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Much Abrew: Free Win Red (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week, during out Instant Deck Techs, one of my all-time favorite decks—Free Win Red for Modern—came in at the top of the pile. So today, we are going to work our way through a competitive Modern league and see if we can win a few treasure chests with the help of Turn 1 Blood Moon. Also, the write up at the end is going to be a bit different than the normal Much Abrew article. Instead of just general thoughts and changes, we are going to talk about some of the most popular decks in Modern and break down Free Win Red's game plan in each matchup! 

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Free Win Red Instant Deck Tech

Free Win Red vs. Grishoalbrand (Match 1)

Free Win Red vs. Merfolk (Match 2)

Free Win Red vs. Restore Balance (Match 3)

Free Win Red vs. Mono-Blue Tron (Match 4)

Free Win Red vs. Naya Burn (Match 5)

The Deck

Free Win Red is pretty straightforward. We play three different cards that can offer "free wins" depending on the matchup—Blood Moon (and Magus of the Moon), Ensnaring Bridge, and Chalice of the Void—and a bunch of fast mana, so that we can play these cards as early as Turn 1 and attempt to lock our opponent out of the game. As far as winning, it usually happens in one of two ways: our opponent scoops in frustration because they can't do anything, or we ultimate one of our planeswalkers (we also occasionally win by pulsing Chandra, Torch of Defiance a bunch of times). 

As such, the trick of the deck is to know the matchups inside and out. While some decks simply can't beat a Blood Moon or Ensnaring Bridge in game one, after sideboarding, most decks have some way to deal with our hate cards, which means we need to rely on combinations of cards to keep our opponent locked out of the game. So, let's talk matchups! 

The Most Popular Decks

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Infect: The Infect matchup is mostly about Chalice of the Void; if we can get it set on one, it becomes extremely difficult for our opponent to win the game. Blood Moon is also often game over, assuming we get it down fast enough (before Noble Hierarch comes down). If we have Turn 1 Blood Moon, that's usually the right choice; otherwise, play the Chalice of the Void on one first. Even better, Infect doesn't even have good sideboard options, since most of the builds rely on Nature's Claim to deal with artifacts and enchantments, and Nature's Claim also gets locked out by Chalice of the Void on one. 

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Dredge: Dredge is one of our more difficult matchups in game one but one of our best matchups after sideboarding. In game one, our only real hope is to get an Ensnaring Bridge on the battlefield, and even then, we can lose to Conflagrate damage. In games two and three, we are built to destroy Dredge, since we get to bring in four copies of Relic of Progenitus and a couple more Anger of the Gods to give us four total. One thing that might not be obvious: do not take out Blood Moon. While it might be tempting, since Dredge can win without casting spells (and their best dredge enablers like Cathartic Reunion are red), Blood Moon is our best answer to our opponent's answers. Typically, Dredge will board in Ancient Grudge (and sometimes Nature's Claim) to deal with Ensnaring Bridge (which is almost unbeatable), but since the deck plays between zero and one basic Forests, with a Blood Moon on the battlefield, it's almost impossible for Dredge to beat our hate cards. Blood Moon also shuts down Life from the Loam, and with Loam, it's unlikely our opponent will have enough cards in hand to burn us out with Conflagrate, which is their only hope once we get the Blood Moon / Ensnaring Bridge lock assembled. 

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Jund / Abzan: Jund is all about getting a Blood Moon as fast as possible. If our opponent is able to fetch out a basic Swamp and Forest, things go really bad for us, since our opponent can Abrupt Decay all of our hate cards. On the other hand, Jund only plays a couple of basic lands, so if we can Blood Moon before they get any basics, they usually die to our planeswalkers before they even cast a meaningful spell. 

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Bant Eldrazi: Bant Eldrazi is one of our best matchups, since both Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge simply end the game. They often don't even have answers in the sideboard, and if they do, they cost one mana, so set your Chalice of the Void on one. If they happen to draw a Worship, things become odd, but we still win eventually, since we will sooner or later ultimate a Koth of the Hammer, use our Mountains to kill all of our opponent's creatures, and then finally kill our opponent. 

