Playing Unfair Magic in Modern- All in Red

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As this is my first article for Quiet Speculation, let me introduce myself. My name is Ryan Hipp, and I've had a non-zero amount of success playing Midwest magic on the TCGPlayer and StarCityGames circuits, including a 50k and several 5k wins. I prefer to create my own 75 for a tournament and catch my opponents unprepared. I'm the kind of player who gives underrated cards a chance to shine. That said, calling myself a technical player to be taken seriously isn't unreasonable either.

With spoiler season in full swing, talking about standard feels less relevant than an eternal format. Plus, what better time is there to discuss how to beat an overpowered deck than right after it convincingly wins a tournament?

A few weeks ago, I played in the SCG Invitational. While the main event didn't go that well, I did manage to top 16 the Modern Classic Event with a legitimate brew. While the deck I brought was great for the weekend (R/W Moon Decktech: here), quite a few of my wins came from locking out my opponent on turn one or two via Chalice of the Void or Blood Moon. There was another player in the top 16 doing similar things but in a much more committed shell. What could a Bloom Titan fear more than a turn one Blood Moon every game?

I saw this deck in action a few games, and from what I saw it looked like cheating. Playing around with this deck recently has only confirmed those suspicions. Prophetic Flamespeaker was generally only ok, it never ended the game like I wanted it too unless Sword of War and Peace was involved. A card like Goblin Rabblemaster, on the other hand, can end the game in just a few turns on its own. Playing Rabble on turn one is often good enough against particular strategies. This allows for us to win without a Blood Moon effect in play, which very rarely happened with Flamespeaker. Perhaps that isn't a fair way to evaluate cards, but after playing a few hands of the deck it becomes quickly apparent what the game plan is.

One of the big differences between this deck and the R/W Moon deck I played is the ability to defend yourself. Not being able to remove Vault Skirge holding a Plating is brutal, and losing to U/R Twin when they have a single basic island to combo on turn four through the maindecked hate cards sucks. An early Spell Pierce or Snare can throw a huge monkey wrench into the game plan of All In. That said, if your opponent cannot cast their spells it simply doesn't matter what they're trying to do.

Against Bloom Titan, everything in this deck is gas. Chalice of the Void, Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, acceleration, and even Sword of War and Peace as it enables kills in a relevant time frame. If the Titan player doesn't have the actual nutter butter hand, it's very difficult to lose. This is actually a common complaint about the modern format: Matchups are too decided on if someone drew their hate cards. The great part about this deck is that there is plenty of hate to go around. Maindeck no less. If the deck remains untouched and unbanned, I would recommend giving this list a spin to make them all feel silly.

I played around with Empty the Warrens in the board. There are hands that can cast 4-5 spells like Wild Cantor, Chalice of the Void for zero and ritual into Empty the Warrens on turn one or two. Far too often I would get Engineered Explosives'd, Golgari Charmed, or Anger of the Gods'd out of the game though. Unfortunately, each of those cards are perfectly reasonable to bring in against the deck anyway. That aside, it did win some games where other threats wouldn't have. Notably against Liliana of the Veil midrange decks, but most of the time Blood Moon will get the job done there.

This is the kind of deck that cannot live in fear. Often, in the dark on turn one, the deck needs to play that Magus of the Moon and hope it doesn't get Bolted. Other times, playing Koth on turn two is the route to victory while hoping that they don't have Remand. While there are certainly hands that involve Cavern of Souls or Chalice of the Void to solve these issues, there are also hands that are perfectly reasonable keeps which do not.

R/W Moon may not have been quite as strong against Bloom Titan, but it certainly had ways to win in that match up. Being more resilient to Twin, Infect, Merfolk or non-Blood Moon-able decks is a very desirable quality for a longer tournament. Below is an undated list from the deck I played in Vegas. If something is banned from Bloom Titan, this deck may be the better choice.

I won't say too much else about this deck, but its hard to recommend a deck without posting a list.

An updated list:

While this argument is like fighting fire with fire, none of the cards in either of these deck lists are powerful enough to warrant a ban. People may have spoken out against Simian Spirit Guide in the past, but the card is boarded out against ANY other deck playing fair. It is card disadvantage, and is only crucial when needing to get hate cards on board in a relevant time frame. 'A Relevant Time Frame' meaning before the opponent has a chance to do their overpowered thing. Drawing one on turn 6 isn't ideal, and it really doesn't have other applications than being -1 card +1 Red mana. Mox Opal does it better, and has more synergy with the decks it goes into.
If you are looking for hot pickups from these decks, Brimaz King of Oreskos, Gemstone Caverns and Kargan Dragonlord are at their reasonable floors value wise. Keep in mind that these decks aren't meant to ever be tier one, and if someone comes prepared to deal with Blood Moon, they can easily do so. These decks are a ton of fun to play and even have some reasonable finishes to boot. Yet I wouldn't be surprised if no one picks it up at the Pro Tour.
Thats all for this week I hope you enjoyed reading enough to come visit again!
Follow me on Twitter and Twitch! @BDP1337.
Ryan Hipp

One thought on “Playing Unfair Magic in Modern- All in Red

  1. Hi Ryan,

    I’m the pilot/designer of the 15th place list. I just found your article today. Thanks for the mention and congrats on your finish.

    Curious to see how these strategies evolve after the bans!

    Have a great day.

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