All Things Mono-Red Prison In Legacy

With SCG Syracuse this weekend, it’s Legacy’s turn in the spotlight! Dylan Hand takes a look at Mono-Red Prison, the Mountains-and-artifacts strategy that could lock down the title!

After a three-week break, the SCG Tour makes its next stop of Season One in Syracuse, where players have the fairly rare opportunity to play Legacy. This will be the second Legacy SCG Tour event since the banning of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe, and the format has done quite a bit to flesh itself out since the bannings occurred. The blue-based Delver and Control decks that have historically done well in the format continue to sit at the top of the format, but thanks to the bannings, other decks not utilizing cards like Force of Will or Brainstorm have caught up a little bit to be contenders in the format.

One of the most powerful things to do in Legacy, even before the bannings, was play with this card:

As blue decks historically have been among the best things going in Legacy, turning off the stack of one-mana cards found in such decks as early as Turn 1 was frequently a potent strategy.

Chalice of the Void strategies usually use threats that aim to end the game very quickly, such as Eldrazi strategies featuring varying degrees of aggressiveness. However, Eldrazi decks aren’t the only Chalice of the Void “Stompy”-style decks that exist in Legacy and are actually not even the first to exist in the format! Other versions, like a Mono-White “Soldier Stompy” version, are out there as well, and the Stompy deck I’ll be focusing on today is one of the first of its kind.

I’m talking about Dragon Stompy!

Dragon Stompy, more recently referred to as Mono-Red Prison, is a deck that aims to allow your opponent to do very little in the way of playing the game and threatens to do so as early as Turn 1. It features a potent mix of the best prison-style cards ever printed in Magic, as well as threats that have grown much stronger in recent years. Let’s look at a decklist that took down a recent Legacy Challenge on Magic Online.

Featuring a suite of eight Blood Moon-style effects, Trinisphere, and Chalice of the Void as the lock pieces, and some of the fastest red creatures in Magic from a pure goldfishing perspective, this deck aims to lock and kill as quickly as possible. Unlike the Eldrazi decks, which usually only aim to use Chalice of the Void as their lock piece of choice in Game 1, this deck goes all-in on making sure there’s at least something giving your opponent trouble as early as Turn 1 before presenting a quick clock aiming to end the game before they can break out from underneath it. Let us dissect all the moving parts and explain their place in the deck.

The Threats

These are how you win the game and do so quickly. One of the biggest reasons for Mono-Red Prison’s rise in success in Legacy is the fact that the ways in which you can close out the game have become much more potent in recent years. As I’ve mentioned already, Dragon Stompy as a deck has existed for many years. Here are just a few examples of how this style of deck used to win games:

The power level of some of the red threats printed in the last half-decade has helped this deck close out games much quicker than before. Goblin Rabblemaster stands as the creature with the fastest goldfish kill for any creature in all of Magic! Even more recently, two mainstays of the last Standard format’s best deck, Hazoret the Fervent and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, have become linchpins in this strategy. Legion Warboss, or Rabblemaster 2.0, joins its predecessor as another creature that can come down on Turn 1 and start pressuring the opponent quickly.

The Lock Pieces

What really makes this deck tick is this crew of cards. This deck maxes out on Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere to make casting cheap spells incredibly difficult for your opponents, and eight ways to have a Blood Moon effect on the battlefield on Turn 1 can be devastating to your opponent’s manabase, especially on the play, where a Turn 1 Magus or Blood Moon means their fetchlands are already turned off! Mono-Red Prison leverages Trinisphere and other three-mana hate pieces in the maindeck much better than Colorless Eldrazi decks do, thanks to a much higher density of fast mana, which we’ll discuss next.

The Mana

Mono-Red Prison takes advantage of the full eight copies of non-Eldrazi lands that produce two mana per activation. In conjunction with Simian Spirit Guide, Chrome Mox, and Lotus Petal on occasion, the Turn 1 plays I have frequently mentioned thus far become very feasible and at a very consistent rate.

Utility, Sideboard, and Flex Options

The above group of cards expands beyond the five shown, but these are the most important options available in terms of tuning Mono-Red Prison to an expected metagame (this is partially a farce due to how wide-open Legacy typically is, but you can still take a general guess at what the winner’s metagame will be).

