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By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Apr 06 2020 12:00pm
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This last week I've been playing a ton of Red decks in Modern. Reason for that being that I keep seeing the Prowess deck do well.

This is an example of a Prowess deck:


I've played three leagues with something very close to this. I don't remember my exact list, but most of them look very alike. 

And after three leagues with the deck, I'm going to be honest. I don't get it. I'm probably doing something wrong, but this deck is just the clunkiest burn deck I've ever played. I flood out all the time, and I'm never able to cast a Bedlam Reveler at all. In my fifteen matches, I have resolved 1, on turn six, and it drew nothing that mattered, and I died a horrible non-fiery death. 

With that, all being said and done, I decided to play a regular Burn deck. I've played a bit of Burn in every format before but never did anything more than dabble and dip my toes. 

I did the only reasonable thing and looked up SandyDog's list. For those of you who don't know MTGO handles and the decks they are associated with. If SandyDog is your opponent. You are likely to be against Burn. He is one of the best Burn players on the planet as far as I'm concerned. 

This is the list I found he did something with most recently in Modern:


This list is wildly different from the Boros Burn decks that I'm used to, but I decided to give it a good old-fashioned college try and see what happened. 

I ended up playing this deck for about six hours a day for almost a week; this deck was performing like nobody's business. I'm currently batting an over 70% win-rate against the field because of all the ramp decks running around. Eldrazi Tron can't beat this deck without Chalice of the Void on 1, and even then, you can still just beat it anyway with Rift Bolt, (Skewer the Critics), and some creatures in play. Soul-Scar Mage pushes you through the Eldrazi, especially with Searing Blaze. The family of Amulet Titan and Scapeshift decks are just bye's unless they turbo out a turn 2 Primeval Titan. Especially after boarding in the Tunnel Ignus. And don't even get me started on regular Tron, I don't think I've even lost a game to them, best case for them is resolving a Wurmcoil Engine on turn three and then you just (Lighting Bolt) their face a bunch.

Other favorable matchups are the Prowess deck and Humans. Just shoot all their creatures, and you'll be fine. 

Jund is pretty rough; they just play a game that lines up naturally against Burn. If they are playing Scavenging Ooze, it's a lot of trouble. Otherwise, it's 50/50, depending on their draw. Inquisition of Kozilek into Tarmogoyf is a start that you'll rarely beat. Thoughtseize into Dark Confidant, however, will make you the happiest little goldfish. 

You do have awful matchups as well, but they just aren't around as much. Dredge is a big problem, but I've barely been getting paired into it. Ad Nauseam was a trainwreck when I got paired against it, who knew Phyrexian Unlife gaining them 10+ life that doesn't get stopped by Skullcrack would be good. I tried bolting an opponent from -52 to -55. But it still didn't kill them, so impolite. 

The one thing I'm not sure about is if the Mono-Red version is better than the Boros version. Having a real sideboard is a big deal, after all. Things like Stony Silence and Rest in Peace are cards that are sorely missed in the Mono-Red version of the deck. The Mono-Red version does have Tormod's Crypt and Smash to Smithereens, but especially Tormod's Crypt just isn't on the same power level. Smash to Smithereens has been impressive, but Stony Silence just ends games on the spot like nobody's business. And even though I've been beating the Prowess decks, I would still like to have access to Lightning Helix in the 75, if only from the side. So just a Mono-Red deck with a small white splash to pretend it's two-colored. 

I think I would like to try something like this:


This list is just me trying to play the same game as the Mono-Red version while improving the sideboard and dumping some of the more mediocre cards. Lava Dart can be backbreaking when it's relevant, but it's deal two pay R sacrifice a land a lot of the time as well, which just sucks unless in niche situations. Because I don't have a way of enabling Skewer the Critics for 0 mana anymore, I removed a few those, and with the space that made, I just crammed in as many of the good Boros burn spells that I could find. In this case Boros Charm and Lightning Helix. These also help a lot against Chalice of the Void, which is one of the best cards in the format against the Mono-Red version. I haven't tried this list yet, though, but definitely will once I'm a burning mood again. 

I also tried playing Mono-Red in the Vintage Cube that is currently online, and it went exactly like you'd think it would. I won every single game I was on the play very easily, just crushing my opponent. And I got destroyed every single game that I was on the draw. So that didn't feel like gambling at all. 

The one last thing I want to try is playing some Mono-Red in Pioneer. I assume it will be good there as well. I just haven't tried it. I'm going to start by playing this list: 


Strong_Sad is Todd Anderson for those who don't know. He consistently builds good decks, and this seems like no exception. I like that it has a dinosaur in there as well. There are never enough dinosaurs being played competitively. This is a lot more Creature based then I thought, but the spells in Pioneer just aren't that good. I mean I see Wild Slash in there. I get why it's there, but it's Shock with upside. In Modern, it felt miserable to cast, and it was the first thing I cut. But there probably just isn't anything better here. 

Mostly, I'll be playing the Mono-Red deck in Modern some more, because playing a league in an hour and cashing almost every single one of them is just the sweetest thing.