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Naya Burn: Naya Burn (or Burn in general) might seem like a bad matchup, but it's actually a very good matchup. Our most powerful play is Chalice of the Void on one, which locks out most of our opponent's plays. This is another matchup where Blood Moon is better than it looks, because once we get a Chalice of the Void on one, our opponent's game plan is to use two-mana burn like Boros Charm and Atarka's Command. The problem for our opponent is that just about all of their two-mana burn is multicolor, and they don't play any non-Mountain basic lands. We also have some great sideboard cards in Dragon's Claw, Sun Droplet, and Witchbane Orb

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Lantern Control: This is one of the matchups I've played the least, and apart from knowing that it's miserable for both players, I'm really not sure who is favored. On one hand, our Ensnaring Bridges and Blood Moons do nothing. On the other hand, Chalice of the Void on one is amazingly good against our opponent. Plus, we don't really care about Ensnaring Bridge, so if we can resolve just a single Chandra, Torch of Defiance or Koth of the Hammer, we should be able to win the game with our planeswalker before our opponent can mill us out. 

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Affinity: Chalice of the Void is great, Blood Moon is questionable (although it does lock out creature lands), and Ensnaring Bridge is game over, assuming we can kill our opponent's zero-powered creatures (mostly Ornithopter). We also get Pyroclasm and Anger of the Gods from the sideboard, which are very good in the matchup. That said, the matchup is far from an auto-win. If our opponent gets a fast draw and we miss on Anger of the Gods and Ensnaring Bridge, we don't get much time to find our hate cards. Plus, while Chalice of the Void is great, it doesn't do anything when our opponent can simply dump their entire hand on Turn 1. 

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Tron (RG, GW, Mono-Blue): Tron is actually one of our harder matchups, which sounds strange because we are a Blood Moon deck and Blood Moon seems great against Tron. The problem is that Tron is one of the only decks in Modern that plays a bunch of main-deck ways to deal with all of our hateful artifacts and enchantments. While Blood Moon can slow our opponent down significantly, if we can't back up Blood Moon with a fast clock from Chandra, Torch of Defiance or Koth of the Hammer, our opponent will eventually draw into Oblivion Stone, Karn Liberated, or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (and cast them with Mountains), at which point we almost certainly can't win.  

Quick Hits on Other Decks

  • The Death's Shadow Zoo deck can't beat Chalice of the Void on one, although if it gets a really fast start, it can occasionally ride its Turn 1 play to victory if we stumble. 
  • Thing Ascension is a hard matchup. Chalice of the Void on one seems great, but if our opponent gets a Pyromancer Ascension on the battlefield, they can sometimes win even with all of their spells getting countered (because the copies resolve). 
  • Against various Nahiri Control decks (mostly Jeskai, but also Mardu), make sure to bring in Pithing Needle from the sideboard to shut down the namesake planeswalker, which is good at exiling Blood Moon. Also, be aware of Wear // Tear, which can get around Chalice of the Void on one or two if our opponent can fuse it. 
  • Scapeshift matchups are all about Blood Moon, while Ensnaring Bridge is also helpful against the Primeval Titan builds. It's also important to focus on trying to close out the game quickly because their answers to the lock pieces (Cryptic Command and Reclamation Sage) are too expensive to stop with Chalice of the Void
  • Merfolk can't beat Ensnaring Bridge in game one, and then in game two, they are hoping to find a Hurkyl's Recall to bounce it for a turn. The game plan is to get not only an Ensnaring Bridge but also a Chalice of the Void on two or our Witchbane Orb on the battlefield at the same time, at which point our opponent is typically drawing dead. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Since putting the deck back together, I've played eight competitive leagues with a 5-0, four 4-1s, a 3-2, and two 2-3s, which puts my match win percentage somewhere in the low 70% range, which is pretty absurd. I really think the deck can compete at the highest level, and while there are some challenging matchups, the massive number of free wins more than makes up for the bad matchups. 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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