Magic: Red Aggro Decks in New Standard

This is an aggressive one-drop. Not a great one, but still an aggro one-drop.

Welcome to amateur competitive Magic player corner. I wanted to talk about White/Red Vehicles/Dwarves and how bad Bomat Courier is. The Big Eye will still primarily be a Yugioh site but sometimes other things that interest me may go here. I’m new to talking about Magic, but we’ll see how this goes. Let’s get into the red aggro decks.

Team CardHoarder put three copies of the same deck into the Top 8 of the SCG Open release weekend of Kaladesh. There was something like 500 to 600 players, so not bad. I’m sure by now you’ve heard that out of a possible 32 copies in the Top 8, there were 32 copies of Smuggler’s Copter. Most people are comparing Smuggler’s Copter to Collected Company. I think it’s more similar to Dromoka’s Command. Company felt bad when they would always hit Reflector Mage and/or Spell Queller, whatever was best for them. Dromoka’s Command was harder to play around and they always had it. Company could at least miss. The deck left mana open for Company, Clues, Command, Avacyn, and Spell Queller. What were you supposed to do? Smuggler’s Copter also asks you to build your deck so that you have lots of creatures, just like Company and Command. I doubt Copter will be new Company but maybe it will be.


4 Toolcraft Exemplar
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Selfless Spirit
4 Veteran Motorist
3 Depala, Pilot Exemplar
2 Pia Nalaar Renegade Prime


4 Smuggler’s Copter
3 Fleetwheel Cruiser
2 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship


4 Declaration in Stone
2 Harnessed Lightning


4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Needle Spires
10 Plains
6 Mountain


3 Weaver of Lightning
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
4 Galvanic Bombardment
2 Skywhaler’s Shot
2 Fragmentize

I’m absolutely sure you’ve seen this deck and you will see it at FNM. It’s good and is more of a midrange deck than an aggro deck but plays both roles well. There are eight solid one-drops. Both Thraben Inspector and Toolcraft Exemplar are white. Falkrenrath Gorger, Insolent Neonate and Inventor’s Apprentice are all good cards but cost R. You have to choose white or red on turn one with either Plains or Mountains. Team CardHoarder chose white and went with Toolcraft Exemplar because you can go turn one Toolcraft Exemplar, turn two Copter and attack for three on turn two. Thraben Inspector also turns on Copter and gives you an artifact for Toolcraft Exemplar.

Selfless Spirit and Veteran Motorist are the two-drop creatures. Selfless Spirit lets you get almost recklessly aggressive and still protect your creatures from everything but Descend Upon the Sinful and sweepers that reduce toughness. Veteran Motorist is at odds with itself. It has a high power, encouraging you to attack but also has an ability that buffs your vehicles when it crews them, encouraging you to crew vehicles. Motorist also has a high power to help crew larger vehicles. This feels like something design had fun with and development left because it was fine. Scry 2 on a 1 toughness two-drop that costs two colored mana is a fine power level, but really it’s not. Motorist, Depala and Thraben Inspector give you a lot of card selection, especially for Boros colors. Not to mention Copter.

Depala may be the best card in the deck, second only to Copter. She pumps everything and there are 19 other cards she can grab, excluding the one copy on the battlefield. The fact that you can pay any amount of mana is insane. It’s not fixed at any number, meaning you can always use your mana optimally. Sure, sometimes you can’t if you’re waiting until post combat to cast something that depends on combat, but whatever. You wouldn’t be able to do that if it was a fixed amount of mana. Don’t forget that a 3/3 for 3 that is a lord for half of your deck is really good in standard.

Chandra’s mom has got it going on. She’s all I want and I’ve waited for so long. Chandra, can’t you see you’re just not the girl for me? I know it might be wrong, but I’m in love with Chandra’s mom.

Now that Kiran is dead, I can move in on Pia Nalaar. She’s a 2/2 ground creature AND a 1/1 Thopter for 3 mana. The Thopter has flying and Pia has a kind of artifact creature fire breathing and can make it so certain creatures can’t block. It won’t come up often as she’s mostly a 2/2 and a 1/1 for three. Pia, having two bodies, is perfect for vehicles. She can crew Copter AND Fleetwheel Cruiser. Or crew Copter and attack. Or crew Skycovereign. And sometimes she can keep blockers from blocking or pump your vehicles when they absolutely need to get through. She’s not important enough to run more than two copies, but she’s great.

