With the new cards printed in Kaladesh, the Modern Lantern Control deck is getting some pretty big upgrades. Let’s take a look at all of the sweet new toys that Lantern now has access to.
I’ll start with my most recent decklist, new cards have an asterisk* next to them:
4 Lantern of Insight
4 Codex Shredder
4 Ghoulcaller’s Bell
1 Pyxis of Pandemonium
4 Ensnaring Bridge
4 Mox Opal
3 Pithing Needle
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Collective Brutality *
4 Blooming Marsh *
2 Academy Ruins
2 Inventors’ Fair *
2 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Ghost Quarter
3 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Welding Jar
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Nature’s Claim
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Collective Brutality *
Inventors’ Fair is easily the most insane addition to this deck since it’s original creation. First off, this is a land that does things other than just make mana. That’s already a great deal, just like how other decks benefit from utility lands like Raging Ravine, Gavony Township, or Ghost Quarter. Having a land provide additional usefulness and options is amazing because you don’t have to replace a creature or spell in your deck to get the same effect. We essentially get to run more action cards in our deck.
One of the biggest upsides of playing this land card is gaining an edge against most decks that try to damage us without just attacking with creatures. Decks like Burn, Zoo, and U/R/x tempo decks playing Snapcaster Mage and Lightning Bolt aim to do just that against us. Inventors’ Fair allows us to gain a life every turn which can put us out of burn range for the aforementioned decks. Enabling the ability isn’t exactly difficult either since we have so many cheap artifacts in our deck. Before Lantern had access to this card, I would often get in situations where I had very little life left. Being at low life, you are more constrained on your choices for what cards you want to allow your opponent to draw. If you’re at 2 life, for example, you can’t let your opponent draw bolt or Atarka’s Command or Snapcaster (w/ a bolt in graveyard). This is no longer a problem with Inventors’ Fair, as you’ll be able to get out of bolt range quickly by gaining extra life each turn.
The other huge addition Inventors’ Fair brings to the table is the ability to tutor for our lock pieces. Lantern Control often aims to setup a “lock” where it prevents the opponent from attacking with creatures or drawing any relevant card to get out of the lock. Lantern of Insight + Ensnaring Bridge + Codex Shredder + Ghoulcaller’s Bell are cards that aim to completely lock down the opponent from being able to hurt us. In the past, we only had access to Ancient Stirrings to search for our lock pieces. With this new land from Kaladesh, we can search up our last remaining piece allowing us to establish complete control more consistently. I often find myself using the Fair to simply tutoring another mill rock (shredder/bell) to ensure the opponent remains unable to draw good cards. Other times I use the Fair to tutor up a strong hate card, such as Grafdigger’s Cage from the sideboard or Pyxis of Pandemonium to exile opposing Ancient Grudges.
While not as impressive as the other land from Kaladesh, Blooming Marsh provides the Lantern deck with a bit more stability. Llanowar Wastes was the go-to land to have access to turn 1 untapped green or black sources of mana. There really wasn’t any other option until now; even Overgrown Tomb still hurt too much. The addition of Blooming Marsh means we will likely have 1-2 extra life for every other game we play, since we won’t have to damage ourselves with Llanowar Wastes. This may not sound like a big deal but when the goal of this deck is to simply survive the first few turns until it can cast an Ensnaring Bridge, that 1-2 life makes a big difference a non-zero amount of the time. I’ve had plenty of games where I’ve stabilized at 1 or 2 life after the onslaught of creatures my opponent attacked me with in the first few turns of the game. That little bit of extra time goes a long way for a deck that wants to survive just long enough to lock up a game.
This card wasn’t in Kaladesh, but Eldritch Moon. I feel like Collective Brutality is recent enough to include in this overview as a “new update” because the card is such an amazing addition to this deck. This card does so many positive things for Lantern Control. I’ve replaced both Pyrite Spellbombs with this card, as they serve the same purpose of killing of tiny creatures. The most common use of this card is to give a creature -2/-2 and look at our opponent’s hand to make them discard a spell. This is quite good against a number of decks, for example you get to:
- Kill an infect creature or Noble Hierarch while taking out a pump spell from their hand.
- Kill a Dark Confidant while taking away an Abrupt Decay or Maelstrom Pulse from Jund.
- Kill a Goblin Guide or Eidolon of the Great Revel and remove a burn spell from a Burn opponent.
Collective Brutality pulls its own weight against these matchups and many more. Discarding an extra card from your hand is a small cost to pay to get two powerful effects against tough decks to beat. Against burn you also get the third option to drain life, putting you even further ahead. One of the coolest parts about this card is the fact that it provides you with many options. Even the option to discard extra cards unconditionally to quickly empty your hand for an Ensnaring Bridge is actually useful.
