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Grenzo Mono-Red Aggro-Control

Commander / EDH* Aggro Competitive Control Mono-Red


The current version follows the official, multiplayer list of banned cards. I don't have any Grenzo list for any sort of 1v1 format but you are welcome to make one and I'd gladly give you feedback about it and add a link in the description below.

About the deck

This is a mono-red, aggro-control deck for multiplayer EDH games. It's far from being a top tier deck but mono red has access to good resource denial spells (land control: Blood Moon , Magus of the Moon , Ruination , Boil , Dwarven Blastminer , Dwarven Miner ; mana rock control: Gorilla Shaman , Vandalblast , Meltdown , Shattering Spree Viashino Heretic ) which gives the deck a non-zero chance to win. It's a high-variance deck but for you, it's gonna be a fun and rewarding deck to play most of the time. I play more for the challenge of winning with a tier < 1 deck (for reference, I'd say this deck is tier 3).

Contrary to most Grenzo, Havoc Raiser decks out there, I disagree that it should be a straightforward goblin-tribal deck. First, there are better options for such a deck, notably Krenko, Mob Boss . Second, unless you are playing against other goblin-tribal decks, Grenzo's abilities will not synergize with what a goblin-tribal deck is trying to do--namely, cast goblins or combo with them. Instead, Grenzo's second ability provides a high-variance sort of card advantage that will very rarely benefit a tribal-themed deck. In my mind, a Grenzo, Havoc Raiser list should aim towards maximizing good activations of Grenzo's second ability--that is, activate it as many times as possible every turn--and do what mono-red does best, namely, resource denial. In fact, the latter is fundamental to achieve the former: if you don't prevent your opponents from casting spells, or at least disrupt their main strategy to gain tempo, you won't be able to consistently activate Grenzo's second ability and you will lose. It's that simple. If you wanna play mono-red, you ought to play resource denial.

Playing the deck

For the most part, you want Grenzo out and hitting opponents as soon as turn 2, and drop 1 or 2 other creatures to increase the value of its triggered ability. The deck accomplishes the former with mana accelerators, such as Chrome Mox , Mox Diamond , and Simian Spirit Guide . The deck is very susceptible to wrath effects, so play creatures conservatively. Decks that play mana dorks and lots of rocks are better targets for Grenzo than combo decks but its triggered ability may also exile combo pieces.

The deck is very opportunistic, meaning that contrary to more competitive lists, you won't always have many possible lines of play available and instead, you need to take chances when they show up. This means that you need to adapt your play depending on things you exile with Grenzo, which requires knowledge about a variety of different decks and cards; or setting up wraths by hitting specific opponents to make them drop creatures to block yours, and then moving on to other opponents, so they do the same; just hitting opponents who prioritize developing their resources, so they get a feeling they should instead deal with your stuff; or even give up playing Grenzo altogether by sac'ing it to the graveyard with Skullclamp , for example, knowing you won't ever get it back but drawing you two cards that might be useful.

Starting hands are crucial to this deck. You don't have the luxury to filter or tutor for wheel effects or broken rocks. Chances are if you get a bad starting hand, you are done for the rest of the game. So, learn and practice mulligan. I don't particularly like this "Professor" dude but this is a fairly good video on the topic:

Practice makes it perfect and will help you with other decks as well. In addition to that, here's what I usually do. The first thing I do is check what my opponents are playing. Contrary to other formats, EDH allows you to have a rough idea of what each opponent is playing before they play anything by just looking at their generals. This let's you know whether you have dead spells or not, for example, and rank them in terms of usefulness. This requires experience, so you'll find yourself better at it the more games you play. This also helps you to come up with a few strategies for the game and practicing this proactive mentality will make you better at the game (have plans, don't just play whatever you draw/exile just because). The second thing I do is to ask myself whether I can cast my commander and when. T1 Grenzo hands are almost always a keep if you can continue to develop your board; otherwise, ship it. If you have T2 Grenzo but T1 creature, that's also usually a good hand, as it means T3 "draw" 2. If you have broken rocks, keep it as long as you can also cast your commander or have access to card draw. Lands are important but you can afford to miss land drops because cards like Ruination and Keldon Firebombers allow you to restore resource parity in the middle- and late-game. And for god sakes, you can scry 1 if you go below 7 cards AND you will draw 2 cards before your T2, so don't mull yourself to oblivion.

