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Deck Spotlight - Modern R/W Prison

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Modern is a format with an incredibly wide variety of playable decks, yet metagame shifts happen there as well, and a good metagame call can give you an incredible edge. Eldrazi Tron has been the "hyped" deck for a couple of weeks now, and beating this deck can go a long way towards succeeding in a Modern tournament. As every Tron deck, Eldrazi Tron doesn't like when people meddle with its manabase and cards like Spreading Seas, Fulminator Mage or Crumble to Dust can certainly help against it. However, unlike the Tron decks of old that relied on casting 6+ drops like Wurmcoil Engine and Karn, the Eldrazi Tron decks (and Bant Eldrazi as well) have a much lower curve, so they can actually play their spells even when "soft-locked" with land-destruction or when they don't complete the Tron. All the midrange Eldrazi like Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher are great even when the opponent is picking off their owner's lands.

Because of this, a different approach has to be taken when we want to succeed against Eldrazi Tron - and the deck that I want to talk about today excels at carrying out this different approach. While killing individual lands is likely going to mean that you spend time not affecting the board and will be more vulnerable to Reality Smasher beatdown, turning off all their lands can actually be a hard-lock. Blood Moon does that very well - Mountains can't produce colorless mana, so when we resolve a Blood Moon, the Eldrazi Tron decks will usually be left with just a couple of Wastes plus four Expedition Maps to find them - and if they can't, the game is over. Right now, Red-white Prison, sometimes also called "Sun and Moon" is probably the best Blood Moon deck in the format and one, piloted by Tetsu Kawaguchi, made it into the top 8 of GP Brisbane. Here's his list:

R/W Prison by Tetsu Kawaguchi

top 8 at GP Brisbane

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I like how the removal suite this deck runs matches really well against the Eldrazi in the format. Lightning Bolts and Fatal Pushes can't touch Reality Smashers and Endbringers, which is a big reason why Eldrazi Tron is doing so well right now. This deck has Banishing Light, Wrath of God and the planeswalker suite, six of whom can deal with big creatures.

I've already talked about the Eldrazi Matchup, one of the big reasons why to even play this deck in the first place, but what about the other matchups? Part of doing well with this deck is certainly in drawing the right silver bullets against the right opponents, but several key cards the deck runs work really well against a wider number of decks, so we shouldn't be stuck with useless hate cards all that often.

The Matchups

Jund / Abzan

The most annoying card in this matchup is Liliana of the Veil - since we don't have almost any way how to pressure her loyalty and very few removal spells for her (Banishing Light or something like double Helix), she can easily threaten to go ultimate if the opponent plays her on turn three. That being said, the double-black cost means that even if the opponent fetches for basic lands, a turn three Blood Moon on the play or a Spirit Guide-powered one on turn two on the draw should make sure that she never enters the battlefield. Games where the opponent doesn't play Liliana should be largely in your favor. Wrath of God is great against their creatures and the planeswalkers can also contain the attackers rather well. Chalices are not great because Jund has Abrupt Decays and Kolaghan's Commands, so I would board them out, but sometimes a Chalice for 1 or even 2 can prevent several cards in the opponent's hand from being cast.

Affinity

Matchups where sweepers shine tend to be good and Affinity is a fine example. The planeswalker suite can be a bit slow, especially if the opponent has Cranial Plating, so feel free to board some of them out, but all your cards are good against theirs, Blood Moons switch off Nexi and Wrath of God is often a GG. Post-board, we have Stony Silence and an additional Anger of the Gods, so as long as you don't die to a random Etched Champion, you should be fine.

Dredge

Pre-board, this matchup is pretty terrible, as shows Tetsu Kawaguchi's quick quarterfinal exit against Zen Takahashi, playing Dredge. The key in the matchup is drawing Anger of the Gods and the opponent over-extending into it. If you can manage to kill the first wave of Bloodghasts and Prized Amalgams with it and somehow win before the second wave comes, you can steal the game, but otherwise, none of your other cards really do anything and even Wrath of God is just close to a Fog, nothing more. The three Rest in Peace show that Kawaguchi was prepared for Dredge and the post-board games are a lot better because of these, but it's still not granted that you're going to draw the RiPs and even then, the opponent can Thoughtseize them away or have Abrupt Decay.

Death's Shadow Zoo

The fact that the new versions don't play Steppe Lynxes and are a thus a bit slower is certainly good news, but on the other hand, they have a lot more discard and also Liliana of the Veil, which is still pretty annoying. A matchup where the die roll is extremely important, but a winnable one.

Titanshift

Despite Mountains being the most numerous lands in Titanshift's manabase, Blood Moon is by far the best card in this matchup, as it switches off Valakut and without it, the deck is just a pile of do-nothings plus Titans. The Bring to Light versions of Scapeshift are much tougher, because they have answers to Blood Moon, a lot of ways how to fetch basic lands and a win that is hard to stop, but right now, it seems that Titanshift is more popular than the four-color versions, which is certainly good for us.

In general, R/W Prison is good against creature decks and decks vulnerable to Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void. Control and combo that doesn't care about Blood Moon (for example Ad Nauseam) tends to be a pretty bad matchup, but with the resurgence of Tron decks, I like R/W's place in the metagame.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Adam

Adam Koska
Adam Koska

About Adam Koska

Adam is an experienced player from the Czech Republic who has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:

  • 14th at Pro Tour Portland 2014
  • 9th at Worlds 2009
  • 9th at Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
  • 64 Lifetime Pro Points
  • Three times Czech Nationals Top 8
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