Hello everyone!

I’m happy to report that Standard appears to be in a much better place following the latest round of banning. Based upon what I have seen over the last week, deck variety is up and aggro decks for the first time since core Set 2021 was released have a real chance to compete in Standard.
According to the data that I have seen, best-of-one has taken over Standard as the preferred method of play, so rather than look at best of three decks I want to focus today on best-of-one decks that have seen successful play. Many of the decks I see playing or watching streams are focused on two- or three-color mid-range strategies. This leaves these decks vulnerable to fast aggressive decks that want to end the game before these decks can execute their game plan.

Red based decks have access to probably the most powerful card in standard: Embercleave. In the year Embercleave has been in standard, the card has signal handedly kept aggro strategies alive. The possibility of winning the game with a signal attack has kept players brewing up decks looking for a consistent deck that plays Embercleave. With the banning of Omnath and Uro, these decks have a much better chance to shine in Standard.

Below are two Best-of-One decks that utilize Embercleave as their finisher. I have been very successful with each deck and I recommend them to anyone who likes playing Aggro.

Mono Red Aggro | Standard Best-of-One | 36-15 | Scott Trepanier

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CREATURES (30)
4 Bonecrusher Giant
4 Fervent Champion
4 Rimrock Knight
4 Robber of the Rich
2 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
4 Weaselback Redcap
4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge
4 Phoenix of Ash

INSTANTS (4)
4 Shock

ARTIFACTS (4)
4 Embercleave

LANDS (22)
4 Castle Embereth
18 Mountain

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Mono-Red has been around for many years. For the first time in several seasons, Mono-Red is a viable strategy. What makes this version successful is its ability to deal fast damage while also having evasion and recursive threats.

My version includes two under utilized creatures that have played key roles in the deck’s success: Weaselback Redcap and Phoenix of Ash.

Weaselback Redcap replaces Scorch Spitter as the second one drop in the deck. Redcap’s value comes from its creature type and ability. As a knight, it works well with Fervent Champion by giving it another target for its +1/+0 boost to another knight. Most games when I have Champion and Redcap in my opening hand, I play Redcap on turn one followed by Champion on turn two. This gives Redcap the boost each turn it can attack. In addition, Redcap is a mana sink later in the game. For two mana, you can pump up Redcap by +2/+0 as many times as you want. This has won a few games for me. Particularly when I attach Embercleave to Weaselback Redcap.

Phoenix of Ash is a valuable evasive threat for the deck that can fly over blockers to create consistent damage. Another advantage of Phoenix is its escape ability. Against mill and rogue decks that send a lot of cards to the graveyard, Phoenix is an all-star. I have won several games against Rogues by recurring Phoenix to take out Rogues flyers and bring it back turn after turn to continue piling on damage.
Overall, the deck plays quickly and can take down any opponent.

Boros Knights | Standard Best-of-One | 12-3 | Scott Trepanier

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Creatures (30)
4 Acclaimed Contender
4 Venerable Knight
4 Worthy Knight
4 Fervent Champion
4 Rimrock Knight
4 Inspiring Veteran
4 Selfless Savior
2 Basri’s Lieutenant

Sorceries (4)
4 Basri’s Solidarity

Enchantments (2)
2 Glorious Anthem

Artifacts (4)
4 Embercleave

Lands (20)
4 Tournament Grounds
4 Needleverge Pathway
6 Plains
6 Mountain

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At the beginning of Throne of Eldraine season, knights were one of the decks that many players tried to make work, but the overall power level of the set made the deck a lower tier option. With the bans in place and the aggro lane open Boros Knights has a chance to become a mainstay in Standard.

When I tried the deck this season, I was surprised at how quick and resilient the deck was. The engine behind the deck is Worthy Knight. When you cast another knight with Worthy Knight in play you create a 1/1 peasant token. This plays into the go wide strategy of the deck. Typically, by turn four, your side of the board has five to ten creatures on it and you are setup for a lethal attack. Add Embercleave and you have a very lethal combination.

A surprising all-star in the deck is Selfless Savior. The ability to protect another creature from removal is an important part of the deck’s success. In many games, Selfless Savior has prevented a Worthy Knight from an early removal spell. This has led to Worthy Knight creating several tokens to go along with the knights casted. Having a way to protect Worthy Knight, another creature, or from dying in combat is a key to the deck’s success.

Another important piece to the Boros Knights game plan is Basri’s Solidarity. Casting it on turn four or five with board full of knights and peasant tokens usually overwhelms an opponent and leads to a concession or a legal attack.

The final piece to the knights’ puzzle is Acclaimed Contender. When you cast Acclaimed Contender, it allows you to dig for a knight or an equipment card when you have another knight in play. Typically, this leads to a copy of Worthy Knight, Inspiring Veteran, or an Embercleave. I like to play Contender with mana available, so that I can cast the card I get off Contender on the same turn.

Boros Knights and Mono-Red Aggro each offer a solid option in the Best-of-One format on Arena. Overall, Boros Knights had an 80%-win rate and Mono-Red had a 71% win rate. Both decks are fun to play and can take out any deck in the Standard.

Until next time, good luck finding your win condition!