Testing R/W Kiki Control: Video

Last month I brewed up R/W Kiki Control, effectively an anti-aggro deck with a combo finish.


Since then, I’ve made some changes to the list, which resulted in this:

[d title=”R/W Kiki Control V2 by Sean Ridgeley”]
2 Pyroclasm

4 Ghostly Prison
3 Blood Moon

1 Batterskull

3 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Magma Jet
4 Lightning Helix

4 Wall of Omens
4 Restoration Angel
2 Kiki-Jiki, MIrror Breaker

4 Arid Mesa
1 Marsh Flats
4 Mountain
7 Plains
1 Rugged Prairie
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Ghost Quarter
4 Temple of Triumph

2 Wear / Tear
1 Spellskite
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
2 Pyroclasm
1 Sowing Salt
4 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Isochron Scepter

kiki control lightning helix

The Ghost Quarter / Tec Edge swap was made to improve our game against Tron; Gideon was cut because Ghostly Prison doesn’t protect him; Palm was cut because the matchups it’s used for are already good; Scepter I like better in the board because of Abrupt Decay. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

Yesterday I took that list for a spin in the tournament practice room on MTGO to see if it’s worthy of dailies. Below are the results. The matches are U/W Control, U/B Delve, Dredgevine, and Merfolk.

(Per reader feedback, I’ve split up the matches into separate videos, for easier digestion.)

Some things to take away from this / random thoughts on the list as it stood:

  • Path is a problem with Blood Moon, not just Ghostly Prison. If it’s a choice between Path and Moon/Prison, I’m taking the latter. There’s no elegant way around this problem, but I believe Roast is the best option: although 2cmc and sorcery speed, it kills almost everything, and is needed with all the Tasigur and Rhino running about. This skews our curve more than I would like, but this is alleviated slightly by the 4 vs 3 Temples.
  • Ghost Quarter is also a problem with Moon and Prison, so back to Edge we go. Molten Rain is a good fit for us and alleviates the GQ cut (as does a Sowing Salt in the board), so for now we’ll be adding a couple.
  • Spellskite, for the same reason as Palm, should be cut.
  • I like Anger of the Gods in the board instead of Pyroclasm because it’s better versus Merfolk and Abzan Company, and we can bring it in versus Zoo. The more demanding cost doesn’t matter much.

kiki control roast

That brings us to…

[d title=”R/W Kiki Control V3 by Sean Ridgeley”]
2 Pyroclasm

4 Ghostly Prison
3 Blood Moon

1 Batterskull

3 Roast
2 Molten Rain

3 Lightning Bolt
3 Magma Jet
4 Lightning Helix

4 Wall of Omens
4 Restoration Angel
2 Kiki-Jiki, MIrror Breaker

4 Arid Mesa
1 Marsh Flats
4 Mountain
7 Plains
1 Rugged Prairie
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Tectonic Edge
4 Temple of Triumph

2 Wear / Tear
1 Isochron Scepter
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
1 Roast
2 Anger of the Gods
4 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Sowing Salt

Not bad! I don’t think I’m confident in this list enough yet to bring it to a daily (not that it couldn’t do well, I just prefer to have no reservations when going in), but it feels almost there. Or maybe it is already — it can be hard to tell with these things sometimes. More testing will say for sure.

Until next time, when I’ll have daily footage and likely a tweaked list to share.

23 thoughts on “Testing R/W Kiki Control: Video

  1. What do you think of chained to the rocks over roast? I’ve seen it as a path replacement in other decks that also don’t like to give their opponents lands and with the RW it shouldn’t be too hard to cast. I know abrupt decay can be a problem, but the sorcery speed is just like roast and the exile effect can be necessary, i feel. Speaking of which, any reason why magma jet over pillar, for example? is scry 2 that much better than exiling? I know control wants it, but just wondering, I guess

    1. Good call. Forgot about Chained. I definitely worry about Decay and enchantment removal. I’ve heard it’s pretty poor overall in practice. But if you or others have had good experiences, I may try it.

      Jet because we need all the pseudo-card advantage we can get, and it helps us set up the combo and find threats (we don’t have a lot). This deck would be much worse without it. Pillar isn’t as relevant anymore. Might put some sideboard, though.

      1. I just re-read your original article because I thought you might address it there and in the comments. Should have checked there first but my comment was a bit impulsive. I understand people have trouble getting to the win cons, so I’m sure jet helps a lot, particularly in deck with a combo that doesn’t play blue.

        I feel you on the not wanting to get blown out by enchant hate. I was just throwing it out there for you to think about in case you forgot. It’s definitely worth testing as it may stretch their enchant hate thinner so you can stick a skull or something.

