The Most Busted Modern Deck? (Can It Possibly Be Mono-Red?)

(1.13.20 – The problem with writing posts a few weeks ahead of time is that, sometimes, stuff happens to invalidate what you’ve written about. I am super happy about the Oko and Mox Opal bans announced for Modern yesterday. The Opal ban makes this article a bit moot, though I think it is still an interesting thought experiment.)

For a while now, I’ve had a notion to combine all Modern’s most “busted” cards into one deck, just to see what would happen. And while I don’t think this deck quite fits the bill (it’s missing a couple key contenders), it’s pretty darn close to what I envisioned.

The kicker? This deck is (mostly) Mono-Red to boot. I have no idea whether it’s anywhere near competitive, but it sure seems like it’d be fun to give Modern’s “most busted” deck a whirl.

Modern’s Most Busted Cards

Modern contains a number of cards that do things that Magic cards aren’t (or shouldn’t be) allowed to do anymore. These are the cards that are on most people’s Modern watchlists, and which enter ban discussions any time those arise.

For my money, the following Modern cards do things that bend the fundamental rules of the game (i.e. – they are not conducive to “fair” games of Magic). This is not a comprehensive list, but it is the list of “busted” cards we’re going to include in this deck (if I were making a complete list, it would likely include Once Upon a Time and Oko, Thief of Crowns, as well as a couple other cards):

If you’ve followed Modern for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard or read someone complaining about each of these cards.

Now imagine how it would feel to play all of them in the same deck (along with a couple of 2019’s less egregious Magic mistakes). Pretty wonderful, right?

Let’s Bust Things Up

With a couple additions and some very important lands, Modern’s “most busted” deck looks something like this:

Theoretically, this deck plays out like a Mono-Red prison deck (meaning you’re trying to stop your opponent from playing Magic, as much as possible), with a few key differences.

First, this deck uses Mox Opal as an additional way to ramp into a turn two Blood Moon or Ensnaring Bridge. Because we need many artifacts to turn on Mox Opal, and because we want to splash Ancient Stirrings anyway, we’re playing Arcum’s Astrolabe as well.

The Astrolabe allows us to play a five-color Mono-Red deck, enabling us to splash Stirrings and Academy Ruins and play Engineered Explosives from our sideboard without embarrassing ourselves. To get Engineered Explosives out of our sideboard, and to act as our deck’s primary win condition, we’re playing Karn, the Great Creator.

This deck can easily set up a Karn/Mycosynth Lattice lock, and has a number of ways to win outside of combat – including Walking Ballista pings, Elixir of Immortality shuffles, and Mindslaver shenanigans.

Like I said above, I have no idea if this deck is good. I haven’t actually tested it (outside of goldfishing on TappedOut), and I likely never will. This deck doesn’t play to my usual style of Magic, and if it’s any good, I likely wouldn’t want to inflict it on my local shop.

But attempting to slam all Modern’s most busted cards together is an interesting thought experiment, at the very least. If you have the cards and actually choose to give this deck a try – please come back here and tell me how it goes. I imagine the games are horrible to play, but that when you win, you’ll win by a LOT.

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