This week I bring you the Cruel Control decklist that I ran the week before the SCG Worcester Legacy Open. Cruel Control is a random deck in Modern that occasionally appears in the top eight, featuring one or two copies of Cruel Ultimatum as your late game bombshell that will usually put you in a dominant position to close the game.

While the original list was different, this is my updated take on what Legacy Cruel Control would look like:

Cruel Control

Lands (23)
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island

Creatures (5)
Fulminator Mage
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (32)
Accumulated Knowledge
Cruel Ultimatum
Fatal Push
Force of Will
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Pyromancer Ascension
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Sideboard (15)
Baleful Strix
Surgical Extraction
Toxic Deluge
True-Name Nemesis
Umezawa’s Jitte

Heading into SCG Worcester I was playing a lot of Togless, which didn’t go so well, but the last Legacy event at my LGS before the tournament I decided to unwind and play something a bit more fun. After a brief poll on Twitter the votes were in and I was going to take Cruel Control for a night out on the town.

Some of the benefits in porting this archetype over to Legacy are:
1.) More efficient card selection in the form of Brainstorm, Ponder and Accumulated Knowledge.
2.) Better counter magic including “free spells” like Force of Will which allow us to tap out and still protect ourselves.
3.) Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
4.) More freedom fetching lands against aggro decks since we don’t have to run shock lands.


Fulminator Mage was in the list originally, later to be cut for additional lands. While Fulminator Mage on its own is not enough to really break our opponent’s mana, when combined with Kolaghan’s Command it provides enough of a pinch to leverage cards like Spell Pierce throughout the game.

Snapcaster Mage should be no surprise in a control shell. Taking two or three copies of a card and essentially adding copies from flashback allows for a decent amount of card advantage and in some games where trading one-for-one just won’t get there, Mage can turn the corner getting aggressive while flashing back burn spells or Cruel Ultimatums.

Image result for Fulminator mage


Lightning Bolt is a pretty efficient answer to many creatures while providing us with some reach to finish a game off or keep opposing planeswalkers in check.

Fatal Push is the one-mana answer to cards like Tarmogoyf, Delver of Secrets and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. While we also have Lightning Bolt for many of the early threats our opponent may present, Fatal Push will kill some of the bigger threats that Lightning Bolt may not answer.

Kolaghan’s Command does double duty at rebuying our dead creatures and providing a clean answer in the main deck to Batterskull or Aether Vial, which are problem permanents for this deck.


Jace. the Mind Sculptor is all we need for card selection we need while allowing us to close a game out quicker than our creatures can deal damage.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance offers versatility. She kills creatures, ramps into a turn five Cruel Ultimatum, and gives a little extra card draw or damage as needed. Her ultimate, should you choose to accept it, is basically Tendrils of Agony.


The Sideboard here allows us to attack combo decks with additional countermagic like Flusterstorm while being a bit more resilient against graveyard synergies using Surgical Extraction so we hopefully don’t just lose to decks like BR Reanimator.

Alternatively for the fair matchups like Death and Taxes and Delver, we can become similar to Four Color Control, exchanging some countermagic for True-Name Nemesis, Baleful Strix, and Umezawa’s Jitte while having access to Toxic Deluge for when our opponent can get ahead of us on board.

Initial Thoughts

While my first outing for the deck went poorly, I felt the deck with some refining could easily have legs in this new Legacy metagame minus Miracles. While I don’t believe that would have been a poor matchup, we have to consider that the metagame will be much different without Legacy’s premier control deck.

Reflecting on the matches that I had I will say that without much for lifegain, Burn seems like a tough match without a fast clock. We really rely on Cruel Ultimatum to gain some life and close the game.

Against UR Landstill I had some rough draws and poor variance while Standstill was very difficult to beat if I couldn’t stop it on the stack. Otherwise the match up seemed fine as Wasteland didn’t seem all that impressive against me and I could play around Stifle fairly easily.

When running against the Miracle of Science (Omniscience/Show and Tell with Counterbalance/Sensei’s Divining Top) my opponent found it tough to resolve spells, which did not matter in the end once the Kjeldoran Outpost tech proved to be too good for me to keep up with. Fulminator Mage came back easily once I realized having some answer to utility lands was necessary.

Variance really hit me when I was playing against Food Chain and while I was able to steal a game, not having an efficient way to answer Food Chain or Misthollow Griffin proved really tough. This is potentially an area where something like Slaughter Games could prove useful.

Another interesting new option to try in the deck is the new spell from Amonkhet Pull from Tomorrow which allows for a great late game card advantage spell that can really get us ahead in a longer grindy game.

Image result for Pull from Tomorrow

Happy brewing to each and every one of you. If anyone has an idea for a brew that they would like to see, I will gladly take requests and challenges on twitter or in email at [email protected].

Aaron Gazzaniga works part time at a game store and in his off time has been an avid magic player/brewer since 2003. Having begun in Odyssey Standard Block and always favoring control and prison style decks, we come to this moment in time where Aaron finally gets to talk about and share his ideas. If you want to contact Aaron tweet @aarongazzaniga

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