    2. Really not a fan of Chained, both in this metagame and even abstractly. The sorcery-speed bit isn’t really the issue: Flame Slash and Roast are both sorceries and are totally playable. The problem is that Chained doesn’t actually work against a number of big decks in the format. It’s terrible against Decay decks, because they can spend their Decay to, in effect, get back their creature that’s supposedly dead. They can also do this at the end of your turn to screw with your combat math predictions. Given that Abzan, Jund, Abzan Liege, and Abzan Company are about 20% of the metagame, I really don’t think it’s playable. It’s an even bigger problem when you realize that sorcery speed Slash/Roast style removal is supposed to be GOOD against those decks.

      I would definitely run Roast here. That hits all the 5 toughness creatures in the BGx decks, and picks up all those Grixis decks (Delver, Midrange, Moon, etc.) that are running Tas too. The metagame also has very few decks playing Resto Angel, Hellkite, or Stormbreath, which makes the card even better.

  2. ya, it really is pretty bad…

    I suppose i brought it up on impulse. What about Oust as an alternative? I’m just throwing stuff out to help. Obviously, Roast may easily be the correct card.

    1. No problem.

      I mention Oust and Condemn in the videos. They’re decent but I think they would be problematic. Condemn was for me in the past — too many creatures that do things other than attack. Feeling pretty good about Roast, though.

    2. Hey, sometimes when you look for new tech, you swing and miss. That’s part of the fun!

      Not a big fan of Oust either. Again, this kind of sorcery speed removal seems best in the fairer, grindier matchups where you are facing large threats and not necessarily swarms of smaller ones. Oust just buys you a few turns until you have to face the card again.

      There was a time when I would have suggested Condemn, but with Jund, Abzan Company, and Elves rising through the ranks, it’s increasingly important to be able to kill non-attacking creatures. Roast might not be the most efficient way to kill a Confidant, Anafenza, or Heritage Druid, but at least it can do that if needed. It can also do that ON TOP of killing Rhino/Goyf/Tas. Condemn only hits the big guys (although, in exchange, it’s slightly better than Roast against some aggro decks).

      1. Haha it really is so much fun to bust out tech in a test game. Feels good until you come back down to earth and can really evaluate it with a level head. I’ve been doing that with the few flex spots the Esper mentor deck has. Have tried probe, “hard” counters like logic knot and deprive, and I’m currently on shadow of doubt per an SCG article Anthony Lowry wrote. I added ghost quarter and I’ve been pretty happy. Gonna keep testing. Definitely feel like the deck is missing something, that’s for sure.

        Thanks for your replies btw, guys, it was very pleasant to read. I’m about to watch the vids now that I’m home from work. Love the site and how dedicated to modern it is. It’s quickly become a daily website I check. It really helps I’m a high school statistics teacher cause I’m loving all your articles, Sheridan. I’ve gotten inspired to actually start doing this for my own play testing and building sideboards from the match ups article. Thanks!

  3. Here’s a question – do you think a card like Idyllic Tutor may do you some good here? What I gathered from your videos was that the deck functions best when it uses early removal (such as Bolt/Pyroclasm) for disruption, then follows it up with a Blood Moon/Ghostly Prison, which is enough of a lock to give the Kiki control package the time it needs. At the very least, it probably allows you to trim the number of copies of each enchantment you carry.

    I also wanted to give thanks for all of your hard work. This is quality content, and it should be recognized as such.

  4. I’m a huge fan of Boros and it’s my favorite shell even in modern. I think it’s underrated but hard to build around. As of right now I’m running Bid Skred Red and it does what you are trying to do but better because it runs more threats while still being pretty controlling and more ramp to get a turn 3 Koth the Hammer into a Stormbreath, Batterskull or even Ugin. I think Boros is best built for mid-range not pure control. It’s just not proactive enough, you almost always automatically lose to “real” control deck with blue. You don’t have enough threats so they can just sit and counter all day while they ping you to death with a 4/4 angel. Those matches are just miserable. In my opinion, and of course these are just my idea’s, I would do something like this main deck;

    -2 pyroclasm
    -2 Ghostly Prison
    -1 Batterskull
    -2 Molten Rain
    -3 Magma Jet
    -1 Roast
    -4 Lightning Helix

    +4 Blade Splicer
    +2 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
    +1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
    +1 Lightning Bolt
    +4 Path of Exile
    +1 Blood Moon
    +2 Hero of Bladehold (or Volcanic Fallout)

    Here is my reasoning on why I would remove those certain cards.
    1. Pyroclasm- I like this is a possible side board only card. Yes it is easy to cast but sometimes it’s an absolutely dead card. I like Volcanic Fallout better. Yes, it is 3 mana, but you are only running 2 colors and the double red shouldn’t be a problem. When a sweeper is dead at least Volcanic Fallout is an uncounterable 2 damage if nothing else so it’s technically never dead.