Leyline of the Void: About as good as it gets for graveyard decks in Legacy. Dredge, Reanimator, and various Life from the Loam decks struggle greatly against a Turn 0 Leyline of the Void, and this card, while only good in specific matchups, increases the likelihood you can lock out your opponent from playing the game early and often.

Ensnaring Bridge: Fantastic against other creature decks, this card helps buy a ton of time to allow you to draw into a way to win the game. A neat trick with Ensnaring Bridge and Goblin Rabblemaster / Legion Warboss is to go to zero cards in hand every turn, which allows you to build up an army of tokens that don’t get eaten by any creatures in a battlefield stall.

Sulfur Elemental: Death and Taxes is a fairly popular deck in Legacy and is arguably one of your more challenging matchups. This card is great in that matchup, and depending on how much you expect Death and Taxes, you will want to err towards playing three to four copies in your sideboard.

Scab-Clan Berserker: A fantastic option for spell-based combo decks, especially Storm decks. Played over Eidolon of the Great Revel in large part due to Trinisphere.

Fiery Confluence: I almost put this card into its own section, since it isn’t necessarily a sideboard-only card, but it certainly fits the role of utility card exceptionally well. The unbelievable flexibility and raw power of Fiery Confluence means it earns at least a few slots in the 75 of any Mono-Red Prison lists. The power level is undeniable, but there’s only a limited amount of space for four-mana spells in the deck.

My testing for SCG Syracuse has brought me to this list, which is very close to the list from above with some minor changes:

I made some changes to the sideboard based on advice from others, as well as a desire to have some additional card advantage elements in the sideboard. Thus, I have added a Karn, Scion of Urza and aim to try to find room for another.


When it comes to sideboarding with Prison-style decks, sideboarding tends to become an exercise in whether the prison elements of your deck line up well against what your opponent is trying to do. Half-measures in this regard are fairly unacceptable; for example, you don’t want a card like Blood Moon against a deck like Storm, since the exact only time you would likely be able to extract benefit from it would be casting it Turn 1 on the play, while simultaneously assuming they don’t have any fast mana in the form of Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, or anything else in their hand to circumvent it.

Here are some quick sideboarding tips for the top decks in the format based on my list:

VS Grixis Delver



I like Blood Moon in the matchup, but I don’t like the effect coming from the permanent with power and toughness that can eat a stray Lightning Bolt or Abrade from the other side. Bringing in Ensnaring Bridge is nice, as all our lock pieces will be stressing their artifact removal spells heavily. Dropping Bridge once their other resources have been exhausted should seal the deal for you.

VS Miracles



Some of the fast mana can go in this matchup that will typically be slower, along with Blood Moon, as Miracles is one of the decks in the format that goes heaviest on basics. Sideboarding in anything that can pressure the opponent in some way is helpful and Sulfur Elemental can do a nice job of cleaning up an army of Monastery Mentor tokens.

VS Storm



While Leyline of the Void doesn’t completely prevent Storm from winning the game, cutting off one of their avenues to victory helps slow them down and basically only put them on the Empty the Warrens plan. Two lock pieces of any combination frequently will do the job.

VS Golgari Depths/Lands



The cards to sideboard in are fairly straightforward – Leyline to cut off Life from the Loam is great, and Ensnaring Bridge is one of your best ways to not die to a 20/20 if your Blood Moon effects fail you. The cards to sideboard out are trickier and I’m still not 100% certain on this plan, but I see little need for the more expensive four-mana spells save for Chandra to get the job done in the matchup. Hazoret seems especially bad in the face of Karakas and Maze of Ith, for example, against Lands.

Wrapping Up

I firmly believe that Mono-Red Prison is a great flavor of Chalice of the Void deck to play in Legacy right now. I’m typically a fan of the Eldrazi decks to pair with my Chalices, but the other lock pieces, specifically Blood Moon, seem especially powerful and well-positioned in the format at this time.

A deck such as Mono-Red Prison leaves a lot of your agency and decision making solely in the mulligan stage of the game. Beyond that, you’re at the mercy of draws that may not line up beyond what your initial hand can do, so it’s pivotal that you’re disciplined in your mulliganing, should you choose to play this deck. If you can do that and correctly know how to line up your prison pieces, you will likely find a lot of success with this strategy.