Deck Spotlight: (Modern) Bant Control

If you’re a Control player in Modern, you know how unforgiving the format has been for us, most prominently due to variance. Maybe we’re gluttons for punishment, but we continue to find ways to improve, adapt, and persevere. BennyHillz, one of MTGO’s top UW Control players, is a prime example:


Benny Hillz UW Control [MTGO 5-0 on 10/30/17]

Planeswalkers (4)
Gideon Jura
Gideon of the Trials
Jace, Architect of Thought

Creatures (4)
Snapcaster Mage
Wall of Omens

Spells (19)
Serum Visions
Supreme Verdict
Cryptic Command
Mana Leak
Negate
Path to Exile
Sphinx’s Revelation

Enchantments (8)
Detention Sphere
Search for Azcanta
Spreading Seas
Lands (25)
Celestial Colonnade
Field of Ruin
Flooded Strand
Ghost Quarter
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Irrigated Farmland
Island
Mystic Gate
Plains

Sideboard (15)
Negate
Supreme Verdict
Condemn
Crucible of Worlds
Dispel
Grafdigger’s Cage
Kitchen Finks
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Surgical Extraction
Vendilion Clique

Benny has single-handedly made a name for himself and the UW control archetype in Modern. In my opinion, he’s essentially become the Wafo Tapa of UW Control, and rightfully so.

If you’re interested, you can check out his UW Control streams on his Twitch page.

There have been other variations of Benny’s deck, such as a recent list that finished 6-1 in a Modern Challenge on 11/4/17.


-Fish’s UW Control [MTGO 6-1 on 11/4/17]

Planeswalkers (5)
Gideon Jura
Gideon of the Trials
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Jace, Architect of Thought

Creatures (4)
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique

Spells (20)
Serum Visions
Supreme Verdict
Cryptic Command
Logic Knot
Negate
Path to Exile
Spell Snare
Sphinx’s Revelation
Think Twice

Enchantments (6)
Detention Sphere
Spreading Seas
Lands (25)
Celestial Colonnade
Field of Ruin
Flooded Strand
Ghost Quarter
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Plains
Temple of Enlightenment

Sideboard (15)
Supreme Verdict
Blessed Alliance
Celestial Purge
Ceremonious Rejection
Crucible of Worlds
Disdainful Stroke
Dispel
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Timely Reinforcements

As you can see, the core is very similar, but this version opts out of Wall of Omens in favor of more Snapcaster Mage and Vendilion Clique. There’s also 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and a different counter package in the main. I applaud the addition of Spell Snare, which I think is reasonably positioned again, especially because of Storm. I put together the following guide as a resource for Spell Snare’s value in Modern: Modern Meta: Spell Snare. This should help players determine if it should be played, and how many.

The side, which is expected to vary, has its own viable configuration to address weaknesses and concerns.

That being said, where does UW Control go from here? How can we refine it to find success beyond MTGO, just as Jeskai Tempo (Queller) has?

After assessing the current state of Modern, such as the humans deck’s recent dominance, and Control’s place in it, I reached out to Benny with an idea and decklist that I was testing. His reaction surprised me!

“Wow that’s spicy!! I really like the look of that. Honestly, I’m sold. I want to try testing it.”

Building Bant Control

I asked myself one essential question which lead to the deck’s design.  How could I improve UW Control’s power, versatility, top decks, consistency (either mitigating ‘dead’ or the ‘wrong’ cards, or drawing the wrong half of your deck), and ability to adapt in a format with so much variance?

Furthermore, how could I make Bant Control relevant and competitive in Modern?

That’s right – a Bant deck without Collected Company, Eldrazi, or Aether Vial (like Eternal Command).

After delving into what Bant had to offer, I realized how easily one could be overwhelmed by the plethora of options. The key for me was to remain disciplined, have restraint in my card selection and design, and reflect on what I wanted to accomplish by splashing Green, particularly for Glittering Wish.

The most successful, but short-lived, Wish decks in Modern have been Ascendancy, Junk, Lear_the_Cat’s Bant Martyr Poc, and Bring to Light shells. Beyond those, the card hasn’t seen much Modern play and is more prevalent in Legacy and EDH.

Despite this, I was still intrigued by Glittering Wish’s unexplored potential in UW Control, particularly Benny’s established, stable, and consistent core. With that in mind, my intent wasn’t to reinvent the wheel. There’s no reason to fix or change what clearly isn’t broken. It was to simply address UW Control’s inherent issues in Modern, as I previously mentioned. Think of Glittering Wish as the icing, not the cake.

Without further ado, I present to you a logical and viable alternative to BennyHillz’s tried-and-true:


 Francesco Neo Amati’s “UWish” Control

Planeswalkers (4)
Gideon Jura
Gideon of the Trials
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Creatures (4)
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique

Spells (21)
Serum Visions
Supreme Verdict
Settle the Wreckage
Cryptic Command
Path to Exile
Logic Knot
Negate
Spell Snare
Glittering Wish

Enchantments (7)
Runed Halo
Search for Azcanta
Spreading Seas
Detention Sphere
Lands (24)
Breeding Pool
Celestial Colonnade
Lumbering Falls
Field of Ruin
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Temple Garden
Hinterland Harbor
Sunpetal Grove
Island
Misty Rainforest
Plains

Sideboard (15)
Supreme Verdict
Wheel of Sun and Moon
Rest in Peace
Meddling Mage
Kitchen Finks
Negate
Disdainful Stroke
Sundering Growth
Detention Sphere
Geist of Saint Traft
Fracturing Gust
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Dragonlord Dromoka

I’ve had to revise the manabase to support the Green splash for Glittering Wish (the only Green spell in the main), while retaining at least 6 basic lands and 2 Field of Ruin. I opted for Field of Ruin because maintaining our own land base is very important, especially in 3 colors.

