Deck Dilemma

Hey everyone and welcome back! When you read this, I should be at or traveling to Richmond. This weekend I’ll be playing in the SCG Modern Open . . .  And I’m not sure what to play. Thankfully, I’ve at least narrowed it down to three decks. Today we’ll be going over {W}{U} Control, Titan Shift, and Bant Turns. These are the three decks I’ve narrowed it down to; and, hopefully, by the end of this article, I will have at least narrowed it down more. Maybe you’ll even see a deck that you like! Modern is a crazy format a lot of people love for its diversity. It’s a format where a Tier 2 and even Tier 3 deck can win and you wouldn’t be surprised. It’s not my favorite format, but I’ll gladly play it.

Alright, so I’ve played a lot of control decks in Modern and they just tend to come up short. I’ve mostly just played Esper and Jeskai but recently I’ve been testing {W}{U} Control to good results. Shaheen Soorani has been played it to a strong finish recently and so has Gabriel Nassif. While I haven’t played this list at a big event yet, this is what mine would look like.

There are three reasons, in my eyes, why control decks tend to fail in.

  1. A lot of Blue’s cards are banned. All the powerful draw and filter cards aren’t legal.
  2. Control does well when it knows what the metagame is. However, in Modern even if you know the top three-four decks, you can build your control deck accordingly but only play against those decks one or two times in a tournament. That’s extremely rough for a control deck, especially if it is built to beat the best decks.
  3. Control is arguably one of the hardest archetypes to play. Just one misplay can cost you a match. Whereas other decks like Tron / Eldrazi Tron, if you play the wrong card or attack wrong, it’s okay. Everything in your deck is a bomb so you can afford a few mistakes and your deck can carry you. Even with Death’s Shadow you’re still playing 5/5+ creatures for one mana. Sure, the deck has game play but the misplays aren’t as punishing as with a control deck.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Knowing all this, how do you go about building a control deck? You need the control deck to be powerful on its own, to have a handful of cards for the metagame; but, overall your deck needs to be a powerful deck by itself. Therefore, a lot of control players have gone tap out control with Planeswalkers and little to no countermagic. The same can be said for the Grixis Control list that has been championed by Corey Burkhart. He went the discard route instead of countering everything. Jeskai control has a combo finish in Emrakul, or just generates a ton of value by having almost every single card 1-for-1 or replace itself.

This {W}{U} deck is built the same way. It has some countermagic; but, overall, it’s playing powerful Planeswalkers that will take over the game once you’ve stabilized. Planeswalkers tend to be stronger in Modern since they are harder to deal with. The ones in {W}{U} Control are especially difficult since they do an excellent job at defending themselves. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion closes out many games after you cast her. It does an amazing job at defending you and killing your opponent.

I really like this deck because two color decks have such good mana. It has answers to everything in the meta as well as having powerful cards in their own right. White has access to the best hate cards in Modern, which is another great reason for me to be playing a White deck.

The next deck I want to look at is Titan Shift. I tend to avoid this deck because I didn’t like the card Through the Breach. Through the Breach is so hit or miss. It either does nothing or wins you the game, which makes the deck volatile. Thanks to Nicol Bolas, the deck has access to Hour of Promise now. Hour of Promise is great because it takes away that volatile aspect of the deck and makes it so much more consistent. Good bye Through the Breach!

Prismatic Omen
The goal here is to just ramp, ramp, ramp, especially since ramping just kills your opponent. What else would you want to do? I favor cards that guarantee land over cards that don’t. Basically, Farseek over Explore. The first Prismatic Omen can be good and allows you to combo off a turn faster. It also allows you to deal a bunch of damage in case your opponent has gained a lot of life. That being said, if you draw more than one copy, it’s a dead draw. Prismatic Omen isn’t powerful enough that I want one every game, but playing one is a free roll. At worst, it’s a ramp spell that turns on your Valakuts faster and allows Valakut to trigger off itself.

The pros: this deck is very straightforward and linear. You are winning the game the same away nine out of ten times. Your whole deck is lands or cards that get you lands so it’s hard to screw up. Sequencing is a lot more important here than anything else, if you sequence incorrectly, you’ll lose out on damage and it could very easily result in your death. If you learn to sequence your cards correctly, you’re in a solid spot. Some decks become so draining after playing Magic all day, but this deck isn’t one of them. Even if you’re tired, you can’t mess up too badly. Just gotta remember to play your cards in the right order and don’t forget to pay for your Summoner’s Pact trigger!

The cons: you become a slave to your deck. Your deck essentially Mindslavers you. What I mean by this is you can’t really manipulate what you draw. “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” You’ll win games because your opponent gave you too much time or your cards lined up very well. You’ll lose games to opponents that are playing poorly or continuously make mistakes, but it won’t matter because your deck can’t capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes. You can’t really punish them for going all in or overextending.

This deck is very similar to Tron in playstyle and that’s probably why it appeals to me. Sometimes I don’t want to think too much. I just want to ramp and kill my opponent!

The last deck I want to talk about is one I’ve had short success with in the past. It’s not an amazing deck by any means but it is a huge pet deck of mine and if you know anything about me, you know I love taking extra turns.

Supreme Verdict
The deck is similar to the old Bant Turns deck, but this one is less focused on taking extra turns. The meta feels like it’s heading to a place where Supreme Verdict is just very good. The uncounterable board wipe is great against Eldrazi, Death’s Shadow, midrange decks, and is fine against Affinity. This meant that I had to remove Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and I needed to cut Noble Hierarch. This was precisely what I did to fit in Supreme Verdict. The deck plays out like a super friends deck. You want to resolve one or two Planeswalkers and protect them until you can take over the game. The deck doesn’t have many cards that take extra turns. Instead, it has more Planeswalekrs. This means when you do take an extra turn it will be that much more devastating since you’re more likely to have a Planeswalker or two on the battlefield. Nissa and Narset play very well into each other, Nissa setting up Narset’s plus ability. It also helps that over half our deck is a hit for Narset.

The biggest addition to the deck is Venser, the Sojourner. Venser costs a lot of mana but he does some powerful things in this deck. His plus ability is the only thing we are really taking advantage of, but it has so many targets. Spreading Seas, Oath of Nissa, lands, Planeswalkers to reset their loyalty, and Eternal Witness. If you can get a Time Warp into your graveyard and then start blinking Eternal Witness, you’ll literally take infinite turns. Winning from that point is trivial.

I really want to play this deck in Richmond, but I know I don’t have enough games under my belt to be 100% sure about 75. I need more reps with it. The draw to playing something like this is that people won’t see it coming and usually don’t know how to board correctly against it. It’s also a blast to play.

Well, we are coming to the end of our article and after writing and talking about it, I’m leaning toward {W}{U} Control. Nothing is set in stone but it is the deck I’ve played the most with recently and people have started having success with the color combination. We’ll see. I’ll talk to some friends to get their opinions and I’ll go from there.

All right folks, that’s all I have for you today. As always, thanks for reading.

Much love,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi on Twitter
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