When it comes to playing mono red in MTG, card draw is often a missing piece of the puzzle. Red is known for its fast pace, direct damage, and aggressive creatures, but classically it has lacked the ability to draw cards consistently. It also hasn’t had much to contribute draw-wise to multi-colored decks.
Luckily, there are a few cards that can help fill this gap and provide red players with the card advantage they need to stay ahead of the game.
One of the best Mono Red card draw options is Light Up the Stage. This sorcery allows you to exile the top two cards of your library and play them until the end of your next turn. This card is incredibly efficient, only costing 3 total mana, or one red mana if played for its Spectacle cost, and can provide a significant advantage in the early game. It’s a staple in many mono-red decks.
Another great option is Outpost Siege. This enchantment allows you to choose between two modes: Khans or Dragons. Khans allows you to exile the top card of your library and play it until the end of your turn, while Dragons allows you to deal one damage to any target when one of your creatures leaves the battlefield. Having access to an extra card each turn can significantly increase options for mono red.
These are just a few of the ways red can now draw extra cards and attempt to maintain a card advantage over its opponents.
You may find red tutors to be more beneficial than these draw option depending on your deck and format. You can find our writeup on red tutors here.
We can also guide you to your next mono red commander if you’re currently in deck build mode.
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Lets take a closer look at some of the other great options available.
Understanding Mono Red Card Draw Options in MTG
Card draw is a crucial aspect of most Magic: The Gathering decks. Mono Red decks are notorious for their lack of card draw options. But there are still ways to draw cards in mono red.
In true red fashion, draw often comes with drawbacks. You may need to discard, sometimes at random, or exiling cards with the potential to lose the cards if not played.
Red Card Draw Through Ultimatum
Sometimes red cards will offer your opponents an ultimatum. They let you do this, or this happens.
Browbeat is a popular red draw option for the ultimatum it throws down to your opponents. Take a hefty chunk of damage, or a target player of your choosing draws cards.
Risk Factor is a newer addition to the draw cards through ultimatum category. These cards differ in targeting so make sure to use the one that best fits your purposes, they’re not exactly interchangeable.
Faithless Looting and Other Looting Cards
One of the most common ways to draw cards in Mono Red is through looting effects. Looting allows you to discard cards from your hand in exchange for drawing new ones.
Faithless Looting is the quintessential card draw spell for red decks. It allows you to draw two cards and then discard two cards, which can be great for filling up your graveyard and finding specific cards. It also has a flashback option.
These cards not only help you dig deeper into your deck, but they also help you fill your graveyard for potential reanimation effects.
Rummaging Goblin: Discard a card to draw a card for a tap.
Other notable looting cards include Wild Guess, and Thrill of Possibility,
Tormenting Voice, and Cathartic Reunion.
These also offer something missing from Faithless Looting and Rummaging Goblin, card advantage. You’re drawing more than you’re discarding.
Impulsive Draw for Mono Red Decks
Another way to draw cards in Mono Red is through impulse draw effects.
Impulse draw allows you to look at the top few cards of your library and choose one to add to your hand.
Cards like Light Up the Stage and Outpost Siege mentioned above are great examples of this along with Galvanic Relay.
Valakut Exploration is probably the best, though. This one has a landfall trigger that exiles cards and allows you to play them that turn. But then at end of turn turns any you didn’t play into direct damage.
Professional Face-Breaker would be a close second, allowing you to sacrifice a treasure token to exile a card from top of library and play it if you wish that turn. It also has menace, and whenever one of your creatures does damage to a player it will create a treasure token, enough to get you started sacrificing!
Breya’s Apprentice isn’t far behind either of the above, allowing you to either pump a creature +2+0, or exile top card and play it if you wish that turn.
Additional options would be Rob the Archives, Jeska’s Will, Commune with Lava,
Act on Impulse, and Reckless Impulse;
And 3 different versions of Chandra the planeswalker; Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Chandra, Fire Artisan, and Chandra, Pyromaster.
March of Reckless Joy will let you exile x cards and then play up to 2 of them.
Spin the Wheel for Red Card Draw
Finally, we have wheel effects. Wheel effects force everyone to discard their hand and draw a new hand of cards. Cards like Wheel of Fortune, Magus of the Wheel, and Reforge the Soul are great examples of this.
Wheel cards not only help us draw a new hand of cards, but they also disrupt our opponent’s game plan by forcing them to discard their hand.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer Red Card Draw Commander
This dude gets a category all to himself. He’s great in any red deck, but he’s also a potent commander.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is one heck of a powerful little monkey that can provide card advantage by exiling the top card of an opponent’s library whenever it deals combat damage, allowing you to play that card, AND creating a treasure token.
Damage, a card from your opponent, and a treasure for you is an amazing trifecta. That’s why he’s in all kinds of decks from modern to EDH.
Robber of the Rich has a similar effect, but is a less impressive creature.
Red Card Draw Mid and Late Game Hand Refill
Bedlam Reveler is a creature that reduces its mana cost for each instant and sorcery card in your graveyard. It also has an enter the battlefield ability to discard your hand and draw three cards, a mini self wheel.
Chandra Ablaze is a 6 mana cost planeswalker but her middle -2 ability is a wheel effect for red card draw, then her ultimate ability allows you to recast sorcery and instant cards from your graveyard.
Dangerous Wager is kind of a self mill, usually better left for when you have few or no cards in had. Discard your hand then draw 2 cards.