You don’t always have to Escalate to benefit from this card. Simply choosing the first mode of looking at an opponent’s hand is often good enough against most decks. This gives you information on what’s in their hand which is very important in determining what cards to mill or not mill while a Lantern of Insight is in play. If you don’t know what your opponent has in their hand then you don’t always know what they do or don’t want to draw. But Collective Brutality isn’t simply a Gitaxian Probe, it also removes extremely powerful cards from our opponent that we had trouble dealing with in the past. Cards like Scapeshift, Cryptic Command, Become Immense, Collected Company, Ad Nauseam, and Shatterstorm can all be stripped from our opponent’s grip. Brutality also hits cards commonly sided in against our deck like Ancient Grudge, Nature’s Claim, Abrupt Decay, and Wear//Tear. It’s true that we had ways of dealing with these cards before, but now the deck has additional ways to do that, making it more consistent against tough decks and more resilient to artifact hate.
Cards that missed the cut
I also wanted to touch on a few cards that I’ve intentionally left out of my Lantern Control decklist. These are cards that other pilots of the deck have tried and enjoyed. I personally haven’t liked them as much as other options and thus have left them out of my most recent list. If these cards work for you and are putting up the results you want, then by all means keep playing with them. There’s no one perfect list of Lantern Control, or any deck for that matter. Play what you know and you’ll do better than playing with cards you don’t like.
The cards I’ve left out are:
Ghirapur Aether Grid: This card was present in my Grand Prix Oklahoma City 1st place deck list. I had tested it before the event and it put up good results against quite a few decks. The card helped hold off creature based decks very well. It also was an excellent way to close out a game quickly, especially if your opponent was dragging the game on unnecessarily long. So why don’t I like this card anymore? After the 18 rounds of GP OKC, I found that I often sided this card out. There were multiple opening hands where this card was just clunky. It didn’t help progress the main gameplan of the deck, setting up the lantern lock. It was soft at locking out creature decks at best. The fact that it costs 3 mana means that it doesn’t hit the battlefield soon enough to help clean up the problem creatures. It was just too slow for me.
Infernal Tutor: This is probably the card that’s been talked about the most. How is this card just not the most amazing card to include in a deck that is Hellbent most of the time and needs to find certain lock pieces to establish control over the game? Well the answer is that Infernal Tutor is both amazing and terrible in this deck. It is amazing because, assuming you haven’t lost the game in the first few turns of the game, you will get to cast it to find whatever you want. Usually it’s gets the missing Lantern of Insight or Ensnaring Bridge.
The problem here is that this card is extremely conditional. You literally cannot cast it on the first, second, or third turns of the game to find what you want. You can’t cast it early because you still have cards in your hand. As a result, this card provides zero options to you while you attempt to survive through the crazy fast decks other people are playing in Modern. Imagine this scenario: You get paired against Infect, Affinity, and Death Shadow aggro back-to-back at a tournament. In each match, your opening hand always contains Infernal Tutor. Are you more or less likely to win each of these games? Remember, even if you empty your hand on turn 3, cast tutor on turn 4, you can’t cast the bridge until turn 5.
Sea Gate Wreckage: This is a great card and definitely a worthwhile consideration for a deck that has an empty hand for the majority of the game. There are two main problems with Sea Gate Wreckage in this deck. The first is that it’s competing with the other colorless mana producing lands. We have spells that cost green, black, and sometimes red, blue, or white. Each time we take out a land that produces colored mana for a utility land that makes colorless mana we then lessen the chance of being able to consistently cast our spells. Four colorless lands was the correct number I found when running 17 lands, and thus five colorless lands work fine in an 18 land deck. In order to include Sea Gate, we’d have to shave Academy Ruins or Inventors’ Fair or Ghost Quarter. The first two are absolute monsters in this deck so I wouldn’t touch those. The latter serves a strong purpose in giving us extra opportunities to beat R/G Scapeshift decks or Tron decks, as well as holding off Inkmoth Nexus.
The 2nd reason I don’t like this card is because I don’t feel like the effect helps us get to our main goal of setting up a lock quickly enough. We won’t be able to use this land until we are Hellbent and have access to other mana sources, this likely won’t be until turn 5 or turn 6. By that time, we needed to have survived what our opponent’s deck was trying to kill us with. Sea Gate Wreckage couldn’t have helped us survive (but Ghost Quarter could have). I think the small chance that we gain benefit from Sea Gate later in the game isn’t as great as the chance of getting utility from GQ early on. The exception would be against Jund or Abzan decks, but luckily we now have Inventors’ Fair to find us extra copies of whatever gets destroyed.
Thank you for taking the time to read up on what I’ve been working on. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Let me know if you’ve been working on trying out any other cards in Lantern Control and how they’ve been doing for you.