Deck Guide: Lantern Control

Deck Guide: Lantern Control
Sample List:

Artifacts:
4 Codex Shredder
4 Lantern of Insight
4 Mox Opal
4 Mishra’s Bauble
3 Ensnaring Bridge
2 Pyxis of Pandemonium
2 Pithing Needle
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Witchbane Orb
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
 
Instants / Sorceries:
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Whir of Invention
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Thoughtseize
1 Abrupt Decay
 
Lands:
4 Glimmervoid
4 Spire of Industry
 
3 Botanical Sanctum
3 Darkslick Shores
1 River of Tears
1 Academy Ruins
1 Inventors’ Fair
1 Island
 
Sideboard:
2 Welding Jar
2 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 Damping Sphere
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Nature’s Claim
1 Wear // Tear
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Pyroclasm
1 Ghirapur Aether Grid
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

 
The Deck:
Lantern Control is many players’ bane of existence; it can be slow, it’s non-intuitive both to play with and against, and it doesn’t play magic in any way resembling traditional, ‘fair’ decks. It also utilizes bizarre and unique cards that the vast majority of other archetypes would consider useless and ineffective. However, due to its unique approach to how to play the game, it has a particularly loyal fanbase, and can be very rewarding to play, as it takes a lot of practice, and each game never quite plays out as monotonous as many may assume it does.
The Lock:
While the deck’s name is ‘Lantern Control’, it plays out more like a prison deck. This means that it attempts to lock the opponent out of playing the game, and is basically like a controlling version of a combo deck.
 
The primary focus of the deck is to use Lantern of Insight in combination of mill-rocks such as Codex Shredder and Pyxis of Pandemonium to ensure that your opponent will never draw cards that they will want to. However, this can be fairly difficult to do early on into the game, as all sorts of nasty creatures can be cast as early as turn two, and kill you even if your lock is set up for their library. As a catch-all for nearly every creature, the deck abuses Ensnaring Bridge to create a combat damage barrier for yourself.
 
In general, a Lantern player is considered to have a full lock on the opponent’s deck if they have a Lantern, two mill-rocks, and a Bridge. While some players may feel like they will somehow have four relevant, game-winning cards stacked on top of each other, and can wait for the entire game to see if their deck will stack itself in such an unlikely way, then they will refuse to concede until their entire library is eventually milled. Since Codex Shredder doesn’t mill both players at the same time, it is highly likely that your opponent will mill before you do. Even if this happens to not be the case, the combo of Academy Ruins and any artifact in your graveyard solves this potential issue.
 
Things That Find the Lock:
As with any good combo-esque deck, Lantern Control makes sure to use all kinds of tutor-effects and card advantage tricks to make sure that it can do what it needs to do as fast as possible.
 
Ancient Stirrings: This is the enabler for virtually every colorless-based deck in the format, and adds an incredible amount of consistency to any deck looking to cast artifacts, eldrazi, or anything of the like.
 
Whir of Invention: The addition to the deck that in tandem with Ancient Stirrings, this is what allows the deck to rely on multiple lock pieces as quickly as turn 3-4. Also allows the deck to run 1-of tricks that would normally only be considered sideboard material, since you can tutor them up at instant-speed as long as they’re still somewhere in your library.
 
Mishra’s Bauble: Aids in quicker Whir of Inventions, and can be used in so many useful ways in the deck. However, the least that it can do in any situation is cycle itself for free, and give you an opportunity to see the top of your library and decide whether or not to mill it away before you draw it next turn.
 
Inventors’ Fair: Another all-star for the deck from Kaladesh block, this acts as an uncounterable and difficult-to-deal-with tutor effect, with the added bonus of buffering your life total a little bit.
Supporting Lock Pieces:
While the main lock has been around for quite some time, the addition of Whir of Invention into the main deck has allowed for some excellent supporting artifacts that can aid in stopping the opponent from using other potential threats against you.
 
Pithing Needle: Whether you name a fetchland or an all-star planeswalker, the Needle is almost always relevant in every matchup, and will often nullify the usefulness of 3-4 copies of an otherwise useful card in the opponent’s deck.
 
Witchbane Orb: The nightmare card for other combo decks or burn. This will come in handy in all kinds of unique ways, and often stonewalls many win-conditions that your opponent will have that aren’t dependent on the combat phase.
 
Grafdigger’s Cage: While sometimes less useful in the mainboard, the Cage will prove a headache to Bloodghast, Snapcaster Mage, and Collected Company, along with other similar cards. Usually, there are enough effects that want to cheat out creatures that’ll sigh a little heavier once they see a Cage on the field in game one.
 
