Mono-Red Obosh for Standard

Goncalo Pinto

(Editor’s Note: Fixed Sideboard section on 05/26.)


When this season was about to start on MTG Arena, I set a goal to myself that I would reach double Mythic. I like to achieve Mythic in Limited because it is way less stressful to get the top1200. I think last season with the introduction of the player’s draft pods was actually the first time I had to play more after reaching Mythic. Watching some more casual players in my area reaching such a deep understanding of the format just by making this grind made me set this goal for myself.

Diving into Standard

After fairly quickly achieving Mythic in Limited it was time to start the grind in Constructed, all the way from Bronze. I was pleasantly surprised that reaching Mythic in Limited for the last 6 seasons or so made me have available pretty much every single card in Standard, so I could just pick whatever I wanted. I knew 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 decks were probably the best decks, but those kinds of decks are really not my cup of tea. Super grindy and long games without counterspells is not really a style I excel in. I knew I was going to play some kind of aggro deck, at least until Platinum or Diamond. After a quick research I decided to give a try to Winota deck that Martin Juza was using on his stream.

Trying Winota

I was giving it some tweaks here and there and reached Platinum with this:

I stuck a bit on Platinum and decided to give the Cycling deck a try. I wanted to play a Companion deck, but didn’t feel like I was yet in the mood to not play aggro. I think Winota is a powerful deck, but felt a little bit of a glass canon. The mana was fine but I took lots of damage from it. Sometimes you draw too many 《Agent of Treachery》 and don’t really have any use for them and also sometimes the Winota’s ability just didn’t find anything. I think with more work, this deck might be the next big thing in Standard, I was just too lazy for it.

On to Cycling and Jeskai Lukka!

Flourishing FoxDrannith StingerZenith Flare

I copied a random list on the internet and reached Diamond with a decent win rate. On Diamond 4 I stuck a lot. The Cycling deck proved to have some problems. It is definitely a good deck, don’t get me wrong. Also, the mana was not so good, and the games where I had 《Flourishing Fox》 in hand but no white untapped mana to cast it were a bit discouraging.

Fires of InventionLukka, Coppercoat OutcastAgent of TreacheryYorion, Sky Nomad

I thought it was now time to play the famous Jeskai Lukka Yorion Deck. I saw my friend and Rivals Player Miguel Simões to do very well in the MagicFest Online with it and decided to give it a try. After 2 rounds for 2 hours and getting timed in one of the rounds because every time I cracked a 《Fabled Passage》 or played a 《The Birth of Meletis》 it would take me more than 15 seconds to go to the library and pick the card I was like ¯⧵_(ツ)_/¯.

Time to Go Red!

This was caused when I found this tweet from Oh JooHyun (@oh_joohyun).

Decided to build it and give it a test run. I kid you not. I was unstoppable. I had one of the sickest win runs I’ve ever made on MTG Arena from Diamond 4 to Mythic #5 with no more than 5 losses along the way. Eventually the Lukka Yorion decks started to adapt and the games started to get much closer, but it was still a good deck.

I think the main concept from Oh JooHyun is really the way to go with Mono-Red for Standard, but there are somethings that can be adapted, depending on what decks you are facing at any given time. As in most of the decks and this one in particular, there is not a perfect list in general, but you can try to maximize your changes in having the best possible list for your next tournament or your next MTG Arena run.

My goal here is to give you a starting point for you to have a deeper understanding on what are the pillars of the deck and what you can do in order to adapt it to your reality. Ideally, after reading this you will not need to ask me or Oh JooHyun what is the last version of the deck, because you can find that by yourself. With all this being said feel free to CTRL + F “just came here for the list and sideboard guide”.

Card Choices

Obosh VS No Obosh

Obosh, the PreypiercerEmbercleave

OK, let’s start with this one. It’s more like 《Obosh, the Preypiercer》 vs 《Embercleave》. 《Embercleave》 is the only card that I really miss from the old version. 《Embercleave》 on 《Anax, Hardened in the Forge》 is especially well positioned at the moment, with so few spot removals laying around. But maaaaaaan starting with 8 cards is really something else… you have the luxury of running more lands than usual with a such low curve deck, making sure you consistently hit your 3rd land drop for your 3 mana spell knowing that even if you are flooding you will have a very powerful spell to cast on turn 5 (or 4, sometimes). Also, the 2 drops are not even great, being actually a liability against decks with 《Shock》 or 《Stomp》. The other good card that you are not allowed to play is 《Torbran, Thane of Red Fell》, but I will let you figure out by yourself why it is not such a big deal.