My final comment is that if you think this is a mindless mono-red deck, I can assure you it is not. We get so used to think of mono-red as the mindless burn-aggro strategy from legacy and modern that we forget how versatile it can be in other formats.

Other builds

Other players have reached out and developed their own versions of a mono-red Grenzo list. Make sure to check them out:

Pinkie_Satanas' list (this user is not active anymore): deck:grenzo-the-pillager-mono-red-aggro-control

(If you'd like to add your own list here, leave a comment with the deck URL and let us know how you changed the original list.)

Crazy moments in mono-red Grenzo's history

Over the years, I've some awesome games with very unusual endings. Here, I'll post some of them that I captured with a screenshot:

  1. Killing my opponent with their own Aetherflux Reservoir : https://i.imgur.com/uusTIBy.jpg

  2. Opponent got me locked up behind a bunch of prison-like enchantments and say that I should just concede, but then I Fork their overloaded Cyclonic Rift and they concede: https://i.imgur.com/spG5AcK.jpg

Single Card Discussion

Here's where I talk about some of my card choices for this deck and the reasoning behind them:

  • Wasteland and Strip Mine : I still believe that wasteland and strip mine are not great lands in any multiplayer deck because it basically sets you and just one other opponent back. In combo decks, for example, I don't think you should ever play them, specially if you are multicolored. However, they deal with lands that break parity (e.g., cradle, coffer, bounce lands) to an extent that setting you back is still worth it. In rare cases, they should be used to gain tempo against more competitive lists, and still, only so when gaining tempo can also keep you ahead (e.g., gives you one more turn to use Grenzo or hit face with a sword). More often than not, you should not sac (or even play) waste and mine, so that you have an answer to lands that are really problematic.

  • Mishra's Workshop and Ancient Tomb : These lands die to Ruiantion but when roughly 1/4 of your deck is composed of artifacts, the pros outweigh the cons quite a lot, and you can always play around ruination if you plan to play it early on. Moon effects transform them into mountaints, which is actually good for the mid and late game, when fast mana shouldn't be as relevant as it was during the early game.

  • Manlands ( Mishra's Factory and Mutavault ): Other two lands that die to Ruination but as before, you're the one casting ruination, so you can play around it if you are setting it up. Manlands let you have a consistent source of damage and they can be equipped as well ( Sword of Feast and Famine synergizes very well with mandlands). I don't think they are absolutely crucial to the deck but my experience with them has been very positive. **Updated on April 23rd 2019: I've now completely removed all manlands from my list. I've disliked the colorless mana they produce and the lack of synergy with mana doublers and the fact they die to ruination. Getting one of them in the opening hand is such a feelbad in a deck that relies on double red to cast our commander. They've very rarely been useful, so I think it's time to let them go. However, if you want to play them, play Inkmoth Nexus and/or Blinkmoth Nexus , as the evasion is much better than the additional damage. (The latter was a suggestion by Driemer84 that I agree with.)

  • Ashnod's Altar : It lets you convert creatures into mana that can be used to cast spells exiled with Grenzo's ability. It also increases the value of cards like Insurrection and Act of Aggression , and it's a great spell to have prior to a Jokulhaups (sac all your crits to float colorless mana, cast jokul, then cast a whole bunch of things on an empty board).

  • Spawning Pit : Another sac outlet to join Altar. Its goal, however, is to punish creature removals. As I mentioned earlier, the deck is very susceptible to removal, so Pit is here to make removals (particularly mass removals) bad. It's been good so far and it shines in grindy games.

