Part 1 of this series provided an introduction to Whir Prison, and a sideboarding guide for two matchups. In part 2 I’ll take more Modern decks into account and explain the plan you need to take, as well as the sideboarding guidelines. Remember that this deck only cares about opponents’ answers, so your sideboarding can change based on what you saw in game 2, i.e., a Shatterstorm or a Shattering Spree.
2 Island 1 Academy Ruins 1 Ipnu Rivulet 4 Botanical Sanctum 4 Spire of Industry 3 Glimmervoid 4 Tolaria West 1 Tectonic Edge 1 Inventors' Fair 1 Tormod's Crypt 4 Mishra's Bauble 4 Mox Opal 4 Welding Jar 1 Damping Sphere 4 Chalice of the Void 2 Sorcerous Spyglass 1 Pyrite Spellbomb 4 Ancient Stirrings 1 Crucible of Worlds 3 Engineered Explosives 1 Witchbane Orb 4 Whir of Invention 1 Bottled Cloister 4 Ensnaring Bridge Sideboard 1 Jester's Cap 2 Sai, Master Thopterist 4 Spellskite 1 Darksteel Forge 2 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas 1 Torpor Orb 1 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Ghirapur Aether Grid 2 Sorcerous Spyglass
Much like against Grixis Death’s Shadow and Izzet Phoenix, Dredge is a very good matchup game 1 that becomes tough based on their sideboard hate because their deck is very weak to Ensnaring Bridge.
Once they can’t attack you any more, you only need a Witchbane Orb to stop them from Conflagrating you, and then a healthy amount of life total to be safe from Creeping Chill, which can happen through gaining life with Inventor’s Fair or by having a Tormod’s Crypt in play once they dredge their Drain Life card.
Post-sideboard they will pack a lot of hate (usually Nature’s Claim, Ancient Grudge, and Assassin’s Trophy). I’m unsure what’s better between Darksteel Forge and Jester’s Cap in this matchup. I would definitely try the first though, because once that’s done and resolved there’s no way they can ever come back into the game.
But your plan in this matchup isn’t only to stop them from attacking you or burning you out. You will also have Tormod’s Crypt and Grafdigger’s Cage to stop them from functioning. You can get the first one with Tolaria West, and you can then recur it with Academy Ruins to make sure their deck never functions properly.
This one is unfavorable game 1 and favorable games 2 and 3 since you’ll maximize on Sorcerous Spyglass, which are great at stopping your opponent from using their key threats in Karn Liberated and Oblivion Stone.
Damping Sphere is still your most valuable card, and that’s the first thing you have to Whir of Invention for.
They sideboard in four Nature’s Claim, which you have the perfect answer for in Chalice of the Void.
Watch out for Relic of Progenitus since that can come out on turn 1, before your Chalice, and deal with your Crucible of Worlds + Tectonic Edge recursion. You can play around that either with a Spyglass or with Engineered Explosives.
Surprisingly, I lost way more against Humans than I expected. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben makes it very hard to empty your hand, and even if you do resolve an Ensnaring Bridge, it might be too late.
Post-sideboard, things get even worse as they’ll have access to Deputy of Detention and Gaddock Teeg. While you can block the first one with Torpor Orb and Spellskite, the second one is very hard for you to beat if it comes down on turn 2 and will probably be game unless you naturally draw your Pyrite Spellbomb or Ghirapur Aether Grid.
Inventors’ Fair + Bottled Cloister is the best way to play around Kambal, Consul of Allocation, and Torpor Orb is your main target if you haven’t deployed your lock yet. Meddling Mage and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben may still pose a problem, but it shuts down everything else.
The existence of Burn and Eidolon of the Great Revel are the reasons why you should always empty your hand of 0-mana artifacts. Eidolon is a beating and the matchup goes from good to bad based on the card. That’s the reason you’re bringing in Ghirapur Aether Grid.
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is the best way to stop the aggression without taking damage from Eidolon, and the ultimate threatens to gain a bunch of life when you’re not in danger of getting attacked.
