So this is a Chapin recommendation from the Grixis 'Control' first appearance. His thoughts were that you play something like a Tasigur, the Golden Fang which can deal with all the creatures the Burn deck plays, and then you play a bunch of Dispels. I've quite liked that myself and they obviosuly have relevance in other MUs.
Additionally, following some Jeff Hoogland advice I never leave home without a Flashfreeze in my board. Its pretty decent vs Burn as just a 2cmc unconditional counter, and then it does work in a variety of other MUs as well.
Finally there is Vampiric Link which is basically intended to answer Eidolon of the Great Revel. I'm not a huge fan of this as its at its best when you are a more proactive deck so that you can also stick it on your own creatures and it doesn't have the spread of the other cards I mentioned.
Hey everyone, I am the pilot of that Cruel Control list. I have continued to work and tweak it ever since picking up the deck. Feel free to ask any questions regarding the list or the event. Best of luck my fellow Bolas disciples!
Ancestral vision rewards surviving early or dumping out your hand early, basically it served as a refill in the mid-late portion of the game. I found that after the first two turns suspending an ancestral vision felt weak, obviously the late game topdeck ones were just brutal. Serum visions allowed me to proactively set up for cruel ultimatum by either finding early lands, or setting up my next draws to be action. I can't tell you how many times I have bottomed 2 lands and won because I didn't draw them. IMO ancestral vision is a stronger card (when its good its great) but serum visions is a more skill intensive card that if you can abuse properly will end up rewarding you.
The counter suite was fine and designed to be very diverse.
No card particularly overpreformed or underperformed. I had tested this list to be the best to bring to an open field. The numbers of each card in the deck was done through hours of testing and seeing which cards I wanted to see and when.
I had posted up a report on the modern subreddit in case anyone's still curious.
Originally it was two anger of the gods in the sideboard to shore up my aggro matchup and deal with annoying cards like kitchen finks and voice of resurgence. However when flaying tendrils was spoiled I knew it had a place as it was easier to cast under my mana base. There are also some situations where flaying tendrils is better than anger of the gods, for example: master of the waves. This 1-1 split hedges my bets and gives the deck a more well rounded feel.
The 1-1-1 split on the threat package was because to diverse my threat pool as each win condition is better in a different matchup. Vendilion clique for control/combo, kalitas for aggro (lifelink and value with kill spells), tasigur for midrange (activate ability when both players are in topdeck mode wins). Another kalitas is in the side because it happens to hose kiki chord and abzan company.
I play 24 lands because that is the minimum number of lands I needed. I wanted to be as card dense as possible trading away cute one ofs for consistency. 24 lands was tested to have given me 7 lands by turn 7 but not flood me out late game.
The inquisitions felt fine. Some cards counterspells just don't hit too effectively and kill spells don't hit profitably and thus discard is a really cheap, interactive way to deal with them. Information is also always a plus for control.
Keranos is a card that I want to love but can't, I've lost and won plenty of games against a keranos because he's just to random. Sometimes your deck is stacked nicely and sometimes its stack poorly. I would rather have a card that either digs me out of a bad spot or puts me in a good one (these two things are not one and the same) and Keranos just does both but poorly.
Invasive surgery as a way to beat ancestral vision and other suspend cards did exactly that. Felt fine as a one of.
Countersquall is definitely better than negate if your mana is set up for both. 2 dmg is very real when racing with tar pits and flashing it back makes it 4.
Dreadbore and rending volley were sideboard removal that I bought in to deal with certain cards that lightning bolt doesn't interact with profitably. Planeswalkers, loxadon smiter, angels, kira, the great glass spinner and thing in the ice are cards that usually need two bolts to deal with. Having more flexible removal is just nice.
I can't answer all of this but you play Serum Visions as a card selection tool. The ability to smooth ones draws allows a control deck to find the right answers at the right time, also allowing more control over mana flood/skrew. If you look at control decks in legacy and vintage they all play ponders and preordains (not to mention Brainstorm!) All of which are basically just ways to improve your card quality. Serum visions obviously isn't as good as any of those cards but it does an admirable job regardless.
My response would be that Serum Visions doesn't have to be a turn 1 or 2 play. If you don't have counter magic in hand then its a good use of your manager, and its a fine card to play on any turn where you can spare 1 blue mana. You have to time it right but then that's true for every card you will ever play in this deck
As far as Serum Visions is concerned, I used to be on the fence about it as well, but of all the topdecks in a grindy match, Serum Visions is one of the best ones. Sure, it's not as strong as a turn 2 Spell Snare, but it can still mana fix in the early game, and it's far superior in the late game.
