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Last week, I alerted everyone to the existence and power of the Lantern deck with the addition of Whir of Invention, and then this previous weekend, I played it to an 8-0 finish on my way to finishing second at the SCG Season Two Invitational. Now that I've demonstrated that this deck is the real deal, you're probably going to want a primer.
I'm going to focus on my exact list, rather than all the different things one can do with Lantern, though I may note other cards that would make a big difference in certain matchups, and I'm going to attempt to go through the fairly long process of talking through your role, gameplan, and sideboarding in as many major Modern matchups as I can think of. This is intended to tell you as much as I can to help you win matches if you're playing Lantern this weekend.
To start with, this was my deck:
Now, let's get down to business:
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 1 Dark Confidant
- 4 Kitesail Freebooter
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 3 Mayor of Avabruck
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
This is the first deck I played against at the Invitational. Fundamentally, they're a deck full of creatures and you're an Ensnaring Bridge deck. Very few of their cards do anything and I think the matchup should be pretty easy, though I haven't played it a lot.
On paper, it can look a little harder than that. They have a lot of creatures that are theoretically good against you: Meddling Mage; Dark Confidant; Thalia, Guardian of Thraben; Kitesail Freebooter; Noble Hierarch; and Vithian Renegades as well as Horizon Canopy to find the important ones through a mill piece.
In practice, the problem is that they have too many bad cards, like every other creature, and most of even the listed creatures late in the game. This means that, after you use a discard spell or two at the beginning of the game, their hand is likely very bad, and they're unlikely to have more than two cards in a row on top of their deck that you really don't want them to draw.
Even if they manage to stick a Meddling Mage, you can still get an artifact that they name onto the battlefield with Whir of Invention, so it's not like you have to kill it if they name Ensnaring Bridge. Also, most of these creatures only matter if they can stick on the battlefield, and you actually have a pretty good number of ways of killing them if you need to.
The gameplan here is extremely basic. You're just trying to find and protect an early Ensnaring Bridge. You can mostly afford to use Codex Shredder to improve your draws rather than worrying too much about controlling theirs, since so few of their cards matter. As long as they don't run away with an early Dark Confidant or trap you with Thalia if your hand is light on mana, you should be in good shape.
- 4 Cursecatcher
- 3 Harbinger of the Tides
- 4 Lord of Atlantis
- 4 Master of the Pearl Trident
- 3 Master of Waves
- 3 Merrow Reejerey
- 4 Silvergill Adept
- 2 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
This is basically the same situation, except their creatures are less likely to do anything, but they have a few counterspells and Hurkyl's Recall. Luckily, Hurkyl's Recall targets, so if you have hexproof, they can't cast it. This means they're often locked out if you have Ensnaring Bridge and Witchbane Orb.
The way you're most likely to lose is if they have a fast draw and counter your Ensnaring Bridge, so you should prioritize using discard to clear the way for your Bridge. If you already have Ensnaring Bridge in your hand, you can prioritize developing your battlefield rather than trying to cast discard as quickly as possible, since you're not looking to slow them down to by trying to take a creature to break up their curve, since that's not likely to work because their deck is basically full of identical cards. Instead, you want to cast discard the turn before casting Ensnaring Bridge to minimize the chance that they'll draw a counterspell after you make them discard.