The deck construction restrictions for Obosh are not a big deal, especially in an aggro deck. The nature of the restriction still allows you to fill and maximize all the mana in all the turns. One drop into double one drop is what you want to be doing most of the times anyway.

Final Verdict: I’m in clear favor of Obosh.




Castle Embereth


Not much to say here. 18 《Mountain》 and 4 《Castle Embereth》 is the stock and I doubt you will need to change it, but I can see some scenarios where you can add an extra utility land such as 《Mobilized District》 in order to support some extra 3 drops or a not so explored 5 drop.

1 Drops

I think that in order to complete what this deck is supposed to do you need to play between 14 and 16 one drops, at least. You are not supposed to keep a hand without one drops. I am more in favor of something in the range of 16-19 rather than fewer.

《Scorch Spitter》, 《Grim Initiate》, 《Fervent Champion》

Scorch Spitter


Grim Initiate


Fervent Champion


These 3 are the must have. 《Scorch Spitter》 hits for 2 by itself. 《Grim Initiate》 and 《Fervent Champion》‘s first strike is pretty important especially when you have 《Heraldic Banner》. 《Fervent Champion》 hitting for 2 when in multiples is also great and 《Grim Initiate》 leaving a body behind is a very nice bonus.

《Tin Street Dodger》

Tin Street Dodger

The best to break into board stalls. The fact that this deck has so many things to do in the first turns with the mana, and goes so wide in the late turns makes its ability less relevant. You know… if your opponent doesn’t block this one, they just block another one… Haste on the other hand is very important for this deck’s nuts. Going one drop into double one drop into Banner + haste one drop is pretty much this deck’s goal.

《Torch Courier》

Torch Courier

As I said above, haste is pretty important. This one combines very well with Anax and Obosh. It is obviously better against more controlish decks, punishing them for tapping out.

《Footlight Fiend》

Footlight Fiend

Very good if you expect lots of mirror matches.

《Goblin Banneret》

Goblin Banneret

It is my least favorite of all, but I think there might be a world with more Blue-White type control decks where this one might shine.

3 Drops

《Anax, Hardened in the Forge》, 《Light Up the Stage》, 《Heraldic Banner》

Anax, Hardened in the Forge


Light Up the Stage


Heraldic Banner


I really can’t imagine a world without running the full set of those. Anax is a heavy hitter that provides protection from sweepers. 《Light Up the Stage》 is just too efficient of a card draw to pass on in Standard and Banner is the glue that holds this deck all together. It allows you to skip the even number four drop directly to Obosh while it pumps the cheap swarm of one mana 1/1s .The pump effect is so good that I think 《Ferocity of the Wilds》 is also a card that you should be considering in your main deck.

《Bonecrusher Giant》

Bonecrusher Giant

It is really good. It provides you card advantage while gives you an Even spell to do on turn 2. In my opinion what makes it not being a lock 4-of is because against the Lukka decks there are some stronger options for the 3 drop slot.

The damage can’t be prevented effect from 《Stomp》 is something that comes up once in a while so keep that in your head when playing against:

If another situation has come up with you, please let me know in the comment section!

《Chandra, Acolyte of Flame》

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

I really like this card. It is one of your best, if not the best threat against control decks, not only by providing sweeper immune double attacker but also flashbacking 《Light Up the Stage》 and/or cheap interaction when the games tend to be more grindy.

《Phoenix of Ash》

Phoenix of Ash

It is a good card overall, but it shines in more grindy matchups. If you feel like you have some issues breaking into board stalls, it’s time to up the Phoenix count.

5 Drops

《Skarrgan Hellkite》

Skarrgan Hellkite

It is something that I didn’t see many people explore yet, but I don’t think it is unreasonable to have one extra Obosh or 《Skarrgan Hellkite》 to help you top of the curve. I’ve added one dragon to the sideboard, but I’m still a bit traumatized with 5 mana hasting dragons.


