To the untrained eye, Red Prowess might look like just another Burn deck. While it’s true that it shares many of the strengths of traditional Burn, it’s also capable of being both more consistent and more explosive.
Specifically, red decks in Modern usually take the form of classic Burn, or else they’re midrange decks that tap into blue for Counterspell or black for discard and removal. Red Prowess falls in the middle of these two strategies.
Modern Red Prowess is a synergy-driven aggro deck. Compared to Burn, it leans more heavily on its creatures; compared to midrange strategies, it focuses much more on damage output. When backed up by tons of cheap cantrips and burn spells, Monastery Swiftspear and Soul-Scar Mage can still pack a punch, despite getting less attention right now than Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Dragon’s Rage Channeler.
To put it simply, this is one of my favorite Modern archetypes. Between speed, power and consistency, it really has everything. Your speed makes you strong against non-interactive decks, Lava Dart and other cheap burn spells make you strong against creature decks and your staying power makes you strong against grindy decks.
This staying power comes from accessing any combination of Light Up the Stage, Seasoned Pyromancer, Expressive Iteration, Bedlam Reveler and options for a companion. It’s very realistic to grind out midrange and control decks.
There’s also a lot of variety in how you can build Red Prowess. Specifically, I’ve singled out seven distinct versions which are reasonable for tournament play. They are: Classic Mono-Red with no companion; Mono-Red with Obosh, the Preypiercer; R/U with no companion; R/W with Lurrus of the Dream-Den; R/B with Lurrus of the Dream-Den; R/U/W with Lurrus of the Dream Den; and Burn-heavy Red Prowess.
The first half of this Deep Dive will be general knowledge about the archetype that you’ll be able to apply regardless of which version you choose. In the second half, I’ll share my opinions on these seven different options.