As a lover of fringe Modern decks (after all, that's what this entire series is based on), you can believe I'm always rooting for those decks to do well. I live for scouring the Top 64 of Grand Prix and Opens to find the newest rogue deck to feature on Mining Modern. The fact that these kinds of decks can make runs occasionally speaks to me of the open-ness of Modern as a format. I consider a Top 64 to be a great showing for the kinds of decks we play on here.
I never saw this coming.
I was lucky enough to cover the finals of Grand Prix Dallas last week, and I got to watch firsthand as Kevin Mackie took down the tournament with Skred Red, of all things. It may seem like it came out of left field (and it did), but on closer inspection I can see how Mackie's deck attacked the metagame so effectively. Maindeck Relic of Progenitus and Anger of the Gods gives him a great matchup against Dredge even in game one, while having eight one-drop removal spells in Lightning Bolt and Skred meant that there were plenty of ways to interact with Infect. Against the midrange or control decks the Blood Moons and planeswalker suite are quite good.
While a lot of the raw power of this deck comes from the Blood Moon plus removal plan, it actually has even more going on beneath the surface. Eternal Scourge is a hilarious combo with both Relic of Progenitus and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. In Round 15, the last round of the swiss, I watched Mackie block Platinum Emperion repeatedly with his Scourge, exiling it with Relic and recasting it. He did that long enough to fire off an eight-point Skred at the Emperion to remove it and win, locking up his berth into the Top 8.
Stormbreath Dragon is another card that's sneakily powerful in Modern. It has made a few appearances in the red-green land destruction (Ponza) decks, and here is breaking through again. While haste is extremely powerful – allowing the dragon to close games in a hurry or surprise attack planeswalkers – it's the protection from white that is the most relevant. When you turn off Path to Exile as a removal spell and Lingering Souls as a chump block you have a dangerous threat on your hands, even if it never goes monstrous.
The removal and four-drops allow the Skred Red deck to get ahead on board, and once it's there Scrying Sheets ensures it doesn't lose that position. The ability to pull excess lands off the top of the deck means that Skred has better natural topdecks than basically any non-blue deck in the format, and that accounts for a lot of percentage points over the course of a tournament.
Do I think Skred Red is a new tier one option in Modern? Probably not. It exploited a hole in the metagame that I suspect won't be around forever. But Mackie's performance in Dallas – and my experience with the deck in these matches – tells me it's something you better be prepared for.
Thanks for reading,
@Chosler88 on Twitter/Twitch