Went 3-1 today (flooded twice in game 1 vs Abzan, crushed a UR brew, UW tron, and Jeskai control), and my MVPs were Tasigur (mainboard) and Suffer the Past (sideboard). I playtested Ob Nixilis, but he was often the first thing I boarded out. Mostly it felt like a 5-mana kill spell plus a fog. Counter magic felt really strong, so I'm debating between playtesting him further and switching to either another Mana Leak or a Kalitas. Has anyone played extensively with Kalitas? And if so, how long does he last, and how helpful has he been?
Kalitas definitely did work in game #1 there. Definitely worth some playtesting. Makes me wish I didn't trade mine away so quickly.
I only run one Suffer and I keep it in my sideboard. It's generally only good in the midgame against decks with stacked graveyards. It's flexible enough to cut off things with flashback, while also messing with Snapcasters and Scoozes, and the life drain is wonderful. I used to run two last year, but that was way too many, especially considering that casting it once effectively neuters a second cast, and it often felt clunky.
There are a couple Blood Moon decks in my meta that can be kind of rough. I'm wondering if anyone still runs Batterskull to help with Blood Moon and/or aggro?
A couple of little bits of feedback on your list Jonny
1) I don't think you need to have 4 spot removal spells. Most people only play 3/4
2) I'd switch up your counter-magic suite, spell snare is good but not that great, and Rune Snag doesn't play that well with snappy, I'd add some Remands/Mana Leak instead.
3) I think Thoughtsieze is worse than IoK in the main just because the lifeloss is real vs aggro decks as we aren't very proactive.
4) I would add a main deck sweeper, at least 1, possibly 2
5) Remorseless Punishment is not a great card. I know it looks a bit like Ultimatum but the choice really kills it. You'll never be happy bringing it in
6) I'm not sold on Batterskull in the meta. Too much artifact removal and x/5s for it to really shine. I would play Tasigur instead.
I don't think you'd kick yourself for taking out Murderous Cut and either Dismember or a Terminate. Maindeck Kolaghan's Command instead, as it represents a bit of burn, gets nasty with Snapcaster, and frequently 2-for-1s your opponent. I also think you'd be happier cutting a copy of Cruel Ultimatum. It's a fun card to play, but it'll just clog up your hand in the early game, and even in the late game you have to be careful about when you cast it. I agree that Spell Snare is a bit much as a 3-of. I run two and I've never wanted a third, and it's the first thing I board out against almost a third of the decks I play against.
Per your initial 2 questions about why Cruel Ultimatum and why not Kalitas, here might be my answers:
1. Like the primer indicates, this deck doesn't really have an edge over regular Grixis. It's clunkier, more mana intensive, more reactive, and closes out most games with Snapcasters and Lightning Bolts instead of big threats. However, it plays Cruel Ultimatum, which is very, very satisfying. Also, not many people see it coming, so it gives you a slight advantage there.
2. Not many people run Kalitas for a few reasons. First, the card is relatively new, and because there are so few Cruel Ultimatum players, not many people have tested it. Second, the deck often relies on being reactive instead of proactive, so tapping out for Kalitas on turn 4 often feels like running him right into all their otherwise-useless removal, whereas tapping for Tasigur on turn 4 often leaves up mana for a Mana Leak or Remand. I think when more players test him out and get an idea of when it's safe to drop him, we'll see more of him.
Has anyone thought about Sowing Salt in the sideboard?
Jonny, as far as Remand goes, there are times in the late game when it feels like a dead draw. However, in the first 4-8 turns of the game, it feels like a free time walk. If my opponent taps out for a Liliana, I'll happily Remand while holding a Mana Leak, because it means a dead turn for them and I get to keep my hand full. Even in the mid-late game, Remand often draws another Remand or Mana Leak (or something even more useful), which is nice.
My point is that this deck can get very starved for cards in the midgame, unlike other control decks. Anything that gives tempo and/or cantrips (Remand does both) sets us up for a very comfortable mid-late game. I've always run 3-4 Remand and have never sided it out because unlike Mana Leak (which I keep comparing it to), the cantrip keeps it from ever being a dead draw in the mid-late game.
Oh dag, Manatee. Good call! I think I'll order one now, unless I have one in my many piles of random draft cards.
Thanks for restarting this primer, Lil Bolas. I've been playing some form of this Cruel Control deck for two years now. A couple friends and I challenged each other to make $100 modern decks and see who came out on top. My version came in at $50 and stomped theirs. I've been in love ever since.
Granted, my deck probably clocks in around $1,000 now, but like, whatever.
Hello all, long time lurker, first time really posting. I've long adored playing Cruel Control and was thinking about bringing it to a major tournament finally in the form of Grand Prix Charlotte. That being said, as of lately, I've felt that my deck and sideboard were...inadequate. Dismayed, I put it down for a while and focused on some other things, but now I really want to pick it back up and prepare it for the upcoming tournament. Please, give me some thoughts and suggestions and questions about what you think of the deck, what I should consider to make it more competitive and yeah. Thanks a bundle.