Everything Else:
Sometimes, the lock by itself just isn’t quite enough to get you through the game. These pieces aid in making your life easier, and you will be hard-pressed to be disappointed by seeing these in your opening hand.
 
Inquisition of Kozilek & Thoughtseize: Discard effects are a staple of any attrition-based deck looking to get rid of your opponent’s power in their opening hand. Will prove immensely useful in the early-game no matter the opponent, as even a turn 2 Lantern / Codex Shredder combo won’t stop the answers lying in the opponent’s opening hand.
 
Mox Opal: Virtually as ubiquitous in artifact decks as Ancient Stirrings, this will speed up your gameplan. Usually, it’ll be online as quickly as turn 1-2, and allows you to dump your hand significantly quicker than normal.
 
Abrupt Decay: Similarly to Inquisition of Kozilek, Abrupt Decay answers pretty much anything during the early stages of the game. It won’t deal with more CMC-heavy things, but normally you can answer those through your Lantern anyways.
 
Academy Ruins: Useful for bringing back something that your opponent destroyed or forced you to discard. Also is the one card that will save you from decking yourself (which is rare, but may happen), as you can throw an artifact on top of your library every turn and keep drawing it over and over again.
 
Pyrite Spellbomb: Serves as either the perfect creature or planeswalker sniper, or just as an extra Bauble. Also allows for a two-card win condition with Academy Ruins by shooting your opponent a bunch of times.
The Sideboard:
Due to the ability of the deck to churn through itself quickly and the fact that it deals with a lot of potential threats easily through the mainboard, it is rare to see more than 1-2 copies of any card in the sideboard. There are also a ton of options to add to your sideboard that all make some kind of relevant impact, so buckle up for a big list.
 
From the Sample List:
 
Welding Jar: Provides a nice shield for your artifacts, and can even be tutored up through Inventors’ Fair or Whir of Invention.
 
Leyline of Sanctity: Extra hexproof options that won’t get targeted by artifact removal, and have the added bonus of coming down before the game even begins.
 
Sorcerous Spyglass: Pithing Needle that dodges a stray Chalice of the Void on 1. Also lets you see your opponent’s hand, which may change your game plan for the better.
 
Damping Sphere: Just a useful artifact for Storm and Tron. Nothing much past that, but the premise of it being an artifact is already extremely helpful.
 
Maelstrom Pulse: An Abrupt Decay that hits more stuff. Useful against bulky threats that you feel might inevitably be cast against you.
 
Nature’s Claim, Wear // Tear & Ancient Grudge: They answer artifacts and enchantments. They are useful. That is all.
 
Pyroclasm: Just your gool ol’ cheap boardwipe for those hyper-aggressive decks looking to pummel you by turn 3 or so.
 
Ghirapur Aether Grid: This one is here for the same reason that Affinity likes to use it: Stony Silence. If your opponent turns your heap of artifacts into dumb rocks, at least the Aether Grid gives them something to do. Also useful against aggressive decks with squishy targets sometimes.
 
Search for Azcanta: For control. Keep in mind that it hits every single card in your deck that isn’t a land, so you will have plenty of options to choose from every time you activate its flipped side. Rarely a disappointment when playing against a grindier deck of any kind.
 
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas: Similarly to the Aether Grid, this is an alternate win-condition that gives your potentially doped artifacts a way to still be relevant. Just keep in mind that turning your artifacts into creatures opens them up to removal on occasion, and that they probably won’t do much if you’ve casted an Ensnaring Bridge.
Other Sideboard Options:
It is good to note that you can run some of the sample list’s silver bullets in the sideboard, and use some of the sideboard options in the mainboard instead. It’s very meta dependent, especially with the artifact slots.
 
Torpor Orb: Great in the Hatebears matchup. Sometimes it’ll be a little too narrow, but can definitely be a useful card.
 
Sun Droplet: Somewhat of an older sideboard option before Inventors’ Fair was printed, but still can save you against many aggressive decks.
 
Defense Grid: Good when you are in a heavy control / combo meta, though it may be slightly detrimental to you as well. 
 
Collective Brutality: Burn’s worst nightmare, and tempo doesn’t care for it either. Extremely useful in the right circumstances.
 
Seal of Primordium: Just an extra artifact/enchantment removal card. This one sticks around on the field though, which can be useful in some cases.
 
Surgical Extraction: Excellent against combo decks or decks that have a particularly annoying card that you don’t want to deal with.
 
Spellskite: Fills a similar role that Welding Jar fills, with some added utility and a big butt.
 
Porphyry Nodes: Helps clean up a busy board. If midrange is running around and being annoying, this can keep them in check.
 
Crucible of Worlds + Ghost Quarter: Sometimes, you hate lands. This fixes that problem. Also a nice way to deal with greedy mana-bases that don’t involve symmetrical problems, such as Blood Moon.
 
