pie chart

A Beginner's Guide to Lantern Control

Modern Artifact Combo Control Mill



Instant (2)

Sorcery (1)


Welcome all! Thanks for clicking on this deck and choosing to learn a little about the archetype that is Lantern Control. Below I will do a systematic breakdown of the components of the deck and some playing choices players might face when playing this deck. My goal is for you to learn about the applications of each card in the Lantern Control archetype and why this strategy can be so powerful when piloted effectively.

Thank you and happy brewing!

From the outside looking in Lantern Control is an extremely difficult and nonsensical looking deck. For anyone that's matched up against it, it's likely that you now know how powerful of a strategy it is, and how it can absolutely dominate the game when mastered.

Here, I am aiming to give the newbie an in-depth description of a general lantern control deck and its mechanics. This deck is not mine - Lantern Control has been a meta deck for quite some time now. The build you see above, however, is likely slightly variated from what you've seen. This is because the deck has so many components that not everyone plays it the same. At the base, I have built this deck with components that are included in all variations of modern Lantern Control, and therefore you'll have a chance to learn about many of the different components. If you like my description and find it useful from an educational standpoint please leave a +1 to promote the deck so it's visible to others on the site. Cheers!

Lantern Control Win Condition

Lantern Control is a control/mill deck that wins by way of controlling both player's draws (and subsequently restricting access to spells) throughout the game, effectively allowing you to deny your opponent from drawing useful cards that they need to win and instead removing those cards from the top of their library. This is accomplished by using Lantern of Insight to see the top card of both players' libraries and removing unwanted cards using artifacts that remove the top card of one or both artifacts. These artifacts are Codex Shredder, Ghoulcaller's Bell and Pyxis of Pandemonium. All three of these artifacts serve similar, yet different purposes for the deck.

Codex Shredder allows you to remove the top card of only one player's library, which is important considering a few things. First, you're trying to mill your opponents at a quicker rate than yourself, therefore you need to remove their top card more often than yours, all other things held equal. Second, your opponent may have something threatening on top of their library, whereas you have something you need to draw. Codex Shredder enables you to control situations in which one player's top card is something you don't want that player to draw next, whether it be you or your opponent.

Ghoulcaller's Bell removes both players' top card from their libraries. This card is important in Lantern Control because it allows the deck to have more abilities like Codex Shredder in order to mill, however, there are times when you may not want to remove both top cards, and conversely there may be times when you need to remove both top cards. Either way, this will not be as common as needing to only remove one card, and therefore Ghoulcaller's Bell is run usually as a 2-3 of in the deck.

Lastly, Pyxis of Pandemonium provides the same ability as Ghoulcaller's Bell by removing both players' top card, however it does so by exiling the card instead of moving it to grave. This is important against decks with cards like Emrakul which repeatedly shuffle the opponent's grave back into the library, effectively making milling impossible (unless Emrakul goes to their hand instead).

It should be noted that you can use Codex Shredder, Ghoulcaller's Bell and Pyxis of Pandemonium to mill good cards that you need in a tactical way that benefits you. For example, if you have Crucible of Worlds in play, you can mill lands in order to get them into your grave so that you can play them next turn. The same goes with using Academy Ruins to get back an artifact that you didn't want to mill but needed to in order to remove an important card from the top of your opponent's library with Bell or Pyxis

Lantern Control Cards

Lantern Control's ability to shut opponents down goes beyond the main interaction described above. There are many other facets of control in the deck which help oppress the opponent long enough for you to lock them out and take full control of the game.

In almost all versions of this deck you will see 4 x Inquisition of Kozilek and 2-3 x Thoughtseize being played. These are great turn 1 plays that help remove threats from your opponent's hand in order to slow them down. Modern is a relatively quick and efficient format, so if you're playing a slow deck like Lantern Control you need to have some form of insurance in the early-game that will help you stabilize the board. By running 6-7 copies of discard cards, you are not only able to help remove threats from the opponent's hand reliably, but you're also able to see their hand which helps when anticipating plays.

Perhaps the most oppressive card in the deck is Ensnaring Bridge. This card will always be a 4-of in a Lantern Control deck as it is required to lock opponents out from attacking altogether. Since the majority of this deck is 1-drops, you can very quickly and easily dump your hand, making Ensnaring Bridge oppress almost all creatures from attacking.

