Orzhov Control in Modern (Videos)

Feature Article from Craig Wescoe
Craig Wescoe
12/1/2017 11:01:00 AM
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In today's instructional videos we're going to pilot Orzhov Control, a deck I feel is well-positioned in the current Modern metagame.

As I see it, the top ten decks in Modern right now are the following:

1. U/W/x Midrange
2. B/G/x Rock
3. Eldrazi
4. Death's Shadow
5. Tron
6. Storm
7. Abzan Company
8. Affinity
9. Burn
10. Valakut

I'd say there are no less than 20 competitive Modern decks not on this list – that is the beauty of Modern – but upwards of 70 percent of the metagame is comprised of these 10 decks. So in the Swiss portion of a 15-round Grand Prix I would expect to face decks on this list approximately 10 or 11 rounds and to face decks not on this list the remaining four or five rounds. This means you need to have a coherent strategy that is generically good but also especially well-prepared for as many of the decks on this list as you can.

Aggro strategies seem to be on the decline as of late. Burn and Affinity are lower on the list than they sometimes have been in the past and decks like Zoo and Infect represent even smaller portions of the metagame. Despite the metagame looking this way, creatures are still a major part of most of the top strategies, and removal spells and especially board sweepers are particularly potent in this metagame. Cards like Wrath of God and Damnation are great at cleaning up Eldrazi or Gurmag Angler and Death's Shadow while also being great at wiping out Noble Hierarchs and/or Tarmogoyfs from the midrange and Collected Company decks. It's also a great answer to Etched Champion out of Affinity while also cleaning up all the Signal Pests, Ornithopters, Memnites, and Vault Skirges. I don't even mind a Wrath effect against Storm in post-sideboard games after they bring in Empty the Warrens. Given how well-positioned these two board sweepers are in Modern right now, I decided to put some work into a deck I played last year when the metagame was especially ripe for board sweepers.

Sideboard Notes

U/G Merfolk

+2 Disenchant
+1 Flaying Tendrils
+1 Engineered Explosives
+1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion

-1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
-1 Lingering Souls
-1 Tectonic Edge
-1 Liliana of the Veil
-1 Inquisition of Kozilek

Abzan Company

+2 Duress
+2 Rest in Peace
+1 Grafdigger's Cage
+1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
+1 Flaying Tendrils
+1 Engineered Explosives

-4 Inquisition of Kozilek
-4 Liliana of the Veil

Esper Death's Shadow

+1 Engineered Explosives
+1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
+2 Rest in Peace

-1 Lingering Souls
-2 Fatal Push
-1 Tectonic Edge

R/G Ponza

+1 Duress
+2 Disenchant
+1 Engineered Explosives
+1 Flaying Tendrils
+1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion

-4 Liliana of the Veil
-1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
-1 Tectonic Edge

Abzan Rock

+1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
+1 Engineered Explosives
+1 Timely Reinforcements

-2 Inquisition of Kozilek
-1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor

Some changes I would consider making to the deck:

- Swap two of the Ghost Quarters for Tectonic Edges since the metagame is less about Inkmoth Nexus and more about Valakut and creature lands.
- Add Elspeth, Sun's Champion to the main deck over a Sorin, Solemn Visitor since Burn is less prevalent than midrange strategies.
- Swap two of the Inquisition of Kozileks for Thoughtseizes since Collected Company and other midrange/control decks are more prevalent than the aggro and burn decks.
- Replace the two copies of Fatal Push with some combination of cards that are good in midrange matchups such as Bitterblossom or more planeswalkers. Gideon of the Trials and Gideon Jura are worth experimenting with, as is Ob Nixilis Reignited.
- Adjust the sideboard a little bit. I think I want a second Grafdigger's Cage against Collected Company decks, a fourth Fulminator Mage against Tron/Valakut, and a pair of Oblivion Rings to deal with planeswalkers. I would cut a Disenchant, a Duress, an Engineered Explosives, and move the Elspeth, Sun's Champion to the main.

I think the deck could use some additional refining and tweaking, but the overall strategy is strong right now. The deck has hand disruption to hang with combo decks, land destruction for the Tron/Valakut matchups, plenty of removal against the creature decks, and planeswalkers to pull ahead in the midrange and control matchups. Best of all, we get the surprise factor resulting in comments like this one from one of our opponents – “of all the players, I would not expect you to be the one double-Wrathing people.”

Craig Wescoe
@Brimaz4Life




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