Yesterday we walked you through the process of building Mono-Red Prowess in a post-Looting Modern. While that is fun, you could be lazy and just copy someone else’s list. That will not help you to pilot the deck effectively though; that is what this article is for. Today we will go in-depth on mulligans with supporting statistics as well as typical play patterns to follow in order to succeed with Mono-Red Prowess.
Mulligans are a bit complicated with this deck compared to something like Bogles but there are some guidelines to keep in mind.
This is an eighteen land deck and 24.4% of your opening hands will contain just one land. It will be tempting to keep these hands but you often should not. You will only topdeck a land 32.1% of the time. Even if you are on the draw, your odds of pulling it off in those two draw steps is only 54.3%. Another possibility is that you have a Turn 1 creature into a Turn 2 Light Up the Stage. Between those three “draws” there is a 69.5% chance that you will find your second land; usually should be a keep. Then in that same situation on the draw you are looking at four “draws” and your odds of pulling up the second land are 79.9%. Such a one land hand is certainly a keep. The point is that you should mulligan the vast majority of one land hands. It becomes more acceptable if you have already mulliganed though. This is a critical mass deck after all.
Two land hands are exactly where you want to be. The only ones that are concerning are those with two canlands. These hands drain your life total against aggressive decks and lack a Mountain to flashback Lava Dart. So they are a bit iffy to keep but if the hand is good, do not let this rare occurrence dissuade you. The probabilities of this based on how you built your deck are as follows:
Two Canlands: 0.6%
Three Canlands: 1.9%
Four Canlands: 3.9%
Three land hands can be a bit more iffy. We generally do not need three mana so post-mulligan we will usually bottom the third land. If it is an opening seven and we are stuck with it, we have no choice. You really want one of these lands to be a canlands so that you can cash it in if you draw a fourth one. You will not have one in 44.6% of three land hands and therefore should likely mulligan. If the hand has two Lava Darts to make use of excess lands and is otherwise great though, go ahead and keep. Just keep in mind that six card hands under the London mulligan are quite powerful.
The secondary concern is a lack of creatures. We really need one within the first two turns to apply pressure or we are mostly a bad Burn deck. Beyond Turn 2 though we are not particularly interested in drawing creatures other than Bedlam Reveler; so we run a dozen. This will give you at least one in 80.9% of your opening hands and it is fine to have more than one. The vast majority of hands without them should be shipped back.
If you have multiple Manamorphose to race out a Turn 3 Bedlam Reveler you can go that route. I would not do this unless you have mulliganed though. You want to play Reveler with an empty hand and deploying a full seven within the first two turns is difficult. If a hand contains no creatures at all, it is very difficult to justify a keep. I only do this if I have eight or more damage worth of burn spells and a Light Up the Stage.
Oddly, there is not a ton I can say about spells. They are the core of the deck and make up more than 45% of it. Simply make sure that your hand has at least three of them and if it is post mulligan, you can get away with two. The ideal hand has two lands, one or two creatures, and three or four spells. Which spells they are is not a big deal even, they are all great. Even two Lava Dart is fine, the third copy is risky though.
This is a simplified summary:
-One land hands need a Turn 1 creature into Light Up the Stage
-Two lands hands are ideal
-Three land hands need a canland
-Hands need to have a creature in play by Turn 2
-Hands need to have at least three non-creature spells
You play the lands, then you play the creatures, and then you play the spells. It is not a particularly hard deck to play. When it comes to the creatures, play out Soul-Scar Mage before Monastery Swiftspear. They may remove your first threat and Soul-Scar is the lesser card. These two sequences clarify things:
Turn 1: Soul-Scar- 0 Damage
Turn 2: Swiftspear and Bolt- 7 Damage
Total: 7 Damage
Turn 1: Swiftspear- 1 Damage
Turn 2: Soul-Scar and Bolt- 5 Damage
Total: 6 Damage
Leading with Soul-Scar is more damage in a vacuum. Leading with Soul-Scare is better when they have a removal spell. Leading with Soul-Scar is better if you topdeck a two drop that you want to play; a Turn 3 hasty Swiftspear will still get value out of the spells you play to pump up the other threats. I have yet to find a matchup where it would have been better to lead with Swiftspear.
If you have creatures in play and are deciding between extending the board and going all in one what you have, choose based on matchup. Against creature decks you probably just want to go all in on what you have before they establish more blockers; unless you have Crash Through. Against interactive decks you probably want to establish your board because having your creature removed after you expend your resources makes it difficult to close the game.
When sequencing spells it is best to hold back the burn spells as long as possible. You do not want the opponent to know how close to dead they actually are. This will lead them to let through attackers when they should not. Or they may be more afraid than necessary and chump block when they should be preparing to swing back. The guessing game caused by our aggression is a huge key to victory. Furthermore, playing our card draw before our damage gives us greater information with which to act. Pumping up our creatures without decreasing the number of cards in our hand is huge. Magic is an information war and this sequencing tactic gives you a strategic advantage.
That being said, do not be overly conservative. You are not playing Mono-Red Tempo or Midrange. Sure you should sequence in a way that provides you with an information advantage. But you should not be letting your mana go to waste. If you can slam a Lava Spike, slam it. Against creature-based combo decks you might want to hold up instants like Bolt but even then it is often best to try on your turn; against Infect at least because their growth effect is not offensively useful on your turn.
In general it can be tempting to remove creatures, but it often is not worthwhile to do so. If, over time, the blocker will prevent more damage than the burn spell will do go ahead and remove it. Or if you are in a race and the creature will hit you for more than three, consider removing it. Sometimes you can end the game without that three damage and it will serve you better as functional lifegain. This comes up more often with large creatures when you have Soul-Scar Mage in play as you are permanently reducing the opposing creatures damage output. Also we are a Mono-Red deck so creatures with protection from red, such as Auriok Champion and Kor Firewalker, are quite troublesome. Crash Through tramples over them though, so save it for an alpha strike.
That ended up being a lot for just mulligans an play patterns. After a few games with this deck you will realize just how many lines of play are at your disposal. It is hyper-aggressive but I cannot honestly describe it as linear. Either way it is an absolute blast and arguably the format’s best budget deck, because it is so much more than that. Was there anything that I may have overlooked though? What tips or tricks do you have to share? Please let us know in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.