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Budget Magic: $92 (13 tix) Mono-Red Frenzy (Modern)


Wesaþ hāle, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Experimental Frenzy is my new obsession. While the card is seeing quite a bit of play in Standard, today's deck is looking to go all-in on the power of the enchantment in Modern! The plan of the deck is to ramp into Experimental Frenzy with a combination of weird red ramp creatures and rituals and play as many cards as possible, since most of the creatures in our deck are free. Then, to finish the game, we use Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker to give all of our random free creatures haste and some extra power. How broken can Experimental Frenzy be on a budget in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Mono-Red Frenzy (Modern)

The Deck

Mono-Red Frenzy basically walks the line between aggro and combo. While we can win games just by beating down with aggressive red creatures and Bushwhackers, our main plan is to generate insane combo turns where we cast a huge percentage of our deck and then beat our opponent down with aggressive red creatures and Bushwhackers.

The Frenzy

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Experimental Frenzy is the most important card in our deck. While we can win without it, all of our best games involve getting the enchantment on the battlefield, hopefully as early as Turn 2 or 3. Once we get the enchantment onto the battlefield, our deck is built to maximize our chances of playing as many cards as possible, with very few lands, tons of cheap or free creatures to play off of the top of our deck, a few ways to draw extra lands out of the way to continue the frenzy, and rituals to product extra mana. Occasionally, we have games where we cast 30 or 40 mana worth of spells by Turn 4!

Rituals

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One of the secrets to maximizing the power of Experimental Frenzy is playing as few lands as possible because the second land we see on the top of our deck on a turn fizzles the frenzy. Our rituals do three things for our deck. First, they allow us to cut back on the number of lands in our deck to just 17, helping to power up our frenzies. Second, they help us get our Experimental Frenzy on the battlefield as quickly as possible to start the frenzy. Technically, it can happen on Turn 1 if we have Memnite and Infernal Plunge along with a Desperate Ritual, but more commonly, our rituals allow us to play our Experimental Frenzy on Turn 2 or 3. Third, our rituals help to support our frenzy combo, giving us additional mana to keep casting more and more cards from the top of our deck.

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Runaway Steam-Kin is the card that we want on the battlefield most once we start to frenzy, since it essentially gives us a one-mana discount on all of our red spells. Since most of the creatures in our deck are free, this means that Burning-Tree Emissary, Priest of Urabrask, and Wild Cantor actually produce mana and our rituals produce extra mana. With one Runaway Steam-Kin on the battlefield, we can cast a lot of cards in a single turn, and if we happen to get two or more copies of Runaway Steam-Kin on the battlefield, we can essentially frenzy through our entire deck (or until we hit too many lands and the frenzy fizzles). Oh yeah, and then Runaway Steam-Kin ends up as a 4/4 beater to help us close out the game, in conjunction with our Bushwhackers.

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Wild Cantor sort of walks the line between a free creature (more on this in a minute) and a ritual, basically being a one-mana Lotus Petal that comes attached to a 1/1 body. On Turn 1, it gives us an additional way to ramp into our Experimental Frenzy, and then after we start frenzying, it gives us a free creature we can play from the top of our deck, since we can always sacrifice it to get back the mana we spent to cast it.

Free Creatures

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The second important part of Mono-Red Frenzy is a bunch of free creatures. These are cards that we can play from the top of our deck with Experimental Frenzy without spending any mana, which helps to maximize the number of cards we can cast each turn during the frenzy. If we happen to have a Runaway Steam-Kin out, then rather than just being mana neutral, both Burning-Tree Emissary and Priest of Urabrask actually add mana by giving Runaway Steam-Kin a counter, which makes our frenzies even more explosive.

Even beyond Experimental Frenzy, both Burning-Tree Emissary and Priest of Urabrask are essential to our backup plan, which is flooding the board with cheap creatures and pumping them with Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker to kill our opponent. One of the upsides of Mono-Red Frenzy is we occasionally get free wins even without our namesake enchantment, with hands that allow us to play two or three Burning-Tree Emissary on Turn 2 along with a Bushwhacker to hit for a huge chunk of damage and then Priest of Urabrask and another Bushwhacker on Turn 3 to close out the game.

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Our last free creature is Memnite, which is a bit awkward in our deck since it isn't a red spell to grow our Runaway Steam-Kin. This being said, Memnite gives us another free card to play with Experimental Frenzy and allows for some really explosive starts, in conjunction with Infernal Plunge. Plus, since our main win condition is pumping a bunch of small creatures with Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker, any random creature on the battlefield is helpful, even a lowly 1/1 like Memnite.

The Bushwhackers

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Normally, our frenzy ends when one of two things happens: the frenzy fizzles because we hit too many lands on the top of our deck or we frenzy into a Bushwhacker or two and our opponent dies to a huge board full of free haste creatures. Apart from closing out the game, the other big benefit of both Reckless Bushwhacker and Goblin Bushwhacker is that they give all of our creatures haste, which helps us avoid sorcery-speed sweepers like Pyroclasm, Anger of the Gods, Supreme Verdict, and Damnation. Plus, as we talked about before, having eight Bushwhackers gives us a strong backup plan when we don't happen to draw into our Experimental Frenzy, which is just casting our hand full of free creatures, pumping them with Goblin Bushwhacker or Reckless Bushwhacker, and beating our opponent down.