《Shock》 VS 《Blazing Volley》

ShockBlazing Volley

OK, this is the part that perhaps me and most people disagree on. But I don’t really like 《Shock》s… it’s only pretty good against 《Lurrus of the Dream Den》 decks where it efficiently kills 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》 and Lurrus itself. Sure it is fine in the mirror and against Cycling, but in those matchups I rather have main deck 《Blazing Volley》. Remember that there will always be a point where you can give 2 damage to each creature on the other side of the table, because Obosh is always in your hand! Combined with Chandra you get to do this “combo” even on turn 4.

Omen of the SunBlazing VolleyYorion, Sky Nomad

Also, one thing that I’ve been realizing is that when the Yorion decks cast the first 《Omen of the Sun》 (or even the second). That’s not the biggest problem. Your attacks are more or less efficient against a couple of 1/1 textless dorks. The problem is when they combine it with a 4/5 body, where they can chump Anax/Obosh kill one or two of your dorks and still untap with a decent board presence. Getting rid of the 1/1s on the turn after Yorion will mean most of the time more damages and more efficient attacks than a 《Shock》, even in that matchup. Overall I think this deck’s job is to go under and it doesn’t need that many interaction cards.


《Redcap Melee》

Redcap Melee

I think this is one of the most important cards to have in the sideboard. It shines in the mirror and against Winota. It’s not ideal against 《Flourishing Fox》, but it tends to be their most problematic card after sideboard, especially if they play the Fox slow. If you run into Cycling a lot consider running back some 《Shock》s.

《Grafdigger’s Cage》

Grafdigger's Cage

It is obviously great against Winota and 《Cauldron Familiar》/《Witch’s Oven》 decks. I don’t think it is worth to board in against Lukka. Depending on my list I can board one in against 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 decks, especially if it’s Elementals because they have multiple 《Genesis Ultimatum》.

《Soul-Guide Lantern》

Soul-Guide Lantern

It is mainly against Cycling, to stop 《Zenith Flare》, but I’ve found it very useful against Uro decks. Ideally you get their Uro after the 3 mana 《Explore》 and then cycle it. But worst-case scenario you just delay their Escape by removing their full graveyard if they cast it late. It is usually their best plan against you so it’s fine to take a little card disadvantage in there.



It works extremely well with the big hitters (Anax/Giant/Obosh), but also allows quick starts with 《Fervent Champion》 (remember, equips for free).

《Irreverent Revelers》

Irreverent Revelers

VS Cat/Oven and Temur Adventures aiming to destroy 《Lucky Clover》.

《Chandra, Acolyte of Flame》

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

This used to be a sideboard card, but overperformed so much for me that I decided to run it main deck now.

Cards That are Popular but I Don’t really Like

《Legion Warboss》

Legion Warboss

Don’t get me wrong, it is a strong card and a card that I usually really like. But I don’t think it accomplishes anything in the sideboard right now. It doesn’t survive or help against any sweepers in the format and it dies to almost every cheap interaction. It might have a place if some sort of classic Blue White control becomes popular since it is good against 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and does a decent job at snowballing against an opponent with full of counterspells.

《Claim the Firstborn》

Claim the Firstborn

I know it’s an easy way to beat Uro decks, but that’s too narrow… and sometimes it is good, but not enough. I think the Lantern does a decent job against Uro so you don’t need to “waste” a sideboard slot on this. If you had a way to sacrifice it… that would be a different story.

《Act of Treason》

Act of Treason

This is much better against traditional Jeskai Fires than Claim against Uro, but still… I don’t think it does enough… Again… not having a way to sacrifice it in the end makes me not being a big fan of these effects.

Tricks and Things to Keep in Mind

Sequence in the First Few Turns

《Scorch Spitter》 is your default one drop, since it deals 2 by itself. It gets tricky when you don’t have Spitter and have 《Light Up the Stage》.

《Fervent Champion》

《Chandra, Acolyte of Flame》

《Anax, Hardened in the Forge》

You often want to cast the second Anax to get 4 satyrs.


