Is Rakdos Prowess (Lurrus) The Deck To Beat In Modern?

Looking to play some Modern on Magic: The Gathering Online? Let World Champion PVDDR and six more SCG creators say what they’d play.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den, illustrated by Slawomir Maniak

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the banning of Arcum’s Astrolabe, many are unsure what they’d play in Modern. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Modern event! Be sure to vote for what deck you would play at the end!

Patrick Chapin — Azorius Sharkblade

Believe me, I wanted to play Grixis, and if I had to play Grixis, I would play a Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. Sadly, Lightning Bolt and other removal spells are not even clearly better than the white removal, and Bolas is not in Teferi, Time Raveler’s league; plus, there’s just nothing in red that is even comparable to Stoneforge Mystic.

So, why play this deck? 

If you want to play a blue control deck or what passes for control in Modern, this list is consistent, competitive with basically anything, and high on card quality. Stoneforge Mystic gives you enough raw power to actually be able to just “do something really powerful” instead of having all the perfect answers to everything. 

I think you can also do really good things with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Growth Spiral, with or without Wilderness Reclamation, but that sort of approach is something I’d prefer in a narrower field. Modern is so wide open right now, I like the consistency and robustness of the straight two-color build.

Dom Harvey — Splendid Reclamation

This may not be the Reclamation recommendation you expected (or the one you should follow) but building and playing this deck has renewed my interest in Modern. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Mystic Sanctuary are the best double act in the format and using them with other ramp spells in a combo-control shell is the formula behind Temur Scapeshift, Bant Ramp with Hour of Promise (still my more serious recommendation), and the less splendid but highly successful Wilderness Reclamation decks.

With a little support, Splendid Reclamation is a slightly cheaper and far stronger Hour of Promise that can flood the battlefield with Zombie tokens or help Dryad of the Ilysian Grove set up a giant stack of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle triggers.

There’s little I enjoy more in Magic than making land drops and there are few decks better at doing that. Life from the Loam has never seen much use in a ‘fair’ context in Modern but it shines here, working perfectly with Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Uro. Ashiok, Dream Render is not just the best sideboard card against a wide swathe of Modern but a useful part of your maindeck engine. This may not be the best deck that contains Uro but it has a good case for being the best ‘Uro deck.’

Splendid Reclamation should have been broken a long time ago; Uro has been broken for what feels like far too long. They are a match made in heaven.

Ryan Overturf — Mono-Red Prowess

I’m sure Andrew Elenbogen is still peddling maindeck Bonecrusher Giants, and I’m still off it. I have come around on that 2/2 split on graveyard hate in the sideboard though. 

One thing that I do want to get out there is that I’m tired of seeing the Izzet build of this deck. I embarrass them every time I queue into them, and I haven’t a clue what that deck is supposed to do better than this one. I’ve seen their manabase deal themselves more damage plenty of times, but I have yet to see their spells make up for that. 

Other folks are into Cling to Dust, which is more respectable. I liked Cling quite a lot during Lurrus of the Dream-Den Modern, but it’s a bit more clunky now. The maindeck answer to Uro is appealing though. The thing that I don’t like about the Rakdos builds is seeing players maindecking Thoughtseize. It just doesn’t make sense in the archetype, as your goal is to win on Turn 3 as often as possible. Every card in their hand when you accomplish this is functionally discarded and every Thoughtseize in your opener makes you less likely to accomplish this. It’s a fine sideboard card against Neobrand and the like though. 

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Rakdos Prowess (Lurrus)

In last week’s What We’d Play, I said I would play Rakdos Prowess with Lurrus. This hasn’t changed (I’d still play the same list), but given that we had multiple authors say they would play Mono-Red Prowess instead, I think it’s worth highlighting why I think the Rakdos version is better. 

Last week, Andrew Elenbogen said he didn’t like Thoughtseize because the game usually ended with the opponent still having cards in hand. While that is often true, I don’t think this is the purpose of Thoughtseize in this deck (you’re not trying to Thoughtseize away all their cards). The goal of Thoughtseize is to identify the crack in their gameplan and exploit it by taking the type of card they’re short on. It doesn’t matter if your opponent still has cards in hand if they don’t have the one card you care about, whether that’s the big payoff they were working towards, the final combo piece to kill you, or the removal spell for your Kiln Fiend

Thoughtseize is also excellent with Lurrus because, together, they let you play yet another kind of game. If you look at their hand and they have one removal spell, you just take it and kill them. If they have a lot of removal spells, however, you can take their one threat or planeswalker and then grind them out with Lurrus.

The Mono-Red version has Bedlam Reveler, which is similar to Lurrus to an extent, but that’s not a companion and this gameplan becomes a lot worse without Thoughtseize alongside it. Adding black to your deck enables you to morph through all the different types of games much more easily, so I think it’s the superior version compared to the one-dimensionality of Mono-Red.

Gerry Thompson — Dimir Control

Eldrazi Tron? Izzet Prowess? Bant Control Uro Pile Nonsense?

Sure, those decks are technically the best decks in Modern but they aren’t fun and they don’t come at the format from a unique angle. If I were playing Modern this weekend, I’d certainly be gunning for those decks and so should everyone else.

I’d like to suggest something different but the answer is still Dimir Control. It beats the best three decks and it isn’t particularly close. It beats every deck that my fellow writers suggested last week. It (wisely) won the vote too.

In theory, you are allowed to change cards in your deck from week to week, but I keep coming back to the same configuration. 

Ross Merriam — Rakdos Prowess (Lurrus)

I’ve been playing Death’s Shadow variants for awhile now, and I still think they are more than capable of taking down a tournament, but I’ve grown weary of their instability and fragility. The decks are very punishing for even the slightest mistake, which makes you feel better when you expertly navigate the minefield, but I’m not convinced the power level of the deck is worth having to enter that minefield in the first place.

And the reason for that is this Rakdos Prowess deck with Lurrus is quite good at grinding through disruption. Prowess for many years has felt like a Burn deck more or less, meaning that if you interact with them early they’ll usually fold. Bedlam Reveler helped them but it’s fairly unreliable, and terrible when drawn in multiples. The combination of Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Abbot of Keral Keep gives you that same staying power in a more consistent shell, and the black splash also provides a ton of utility in discard spells, removal for big creatures, and Cling to Dust, which is the best non-blue cantrip in Modern.

With Lurrus available every game, I prefer to err towards a lower creature count, ensuring that I have enough interaction and prowess triggers to make my creatures hit hard and fast. I also prefer a leaner curve, which is why you see Unearth over Kolaghan’s Command in the maindeck as a means of recurring Lurrus.

Prowess variants have been a great choice in Modern for months because they are powerful, proactive, and consistent. This version supplements that core with the most resiliency, so it would be my choice over Izzet, Boros, or Mono-Red.

Ari Lax — Temur Reclamation

Lavaridge winning yet another event with Temur Reclamation? Not going to question it. Just copy and paste the list. I’ve thought it was the best deck in the format for weeks because of how much they were winning with it it, and I’ve been winning at about the same clip at smaller stakes with it.

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