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A Basic Witches Guide to Post RTR Standard - Part 3: Control

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A Basic Witches Guide to Post RTR Standard - Part 3: Control Empty A Basic Witches Guide to Post RTR Standard - Part 3: Control

Post  CardboardWitch on Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:30 pm

This article is part 3 in a 4 part series about the various viable decks in post RTR Standard. Today we'll be looking at Control decks in this format. Originally I was going to discuss Combo decks in post RtR as well but a severe lack of quality decklists available online means I'm going to have to create them myself. Since I believe there are at least 4 of these "combo" decks worth looking at that's gonna take a little time folks. My bad. For those of you looking for the previous parts you can find aggro decks here and midrange decks here.

Before we look at the various decks in this category I should point out that when we say "Control" here in post-RTR Standard we basically mean "Decks built around Jace and either Terminus/Entreat the Angels or Bonfire of the Damned". There simply aren't enough viable counterspells and instants in the format to build an old school style control deck and as a result most of these designs are "Tap Out" decks that rely heavily on Planeswalkers. This is fairly consistent with the overall "sorcery speed" of the format and really doesn't hurt them as much as you'd imagine in that context.

American Miracles Control

List: Tenn States Champion 2012

List: SCG Cinci Open Champion

Despite the presence of multiple miracles and Planeswalkers this deck is actually one of the easiest to pilot control decks in recent memory. Basically you use Azorius Charm, Detention Sphere, Pillar of Flame and Snapcaster Mage to hold off your opponent's early game until you can stick a Jace/Tamiyo or in some cases Chandra. From that point forward you're on mono board sweepers (Judgment, Terminus, occasionally Bonfire) until you topdeck an Entreat the Angels and just win. You can also win by sending Tamiyo to ultimate status with any relevant card in hand and while neither Jace or Chandra's ultimate ability will strictly win you the game they do seem to make it much easier for you do so just that on your next few turns.

In terms of fighting this deck you once again have 2 options. You can outrun it or you can outlast it and there are pros and cons to each of these choice.

For many decks outrunning it will be the only option because your late game cards simply aren't as good as the U/W/R player's are. While this deck does a fairly good job of disrupting your early game and stabilizing the board on turns 4-5-6 it's not invulnerable against an early rush. The format's tendency towards Haste and creatures with 2 lives represents a legitimate obstacle for this deck in the early game unless he can topdeck a Terminus at the exact right time. The general problem with this strategy is that eventually your opponent WILL stabilize (usually at 6-10 life) and you'll be topdecking worthless weenies who can't interact with 4/4 Flying Angel tokens. In this regard it can be extremely helpful to have a bunch of direct damage spells at your disposal (Pillar, Searing Blaze, Bump in the Night, Brimstone Volley) and for this reason alone I've never seen this deck beat a smart Zombies player in Game 1. I should also mention that if you are on the "just outrun him" plan do not bother to attack Jace or Tamiyo if it's going to add even a SINGLE additional turn to your kill horizon. If they start an upkeep on 8 Loyalty and you haven't killed him your plan is toast anyways.

The other option of course involves outlasting your opponent and while I'm of the opinion its the more solid option it's not something every deck in the format can do. Simply put this deck pretty much can't win the game if you just kill all the Planeswalkers and Angels tokens. This is at least in part why they run cards like Geist of St Traft and Jace Memory Adept in the SB and it represents the single biggest flaw in the design in my opinion. Unfortunately to accomplish this we're looking at running cards like Dreadbore, Appetite for Brains, Sever the Bloodline, Oblivion Ring and the various Red boardsweeper effects that can kill 4/4 Flying Angels (Mortars, Bonfire). This gives decks like Jund and Junk a reasonable chance of building sideboards designed to kill this deck but takes that option away from say U/W Humans for example.

Azorius Control

List: "Standard" SCG Providence Top 8

List: "Something Completely Different" Top 8 Maine States 2012

As you can see this deck can vary quite a bit; SCG Open build above is essentially American Miracles without the red cards while the deck from Maine leans more towards traditional "control cards and phat creatures" build.

By losing Pillar of Flame and some sideboard cards the first deck gains access to "more of" the good cards in U/W. In particular I think this deck designer's use of 3 maindeck Dissipates shows an incredible amount of foresight considering the rise of Sever and Unburial Rites these past two weeks. I do however question his choice of a single maindeck Detention Sphere; this card is extremely important in U/W control and unless he has some sort of supernatural ability to draw his lone copy *exactly* when he needs it, I don't understand skimping on this particular card at all. I mean unless you spent the last 90 days slumming around "Yu-Gi-Mon" tournaments couldn't you at least borrow a couple more to get up to a reasonable 3?

As for the second deck I don't really have a problem using a 3 pack of Creatures to apply finishing touches in the deck but I'm not overtly thrilled with the choice of Drogskol Reaver and likely would just use more Angel of Serenities. I have also seen people online running 2-4 Augur of Bolas and 3-4 Snapcasters so there's a fair amount of variance on how many and what creatures you are likely to encounter with this build.

