If anyone knows one thing about me in Modern, it's that I love tribal decks – well, Merfolk at least. Anyway, I enjoy tribal decks. Just roll with it. But in a sick twist that probably makes me a bad person, I also love a good Prison deck. There hasn't been a Cube invented where I won't draft Smokestacks or Tangle Wire.
This week? We get to do both.
Craig Wescoe highlighted the deck not long ago, and you should definitely check it out.
We've seen some Mono-Red Prison decks before – heck, I've even played them – but we've never seen one like this. For starters, and this is key, this deck doesn't play Ensnaring Bridge. While that was one of the easiest way to steal victories with previous versions, this deck attacks a different set of problems. Namely, it trades aggressive creatures for the lockdown of Ensnaring Bridge, and as a result can turn the corner much faster than any Red Prison deck before it.
Guilds of Ravnica is a big part of that. Legion Warboss means the deck effectively has two playsets of Goblin Rabblemaster, and that means finding ways to generate tokens to win the game isn't nearly as difficult as before. That gives you a leg up against combo decks that demand a fast clock, in addition to being good against control decks that also don't mind Bridge all that much.
Add in a few more Goblin-centric spells – including the new Goblin Cratermaker that has a ton of utility in the format – and you have a deck that puts a reasonably aggressive package into a small number of cards, while adding redundancy and flexibility over the sheer power of Bridge.
Of course, the deck also has the "broken" starts that these Red Prison decks always have. Simian Spirit Guide continues to be an unfair card and along with eight other ritual effects – even Chancellor of the Tangle gets in on the action – this deck can power out Chalice of the Void or Blood Moon as early as the first turn or get the beatdown rolling with a first-turn Goblin Rabblemaster.
I'm not sure if all these changes make the deck better positioned in Modern or not, though I'd say it's certainly not much worse than older versions if it is at all. And one thing it remains is fun, and Legion Warboss only ups the number of wild and exciting openings.
Thanks for reading,