Mono-Red Prison decks are becoming increasingly popular in Legacy, but despite possessing a similar suite of lock pieces in Modern, the deck languishes behind in the smaller format. A large factor in that is discrepancy is certainly the lack of the “Sol Lands,” Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors, which provide the deck a necessary explosiveness.
But with Modern being a slower format than Legacy, you should be able to compensate for that lack of explosiveness with some added resilience. It’s that lack of resilience that Modern variants of the archetype have lacked. They are mostly reliant on the power of their opening hand and should their first plan fail they need to topdeck very well to have a shot of getting back into the game.
Today’s list attempts to find that resilience with a light green splash for Life from the Loam. The card advantage here is welcome, so long as you can turn it into something relevant, and with the many filter effects in red–Faithless Looting, Cathartic Reunion, and Tormenting Voice all make an appearance here–you can do just that. Those cards also help you turn weak lands, Simian Spirit Guides, or superfluous lock pieces into relevant cards so they are effective even without Loam.
With ten total copies I think this list goes overboard on them, and given that you can dredge into it I imagine Faithless Looting is the best of the bunch (surprise surprise), so I’d certainly start with four. Anti-synergy with Chalice of the Void is a concern, but that shouldn’t be too hard to work around and against a lot of decks you’re aiming to Chalice for two anyway. I’m also surprised not to see a cycling land or two here for some added value and a way to play through Surgical Extraction.
The other reason to splash for Life from the Loam is Seismic Assault. The two-card combo is incredibly strong as it doesn’t take long for three shocks a turn to stabilize the battlefield from a losing position and end the game from a winning one. Seismic Assault also ensures that your Ensnaring Bridges stay relevant even while you’re Loaming.
With the power of Seismic Assault and so much velocity you don’t need much space for other win conditions. Chandra, Torch of Defiance playing triple duty as a removal spell and mana engine given how mana-intensive the turns of Loaming and filtering can be makes it the best option, especially with the defense provided by Ensnaring Bridge.
Honestly, this deck may be better off focusing as a Loam deck first rather than a Prison deck since Seismic Assault is just so powerful, but the return of Jund has brought Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse back in numbers, with Golgari Charms in the sideboard to fight Hexproof, so now probably isn’t the right time for that. But when backed up by Blood Moon, it’s a thing of beauty.
- 4 Lightning Bolt
- 4 Ensnaring Bridge
- 4 Seismic Assault
- 2 Blood Moon
- 3 Chalice of the Void
- 4 Life from the Loam
- 3 Faithless Looting
- 3 Tormenting Voice
- 3 Cathartic Reunion