Executioner’s Capsule: Another midrange answer, or something to snipe an annoying creature such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.
 
Sideboarding for Different Matchups:
 
JUND
+1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
+1 Abrupt Decay
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
+1 Sorcerous Spyglass
+2 Welding Jar
~~~
-3 Thoughtseize
-2 Inquisition of Kozilek
-1 Grafdigger’s Cage
 
As is also the case in the Jund mirror, discard effects are the first cards to get ushered out of the deck. Grafdigger’s Cage doesn’t do much against Jund, so it gets cut. Welding Jar is added to combat the swaths of removal that you’re going to have to weather. Add in a one-card alternate win condition à la Tezzeret, an extra Pithing Needle through Spyglass, and some additional removal, and you have a solid board to contest Jund.
 
BURN
+1 Abrupt Decay
+2 Welding Jar
+2 Leyline of Sanctity
~~~
-2 Mishra’s Bauble
-1 Pithing Needle
-1 Grafdigger’s Cage
 
Eidolon of the Great Revel is extremely detrimental to Lantern’s game plan, so cutting Baubles is not a major concern. Leaving one Pithing Needle in the deck makes sense for their Grim Lavamancers, but the Cage doesn’t do anything in the matchup. Welding Jar and Leyline are to fight the eternal waves of burn and removal that will come your way, and Abrupt Decay should pick off any annoying red creatures that try and poke away at you.
 
5-COLOR HUMANS
+1 Abrupt Decay
+1 Pyroclasm
+1 Torpor Orb
+1 Ghirapur Aether Grid
~~~
-2 Thoughtseize
-1 Witchbane Orb
-1 Grafdigger’s Cage
 
This is one of the times where Torpor Orb really shines, as it stops a fair amount of stuff that Humans likes to flash in. It also runs a ton of 1-2 toughness creatures, so Aether Grid comes in regardless of if they run Stony Silence or not (likely not, but it’s possible). Oddly enough, the Cage doesn’t do much against Humans, and neither does Witchbane Orb, so these come out alongside Thoughtseizes, which are very painful in the tempo matchup.
 
HOLLOW ONE
+1 Damping Sphere
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
+2 Welding Jar
+2 Leyline of Sanctity
~~~
-2 Inquisition of Kozilek
-1 Thoughtseize
-1 Abrupt Decay
-1 Pyrite Spellbomb
-1 Mishra’s Bauble
 
Damping Sphere is very irritating for Hollow One decks because of their plans to go off as soon as possible. Taxing their spells can be extremely useful in stalling them. Abrupt Decay hits virtually nothing in the deck, so Maelstrom Pulse replaces it, and Leylines and Welding Jars come in once again for responding to burn and removal.
 
AFFINITY
+1 Pyroclasm
+1 Nature’s Claim
+1 Wear // Tear
+1 Ancient Grudge
+1 Abrupt Decay
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
~~~
-3 Inquisition of Kozilek
-3 Thoughtseize
 
Affinity is FAST, so removal gets packed in here. Thankfully, Affinity doesn’t have much that you care to rip out of their hand, so discard can get moved to the sideboard very easily. Just focus on milling their Signal Pests and Ornithopters, which can get under Bridge, and you’re extremely safe after the initial Affinity frenzy.
 
UW CONTROL
+1 Search for Azcanta
+1 Ghirapur Aether Grid
+1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
~~~
-2 Ensnaring Bridge
-1 Pyrite Spellbomb
-1 Witchbane Orb
The control matchup is a difficult one to navigate, as the opponent will often hold up multiple draw spells to respond to any mill rock. Stony Silence will almost certainly be in their sideboard, so Aether Grid and Tezzeret come in to battle this. Spellbomb, Witchbane Orb, and Bridge don’t do much in this matchup, so they are relegated to the sideboard. However, they will be packing a couple of creatures, so leaving just one Bridge in is still pretty necessary.
 
ELDRAZI AGGRO
+1 Torpor Orb
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
+1 Wear // Tear
+1 Ancient Grudge
~~~
-2 Inquisition of Kozilek
-1 Pyrite Spellbomb
-1 Witchbane Orb
 
Torpor Orb protects against pesky Thought-Knot Seers, while bringing in 2 CMC artifact removal is helpful in the event that they are playing Chalice of the Void. Spellbomb is more useful against green-based Eldrazi decks, so it may make sense to take out an Abrupt Decay instead for those decks.
 
SCAPESHIFT
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
+2 Leyline of Sanctity
+2 Welding Jar
~~~
-2 Pithing Needle
-1 Pyrite Spellbomb
-1 Grafdigger’s Cage
-1 Ensnaring Bridge
 
