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Budget Magic: $91 (26 tix) Modern Evoke Control


恁好 Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again. This week we are heading back to Modern to showcase a Budget Magic archetype that people have been clamoring for over the past few months: Budget Control. I'm super excited for this deck not because it is format breaking or anything like that, but because it gives me an excuse to play with some of my all-time favorite Magic cards including Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw — that's right, we're playing Evoke Control! Let's get right to the videos and then we'll talk more about the deck in a few minutes, but first a quick reminder — if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Evoke Control Deck Tech

Evoke Control vs Jund

Evoke Control vs Amulet Bloom

Evoke Control vs Death's Shadow

Evoke Control vs Dredgevine

Building a budget control deck is Modern is actually harder than I thought. Many of the best control cards in the format (Snapcaster Mage, Cryptic Command, Celestial Colonnade and even Path to Exile) are so expensive that it's hard to fit even a single copy in a deck and still come in under our $100 cap. As a result, we need to be a bit creative. The good news is since we are not playing Snapcaster Mage, it isn't as important to have a deck that is loaded up with spells. Instead, we can take advantage of some creatures with spell-like abilities. 

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Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw are the evoke cards that give the deck its name and both are quite powerful. Having a Divination and Terror that basically have a kicker cost that turns them into evasive creatures is quite strong. In fact, unlike actual Divination or Terror, not only do Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw help us stabilize the game and grind out card advantage, but they are also our only way of finishing out the game (along with Lingering Souls). 

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One of the interesting things about the deck is that we get to play two copies of Unburial Rites which gives us free reign to cast these creatures for their evoke cost because we have the ability to rebuy them later. Actually, in this deck it is often better to cast a Shriekmaw for its evoke cost because we can immediately reanimate it and kill a second creature. Same with Mulldrifter where we can use the evoke and Unburial Rites to draw four cards. 

The other cool and synergistic card we use with our evoke creatures is Undying Evil, which (as its name suggests) gives a creature undying until the end of turn. When you cast a creature for its evoke cost, it enters the battlefield and puts a trigger on the stack which makes you sacrifice the creature. This gives us a window to cast Undying Evil targeting the creature. When the creature dies, it immediately returns to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter. So for four-mana we can evoke a Mulldrifter, cast Undying Evil, and end up drawing four cards with a 3/3 flier on the battlefield. With Shriekmaw we get to kill two of our opponents creatures and get a 4/3 with fear for only three-mana. While this doesn't come up super often since we only have one copy of Undying Evil, when it happens, it often ends up being a 3-for-1 that wins us the game.

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Lingering Souls is still insane and should probably be the first card included in any budget control deck in Modern. Seriously, some decks literally scoop to the three-mana sorcery. One of my favorite moments in the matches this week was our Jund opponent spending, two Terminates, a Lightning Bolt and a Liliana of the Veil over the course of four turns to deal with a single copy of Lingering Souls. This is the power of the card; when it's bad, it's four chump blockers. When it's good, it's the multiverse's strangest Mind Twist (seriously, four-for-one? How do you come back from that?)

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The rest of the deck is pretty self-explanatory. We have eight counterspells between the format staple Mana Leak and the criminally underrated Condescend, three sweepers between Supreme Verdict and Day of Judgment, and a bunch of removal in the form of Path to Exile and Dismember. However our two modal spells do deserve some discussion. 

Dimir Charm is sneaky good in Modern. The "destroy target creature with power of two or less" mode kills somewhere around 80 percent of the most heavily played creatures in the format at instant speed. With a good sense of timing (and a bit of luck), against cards like Tarmogoyf and Scavenging Ooze the percentage increases to 95; the one creature in the top 20 most played creatures it can never kill is Tasigur, the Golden Fang. All the problematic creatures like Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch, Spellskite, Dark Confidant and Goblin Guide fall to Dimir Charm

While removal is by far the most commonly played mode, the "counter target sorcery" mode can be quite powerful in the right situation. It hits every non-Supreme Verdict sweeper including Anger of the Gods and Pyroclasm, as well as targeted discard like Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. While this mode is only chosen maybe 10 percent of the time, when it does come up, it is usually quite impactful 

The last mode is just odd and in my experience you'll choose it less than 5 percent of the time, and almost always when you are really far ahead and looking to mess up your opponent's draws, or really far behind to dig for a sweeper, for example. It would probably be more powerful in a deck that is abusing delve since dumping cards in the graveyard isn't all that relevant in our deck; the only interaction we have is Unburial Rites

While Esper Charm technically has three modes, we pretty much only use two of them: instant speed Divination and instant speed Mind Rot. While the former is the most obvious choice, the latter is also extremely powerful because you can cast it during your opponent's draw step and take away their opportunity to cast whatever they just drew. 

Potential Non-Budget Additions

While I really enjoyed playing this deck and had reasonable success with it this week, one thing I noticed is that we are lacking a way to close out games quickly. There were a couple games where I managed to get into a winning position in full control of the board, but simply didn't have a fast enough clock to finish off my opponent before they managed to draw their way out of the lock. As a result, I really would like to add something to help us finish the game in a timely matter. While I'm sure there are some good budget options out there (and maybe you can suggest some in the comments; we're looking for something that is hard to deal with, closes out the game quickly, but has some semblance of Modern playability), my first thought was to go down the tried and true path of manlands. 

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The great thing about Celestial Colonnade and Creeping Tar Pit is their opportunity cost is low. We are already playing duals that come into play tapped so it costs us next to nothing to turn Glacial Fortress, Arcane Sanctum and Drowned Catacombs into manlands. With a single Mulldrifer or Shriekmaw plus one of these manlands, our late-game clock is more than doubled, which means our opponents will have less time to draw into things that beat us. Obviously, apart from finishers and the manabase, Modern control staples like Remand, Snapcaster Mage, Sphinx's Revelation and Cryptic Command would be welcome additions, although be warned — they add a lot to the cost of the deck. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your ideas, thoughts and opinions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 


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