Description

"Blueless control? I don't understand why you would do that. That's like saying you're going to buy sugar-free Oreos."

- Epochalyptik


This is Mardu control.

Still a work in progress, but I really like the way it's coming along. The general idea is that most Mardu decks these days that I've seen are trying to be aggressive with Bob and Young Pyromancer, or playing a midrange deck with Pia and Kiran Nalaar, but this isn't what I think Mardu wants to be doing. Playing aggressively with tokens is problematic since, in my experience, the best Mardu cards are at the top of their curve, and playing aggressive means you can't play them, meaning you're not playing your deck at its fullest potential. The problem I see with the midrange version is that everything it is trying to do, BGx can do better, meaning there's no competitive reason to play it over Jund.

Mardu has access to amazing removal and astounding Planeswalkers, and trying to play aggressively means you can't take advantage of them to their full potential. Given that's the case, why play aggressive? My solution is to not be aggressive and instead play something much more akin to a control deck utilizing Phyrexian Arena, Planeswalkers, Obzedaddy, and manlands to grind the opponent into dust.


Let's look at some of the noteworthy cards more in-depth

Oh my god is Nahiri powerful in Mardu. From assembling combos, to exiling stuff, to looting into our outs, she's got it all. Easy 3-of. Many people dislike her because if we don't have control of the board or near control of the board, she's underwhelming. Note that Liliana of the Veil is even worse if we don't have partial or total control of the board since your opponent gets choice for her -2 and if they have a boardstate, this isn't the time to be attacking their hand. However, no one questions that Lili is fantastic. This is because in this deck, we usually have partial or total control of the board. Very few, if any, decks in modern can make the game state such that Nahiri is bad. Especially when we're packing removal for days and grindy cards like Lingering Souls.

Speaking of which, the value of cycling away a Lingering Souls with Nahiri can not be understated. It's half of a card of advantage, since you only get half of a Lingering Souls, but in many matchups, even half of a spirit team will do more than trade 1-for-1/2 with your opponent.

The draw fixing from Nahiri's +2 is very nice. It's not the primary reason I play the card, but it's a factor to keep in mind for sure. In a topdeck war, being able to play 24 lands to get enough early, then be able to dig for gas in the late game is very relevant.

So why no Emrakul? Because it's win-more. This deck is strong because it's perfectly capable of winning the game without ever seeing Nahiri on the back of cards like Obzedat. And, in matchups like Tron, Nahiri is, somewhat surprisingly, actively bad. In my testing so far, if I've gotten off Nahiri's ult, I've won with Obzedat, Kalitas, or Blood Baron and not needed Emrakul. However, if I happen to draw Emrakul or I don't draw Nahiri, the game gets much harder since Emrakul is extremely dead in my hand, which is not the kind of card you want to be playing when you're deck is at its best in a topdeck war, and without Nahiri ul, an Emrakul deck will struggle significantly to win.

If I had to rank the cards in this deck best to worst, this would be in the top 2 best, right next to Nahiri, the Harbinger. The main problem with Mardu is that it runs out of cards very quickly. If you look at Grixis, for example, every card in Grixis carries a lot of value. Thought Scour and Serum Visions both cantrip, keeping your hand full while setting up your graveyard or fixing your draws. Then they have Snapcaster Mage to put a body on the board and re-cast a card from their grave simultaneously. The entire deck oozes value, and despite sharing 2 colors with Grixis, Mardu just doesnt get the same luxury of blue value cards, so it tends to run out of cards fast. But Mardu shares 2 colors with BGx as well, and those decks have a lot of value, so Mardu can be like them, right? Sadly, no green means that a lot of the value cards like Scavenging Ooze, Tarmogoyf, and Siege Rhino are not available in Mardu either. Many Mardu players have opted for Dark Confidant recently, but I dont think thats what Mardu wants to be playing, but Ill get to that later. However, with Phyrexian Arena, Mardu can gain incremental advantage, which is exactly where Mardu wants to be. Arena may tax life, but its nowhere near as painful as Dark Confidant, so we can safely play a plethora of 4 and 5 drops, as well as use Lightning Helix, Shambling Vent, and sometimes even Obzedat to keep our life total ahead of the clock from Phyrexian Arena.
First a short background to my creature split. With Nahiri, the Harbinger, this deck gains a toolbox aspect, much like a Gifts Ungiven deck. Although all of my finishers are fairly versatile (all of them have lifegain and grind pretty well), each of them excels more than the others in certain matchups.

Okay, so Obzedaddy dies to instant-speed removal. That's why we play Blood Baron of Vizkopa. However, if you've never resolved this card against Tron, I once had a game where this card and a Lingering Souls team went all the way against Tron. At the end of the game they had Karn Liberated, World Breaker, Spellskite, and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on the field, yet Obzedaddy still got there because of the 4 point life swing each turn plus another potential 5 damage if they can't block.

However, Obzedat is much more than a tool to beat Tron. He's the fastest finisher I have, so he's my finisher of choice when I need to be racing a combo or can't attack with one of my other creatures and just need the life swing each turn.

This is my grindy finisher. Pro black pro white means he doesn't die to Terminate, Path to Exile, or any functional reprint of either. And 4 toughness and 5 cmc dodges Abrupt Decay and Lightning Bolt. 4 toughness may die to Tarmogoyf, but he blocks Siege Rhino or Tasigur, the Golden Fang all day long. And given the volume of removal in this deck Goyf isn't an issue. Against any deck playing removal spells other than Lightning Bolt, this is my go-to finisher.
This guy is the outlier of the group in that he actually sees play outside of my deck. cmc=4 and toughness=4 dodges Decay and Bolt, but he does die to Path and Terminate. I grab him when I'm playing against Abzan Company and that's usually the only time I Nahiri for him, but if I draw him, then being 1 less mana than the other 2 cards makes him faster vs decks like Burn. An extra lifelink blocker that screws over Company is all good in my books.

If you have suggestions, please don't hesitate to share. Thanks!

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Date added 2 years
Last updated 2 months
Legality

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.31
Tokens 2/2 Zombie, 1/1 Spirit
Folders Favorite Decks, Spank Bank, Modern, neat ideas, Modern Inspirations
Top rank #13 on 2016-05-16
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Revision 12 See all

2 months ago)

-2 Blackcleave Cliffs main
+2 Dragonskull Summit main
+1 Stormbreath Dragon main
-1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa main
-1 Anger of the Gods side
-3 Leyline of Sanctity side
-2 Nihil Spellbomb side
-2 Damnation side
-2 Crumble to Dust side
-2 Fulminator Mage side
-1 Rakdos Charm side
-2 Stony Silence side
-1 Rest in Peace maybe
-1 Gideon Jura maybe
-1 Mana Tithe maybe
-1 Duress maybe
-1 Archangel Avacyn  Flip maybe