#TwitterBuildsModern Episode One: Prison Break!


When building a deck with a clear win-condition in mind, it's important to look at the ways that this can be achieved. When that win-condition will take far more turns than is usual in the format, then we need to look at ways to give us that time! Let's build a pillow fort with Maze's End!

We have one advantage, if you want to consider it such, and that's that we have full access to all five colors. While the core of our starting composition will need to have some amount of cohesive homogeneity, there will be room for any number of quirky, hitherto-unconsidered jank cards, and that's before we get to the sideboard.

To Swing or Not to Swing?

Not every prison deck chooses to forego a creature base. We certainly have the option of using creatures to assist in advancing our board, and when it comes to the need to ramp non-basics, chief amongst the usual suspects are Azusa, Lost But Seeking and Courser of Kruphix. The former rewards us for having access to more cards in hand, while the latter allows us the possibility of keeping a full grip whilst making much needed land drops.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking Courser of Kruphix

Should we opt for creatures then we're losing slots that might be better served in our desire to dig a Moat, and ultimately this leads more towards the Maze's End deck that was seen in Standard. Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif took one such deck to Pro Tour Magic 2015, held at the end of 2014.

In this instance, the deck's goal is to buy as much time as possible with multiple Fog effects, recurring them when needed, gaining life and drawing cards until such time as you win, or lose. It varied drastically from what was being played commonly at the time, in that it ran no sweepers, Supreme Verdict and Merciless Eviction being the norm, and there was a notable lack of Planeswalkers, namely Kiora, the Crashing Wave. The presence of the walls in the deck did double (and triple) duty, acting as ramp, card draw (when sacrificed to Wall of Mulch), and pseudo-fogs when thrown under the bus.

When creatures are present, opposing creature removal is turned on. "Dies to removal" might be the meme-level criticism whenever any new monster is spoiled with the advent of a new set, but stranding cards in your opponent's hand, presenting them with dead draws, and giving them a sideboarding conundrum is an advantage that few decks can claim to have.

We *might* revisit some aspect of this at a later stage in 2019…

Colorful or Colorless?

Lantern Control is a work of art. Let's be very clear on that. Like a film noir setting, every single play is designed to stymie opposing plans and to create as much confusion imaginable. All of these seemingly minor parts, merging into one, glorious story, and at the end, Piotr Głogowski gets the girl.

Piotr Glogowski, 8th place, GP Birmingham 2017

Sometimes a Blue-tinged deck, using Academy Ruins to recur any key pieces that find their way to the graveyard, or Green (Ancient Stirrings, duh!), it has since morphed into a clean Sultai variant, taking advantage of the utility of Assassin's Trophy and Unmoored Ego, not to mention the suite of graveyard hate that was a necessity until recently because of KCI.

In the above list, Piotr is able to crank out White and Red cards from the sideboard, if needed. Magus of the Moon is preferred to Blood Moon since a lot of artifact hate also hits enchantments.

This shell isn't something we can use, not for the purposes of Maze's End, but it's important to appreciate beauty when one can. You can read some of Piotr's thoughts, here.

The Polish MPL player has since moved on to Lanternless, ummm, Lantern Control, which uses Ensnaring Bridge and Bottled Cloister to ensure you can only be attacked by Noble Hierarch, and which then loops Ipnu Rivulet through Crucible of Worlds as the win-condition. Breath-taking!

Ipnu Rivulet Crucible of Worlds
Magic, as Richard Garfield intended.

Skip to the End

Time to wrap this up, and by that, I mean time to durdle this out until Turn 15 at least. Magic isn't Magic unless you're draining your opponent of the will to live.

Ensnaring Bridge gets benched for this one. We need to hit our land drops as regularly as possible and have enough redundancy in the deck to be able to play around the typical disruption Modern has in abundance. We also have to run a very light Gate complement, so that we're not having difficulty making plays.

This could be a Form of the Dragon build, we're going to have Red Gates after all.

10 Guildgates
2 Maze's End
2 Mistveil Plains
3 Glacial Fortress
2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
6 Plains

The manabase is reasonable straightforward. 10 Gates, which will provide 4 of any one color, allowing us to hard cast anything in the deck. Traditional Form of the Dragon versions would usually only run 2-3 Red sources, preferring instead to use Enduring Ideal to sneak Scourge's Moat into play. 

With 14 of the 25 lands coming into play tapped, we're going to use Amulet of Vigor to get immediate access to these cards. The rest of the deck is all about gumming up the board as best as possible.

3 Amulet of Vigor
3 Runed Halo
3 Enduring Ideal
3 Phyrexian Unlife
3 Suppression Field
2 Form of the Dragon
3 Sphere of Safety
4 Ghostly Prison
3 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Detention Sphere
3 Porphyry Nodes
2 Guild Summit
1 Dovescape

All but 7 of the 35 other cards are White, giving us plenty of mana through Shrine. Under Enduring Ideal we're still able to make land drops, and one of RNA's MVPs, Guild Summit allows us to keep our hand full at all times. With Mistveil Plains we needn't worry about drawing a card we'd rather keep in our library, as we can simply discard end of turn, and then pop it back in before our upkeep. We can also be sure of seeing Field of Ruin in play, and we need ways to recur our much-needed Gates.

Guild Summit

Prison decks are sturdy constructions mid to late game, and the Leylines and Nodes help keep things in hand until we're ready to spread our (Dragon's) wings and take over.

The sideboard plan is a bit funkier. We can be assured of running into graveyard hate, and we might need to win from behind our big wall.

2 Crackling Perimeter
2 Debtor's Knell
3 Stony Silence
3 Gates Ablaze
2 Rule of Law
2 Starfield of Nyx
1 Assemble the Legion

Several of these cards are self-explanatory. Starfield helps us flip the switch and go super aggro out of nowhere, while Rule of Law and Stony Silence help against decks like Infect and Affinity. Gates Ablaze is a faster Wrath effect, although Supreme Verdict and classic Wrath of God are fine replacements too. Debtor's Knell is there to handle late-firing Reanimator decks, or to prevent decks which recur creatures for ETB effects. Assemble is there to build a critical mass of Soldiers in case creatures are needed.

Gates Ablaze Assemble the Legion

Crackling Perimeter is what stands out here. From an early point in the game this card allows us to sit back and watch as our opponent dies 1 ping at a time. Even if we're facing Field of Ruin and a string of Surgical Extractions, this should pull the game out for us.

Crackling Perimeter Death of a Thousand Stings

The list as built is here, so feel free to muck about with it, and hit me up on Twitter to suggest tweaks, alterations, maybe some Enchantments I've not considered. Until next time!

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