  • Equipments ( Sword of Feast and Famine , Sword of Fire and Ice , Mask of Memory ): In a deck with roughly 20 creatures, it is fairly easy to always have a creature on the battlefield, especially when most of them have low cmc and some even make tokens, so equipments are rarely ever dead cards and allow you to increase the value of your creatures. I decided to run the two best swords in the format (one that untaps your lands, so you can cast what was exiled with Grenzo, and another that gives card advantage and spot removal), which also provide protection and evasion, and another equipment that provides card advantage ( Mask of Memory ). I've been pretty happy with all of them but I don't think there is enough space for more equipments, as nothing much else gets close to those three.

  • Gauntlet of Might and Moon effects: Moon and gauntlet are NOT great together because it will ramp your opponents as well. Individually, however, these cards are too good to not include in the deck. So, just don't play both of them if they won't break resource equality.

  • Insurrection : It's the sort of card that wins games against other fair decks. Otherwise, you can always imprint it with mox or loot it away. **Updated on April 23rd 2019: This is another card that I completely retired from my list. Its cost makes it pretty hard to cast and therefore, it's never been super relevant in most games. Lots of things need to work for it to be good, so I've preferred to play with Act of Aggression instead. Much more flexible (can be used as instant speed remove, for example) and easier to cast (3 colorless).

  • Smuggler's Copter : This card is very, very good, even in EDH. It provides you a wrath-proof dude with evasion that loots. Most of the time, it is used to activate goad and force a problematic creature to tap, so next turn you can send the rest of the gang.

  • Pyrokinesis : Why this card doesn't see play more often is beyond my comprehension. No one ever expects it and it's never been useless. In the early game, it kills a bunch of mana dorks. In the mid-game, it gets rid of problematic creatures. In the late-game, it surprises creature-based combos.

  • Jokulhaups : It's a bad version of Upheaval but the closest thing we have to it in mono-red, and surprise, surprise, that's a hella good one-of effect to have at your disposal. Most of the time, it requires you to set it up to be effective--for example, you need to float enough mana to cast relevant spells after resolving jokul, or casting with a walker on the battlefield, or having a sensei top to filter your draws afterwards--but it may also be a hail mary (roll the dice!) when things are out of control and the future looks dark. I don't like doing the latter tbh because it's probably just delaying the inevitable loss. (Listen, you can't win all the games, so sometimes you must let other players have a shot at it.) Before casting jokul, remember that it leaves walkers and enchantments behind (this applies to you and your opponents) and it's always a high-risk play because there's always a chance that one opponent has a Boros Charm or Heroic Intervention just waiting for you to cast jokul (this has happened to me more than I'd like to admit; sad times).

  • Keldon Firebombers : This is your go-to answer to ramp decks. To be honest, I was not aware of its existence until last year but boy am I glad it was brought to my attention. This card is insane. I understand why it doesn't see much play (mass ld) but if you are looking for a good form of resource denial, this is it. Restore mana parity and crush souls. I don't get to play Limited Resources but I got bombers. Just remember to cast it before making a land drop, you dingus.

  • Goblin Matron and Moggcatcher : This is not a goblin tribal deck but Matron and Catcher are still very useful Goblin tutors when there are multiple utility targets for them. Most of the time, their targets will be Siege-Gang Commander and Goblin Welder . **Updated on April 23rd 2019: Moggcatcher has been long removed from my list. The card is too slow and tapping creatures to activate their abilities is not really what this deck needs to do.

  • Imperial Recruiter : It's a more flexible Matron that tutors 95% of our creatures. Its primary target will be Magus of the Moon most of the time but it can also get us removal, additional tutors, and token generators.

  • Spikeshot Elder : I've lost count of the games I won with this little guy. It curves well with Grenzo (T1 Elder, T2 Grenzo, T3 "draw" two) and when used in conjunction with a sword, Elder becomes a must answer threat, as each activation hits pretty hard. It's also a 1/1 Goblin, so you can fetch it with all of our tutors.

