Last time I covered the main deck, and today I will be going through the many sideboard options available for Bant Control in Modern. First, let’s establish the top 8 archetypes we are trying to cover with the 15 cards:
Green Tron and Eldrazi Tron are two of your hardest matchups, but there’s hope. While not being a sideboard card, quadruple Field of Ruin in the manabase help out immensely, and after sideboard we get access to Damping Sphere, Disdainful Stroke and Ceremonious Rejection. I’ve recently cut Rejection since it felt too narrow and the others had more crossover use. Surgical Extraction can one-two punch Green Tron with Field of Ruin while being versatile in graveyard and Uro matchups as well.
Monastery Swiftspear Decks
Mono Red Prowess and Burn can be tricky if you get behind from the start, but thankfully there are numerous sideboard options available. The first is the most powerful turn two play in Kor Firewalker, which will win the game a very high percentage of the time if cast early. The second is Timely Reinforcements which is great with Snapcaster Mage and Mystic Sanctuary while also being relevant in other matchups where the three 1/1’s are likely to matter. The third and least extreme option is to load up on cards like Celestial Purge and Aether Gust for crossover use and hope that the help is enough against the red decks. Lately I’ve been playing all three configurations and am uncertain about which to settle on.
Primeval Titan Decks
Maindeck Shadow of Doubt and Field of Ruin can’t solve this matchup on their own, so we need to upgrade for games two and three with some heavy hitters. Ashiok, Dream Render is the perfect card for the job as it stops the enter-the-battlefield trigger of Primeval Titan and even Summoner’s Pact, but be careful about maintaining its loyalty and keep an eye out for Beast Within as an answer. Damping Sphere helps against Castle Garenbrig and Ravnica bouncelands to hopefully delay the Titan and zombie army long enough to win the game. Disdainful Stroke does a good “counter target Primeval Titan” impression here.
Cryptic Command Decks
This category includes Urza variants, Blue-White(-x) Stoneforge and Blue-White based Control, but the same cards are usually good against these. Veil of Summer and Mystical Dispute lets you win counter wars over the important cards like planeswalkers, and Surgical Extraction gets rid of Uro for good and even messes with Mystic Sanctuary. I have also liked Ashiok as a 1-of to lock down fetches and empty the opponent’s graveyard of juicy targets for Mystic Sanctuary and Snapcaster Mage.
Noble Hierarch Decks
With Ice-Fang Coatl, Path to Exile, Snapcaster Mage and Supreme Verdict in the starting 60, I haven’t dedicated a lot of the sideboard to creature matchups like Infect, Humans and Collected Company strategies. Aether Gust is great against them all, and Celestial Purge is good against Humans.
Mainly Death’s Shadow and Jund in this section, which are both positive matchups thanks to the cheap removal paired with Snapcaster Mage, deathtouch snakes and planeswalkers. Sideboarding-wise we don’t need much help, but Celestial Purge and especially Veil of Summer will work wonders. Imagine “dismissing” a turn one discard spell or protecting an Uro and draw a card for a single green mana.
Creeping Chill Decks
Graveyard strategies like Dredge and CrabVine are very powerful if they do their thing, but our gameplan hope to take advantage of their inconsistency and add a few nasty surprises after sideboard. Rest in Peace is the heaviest hitter while Surgical Extraction and Ashiok have the most use elsewhere. Since these two decks combined are at such a low percentage of the metagame share, I’ll stay a little soft to them and play the more versatile cards, but I can definitely see running Rest in Peace or even Soul-Guide Lantern as a onesided Tormod’s Crypt that still takes care of Uro in the yard.
Serum Visions Decks
Storm and Ad Nauseam are both decks that you want when you sit down for your round, but that doesn’t mean that you beat them easily every time. Storm is soft to graveyard hate and Ashiok which stops Gifts Ungiven cold, and Ad Nauseam is a lot less consistent and “all in” when it tries to combo. Watch out for Veil of Summer out of both decks. What they have in common is that Damping Sphere is very annoying for them to play against. Just remember to be careful about spending mana on your own turn since Damping Sphere also taxes your actions.
My sideboard is changing from week to week, but to sum it all up this is what I’m sleeving if I had a tournament today:
Modern Bant Control Sideboard by Andreas Petersen
2 Kor Firewalker
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Ashiok, Dream Render
2 Aether Gust
1 Mystical Dispute
1 Celestial Purge
2 Veil of Summer
2 Damping Sphere
1 Disdainful Stroke
To round out the article, here are some tips (some more advanced than others) that will hopefully help you understand the deck better.
- Multiple copies of Ice-Fang Coatl count each other as a snow permanent.
- Cryptic Command and Mystic Sanctuary is a lategame soft lock.
- Arcum’s Astrolabe lets you disguise your sneaky plays (Shadow of Doubt, Veil of Summer, Path to Exile mainly) against inexperienced opposition.
- Temple Garden is not an Island for Mystic Sanctuary, nor a blue source for Archmage’s Charm, Shadow of Doubt and Cryptic Command. – Just something to keep in mind when you have a two-lander with fetch and Snow-Covered Island.
- Fetching on their turn turns on spectacle from Light up the Stage.
- Don’t get caught without a snow basic and have Arcum’s Astrolabe(s) stranded in hand.
- Leaving a fetch in play helps shuffle with future Jace, the Mind Sculptor and provides flexibility with Mystic Sanctuary.
- Field of Ruin on their turn turns on revolt for Fatal Push (only relevant against Uro and if they were tapped out on your turn).
- Veil of Summer does something against Humans with Kitesail Freebooter mainly and Reflector Mage as targets, maybe even Deputy of Detention after sideboard.
- With enough mana, sequence your Uro triggers correctly to maintain priority and play around Surgical Extraction.
- Ashiok can target yourself to look for Uro and still get rid of the opponent’s graveyard.
- Remember that Shadow of Doubt turns off future fetches and Field of Ruin that you might want to sacrifice during the turn. Like playing against static abilities on planeswalkers, not being able to search your library is non-intuitive.
- Bouncing Snapcaster Mage with Teferi or Jace can be a good play.
- From 6 mana you can animate and attack with Celestial Colonnade and Path to Exile before blockers thanks to the vigilance keyword. In the same regard, Colonnade can be used for other instant mana requirements.
- Field of Ruin can be overcosted manafixing, for example turn three tap Breeding Pool and Snow-Covered Island to Field of Ruin into white mana for Path to Exile.
- Supreme Verdict and Archmage’s Charm + Cryptic Command in your opening hand affects which colors of mana you are looking for. Furthermore, if the matchup is aggressive, preserving your life total becomes a priority.
- In the mirror match, make sure to not run out of basics for opposing Field and Path, as the game will go very long and every land matter.
- While Astrolabe fixes your mana perfectly, be prepared to play under Karn, the Great Creator in the Eldrazi Tron matchup where you might need UUU, WW and GG over the course of the game.
Until next time, have fun winning on turn 25!