You don't need Fetches to win Modern - A Mono Red Deck Breakdown

By Tom Barker

The cost of entry is the most common complaint you hear about the Modern format. Plenty of players would enjoy the depth of play that modern provides, but it is this barrier, blocking them from giving it a shot, and fetch lands are the first thing that spring to mind, which, to their credit, Wizards of the Coast has recently re-printed as box toppers in the latest set, Zendikar Rising. Despite this reprinting, the rarity of box toppers means these premium reprints will likely have little effect on the secondary market price of these heavily sought after cards. So what’s the solution when you’re priced out of the most important mana base of the Modern format? Play Mono Red!

I stumbled onto this list by the user @MHayash55780121 on Twitter and this relatively budget deck packs a real punch. Capable of the fabled turn 3 Prowess kills, but also grinds out those long matches against decks with heavy removal like Jund. 

What’s the Game Plan?

In classic Mono Red fashion, this deck’s number one goal is to get the opponent dead with cheap Prowess creatures and Lightning Bolt. It boasts a critical mass of twelve 1-cost Prowess creatures that do a great job of achieving this aggressive plan and, surprisingly, it also has the ability to take out long games with the staying power of Bonecrusher Giant and Seasoned Pyromancer

Why Obosh, the Preypiercer?

This is a question I got asked a lot while playing this deck. Of course, there are some valuable red cards that we miss out on as a result of playing the hellion horror like Bedlam Reveler, Skull Crack, Searing Blood & Abbot of Keral Keep

Another question I have been asked is: “How often does casting Obosh actually come up?”. The answer to this one is A LOT. Part of the reasoning behind playing no fetches, is that we must hit the critical mass of 5 lands. 5 lands lets us cast Obosh, use the Seasoned Pyromancer ability, re-cast Firebolt from the yard and the list goes on. With the carefully measured mix of Horizon Lands and Light up the Stage, you never run out of gas. 

Sideboard Choices & Tips:

This sideboard is about as streamlined as they come, as it consists of straight-forward playsets. Below is a rough outline on the use-cases of each card. 

Shattering SpreeBlood Moon

Shattering Spree - Spree targets the classic Tron and Stoneblade decks. With Shattering Spree’s replication capability, it can kill a Chalice of the Void on one counter. Shattering spree can also deal with the tokens from Wurmcoil Engine with ease. 

Blood Moon - It comes in against the Uro Piles and other control decks. You know Blood Moon by now. The good guy of the format as it keeps everything else in check.

Relic of ProgenitusKozileks Return

Relic of Progenitus - Relic is a card that I didn’t expect to be so versatile. You bring it in against Jund to nullify Tarmogoyf, you bring it in against any Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath deck to stop them from escaping that mana ramping titan, and you bring it in against Dredge. 

Kozilek’s Return - Return, aside from Bonecrusher’s Stomp adventure, is our only way to interact with protection cards like Kor Firewalker and Burrenton Forge-Tender. It also is a great way to clear up Seasoned Pyromancer and its Elemental tokens, while our own Prowess creatures can survive. 

Upgrades from Zendikar Rising:

Zendikar Rising has brought some great cards into the format. The stand outs that will fit into this shell are: 

Obviously, some of these require the deck to change fundamentally. Channeler and Cleansing Wildfire allow us to pivot to Jegantha, the Wellspring and gain access to some better sideboard cards, such as Ratchet Bomb or Shenanigans. Shatterskull Smashing requires us to forgo Obosh or Jegantha as our companion and play it the old-school way. The list I have chosen to test out is similar to @MHayash55780121’s latest version of the deck, that utilizes the new Spikefield Hazard and Magmatic Channeler. 

Zendikar Rising has survived the bans in Standard and supplies Modern with a whole new suite of fun cards to play. Another deck that I have seen pop up is RB Shadow with the new Scourge of the Skyclaves. Buying a box of Zendikar boosters may just net you a coveted fetch land to kick start your modern journey. Check out the Vault Games store to pick-up some of the hot new cards! 

If you haven’t tried modern before and are too afraid to buy into the Money Tribal decks with Uro and Omnath, why not try out some good old fashioned Mono Red.


About Tom Barker

Thomas is an up-and-comer in the competitive MTG scene. Having demonstrated success in Standard and Pioneer, Tom has recently turned his focus to modern, preferring the added speed and complexity of the format. An avid deck builder, Tom has a following of local regulars and international pros alike. If you’re after the best decks, you’re in the right place.

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