Bridge is slightly less urgent against a deck whose only creature threat is typically Primeval Titan, so it’s safe to cut one copy. Otherwise, The goal here is to focus on protecting the Lantern Lock, and have faith that it will prevent them from ever casting Scapeshift or Titan (which it is very good at, so this isn’t too much of a stretch).
Cards to Mill:
JUND
Abrupt Decay
Kolaghan’s Command
Maelstrom Pulse
Dark Confidant
Bloodbraid Elf
 
Decay, K-Command, and Pulse are all key removal against Lantern, and should be of highest priority to get rid of. Confidant and BBE are ways for the Jund player to sneak extra cards between mill rock triggers, but aren’t inherently catastrophic, and thus can be safely put at a lower priority.
 
Sideboard:
Ancient Grudge
Engineered Explosives
Surgical Extraction
 
Anything that can potentially clear your board of artifacts or strip them out of your deck are the biggest threats here.
 
BURN
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Grim Lavamancer
Lightning Bolt / Lava Spike / Shard Volley / Thunderous Wrath
 
This is THE threat in the mainboard. It will ruin your day if they can resolve one, especially early in the game. Lavamancer is frustrating, too, but to a lesser extent. If you feel that you need to mill anything else, then try to focus on the one-mana burn spells, as they are the most efficient way for your opponent to turn whatever they draw into damage.
 
Sideboard:
Destructive Revelry
 
This tends to be the only interaction that burn runs in the sideboard, but it becomes the number one priority to mill this once it reaches the top of your opponent’s library.
 
5-COLOR HUMANS
Meddling Mage
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Noble Hierarch
 
Meddling Mage and Thalia are the most threatening cards in the Humans deck, as they will impede your ability to properly cast your lock pieces and ensure your safety. Hierarch is a lower-priority target, but is still a concern due to its ability to deal damage through a Bridge.
 
Sideboard:
Kataki, War’s Wage
Stony Silence
Reclamation Sage
 
Post-board, nothing out of the ordinary stands out as something that needs too much explanation. Any artifact-centric hate card is a prime target to mill, particularly Stony Silence.
 
HOLLOW ONE
Collective Brutality
Burning Inquiry
Goblin Lore
Faithless Looting
 
Tips & Tricks:

  • This deck is not easy to learn how to play, so just do your best at the start, and eventually you’ll figure out the in’s and out’s of it.
  • Pyxis is extremely useful in the event that your opponent has graveyard synergies. Milling with the Pyxis here instead of a Codex Shredder is far more useful
  • Mishra’s Bauble can act as a temporary Lantern, allowing you to peek at your opponent’s top card. Note that they do not get to look at it, just you.
  • Whir of Invention can be used on your own upkeep to avoid drawing a certain card you see on the top of your library off of Lantern.
  • Cracking the Lantern to force a shuffle will have to happen sometimes, but if your opponent is going to draw something that will win them the game, don’t be afraid to crack it. It’s better to lose out on some information than allowing them to draw action.
  • Milling creatures is often irrelevant unless they allow your opponent to dig deeper into their library or kill you in some way. Bridge is extremely useful, and will take care of anything on the board on its own.
  • If you don’t have a Lantern out yet, but you have a Codex Shredder, it is better to mill yourself than your opponent most of the time; the Shredder and Academy Ruins allow you to grab stuff back from your graveyard, so stocking it up is beneficial to you. An exception might be if your opponent scries something to the top of their deck — you may not know what it is, but they want it, so it’s probably good to deny them the chance to use it.

    Alternatively, blindly milling players using your Pyxis is ill-advised, since you will never know what you’ve milled, and will never be able to use it.
  • While uncommon, it is possible that your opponent will become land-screwed early on in the game. If you have the lock established, you can try to deny them from drawing lands for the rest of the game. This is risky, however, especially against decks with a higher land count.
  • Decks that rely on tutors or fetch lands may not run several copies of certain cards. This may be useful to keep in mind in the event that your opponent is using a greedy mana-base.
  • Lantern’s primary win condition is to mill your opponent. Once you have 5-6 mill rocks, you can comfortably just tap them and target your opponent at the end of their turn to speed up the game. Since these games can take a while, it’s good to shortcut where possible, and this is one of the least risky times to do it.
  • While you may be wanting to focus on getting out your Lantern as soon as possible, this may not always be the most important play to stay alive. Sometimes, dumping your hand and sitting under your Bridge may be the better line of play, especially if they are confident in their opening hand. This is not always true, however, so be careful.
  • This deck has very few clear-cut decisions to make in any given scenario, so try not to fall into too many habits while playing the deck. That is often how opponents can eek out a win even while they’re under the lock.

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