    2. Magma Jet- I’ve tested this card in every Boros build I brew. In the end it just feels so underwhelming. 2 mana for 2 damage is so poor. I felt like I was paying 2 mana just to scry. Then I thought, might as well jam in higher quality cards that I would be trying to scry for anyway.

    3. Molten Rain- I like this as side board but not mainboard. Blood moon is your virtual land destruction, no need for anymore main board.

    4. Ghostly Prison (-2). I love a 2 of here. Against aggro this card is great. Its a pain for Mid-range decks to deal with sometimes. I’m not a fan of it late game and 4 just feels like way too much. Too many decks get around it for a 4 of.

    5. Roast (-1). Im’ a fan of a 2 of here but not 3. That sorcery speed and 2 mana does suck.

    6. Lightning Helix. I like the card alright but one of your major win cons (unless you are just trying to burn them to death which in all honestly is how most of your matches will end up because you can’t really protect your combo by drawing out enough counter spells etc, so you might as well play Burn) is your combo and as of right now you struggle to get it, you need to bait removal and counters with more permanents or they dont’ have it just beat them down.

    Now this is why i’ve added those certain cards;

    1. Blade Splicer. This card has so much value. The 1/1 is a good chump blocker and the 3/3 first trike token is great on offense and defense.

    2. Brimaz. Yet again value. I like cards that can always impact the game. He’s good early and good late. He puts pressure on if dropped turn 3 and can help stabilize turn 10.

    3. Kiki (+1). I think adding one more helps guarantee you’ll run into the combo at least once. In your build he’s your best win con and 2 of might struggle to see it.

    4. Lightning Bolt (+1). No way I would never not run the full play set in modern. It’s one of the defining cards of modern. It’s offense and defense. Run the play set main board.

    5. Path to Exile (+4). Even with Blood Moon I run a play set or 3 at the least. It’s the biggest reason or almost the biggest reason to splash white in modern. Does it allow them to fetch a basic? Yes, but if you use path to exile at certain times it is so worth since it is the best removal spell in modern. You misplayed it in round 2. You should have just held onto it, you had a ghostly prison and blood moon in hand. They only had 2 lands. You should have dropped the prison and blood moon and locked him about of attacking for a bit then played the Path when you needed it. A ton of decks only run 2-3 basics anyway and some only one. A blood moon can still crap on their plans even if they have a basic in play. Run the paths man. You will especially want them if your blood moon is useless.

    6. Blood Moon (+1). Unlike Ghostly Prison, Blood Moon in the current meta just wins against 40% of the decks on its’ on and hoses to some extent almost all of them. Some decks are kind of resiliant vs it like Grixis Delver or any delver can still be hurt by it early on. I played against it twice this weeeknd and an early bloodmoon gave me time. You can always side out 1 or 2 if need be or all against a mono-green.

    7. Hero of Bladehold. If he’s resolved more than two turns you pretty much win. He will draws so much hate though which is why I mentioned Volcanic Fallout as your two of sweeper if you want. The deck outside if your 1/1 and tokens are resilient.

    Now if you are dead set on heavy controlling I guess you can replace the Hero of Bladehold with those Volcanic Fallout. The 4 blade splicers with Lightning helix though I’m a fan of the board presence.

    If you absolutely do not want to run that many creatures then you could drop the two Brimaz for Ajani Vengeant and tap down threats. AJani also gives controlling players something to deal with which yet again baits out removal. Ajani+blood moon+ghostly prison is a decent lock down.

    Your sideboard needs Wrath of God if you decide on the very controlling one and maybe even a one of if you run 15+ creatures, if not then Anger of the Gods and possibly Surgcial Extraction are good.

    Either way you need more threats.

    1. Also wanted to add that I can understand if you drop the Hero of Bladehold. It’s hard to land him. Now that i think about it more, Ajani just seems great. If nothing else he can give you a fog for a turn by soaking up a hit.

    2. I quite like Skred Red and will be covering it at some point in the future.

      That’s not just changing some cards, it’s making a completely different deck. I’m trying to make this specific approach as competitive as possible. That said, yeah, maybe we should swap some removal for Jotun Grunt or something – I ran those before to good effect.

      For the approach you’re talking about, I like Hoogland’s White Moon list best (updated somewhat, of course).

