Daily Digest: The Sky Return

Even control decks need a way to close the game. Ross Merriam presents a U/W Control build with a rather surprising win condition!

Well all know the classic control game plan: cast a bunch of removal spells and counters early on, refuel with card draw, and keep going until your opponent runs out of stuff or you open a window to land some game-ending threat. It’s been going on for twenty years, but those types of decks have had a rough go of it in Modern.

The format is so fast, diverse, and resilient that you rarely have time to stop and refuel, assuming you drew the right interactive spells to survive into the mid-game. What you need are sources of card advantage that come along for free during your normal gameplan. You need defensive creatures that generate card advantage, and maybe a land that does it too.

The former exists in Modern in spades, but I bet fewer people are aware that the latter exists, too. Emeria, the Sky Ruin saw play during its run in Standard because having a land generate card advantage is so powerful. It lets you devote more slots in your deck to interactive cards, which is very important when you’re trying to combat Jund, Dredge, Burn, and Affinity in the same tournament.

Emeria, the Sky Ruin takes a while to start up, so you need to focus as much as possible in the early-game on answering your opponent’s threats quickly and efficiently, preserving your life total at all costs. As long as the game keeps going, you’ll slowly accrue a resource advantage that eventually becomes insurmountable, and without any big tipoff to that eventuality like casting a huge Sphinx’s Revelation, your opponent will often notice the writing on the wall after it’s too late for them to do something about it.

Of course, you can also end the game with Sun Titan, a huge creature that will continue to draw cards each turn and potentially run your opponent out of basic lands with Ghost Quarter to start Stone Raining them. I have to imagine that the best part of playing this deck is the sort of game that ends with your opponent on a small handful of permanents while you’re stacking all your lands together just so everything will fit.

Or maybe it’s the sort of game where you barely scrape by long enough to start triggering Emeria, the Sky Ruin, fading a few draw steps from your opponent as you slowly turn the game around before ending it with a huge advantage, your near death a distant memory as your opponent slumps their shoulders and reaches for the match slip.

I guess it doesn’t much matter how you get the slip, so long as you do get it.