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Mono-Colored in a Two-Color World


Now that Guilds of Ravnica is here, everyone is busy trying out new cards and combinations for all of the new guilds. They’re trying to see whether it’s better to play two, three, or four colors in order to maximize their win percentage. However, at the start of a new Standard season, since rotation has just happened, I find it better to stick with a simpler strategy. Mono-colored decks offer a lot of power without sacrificing any consistency that a multicolored deck might have problems with. Today I have for you five mono-colored decks, one for each color of mana, which have all gone 5-0 recently on Magic Online (MTGO). Let’s get started.


Our first deck this week is looking to play a lot of Islands followed by a large Tempest Djinn. Let’s take a look at it.

This style of deck was popular prior to the recent rotation, and it's nice to see that it remained fairly intact. Nightveil Sprite is the only card from Guilds of Ravnica in the main deck. It's a great inclusion because in addition to being a flying threat, it has surveil 1. If you've been able to use surveil, you know just how good of an ability it can be. It helps you find cards you need more quickly by putting less useful cards into your graveyard. It also helps you find much needed land if you happen to be mana screwed. It also helps ensure you have a steady stream of creatures you can play which is very helpful in a tempo deck such as this one.

The main gameplan with this deck is to play a few early creatures, attacking with them whenever it looks clear for you to do so. Don't attack too aggressively as you'll want to make sure you have enough creatures in play to be able to hold off a counterattack from your opponent. Once you get Curious Obsession in play on an evasive creature, keep up the pressure by attacking each turn, which will also net you additional cards. Use your counterspells to try to keep big threats off your opponent's battlefield because none of your creatures are particularly beefy and won't be able to stop them without using multiple blockers which definitely hinders your chances of winning. Eventually you should be able to win thanks to the enter-the-battlefield effects of your creatures that can tap or remove an opponent's creature.


Next up, we have a Mono-Black deck that’s mostly a control deck but can also play like it’s a midrange deck at times. Let’s have a look at it.

While technically this is a Mono-Black deck, thanks to Chromatic Lantern you have the ability to play multicolored spells. This means you're not limited to only being able to play the first option on any of the split cards in the deck. However, if you haven't found your Chromatic Lantern, those split cards aren't dead in your hand thanks to their hybrid mana costs which allow you to cast them using only Black mana.

This deck excites me because it's playing Tetzimoc, Primal Death. When Rivals of Ixalan came out, it was one of the cards that I was most excited to try out. However, nothing ever became of it because it wasn't as efficient as the more powerful cards from the Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks. Now that they've rotated, Tetzimoc has a chance to shine. By putting prey counters on your opponent's creatures, you may be able to throw off your opponent's game. They might attack differently than they usually would for fear that their creatures will be destroyed soon.

Another exciting card in this deck is Doom Whisperer. Not only is it a huge threat that your opponent will need to deal with quickly, but it's also a great enabler of card selection. One thing to remember is that since this creature is likely to be targeted by your opponent's removal spells, you can activate its ability to surveil in response. You can even activate it multiple times in order to set up your next two draws if you don't mind paying the additional life.


Mono-Green stompy decks have been a contender in Standard for much of the last year. Let’s take a look at the latest example of this style of deck.

As you can see, this deck includes a Swamp, however I'm classifying this as Mono-Green since all of the spells in the main deck are all Mono-Green. In fact, if you were to modify the sideboard to suit your own meta, you might be able to remove the Black cards from it which would allow you to truly make this Mono-Green.

This deck includes a couple of cards from Guilds of Ravnica that I'm pretty hyped about. The first is Nullhide Ferox. It's aggressively costed for its size and it really makes playing cards like Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, that force the opponent to discard a card of their choosing from their hand, to be more of a liability. This is also a big creature with hexproof, so it might be difficult for your opponent to remove this from the battlefield even though it has a built-in way to remove the hexproof. By the time the opponent has an extra two mana to spend to remove the hexproof, you've likely done quite a bit of additional damage to them. And the drawback of not being able to play anything but creature spells is nearly nonexistent since you only have a handful of noncreature spells in the deck.

Pelt Collector is the other card from Guilds of Ravnica that has me excited. In a deck like this, if you're able to get the Pelt Collector out early you should have no problem placing +1/+1 counters on it. Once you gain trample, Pelt Collector becomes another creature that your opponent must deal with as soon as possible or else. That means if your opponent is relying on spot removal to deal with troublesome creatures you play, they could be spread a bit thin since there's a large number of must-deal-with creatures in this deck.


White Weenie strategies have been popular for as long as I’ve been playing Magic. Here’s the latest example of this archetype.

This is a deck that's looking to fill up the battlefield with as many permanents as it can. Hitting Ascend and getting the City's Blessing shouldn't be any problem for you, and doing so will power up your Skymarcher Aspirant and Pride of Conquerors. It's a shame that more of your creatures don't share a creature type as that would make including Radiant Destiny more possible.

Conclave Tribunal and Venerated Loxodon both have convoke which makes them able to be cast even if you have used all of your lands to cast other spells this turn. Remember that a creature you just cast can still be used to convoke other spells with. That's very important since you're looking to overwhelm your opponent with a bunch of small creatures.


The final deck I have for you is a very aggressive Mono-Red deck. Let's take a look at it.

We've seen decks featuring The Flame of Keld doing well ever since Dominaria was released. This deck takes everything about them that was great and infuses them with a couple of amazing cards from Guilds of Ravnica.

Runaway Steam-Kin has proven itself as a powerhouse in nearly any Red deck. Simply by casting spells like you normally would, you're able to transform this 1/1 into a 4/4 with very little effort. Then, if you happen to be in a spot where you need additional mana, you can always cash in the three +1/+1 counters in order to produce three Red mana, which allows you to begin accruing +1/+1 counters all over again. Runaway Steam-Kin enables you to quickly empty your hand so you can play The Flame of Keld to its fullest.

Risk Factor is the latest in the line of cards that force your opponent to choose between two choices, both of which benefit you. In a deck as aggressive as this one, choosing to take four damage helps you end the game that much quicker. On the other hand, if they allow you to draw three cards, you could easily draw enough burn spells to deal more than the four points of damage they could have taken. Risk Factor is also the card I want to see most as one of the two cards drawn from chapter two of The Flame of Keld.

Wrapping Up

Since we'll be on Ravnica for the foreseeable future, I have no doubt that two-color decks will be heavily played. Hopefully today you've seen that there's still a place for competitive mono-colored decks as well. I'd love to hear what deck you're currently doing well in Standard with. Let me know by leaving a comment below or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

- Mike Likes