The Team Constructed Battle Plan

Shaheen Soorani has lined up his team’s Standard, Modern, and Legacy decks for SCG Baltimore in May! Before his squad puts them into action, you’ll have a chance to run them yourself at SCG Atlanta!

I’ve had a healthy hiatus from competitive Magic for the last few months (outside of a nice RPTQ spike), but that ends this weekend! I am traveling to GP Columbus to battle with Team Cardhoarder, specifically Noah Walker and Eli Kassis. They’re my usual squad and we are very excited for some Dominaria Limited.

Now, I love these fellas to death, but the weekend after is an event that I’ve been preparing for since February. The Team Constructed format of SCG Baltimore (which also happens to be the format of this weekend’s SCG Atlanta) is where all the excitement lies. For years I and many other pros have yearned for more of these types of events. Team Limited is always an enjoyable time, but there is something special about Team Constructed that separates it from the pack. There is a level of preparation that goes into ensuring all three formats are “solved,” figuring out the best battle plan for Standard, Modern, and Legacy all at the same time.

For Baltimore I had been locked in as the Standard flagbearer, preparing U/B Control as my weapon of choice. I’ve had immense success with this flavor of control in recent events, so the choice was obvious. The two players I’m running onto the battlefield with are Jay Shield and Lee Sears. I was best man at both of their weddings, so this dream team goes way back. Neither of them has much history as far as competitive Magic success, but they are far from rookies.

I had Lee prepare for Modern, getting reps in with Ironworks Combo, as it can dominate unsuspecting opponents from the middle seat. That left Jay working with Eldrazi in Legacy, because he isn’t a connoisseur of the format and it’s one of the easiest decks to pilot with a low amount of reps. But that well-thought out plan all came crumbling down after I returned from the Third Crusade, freeing Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the process.

With the blue deity’s freedom, I cemented myself as the Modern player for life. Even though control decks in Modern have struggled, I can’t table the strategy without trying it first in live play. This will be my first competitive tournament with my hero, so get ready, my fellow Baltimore Modern competitors. This shifted Lee into Legacy, where he has had more experience, and Jay into Standard. I really should keep the lists we are running closer to the chest, but for those who have followed me for some time, you know that just isn’t my style.


As surprising as it sounds, I look to my Team Cardhoarder Legacy guru, Noah Walker, for the best deck to run in Legacy. Cedric Phillips would probably have more enjoyment if I had Lee sleeve up Stoneforge Mystic, Lingering Souls, Intuition, and the whole gang, but sadly I had to put that deck down for the foreseeable future. Esper StoneBlade has put me into many SCG Tour Top 8s, but it hasn’t had a good matchup for about four years now. Being 40% against a field of inexperienced Legacy players is one thing, but these wise mages have adapted to my Tom Martell 2011 parlor tricks. Rest in peace, my Kor Artificer, and I hope to see you rise in Modern one day!

Noah swears that this is the best deck in Legacy and he has held that opinion for quite some time. His results speak for themselves, with multiple GP Top 8s and successful runs on the SCG Tour for years. The deck takes traditional control/midrange creatures such as Gurmag Angler, True-Name Nemesis, Deathrite Shaman, and Young Pyromancer and moves them into a more aggressive shell. Thanks to the combination of these powerful creatures, red reach, and best color blue’s assistance, I believe that this is our best shot to succeed in the Legacy portion.

Deathrite Shaman is the champion of the format, making it a must-include in any traditional deck that can cast it. This little nuisance has both enhanced fair decks and killed off entire archetypes from the competitive scene. For the decks that do not include Deathrite Shaman decks that are still played, they are at the very least weakened by its presence.

Graveyard-based decks are tormented by the one-cost threat and lots of them fall under this umbrella. Legacy is a place where the graveyards are most used, making Deathrite Shaman the topic of ban discussions. I’m not passionate either way, but a ban would resurrect some decks from obscurity.


U/W Control is my official deck of choice for the Modern portion when the SCG Tour arrives in Baltimore next weekend. I haven’t taken it on the live maiden voyage yet, but I have run it through multiple Leagues. The results have been promising and I finally feel confident with the sideboard choices moving forward.

There is always a level of angst when I don’t incorporate Kor Firewalker into my control lists just to make sure I take Burn to the cleaners. Many of you are aware of my deep hatred for that deck, in any format, so claiming victory over it is always a priority. I have found that this version of U/W Control already beats it consistently, so there is no need for the additional hate.

The maindeck is stock from previous lists I have posted, except for the addition of Monastery Mentor. This has been a pet card of mine in U/W Control for a while now and I always must convince my teammates to allow me to enter the tournament with it any number of them registered. Brian Braun-Duin came around when we played Team Unified Modern together, watching me run away with some games that could not have been won with another card in some sweet situations.

I’m not saying it’s a fantastic addition that will push the archetype forward, but it is a nice win condition that has huge upside. I cut the Vendilion Clique due to the dwindling number of control decks still in existence and found that Monastery Mentor is better against most of the grindy matchups that have been difficult.

The sideboard is equipped with a new Dominaria card, Damping Sphere, which is on the radar of most Modern players. I’m not sure if I want multiple copies at this point because my Tron matchup is decent as is. Spreading Seas and four copies of Field of Ruin already give the U/W Control mage plenty of insurance against the Tron strategies. Storm is a terrible matchup, but I’m not sure it’ll be widely played at this event. It hasn’t performed well in recent events and new hate cards may be enough to drop it even lower in popularity.

The diversity of sweepers is to answer Humans as well as hit Hexproof with an exile effect. The U/W Control sideboard is more important to success than most because linear strategies are punished far less in Game 1s. Those decks do not have dead cards like we do, making our transitional sideboarding vital. Control in Modern is still shaky at best, but I think I can do some real damage with the power of Jace, the Mind Sculptor in my corner.


I wish Esper StoneBlade wasn’t garbage, because that would have created Team Control! U/B Control rounds out the squad, equipping my friend Jay with the deck I’ve spent the most time with.

Standard has changed quite a bit since my last outing, but I think it has been for control’s betterment. Mono-Red going undefeated is a blessing because it has been a great matchup since the bannings many months ago. The rest of the format is still vulnerable to The Scarab God and Torrential Gearhulk as a one-two punch and Dominaria has added a few weapons to provide answers to threats that were difficult to deal with before.

I am most excited about Cast Down, which was my top-ranked control card from my last article. It will provide the assistance that Fatal Push desperately needed and fill the void that Grasp of Darkness left behind.

The maindeck Arguel’s Blood Fast was copied from recent successful U/B Control finishes; however, I heavily disagree with the abandonment of Search for Azcanta. In theory, the black enchantment isn’t bad against any deck in the format, while our blue staple can be. There is a lot of truth to that logic, as we played some games with both versions, but the issue came with hitting land drops.

Search for Azcanta provides control players with a land’s safety net, and without it some of the games were very rough. Tapping two mana for an Arguel’s Blood Fast and then tapping two more the very next turn in search of your third land is a great way to lose games. For that reason alone, the two copies of Search for Azcanta remain in the deck.

The newest addition that has the biggest upside is Phyrexian Scriptures. It has already been leaps and bounds better than Bontu’s Last Reckoning, answering threats too big for Yahenni’s Expertise to handle. Carnage Tyrant defies traditional removal and tokens go too wide to take down one at a time. Phyrexian Scriptures handles both of those problematic situations and has further benefits from the other Saga modes. It had a Crux of Fate feel, as Torrential Gearhulk and The Scarab God with a counter survive the battlefield cleanse.

Good luck to all the teams battling this weekend and next!