One card that has a home in Lantern Control and almost nowhere else (aside from being an occasional sideboard card) is Surgical Extraction. This card works very well as a 2-of in the deck as it helps to break up combos, remove important lands (ex. Tron-Lands and Vakalut), and extrapolate important sideboard cards that may be a threat against you (ex. Stony Silence, Shatterstorm).

Another such card that has found a home in Lantern Control and not in other decks is Pithing Needle. Most archetypes in the modern format have cards with an activated ability that can be seen as a threat - Expedition Map or Karn in Tron, Liliana in Jund, Eldrazi Displacer in Eldrazi Aggro, Grim Lavamancer in burn, etc. Usually you can tell what kind of deck you're playing with 1-2 turns, especially if you've hit your opponent with an inquisition or Thoughtseize. At this point, you can identify something that'll threaten you and remove it as a threat with your Pithing Needle. It should be noted that Pithing Needle can even be used to de-activate fetchlands if you really want to throw shade at your opponent - like in game 1 of this series.

Lastly, we come to the only destroy spell in the deck - Abrupt Decay. This is a universally good spell no matter what deck you see it in. It's 2 mana, uncounterable, and can remove not only creatures but anything else such as artifacts, planeswalkers and enchantments.

Lantern Control Search Cards

No combo or control deck would function properly without the ability to find its pieces in an efficient manner, and Lantern Control is absolutely no exception. Being run on a very small 18 land manabase, the deck is poised to have trouble finding land past turn 1 or 2 quite often.... Well, luckily for Lantern Control, the majority of the deck sits at the 1-drop slot. That being said, the deck relies on being able to cast 5+ spells within the first 2-3 turns, and therefore the deck needs to carry some additional artillery to help it operate smoothly. To do this, all Lantern Control decks will run 4 x Ancient Stirrings. This card is extremely important because it is able to help the deck find both artifacts and lands, since lands are indeed colourless.

Other than this, the deck I have built also runs Glint-Nest Crane, which is a new card from the previous set, Kaladesh. Some decks still do not run this card, however, I would not even think about playing without it because of its ability to serve as a blocker and also its ability to search for a combo piece. Many players on tour will run Glint-Nest Crane as a 2-of, while running Pithing Needle as a 3-of, however, I have done the opposite as I find that sometimes you get stuck with a Pithing Needle you don't need at the time, whereas Glint-Nest Crane is always useful.

Lantern Control Lands

It's already been stated that Lantern Control decks run on a slim, yet efficient 18 land manabase. This is suitable for the deck because most spells in the deck are at the 1-drop slot, and also because the deck runs 4 x Ancient Stirrings to help correct any droughts early-game that may otherwise hinder the deck's ability to perform. In addition to this you will also always see 4 x Mox Opal. These mox are quite obviously a high-quality mana source for the deck because they produce any colour and can also be dropped the same turn as a land, making the deck have potential for explosive starts.

Traditionally, Lantern Control decks have always ran 4 x Glimmervoid. This makes sense because Lantern is an artifact-based deck that runs anywhere between 3-4 colours. As of the release of the new set, Aether Revolt, we have now received another land which I have squeezed into the deck to further help mana colour corecting, Spire of Industry. As of right now Spire of Industry is very cheap to buy at approximately $5 per copy. I personally think it's imperative for players to run this land in Lantern Control decks going forward because it allows the deck to effectively have 10-11 mana sources total that produce all colours.

Beyond these rainbow lands there are a few lands in the manabase which perform fetch/retrieve functions, which can be huge for a combo deck. For example, the deck I have assembled here runs 1 x Inventors' Fair, a relatively new land from the set Kaladesh. Inventors' Fair can fetch anything directly from the deck that you may need (although for a price) and also gives you access to constant lifegain each turn. This is an important piece late-game when you may need a closer to help the deck win, or when you need a little mending to undo some early-game life loss that you've incurred.

Another even more important land for the deck is Academy Ruins. Why is this more important you may ask? Simple. If you're milling yourself with your artifacts, you can bring things back that you need over and over because Academy Ruins does not need to be sacrificed. The cost of the recursion ability is cheap, as well. Also, if you're in a bind and need to sacrifice your only active Lantern of Insight in a hail-mary move to get your opponent's library shuffled, you can bring it back with Academy Ruins and still keep that integral piece of your combo in tact. Lastly, there's an alternative win condition for this deck that I have not yet discussed which Academy Ruins makes entirely possible. You'll learn about this shortly.

