This week we’re happy to share a new article by Conor Mullaly about why he thinks RB Prowess is the best deck in Modern. Read on below. And thanks Connor!

If you watched last week’s Lotus Box League tournament, you’ll know that Modern is currently being dominated by Rakdos Prowess. There were three copies in Top 8 of the 200 person event, with the other successful decks (such as Ad Nauseum and Bogles) being choices that specifically targeted Prowess. The deck’s strength is in its efficiency and flexibility: because of Lurrus, the vast majority of your spells cost one or two mana and are capable of trading up on mana or being useful over multiple turns. You’re also able to win very quickly with your prowess creatures or to play the control role against other fast decks.

Unlike the Mono-Red and Red-White versions of Prowess, this is a deck that is very capable of winning a long game. The reason is very simple: Cling to Dust. Cling is one of the best recent additions to the deck and one of the sole reasons to play black over white because of how powerful the graveyard is in Modern right now. Nearly every Tier 1 deck is playing either Lurrus or Uro, and Cling is excellent against both. You get to gain life when decks pressure you, draw cards when games go long and even trigger Prowess on your creatures. The only thing I haven’t seen it do is write a book.

The Modern format may seem very condensed right now, but if you look beyond the Companion slot it has felt very diverse. In a league last night, I played against four Lurrus decks, but they were all very distinct strategies.

However, the vast majority of the Lurrus matchups play out in the same ways. You’ll trade resources one-for-one until one player runs out of things and is forced to cast their Lurrus. If the other player can answer Lurrus, they are very far ahead but lose quickly if they can’t. Two-for-ones are very important here, so I try to hold my Abbot of Keral Keep until I know it will get value.

I also try to be conservative with my Cling to Dusts in the mirror: games tend to go long and Cling is your best mana sink, so exposing it to opponents’ potential Clings is an easy way to lose games.

The other large pillar of the format is Yorion decks. These are much harder, and where we want to try and be as fast as possible. We do well when we’re always trading one-for-one with opponents, but Yorion decks always draw a creature that we have a difficult time killing and draws multiple cards when it enters the battlefield. I try to prioritize one-drops and hand attack when my opponent reveals Yorion, and mulligan hands with too much removal.

RB Prowess | Modern | Connor Mullaly

Companion (1)
Lurrus of the Dream Den

Creatures (14)
Soul-Scar Mage
Monastery Swiftspear
Abbot of Keral Keep
Kiln Fiend

Instant and Sorceries (21)
Unearth
Thoughtseize
Fatal Push
Cling to Dust
Lava Dart
Lightning Bolt
Manamorphose

Enchantments (2)
Seal of Fire

Artifacts (4)
Mishra's Bauble

Lands (19)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Mountain
Sunbaked Canyon
Swamp
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Collective Brutality
Unearth
Fatal Push
Kiln Fiend
Kolaghan's Command
Angrath's Rampage
Nihil Spellbomb
Lurrus of the Dream Den *Companion*

This is the current list I am working with. Dylan Donegan used this to make the finals of the Modern Challenge this past Saturday, and I plan to play it in Monday’s Super PTQ. I don’t love that Lava Dart and Kiln Fiend are so bad in the mirror (which is the most popular deck choice right now), but the speed they provide is necessary against most non-Lurrus decks. Besides, in Lurrus mirrors we have so many cards that we want to sideboard in, so we don’t have to keep the bad cards in our deck.

I have also tried Kolaghan’s Command and Finale of Promise in the Unearth slot, but Finale is a nonbo with Cling to Dust. Kolaghan’s Command is not very good in game 1s of grindy matchups because it is so rare for you to be able to cast the Command and the Lurrus in the same turn.

I like the efficiency of Unearth here. Angrath’s Rampage was first popularized by Carolyn Kavanagh, who beat me on her way to Top 8 of the Lotus Box League event. It’s awesome against Bogles for obvious reasons, as well as against Yorion and Obosh decks when they play a 5-mana creature that we can’t otherwise answer without using two burn spells or going very wide.

Sideboard Guide

RB Lurrus (BE ON THE DRAW POSTBOARD): I’m still unsure about the numbers of Brutalities we want postboard. Feel free to swap them for Manamorphoses in whatever numbers you choose.

In:
1 Unearth
2 Fatal Push
1 Kolaghan’s Command
3 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Angrath’s Rampage
1 Collective Brutality

Out:
2 Lava Dart
2 Kiln Fiend
4 Thoughtseize
2 Manamorphose

Jund Lurrus:
I leave a Thoughtseize in in order to hit Tarmogoyf

In:
1 Unearth
2 Fatal Push
1 Kolaghan’s Command
3 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Angrath’s Rampage

Out:
2 Lava Dart
2 Kiln Fiend
3 Thoughtseize
2 Manamorphose

RW Prowess/RW Burn: against Prowess, try to play around Mutagenic Growth if it’s possible.

In:
1 Unearth
3 Brutality
2 Push
1 Command
2 Rampage
3 Spellbomb

Out:
4 Thoughtseize
2 Lava Dart
2 Kiln Fiend
4 Manamorphose

Bogles:

In:
2 Rampage
2 Kiln Fiend

Out:
1 Unearth
2 Cling to Dust
1 Abbot

Yorion UroZa: Try to keep the board clear and attack as much as possible

In:
2 Rampage
1 Command

Out:
2Lava Dart
1 Unearth

Temur Scapeshift
In:
2 Kiln Fiend
2 Rampage
3 Collective Brutality

Out:
2 Fatal Push
2 Seal of Fire
1 Unearth
2 Abbot

Green Tron
In:
2 Kiln Fiend
1 Command
2 Rampage

Out:
2 Fatal Push
1 Unearth
2 Cling to Dust

Gruul Obosh
In:
2 Fatal Push
2 Rampage
1 Command

Out:
2 Kiln Fiend
2 Manamorphose
1 Thoughtseize

Humans (It’s possible we want Spellbomb against the Lurrus version, but I’m not sure)
In:
2 Fatal Push
2 Rampage
1 Command

Out:
2 Kiln Fiend
1 Unearth
2 Thoughtseize

Amulet Titan
In:
2 Kiln Fiend
2 Rampage
1 Command

Out:
1 Unearth
2 Cling to Dust
2 Abbot