Inventors’ Fair plays a huge role and so does Spellskite. Ways to prevent damage are key. Chalice of the Void is important as well, and while it’s great to play it on 1 in game 1, in game 2 you might want to wait to set it on 2 to stop your opponent from casting Smash to Smithereens and other large burn spells.
This is a good matchup. Ensnaring Bridge is a great lock against them, and once that’s up and running the only thing you need to look at is Walking Ballista and your poison count, which can be increased by both Animation Module and Throne of Geth.
If you sideboard like this, your only win condition will be Academy Ruins, since Spellbomb will likely be unable to resolve because of your own Chalice of the Void. So make sure to sideboard like this only if you are up a game. For game 3, bring in a bunch of Sai, Master Thopterist to be sure.
At GP Bilbao, I played Affinity with Experimental Frenzy twice, and I sideboarded differently. I got rid of Chalice of the Void on the draw since they are only good on 0 on the play, and I boarded in Sai, Master Thopterist and Ghirapur Aether Grid to deal with their Signal Pest and Ornithopter.
Remember that both Arcbound Ravager and Cranial Plating can kill you even through a Ensnaring Bridge on 0, so make sure to name it with Sorcerous Spyglass or have some Thopters back to block those 0-power attackers.
I also had the pleasure of pulling off the hard lock of naming Experimental Frenzy with Sorcerous Spyglass after grabbing a Grafdigger’s Cage with Frenzy on the stack. My opponent was locked out of playing any spells for the rest of the game, which was quite funny.
At GP Bilbao I played versus both of these decks (once vs. Jund and once vs. B/G), and they were crazy and incredibly hard games. You need to stay focused, and always have your plan in mind.
Sorcerous Spyglass needs to shut off Liliana of the Veil. Ensnaring Bridge needs to be protected with multiple Welding Jars and Spellskites because they have a huge number of removal spells for your artifacts. Grafdigger’s Cage helps you against Ancient Grudge, and Darksteel Forge is once again your final way of protecting your lock.
Once Liliana of the Veil is under control it’s worth holding a land in your hand to play around Kolaghan’s Command, but Witchbane Orb will help you there too.
Scavenging Ooze might be annoying, stopping both Academy Ruins and Crucible of Worlds, which is the reason you’re bringing in a third Sorcerous Spyglass.
Tireless Tracker is a problem, but you might set up a situation where even if they draw their whole deck, they still cannot solve the lock. That usually involves Darksteel Forge.
I managed to beat both of these decks, and defeated it in my video as well. Overall, I don’t think the matchup is bad, but it’s definitely a tough game that requires you to play tight, because they have a huge number of ways to interact with you (Abrupt Decay, Assassin’s Trophy, Maelstrom Pulse, Ancient Grudge, Shatterstorm, and so forth).
Post-sideboard they will have Shatterstorm. Much like Izzet Phoenix, you’ll only need to establish a lock, and then go get your Darksteel Forge, or Jester’s Cap them out of answers.
Watch out for their Chalice of the Void since that’s one of the few ways they can get you. I’m not saying you should mulligan a good hand with three 0-drops, but definitely consider doing so if your only colored source is a Mox Opal.
U/W or Jeskai Control
I don’t have a sideboard guide I’m confident in for this matchup, because in my 5 Leagues on Magic Online and my 12 rounds at GP Bilbao, I have never faced the deck. I also never saw it doing well at the event, so I’m just not going to bother with it, since the deck is very poorly positioned in a metagame of Dredge and Izzet Phoenixes.
I’ve been told this is a disaster matchup and I can totally understand why (Cryptic Command is a very hard to deal with threat). In Modern, you cannot have a strong plan—or any plan—against every single deck in the format, and this looks like the weak point of the deck. I’d just jam sideboard threats and hope something will stick, and kill them like that. That sounds ambitious though.
Together with part 1, I’ve now written more than 4,000 words on Whir Prison, a deck I truly think might be the answer to the current tier 1 in the days of “Faithless Looting winter.”