Moving on - the next land we need to look at is Ghost Quarter. Since Lantern Control is a (semi-)colourless deck, and also a control deck, how could it be complete without this land? Ghost Quarter is great for removing land-based combos such as Tron (Urza's Lands) and also Valakut. Ghost Quarter paired with Surgical Extraction is a seriously good combo that can help you win about 15% of your games outright, strictly by stripping opponent's land-based win-conditions right out from their deck.

Beyond this, Ghost Quarter pairs really well with Crucible of Worlds, which allows it to keep coming back and wreaking havoc over and over.... And since we all know that the vast majority of meta decks in Modern run less than 5 basic lands, its only a matter of time before Ghost Quarter and Crucible of Worlds completely destroy the opponent's manabase altogether.

Lastly, I'd like to touch on the other lands in the deck. There's two basics, which are the colours of the deck's turn 1 spells - green and black. Also, there's 1 x Blooming Marsh and 3 x Darkslick Shores. Most often, though, you'll be casting artifacts, so you'll be able to keep tempo even if you don't have the right colours in your manapool for a certain spell you may have in hand. Just keep milling yourself until you find what you want.

Lantern Control Alternative Win Cons

All good decks need more than one win condition to truly be feasible. Look at Blooming Titan for example, you have Primeval Titan and also Hive Mind. Or look at Splinter Twin, where you have an infinite combo that's backed up by counter-burn, just in case you can't find what you need. For some decks like Affinity and 8-Whack there's either an alpha strike or incremental damage from a horde of creatures. The list goes on!

For Lantern Control, you'll often see people playing 1 x Pyrite Spellbomb, and sometimes even perhaps 1 x Ghirapur AEther Grid. I personally like running one copy of both, so that's what you see here in my build. Pyrite Spellbomb's second ability burns the opponent (or a creature) for 2 damage. That's not a lot, but with the help of Academy Ruins you can effectively keep repeating this over and over until your opponent has been burned to death. This is quite a reliable strategy once you have your Ensnaring Bridge in play and your combo lock controlling your opponent's draw - they have no choice but to sit back and watch you finish them slowly.

In terms of the ladder, Ghirapur AEther Grid, Lantern Control has a number artifacts which do not need to tap once they're out - Ensnaring Bridge, Pithing Needle, Crucible of Worlds, Lantern of Insight, etc. Once Ghirapur AEther Grid is out you can essentially use your untapped artifacts to ping your opponent for individual damage, turn by turn. This fate is more or less the same as Pyrite Spellbomb in that they both will finish the opponent on direct damage instead of milling. The deck only needs to run one copy of each of these (and should never run any more than that, for that matter!) because it already has a main win condition that is the basis for the deck and the control it provides. These two artifacts are just supplemental to the deck's already painstaking control abilities and therefore they should be treated as such in the build.

If you've made it this far reading the description I thank you! Here is the part where I focus a little less on the actual card abilities themselves and more on the strategy of what to- and what not to- mill. It's quite commonplace for a new player to get hasty playing the deck and trying to mill at end step just for the sake of removing cards from the opponent's library and getting close to game's end. This is not the right play!

As a Lantern Control player you need to understand one major thing during each game - how favourable is the board state for you. This means that you need to understand, essentially, how powerful is your control over your opponent? Do you have many artifacts that are able to back you up if your opponent's next card is a good one? Do you have your opponent's locked out from attacking with Ensnaring Bridge? If you're in a position where you cannot prohibit your opponent's creatures from attacking (ex. no Ensnaring Bridge in play then you need to be very careful about letting your opponent draw creatures because this is most likely to be your biggest threat at that point in time. Conversely, if you have a strong lock on your opponent, you may not be concerned about their creatures at all - you can afford to let them draw their Grim Flayers and Tarmogoyfs and Emrakuls. At this point you need to worry more about cards that may be able to threaten either your hand through discarding or things that remove your artifacts, as your combo pieces could become jeopardized.

