Today is the day we make Blake Rasmussen very happy. Mulldrifter aficionado, editor of DailyMTG and holder of the dubious distinction of being the person to train me to do Magic event coverage, Blake is the biggest Cruel Ultimatum enthusiast I know. People have been asking me to do a pure control deck for Mining Modern for some time, and when Cruel Control came up I knew immediately where to go.
Blake shared his list with me, and we were off. Cruel Ultimatums lie ahead.
Between Fatal Push and Search for Azcanta, Control has a new lease on life in Modern, and this build is just one of many ways to go with the archetype. From Jeskai Control to Jace, Vryn's Prodigy Grixis Control to Cruel Control, control is back with a vengeance in Modern.
Honestly, Search for Azcanta has to get most of the credit. The card is just incredible – it helps you set up your draws over the crucial first five or six turns of the game, provides a nice boost of mana just in time to cast Cruel Ultimatum and is an extremely unfair card once transformed. Any game you can advance to the later stages will inevitably be dominated by Azcanta once you find it, and you'll pull ahead in card advantage so fast you'll see Bolas' horns spinning on your Cruel Ultimatums.
Without a doubt, my favorite part of this build is Coalition Relic. The card is passed over in almost all of Modern, but it actually does a ton of work, from helping you play around Blood Moon to fixing your colors for Cryptic Command to ramping out Cruel Ultimatum. I'm not sure Relic has a place in every deck, but in a deck trying to get to seven mana as quickly as possible while still playing a control game, it fits perfectly. The fact it can provide mana immediately or add a charge counter to set up a two-mana burst (for Cruel Ultimatum, of course) means it is flexible enough to fill a lot of roles while not wasting your entire third turn to play it since you can tap out for Coalition Relic but still have mana up to Lightning Bolt or Fatal Push a problematic creature.
As you can see from the videos, the matches with this deck are close. Some games you'll run away with things thanks to a fast Cruel Ultimatum, but unlike the Standard format it dominated once upon a time resolving Cruel Ultimatum isn't quite game over in Modern the way it was then, and that may be one of the reasons players have turned to alternate win conditions like Torrential Gearhulk to close things out. Still, there's no better feeling than watching your opponent lose their entire hand and board while you jump ahead. And just like Sphinx's Revelation, the best part about the first Cruel Ultimatum is that it always seems to set up the second Cruel Ultimatum.
This may not be the best control deck in the format, but it is certainly one of the most enjoyable. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading,