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Best Mono Standard Decks in MTG Magic: the Gathering

From the fiery rage of Mono-Red Aggro to the serene wisdom of Mono-Blue Control, mono-colored decks have been a defining force in Magic’s Standard format since it was called Type II. Simple yet profound, they offer a gateway into the soul of each color. Discover some of the top mono-colored decks that have left an everlasting imprint on the game. These are and were the best mono standard decks in MTG.

Current MTG Standard Meta Mono Color Decks August 2023

August 2023 is an interesting time to be writing about mono-colored standard decks. There are currently 3 different mono color decks in the top tier of the meta per mtgdecks. You’ll notice just about all of the other recurring high placing decks are more than one color, but that these are well represented.

2 players playing a game of Magic: the Gathering, camera angle is from one person's side of the table

The current sets available in the MTG standard format are:

Newest set: March of the Machine: the Aftermath (1st microset available to standard)

March of the Machine

Phyrexia: All Will Be One

The Brothers’ War

Dominaria United

Streets of New Capenna

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Innistrad: Crimson Vow

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Mono red has the highest percentage share with the newest incarnation of Red Deck Wins. RDW has frequently been one of the best decks in Standard. With multiple decks that it has a high win rate over, a 48% rate overall win rate, and a low price tag of under $100, it’s easy to see why this is a top deck in the current meta.

Mono black is also represented with both control decks and agro forms. At 53% it has a slightly better win rate overall than mono red, but the main deck cardboard also costs closer to $400 on average to put together with several pricey key cards.

Lastly, mono white shows up with a new White Weenie. This is a good deck and has the highest win rate of the three mono-colored decks that are considered top tier at 56%. It’s also a happy medium cost-wise, only running $176 on average to build. White Weenie has frequently been popular in standard due to its low-cost creatures and ways to pump them for extra damage.

2 people playing Magic: the Gathering on playmats

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While it’s great to see that a mono-colored MTG deck can still hold its own in standard, let’s take a look back in time with a little help from the historical tournament records over at tcgplayer.com. Below are some of the all time great decks of each mono color. These were so good that with a little tweaking, they’re still viable threats in casual 1 on 1 or even team games well past their standard format days. That’s one of my personal measures of an all time great standard deck: Does it hold up as a decent, fun-to-play deck outside of standard? I also look at its longevity in standard placing highly, and the cards themselves. Were they, or are they still, just broken?

Historically Best Mono Black Standard MTG Magic: the Gathering Decks

Back in 2002-2003 a Mono-Black Control deck was seen in almost every top 8, sometimes representing multiple top 8 places each tournament. Everyone who played during this time remembers that opening play: Swamp >> Duress. It was like a calling card for the deck. You knew whatever your best non-creature card was, it was headed to your graveyard with no chance to play it. 

Silly graphic about how no one is surprised by a turn 1 Duress. A quick play in one of the best mono standard decks.

Its combination of early game hand and board removal spells paired with some of the most powerful cards black had seen to date make an argument for this being mono black’s most popular deck.

This deck was heavy on creature removal, and light on its own creatures. It kept the board clear with Chainer’s EdictInnocent Blood, and Mutilate.

Then it ramped into a ton of mana using Cabal Coffers

MTG Cabal Coffers card

It would hit you a few times with an Undead Gladiator or Nantuko Shade, and eventually Visara the Dreadful for a bigger punch and board control.

It could run more discard in Mind Sludge and then ruin your library by following it up with a Haunting Echoes. Eventually, you were within range to finish off with a Corrupt.

From 2009 through 2011 Vampires made their case for mono black standard format dominance. This powerful deck featured staple creatures Vampire NighthawkCaptivating Vampire, and Bloodghast.

While most of the vampires started small at 2 power or less, they would easily pump using their own abilities and support utility such as Blade of the Bloodchief. They could keep the board clear with Gatekeeper of Malakir and Brittle Effigy.

Eventually after dealing with your threats and a few pumps, they went straight for the throat to end the game.

Historically Best Mono Blue Standard MTG Magic: the Gathering Decks

The Mono Blue Tempo deck was a standout during the Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance Standard era. This budget-friendly yet competitive deck utilized a combination of cheap creatures, counterspells, and card draw to control the game while applying pressure and maintaining card advantage.

Tempest Djinn was generally one of very few or the only rare in the deck, and one of the main creatures that could win you the game. Counter magic was both a threat on the board with cards like Siren Stormtamer and from hand using Wizard’s Retort among others.

2006 through 2007 saw an extremely potent version of Mono Blue Control make several top 8 finishes, and take the title at Quebec States. With the draw of Ancestral Vision and the potent control pieces and counterspells Cryptic Command and Rune Snag this deck replenished your hand and decimated your opponent’s game plan using some great cards.

This control deck also provided lockdown options on the board with legendary creatures Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, and Venser, Shaper Savant, as well as Willbender. The combination of unknown morph and spell-altering effects are the main reason it can shut down an opponent’s deck until you’re ready to come across the table at them late game. And if you want to play mono blue control, be ready for your matches to possibly take a long time to win.

Historically Best Mono Green Standard MTG Magic: the Gathering Decks

If you take a look back through the history of mono green standard decks you’d be remiss to not mention one of the incarnations of Tooth and Nail. Few cards struck more fear into their opponents than a Tooth and nail into a Darksteel Colossus. The card paired with it varied between decks and years it was standard legal. One common combo with it was Platinum Angel.

Making use of one of the most fun abilities in the game, Entwine, Tooth and Nail was the ultimate green tutor. It would both grab your best creatures for the situation and drop them directly on the board if entwined. This card helped make some incredibly fun mono green standard decks.

