Deck of the Week: Free Win Red
Deck of the Week returns from its holiday break with one of the more "interesting" brews to emerge in the Modern metagame in some time. As I've stated numerous times in this column, Modern is a game of speed. Some decks are able to win or lockdown the board on turns two or three with the perfect hand. Free Win Red is the latest to join the elite list of turn two or even turn one locks.
After a high profile showing on a certain aquatic themed website and much discussion on Reddit, Free Win Red has been the talk of the Magic universe for sometime. With Modern becoming dominated by the combo bug, decks that aren't speed based or control are having a tougher and tougher time breaking into the top tier. Free Win Red combines the two for a potential turn one lock and a likely game one win.
In case the turn one lock isn't clear, allow me to illustrate it for you. For a potential turn one lock, a typical turn one goes a bit something like this; Play a Mountain and use Simian Spirit Guide's ability to add R to your mana pool. Tap the Mountain and cast either Desperate Ritual or Pyretic Ritual and cast either Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon or Ensnaring Bridge.
Casting one of those three spells on turn one can be devastating against the right deck, particularly a Blood Moon effect. Muting Non-basics that early is likely lights out against greedier decks like Abzan or even certain UW builds. Where Blood Moon can't get the job done, a quick Ensnaring Bridge can get the job done against Fish, Affinity or other aggressive creature decks.
The fun literally stops there. I've proxied and played around twenty paper Magic games with the deck, and it is perhaps the most boring experience I've had playing the game in quite some time. While admittedly, the diversity of opponents wasn't the greatest but in that time, I was able to get a feel for piloting the deck and see that there isn't much interesting play possible with this build.
Assuming that all goes well and that your quick Blood Moon or Ensnaring Bridge mutes your opponent, you still need a way to win the game. Four Bolts aren't going to get you home and Chandra's ultimate isn't near accurate enough to dependably close a match. Therefor, it's up to Koth and his magic Mountains to finish the job.
The build above is one that I've seen as the deck of “record” and the list that I built. I would say that I one well over 80% of my game ones and over half of my matches with the deck. The toughest opponent that I faced was Storm and decks like Abzan were an easy win. However, the bottom line is this: this deck is so damn boring.
Sitting and watching both people pass turns until you drop your win condition is a painfully stupid way to play the game. Before you fill my inbox with messages confirming how stupid I am for not realizing that this is the same way control decks win, consider the following and view the list above. Control decks tend, for the most part to be at least somewhat interactive and have several decision points during a match.
Countering or not countering the right spell could mean the difference between winning or losing a match. In Free Win Red, a turn one 'Moon likely means that your opponent does nothing for several turns, which in turn means you do nothing for several turns. If your opponent can't cast spells, you can't interact. Is this worth the several hundred dollars this deck costs for you to build from scratch?
Now, I understand the appeal of a “Free win” in a tournament setting and you probably would get a free win or two if you played in a small tournament in the ideal meta, but in a seven or eight round tournament, this deck simply isn’t consistent enough to carry you for an entire day. Combine this with the fact that you will likely need to keep your DS handy lest you fall asleep in the middle of a match, and you've got the makings for a flash in the pan internet darling.
Can we make this deck better? Probably. Do I want to? No. If I were going to attempt to make this deck tolerable to pilot, I'd like to spend more time with the brew to tune it to my personal playstyle and add some strength to the deck, an easy spot we can make cuts is in the sideboard. Free comedy tip for you slick, in a deck that seeks to prevent your opponent from playing spells, chances are you're not going to be playing spells in response either. Unless your meta is dominated by Burn and Delver, you've got four free slots by removing the Dragon's Claws.
Bottom line, if you own the cards all ready or the cost of entry isn't too great, this might be an interesting deck for those that can't be bothered to actually play the game. If you're looking for a bland game of solitaire that even the greenest of Modern players can pilot, then sir, this is the deck for you.