I don’t think I need to talk about how great Smuggler’s Copter is. Everyone else already has so I’m skipping it. Just remember, the people that made Top 8 with Copter decks were not crewing their Copter into open mana. Fiery Temper can be madnessed out for just R. Be careful with open R, BB or W. Green and blue mana are less scary but still, be thoughtful about your vehicles.

fleetwheel-cruiserFleetwheel Cruiser makes Gideon unplayable. Turn 4 they go Gideon into Knight. Turn 4 you go Fleetwheel Cruiser and have Veteran Motorist or Depala to make the 6/4 trample over the Knight and deal 4 to Gideon. Remember, you can even crew a vehicle that is already a creature. I cast Fleetwheel Cruiser, it’s not a creature so Thalia doesn’t tap it. Cruiser triggers and becomes a creature. I attack with it because it has haste. After blocks are declared, before damage is assigned, I crew Fleetwheel Cruiser with Veteran Motorist and now it’s a 6/4, lives through Thalia and tramples over Gideon’s Knight for 4 damage to Gideon.

This version of the deck included two copies of Skysovereign, giving team CardHoarder a much bigger end game than other midrange and aggro decks, allowing them to win out many games I’m sure they would have lost. You don’t want to see it early but after turn 5, Skysovereign is definitely a card you want on the battlefield. With motorist and Depala, it’s better than Inferno Titan. It’s one mana cheaper, doesn’t require red mana and can be a 7/6. A 6/5 flier is already strong. You can’t divide the damage, nor can you hit players, but Skysovereign is the other card that hits planeswalkers really hard. It’s just a big end game aggro card that’s going to kill your opponent and their creatures. I’m not sure if this was the card that was called The Death Star in design, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. It’s a powerful card at just the right power level.

Harnessed Lightning and Declaration in Stone are the removal spells of the deck. Neither hit a 4/4 Copter in the mirror. Harness Lightning would be better with other energy cards but the deck doesn’t need them. Declaration doesn’t hit Smuggler’s Copter. What’s a guy to do?

Jason Reid knew just what to do. Add black for Unlicensed Disintegration. And while you have black mana in the deck, why not add Scrapheap Scrounger? He wasn’t running Selfless Spirit, Thraben Inspector or Pia, all fine cuts. In their place is Scrounger and Inventor’s Apprentice with some more removal spells.


4 Inventor’s Apprentice
4 Toolcraft Exemplar
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Veteran Motorist
3 Depala, Pilot Exemplar


4 Smuggler’s Copter
4 Fleetwheel Cruiser


4 Fiery Temper
2 Declaration in Stone
4 Unlicensed Disintegration


5 Mountain
2 Plains
4 Aether Hub
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Needle Spires


2 Selfless Spirit
1 Stasis Snare
3 Blessed Alliance
2 Ride Down
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Declaration in Stone

This deck is much more aggressive. Toolcraft Exemplar is perhaps even better here if you’re attacking more often. If you’re not crewing and attacking, Toolcraft Exemplar is a vanilla 1/1, pretty unplayable. You feel really bad when Delver of Secrets doesn’t flip, this is the same thing. The curve is also lower, capping out at four mana.

unlicensed-disintegrationThe real reason to get into black is for Unlicensed Disintegration. It does everything you want it to. It doesn’t cost double black, making it splashable, it burns for 3 and kills any targetable creature that isn’t indestructible. It kills Copters, Skysovereign, Gearhulks and everything but Emrakul. It doesn’t deal damage if the creature becomes an illegal target but does if the creature just doesn’t die for some reason. It kills all sorts of Copters, Cruisers and other big attacking scary things that Harnessed Lightning doesn’t.

