20Red Stompy decks have existed in Legacy for a long time and they have taken many forms. From Rakdos Pit Dragon to Instigator Gang, any threat that reasonably follows up a Chalice of the Void has been a staple of the archetype. Over the years, though, there have been a lot of great threats printed for this archetype which gives players a lot of options when building a deck like this. For the past year or two, it has been pretty common for these decks to play Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Karn, the Great Creator as the top end threats, since planeswalkers are excellent at taking over a game. However, while they might be potent cards in the deck, they are relatively slow, which can sometimes give your opponents too much time to answer your plan.
In an effort to correct that issue, Magic Online player Basuta has been playing a version that leans into the aggressive angle of the deck as much as possible. With a win in a Challenge from this past weekend, this version is solidifying itself as the Red Prison variant du jour in the hands of its creator. This week I want to go over their list, and talk about why each card earns its spot and makes this deck so effective at shutting down opponents.
Legacy Red Prison - Basuta
The Red Prison/Stompy archetype is one of the most straightforward Legacy has to offer. First and foremost, the goal is to cast a lock piece such as Chalice of the Void or Blood Moon as fast as possible. Then, you follow that up with a creature, like Goblin Rabblemaster, that will end the game before your opponents can put together an answer. This deck follows that pattern pretty closely, but with the caveat that the creatures in this deck can close the door so quickly that sometimes leading on the creature is better. Let’s get into the specific choices of the deck and illustrate the plan a bit more clearly.
4 Chalice of the Void, 3 Trinisphere
The core of most Legacy Prison decks, these artifacts can quickly ruin your opponents’ day. With the amount of acceleration in this deck, it’s relatively easy to cast them on turn 1. If these stick, they will either lock the opponents out of playing a meaningful game and, if not, they will generally buy you a lot of time.
4 Blood Moon, 3 Magus of the Moon
The other prison element of this deck, a turn 1 Moon effect will often stop most opponents from playing the game at all. Some decks can play around these effects reasonably well, but almost no deck can do so if one comes down turn 1 on the play, which is a huge part of what makes this deck so effective.
4 Goblin Rabblemaster, 4 Legion Warboss, 2 Hanweir Garrison
These creatures end the game in short order. Each of them fit the play pattern of “Turn 1: Ancient Tomb + Simian Spirit Guide > Threat”, which is a crucial aspect of the deck because it applies so much pressure early. This allows you to follow up with “Turn 2: Mountain > Threat”, and that will generally close the door by turn 3. Hanweir Garrison is definitely the weakest of the 3, but if left unchecked, it will still close the game in short order.
4 Fireflux Squad
A relatively new, and sort of odd, inclusion, Fireflux Squad is a really cool card in this deck. In one way, any aggressively-slanted creature is a solid follow up to a lock piece. This does a lot more than that, though, since combining it with any other creature in the deck will overwhelm the board so quickly, since every other creature makes tokens. In this deck, it is taking up the same space that Chandra used to occupy, which added a lot of resilience to the deck. However, Fireflux Squad synergizes so well with the 14 other creatures in the deck that in many games, the lack of resilience doesn’t even matter.
4 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Pia and Kiran show up in this archetype from time to time. They’re pretty good at stabilizing the board and providing a decent amount of pressure. However, once you get Fireflux Squad in the mix, this card really shines. Hitting this off of the Fireflux ability to lead to a totally dominating board position, which will end most games pretty quickly. Again, you are losing a bit of the resilience that the planeswalkers provide by including so many Pia and Kirans, but the name of the game with this variant is closing the door, and the creatures in this deck all accomplish that really well.
4 Chrome Mox, 4 Simian Spirit Guide
These are the cards that help accelerate out the threats and lock pieces as fast as possible. Both of them are card disadvantage at their core, but when you’re ending the game so quickly, the loss of cards doesn’t particularly matter.
