Where to Take Bant Control in Modern

Piotr Glogowski

Piotr Glogowski


Arcum's AstrolabeUro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

Last B&R update in Modern happened a while ago – 《Arcum’s Astrolabe》 left the format on July 13th. Despite I sometimes say vigorous complaints about how I dislike the fact that 《Mox Opal》 and 《Faithless Looting》 being banned erased format’s long-lasting identity, I still play the format quite a bit and enjoy it. I’m mostly focusing my efforts on the 《Uro》 control portion of the metagame.

The Nerf of Blue Control Decks

Before 《Astrolabe》 got banned, various shapes of blue control decks were pretty universally considered to be the strongest archetype in Modern, but the nerf was pretty significant. Implications of the ban were not immediately obvious to me, so I’ll summarize them here after we were able to experience the new reality:

Ice-Fang Coatl

《Ice-Fang Coatl》 got significantly worse. It can’t ever attain deathtouch on turn two, and it’s just not easy to fetch that many basics with sometimes stringent mana requirements. I experimented with the card after the banning, and it certainly still has many upsides, but the biggest strike against 《Coatl》 is that it’s no longer a way to survive the early game. It’s not terrible, but mostly gets outcompeted by 《Field of the Dead》.

Archmage's Charm

– Similarly, 《Archmage’s Charm》 used to be a staple, but nowadays barely anyone plays it. For three-color decks, casting this card on turn three is a pipe dream. The ability to steal a one-drop was excellent against 《Monastery Swiftspear》 and 《Goblin Guide》, but the end of turn draw-two mode was a mirror breaker at the same time. 《Charm》 and 《Coatl》 used to be both excellent against both faster and slower decks, and replacements are just less flexible. That means that skewing your deck more towards aggro can leave you lacking in mirrors.

Breeding PoolHallowed FountainTemple Garden

The manabase got a lot more painful. Fetching shocklands is common. 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 undoes the damage that your lands deal with you, rather than providing a nice and comfortable buffer. Burn and Prowess gain a significant edge there. Sultai and Temur variants get to mitigate the manabase pain by frequently fetching a turn one Triome, but Bant is hurt the most there.

Field of Ruin

– It is no longer easy to freeroll 4 《Field of Ruin》s in the deck. Green Tron is a much more stress-inducing matchup nowadays.

BoilChokeBlood Moon

《Boil》 and 《Choke》 got harder to play around. 《Blood Moon》 used to be ignorable, now it’s a significant threat. This mostly means that Red-Green midrange matchup got worse, and mandates a lot of 《Aether Gust》s.

The rippling effects on 《Uro》 control decks caused by the ban are not to be underestimated. Deckbuilding got a lot harder.

Stormwing Entity

On top of that, in M21, 《Stormwing Entity》 got printed and enabled a new branch of Izzet Prowess decks. I failed to understand how good 《Entity》 will end up being at first, but between its CMC of 5, and relative resistance to 《Lightning Bolt》 thanks to Phyrexian mana spells, it poses a huge problem for non-white removal. That can put many decks removal suites in a pretty tight bind.

In fact, I think it’s reasonably safe to say that various Prowess variants are the best archetype in Modern right now – I’m not absolutely convinced of that, and if they are, it’s not by a humongous margin, but I see them as the most likely candidate for that spot.

Temur Reclamation Rising

Temur Reclamation decklists got popularized mostly by a Magic Online user Lavaridge, who settled on a decklist, barely changes any cards in it, and just keeps winning.

Lavaridge’s seemingly endless results with this decklists are hard to argue with, but I’ll try anyway.

Lightning BoltRemandGrowth Spiral

When I’m seeing Prowess as a such a big part of the metagame, I’m not necessarily excited about playing a decklist that seemingly doesn’t acknowledge the existence of such a deck at all. Between 《Lightning Bolt》 being unreliable against 《Mutagenic Growth》, and both 《Remand》 and 《Growth Spiral》 barely counting as turn two plays when on the draw.

《Growth Spiral》 is a card whose reputation might have gotten ahead of , I suppose. Unlike in Standard, 《Growth Spiral》ing on turn two can barely classify as a relevant play when facing an aggressive deck – especially on the draw.

Wilderness ReclamationFact or FictionCryptic Command

It’s fine if you are ramping into a meaningful four-drop – 《Growth Spiral》 into a 《Wilderness Reclamation》 into 《Fact or Fiction》 is an effective nut draw even against a Prowess deck, but if your best four mana play is 《Cryptic Command》, you can’t treat 《Spiral》 as a good early play against red decks and you need something else.

That’s my biggest gripe with Lavaridge’s Temur Rec in general – it seems not to really acknowledge the existence of Prowess. Between four 《Remand》s and 《Spiral》s, and 《Lightning Bolt》‘s weakness to 《Mutagenic Growth》, you can find yourself with no outs before the game even begins.

