60 to 100 — Mishra Has a Lantern
Down -- still unceasingly -- still inevitably down! I gasped and struggled at each vibration. I shrunk convulsively at its every sweep. My eyes followed its outward or upward whirls with the eagerness of the most unmeaning despair...
At length for my seared and writhing body there was no longer an inch of foothold on the firm floor of the prison. I struggled no more, but the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long, and final scream of despair...
-The Pit and The Pendulum
I give up. I tried to resist writing this, but you all persisted. You, the readers, did this to me. So, finally, I give in and will write of this death machine. The pendulum of doom. The Pyxis of Pandemonium...wait, that's actually in the deck. So here we are, speaking of what should never be spoken of: Lantern of Insight decks. Somehow this prison style deck has been requested by the readers, and somehow yet this deck of peril and misery is actually REALLY popular. What the heck folks?
Also known as the "Pit of Despair"
Now for some backstory. For those of you new to the series or unfamiliar with 60-card formats, Lantern of Insight decks, or Lantern Control if you will, has become a deck over the past few years in Modern. These decks are all about controlling the top of the deck and what cards the opponents get to draw, making sure that they NEVER get to draw something relevant and slowly die behind a pile of prison effects like Ensnaring Bridge, Witchbane Orb, and Leyline of Sanctity. Most folks don't know they're dead by the time the Lantern player has their firstCodex Shredder milling the tops of decks to keep them from every doing...anything.
Top of the Pendulum
Let's take a look at the winning Lantern Control list from the recent Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan piloted by Edgar Allen P...Luis Salvatto.
Yeah, how about that? A whole 60 cards destined to bring every game to a grinding halt. But really, as much as I am not a personal fan of this deck's playstyle, it is INCREDIBLY skill intensive and interactive. If you're a fan of decks that make anywhere between 2 to infinity decisions per turn cycle, you might consider giving these types of decks a try. The tension just builds as the pendulum swings lower...and lower...and lower until your opponents are dead but they haven't realized it for an hour!
Heading Down Into the Pit
How do we take this monster, capable of deciding what everyone gets to do, and bring it to the Commander format? We already have a start with Whir of Invention, a known quantity in over 4,200 decks on EDHREC thanks to Breya, Etherium Sculptor and the world of other artifact commanders. Breya would be a great lead for this type of deck, but who needs to see another Breya list? I don't. You don't. Nobody does. Lantern of Insight is far from the most popular card in Commander, coming in under 500 decks currently reporting to EDHREC. The most popular commander for the ghastly candlestick holder is Daxos of Meletis, which, call me crazy, but doesn't exactly seem to fit for what we're trying to do here.
Thankfully the once and future author for EDHREC Bryce Miller provided me with a spicy brew that seemed incredibly easy to flip into this hard to describe playstyle. The commander I already had an inkling might be a fun go, but Bryce's list was pretty easy to tweak into my personal list for our current adventure. The commander? Mishra, Artificer Prodigy. Not the most popular cat around, but spicy nonetheless. Artifact centered, in colors that work well for control, and we get a very unique ability to confuse our opponents.
Mishra read a bit too much Edgar A. Poe in high school...
The Pendulum Swings Down...
We have our direction, and we also have the inspiration. Now we get to go wild! First off, Mishra's ability is INCREDIBLY unique. Obviously designed for 60-card formats, not singleton like what we're doing here, but that doesn't mean that there are some real neat things we can do. One might say there is a Possibility Storm going on. Really. Mishra, Artificer Prodigy is known as a "Stax," commander where you can stack the triggers on top of each other to create some unfair circumstances. When you cast an artifact for example, you can trigger Mishra's ability and THEN put Possibility Storm's ability on the stack after. What happens when these abilities resolve is that Possibility Storm's ability will happen (whatever that ability actually is, nobody really knows) and Mishra's ability after, meaning you can search your library for a card with the same name as the one you cast and put it on the battlefield. So while everyone else has to toil to do what they want the Mishra player in this situation gets crazy value! No wonder almost 90% of Mishra decks play Possibility Storm.
In the same breath, Blood Funnel may look like it's going to counter everything we ever want to do. On the contrary my friend! We want those artifacts to get countered, which in a most indirect way makes our artifacts uncounterable when you think about it. Same setup as with Possibility Storm, but now instead of letting the storms of possibilities put the artifact we cast we have Blood Funnel counter the artifact and follow it up by using Mishra to put the artifact from the graveyard to the battlefield. There is a world of crazy interactions out there, this is just a very small sample that happen to make Mishra, Artificer Prodigy a great choice for our Lantern Control port over. Blood Funnel isn't as ubiquitous in Mishra decks(90% to 51%) but they both make it very hard for our opponents to get out of the Lantern of Insight lockdown.
The pendulum in the Lantern Control Pit
Bringing the House Down
Every deck needs some ways to win, so of course since we're a Grixis colored deck with artifacts we want to find a home for Paradox Engine. Some folks wonder how this card still hasn't been banned so I figure why not play it while we got it!? With lots of artifact ramp like the deck features, there are lots of ways for us to gain massive amounts of value. Even though there isn't tons of instant speed interaction, there is a lot of tapping abilities that we would love to use more than once a turn. Make a bunch of mana, activate Planar Bridge, cast something small, do it all over again! Tap all our mana rocks, cast Fanning the Flames with buyback, do it all again! Heck, we can go crazy with Batterskull even! Play it, make oodles of mana, bounce it back to our hand and recast it to make SO MUCH MANAAA!
Seeing the Light
One Lasting Breath
- Planar Bridge is the perfect artifact for a deck that needs specific pieces of it's deck to truly lock out the opponents. Since we're a singleton format and at 100 cards instead of 60, we need lots of ways to find consistency. Next to our pal Paradox Engine it's wonderfully great.
- One of my favorite chaotic cards ever, Combustible Gearhulk finally finds a home. We can recur it, make sure it gets on the battlefield and it's just a fun red card. Underappreciated for sure, but if you ever needed a chance to throw cards in the graveyard or draw a few, he's your robotic best bud!
Alright folks. Now that I've caved and made the leap for Lantern Control, you need to let me now if I did it justice or not. The deck is scary, but so are you folks with asking for this article to happen. I hope you all enjoyed it. Let me know how you would have brought over the king of Modern decks in the comments! Thanks everyone!