(Modern) Deck Feature – RUG Control

Delver?  What Delver?

Hello friends, it’s time to continue our journey into a silly Englishman brewing Modern decks that he finds fun and fascinating, whilst still powerful. Remember a few weeks ago, how I was on Temur Delver (click here to visit the article)?  Remember how I change decks way too often? Remember how I often brew something, then keep a load of the same cards, but re-brew the deck with a different approach? Yep. I did literally all of that.


I actually, genuinely, really like what I’ve come up with! Allow me to present my new friend:

MrShy’s RUG Control

Lands – 22
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Steam Vents
1 Breeding Pool
1 Stomping Ground
2 Sulfur Falls
2 Lumbering Falls
1 Desolate Lighthouse
3 Island
1 Forest

Creatures -13
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Keranos, God of Storms
1 Young Pyromancer
1 Savage Knuckleblade

Instants/Sorceries – 25
3 Anticipate
4 Serum Visions
2 Cryptic Command
2 Spell Snare
3 Mana Leak
2 Electrolyze
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Roast
1 Become Immense
1 Repeal
1 Spell Pierce

Sideboard – 15
2 Crumble to Dust
2 Feed the Clan
2 Anger of the Gods
2 Rending Volley
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Destructive Revelry
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Unravel the Aether
1 Spell Pierce
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

Okay, let’s talk…

Firstly, if you’ve followed this article series, you’ll likely be wondering why I’ve done away with Delver. In honesty, I’m not saying at all that I think this deck is strictly better than Delver, but I am saying that I think it can afford to play some cards that Delver can’t and those cards are better. I also feel that I’m already a fairly competent tempo player and wanted to play something I’m less skilled with – control.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss some of the more interesting selection decisions, in the main deck and see what we think.

Lumbering Falls

Lumbering Falls:
Why not Treetop Village? Well…honestly? Because with the amount of Lightning Bolt in the format (Grixis, Twin, Scapeshift, Burn and Zoo all play 4 copies and are all very popular at the moment), the hexproof is just better than the Trample. Of course Village is much cheaper to activate, but in a deck like this, you’re only really using your man-lands to mop up the dregs of your opponent’s life total in the late game, so you’re not expecting to need to be tight with your mana.


Keranos (in the main?):
I’ve been a fierce advocate of main-deck Keranos for some time now. In fact, when I appeared on CKL a few weeks ago (Episode 27), Nic and I spoke about it a little, in the context of Bring to Light decks. Keranos is a VERY powerful card in Modern. It helps close out games that you would otherwise be struggling to find reach in. It helps regain velocity after you’ve had to spend resources dealing with your opponent’s threats (something that an exclusively red removal suite can often lead to).


Savage Knuckleblade:
I’m trying one, for the same reason I was trying one in the Delver sideboard, however the matchups I feel it’s good in are becoming more common. I think it’s good in control mirrors, I think it could have some great legs against other Tarmogoyf decks and I wouldn’t be overly surprised if it’s very good against Scapeshift. If it proves to be good, other cards will likely step aside in favour of more copies, if it’s a bust, it happily becomes a second Young Pyromancer.

Another consideration for this slot is Obstinate Baloth – which tackles different matchups, but could be relevant in the future and is on my shortlist.


The more I sit and think about Anticipate in Modern, the more I conclude it is a card that should be seeing significantly more play. Whilst it doesn’t necessarily play great with Jace, Anticipate is objectively one of the most powerful draw spells we have available at the moment. I strongly feel that Opt is the precise card needed in Modern right now, but it seems unlikely that WotC will print it for us and cards like Sleight of Hand and Worldly Counsel are either woefully underpowered or are horrifically narrow, thus preventing them from competing. If your mana usage can facilitate it, Anticipate seems incredible. I’ve just ordered my foils.


Become Immense:
With how Modern has been shaping up in recent times, fewer and fewer Lightning Bolts find their way to the faces of players and increasingly seem to have to be directed at a Wild Nacatl, or a Bounding Krasis, in order to keep you in the game. With our restricted removal suite this problem seems even more likely, which leads us to a rather obvious shortfall with the deck – reach. I decided to test Become Immense because not only does it give us a nice finishing poke, but it can double up as a defensive spell to protect a Tarmogoyf from a timely Dismember. It’s probably not the most insane thing in the world, but I’m almost certain it’s good enough.


I’m sure most of you are aware that Repeal normally sees play almost exclusively in Ux Tron decks but hear me out. Unconditional removal is something we really need. I feel like including Dismember in this list is asking for trouble and so as a result I’m left needing to look around for cards that can buy us a turn or two out from under a fire and let us get back into a game we were otherwise losing.

Our counter magic is particularly excellent and this plays nicely in tandem with that against say, a turn-2 Tarmogoyf that we didn’t have a Spell Snare for at the time, but do now. Again, the card also has defensive application, since we are so threat-light and we often need to play “Protect the Queen.”

A Brief Note on the Sideboard

I think the sideboard options I’ve chosen for the initial list are all fairly stock and their applications are somewhat obvious. Note that the decks I’ve chosen to focus my sideboard on are: Affinity, Aggro (Zoo, Burn and Merfolk), Control, GR Tron and Collected Company. The only card-specific hoser I’m playing is the singleton Unravel the Aether, for Keranos, out of opposing Twin decks.

What is it Good For?

I suppose it’s important to discuss where exactly a deck like this belongs in the metagame and why we would be incentivised to build it. My main point of thinking is that I don’t think there are too many awful matchups for this deck – Zoo seems to be a tough one and I suspect Tron could also be very hard, if we can’t find a Crumble to Dust, post board. The main matchup where I think a deck like this performs very well though is against the combo decks (Scapeshift and Twin specificially).

My current leaning is that we are set to see a lot of Bring to Light Scapeshift and UR Twin in the coming Modern season and I wanted something that I could play well and struggle out against the aggro decks, but feel comfortable that I am unlikely to get caught out by the combo decks. I have put in some limited testing against Scapeshift and currently feel good about the results. Because their early game plays are all non-pressuring, you are able to progress your board early and then sit back on efficient counter magic for the rest of the game. The Scapeshift post-board Baloth plan doesn’t align well at all against your Tarmogoyfs and Roasts – even more so when every Lightning Bolt you draw is free to soar to the dome. The matchup definitely seems solidly in our favour.

Wrap Up

This deck is really fun to play! It’s a slightly different slant on control that feels familiar to play, but has some interesting avenues from which to attack the game and promotes a really considered and calm playstyle – which is something I’m striving to attain, as I play over the coming Modern season. If you’re looking for a deck that will keep your opponent guessing, whilst not requiring you to learn how to apply a bunch of cards you’ve never played before, give this a go!

Hit me up on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mrshypaintscards or www.facebook.com/anythingbutstandard and lets chat about Temur, in all it’s myriad forms.

Until next time, happy RUGgin’