  • Recoup : This is a card I've played since the first version of the deck and it has rarely let me down. It's the sort of card you don't want to see early on but it goes miles in the mid and late game. The flashback cost is high (4 CMC) but when used to target spells like Gamble and Blasphemous Act , it pays off quite a lot. Recoup is the sort of card every mono red deck needs to increase the value of its graveyard and have another shot at power sorceries (e.g., Wheel of Fortune , Jokulhaups , Fiery Confluence , Shattering Spree , etc). I've thought about Past in Flames but we don't play that many instants to make favor PiF over Recoup. Recoup is definitely better than PiF in this deck.

  • Fork effects ( Fork , Dualcaster Mage ): These cards are more situational than I'd like to admit but when they work, they work so well. They offer protection against permission spells and can eventually copy card advantage spells or splashy X spells (they also copy the X value). They scale with the quality of decks you are playing against but realistically speaking, I think these are flexible slots. If you don't feel like playing those cards, you don't need to, and this decision should not impact how the deck plays. A side note on copying spells on the stack: if you copy a spell with multiple modes, you copy whichever modes were originally used to cast it (you can't choose different modes for the copy); if a spell has one or more targets, the copy can select different targets; if a spell assigns damage to multiple targets, you can reassign the same amount of damage to the same or different targets; when you copy a spell with X, you also copy the paid value of X; if the copy invalidates all targets of the original spell, the original spell is countered because it has no legal targets. These details come up very often, so you should be aware of them. For example, if you want to copy Pyrokinesis , you better think twice about how you the original copy will assign damage, as you can't assign different amounts with the copy; if you copy Reanimate , you can target the same creature and the original reanimate will be countered.

  • Faithless Looting : It is card disadvantage but it lets you accomplish multiple things, all of which are relevant for this deck. Specifically, it lets you get rid of cards you won't cast any time soon and it lets you discard expensive artifacts (e.g., Sandstone Oracle ) that can be put into play with Daretti or GWelder. In the mid and late game, it lets you dig for action. We also play a couple of cards that are dead in some matchups (e.g., blast duo), so FLooting lets you trade them for something useful. It is cheap and recurrable, so I prefer it over cards like Magmatic Insight or Tormenting Voice .

  • Token generators ( Goblin Rabblemaster , Hanweir Garrison , Pia and Kiran Nalaar , Loyal Apprentice , etc.): This is the best synergy with your commander--lots of tokens make Grenzo's abilities trigger multiple times--and it provides the means to let Grenzo get out of control real quick. The package includes the best token generators we have access to.

  • Mass creature removals ( Rolling Earthquake , Blasphemous Act ): At first, it may sound incorrect to play mass creature removals in a deck that wants to play lots of creatures. One of the things that this deck is good at is teaching you about overextension: playing more permanents than you need to accomplish a goal. When playing against fair decks, a problem that you'll face is that your opponents have better creatures than you (e.g., they are bigger than yours, do more stuff, can fly, interact with your board, and what not). You might get away with your tiny creatures in the early and mid game but sooner or later, your opponents will make sure to close the door on free hits. At this point, unless you are able to hit the reset button, you are done, which is the reason we run mass creature removals. Don't overextend your board because chances are that it won't be there for too long and you need to be able to recover from removals.

  • More to come...

Videos (new to old)

