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By: MrWishyWashy, Matthew Zaabadick
Mar 12 2015 12:00pm
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Golgari decks seem to be the top dog of Modern at the moment. While the popular flavor of Golgari, Junk/Abzan/whatever you like to call it GBW Midrange guy with a thing/ MTG OCD deck name calling, did not win the pro tour, it is easy to see that this style of deck will be a top contender in the format. Sultai seems to be the less preferred variety of the trio of GBx decks. Abzan seems to be the most popular, while Jund is still reasonable but not as preferred. This still leaves the unproven Sultai gang. Hard to really figure out if Sultai can be a real thing in Modern. Without Treasure Cruise, what exactly is the incentive to not be playing Siege Rhino or Lightning bolt, but rather blue cards instead? The answer really is to not exactly go GBx, but rather UBx. There is one card that makes this all possible. 

Tasigur gives Sultai both the ability to have a closer and gain card advantage. Without Tasigur, it was pretty difficult to be in UBG for Modern outside of the former Treasure Cruise. The weird thing was that Birthing Pod was still the GBx deck of choice, which just clearly outclassed Sultai with Cruise. The UR Delver deck was also the better Cruise deck anyway, so Sultai had no time to shine.

The approach to making a current Sultai deck in Modern is definitely a lot different than it would be for a GBx deck. Again, why play a strictly worst Siege Rhino deck? This means that you don't want your deck to be terribly aggressive like the regular Jund/Abzan decks. You want to be able to utilize the blue cards a bit more than you would the GB ones since if you’re not trying to be aggressive, that means you’re trying to be grindy and controlling. This seems a bit weird since Modern is in a place to where you want to usually be proactive, but I think there is a way of doing both, which here is my blueprint of how to do so.


UBg Control
Sultai/ BUG/ Whatever your Magic OCD desires to call it...Control

*There is supposed to be a Tasigur in the sideboard but for some reason it's not on MTGOTraders yet.

This is a little different than the build that Gerard Fabiano won the SCG open with. His compared to mine is not much different.



Fabiano went with more of an aggressive Sultai deck. I’m surprised he went with Thragtusk over Batterskull since while Thragtusk is strong, Batterskull is usually unbeatable against certain decks. I guess the Tusk is better with trading with Siege Rhino so that could be a thing. I don’t really love Serum Visions here since this deck isn’t really trying to look for any combo pieces or anything in particular most of the time, so scrying doesn’t feel that important. I kind of like the Compulsive Research as a way of gaining card advantage. Gerald loves Ashiok, but I really don’t since in a very aggressive Modern format, it looks like a blank most of the time. Funny how our sideboards are very similar. I guess the Disfigure was for Infect or Affinity, not really sure why you would ever want 3 where there isn’t enough small creatures really running around in the format.


Back to my build though. This deck is mainly UB splashing for the more important Green cards. The main green cards of choice are pretty conventional. You got the modern staple Abrupt Decay, backed by some nice pseudo mass removal in Maelstrom Pulse that is good at taking out Planeswalkers, Lingering Souls, multiple Goyfs, etc. Golgari Charm seems very underrated at the moment and its good enough to main deck. The card is never bad against anything except Scapeshift since all of its modes are always live. Golgari Charm kills Eidolon of the Great Revel, most infect creatures, most affinity creatures, lingering souls, Splinter Twin, Amulet of Vigor and many other modern mainstream cards. Golgari Charm maindeck can be a nice sleeper since most decks just don’t expect it main deck and it can lead to some blow outs. The only other green card that is in the 75 is Feed the Clan and we have 3 since I hate burn. No but really, burn is a hard match up for this deck. This deck is mostly removal spells and counter magic, so having some life gain outside of Batterskull is very important. One of the major weaknesses of this deck is how much life you can spend. This is why I include a single Batterskull since this deck will be taking a lot of pain. 


So this is a UB splash green deck. The formula is very similar to a Jeskai control deck since most Jeskai decks are UW splash Red or sometimes UR splash W. Main difference here is that the mana is a bit wonkier because we are heavy on both blue and black while green is the splash. The problem with Sultai in Modern is the lack of playables for these colors. In Legacy, there is way more options since not only is blue the best color there, but you also have tons of great Golgari stuff like Toxic Deluge, Shardless Agent, Baleful Strix, Pernicious Deeds, Deathrite Shaman, and many others. Still, I think this deck sounds reasonable. You can be both reactive and proactive with the way this deck is built. The main premises of this strategy is to grind out 1 for 1 (similar to other GBx decks), land a Jace, Tasigur, Batterskull, and close the game out with them or Creeping Tar Pits. The sideboard lends us to more proactive threats such as Fulminator Mage, another Tasigur and Vendilion Cliques. This deck can turn on the jets when it needs to or hold back and grind a game out when that is necessary as well.

The early game

Mana Leak Remand Abrupt Decay Golgari Charm Maelstrom Pulse Dismember Disfigure Thoughtseize Slaughter Pact Spell Snare Murderous Cut Slaughter Pact


This is the early game suite. We already talked about the green cards that don’t really need any more explaining. You may be dissing the members and the figures, but these homies don’t play. Dismember is pretty good for dealing large threats like Siege Rhino or Wilt the stilt but not Chamberlain-Leaf Liege that cards like Lightning Bolt could not normally hit. The Disfigure I am a little sketchy about since there’s times where it can be a blank, but I think just playing 1 is ok. Mana Leak and Remand are the classic countering duo and both are generic enough to be playable. This deck can’t just be all removal spells and having access to early countermagic with Snapcaster mage can give you a lot more options than a regular GBx deck. I had Inquisition of Kozilek in this deck originally but it doesn’t work too well when you’re trying to hold up mana on turn 2 all the time and it’s a card that gets worse as the game goes on.

The higher curve/midrange good stuff

Snapcaster Mage Batterskull Jace, Architect of Thought Cryptic Command Liliana of the Veil Damnation


Snapcaster is a staple in most blue decks, so he needs no real explanation here. Batterskull was already talked about before and Liliana of the Veil doesn’t need any real intro either. There is only 2 Liliana in here since you don’t want to be always discarding, but it’s good to have since you may have cards you don’t want to throw away. 1 Damnation is just to have some board sweeper in the deck. It cleans up everything with no questions asked, including a Thrun that the opponent may have tapped out for. Jace is both proactive and reactive in a weird way. Jace is in a good spot at the moment due to Lingering Souls being a key player in the current meta. Jace is a card advantage engine here, but he also does some weird stuff against certain decks. He makes affinity and infects lives harder, but he is strangely also good against Twin since they can only combo off with Pestermite since Deceiver Exarch only has 1 power, which Jace reduces to 0. Cryptic Command is also another control all-star, even though it’s a lot less strong in the current meta due to the format being faster. I still don’t think that you can play a blue control deck without it since it just does a lot of work.


Creeping Tar Pit Tectonic Edge


These are only two lands really worth talking about. The rest of the mana base is kind of based off similar to how you would make a Jeskai control mana base, except with one less land than usual, 1 less tectonic edge, and an Urborg. There are 8 fetches due to fueling Tasigur. The mana base of this deck is a bit steep, but it still seems reasonable enough. If you want the mana to be a bit more stable, you could cut the double black cards like the Lilianas and maybe Damnation to make it run a bit smoother. Tectonic edge is another obvious inclusion since it’s basically the wasteland of modern and in a world of Tron, colonnade, various 3 color decks and other man lands, it’s a necessary evil. Creeping Tar pit is kind of another no brainer in a UB control deck. You mainly want UB fixing here and this is another way of closing out the game as well.

The Sideboard

Feed the Clan Spellskite Golgari Charm Negate Dispel Damnation Vendilion Clique Fulminator Mage


A lot of familiar faces we have here. Spellskite, Negate, Dispel, Fulminator Mage and Vendilion Clique are common in many modern sideboards and this is no exception here. Feed the Clan has been popping up more often (and honestly I was very surprised at first since I did not think in any universe it was really playable) and the other Tasigur is for any sort of grindy match up. The Tasigur could be replaced for another Batterskull, or you could try something really weird like Grave Titan or Thragtusk, but I don’t see how either of them are much better than Batterskull. The entire 75 does not run any double green cards since the mana base just can’t really handle it. There would be options with Obstinate Baloth, Garruk Wildspeaker and Creeping Corrosion, but I don’t think this deck needs any of that. There are enough options in UBx control to where all the deck really needs to do is extend over to green for enchantment and artifact hate. A lot of these sideboard options help in many matchups. Spellskite is for Burn and Twin mainly. Negate is for Storm, Twin, any control MU and same with Dispel. Fulminator Mage is for Tron but sometimes any 3 color deck, decks with man lands or just any deck where you want to be aggressive. Clique is for combo and control. Golgari Charm is for anything with Enchantments and Artifacts like Storm, Twin, Affinity, Tron, Infect, etc. Feed the Clan is just for burn and already explained enough why it's important.

In Conclusion


This is probably the closest thing I can find for a reasonable UB control deck in this format. The options of going Sultai in Modern are very limited due to all of the premier GB/UB/UG cards existing mainly in Legacy. Jeskai has been the default control deck for a while in Modern, but with Siege Rhino and Tasigur having 5 toughness, and the absence of Dark Confidants from a lot of GB lists, those Lightning Helixes and Lightning Bolts are not well positioned at the moment. Modern as a whole is more aggressive/combo centered, which calls for a more generic removal type strategic over a damage based removal one. I like the idea of this deck since you have lots of great removal, good planeswalkers, reasonable mana and almost everything you need to deal with anything at your disposal.


Even with the limited UBG options, you still have some ways to go about playing this deck. You could put some Goyfs and Scavenging Oozes in the sideboard to have a transformation strategy. I personally don’t like this since I just don’t like playing creatures in general, but it’s not completely unreasonable. As I said before too, the mana could be tweaked better if you’re looking to avoid taking too much pain. Surprisingly, Blood Moon is not a big deal for this deck since you have lots of counter spells and with 4 Abrupt Decay and 1 Golgari Charm, you just have to float a green and a black as soon as the Blood Moon resolves to take care of it.

Either way, this deck looks pretty fun and if you have the funds to give it a ride, I suggest trying it out. This could be the silver bullet in the meta that could help you win your next major tournament or whatever your trying to do. Let me know in the comments if you have given it a run and what changes could make the deck potentially better.