By Duncan Martin

Khans of Tarkir is popular. Like, insanely popular. Even crazier, the Standard format is really popular.

In the past few weeks, I have helped more new players build Standard decks than when the Innistrad block was still new. To me, that speaks a great deal to the power of Khans, perhaps even Theros. Now, there’s a huge difference between the hordes of players slamming games with Abzan Midrange or Jeskai Tempo and the new players building B/W Warriors, but seeing both my team excited about the format and new players show up weekly has been a more than pleasant surprise.

Keeping that in mind, this week’s spotlight shifts to a deck that is both exceptionally cheap to build and has surged in popularity in tournaments again.

Mono-Red Aggro

Creatures (21)
Satyr Hoplite
Akroan Crusader
Foundry Street Denizen
Monastery Swiftspear
War-Name Aspirant
Mogis's Warhound

Spells (21)
Titan's Strength
Dragon Mantle
Coordinated Assault
Hall of Triumph
Hordeling Outburst
Stoke the Flames

Land (18)
18 Mountain

While red decks may be fairly common, it’s hard to say that they aren’t powerful. In a format where players are using mana dorks, tap lands, and clunky three-color decks, there are few decks that can punish stumbling like this beast. Coordinated Assault’s flavor text sums up the deck nicely.

“It’s hard to shout, ‘Shields up!’ with a javelin in your chest.”

It’s designed heavily as a heroic deck, which is one of the most appealing traits to me. Satyr Hoplite does a great job of replacing Firedrinker Satyr here, often simply being larger as well as having the luxury of blocking and/or eating a burn spell without killing you.

Mogis’s Warhound, a card that is a personal favorite, triggers both heroic and prowess when bestowed, giving it even more power on top of its already sizable +2/+2.

Cards like Hammerhand, Titan’s Strength, and Coordinated Assault, all progress your heroic plan while being powerful enough effects to carry games by themselves.

Looking at the list, there are some obvious questions to be asked.

  • Where is Goblin Rabblemaster? Well, he’s too slow. It’s odd to think of it that way, but this deck is tuned to bash face as fast as possible and sacrifice whatever mid-game red decks have tried to burn their way through or rabble in. On turn three, investing three mana to attack for one is rarely worth it, and a card like Hall of Triumph makes the one-of Hordeling Outburst a strict upgrade in my eyes.
  • Only three Stoke the Flames? What about the other burn spells? Similar to Rabblemaster, burn doesn’t fit the deck well. I love scrying with Magma Jet or killing blockers with Lightning Strike as much as the next guy, but in a deck that fizzles out when it doesn’t have its curve these spells are just too slow. If you draw a Magma Jet and a Lightning Strike rather than a Coordinated Assault or Titan’s Strength you lose a lot of the speed that the deck houses, sacrificing it for spells that, in theory, are there to close out a game – a game which you’re no longer in because you didn’t draw aggressively enough. For that reason, there are only three Stoke the Flames. It’s by far the best burn spell in standard, and you really only need one to clean up your mess once you’re done, so three is a solid number.

If you like blisteringly fast, all-in decks, this is definitely worth trying out. It’s ridiculously explosive and your games end very quickly, either with your opponent falling out of their chair from shell-shock or you scooping to an Anger of the Gods.

It’s worth mentioning that the other most attractive part of this deck is its cost. This deck costs roughly twenty-five dollars to build. Stoke the Flames make up fifteen of that all by itself, so if you already have those you’re set. It’s easily the most powerful budget deck I’ve found thus far, and its level of playability has surprised me.

There has been a re-emergence of red aggro decks in the competitive scene in the recent tournaments, so sideboard hate is probably going to be higher. That being said, cards like Coordinated Assault give you sweet tech for the mirror match, and it’s important to remember that Anger of the Gods doesn’t always race this deck, especially when your opponent is on the draw. As for when your opponent casts Circle of Flame…well, screw that card. We didn’t want to hang out with that player anyway.

For anyone who likes have decks to build on, there is also solid ground here for another powerful deck – R/W Heroic. Playing this deck gives you some practice with the heroic mechanic while also helping you pick up a lot of the commons and uncommons you’ll need for the other version. Pick up a Battlefield Forge here and there, some Mana Confluences if you’re lucky enough, and some odd commons or uncommons and you’ve got yourself another deck.

Regardless of whether you intend to use the deck as a starting point for your heroic fantasies or just as a tool to smash your friend’s durdly blue deck, the deck is immensely fun, and with such a low price tag it’s very hard not to try once or twice. Be warned, though – smashing with this many one-drops can become addictive.

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