This particular Tooth and Nail list was commonly referred to as Elf and Nail. It made use of various elves and Birds of Paradise for their mana ramp and utility until it could pop off the Tooth and Nail with Entwine.

MTG Birds of Paradise card

No mono green standard “best of” list could leave off Elves. There aren’t many mono-green aggro decks, but elves can sometimes fit the bill. This one fits a little more with midrange decks.

One of the most popular and best finishing elf decks was played around 2010 featuring 2 powerful Planeswalkers in Nissa Revane and Garruk Wildspeaker.

The Planeswalkers were used in conjunction with a tight list of playsets of elves. Llanowar ElvesArbor Elf, and Joraga Treespeaker efficiently ramped the deck.

Later in the game the abilities of the more powerful elves or Planeswalkers took over. Nissa’s ultimate ability could fetch an army, or Elvish Archdruid could power a devastating Genesis Wave. Then Garruk’s ultimate ability or a pump from Ezuri, Renegade Leader would finish the job.

Historically Best Mono Red Standard MTG Magic: the Gathering Decks

In 2010-2012 a standard Goblins deck with a few variations from different players consistently made tournament top 8s and won MTGO events. A case could be made that some of the previous goblins from the Onslaught era might be a bit better, such as Goblin Piledriver and Siege-Gang Commander. Those goblins have been in red aggro decks in all kinds of formats.

However, this deck that evolved from the new cards in Zendikar and Scars of Mirrodin blocks was a nightmare to sit across from, running staples such as Spikeshot ElderGoblin Chiefton, and Goblin Guide.

It had answers for early threats along with direct damage spells for your opponent, used direct burn spells like Lightning Bolt. It was so quick out the gate and incredibly hard for the opposing player to recover. Goblins make for aggressive decks, and this deck list was no different.

MTG Lightning Bolt card

2010 Also saw one of the best historical decklists for Red Deck Wins. As mentioned previously, Red Deck Wins has frequently been a top standard deck. There was a little bit of overlap with a few goblins from the time, but it was not a Goblin tribal/typal deck and relied on other means of assaulting your opponent early and often.

This Red Deck Wins incarnation ran potent direct damage instants and sorceries. It combined these with the powerful Planeswalker Koth of the Hammer, and creatures Plated Geopede and Kargan Dragonlord. Together these good cards carved a path directly to your opponent’s face and melted it like microwaved butter.

Historically Best Mono White Standard MTG Magic: the Gathering Decks

White Weenie is making another appearance on this list because from 2018 through 2019 it couldn’t stop making the top 8 of standard play, even winning several events during the Ravnica Allegiance/Throne of Eldraine era. 

Running 4 copies of almost all included cards listed, it was extremely consistent. Most deck lists ran a basic mana base of around 20 Plains only but felt like they had enough mana. This made the deck both cheap and easy to use.

MTG Basic Plains card

This White Weenie made use of the Convoke and Ascend abilities to make cards less expensive and provide creature buffs to those already in play. Staples in the deck include Tithe TakerBenalish Marshall, and Venerated Loxodon.

The second of the historically devastating mono-white decks is Devotion, a mono-white midrange deck. Featuring Heliod, Sun-CrownedGideon Blackblade, and a lifelink theme, this deck was great at quickly building life and devotion.

Eventually, it hit its opponent hard through the air or with indestructible Heliod and Gideon. 

Aided by control such as Banishing Light or Gideon’s ultimate ability, this white devotion deck was hard to stop and was often found in the top 8 in 2020. One of mono white’s truly fun decks to climb the ranked ladder in standard. And with devotion aiding so many different colors, you may have seen a historic brawl between two mono-colored behemoths. 

MTG Banishing Light

That’s our trip through some of the mono-colored best Standard decks to grace the format’s tournament tables. I personally played had competitive play against the mono black control, Tooth and Nail, goblins, elves, white weenie, and mono blue control decks at various events, tournaments, and regional championships. There weren’t many cash prizes when I was playing tournaments, but a lot of the more recent decks on here have taken several home. 

If you’re going to look one of these up and use it currently for casual, or try to modify one for modern, the only thing I suggest is to look for newer cards with synergy. There are a lot of great decks here with decimating spells and powerful creatures, but a ton of new cards have been printed since these were kings of the tables. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding improvements here or there that don’t hurt the overall deck themes that made them so dangerous in their time.

If you’re not quite ready for tournament tested decks, check out our write-up on the best beginner decks!

Be sure to drop your favorite mono-colored tournament list in the comments below, especially if not covered above!

Like the Facebook page, and join the Mono Color Magic Facebook group to discuss all things Magic!

All cards are copyright Wizards of the Coast and many above images and symbols trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC (now a subsidiary of Hasbro.) Tournaments were Wizards of the Coast sanctioned events. Deck records courtesy of the tcgplayer.com archives.

Bryan - MCM
Author: Bryan - MCM

Magic player since Revised in 94. Still remember opening boosters of Revised, the Dark, and Arabian Nights as a kid. Watching it be a big deal (and then let down) when Fallen Empires dropped. Then Magic got it right again and really took off. While the current state of Wizards is debatable, I still enjoy playing with friends and my kids. I don't do tournaments much these days but I've played Draft, Sealed, Standard, Extended (not a thing anymore,) Pre-Release, Grand Prix, States Qualifiers, and Teams tournaments. Though I'm not a judge, I'm the one the friends turn to when there's a rules question, and if I don't know it, I find it. Please, ask me anything, comment on posts, and share Magic with your friends and family!

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