The Ideal Deck: Enduring Ideal in Modern

The B&R announcements are some of the most intense moments of the year for serious Magic players. The early ‘spoiler’ that Ensnaring Bridge was going to face the ban hammer was fake, naturally. Still, Lantern players may look elsewhere for a lock deck, now that Jace and Bloodbraid are free. We’re going to look at one potent Standard lock deck and see if it can be successfully ported into Modern. After all, what's the point of controlling their top decks if they are just going to brainstorm.

Ironically, those hating on Lantern Control have probably gotten their wish. With the unbanning of Bloodbraid Elf, Jund decks will undoubtedly be on the rise moving forward, meaning more artifact hate… fun times! But, we’re not here to lament or to laud Lantern Control, but instead to cast our eye to what might be another option for those nitty Codex-loving Bridge fanboys and girls… Enduring Ideal!

Enduring Ideal

Enduring Ideal was one of the most exciting Standard decks. Once upon a time. This 7-mana sorcery allowed Standard players to become dragons, while completely locking their opponent out of the game. Silver bullet sideboards were all the rage during the age of the Wish cycle and toolbox main decks were par for the course when Ideal came onto the scene. Zur’s Weirding, Debtor’s Knell, Dovescape, and Form of the Dragon all did utterly wonderful things when in play, and stacked to create an intricate web of triggers and effects that amazed and confounded. It’s something we saw just recently at GP Lyon, with Niklas Kronberger’s Jeskai deck running a playset of Glittering Wish in order to fetch up any of the 11 toolbox cards packed into his sideboard. We’re also seeing it right now, with Mastermind’s Acquisition acting in the current Standard meta much in the same manner.

But, enough reminiscing, What could an Enduring Ideal list look like in 2018? There have certainly been additional enchantments made available in recent years, like the Theros gods, or some of the insanely overpowered limited bombs from Amonkhet. Let's break some of them down and cram some in as part of an exciting new toolbox, but first, we must establish a stable shell!

4 Enduring Ideal -  obviously.
4 Leyline of Sanctity - given that they’re potentially ‘free’, these give us early protection against 90% of the format, either burn or hand disruption.
4 Nyx-Fleece Ram - yes, they’re vulnerable to the traditional Modern removal suite, but Path to Exile is almost welcome here, meaning we’re only reasonably worried about Fatal Push.
2 Form of the Dragon- (our nominal win-condition.
4 Ghostly Prison - we’re going to be light on creature protection.

Here we have the basic must-haves for any Ideal build. We’ll jump ahead briefly to the mana base.

4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx - we’re going to want to have some chance of ramping to seven.
3 Temple of Triumph - filtering draws, and providing Red if we need to hard cast the Form.
3 Mistveil Plains - they help us to recover key parts which might have been countered, or which we’ve had to discard over the course of the game.
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All - Enduring Ideal needs to be safe!
3 Arid Mesa - with 14 targets for fetching, these should never be a dead draw when it matters.
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Steam Vents
9 Plains

So that’s 26 lands, and 18 slots from 34 already taken. 16 to go.

4 Runed Halo - in addition to being a WW spell, Modern decks often have multiple threats you need to navigate.
1 Sphere of Safety - this *is* an enchantment deck after all.
1 Dovescape - spells in Modern tend to be 1, 2, or 3 CMC, so again, the sheep should be able to assuage the damage from an aerial assault.
2 Phyrexian Unlife - works wonderfully with Form of the Dragon!
1 Overwhelming Splendor - those 1/1s from Dovescape don’t work so well vs sheep and Dragon Moat.
3 Suppression Field
2 Luminarch Ascension - once there’s a prison lock in place, this triggers every turn.
1 Oblivion Ring

That’s 16, and brings us to 59 cards in total… the final card is what the Steam Vents is for.

1 Keranos, God of Storms

Keranos

Keranos deserves more than a few words tucked into some brackets. He will never be a creature here. At best there’s 5 devotion available (Keranos + Dovescape), so he won’t be hit by Path to Exile at any point in time. We’re never worried about drawing too many cards, since Mistveil Plains can put them back in our library should we get to our End Step with 8 or more in our grip. He’s always a 5 CMC spell when facing Thalia, since he’s a creature on the stack, and if he’s not drawing cards for us, he’s pinging away at our opponent, or at their own creatures if need be. Keranos should be in every deck.

As for sideboard options, as per usual we’re faced with a massive amount of options.

Ensnaring Bridge
Stony Silence
Porphyry Nodes
Greater Auramancy
Privileged Position
Rest in Peace
Solemnity

and of course, additional copies of whatever you have in your 60. Should there be a Nahiri in here too? For filtering draws? That’s what testing is for! Here is the list that I decoded to test against a range of different matchups that I'll discuss below:

How it Plays Out

They say the proof is in the pudding and no deck can survive a format if it fares poorly against the accepted meta, so let's look at a few relevant matchups for the deck and discuss how it plays out.  

Against Tron - the deck has decent game – Tron is of course a ramp deck, and ramping takes time, time you can utilise wisely. Early Runed Halos allow you to shut down the normal maindeck hosers, such as Karn Liberated or Ugin the Spirit Dragon. Post board you’re looking to shut down Engineered Explosives before it ever hits play, which is where perhaps we’d like to have access to Nevermore. You’re not really worried about Chalice of the Void, as your deck is a mix of 2, 3 and 4 drops, and once you’ve casting Enduring Ideal you’re able to bypass Chalice, and sneak your enchantments into play (if an opponent has managed to get a Chalice down for 7, then you deserve to lose). Since Tron is one of the top decks in Modern right now, this is a good sign for our build.

Jund is more creature based, which can be stymied with the Prison cards in the deck, and Runed Halo can be a nightmare when your deck is essentially playsets of ‘Goyf, Bob, Scooze, and BBEs… You just need to worry about Abrupt Decay, but by the same token your opponent needs to have it ready to go. Post board, Jund usually has access to additional hand disruption, and this of course will cause problems. However, in terms of removing enchantments, very little. Ancient Grudge is everywhere, because you need to stop Affinity… but enchantments and artifacts are chalk and cheese when it comes down to the removal suite on offer.

Infect is one of those decks that can win out of nowhere. Often you’ll need to wait on seeing the opposing 1 drop before jamming your Runed Halo, at which point it might be too late. Porphyry Nodes comes out of the board here, since it’s non-targeting removal, ideal for dealing with pesky hexproof critters. Of course, Solemnity is a must here, and if you can get it to stick, you’re in great position. Dromoka’s Command hasn’t been seen much since it was in Standard, but it may be that Infect will have some in their 15, so watch out.

If you decide to run this (or a similar list) at your LGS, or even at a GP, do take some pictures and let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

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