Fiery Temper is a card that also sometimes kills Copters. It’s three mana, which sucks. But look at it this way, they attack with Copter while you have R open. You crew your Copter and block, draw a card and cast Fiery Temper for just R. That’s pretty good. Of course, this also works on offense. Fiery Temper just seems better than Harnessed Lightning. Sure, you can’t save up energy and kill bigger creatures, and sure, it costs 1RR instead of 1R, but look at Copter. If you can discard it off of Copter, you get to cast it for R. It just becomes Lightning Bolt, which is a premium spell in Modern. Harnessed Lightning would be better in this build with Aether Hub than pure Boros as well but Fiery Temper is better. Sometimes you can’t cast it because it costs three mana but that’s the trade-off. Dec in Stone is kinda poopy but it’s one of those cards you just have to play. It kills creatures, sometimes multiple and doesn’t kill them, it exiles them. It’s also a Sorcery, which can kill Emrakul, should she show her ugly noodly parts.

The mana is also great. Good job, Jason. The only tap land is Needle Spires, which is just a good card. No Shambling Vent because 4 damage is better than 2 and red is more important than black in this deck. The full eight fast lands, two Plains and Aether Hub give you 14 sources of untapped white on turn one for Toolcraft Exemplar. You also have 13 sources of untapped red on turn one and a total of 17 red in the deck. Scrapheap Scrounger and Copter make the mana a little better by not requiring colors at all, only generic mana. Yes, Scrounger needs black to come back from the grave but it isn’t coming back on turn two.

I’d like to play something like this at FNM but with one or two copies of Skysovereign so I don’t get blown out by regular Boros Vehicles that have it. I need to go as big as they do, or always have the Disintegration before Skysovereign attacks. At least there is one in the sideboard for that type of deck. Of course, I’d like to go up to 24 lands if I played any more than one Skysovereign without Thraben Inspector/other card draw. The deck just seems so solid that I’d be happy taking it just as it is right now, maybe swap out Stasis Snare in the sideboard for something else. Maybe another Skysovereign.

Mardu Vehicles were even faster than Boros Vehicles. What if we go an even 1/3rd one-drops, 1/3rd spells and 1/3rd lands? Eric Hawkins did that and I don’t like this deck. It has many neat interactions that I love but the deck loses pretty quickly. He must just be a better Magic player than I am because I doubt my ability to pilot this deck to 21st place.


4 Bomat Courier
4 Falkenrath Gorger
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Inventor’s Apprentice
4 Scrapheap Scrounger


4 Smuggler’s Copter


4 Key to the City
4 Fiery Temper
4 Unlicensed Disintegration
4 Alms of the Vein


10 Mountain
2 Swamp
4 Foreboding Ruins
4 Smoldering Marsh


2 Bloodhall Priest
2 Lightning Axe
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 Collective Brutality
1 Hijack
1 Murderous Compulsion
2 Transgress the Mind
1 Swamp

raging-goblinThere are so many good one-drops in Modern. If you threw them all in the same deck, you might have a good deck. Goblin Guide, Wild Nacatl, Kird Ape, Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Deathrite Shaman Lava Spike, Tasigur, Death’s Shadow. Okay, probably not all in the same deck. Death’s Shadow and Nacatl Burn are both decks made primarily of the best one-drops and they’re both competitive decks. Even Goblins aren’t the worst and that’s all one-drops. Can we do that in standard? Ya see, when you take all of the best one-drops from Mirrodin on, you can find some gems. When you take all of the best one-drops in only two colors from only five sets, you get an okay aggressive deck.

Bomat Courier is not Raging Goblin. It doesn’t trigger Foundry Street Denizen and can’t be sacrificed for Goblin Grenade. It does not stay out of combat and Shock things like Grim Lavamancer. Bomat Courier is a 1/1 for 1 with Haste. That’s it. That’s all you can pretend it is if you’re being realistic. The upside to it is that it’s an Artifact and costs no colored mana. The upside of discarding your hand and getting those exiled cards isn’t going to happen often, if at all. Expect it to happen once during a five round tournament, maybe twice. And likely you’ll only get two or three cards. Because I’m a Yugioh player, the templating of Magic cards referring to themselves by name isn’t a concept I’m used to so I had to go to Gatherer to check.

