Commander Corner: Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Welcome back,

Its that time of the year again! Spoiler season is upon us, and it’s been a good one so far. With several promising cards, and some busted ones like Day’s Undoing, we are looking at what has the potential to be the best core set ever. It’s always great to go out on a bang. Going into this set, I’ve really been looking forward to one card in particular. A certain planeswalker that aligns himself with blue mana.

en_jM4lpIu9Uy Jace-Telepath-Unbound-Magic-Origins-Planeswalker

Of cource, I’m talking about Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. At first glance, I honestly didn’t know what to think of this guy. He definitely isn’t what I was expecting, but he isn’t bad either. He will make for a useful general, and a hard one to get rid of to boot. For a two mana general, he isn’t bad. His ability to loot for free is nice, and he is super easy to flip. He will most likely always flip the turn you untap with him. His plus ability isn’t stellar, but it can keep you from taking a few points of damage, and keep him around. His minus ability is awesome. Having a [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c] on a stick is wonderful and is definitely the best part of him. His ultimate is quite funny, and can make for an interesting path to victory, if you choose to take it. All in all, we can definitely work with him. Lets take a look at what we can cook up with the prodigy of Vryn.

[d title=”Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Lands

1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All

1 Coral Atoll

1 Evolving Wilds

1 Flooded Strand

1 Halimar Depths

24 Island

1 Lonely Sandbar

1 Myriad Landscape

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Polluted Delta

1 Reliquary Tower

1 Remote Isle

1 Temple of the False God

1 Terramorphic Expanse

[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Archaeomancer

1 Augur of Bolas

1 Clever Impersonator

1 Clone

1 Consecrated Sphinx

1 Draining Whelk

1 Duplicant

1 Guile

1 Mercurial Pretender

1 Phantasmal Image

1 Sakashima the Impostor

1 Sakashima’s Student

1 Talrand, Sky Summoner

1 Vesuvan Doppelganger

1 Vesuvan Shapeshifter

[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Blue Sun’s Zenith

1 Brainstorm

1 Coutnerspell

1 Cryptic Command

1 Cyclonic Rift

1 Day’s Undoing

1 Deprive

1 Desertion

1 Dig Through Time

1 Dissipate

1 Dissolve

1 Evacuation

1 Fact or Fiction

1 Gather Specimens

1 Impulse

1 Last Word

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Pongify

1 Pulse of the Grid

1 Rapid Hybridization

1 Rewind

1 Supplant Form

1 Trickbind

[/d]

[d]

Sorceries

1 Acquire

1 Bribery

1 Clone Legion

1 Curse of the Swine

1 Knowledge Exploitation

1 Ponder

1 Preordain

1 Rite of Replication

1 Spelltwine

1 Tempt with Reflections

1 Treasure Cruise

Enchantments

1 Jace’s Sanctum

1 Treachery

[/d]

[d]

Artifacts

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Eye of Ramos

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Lightning Greaves

1 Runechanter’s Pike

1 Sensei’s Divining Top

1 Sol Ring

1 Sphinx-Bone Wand

1 Thran Dynamo

Planeswalker

1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

[/d]

Seems pretty simple. Its a control deck that wins using clone spells to kill your opponent. Almost all of our creatures are clone spells, which can make things interesting. The deck tends to take some interesting lines that may seem a little unorthodox to our opponent. Sometimes you have to let their big monster resolve, only just to get one of our own. Its unique, powerful, and most importantly, fun.

This deck is a control deck first and foremost. There is plenty of card draw, counterspells, and ways to keep creatures off the board, to allow us to get to the late game. When our opponent is starting to slam down their hay makers, we can start copying them. Or whatever else we want to. With a board full of the same creatures, the games will tend to go into a stalemate for a while. We do have a way to alleviate that with some ways to push our creatures through. We can tap down our opponents team with [c]Cryptic Command[/c], or just return them all to their hand with [c]Cyclonic Rift[/c].

If you can’t contain the board for whatever reason, we do have a reset button with [c]Evacuate[/c]. We also have some threats of our own if our clones aren’t getting the job done. [c]Consecrated Sphinx[/c] will usually win us the game in a few turns with all of the cards we will be drawing. [c]Talrand, Sky Summoner[/c] can create a bunch of evasive tokens, which will keep the pressure on our opponents while we cast our other spells. [c]Guile[/c] will just turn our counterspells into [c]Spelljack[/c], which will turn the game around quickly in our favor.

Jace isn’t so much of a win condition for us as he is a great tool for us by helping us get more value out of our spells and keeping us alive. He can also help us push through our creatures by putting combat in our favor instead of having the board locked up. You will never really use his ultimate unless you really need a way to win. Its going to be difficult churning through an opponents deck five cards at a time. It does trigger off of every spell we cast, but it still will take a lot of work to win by milling them out.

This deck does have an issue with hyper aggressive decks. We usually don’t do much on the first few turns, so if somebody get to putting pressure on us in the first couple of turns, we may just get pushed out of the game. We can stall the game out so that we can get going, but it may not be enough some times. As long as we can get to the late game, we should be favored to win.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any comments or suggestions, let me know in the comments below. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

Commander Corner: Keranos, God of Storms

Welcome,

So about that [c]Ghost Council of Orzhova[/c] deck that I alluded to last week… it’s taking me a bit longer to get that done than I originally expected. I’ve decided to work a bit longer on it because I really want to make this one right. I love Ghost Dad and I just want to make sure that I nail it.