4 Ancient Tomb, 4 City of Traitors
The staples of the Prison archetype, the mana advantage these provide is close to the number one reason that this deck works. Accelerating out a Chalice with X=1 with no effort, or facilitating fast Blood Moons or creature starts make these the most important parts of the deck. The fact that this limits the amount of colored mana you have makes threats that need a single red mana at a premium, which is why this deck plays 14 of them (21 if you count the Moon effects).
4 Shatterskull Smashing, 8 Mountain
Mountains cast your spells, and Shatterskull Smashing is a Mountain with upside. Being able to turn your land into a removal spell is a big game, and it’s definitely a pretty substantial upgrade for the archetype.
4 Bonecrusher Giant
This card pulls double duty as a removal spell and an extra threat. Bonecrusher Giant is definitely one of the better cards to draw in matchups where you need to kill small creatures.
2 Fiery Confluence
Fiery Confluence fell off the map a bit when they changed the way that burn spells work with planeswalkers, but it’s still a really potent card against a variety of archetypes. It’s a bit worse in this deck, since this version goes a bit wide and Fiery Confluence might kill a few of your own creatures. However, in that situation, doing six damage to your opponent might just be enough to end the game on the spot.
2 Hanweir Garrison
There are some matchups where getting on board as quickly as possible will put opponents in bad situations, so extra copies of the “worst Rabblemaster” will come in handy.
2 Leyline of the Void
With the London Mulligan, it isn’t quite as necessary to run 4 of these anymore. Leyline continues to be one of the best cards possible against graveyard decks, and in this deck, you’re pretty much just going to bring it in when your opponents are heavily relying on the graveyard (as opposed to when your opponents are lightly relying on it, like with Snapcaster Mage or Gurmag Angler).
1 Sulfur Elemental
Sometimes you can’t mess around with white creatures and Sulfur Elemental will certainly ruin their day. Death and Taxes can be a challenging matchup and this card is one of the best answers to that archetype.
2 Torpor Orb
This is anti-Doomsday tech, and it’s perfectly set up for this archetype. Casting it on turn 1 will force them to have an answer and in the meantime, you will hopefully be clocking them with a 3-drop creature.
1 Trinisphere, 1 Magus of the Moon
In matchups where Trinisphere or Magus are good, they are often the best cards so having extra copies in the board is quite effective.
- Chrome Mox is an artifact that can be thrown around with Pia and Kiran in the mix.
- Be careful about having Legion Warboss and Goblin Rabblemaster out if you don’t want to attack for some reason (say, Griselbrand or Batterskull on defense). Rabblemaster requires all goblins to attack each combat, if able.
This is the kind of matchup where all of your cards are good, so I think trimming on the most expensive ones is fine. Both of the 4-drops are solid in the matchup, for sure, but being more open to Daze is a liability. Lock pieces are the name of the game here, and if you land any one of them, it will usually spell game over. Having a fast creature start can also be really effective, as it doesn’t give them time to cantrip into an answer.
Out: 4 Blood Moon
I could see leaving in the Blood Moons on the play, but in general they have so many basics that I think it will be too costly. Magus of the Moon at least attacks, which makes it quite a bit more relevant in my eyes. I know they have a lot of removal and i’m suggesting to bring in some creatures, but a fair amount of time they will need to respect the prison part of your deck and have answers for Chalice and Trinisphere. This might leave them cold to creatures and I really like just maxing out on game-ending creatures and forcing them to have the answer on time.
Death and Taxes not only plays a lot of Plains, but also uses Aether Vial, and the combination of those make Blood Moon relatively ineffective. In fact, their deck is pretty resilient to Chalice of the Void, as well, but shutting off Swords to Plowshares can be pretty important. Torpor Orb is probably more effective than Chalice as it makes a lot of creatures way less impactful. Be careful with Trinisphere, as well, because between Wasteland and Rishadan Port, they might be able to lock you out of spells.
Out: 4 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Pia and Kiran are certainly too slow here. While Magus of the Moon isn’t perfectly set up for this matchup, since they have a decent amount of basics, it can still disrupt them enough to buy some time. While Doomsday is definitely a scary deck that can play through a lot of disruption, the combination of a lock piece + pressure can certainly close the door quickly enough against them.