Modern Horizons releases next weekend, and a lot of players are clamoring to figure out what decks will be good with the injection of fresh cards. Others are trying to figure out how to update the deck they are playing. Truth be told, I find myself on both sides of the fence. Since War of the Spark released, I have been a bit lost in Modern as the set did some real damage to my favorite deck, Grixis Death’s Shadow.

In the wake of that I started looking around, and I believe I have found the answer that fills both criteria. Azorius Control has been putting up great results in the last few weeks, and the playstyle of “big Jund” was something that drew me in. Building on that, I believe that with a number of the new cards in Modern Horizons the deck is poised to get even better!

Control decks are notoriously difficult to build in a new metagame, but one thing we can say with safety is that the format is unlikely to change drastically. Given that, we can use the current format as a model and try to predict some of the new changes when building our deck. This is far from what I would consider gospel as Azorius Control lists go, but instead where I am going to start my testing.

Modern Azorius Control

Creatures (4)
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique

Spells (31)
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Narset, Parter of Veils
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Detention Sphere
Logic Knot
Cryptic Command
Supreme Verdict
Day of Judgment
Wrath of God
Serum Visions
Force of Negation
Archmage’s Charm
Path to Exile
On Thin Ice
Lands (25)
Prismatic Vista
Mystic Gate
Hallowed Fountain
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Flooded Strand
Celestial Colonnade
Blast Zone
Field of Ruin

Sideboard (15)
Celestial Purge
Rest in Peace
Timely Reinforcements
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Spell Pierce
Disdainful Stroke
Vendilion Clique
Surgical Extraction
Dovin’s Veto
Engineered Explosives

So what are the new additions?

Prismatic Vista might seem small, but trust me it goes a long way. Gone are the days of awkwardly drawing Misty Rainforest when you need that white source. I cut the Glacial Fortresses that used to float around in decklists and raised the fetch land count by one. Having Prismatic Vista not only gives us an additional shuffle effect to pair with our Jaces and Narsets, but also another way to find our snow basics for On Thin Ice! In a deck with suspect mana to begin with, this consistency bump is a welcome sight.

One of the most hyped cards in Modern Horizons deserves to make an appearance in the deck.  People are so torn on Force of Negation, but as you can see I like it quite a bit. From defending you against fast combo starts to letting you play offense yourself, this card does a surprising amount.

Control players used to find themselves in a hard spot in the mid game. Deciding whether it was safe to tap out for Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to try and start pulling ahead was a dangerous game. Enter Force of Negation. While it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll untap with your Jace, it does go a long way towards protecting him from your opponent’s spells. It also protects you from dying during the turn you tapped out. This all gets the ball rolling for the control deck much sooner; and when you’re trying to win with Planeswalkers the more turns you have, the better off you are.

Consistency and flexibility are key pillars of the success of Azorius Control. Much like Cryptic Command how has been a mainstay for years, Archmage’s Charm provides a powerful versatile option for the suite of counterspells. The mana cost is on the pricy side and has heavy color requirements, so we can’t go too overboard with putting them in the deck.

Right now two is the correct number until shown otherwise. We get to replace our more situational counterspells like Mana Leak and Spell Pierce, which often lose value going through the mid and late game. Thankfully one of the modes on Archmage’s Charm draws two cards, so it is never truly dead and provides options in situations where being glutted on counterspells isn’t a good thing.

When I saw On Thin Ice previewed, like many people I said, “Oh, a snow version of Chained to the Rocks, that is cool.” That was the extent of my thoughts until I was looking at early builds of this deck and realized that it is a bit short on early removal spells if something slips under your counters. Again, consistency is the name of the game. Oust and Condemn were cards that were played that I wasn’t thrilled with, but registered despite having no better options.

On Thin Ice takes the spot of the fifth and sixth one-mana removal spell at very little cost. Changing the nine basic lands over to snow-covered basics is free, and moving away from Glacial Fortress to add Prismatic Vista may actually improve the deck’s manabase. I am sure it will feel quite good to be able to cast On Thin Ice in the early game instead of Path to Exile to avoid accelerating the opponent.

Rounding things out, we have a small sideboard change: Flusterstorm. I’m hesitant to go overboard with adding these because Modern tends to not have as many instant and sorcery threats as Legacy, but instead more artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers. Splitting one copy each with Spell Pierce in the sideboard is a good place to start to deal with some of the more explosive spell-heavy decks in the format, particularly to beat cards like Pact of Negation out of the combo decks. If the metagame shifts to include more decks like Ad Nauseam and Neoform, expect to see more copies of Flusterstorm make it into the list.

That is all I have for today, and hopefully you enjoyed taking this journey into an unexplored metagame with me. Think I’m wrong on something? Want to talk more about some of my card choices? Just want to tell me you like the list?  Find me on Twitter @RappaciousOne! I’m always happy to talk shop, and always love the feedback!

Michael Rapp is a Boston-area grinder who started playing competitively in 2014. Loves Modern but plays everything. His favorite card is Thoughtseize has a soft spot for Tarmogoyf. GP Toronto 2019 Champion. Always happy to answer questions or just chat on Twitter or Facebook.

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