As a general rule beating this deck is going to work just like beating the U/W/R version; you'll have to either outrun or outlast it. Generally this version will have more counterspells but losing Pillar is also a cost so I've experienced very little difference between the two decks from an opponent's perspective. I'd guess if I had to say; it's probably a bit easier to outrace U/W and a bit harder to Outlast them but so many of the same cards come into play it's not a huge factor in the matches.

Esper Control

List: 2nd Place PEI Provincials 2012

I choose this deck over other Esper Control decks that did well in larger places primarily because it shows off a broader range of what the deck is capable of doing. In this case the player has actively taken advantage of his access to black mana but it's important to remember that this is not always the case. There are definitely Esper Control decks out there who's entire black requirements consist of the Flashback costs on Lingering Souls and Forbidden Alchemy. In fact this is one of the more frustrating aspects of trying to classify Esper Control is the sheer breadth of cards a given player could be running. When you talk about the color combination of Blue, White and Black you're literally talking about many of the best control cards in Standard and there are simply too many of them to fit them all into one deck. What's more Esper decks tend to contain heavy card draw elements and as such players will often run multiple singleton "Tweak" cards which could quite literally be any appropriate maindeck or even sideboard card in Standard.

Despite this the basic core of the deck tends to function a lot like all of the other control decks in the format. In this case access to Lingering Souls is a bigger part of the early defensive plan than Azorius Charm but otherwise we're talking about the same game plan as the decks above: block, stall and otherwise muck up the game state until you can drop a Planeswalker and top an Entreat the Angels (or an actual Angel, why not?). Personally I'm of the opinion that Control decks are just better with Lingering Souls and Forbidden Alchemy than without them but the cost is obviously felt in terms of mana consistency. This deck would be very very good if Watery Grave were printed in RTR but as it stands I feel it's less consistent than the decks listed above.

I will say that you're far more likely to outrun an Esper control deck than you are to outlast it; cards like Sorin, Vault of the Archangels, Lingering Souls, Sever the Bloodline and Forbidden Alchemy inherently favor the Esper player in a long game.

Izzet/Grixis Control

First and foremost I should mention that I don't have a decklist for you because despite extensive Google searching I couldn't find one that top 16'd anything; at least, anywhere that decklists were registered. With that having been noted I have faced against this decktype several times on Trice and from a purely theoretical standpoint all of the necessary ingredients for a successful control deck are in the card pool. Namely:

- Blood Crypt/Steam Vents gives you the kind of rock solid manabase needed to play control in STD.
- Running this color combination gives you access to Pillar of Flame, Izzet Charm, Dreadbore, Sever the Bloodline and Bonfire of the Damned. It also gives you Snapcaster Mage to work with those cards.
- Cyclonic Rift and Mizzium Mortars *are* in fact cards.
- Between Jace, Tamiyo, Oliva Voldaren, Niv-Mizzet and maybe even Nicol Bolas there's no shortage of quality finishers in this color combination.

If I had to build one off the top of my head based entirely off what I've seen on Trice it might look a little bit like this:

4 Izzet Charm
3 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Cyclonic Rift
3 Pillar of Flame
3 Sever the Bloodline
2 Syncopate
3 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
2 Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
2 Olivia Voldaren
2 Dreadbore
3 Think Twice
1 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Blood Crypt
4 Steam Vents
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Sulfur Falls
6 Island
2 Desolate Lighthouse
1 Swamp
1 Mountain

This is obviously the Grixis version; for pure Izzet I'd imagine you just replace the black cards with more Red Sweepers (Mizzium Mortars/Rolling Trembor) and maybe add a Mercurial Chemister or two to the mix. You probably won't miss Olivia much but I guarantee that you'll miss Sever the Bloodline before too long.

In terms of playing against this deck there's not a whole lot of advice I can give you right now. It's definitely a little slower than the other control decks in the format but if you dump your hand and try to outrace it you risk being blown out by Bonfire of the Damned or Cyclonic Rift. In my experience your best bet is to keep grinding out marginal amounts of advantage while sandbagging a relevant creature or two. His "finishers" are pretty easy to kill, or at least easier to kill than Bant/Aziorious finishers and if you aren't letting him gain 3&4 for 1's out of his sweepers he's eventually going to run out of answers. Patience is the key in this matchup.

Bant Control

List: 2nd Place NJ States 2012

As previously mentioned Bant Control and Bant Midrange are basically the same deck. I've included another list here to show you someone else's take on it but ultimately we're talking about a designer's naming preferences here. Regardless of what they call the deck it will always be a primarily U/W Control deck that happens to run Thragtusk/Restoration Angel and sometimes Centaur Healer.

Well folks, that's about it for Control decks in this format. I'll start working on some decklists for the "Combo" decks I want to talk about in the last part of the article; with any luck we can get that part up later tonight.

-nina
CardboardWitch
CardboardWitch
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Join date : 2012-03-19
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Location : Downtown Toronto

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