Other Stuff

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Devastating Summons is our backup finisher, and it works pretty well with the rest of our deck. Since it's only one mana, it's easy to cast with Experimental Frenzy, so even in the worst case where we don't want to sacrifice any lands, we can always typically cast it for no value and continue our frenzy. Meanwhile, in the best-case scenario, it offers a ton of damage. Once we have multiple copies of Runaway Steam-Kin on the battlefield, we don't need many lands to cast our spells, so we can sacrifice most of our mana base to make a couple of big Elemental tokens to beat down our opponent. The sorcery also allows for some Turn 3 non-Frenzy kills where we can cast a bunch of free creatures, float all of our mana, sacrifice our lands to make two 3/3 tokens, and then cast a Bushwhacker to close out the game with 20+ points of haste damage.

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Relic of Progenitus is likely the strangest looking card in our deck, but it's actually extremely powerful with Experimental Frenzy. As we talked about before, the way that Experimental Frenzy fizzles is when we run into two lands on the top of our deck in the same turn. However, if we have a Relic of Progenitus on the battlefield, we can sacrifice it for just one mana, draw the useless land, and continue with the frenzy. Ideally, we can play our copies of Relic of Progenitus, leave them sitting on the battlefield, and then cash them in at the most opportune moments to keep our frenzy going.

In theory, we could do the same thing with any number of cards (like Chromatic Sphere or Chromatic Star), but Relic of Progenitus comes with the additional upside of exiling graveyards, which is a pretty big deal against popular decks like Dredge, Storm, and Ironworks Combo. In these matchups, Relic of Progenitus is one of the best cards in our deck and gives us a main-deck way to fight through our opponent's combo. Since we don't use our graveyard at all, there's very little downside to Relic of Progenitus, so even if we're just fizzling a Snapcaster Mage or shrinking a Tarmogoyf for a turn or two, it's free value from a card that we want in our deck to support our Experimental Frenzy anyway.

Wrap-Up

Mono-Red Frenzy was great! We finished 4-1 in our video matches (and 4-2 overall, losing a second Merfolk match), and the one match we did lose on video was because our UW Control opponent got absurdly lucky (we had a Turn 3 kill, and our opponent blind flipped a Terminus on their draw step). We managed to race Infect, overwhelm Hollow One, Relic our way past Grishoalbrand, and cast 36 mana of spells by Turn 4 against Merfolk! While the deck looks a bit weird and janky on paper, it's incredibly fast and surprisingly powerful.

In some ways, Mono-Red Frenzy is a weird version of 8 Whack, but it has one massive advantage over older builds: Experimental Frenzy itself allows the deck to play the long game. One of the biggest downsides of 8 Whack Goblins is that there isn't an easy way to recover if the deck floods out or if the opponent finds a sweeper. Experimental Frenzy solves both of these problems all by itself, being an absurd source or card advantage and natural protection from flooding out. While I'm not sure that Mono-Red Frenzy is better than 8 Whack Goblins, at the very least, I'm interesting in trying Experimental Frenzy in the Goblins build as a way to fix some of its issues.

As far as changes to make to the budget build now that we've played some matches, I'm pretty happy with how the deck ended up in general. The one card I really wanted to include was Faithless Looting, which seems like a good way to dig for Experimental Frenzy and to get through useless lands while we are frenzying thanks to flashback, but I'm not sure exactly how to make it fit. It's possible that the Memnite / Infernal Plunge combo isn't necessary. While Infernal Plunge is occasionally great, it's also sort of awkward once we have all the mana we need, since we have to sacrifice a creature to keep frenzying. It might be right to cut a couple of Memnites and the Infernal Plunges and play Faithless Looting in their place.

All in all, Mono-Red Frenzy was great. The deck felt competitive and was super fun to play! If you like decks like 8 Whack and are looking for a new way to have absurdly explosive turns, give it a shot!

While we can't quite get Mono-Red Frenzy down to $50, since some of the most expensive cards are also the most important cards (Experimental Frenzy, Goblin Bushwhacker, and Runaway Steam-Kin), with a bit of work, we can get it down to just under $60. For the most part, we simply take out some of our most expensive cards for slightly worse but similar options. For example, Memnite becomes Ornithopter, Relic of Progenitus becomes Chromatic Star, and the Lightning Bolts in the sideboard become a combination of Roasts and Gut Shots. The end result is a deck that is very similar to the one we played in the video and should be able to frenzy almost as effectively but loses a bit in specific matchups, with worse removal after sideboarding and no main-deck Relic of Progenitus to jank out graveyard decks.

The non-budget build of Mono-Red Frenzy doesn't get a ton of updates, but the few it does get are pretty impactful. As far as the main deck, we trade Infernal Plunge and a couple of Memnites for two Pyretic Rituals and two copies of Faithless Looting, along with adding eight fetch lands to the mana base. While playing fetch lands in a mono-colored deck probably seems strange, the free shuffle they offer works extremely well with frenzy—when we hit our second land for the turn, we can simply shuffle it away by cracking a fetch—while also removing a land from our deck, reducing our odds of hitting another in the future. Otherwise, in the sideboard, we get Blood Moon to jank our opponents out of the game along with a couple of Surgical Extraction as combo hate that also happens to be a free spell to cast while we are frenzying. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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