Building on a Budget: Modern Blue-White Control

Blue-White Control is the best deck in Modern right now, and for the first time in a long while it seems I’m not the only one who thinks that.

There has been a lot of talk about which version is better: the old school build with 4-mana sweepers, or the Miracles build that usually runs all four Terminus. It seems like more people are on the Miracles side, and I’ve even seen some people say that Terminus is what makes Blue-White Control good. That isn’t really the focus of this article, but long story short, this isn’t true, and I believe that you will do well with Blue-White Control no matter what the build, as the deck became very strong with the printing of Field of Ruin and the return of Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Blue-White Control

Right now, my main deck flex slots are: Spreading Seas, Negate, Oust, Jace #3, and I could see cutting any of these cards for Snapcaster #3, Opt, Search #2, Condemn, Verdict #2, or Wall #2.

As for the sideboard, I could see getting rid of Baneslayer #2, Verdict, and Logic Knot. Spell Queller is a card I’ve had in the board on and off, and Joel Larsson was very high on it in his report. He also liked Surgical Extraction over Rest in Peace, which I’ve tried before and didn’t particularly like, but I will give it another shot next time I pick up the deck.

My list is extremely close to the one McWinSauce used to 11-0 a Modern Challenge recently on Magic Online:

Blue-White Control

On a Budget, but Why?

I really do believe that no matter how you build the deck, Blue-White Control will be extremely strong and about a week ago, I decided to really put that statement to the test. Some of the cards in the deck are very expensive and once in a while, I’ll have someone ask me if I think that they can get away with playing blue-white without a card like Celestial Colonnade or Jace, the Mind Sculptor, so I decided to see if I could do well with a budget version of my pet deck.

To give you a rough idea, McWinSauce’s version costs approximately $550 to build online and $1,100 in paper. That’s slightly less than Humans or Jeskai but way more than Burn, which you can build for about $200 on MTGO and $650 in real life. If you’re looking for unparalleled value though, Fetchless Storm takes the crown. Here is NimbleMongoose’s recent 5-0 list, which prices at $130 online and $280 in paper:

Fetchless Storm

How Low Can You Go?

I had this poll on Twitter to see what a reasonable budget was:

Some people, including my recent Pro Tour playtest partner Brennan DeCandio, also answered that they would go with under $200 even though it wasn’t an option.

Using Saffron Olive’s budget deck section as an inspiration, I decided to play in very hard mode, and tried to keep the deck under $30 for online play.

After a bit of brainstorming and price checking, here is what I came up with:

Blue-White Control

I had to get rid of all of the expensive cards and play subpar sweepers, as well as the fallen-out-of-style planeswalkers. I wasn’t unhappy to have to play four copies of Wall of Omens, as well as four Spreading Seas, though, and could still rely on Path to Exile and Detention Sphere for spot removal. I was also excited as I now had an excuse to play more copies of Glimmer of Genius for card advantage. Combined with Rewind, I would be able to build my own super Cryptic Command.

The mana base was also worse off, but it wasn’t all downside as the four Irrigated Farmland worked well with Glacial Fortress and would help me not to flood in the midgame. To make up for the lack of Celestial Colonnade, I decided to run two copies of Faerie Conclave. I couldn’t rely on the all-star sideboard enchantments either so I decided to replace Rest in Peace with Tormod’s Crypt, which might even be better in some scenarios against the Bridgevine/Dredge busted draws and tried to make up for the lack of Stony Silence with more Ceremonious Rejections and counterspells in general.

I jumped into a friendly Modern League, something I wouldn’t usually do, but I was in the middle of a competitive League with another deck. I ended up with a winning record but I think I got favorable matchups. I defeated Ponza and Burn twice 2-1 each time, lost to Elves 2-1, and lost the “mirror” match 2-0.

None of the card choices felt bad and I would need to play with the deck some more to figure out which cards are too gimmicky. Rewind was probably the most meme card in the list, but it was actually good and I kind of wish I could play more.

Where To Go From Here

The deck I played is worth about $30 online and $200 in paper, but what if you have a few more bucks to spend? Where should you start?

I think the first card I would add is a sideboard card: Stony Silence.

For the main deck I would be looking at copies of Serum Visions and Cryptic Command.

With a budget of $30, I was extremely limited, so I had to go with the cheapest sweepers available. You could look to upgrade in that area too, getting your hands on a Wrath of God as well as a Supreme Verdict.

I would also consider Rest in Peace, which is probably going to be even better in a budget version and make for less awkward sideboarding decisions given the potential lack of Snapcaster Mage, Search for Azcanta, and Logic Knots.

If you want to invest in some of the more expensive cards, you might want to think about versatility. Celestial Colonnade, while being a cornerstone of the deck, doesn’t see any play outside of Blue-White and Jeskai, whereas a card like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will probably be a staple in Standard for as long as it is legal and will probably keep being playable in Modern.

There might also be a difference whether you’re looking at online or IRL play. For example, Snapcaster Mage is $13 on MTGO and over $70 in paper whereas Vendilion Clique is $15 online, so pretty much as expensive as Snapcaster but as low as $20 in paper.

I had a little fun going through the list of playable blue-white cards to find the biggest differences between the live and online market, and as far as I can tell, the winner is Ghost Quarter. The land, which I’m not particularly a fan of, in most blue-white versions cost $2 in paper, which is a hundred times more expensive than its online version. The silver medal goes to Mystic Gate (50c/$25).

In absolute difference, which is probably more relevant, the crown goes to Snapcaster Mage ($60 difference) followed by Jace, the Mind Sculptor ($40 difference).

Special mention to Terminus, which as far as I can tell, is the only card that is more expensive online than IRL ($4/$1.50).

Finally, here is a middle-of-the-road budget version of the deck (~$200 online/$500 paper):

Blue-White Control

I decided to completely forgo Colonnade and, to make up for the lack of some of the more powerful cards, add a full playset of Cryptic Command while making sure that I have access to all of the busted sideboard cards that contribute to Blue-White’s current strength.

Building on a budget and writing about it is a first for me, and I hope you guys enjoyed it. Let me know what you thought, and feel free to share the budget version of your own favorite decks.

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