After a brief hiatus last week with a Pack Rat Blood Moon style of deck, I’m back to trying out Search for Azcanta in every home imaginable. This week, I’m giving Jeskai Burn and Jeskai Control a bit of a fusion, and seeing if they can meet in the middle with a Search for Azcanta win condition.
I looked over many lists for this week. I was planning on originally doing Esper Azcanta, but found I needed quite a bit more time for that. With Jeskai, I knew the suite of spells I wanted, but was looking for some foundational knowledge from other deck builders. After looking at about 50 Jeskai decks in the last couple of months, I ended up in a place that was much closer to Jeskai Burn than a Jeskai Geist or a Jeskai Control deck.
The Grixis deck I piloted a few weeks ago was reliant on Search for Azcanta with a suite of 1-ofs that were good to find in a variety of matchups. I still think that there are shells that exist where Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin is the true control engine with 1-2 cards in the deck to find/dig up that can win the game (or potentially recycle the graveyard). This week, we’re not going that deep on Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, but continuing down the value train with the card. Before I start getting into specifics, let me show off the list:
Jeskai Azcanta Burn
So, while this deck might look somewhat “stock” for a Jeskai Azcanta list, I think there are a number of different elements here to discuss. First off, in the main deck, I have a slew of singletons. These keep your opponents off balance in terms of what cards they need to be prepared to fight. It’s difficult as a Company, Merfolk, or Humans player to anticipate which suite of Jeskai cards you’ll be showing up with. When you have a single copy of each, you can use the looting, card drawing, scrying, and Azcanta to dig for the specific piece you’re looking for in the required matchup. I highly recommend this style of building when you’re constructing a deck to fight a diverse field, like in Modern. If you cannot choose cards that are universally good against the field, single copies of haymaker cards to swing the matchups are really important.
In this list, I’m trying out a copy of Torrential Gearhulk. It’s a card that many people have wanted me to try out more in Grixis Control. I think this card lends itself better to Jeskai, U/W, and Esper control decks for a few reasons. The most obvious is the increased land count. U/W control decks tend to have 24-25 lands. Jeskai Control tends to play 23-25 lands. Esper Control can play anywhere from 21-25, but the builds that will want Gearhulk tend to have a few extra, neighboring on 24. This allows these decks, when they draw the Gearhulk, to prioritize staying alive and to make land drops with those extra library manipulation effects. The second reason is that white tends to have more spells that are generically useful. Effects like Lightning Helix, Glimmer of Genius, and Anguished Unmaking are good at most points in the game. Thus, having a Gearhulk that gives you an enormous effect and fires off one of these powerful effects is potent when they’re less time sensitive than many other cards out of other control shell combos.
Secure the Wastes is probably my favorite card to play with in this deck. I’ve always been a sucker for cards that make plenty of tokens (I want Thopter Foundry to be good, so badly), and Secure the Wastes does it in exactly the control shell way that Modern needs. It is masked well by the other instant-speed effects you have—Settle the Wreckage, Cryptic Command, Torrential Gearhulk—and they all help to hide the fact that at end of turn you can make 5+ Soldiers and crack back at the opponent. It has some added benefits in that it’s highly resistant to removal. One other facet of the control decks in Modern is that they’re usually resistant to removal, especially main deck, and that’s why you don’t see me playing cards like Vendilion Clique or Spell Queller very often in these style of decks. I don’t want any of my preboard threats to die to common removal spells like Abrupt Decay, Fatal Push, or Lightning Bolt if I can help it. Secure the Wastes falls into this category as making a slew of tokens really punishes opposing removal spells, and doesn’t usually get taxed until after sideboard by something like Izzet Staticaster or Orzhov Pontiff.
In the sideboard, I’m trying out a bunch of cards I wouldn’t usually play, mostly getting a feel for different ideas. I saw Runed Halo in a few different lists online. It seemed primed to fight things like Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Conflagrate, and Codex Shredder, but I’m skeptical of my ability to find all of its uses without a bit more time. I absolutely love playing with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, but seldom do anymore given that she’s rotated out of Standard. The once litmus test of the end game of the format is now a sideboard card mostly meant for large creature decks like Eldrazi Tron, Abzan, Jund, and Shadow variants.
I feel I make this rant fairly often, but I’ll go on it once more with Relic of Progenitus. I’m skeptical of this card in a control deck trying to use the graveyard with 9 different cards in its deck (2 Logic Knots, 1 Torrential Gearhulk, 4 Snapcaster Mages, and 2 Search for Azcanta). You need to use the front half of Relic of Progenitus to its fullest early on in the game as you don’t want to crack the Relic and weaken the portion of your deck that leverages your powerful late-game options. That being said, Relic is usually fairly weak against many of the graveyard decks with the front half of Relic. It’s a tax they have to work through, but seldom does it shut these decks down. Unless you’re cracking the Relic and exiling all graveyards, I think Relic falls a bit short, and while it’s also going to be affecting me, it’s another thing I want to keep track of. I think this style of deck would benefit more from a card like Surgical Extraction and for similar reasons, I don’t want to be playing with Rest in Peace because I really want my graveyard around to be successful.
I’ll run this through a League on Magic Online later this week. There are some potential issues this deck could face, like a lack of land destruction, and a weak matchup to Dredge, but overall, this deck will do a great job at smashing many of the other fair decks in the metagame and especially the creature-based strategies!