Friday 9 February 2018

Lantern Control .dec

Lantern of InsightOne of my favourite things to do in MtG is translate interesting and powerful decks from constructed formats into builds that resemble cube decks. The most recent modern Pro Tour provided a wealth of options to emulate but this is the one I am most excited about. I love a prison deck, my first ever "innovation" was a Zuran Orb plus Zur's Weirding combo prison deck. It wasn't great but nor was it really innovation what with the cards being linked by name! Despite this I have fond memories of the deck and feel it set me on a path in magic. Lantern Control does a similar thing to my 1995 "type two deck" and so I am keen to play it and get all those lovely nostalgia feels. Lantern Control is also a decent deck and so I might be able to enjoy that nostalgia without getting smashed at the same time!

As ever is the case when translating decks to cube formats redundancy is the main issue. Decks like Eldrazi Tron simply don't have enough of the cards that make it good to pad out a singleton 40 card deck and have any semblance of the power of the original. Some decks get better, usually those that are modern or standard and get a huge influx of older cards that support their theme well. What came as a bit of a surprise is that there is no redundancy for Lantern of Insight. Cube being a slower format than most means you can usually afford to pack some weaker forms of redundancy and not have it ruin the plan. As far as I could tell, no other card in magic offers an ongoing permanent reveal on the opponents top of library. A few cards activate to have a look but typically these are prohibitively expensive or vulnerable. I would happily play a three mana Lantern in this deck to have the backup copy but I don't have that option. As such I have to ensure I can find and protect/recur the one copy of Lantern I do have.

Zur's WeirdingDue to the nature of cube there is somewhat more variance in games. Even in an extremely diverse format like modern you can know fairly well what cards to expect and which cards are a threat. Cube has more exotic cards you are unlikely to face in constructed formats and archetypes have far less rigid borders. That is going to make life harder for this kind of lock deck from the outset. You can typically disassemble a constructed decks plan with fewer bits of disruption than you can against a cube deck. I found while designing this list that I was concerned about more things slipping through the cracks and wanted a wider range of answers in the main. I felt that lifegain and graveyard hate would be valuable tools. Zuran Orb felt like a great fit for the lifegain role and so a backup plan involving the Weirding seemed like it might be OK. Somewhere between Weirding and Lantern there is also Wand of Denial. It isn't great but it is the closest thing on offer to the general game plan of this deck. I suspect I will ultimately cut a lot of these more exotic backup cards and focus on the single Lantern I am able to run. Solid support cards just feel like they are the best way to go as this deck has so many options on playables.

Below is the list I plan to test out first. I suspect refinements will involve more draw and dig cards and less of the fluff! I have included below the deck a list of the many cards that might be of interest when it comes to said refinements.

Thoughtseize25 Spells

Zuran Orb
Mishra's Bauble
Mox Opal
Engineered Explosives

Inquisition of Kozilek
Cabal Therapy
Gitaxian Probe

Codex Shredder
Pyxis of Pandemonium
Ghoulcaller's Bell
Lantern of Insight
Codex ShredderPithing Needle
Relic of Progenitus

Sorcerous Spyglass
Phyrexian Spellskite
Wand of Denial*
Collective Brutality
Artificier's Intuition*

Ensnaring Bridge
Trinket Mage

Whir of Invention*

Zur's Weirding*

Ensnaring Bridge
15 Lands

Tolaria West
Drownyard Temple
Academy Ruins
Inventor's Fair

Spire of Industry
Seat of the Synod
Vault of Whispers

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Underground Sea
Watery Grave
Darkslick Shores
Inventors' Fair
Underground River
Sunken Ruins

Other Good Support Cards

Chromatic Star
Vampiric Tutor* etc
Darksteel Citadel
Tezzeret the Seeker
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Orcish Spy
Elemental Augury
Pyrite Spellbomb
Conjorer's Bauble
Welding Jar
Ancient Stirrings
Abrupt Decay
Witchbane Orb
Glint Nest Crane
Baleful Strix
Thirst for Knowledge

Whir of InventionNot entirely sure where to start! There are plenty of reasons behind the various design choices in this list but as it is a pre-testing list it is probably not worth going into them too heavily as much might change with a little light shed on things. I think the Whir of Invention is probably for the cut. The triple blue is onerous on the mana base and Tinker or more general black Tutor effects seem quicker and more reliable. While easier to cast both Artificer's Intuition and Trinket Mage are also three mana to find something and so all in all Vampiric is looking highly appealing! With an already pushed mana base I didn't see the need to add in green to the cube list as it only has a couple of cards you want and you can find perfectly acceptable replacements for them. I have put an * by the maindeck cards I anticipate not surviving the initial test and on a few of the not included options I most want to have main.

There will be some cascade changes potential should the Weirding not cut it. While I still like the Zuran Orb addition I don't think you will need the support of the cute lands. Tolaria West has some cool utility getting most things from most places via Academy Ruins and Inventor's Fair however that is all mentally slow. Tolaria was there more to find the Drownyard Temple or Zuran Orb and secure the Weirding lock with them in concert. All very cute and far fetched. Probably not something you can run with the Whir as I have tried in this list. It is not clearly evident which, if either, is the more worthy inclusion.

Despite the single Lantern this deck has a lot of ways to find, protect and recur it so I am not too worried on that front. I am more concerned about random cards just shutting you down without you having easy outs to them. This deck is all about information and knowing what to do with it and I think that makes it incredibly cool. Massive congratulations to Luis Salvatto for his expert piloting of it at the recent PT RIX. This deck looks a lot better than expected in cube form and I greatly look forward to playing around with it. As with all prison decks however, I imagine my opponents will be less enthusiastic to be part of my testing process!


  1. Hey Nick, big fan of your content!
    I know this article's been up for a long time, but there's another Lantern effect used in Legacy: Field of Dreams, from Legends.
    Keep it up with the amazing work!

  2. Yeah, I found that one after doing the article. Sadly the price tag on the card is pretty extreme. Especially for such a narrow effect that has so few places to use it. Shame as the card looks lovely. Thanks for the props!