Magmatic Insight: 1 red mana with an additional cost of discard a land, then draw 2 cards.
Anje’s Ravager: Attacks each turn if able, and whenever it attacks discard your hand and draw 3 cards.
Making use of Artifacts for Red Card Draw
Due to Red’s ability to take off and kill quickly, you may find it advantageous to use some artifacts for extra draw. Cards such as Endless Atlas for a continuous draw ability, or Mind Stone which doubles as a mana rock may be beneficial. Staff of Nin may fit nicely into your deck.
Or, if you believe in your ability to strike your opponent down quickly despite their hand, you could employ group hug artifact draw such as Howling Mine or Font of Mythos.
Lastly, red is the color of goblins and goblin tokens, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention Skullclamp. Give a creature +1-1 and when it dies draw 2 cards. This has fueled many a red strategy ever since its inception.
Red may not have as many card draw options as other colors, but there are still ways to draw your best cards in mono red decks.
In Modern mono red decks are often built around the classic “Red Deck Wins” archetype. The focus is on aggressive creatures and burn spells, with little room for red card draw. However, there are a few multi colored decks that are running mono red draw in both the main deck and the sideboard recently. You’ll surely see Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, but beyond that you might catch these 2 red cards.
- Fable of the Mirror-Breaker: step 2 allows you to discard up to 2 and draw as many as you discard.
- Seasoned Pyromancer: Enter the battlefield ability of discard 2 then draw 2.
Mono red EDH decks, and multi-colored decks with red in their commander’s color identity, have a bit more room to play with when it comes to card draw. Here are some red card draw options to consider for the format:
- Chaos Warp: Trade one permanent for the card on top of your library, into play free, if its another permanent.
- Bonehoard Dracosaur: As long as this card is in play, at the beginning of your upkeep exile 2 cards and you can play them that turn. You also create a creature for lands that were exiled, and a treasure token for non-land cards. On his own this powerful card is 5/5 flying first strike.
- Big Score: This card earned this name for good reason. Discard a card to draw 2 and create 2 treasure tokens. Quite a haul for red card draw!
- Unexpected Windfall: How silly is this, it does the same thing as Big Score!
- Deflecting Swat: While not technically draw, this card can stop an opponent’s action and transfer the benefits to you. It’s a huge swing to steal someone’s extra draw when given the opportunity, putting them down expected cards and you up cards. This card has LOTS of other fun possibilities too.
Standard and Pioneer Formats
In both Standard and Pioneer, Mono Red decks are often built around the “Blitzing” archetype. This means that the focus is on fast, aggressive creatures and burn spells. There are a few color pairs that you may regularly see running red as well, such as red/black rackdos colors. These cards are regularly coming up in standard to help these decks with red card draw power.
- Charming Scoundrel: 1/1 creature for 2 mana with enter-the-battlefield options. One of which is discard one and draw one.
- Feldon, Ronom Excavator: This 2/2 creature exiles your library equal to damage taken, but allows you to play one of the exiled cards.
- Chandra, Dressed to Kill: Both of this Chandra’s middle and ultimate abilities involve exiling cards from the top of your library and allowing you to play them.
- Nahiri’s Warcrafting: Deal 5 damage, then for any excess you may look at that many cards from the top of your library, exile one, and cast it.
- Inti, Seneschal of the Sun: I’ve seen Inti in all kinds of standard decks (among other formats,) and for good reason. Discard a card to give a creature +1+1 and trample. Then for every discard you may exile the top of your library and play it until the end step of your NEXT turn. Spectacular red card draw for the format.
- Geological Appraiser: Allows you to Discover 3 when it comes into play, so exile cards from the top of your library until you hit a non-land card of mana value 3 or less, then cast it without paying its cost, or put it in your hand. Lots of flexibility baked in here.
- Jaya, Fiery Negotiator: Honorable mention here for Jaya, doesn’t see as much play but does see some in multiple formats including Standard. One of her abilities for -1 is to exile 2 cards from the top of your library, choose one and you may play it that turn.
What’s your favorite way to draw cards when playing red? Let us know in the comments!
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the best mono red card draw options in MTG?
There are several great options for mono red card draw in MTG. Some of the best include Valakut Exploration, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Light Up the Stage, and Commune with Lava. I personally still like a good old-fashioned Browbeat ultimatum.
What are some of the top red instants and sorceries for card draw in MTG?
Most red card draw comes from instants and sorceries and those include Cathartic Reunion, Tormenting Voice, Thrill of Possibility, and Magmatic Insight among others.
What are some of the best colorless and artifact card draw options for red in MTG?
Colorless card draw options include Mind Stone, Skullclamp, Mind’s Eye, Staff of Nin, and Endless Atlas. If you’re feeling friendly you can look at Howling Mine and Font of Mythos as other artifact card draw options for your red deck, just beware of giving other players more cards too. You may also look at Sword of Fire and Ice as an equipment option.
What is the most iconic red card in MTG?
The most iconic red card in MTG is likely Lightning Bolt. This spell has been a staple of the game since its inception, and is widely regarded as one of the best spells in the game.
What color has the best card draw in MTG?
Blue is generally considered to have the best card draw options in MTG, thanks to spells like Ancestral Recall (Power 9), Brainstorm, and Ponder. Not to mention Rhystic Study in commander. Other colors like black and green have strong card draw options too though, making it difficult to say which color is definitively the best.