Part 3: Does control still exist?
Welcome to part 3 of my modern series. In part 1 we looked at aggro decks, in part 2 we looked at the midrange decks. Now we are going to look at the control decks in the format. Control decks are few and far between in modern; with such a wide and diverse format it is hard for control decks to have all the right answers. This leads to control decks focusing on beating the top decks which means they are not prepared to face less popular decks. Control decks are incredibly hard to play in modern but that does not deter everyone. Lets have a look at a few of the control decks of the format.
I like to compare this deck to Jund; both use their removal to control the board and deploy large efficient threats to finish the game. However, Grixis uses blue to control their opponents with counterspells such as Cryptic Command, Spell Snare and Countersquall. Adding blue also leads to the great addition of Snapcaster Mage, one of the most powerful two drops ever printed which sadly is out of favour at the moment in modern. The main strength of this deck is being able to play a Tasigur, the Golden Fang on turn 2 and then controlling the board with removal and counterspells. The deck also has access to Kolaghan’s Command to rebuy Snapcaster Mage or Tasigur. The weakness of Grixis is that it can be overwhelmed by early threats; if it doesn’t draw the correct answers to threats then it will fall behind and struggle to catch up. Grixis is a great deck to take to a well known meta game, but be careful of the rogue decks that usually show up to modern events.
This is one of the more controversial decks in modern, a control/prison style deck that seeks to stop the opponent from attacking while also trying to mill their deck with cards such as Ghoulcaller’s Bell and Codex Shredder. The deck gets it’s name from the card Lantern of Insight. The deck uses this card to check what cards both players have access to and when combined with other cards in the deck the pilot is able to control what their opponent draws. The deck also has some free win games by playing an early Ensnaring Bridge, which many decks do not have a main deck answer to. The main strength of the deck is that it attacks the format from a completely different angle to almost every other deck in the format. It does not rely on creatures or some spell combo to win the game. It uses what seems like under powered artifacts to control the opponent and lock them out of the game. The weakness of the deck is that it is very susceptible to certain hate cards that are popular in the format; Stony Silence is a very hard card to beat. This is not a deck that is easy to pick up and have instant success with. There is a very dedicated community that has gotten behind this deck and if you want to learn how to play it then I recommend you find them and learn from them.
This is one of the final control decks in modern, and while it doesn’t put up the large numbers like other decks I have listed I still wanted to highlight it. A few years ago Jeskai control was one of the top decks in the format. Unfortunately modern got faster and the decks became more diverse which meant Jeskai could not keep up against such a wide meta. This lead to it falling out of the meta completely. It only recently came back into the meta with the printing of Nahiri, the Harbinger, which gave the deck its much needed win condition. This deck looks to control the opponent with counterspells long enough until they are able to use Nahiri, the Harbinger to go and get an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. The main strength of this deck is it’s access to incredibly powerful sideboard cards which combine well with the multiple control spells in the main deck. Also the quick clock of Nahiri locks out a lot of decks. The weakness of the deck is that like Grixis it can fall behind early if its removal spells don’t line up with the threats the opponent is playing. This is definitely a strong deck but I don’t expect to see it shine until the meta game becomes a bit smaller which will let the deck play more specific answers to threats.
Part 4 is all about Combo!!
Join me next time when we look at the most broken and degenerate decks in the modern format. Combo is a decent portion of the meta game and I’ve got some great lists to show off. As always feel free to get in contact with me and suggest some decks or lists for me to talk about. I want to help newer players learn about modern as much as possible.