State of Mono-Colored Decks in EDH
Posted on May 28, 2021, 1:44 p.m. by Guerric
Hi all! While there are great decks for most color combinations in commander today, mono-colored decks have often struggled to keep up in the format. Some might say that this is fine because multi-colored decks are more fun, but there is a simplicity to mono-colored decks that makes them more accessible to newer players and budget players, and many established players also enjoy this focus.
That being said, what does everyone think is the state of various mono-colored decks in commander today? I'll relate my impressions, and tell me if you think they are accurate or not.
In general, I think mono-green and mono-black are very strong. Both colors can ramp, draw cards, and tutor things in ways characteristic to their colors, and there are a variety of powerful commanders to pick from.
Blue it seems can definitely make some strong decks, and can do most of the things a commander deck needs to do. Some might question whether blue pushes people predominantly into degenerate strategies, and whether there is a good diversity of strategies in the color.
Red is a bit of a question mark for me, and something I am curious about. It seems like card draw has come along with impulsive draw, and there have always been some strong decks like Daretti, Scrap Savant . That being said, I am not sure what the diversity of strategies in the color is, and if people like playing mono-red today.
To me it is obvious that mono-white is abyssmal. I won't quibble about the ramp but the card draw has not been taken seriously by WoTC, and no one wants to play a deck that doesn't draw cards. The only commanders that a noticeable number of people play are Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Sram, Senior Edificer , the latter probably because it has card draw. They really need to address card draw, and they really need commanders that people will want to play.
At any rate, those are my thoughts. What are yours!
if you look into cEDH, there are mono color lists for every color.
Godo, Bandit Warlord is an incredibly powerful deck, and really highlight's red's ability to ritual out large amounts of mana.
White has both Heliod Ballista and Teshar KCI, both of which show very different sides to white.
Blue has artifact decks with Urza and Emry, and a couple other interesting lists.
Green is actually a storm color.
Black is just generally good.
In fact, the only color pair without representation is in cEDH.
May 28, 2021 3:08 p.m.
TriusMalarky That's valid that there is a definite difference between commander and cEDH. I hadn't really thought about that distinction when I wrote the question! Personally I'm more about the non-cEDH side of things, but both are valid topics of discussion.
May 28, 2021 5:26 p.m. Edited.
May 28, 2021 6:06 p.m.
Omniscience_is_life I didn't even think of Birgi, God of Storytelling Flip despite how much fun she's been for me in my Feather, the Redeemed deck! My playgroup tried to remove her about four times last night, unsuccessfully of course!
May 28, 2021 6:50 p.m.
Guerric say no more, I have a Feather player in my pod and removal spells are always pretty useless against them XD
May 28, 2021 7:01 p.m.
Mono blue and mono green have some of the best entry point commanders. Diverse and effective. Also, going forward snagging up staples in these colors makes it very easy for newer players to transition into some of the stronger 2-3 color commanders.
Black has a wonderful removal suite with tutors and some really powerful engines but I'd argue the themes are centered mostly around aristocrats/discard.
Red - has a few good entry commanders and has gotten some new toys that work nicely with artifacts and even some storm cards but it's still red and doesn't provide enough inevitably to really stand up to the blue overlords - unless everything goes right; it's a gamble
White - great support color with a few choice removal spells. Also, Silence and Smothering Tithe are very good but white falls way short power wise and you'll likely always be on the back foot and you'll need to know the meta like the back of your hand to stand a chance.
May 28, 2021 7:39 p.m.
I agree definitely about white. I play lots of multi-color decks with white and they are great because as you've said, its fabulous for support. But I've tried quite a few mono-white decks and always pulled them apart. The lack of card draw is just so bad. I can put up with many things in magic, but not an empty hand!
May 28, 2021 7:54 p.m.
I just build 2 amazing monowhite decks with strong removal, and draw.
Mono colored decks cant go infinite the same way others do, but brewed correct and they are terrifying.
Check out these commander decks
Evra, halcyon witness and rune-tail, kitsune ascendant. Keiga the tidestar, marrow gnawer, omnath locus of mana. These are all decks i have examples of
May 28, 2021 8:06 p.m.
Guerric - glad you enjoyed the pun.
white makes you work for wins. even with all of the attention it's been getting lately it's still lacking. Red has always been all or nothing - Godo with Helm of the host is by far the top end red deck to beat but it also comes with the issue of being very linear and fragile. Feldon is probably the best mid range red commander but it relies heavily on artifacts as opposed to red cards.
Also, sounds like you should be playing blue/green/black ;) well if you want fat hamds.
May 28, 2021 8:24 p.m.
metalflame - for the most part the ceiling on mono-colored decks barring Selvala, Godo and urza are much lower than a multicolored variant. Not saying they cannot be fun or strong in certain play groups but being mono-colored comes with the inherent weakness of a smaller card Pool and high dependency on a commanders ability; granted, that's something that makes commander fun but if we're talking about power objectively mono color just falls short 75% of the time.
May 28, 2021 8:28 p.m.
For more casual gameplay:
Red is (again) the fast mana color. With 5 low-budget, solid-power rituals, red easily converts cards into mana. Red also has Wheels, so you can refill your hand, although those tend to be a little bit more expensive budget-wise.
Green is the raw ramp color. If you're mono green, then you have lands, lands and more lands, and also mana dorks and probably lotus cobra to go with your infinite pile of lands. Oh and one or two big creatures, gotta win somehow. Colossal Dreadmaw should suffice.
Blue draws cards. Like, seriously, it takes extra turns and draws cards and counters some spells.
