I’ve talked about weird decks and interactions, but nothing will ever top Lantern for unique strategies. The closest thing it could be compared to is prison, yet that’s still off—the idea of controlling your opponent’s draw steps this way has never seen any competitive play.
OlleR, 7-0 in a Modern Challenge
Zac Elsik was the first person to popularize this deck and great results. He says that the deck came out of a forum where lots of people threw ideas and tested different things, until it got to where it is now. I’m not surprised. I can’t imagine just one person coming up with such an off-the-beaten-path Magic: The Gathering deck.
For those reasons, it is a complicated deck to assess. Even after having played against it multiple times, I still don’t comprehend everything about it.
Lantern has one goal: to lock you out of the game. It has two ways of doing that, and depending on what you’re playing, it’ll choose the right one.
If you’re playing a deck that primarily wins by attacking, it will make sure to find Ensnaring Bridge as early as possible and then make sure you never draw those few cards left in your deck that are relevant.
If you are more of a control or combo deck, it will prioritize disrupting you with discard spells, Collective Brutality, Surgical Extraction, and Pithing Needle. Once they know your hand, it’s a lot easier for them to know what you shouldn’t draw and then deny those draws.
Let’s go over a few tips and tricks that could be useful if you face Lantern.
- Ensnaring Bridge can be beat even if they have 0 cards in hand. The most common Modern scenarios are exalted creatures such as Noble Hierarch, because it has 0 power when it is declared an attacker, but it can legally attack. The other one is Ornithopter combined with a Cranial Plating and 2 black mana. You attack, then move the Plating before damage.
- Keep your fetchlands uncracked if you don’t need them. In the midgame, they might not yet have many artifacts that mill, and so if you can shuffle away the bad cards on top of your deck that you can now see thanks to Lantern of Insight, it’s possible to draw a card they don’t want you to.
- While cards that come back from the graveyard are nice against them, be aware that Pyxis of Pandemonium exiles cards. This doesn’t mean that Ancient Grudge isn’t good against them —it’s just something to be aware of.
What to Do
Decks that have multiple game plans and disruption are Lantern’s worst matchups. The disruption means that you might be able to snag their key cards, Lantern of Insight and Ensnaring Bridge, and then because you have lots of versatile cards in your deck, it’s hard for them to stop you from drawing all of them. This is unlike a deck like Ad Nauseam where it needs to assemble two cards together and that’s it.
The last tip is to not give up. That may sound cliche, but I see too many people scoop when they still have a small percentage to topdeck something. If they have Lantern of Insight and only two artifacts to mill you, you can still possibly draw what you need. On the other hand, don’t stay in a game you cannot win because time can become an issue in other games.
Make sure to check back later this week when I cover Grishoalbrand! Do you have any tips for fighting Lantern? Let me know in the comments!