Controlling Modern with Everything-but-Green Control

Parker Ackerman
March 27, 2019

People have been begging for a resurgence of control in modern for as long as I can remember (to be fair, I don’t have a very good memory). At first, people thought the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor would bring control back, but that only sped up the format more. Then people started hoping for Counterspell to find its way into modern (Horizons, anyone?), but as it turns out, control didn’t even really need that. All it needed was a different, more expensive planeswalker to be printed, and then the deck could live again. With the printing of Teferi, UW control started to see a huge amount of play, and now people have the freedom to test out weird decks like this week’s Greenless Control from MTGO user Cenvi.

The deck, aside from some of its odd card choices, isn’t really too different from traditional control lists. The only main difference is that you’re working with some cards that you otherwise never would. Our creature suite is light, with four Snapcaster Mages, a Nicol Bolas, the Ravager for flying beats, and a Tasigur, the Golden Fang for some nice recursion. Jace helps us with Terminus and card filtering in general, and Teferi is a nice little swiss army knife that can come down on turn five and allow us to keep up mana for Logic Knot. We also have Search for Azcanta to help with filtering early in the game that can dig through our deck quickly later on.


Now, we’ve got the meat of the deck: all those wonderful spells. Opt lets us start the game with a bit of filtering, and makes the deck overall more consistent. Path to Exile takes care of any creatures our opponent might have, and Lightning Helix can act as removal or pressure depending on what we need. Logic Knot is the closest thing we currently have to Counterspell. Kolaghan’s Command is an extremely versatile spell that can help us out in almost any situation, and Sphinx’s Revelation is a great way to stabilize by getting ahead on cards and life. Cryptic Command is basically the best counterspell ever printed, letting us counter-draw to our heart’s content. And finally we have Terminus, a longtime favorite in Legacy, and since the Jace unbanning, a popular card in Modern control decks as well.


Our lands are pretty standard for a four-color fetch-shock manabase, with the exception of a single Sulfur Falls, six basics, and a Celestial Colonnade to help close out the game. In the sideboard we have Engineered Explosives to deal with small creature decks, Dispel for combo and other control decks, and Celestial Purge as some nice multi-purpose removal. Negate also helps against control and combo, with Kambal shining through against decks like Storm. Kaya is nice against graveyard decks, Unmoored Ego can take any problem card out of the opponent’s deck, and Leyline of the Void gives us an early answer to things like Dredge and Phoenix.


  • Use Tasigur’s delve very selectively. Make sure you don’t exile anything you want to get back with Snapcaster soon, and keep in mind that the delve acts as filtering for his activated ability.
  • Kolaghan’s Command is an instant, so if your opponent has an empty hand at the start of their turn, you can cast it immediately after they draw but before their main phase. This means that if the card isn’t an instant, they don’t even get a chance to play it.
  • We may not have bolt, but keep in mind that with enough mana you can Helix-Snap-Helix to deal six damage and gain six life.
  • If you desperately need a land, remember that you can Path your own Snapcaster Mage (or Bolas, or Tasigur, if you really need that land).
  • If you can get Kaya’s +1 off enough times, her ult easily becomes a finisher, hitting for at least four damage when you activate it.

The deck plays some really weird cards, and while it may not be better than UW control, it is definitely more flexible, and allows you to put in some weird cards of your own. Nicol Bolas and Tasigur are an excellent example of this, cards you otherwise wouldn’t play, but since you’re already playing four colors you can put them in and let them run wild. You need to be careful with your fetches when playing against decks like Burn that mostly play on the stack instead of the battlefield, but if you do that you can have fun and win with a control deck that’s got just a bit of extra spice to it.