Mana Sources (SV indicates the value added by 4 Serum Visions):

  • Blue: 18 (SV: 19.8)
  • White: 15 (SV: 16.8)
  • Green: 11 (SV: 12.8)

Frank Karsten-approved.

I’m also playing 2 Vendilion Clique in the main because its role is integral to the deck’s gameplan. Clique provides information to help you Wish more reliably and effectively, allowing you to sculpt your hand.  Additionally, it can bait counters and removal spells. It’s arguably our best pressure vs Combo, too, alongside Geist of Saint Traft from the sideboard.

I’ve also added Runed Halo to the main as it allows us to stabilize and advance our gameplan while also addressing our weaker matchups and other problematic threats that are difficult to deal with.

Wall of Omens is less important in this list since Glittering Wish adds a different dynamic to the deck, which also increases the amount of 2 cmc Sorcery spells. If you’re inclined to play Wall of Omens, it’s still a reasonable option as a 1 to 2 of.

I’m still on the fence about Search for Azcanta, but it can also help us find Glittering Wish, which is a loop hole for having access to creatures in the main. On the other hand, Sphinx’s Revelation is solid, too, which is arguably more powerful as a 1 of, and can be sided out, but still Wished for. Glimmer of Genius or Jace, Architect of Thought are other reasonable options.

Other viable cards in the main are Mana Leak, Disallow, Condemn, Blessed Alliance, Jace, Architect of Thought, Glimmer of Genius, Sphinx’s Revelation, and Dragonlord Ojutai.

Main Deck Flex:

The “Wishboard”

dromoka  fracturing gust    Image (2) meddling mage sundering growth 

Tip: Wheel of Sun and Moon can also be used vs Mill strategies. You can Enchant yourself to ensure you won’t get milled. 

While there are other reasonable multi-colored cards to choose from, it’s important that the ones you choose complement your deck’s gameplan, address a weakness or concern, and make a high impact vs their respective matchups.

In the same regard, don’t bastardize your sideboard with nothing but Wish targets, at least in this particular deck. I promise you that’s a recipe for disaster. You want to make sure you’re still able to side out cards that are less valuable in particular matchups. One way to do this is to pick sideboard staples that are similar to their Wish counterparts, such as Rest in Peace, Runed Halo, Wrath of God, Blessed Alliance, and even Timely Reinforcements. The other is to just play good sideboard cards like Surgical Extraction, Grafdigger’s Cage, Engineered Explosives, Ceremonious Rejection, Dispel, Negate, Disdainful Stroke, Celestial Purge, Stony Silence, Vendilion Clique, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, etc.

There may even be times where you side out 1-2 Glittering Wish and side in Wish targets after you’ve assessed what your priority choices are. This may vary per matchup. The minimum number of Wish targets should be 8.

Wish Maybeboard

Though, I’m currently happy with my sideboard, here are a few possibilities that may find a home depending on changes to the meta.

I used Magiccards.info as my source to determine our best options within the context of this deck’s concept.

Creatures

gaddock teeg
Key Matchups: Tron, Storm, Ad Nauseam, TitanShift

rhox war monk
Key Matchups: Burn, Jeskai

spell queller
Key Matchups: Various

Image
Key Matchups: Various

Spells

sphinx's rev
Key Matchups: Various

Enchantments


Key Matchups: Elves, Merfolk, Grixis Death’s Shadow, Dredge

Planeswalkers


Key Matchups: Control, Midrange (14 or less creatures), Lantern

Image (3)
Key Matchups: Control, BGx, Grixis Death’s Shadow


I even shared this project with Gul_Dukat, another reputable UW Control player on MTGO. He was also intrigued and immediately put his own version of the deck together to run it through some competitive leagues. After a rough first outing, as he was adjusting to the deck’s new Wish and sideboarding dynamic, he went 4-1 in his 2nd league.

His initial feedback regarding Glittering Wish was positive and promising for the future of Bant Control:

“One of the main reasons to try Wish in UW Control is that it is an extremely fresh approach, and should be pretty exciting to play with. As for what it actually does, it allows us access to cards that make it so we can interact with almost any gameplan, meaning we gain a lot of % points vs decks that require specific answers (i.e. Combo), and giving us 4 extra Supreme Verdict is very handy in Modern.”

Besides Gifts Ungiven, this is without a doubt, the most ‘unfair’ angle we can possibly implement in a fair deck like UW Control.  I’d say it’s more skill-intensive than UW Control, so there’s definitely a learning curve, even if you’re a seasoned UW Control player, but I think it’s exceptionally rewarding – especially if you’re a metagamer.

Embrace it. BennyHillz and others already have.

It’s only a matter of time before the Control gurus put up consecutive 5-0’s with UWish.  Here’s hoping this paves way for competitive Bant Control in Modern.

Good luck, have fun, and never stop brewing!  I ‘Wish’ you the best!

Francesco Neo Amati, better known as Neo 7hinker, specializes in UWx Midrange/Control and metagaming in Modern. He is also the progenitor of the Modern UWx Control/Midrange community on Facebook and is the creator of the Esper Transcendent deck.

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