Each Bomat Courier you control has its own cache of cards. Bomat Courier’s last ability only puts those cards into your hand, not those of any other Bomat Courier.
If Bomat Courier leaves the battlefield before you activate its last ability, any cards exiled by its triggered ability remain exiled face down for the rest of the game. If you somehow return the same Bomat Courier card to the battlefield, it will be a different object with no connection to those face-down cards.

That’s what I thought. It’s a cool card but has no upside. In a deck with 16 one-drop creatures, it’s fine because you can use red OR black mana on it. And at least all the other creatures are also colorless or red, making mana easy. Copter is in here because it’s looking like you need to be playing Copter, or a way to beat Copter. Key to the City has really neat interactions with madness and can draw you cards to replace the cards you discarded. Disintegration seems to be the reason to be playing black if you’re not heavy black for other cards.

Let me talk about how mad Eric Hawkins was. Falkrenrath Gorger gives all of your Vampires madness. That means other copies of the Gorger and Insolent Neonate. So if you have Gorger out, that means Alms of the Vein, Fiery Temper, Neonate and the other Gorgers are 15 cards with madness that cost only a single mana. Most of them red. That’s relevant sometimes. You can even board in Kalitas and madness him out because he’s a Vampire. You do need 4 mana open and a way to discard him. The discard is easy, it’s the 4 mana that’s hard. You have Bomat Courier, Neonate, Key to the City and Copter to discard your cards. A lot of games have to be won through madnessing out Lightning Bolt Fiery Temper and Alms of the Vein. They’re the reason to be playing the Gorger/Neonate package in a red Copter deck. I thought about putting in Toolcraft Exemplar because it’s another good one-drop. At that point, I was already in white and added Depala and Veteran Motorist, then ended up in Mardu Vehicles after cutting Alms and the Vampires. I like this deck because I like one mana spells, but don’t like this deck because it doesn’t seem to be the best deck this format. I think that goes to Mardu Vehicles, GB Delirium or some kind of Gearhulk Eldrazi Displacer deck. We’ve yet to see. I’m hoping a Gearhulk Displacer deck makes it big at the Pro Tour but that probably won’t happen.

I’ve been looking intently at every list I see and between my own half-baked brews of Abzan Displacer Gearhulks, Ali Aintrazi’s Bant Control, Grixis Emerge and all of the other lists, I think Boros Vehicles has the best engine in the meta right now and splashing for Unlicensed Disintegration is very powerful. Here’s hoping one-drop Vampires, Gearhulk Displacer or Delirium becomes the best deck because those are what I like the best. I’m not opposed to playing the best deck and if I can’t find something that’s objectively more powerful than Mardu Vehicles, then I’ll just play this deck.

This is still a Yugioh site and I have more Yugioh content planned for Monday. If you liked this, let me know. I can easily write more about Magic. I got the deck lists I talked about here. Until Monday, click an ad, make sure you have your playset of Copters, or wait until the price goes down, and buy Disintegrations now. If you’re only here for Magic and not Yugioh, I’ll make it clear which articles are Magic when I post them to TwitterFacebook and my subreddit. I also have a Patreon if you want some weightier say over what I write.

Here’s my bonus Abzan Gearhulk Displacer brew. It’s not tried, true, nor tuned. I won’t be entering any high stakes tournaments with this, though. Or any at all because I’m not actually a Magic player. The plan is simply to survive until the late game and play a bigger late game than the aggro and midrange decks. The deck probably needs more removal and better mana.


eldrazi-displacer4 Sylvan Advocate
4 Grim Flayer
4 Eldrazi Displacer
2 Archangel Avacyn
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
3 Verdurous Gearhulk
1 Noxious Gearhulk
1 Demon of Dark Schemes


Skysovereign, Consul Flagship


3 Liliana, the Last Hope


2 Attune with Aether
2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
2 Dead Weight
3 Grasp of Darkness
3 Grapple with the Past


4 Aether Hub
2 Canopy Vista
2 Concealed Courtyard
2 Shambling Vent
4 Blooming Marsh
2 Hissing Quagmire
1 Plains
2 Swamp
4 Forest
1 Wastes


3 Thought-Knot Seer
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
0 Gisela, the Broken Blade
2 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Blessed Alliance
2 Collective Brutality
2 Transgress the Mind


(This post contains affiliate links)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *