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By: Quick, Vince W
May 01 2013 10:45am
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I've always loved control, if only because aggro decks usually require the opponent to stumble somewhere in their game. I don't like having my deck have the chance to take advantage of a situation, I like being the one stopping those situations from even occurring. Taking a look at the list of legal cards, I saw the cards I wanted to play. I want to play Path to Exile, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Mana leak. So why not just build a deck around those? Here's the decklist that took me to a 4-0 finish:

Let's go over the card selection:


Path to Exile

The closest thing to swords to plowshares that modern will ever get. This card is amazing, one mana for unconditional removal, sign me up!


Smother is really overlooked in this format. The matchups where you want spot removal are typically decks like gruul aggro, and nearly all of their threats are going to cost 3 or less! This is a fantastic card, and I hope it starts seeing more play.

Doom Blade

This was a go for the throat, but I changed it to a doom blade at the last moment. That distinction didn't end up mattering at all, but it's worth noting that it can be either or. If it could be a fifth smother, it would be!

Barter in Blood

A pretty close fit for damnation. I wish there were an actual "Destroy all creatures" effect available to us at common or uncommon, but we'll have to make do with this.


Mana Leak

Mana leak is one of the best counterspells printed in recent memory. It's almost always just a hard counter. The longer the game goes, the better for us, so even if they decide to play around mana leak, we're generally perfectly ok with that.

Essence Scatter

Sometimes you just gotta stop a baddie. This could be deprive, but I thought essence scatter fit the bill better. (especially in a three color deck)

Inquisition of Kozilek

Such an amazing card. If you ever miss with it, you're generally in good shape anyway. The fact that it clears the way to make our mana leaks even more impactful just makes this card fit this deck like a glove.

Win Conditions

Lingering Souls

Lingering souls does a lot in any deck it's played in. It buys time, it kills the opponent, it's a win condition that's hard to deal with. It's also amazing with our jetting glasskites, as it stops their edict effects from getting around it's kira-clause.

Jetting Glasskite

I was looking for long term win conditions for a control deck, and this card stuck out like a sore thumb. It might as well just be a sphinx of jwar isle. Between the hand disruption and the counterspells, this guy is never going to die on us.

Urza's Factory
Ah, pooping out 2/2's at your convenience. Just like pooping out anything, once it starts, it's all smooth-sailing from there on. This is a really great hard-to-deal-with win condition. On the off chance they have a way to remove this land, WE PLAY THREE OF THEM!!

Honorable mention goes out to faerie conclave, but it was just a little too vulnerable to removal to make the cut.


Wall of Omens

The bane of aggro. They hate seeing a 0/4 that replaces itself, since it almost always soaks up 5+ damage. Even against control, where it is "dead", it replaces itself!! Wall of omens truly is an omen for your opponent, one that says they're going to be shut out of the game completely! (I'm so sorry)

Esper Charm

All three modes are incredibly relevant on this card. I think it's the best charm printed, and I'm sure many people are inclined to agree with me. Even if the "destroy target enchantment" mode were terrible, just divination and mind rot at instant speed are amazing! What a catch!

Timely Reinforcements

Timely Reinforcements is one of the best ways to stabilize in modern. I think it's one of the most unfair fair cards ever printed, and any time I draw one of these against aggro, I know my chances to win have just improved by at least 20%. Often you can ride a timely reinforcements to victory as well, as three 1/1's are able to attack, after all.

Think Twice

It's nice to be able to do things on our opponents turns when we keep up removal/counterspells and don't have to use them. Think twice fits the bill perfectly. Another option would be jace's ingenuity, but I think that it would be just a bit too slow against aggro.

Mana Base


They say they're basic lands, yet they let us do such complex things!

Cloudcrest LakeWaterveil Cavern

The closest thing this format will get to dual lands in a while, I think. Being able to keep up a turn one path or dropping a turn one inquisition of kozilek can mean the difference between winning and losing, so I think it's worth playing these over guildgates.

Arcane Sanctum

Three colors, one land. Thats astonishing! I think the shard-lands are the reason three color decks are able to be supported in this format.

Evolving Wilds

What do we want?! An Island! When do we want it?! At the end of the opponents turn!

Tectonic Edge

Tectonic edge isn't that great of a card, but it's needed for matchups like tron where their lands do really silly things. It doesn't hurt that it can also kill treetop village, though.

Urza's Factory

I talked about this in the Win conditions section, but I can also point out that it does all these things and it COMES INTO PLAY UNTAPPED. How nifty!



Are they trying to combo off with mindcrank? Nope! Are they trying to out-control us? Nope! Are they gonna try to infect us out before we can kill them? NO WAY JOSE!

Timely Reinforcements

Against aggro, we live and die by how timely our reinforcements are!

Sundering Growth

I guess disenchant wasn't legal. So uh.. sundering growth. We run lingering souls and Urza's factory so at least the populate is relevant.

Kor Firewalker

This man truly is a fan of rage against the machine, and he took the song title "Sleep now in the fire" too literally.

Celestial Purge

Such a narrow card, but it's a brutal effect against quite a wide variety of decks. It stops hellspark elementals from being flashed back, gets rid of vampire nighthawks. And.. well.. I'm sure you get the idea.

Vampire Nighthawk

Speaking of celestial-purgable targets. Vampire nighthawk is brutal against the tokens deck, and still very good against aggro decks.

Barter in Blood

I was kinda disappointed with how barter and blood played out. A few times it did kill multiple cartel aristocrats though, so you can't complain about that.

Tournament Report: http://www.gatherling.com/eventreport.php?event=SilverBlack%203.16

Round One: B/W Auras http://www.gatherling.com/deck.php?mode=view&id=9268

Game one and two both played out nearly exactly the same. We were able to stop any threats from resolving that we couldn't deal with, and dealing with them when he tried to suit up with auras. I was worried this would be a hard matchup, but it was actually quite a good one.

Round Two: The Land is falling! (Naya landfall) http://www.gatherling.com/deck.php?mode=view&id=9200

This was a pretty interesting deck, and I think it could be pretty good. The problem is, we're very, very well equipped to deal with every threat his deck can present, so it was quite an easy matchup as well.

Game one he did a bit of damage with a resolved kor skyfisher, eventually he landed and used a zektar shrine expedition as well. Unfortunately for him, we found a lingering souls, and then smothered his skyfisher and flew to victory on the back of four tokens.

Game two played out quite similarly to game one, except I was able to deal with all of his threats before they were, well, threatening. Sadly for our opponent, our deck is built to deal with this sort of deck, but I imagine he could catch a lot of decks off guard!

Round Three:  RDW http://www.gatherling.com/deck.php?mode=view&id=9222

I think RDW is one of the best decks in the format. If our opponents deck were built a little less creatively (Moar shrine of burning rage!), I think he'd have a better chance against control decks. Shrine of burning rage is seriously difficult to deal with, and running only three of them seems ludicrous.

Game one was really tough, we eventually stabilized at three life with him at 0 cards in hand, we managed to get him down to 4 life with 4 tokens out, but he topdecked a rift bolt.

In game two, we got to sideboard. As you might suspect, games go very different for RDW when you bring in 2 celestial purges, 2 kor firedancers, and 3 timely reinforcements. (I think I even brought in duress over essence scatter.) I never ended up drawing kor firedancers, but I still remember from standard how brutal they are. Timely reinforcements and lingering souls were enough to get the job done though, and we quickly went to game three.

Game three was actually a pretty fun match. I think my opponent managed to do over 25 points of damage to me, but between two think twices, and 2 esper charms, I was able to find and cast three timely reinforcements. Eventually I established the assembly line, and Urza started making his 2/2's, and the game was finished then.

Round Four: Infect http://www.gatherling.com/deck.php?mode=view&id=9278

In game one, my opponent mulliganned to 5, I kept a hand with arcane sanctum, two other lands, a path to exile and a smother, hoping he'd be on gruul or some other deck. Turns out, smother and path are as good against infect as they are against gruul! I found a lingering souls and quickly did the full 20 with them. In game two, my opponent led with a turn 1 Glistener Elf, and I was torn between arcane sanctum turn one, or waterveil cavern+inquisition. I went with arcane sanctum, as I had a path to exile and smother in my hand, and it'd be better in the long run. Turns out, my opponent doesn't know what the long run is, and infected me out on his turn two! (2 groundswells+mutagenic growth) I feel like I could've easily won the second game if I didn't get so greedy and assume that my opponent didn't have it. In game three, though, my opponent consumed all his luck in game two, and was forced to mulligan down to four or five. I triple inquisitioned him, grabbed all his protection spells (vines of the vastwood, Apostle's Blessing), and smothered out anything that made it through. This also feels like a very easy matchup if they don't have the turn-two nut draw, but maybe I'm wrong.


As you might know if you've read any of the other articles I've read. I LOVE control! This is the quintessential control deck, permission, removal, and nearly impossible to deal with late game threats. Give it a try, it's a relatively cheap deck to build, but it does require a bit of patience.

As always, here's a sample hand generated by modo:


This game is really by MarieNieves at Mon, 05/06/2013 - 06:58
MarieNieves's picture

This game is really interesting. I really enjoyed it. - YOR Health