Ajani Vengeant

UWR Control

Shaun McLaren

Pro Tour Born of the Gods – Modern – Champion

What an amazing final game this deck played with such patience by Shaun McLaren.  This deck is basically your quintessential Counter-Burn deck for the Modern format. It plays to go long by playing a draw go style and stifling the opponent until stabilizing the board and taking over the game. During that stabilizing period it’s able to send extra burn to the dome to chip away at the opponent until beating out those final life points with its select few creatures.
The beatdown plan in the deck comes primarily in the form of Celestial Colonnade which as a manland is able to sneak around the formats sorcery speed removal and with 4 toughness bests 3 damage spot removal. There is also a Vendilion Clique which serves as minor disruption but also an efficient Flying clock against a format comprised mainly with armies not air forces. The land creatures comes in the truly overworked Snapcaster Mage which in a deck comprised with 27 maindeck spells to target will always find a use especially now that Deathrite Shaman is gone from Modern no longer eating your Flashback targets. The next key element of this style deck is the permission package and this one packs a wallop indeed boasting Mana Leak and Cryptic Command, backed up by Remand and Spell Snare to deal with threats of all shapes and sizes. One great interaction between Cryptic and a Snapcaster on board allows you to bounce the Snappy further grinding additional value from him. We next get to the burn suite in the deck and find all the heavy hitters with format staple Lightning Bolt, lifegainer Lightning Helix and additional card draw with Electrolyze. Combo those with Snappy and your opponent will end up crispy in no time flat. While the burn will often be used as removal you also have another format staple in Path to Exile dealing with particularly devastating creature threats and find the decks lone sweeper in Anger of the Gods which works it’s Exile clause to the max with many of the creatures it finds. There is also Tectonic Edge which against opposing manlands is solid removal but often will be able to hit an integral dual land to cut the opponent off a key color. The primary draw power comes from a pair of Sphinx’s Revelation which has a knack of pulling a control deck from the brink of death into a commanding position refueling both your hand and your health in one fell swoop. We finally get to the decks lone Planeswalker with Ajani Vengeant who first has the ability to lock down a particularly troublesome permanent such as a Birthing Pod or particular land as seen in the finals. The second ability basically grants the deck additional Lightning Helix to either remove creatures or blast face. But the final ability is one of the most destructive ultimates with a one-sided Armageddon which we saw is able to practically end games instantly and against an unprepared foe should often draw a concession.
So this deck was not a deck which took advantage of either the unbanning of Wild Nacatl or Bitterblossom but instead was given a slight extra edge from no longer worrying about splash damage from the banned Deathrite Shaman. And while this configuration was suited to take down this meta we are sure to see many different tweeks and variations in the future as a control deck must always adapt to its environment.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter