Standard is in a tough spot right now and I’m having a tough time writing and just coming up with new decks. All my brews are just worse energy decks and I don’t want to just give you random decks. Instead, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite format, Modern! Well, it’s my favorite format, until Standard gets it together. It’s alright. Today, I have a pretty spicy deck for all of you! We’re going to be talking about a newish prison deck. One that has put up results very recently. So, you can confidently take this deck to whatever tournament your heart desires and make your opponent question their life decisions.
These were some of the first words I heard when I sat down to play against Russel Colosi at the SCG Modern Open. This was right before he put me in maximum security prison with his deck. That wasn’t enough. He also decided to light the entire prison on fire and sent in some goblins to finish the job just in case, by some miracle, I was able to escape the hell hole he had put me in. All the while, he wore a cheery face and kind smile. He was having fun, while I watched my dreams for Top 8 get scorched out of existence.
And here’s how to do it.
Pyro-Prison ? Modern | Russel Colosi, 4th Place SCG Modern Open Roanoke VA
- Creatures (13)
- 1 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
- 2 Magus of the Moon
- 2 Walking Ballista
- 4 Goblin Rabblemaster
- 4 Simian Spirit Guide
- Enchantments (4)
- 4 Blood Moon
After slaying me, Russel ended up making Top 8 and his final placement was 4th. This deck gave me the worst beating I’ve had playing Lantern Control. Most decks can play around Blood Moon, even Lantern. However, when you back that up with Chalice of the Void, it becomes nearly impossible to do anything. I wasn’t even playing creatures so if your deck can manage to somehow get around Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void, you still must navigate around Ensnaring Bridge.
Okay, so the deck just locks you out, you still have time to draw your answers, right? Nope! Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Koth of the Hammer, and Goblin Rabblemaster will make quick work out of you, especially since you won’t be able to interact with them the way you’ll want.
What. A. Nightmare.
History of the Archetype
This deck originally started in old Extended where the Mono Red deck would power out things like Demigod of Revenge, Deus of Calamity, and Chandra Ablaze. It had powerful mana accelerators in Rite of Flame, Desperate Ritual, and Seething Song. Turn one Blood Moon, Demigod of Revenge, or Deus of Calamity was a big problem. If the deck managed to turn one Chandra Ablaze, you weren’t winning. You would have essentially mulliganed to three when they activate Chandra Ablaze’s second ability. This deck was all in and was named as such. It was called A.I.R. which stood for All in Red.
After the banning of Rite of Flame and Seething Song, the deck still saw some play in Modern. Instead of accelerating into a Demigod of Revenge or Deus of Calamity, it usually tried to stick a Blood Moon affect early and win on the back of Koth of the Hammer, Kargan Dragonlord, and sometimes things like Batterskull. It used cards like Magma Jet to try and filter into its rituals or threats. The deck was all right but once Modern became established, it wasn’t a real contender anymore.
Flash forward to the printing of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and people started thinking about the deck again. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is huge for this deck. It does everything the deck wants in accelerating you, providing card advantage, has built in removal, and an ultimate that’s almost impossible to beat. Pair that with Goblin Rabblemaster, a powerful threat that only costs three mana instead of the traditional five and you’re really cooking. The deck no longer must get to five or six mana for things like Deus of Calamity or Chandra Ablaze. Koth of the Hammer, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and Goblin Rabblemaster are equally as good if not better. Most importantly, they’re cheaper. Saffron Olive even had his own list last November that is similar to this one.
MTGSalvation seems to be a solid place for new decks and strategies to emerge; it’s where Lantern Control started. It’s also where Russel got the idea before tuning the deck to his liking and nearly taking down a big competitive event. Let’s look at this budding archetype a little deeper.
The Mana Acceleration
Anytime you see Simian Spirit Guide, you can expect that your opponent is doing some very unfair things. All this mana acceleration is typical, all except one, Gemstone Caverns. Caverns is a legendary land that requires you to be on the draw and have it in your opening hand. If you do, you essentially get a better Chrome Mox, a card that is banned in Modern. You take the play away from your opponent. I’ve seen some lists run one Gemstone Caverns, and once in a blue moon I’ll see two. Russel Decided to go for three! Anytime I see a new card start seeing play in Modern with three or more copies, I get excited. It means that we may have a new breakout card or a sleeper!
Some decks just straight up fold to one of these cards if it resolves, especially in Game 1. When you’re playing all of them, you’re going to be picking up a lot of free wins throughout the day.I was playing Lantern Control and I felt like I couldn’t do anything with a Blood Moon in play and a Chalice of the Void on one. Any creature based deck is going to have a hard time beating you, even Dredge is an easy matchup for this deck because of the lock pieces it has.
Slamming the Door
Unlike Lantern Control, this deck will kill you extremely quickly after it locks you out. It doesn’t give you much time to plan a comeback, let alone execute that plan. The biggest threats are these three cards. I don’t know if you remember Goblin Rabblemaster from Standard, but boy does that card close out a game mighty quickly if left unchecked. Koth punches your opponent while threatening to ultimate in two turns while Chandra sits back and gives you card advantage before giving you an emblem that just ends the game.
For a prison deck, this deck is exciting. It’s not terribly difficult to pilot, making it a solid prison deck to give to a new player in Modern. This is what the deck is good and bad against.
- Scapeshift decks
- Through the Breach decks
- Lantern Control
- Grixis Death's Shadow
- Reanimator decks (Grishoalbrand)
- Living End
- As Foretold
- Naya Burn
- Mono Blue Tron
- Big Tron
As you can see, the deck is well positioned for the current metagame. You mostly just want to dodge Tron (who doesn’t) and you’re good to go. If you want to beat Tron Blood Moon isn’t enough. You’ll need another lock piece like Chalice of the Void and then you’re getting somewhere. If you want to make that matchup better, I’d recommend playing some number of Molten Rains or Crumble to Dust in your sideboard.
I know when I pick up a deck, I try to get cards that I would also potentially play in this deck, especially if they are obscure. Here are some cards that could be good in this deck that you might want to pick up.
- Anger of the Gods / Sweltering Suns
- Phyrexian Revoker
- Pithing Needle
- Ratchet Bomb
- Dragon's Claw
- Surgical Extraction
- Defense Grid
- Tormenting Voice / Cathartic Reunion
- Hammer of Bogardan
- Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
- Chandra's Phoenix
- Batterskull / Wurmcoil Engine
- Manic Vandal
- Figure of Destiny
- Stormbreath Dragon
These cards aren’t all great, but they are situationally useful depending on where the metagame is at or where it’s heading.
This deck is solid and again, it’s well positioned in the current metagame, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it popping up a little more. If you play it, I’m positive you’ll catch a lot of people off guard. Just remember, we take no quarter and no prisoners in Pyro Prison. They all go straight to Hell, won’t pass go, and won’t collect $200.
That’s all I have for you today ladies and gentlemen. Hopefully next week we’ll have enough Rivals of Ixalan spoilers that I can talk about some of the cards and what applications they’ll have in Standard! I hope you all have a great holiday and I’ll catch you later!
Deck the halls with wreaths of fire
Fa la lalala, la lalala
@AliEldrazi on Twitter