for your deck, and you’ll want to bring it up against a mirror match or an opponent with mobs of creatures. Take one of their own, force them to attack, then have them destroy each other. It’s a pretty methodical and satisfying way to annihilate your opponent’s forces.
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