Black is whatever you want it to be. Seriously. Like, mono green is tribal and ramp and ramp, but mono black is tribal and pox and ramp and control and storm and reanimator and stax and combo and beatdown and big-things-from-my-trade-binder and demons-are-cool.
White has hatebears. It says "nah, you can't win, oh wait you're not a tuned combo deck I guess I can't tell you what to do"
May 28, 2021 9:05 p.m.
I think the answer to this was already hinted at: it is really determined by what play experience lens you are looking through.
As mentioned above, CEDH finds plenty of power in mono decks; I can attest that jank fun is always widely available and equal in any color combination. It seems that the biggest discrepancy lies within the higher thresholds of 'casual' groups, where decks are powerful but also where some color's most powerful abilities are barred under social contracts. In my observation, this is where green and blue elements (prosocial or neutral-social effects like card draw and ramp) flourish because their foils (oftentimes found in red and white like MLD, hate effects, and hard-lock combos) are not able to punish and balance the table. Litterally. If Balance were legal and those type of effects more often run, I think that Mono White in particular would be a very strong color indeed - it's just not able to fill that role while also existing in the weird psudocompetive-but-still-casual world that many EDH players build around.
May 29, 2021 12:11 a.m.
You can be scary in any color already, even with the social constructs already in place. When the mono white player has a Cathars' Crusade and a True Conviction out, nobody's going to "go easy on me, I'm just mono white". A single Secure the Wastes can be just as scary as a Craterhoof Behemoth on that board, even without blowing up lands.
It's weird how everyone, even Arena loading screen, will tell you that "life is a resource, winning with 1 life is the same as winning with 20" but nobody will say the same thing about cards in hand. Winning the game without cards in hand is just as good as winning with 20 cards in hand. Yes, more options give you more decisions and more to do, and having no cards in hand without winning is terrible, about as terrible as drawing a Read the Bones when you're at 2. But you're not chanceless in a game of commander if you're unable to end up with half your deck in your hand.
If you try hard enough, you'll find a way to enjoy every color combination, regardless of what the internet tells you is bad or good. And even if you don't want to try hard, there's no reason you'd have to play every color in a deck. If you don't like white, and the puzzle of coming out on top even with lesser access to cards than a green deck, then say that. Not that white is abysmal, but that you don't like playing it. I personally hate playing blue, I'm a sucker for cool permanents in play, and I don't enjoy playing on the stack that much. I don't like the table being scared of me just because I have open mana. I get hated out of games because of it, and if people will knock me out because I'm scary, I'd rather actually look scary on board and deserve it, than just die to combat with a bunch of counterspells in hand that can't protect me from it.
When you fight me in a game of magic, fear me, not the unknown!
Your mileage may vary, of course.
May 29, 2021 6:25 a.m.
metalflame and plakjekaas I'm not saying that white can't do strong things, it certainly can! When I've made white decks they've pulled off some epic wins, and the tutoring in white is underrated, which helps with those wins. And yes TriusMalarky, it does have good hate-bears effects, and those are stronger in mono-white because they aren't competing too much for space with other cards. That being said, the lack of synergistic and consistent card draw is a problem. Part of this is that they haven't settled on a direction for it. So a couple of cards will draw for equipment, two will draw for weenie creatures, one will draw for life gain, another when people attack you, but these strategies don't always work together without losing focus. I don't necessarily need a fat hand, but its hard to imagine that anyone enjoys doing nothing but top-decking each turn, and when you're always top-decking your don't have the options for dealing with what your opponents throw at you. In all honesty, Rhystic Study had no business ever being in blue since white is the death and taxes color, and they really should just start doing white effects like this to provide draw while being true to the color. And I agree, Peoyogon that Balance should be legal, and I personally am not adverse to using Armageddon if I am in a winning position in order to keep my opponents from making a come back while I'm ahead. Now, if they fixed card draw and made some good commanders, I think RNR_Gaming is right that white would still be 75% of the power-level of multi-colored deck in regular commander, but it at least wouldn't be so far behind the other color combinations!
May 29, 2021 3:24 p.m.
Personal experience within my own playgroup? Mono-colored decks, any of them, can all be built very well even outside of cEDH. But, it may take some time to tune and refine them to that point. I've got Omnath, Locus of Mana , Torbran, Thane of Red Fell , Radiant, Archangel , Thada Adel, Acquisitor , and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon , and they all play well with a variety of card draw, removal, ramp, etc. But, one of the best decks I play against is a God-Eternal Oketra deck. It can turn out an army of creatures incredibly quickly, almost always has a few cards in hands plus a nice suite of removal. I think that like any other EDH deck, mono-colored decks can almost always be adjusted and optimized and fiddled with to get a great end result, but it just take the time of playing with the deck to figure out what you need.
May 30, 2021 8:49 a.m.
Unlife I definitely agree that building properly is key, and it seems that you have quite a bit of experience in mono-colored decks! I play mono-green Ezuri, Renegade Leader and its busted. It was tougher when I've played with white though. I do have to say that white decks are more resilient than they used to be, with Cosmic Intervention and Flawless Maneuver type cards helping you to preserve your board state, which does help when card draw isn't great. One of the big liabilities with the lack of card draw in white used to be that when the board wipe hit you were basically out of the game, since you wouldn't be able to rebuild due to poor draw. And I have to say, I expected my Trynn, Champion of Freedom and Silvar, Devourer of the Free deck to be bad because its creature-based aggro, and those strategies struggled more in the past. But I have found it to be super resilient, and that I have lots of ways to recover, and as a result I've won more games than I should have. I'd still like to see more draw in white though, even if it pushes us in a certain direction.