《Stomp》 prevents damage preventing.

《Castle Embereth》

Try to hide your 《Castle Embereth》 as much as possible. If you are not going to use it, there is not a real reason to play it before it is your 7th land drop. Though, you should play 《Castle Embereth》 as your 7th land even if you have more 《Mountain》 in your hand and/or don’t use it on the turn to prepare for topdecking the second 《Castle Embereth》 on your turn 8.

First Strike/Trample Creature with Obosh

Be careful with the interaction of first strike/trample and Obosh! It attributes damage as usual, only then it’s doubled.

Ex1: if your 《Fervent Champion》 gets double blocked by 2 《Raise the Alarm》 tokens it will die and kill only one token.

Ex2: you attack with a x/x trample creature (due to 《Ferocity of the Wilds》 or 《Shadowspear》) and your opponent blocks with a 0/4 wall:

Current Decklist and Sideboard Guide

If you just came here for the list and sideboard guide this is the part you were looking for:

Jeskai Lukka

Against Jeskai Lukka


Blazing Volley


Bonecrusher Giant

Bant Ramp

Against Bant Ramp


Blazing Volley


Bonecrusher Giant

Jeskai Cycling

Against Jeskai Cycling


Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter
Torch Courier Torch Courier Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger
Ferocity of the Wilds


Shadowspear Shadowspear Redcap Melee Redcap Melee
Soul-Guide Lantern Soul-Guide Lantern Skarrgan Hellkite Bonecrusher Giant
Blazing Volley

Temur Reclamation

Note: against decks with 《Flame Sweep》 it is fine to board in 《Bonecrusher Giant》.

Against Temur Reclamation


Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger
Blazing Volley Blazing Volley


Soul-Guide Lantern Soul-Guide Lantern
Grafdigger's Cage Bonecrusher Giant

Mono-Red Obosh Mirror

Seriously, don’t be that guy that leaves 1/1 non first strike dorks in.

Against Mono-Red Obosh Mirror


Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter
Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger
Torch Courier Torch Courier


Redcap Melee Redcap Melee Redcap Melee Redcap Melee
Blazing Volley Skarrgan Hellkite Bonecrusher Giant
Shadowspear Shadowspear

Rakdos Lurrus

Against Rakdos Lurrus


Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter
Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger
Torch Courier Torch Courier


Soul-Guide Lantern Soul-Guide Lantern Grafdigger's Cage Grafdigger's Cage
Skarrgan Hellkite Irreverent Revelers Bonecrusher Giant
Shadowspear Shadowspear

Jund Sacrifice

Against Jund Sacrifice


Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter
Torch Courier Torch Courier Chandra, Acolyte of Flame Ferocity of the Wilds
Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger


Grafdigger's Cage Grafdigger's Cage Redcap Melee Redcap Melee
Soul-Guide Lantern Soul-Guide Lantern Shadowspear Shadowspear
Skarrgan Hellkite Irreverent Revelers Bonecrusher Giant

Temur Adventures

Against Temur Adventures


Torch Courier Torch Courier Ferocity of the Wilds


Blazing Volley Irreverent Revelers Bonecrusher Giant

Winota Midrange

Against Winota Midrange


Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter Scorch Spitter
Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger Tin Street Dodger
Torch Courier Torch Courier


Redcap Melee Redcap Melee Redcap Melee Redcap Melee
Blazing Volley Skarrgan Hellkite Bonecrusher Giant
Grafdigger's Cage Grafdigger's Cage


I hope this helps you in the future. This is a fine deck in the current Standard, but especially good to breeze through the non-Mythic levels of MTG Arena, where you can give up some win rate percentage points in order to jam some extra games.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @u_mad_bro_MTGO for more Magic: The Gathering updates!

Gonçalo (Twitter)

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Goncalo Pinto A veteran player from Portugal. He has a good relationship with Hareruya Latin members especially his countryman, Marcio Carvalho. His best finish was alongside with Marcio, both made top 8 at Pro Tour Dominaria and he won the closest match against his closest friend. The result was good enough to become a Gold Level Pro and he joined Hareruya Pros after his highest season. Read more articles by Goncalo Pinto