I’ve been playing Bant Stoneforge for a few months and really liked the proactive element, but with the decline of Burn and Prowess combined with MTGO user McWinSauce‘s PTQ winning balls to the wall control deck, I wanted to try out that approach. Today I will break down my list and talk a bit about what the banning of Once Upon a Time means for how you construct your deck and sideboard.
With such a powerful trio of planeswalkers available to the Azorius guild, it’s only natural that they are the focal point of this strategy. Buying time until you can cast and untap with a planeswalker is the most common road to victory. Jace, the Mind Sculptor will usually “brainstorm” for card advantage, but the flexibility to deal with opponents’ board with only a single creature or “fatesealing” to close out the game makes it a powerhouse in Modern. Three-mana Teferi is a Boomerang cantrip with upside which can be everything from shutting off opposing counter magic, blanking keywords like suspend and cascade and shutting off instant speed removal for when you flash in your blockers at instant speed. Big brother Teferi not only draws extra cards, but deals with any permanent. Especially combining the tuck ability with the forced shuffle from Field of Ruin, makes the hefty cost of 5 mana worth it. It’s not rare that you play it at five mana, draw a card and untap two lands to enable Ice-Fang Coatl to defend it.
Speaking of the flashy Baleful Strix, that card is the reason to put green mana in your deck in the first place. It protects your life total and planeswalkers, pressures opposing life totals and planeswalkers and is a Terminate on legs in a lot of scenarios. Cantripping into more lands or gas is the icing on the cake. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath can take over games while bolstering your life total even though the first “half” of it isn’t that impressive. Having the card in your hand or graveyard gives you the kind of late game inevitability that previous iterations of Blue-White(-x) Control were lacking. I love finding ways to discard it, whether it’s opposing Liliana of the Veil or Reality Smasher, which almost feels like cheating. No news about Snapcaster Mage that we didn’t already know. It’s great with cheap spells and is a “free” way to include a win condition on your deck.Path to Exile is not great on turn one, but overall it’s the best removal spell in the format. Pathing your own Snapcaster Mage or Ice-Fang Coatl can be what the doctor ordered if you’re short on lands. A couple of Supreme Verdict is a great comeback mechanism that most decks need to respect. If the sweepers don’t do anything in a matchup, pitching them to Force of Negation is useful.
This package is beautiful. Force of Negation lets you tap out on your main phase without dying on the spot to various combo decks, and Archmage’s Charm has two-and-a-half useful modes. Cancel and Divination are both servicable, and occationally you steal something sweet like a Death’s Shadow, “kill” an Amulet of Vigor or one drop from an aggressive strategy, but what we are playing it for is the flexibility. Cryptic Command is still an awesome swiss army knife, whether you use it as a Time Walk, Dismiss or cantripping Boomerang, depending on what the situation calls for. In the late game, you can loop Cryptic Command with Mystic Sanctuary to lock up the game. Mystic Sanctuary gets even better after sideboard where you bring in hate cards for the given matchup.
I guess it’s time to address the reason that this deck is tier one. Arcum’s Astrolabe smooths your draws, fixes your mana, adds snow permanents to you deck for Ice-Fang Coatl and draws extra cards with Teferi, Time Raveler. It lets you play a lot of basics and still cast spells of three colors without taking too much damage from shocklands. I don’t think we are there yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it banned in a year’s time if “3-4 Color Snow Control” becomes established at the top of the metagame.
I have really liked having access to this effect in this metagame where Expedition Map, Primeval Titan and Whir of Invention are huge players. When you get to Stifle a fetchland + draw a card on turn two against an unweary opponent, you get so far ahead that you win the game the vast majority of the time, but once players figure out that they should probably play around Shadow of Doubt, its usefulness will be diminished. Until then, I’ll enjoy my free wins and crucial disruption against some of the top decks.
Here is my full 75 that I’ve been doing well with in Leagues and Preliminaries:
Bant Control by Andreas Petersen
Living Happily Ever After
With a freshly updated banlist, we have a new context for building a well positioned Modern deck. With OUaT gone, that hit various Primeval Titan decks, Four Color Death’s Shadow, Infect, Neobrand, Eldrazi and Green Tron. That’s a lot of decks with some bad, some even and some good matchups in between, so that’s not my focus. My focus is that a large number of decks got nerfed, but Bant Control stayed at the same power level and thus becomes even better in the context of Modern. Losing OuaT means losing consistency, and Bant Control is looking to capitalize on that by winning the game slowly, but surely.
That does it for my card choices. In the next article I will discuss my sideboard and how I ended up on the exact numbers, but I suspect it will change with the fresh data coming in from the next week of decklists as I try and track new Modern tendencies. I will also do a matchup guide for the most common matchups like I did with the Jund deck a month back. I hope I’ll see you then!