https://youtu.be/j3H9LlSLG7s, https://youtu.be/oLFD5qOXsf8, https://youtu.be/ZPNYkmxx4Zo, https://youtu.be/QtYtyruZnR4, https://youtu.be/AhJHO1lBjcE, https://youtu.be/CmVWfOadb1o, https://youtu.be/7mvY7pupsjc, https://youtu.be/coYqRVaO5jc, https://youtu.be/OUpHtVPG_KQ, https://youtu.be/sn-2qvioruU, https://youtu.be/NE-FQN6WYq8, https://youtu.be/_yRBPVUKQsE, https://youtu.be/BHrXhH_Pyqk, https://youtu.be/h6i-Un7ormk, https://youtu.be//sJzdF_57w4o, https://youtu.be//Rc6V7p_lB5k, https://youtu.be//QaGTmSeC9yQ, https://youtu.be//CU3MPR6FveA, https://youtu.be//ktuhOgPV5Cw, https://youtu.be/y0PpfU1f7fA, https://youtu.be/PRrzr9UoCqo, https://youtu.be/SI9uKv3k-mI, https://youtu.be/3qVivxu88Ew, https://youtu.be/0b9XMMDGTGo, https://youtu.be/MF-LmIwcIgY

Updates Add

I'm back to review some of the cards I've been testing from the latest sets. To be honest, nothing a whole lot exciting in mono-red but here's what I've removed and added to my mono-red Grenzo list:

  • Cards Removed:

-- Meekstone: It lets us goad troublesome fatties and then keep it tapped for as long as meekstone stays on the battlefield. Problem is it usually doesn't stay for too long when the opponents really need to untap one or more of their creatures. It's also a reactive/defensive strategy but the deck wants to be proactive and on the offense.

-- Snow-Covered Mountain: This is me getting mad at randomness (got flooded and decided to remove a land to open space for action)

-- Tilonalli's Summoner: Her ability wants us to spend mana before we can trigger Grezo's, and that's not something we usually want to do. I don't like it. Think that Young Pyromancer accomplishes more and more efficiently. GTFO of here, Tilo!!

-- Stolen Strategy: This card looks good but there's a big difference between cast and play, and because it says cast, Stolen Stategy is actually worse than Outpost Siege by far.

-- Recoup: This card is fine but it seems we have better alternatives now that can do what recoup does and more.

-- Dualcaster Mage: As I've said before, this card is more situational than I'd like to admit and for now, I think I'll stay with a single Fork in the main deck.

Updated on Oct-15

-- Spikeshot Elder: I've been unimpressed with the little guy. It's a t1 drop, which means a t3 draw 2 with Grenzo, but there's another creature that does more and I needed to find room for it. So, for now, the little guys is out.

-- Worn Powerstone: Needed to find room for Arcane Signet. I thought about removing Fellwar Stone instead because the signet is just a better Fellwar Stone but the stone is still better than Worn Powerstone, so I removed the latter.

  • Cards Added:

-- Young Pyromancer: It's a very efficient token generator. I do think that if we really need space for a better token generator, than Pyro will probably go into hibernation again. For now, he's back.

-- Lightning Bolt: Too efficient a removal to leave it out of the deck.

-- Sudden Demise: Finally got hold of one and wanted to try as a late game removal against opponents who overextend their board like they're playing the game by themselves.

-- Chandra, Acolyte of Flame: Can act as a mini-Recoup and next turn, can also generate tokens for Grenzo. Seems worth testing at the very least.

-- Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin: A mono-red, passive token generator. As other users have pointed out before, it's a good one, too.

-- Seasoned Pyromancer: This is a very good card. It loots and generates token. It's definitely a main slot and will stay here for a long ass time.

Updated on Oct-15

-- Dockside Extortionist: I completely missed this card in my previous review and as soon as I played a game against it, I realized how strong it is. It nets a whole bunch of mana that we can use to recast Grenzo or to cast cards exiled with his ability. At the very least, it's worth testing it.

-- Arcane Signet: This is a better Fellwar Stone but instead of removing the stone, I removed the slower Worn Powerstone.

There's also a new video in the description that I uploaded to showcase how the deck is played. Check it out!


Date added 3 years
Last updated 1 year
Exclude colors WUBG

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

37 - 0 Rares

22 - 0 Uncommons

4 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.66
Tokens 1/1 Goblin, Daretti, 1/1 Thopter, 2/2 Spawn, 1/1 Elemental, Chandra, 1/1 Human, Treasure
Folders EDH, Favs, Inspiration, Competitive commander, mono red
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