Looking for the Perfect Uro Deck

That’s the reason why I’m leaning towards non-Temur builds in my attempts of creating the perfect 《Uro》 deck. Summarizing, theory-wise, this is what I would like to do:

Try to Maximize the Amount of Relevant Early Game Plays Against Aggressive Decks

I spent a lot of time casting 《Spiral》s on two against red decks, dying, and wondering what went wrong. Similarly, I have fallen behind after 《Path》ing a one-drop creature.

Wall of Omens

Currently, I am a fan of 《Wall of Omens》. 《Wall》 plus 《Path》 offers a good removal coverage too, as it allows you to use the Walls to fend off early creatures and save your 《Path》s for more threatening ones.

Mana LeakSpell SnareUro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

No 《Remand》s, but 《Mana Leak》s and 《Spell Snare》 to be better at stopping early aggression too. In consideration of post-board games, I also want to play a playset of 《Uro》s. The “stock” number of 《Uro》s to play in Modern was exactly three for the longest time, but especially when I board up on cheaper interaction spells and down on planeswalkers, I really want to draw an 《Uro》 early.

Too often have I found myself 《Aether Gust》ing opposing threats over and over, only to eventually just die because I failed to establish any traction – I think fourth 《Uro》 is a fairly non-invasive way to help with that issue.

Support 《Field of the Dead》 and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》

Teferi, Time Raveler

I like three mana 《Teferi》 a lot. 《Remand》s and 《Fact or Fiction》 are all very strong cards in blue mirrors, but 《Time Raveler》 is sort of an equalizer there. 《Teferi》 lets me have a way to bail out of blue matchups, letting me skew the rest of my deck towards aggressive decks. 《Teferi》 in Modern is basically unrecoverable for blue opponents; much stronger than it used to be in Standard blue mirrors.

Field of the Dead

《Field of the Dead》 is more lategame inevitability, which I think is useful to have nowadays. Without 《Coatl》, protecting planeswalkers is a little bit harder, so I like having my endgame to be tied towards things that cannot be attacked.

Prairie StreamSeaside Citadel

Meeting the seven different lands quota is relatively easy between snow and regular basics and 《Prairie Stream》 all being fetchable. I’m even very happy with the singleton 《Seaside Citadel》, despite how much my chat ridicules it every time I draw it on stream – that speaks volumes about how good an actual Bant Triome would be.

There is fairly little warping that happens in the manabase, so the cost to play 《Field of the Dead》 is mostly playing the card itself – a colorless, tapped land is pretty terrible, but you can think of it as playing it in a spell slot.

Primeval Titan

With just two 《Field of the Dead》, sometimes you’ll have trouble drawing it. I tried playing the third 《Field》, but this deck doesn’t ramp hard enough to justify drawing multiples early. I tried 《Primeval Titan》, and while it has some upsides, it was mostly too expensive.

Hour of Promise

Between 《Time Raveler》‘s +1 ability and 《Mystic Sanctuary》 recursion, 《Hour of Promise》 has more synergy. I wouldn’t want to be playing more copies of 《Hour》s unless I’d also play more copies of 《Field》s itself, as extra 《Hour》s can become dead against 《Field of Ruin》 decks.

Get to choose my post-board top-end

Teferi, Hero of DominariaHour of PromiseElder Gargaroth

I’m happy having access to some planeswalkers in the deck, but I think it’s really beneficial not to have them against the more aggressive decks; plenty of times a Prowess deck killed my 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 with 《Lightning Bolt》s and grinded me out; I greatly prefer 《Hour of Promise》 and 《Elder Gargaroth》 as my plan there.

On the other hand, I think it’s valuable to have access to 《Teferi》 against decks that can stop 《Field of the Dead》 or handle 《Uro》 well, so I am happy playing a diverse threat suite, trimming down to the best one post-board.


With all of this in mind, around this is how I’m building my Bant Control decks now:

Against Prowess, for the most part, I’d like to cut big Planeswalkers and look at cutting or trimming 《Growth Spiral》s, 《Force of Negation》s, or 《Time Raveler》s. On the draw, 《Force of Negation》 becomes better, and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 becomes worse. 《Time Raveler》 is at its best against 《Stormwing Entity》 on the play.

Surgical Extraction

Sometimes Prowess plays 《Surgical Extraction》 against 《Uro》, and then Planeswalkers are more valuable. Against Rakdos Prowess, 《Veil of Summer》 is valuable.

Against other blue decks, it obviously depends on their exact composition. Even against straight, creatureless UW you’ll be able to present a deck without dead cards, although against most decks 《Gust》 or 《Path》 should be strong enough that you can prioritize cutting 《Verdict》s and 《Wall》s.

Take care and until next time,

kanister (Twitter / Twitch / Youtube)

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Piotr Glogowski

Piotr Glogowski Before his first Pro Tour top 8, Piotr "kanister" Glogowski was already extremely famous as a streamer. He kicked off the 2017-2018 season with an impressive record at Pro Tour Ixalan (8th place), then reached the Finals with his great teammates at World Magic Cup 2017. His talent was flourished after all, and he finished that season as a Platinum Level Pro. Read more articles by Piotr Glogowski

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