At any rate, the plays such as this: if you have less copies of Codex Shredder, Ghoulcaller's Bell and Pyxis of Pandemonium in play (given you also have Lantern of Insight), you have less control in total. The more of these artifacts you have working for you, the more control you have over your opponent's draws and therefore the less you need to worry that the next card in their deck could be a bomb you can't get rid of. When you start to play Lantern Control you need to be especially careful when evaluating the impact that the card on top of an opponent's library could have on the game overall. For example, Path to Exile is a great removal spell, one that is normally very potent and effective. That being said, when you're playing Lantern Control, a deck where you're only running three creature cards, you really don't need to be concerned about milling away a Path to Exile because it will likely have very little effect on your ability to progress the game. Instead, let the opponent draw it because it will likely be a card they cannot use and will just sit in there hand for the whole game. On the other hand, if you see a Cryptic Command on top of the opponent's library, you should be concerned about milling that away because it can seriously affect the boardstate or your ability to resolve spells. In general, I almost always let opponents draw lands and creature removal from the top of the library because I know it will not effect me. I tend to mill away combo pieces, counterspells, non-creature removal, discard, planeswalkers, etc. Anything that I feel is a threat.

If, at the opponent's end step, you have an untapped artifact that can mill something and you don't want to mill their top card, try taking a look at your top card and using your mill artifacts to help you tactically draw. I've won many games playing Lantern Control by focusing relentlessly on milling myself early-game to find things like an Ensnaring Bridge which can turn the game on its side, while just letting my opponents draw whatever is on top. As a Lantern Control player you need to be cognizant of what's most important in the game. What takes priority - threats or finding pieces. That's up to you, and you'll learn to make smarter decisions over time until eventually you're a flawless player that can totally dictate the actions of the game in a smart and organized fashion.

Lantern Control Sideboarding

One of the reasons Lantern Control makes effective use of things like Pithing Needle and Surgical Extraction is because, as a deck, it plays a slow and grindy game. It needs components like this to win game one of the matchup before going into sideboarding. Other decks struggle to make use of these cards strictly because they do not fit with the deck's tempo, albeit they are still useful.

It goes without saying that a slow combo-based deck needs something exactly like Leyline of Sanctity to protect itself from its burn- and discard-based foes. Being able to play the game you need to play early on can make a huge difference with this deck, as opposed to being on your heels and getting quickly behind. Leyline of Sanctity is a must for this deck in my opinion!

One card not as many people run that I make use of quite often is Torpor Orb. I find it helps shut down things like Thought-Knot Seer, Snapcaster Mage, Felidar Guardian, Experiment One, Vendilion Clique, Primeval Titan and the list goes on. Also, it shuts down some other combo-based decks, which is important because Lantern Control can be susceptible to infinite combos which do not need to deal damage in order to win.

Spellskite is important against things like Storm, Burn, and decks that you feel may have artifact removal post-sideboarding. It helps protect your combo pieces from removal. Some Lantern Control decks will even run 1-2 copies in the mainboard, however, I do not find it's worth cutting other cards from the deck that could be used in game one of matchups.

Grafdigger's Cage shuts down dredge decks and also kills Snapcaster Mage's ability. As of right now, with the recent ban of Golgari Grave-Troll, dredge may be taking a huge hit in playability. Therefore, going forward it's important to look at the meta you're in and see whether Grafdigger's Cage is still relevant to shut off threats.

Nature's Claim and Back to Nature are important sideboard cards with decks like Affinity, Eggs and other Lantern Control decks in the meta. Furthermore, post-sideboard, a lot of decks will threaten you with things like Stony Silence or Leyline of Sanctity which shut down your artifacts or prohibit you from targeting the opponent in order to mill.

Lastly, I have additional copies of Abrupt Decay, Thoughtseize and Pithing Needle in the deck for matchups where these cards may become increasingly important. I also have a copy of Maelstrom Pulse to wipe you token decks like Warriors and Faeries, which can easily slip through an ensnaring birdge due to their size.


Updates Add


Compare to inventory
Date added 1 year
Last updated 4 weeks
Exclude colors R

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 1.33
Folders Lantern Control, Sultai (Modern/Standard), mill, Fun decks, STD Decks, Inspiration, Modern, Decks I like, Plan to build, Fun decks, See all 13
Top rank #17 on 2017-01-24
Ignored suggestions
Shared with

Revision 6 See all

4 weeks ago)

-4 Lantern of Insight main
+4 Mox Opal main
-4 Mox Opal main
+4 Lantern of Insight main