Confession time... I'm the Mono-Red player at my local game store. I started playing Standard when I was a freshman in high school, and I didn't have a ton of extra money to buy cards. My only option was to win FNMs and other small tournaments in order to win packs to build a collection slowly. The easiest way to win, and spend the least amount of money was picking up a Red deck. After a while, I enjoyed winning games quickly, so that I could eat in between rounds. I took my budget option to my first larger tournament, SCG Regionals, in Nashville, Tennessee. This tournament was a total of 250 people, and our typical FNM was about 20 people max. I was very nervous, and I was looking at this tournament as an experience to learn, instead of trying to win. After my first round loss, I was sure that this tournament wasn't going to go well; then I followed that loss with a draw bringing my record to 0-1-1. I'm sure you're wondering how I got a draw with a Red deck, its a long story, but basically my opponent was playing a very slow deck. I had seven rounds left to play. My friends were doing well, so I decided to stick it out instead of dropping. In between rounds, I had my friend do the math on if I still had a shot to make top 8. We determined that I would have to win out and then get a little lucky on breakers. To make a long story short, I won out. This is the moment when I decided that I would embrace my role as a Red aggro player.
An evergreen question in Magic is should I play the best deck or what I know best. In this article we are going to pretend you've decided to play what you know best. In my case, what I know is Red aggressive decks, so we will look at it in that lens. We will look at two particular things finding what you're good at and being flexible within a archetype. Here's a list of my current Red aggro standard list.
Red aggro is known as one of the easiest decks to play. Of course Magic is a difficult game, so this isn't true. The truth is that Red aggro can win games easy if your opponent stumbles out of the gate, but the great Red players can win games that they shouldn't. Aggro is all about dealing damage in efficient ways until you have to get a little reckless. What I mean by this is if my only possible play on turn one is a Shock, but I know my opponent has small creatures then the most efficient use of that damage is removing a blocker. Creatures are usually more important due to their ability to be repetitive sources of damage, while spells should only go face in situations that lead to victory. There are always exceptions, so it is important to know when to switch up your plan. We won't go over every skill that makes a great Red player, but its is important to know what skills it takes to be great at a particular deck. Efficiently dealing damage is a good example of a Red skill, but there are a variety of others that are just as or more important in being a red pilot. The most important thing to remember when deciding to become a master in a particular archetype is to find what matches your skillset. If you are good at attacking play Aggro, and if you are good at reacting play Control.
As I mentioned before, the archetype that I'm best with is aggro. In certain formats, there are cards that make playing aggro difficult. A good example of this is Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath in Historic. Mono-Red can struggle to beat a repeatable source of life gain, so it is important to try to get a little fancy when there is an elephant in the room. It is possible to keep playing the same style in face of adversity, but you must have a plan to overcome the problem.
In order to fight Uro, I've decided to try Klothys, God of Destiny to exile Uro while providing a little extra damage. In Historic, there are 12 untapped R/G sources making this splash highly possible. While I'm not saying that this is a great way to fight against Uro, it is at least a plan. Thinking outside of the box is a important skill to have if you are going to stick with a certain deck. This is one example of trying something a little different.
In conclusion, don't let people shame you for only playing one deck. Do your best to master whatever archetype it is, and beat the people who say its a bad idea. Find your style and win some games.
Thank you for reading, and feel free to DM me on Twitter with any questions, @stormcrowts. I'll be streaming MTG on Friday night at 7pm CT over on Twitch.tv/stormcrowts. I hope to see you there!