      1. I have a control variant of Boros.

        These are self explanatory:
        Lightning Boltx4
        Path to Exile x 4
        Volcanic Fallout x 2
        Flame Slash x 2 ( I like the one mana cost especially early on to kill a Birds or Hierarch. It’s much better turns 1-3 than Roast. It hits fliers. It avoids Spell Snare)

        Win Cons:
        Kiki x 3
        Resto x 4
        Stormbreath x 2
        Batterskull x 1


        Blood Moon x 3
        Ghostly Prison x 3
        Wall of Omens x 4
        Ajani Vengeant x 2 (he’s been great overall for me, I use him in my Boros Mid-range, and is very good against controlling decks or even other midrange)
        Chandra Pyromancer x 1 (card advantage)


        1x Anger of the Gods
        2x Grafdigger’s Cage
        2x Kor Firewalker
        3x Relic of Progenitus
        2x Rending Volley
        1x Spellskite
        2x Stony Silence
        2x Wear / Tear

        1. As far as Skred Red goes here is my list and so far it’s handled with ease;

          Boros and Naya Burn
          Grixis Delver and UR Delver

          It fairs okay or at least 60/40 with my Collected Elves (closer to 50/50 after Elves sideboard) and against Podless Pod. Affinity hasn’t been to bad, it’s also 50/50 maybe even 55/45 Skred.

          My list:

          2x Batterskull
          4x Mind Stone
          4x Relic of Progenitus

          4x Blood Moon

          4x Lightning Bolt
          4x Skred
          3x Volcanic Fallout

          2x Roast (or Flame Slash depending on your meta i interchange them)

          1x Chandra, Pyromaster
          4x Koth of the Hammer
          1x Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

          3x Stormbreath Dragon
          1x Wurmcoil Engine

          Sideboard (15)
          1x Boil
          1x Chandra, Pyromaster
          3x Dragon’s Claw
          2x Grafdigger’s Cage
          2x Molten Rain
          2x Pyrite Spellbomb
          2x Rending Volley
          2x Shatterstorm

          In Big Skred i like Roast over Flame Slash currently since Tasigur, Goyf, Seige Rhino, Gurmag, and a buffed Knight of the Reliquary are running rampart right now. Boros has access to Path to Exile so in that shell I like Flame Slash. Even still Flame Slash still could be the right answer as it dodges that Spell Snare but it’s your call, both are good.

          Pyrite Spell Bomb can come in for Roast if it’s not needed. Also it hits Etched Champion.

          Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, what can I say? He just wins games. I’ve hit him turn 4 once and turn 5 a couple of times. In Big Skred he’s fairly easy to ramp into. If he resolves..that is pretty much game.

  5. Hey fellas, I run something along similar lines with a Naya enchantress build. Now, my deck and yours are by no means the same deck, but from what I see you’re probably running into some of the same problems.

    Here is my list, I’ve tried to think outside of the box with some of my choices, and they work nicely in my build (again, it’s not the same deck, but perhaps there are few things that could be mutually beneficial.)

    2 Heliod, God of the Sun
    2 Nyx-Fleece Ram
    3 Eidolon of Blossoms

    3 Suppression Field
    4 Ghostly Prison
    3 Leyline of Sanctity
    2 Oblivion Ring
    1 Rest in Peace
    3 Runed Halo
    2 Sigil of the Empty Throne
    2 Sphere of Safety
    3 Utopia Sprawl
    2 Greater Auramancy
    2 Oppressive Rays
    1 War’s Toll (or Manabarbs)
    1 Worship
    2 Idyllic Tutor
    1 Open the Vaults

    3 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
    5 Plains
    4 Temple Garden
    2 Forest
    2 Stomping Ground
    2 Horizon Canopy
    3 Mutavault

    SB: 1 Rest in Peace
    SB: 1 Leyline of Sanctity
    SB: 2 Stony Silence
    SB: 2 Wrath of God
    SB: 2 Choke
    SB: 3 Nevermore
    SB: 2 Sowing Salt
    SB: 2 Defense Grid

    I don’t run any paths for precisely the reason you’ve mentioned. Instead, I’ve opted to just leave threats on the table idle with oppressive waves. It’s also a nice way to slow down decks which use birds/or Noble H’s to jump out ahead on mana.

    Worship + Man lands = frustrated opponents. I can’t tell you how many games this has bought me time. It’s not fool proof as it doesn’t help against infect or life-loss, but it is great at what it does. I like it as a one of, because of redundancy issues.

    War’s Toll/Manabarbs–I’ve played with both and honestly I can’t tell which I like more. War’s toll does a great job of limiting an opponent’s option–particularly if you have a ghostly prison down, and late game, it can be crippling against counter heavy decks. Manabarbs is a snake in the grass card, which has won me quite a few games (and lost me a few) but with runed halo in triplicate I can typically protect myself from it.

    Suppression field–not really an option in your deck as you run quite a few activated abilities, but you could swap it out for something like Torpor Orb which hoses decks differently, but equally well.

    I read your previous article as well, and I think you’re on to something. I like the more straight-forward “prisony” build, but I just thought I’d weigh in. Seriously though, Worship and man-lands is a thing I’d look into,

    1. Forgot about Rays. Nice card that synergizes well with Prison. But it has the same problem as Chained, doesn’t exile, and can eventually be played around.

      Not very interested in the rest, which I think are much better suited to the prison build, which I’ll get to soonish.

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