So it’s a good thing my friend gave me a bit of a challenge to work on and test for him this week. He has been in and out of Magic for awhile now and wanted me to help him build a new EDH deck. He told me he wanted to build [c]Keranos, God of Storms[/c] and had some stuff for it. We were talking back and forth and we decided to attempt to build this deck with a specific restriction. We decided not to run any creatures besides Keranos himself. He said that he wanted something unique, and we both agreed a creatureless build seems pretty unique.

With my restriction set, I was off to build the the deck of my friend’s dreams. I think I did a good job.

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A deck for a friend. To crush me with. I guess it’s fine if I build the tools that lead to my own destruction.

[d title= “Keranos, God of Storms (EDH)”]
Commander
1 Keranos, God of Storms
Lands
1 Command Tower
1 Desolate Lighthouse
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Halimar Depths
14 Island
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Izzet Guildgate
11 Mountain
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Shivan Reef
1 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Terrain Generator
1 Terramorphic Expanse
[/d]
[d]
Instants
1 Brainstorm
1 Chaos Warp
1 Comet Storm
1 Counterflux
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Desertion
1 Dig Through Time
1 Dissolve
1 Electrolyze
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Fire // Ice
1 Impulse
[/d]
[d]
Instants Cont.
1 Izzet Charm
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Mindswipe
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Negate
1 Prophetic Bolt
1 Reality Shift
1 Remand
1 Rewind
1 Smash to Smithereens
1 Stifle
1 Suffocating Blast
1 Swan Song
1 Think Twice
[/d]
[d]
Sorceries
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Bribery
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Past in Flames
1 Plea for Power
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Shattering Spree
1 Spelltwine
1 Treasure Cruise
[/d]
[d]
Enchantments
1 Monastery Siege
1 Rhystic Study
1 Thought Reflection
1 Treachery
Artifacts
1 Coercive Portal
1 Commander’s Sphere
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Izzet Keyrune
1 Izzet Signet
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Sphinx-Bone Wand
[/d]
[d]
Planeswalkers
1 Chandra, the Firebrand
1 Dack Fayden
1 Jace Beleren
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Karn Liberated
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Teferi, Temporal Archmage
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon [/d]

Cost: MTGO = 188.33 TIX | Paper = $383.48

Izzet mages everywhere should be giddy at the sight of this list. It’s pure control, burn, and card advantage. This deck is filled to the brim with cheap interaction, cantrips, sweepers, and best of all, planeswalkers. This deck is the antithesis of anything involving aggression. It’s all about card advantage and controlling the flow of battle.

You control the game. Nothing resolves unless you say so. Nothing lives unless you allow it, including other players. You and Keranos are in control of the the game.

This deck is all about card advantage. Whether it be simply drawing extra cards or getting two-for-ones. To develop this advantage, we have some of the best cards in the business to do so. We have our bread and butter spells in these colors, like [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], [c]Counterspell[/c], [c]Fact or Fiction[/c], [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], and [c]Cryptic Command[/c]. These spells are simply the best at what they do, and pretty much should just be in every deck that is trying this game plan in these colors.  In fact, most of our instants and sorceries are in here because I think they are the best at what they do. This package of spells have proven time and time again that they are simply some of the best red and blue instants and sorceries in the format. They have won me countless numbers of games throughout my time playing this format. Things start to get spicy when we look at our haymakers.

The way to turn that card advantage into something meaningful is with our planeswalkers and our general. While some are in here to help generate card advantage, like [c]Jace Beleren[/c], most of them are here to beat our opponent into dust.

[c]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/c] is one of the most powerful planeswalkers ever printed. He’s one of the only planeswalkers that actually wants the board to be filled with threats. He just comes down and resets the board, except you have a planeswalker and they don’t.

[c]Karn Liberated[/c] is no slouch either. He’s been pulling his weight for years in Modern Tron decks, and he does exactly that here. Unconditional removal and discard on a stick is exactly what we want.

[c]Teferi, Temporal Archmage[/c] is an interesting choice, but one that I found to be quite useful. He can tick up and allow us to sift through our deck and find what we need, or he lets us untap lands and keep mana up after we cast our general. His ultimate is usually “lights out” in most games. Your planeswalkers just get to go bananas and will get out of hand very quickly. Let’s not forget who the real man of the hour here is though.

[c]Keranos, God of Storms[/c] is great. If you haven’t had the experience of playing against this guy, you should count yourself lucky, because it is brutal. Playing with this guy on the board is wonderful. Either you get to draw two cards a turn, or you get to draw one card and [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] something, which is pretty much the same as drawing an extra card.

Yes, your opponent gets to know what cards you’re drawing, but I have yet to get into a situation where that actually mattered all that much. Yes, they are able to know if we have a counter spell or not, but they still have to deal with it eventually. The more time they spend playing around the cards they know about, the better it is for us because the games end up going longer. The longer the games go, the more likely we are to win.

Keranos will keep your hand stocked with cards, allowing you to get to the late game with ease. Plus, he is extremely hard to deal with. Being an indestructible enchantment, or sometimes creature as well, is difficult to deal with unless your opponent exiles him. He tends to stick around a long time. If he isn’t dealt with, he will just take over a game, there is no two ways about it.

If you’re the kind of guy that likes to win on your terms, not theirs, play this deck. If you like to sit around and dictate how everything plays out, you should be playing this deck. If you’re like me, you should be playing this deck. I would build this if I already didn’t have [c]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/c]. This deck is a control player’s dream, and an aggressive player’s worst nightmare. Creatures don’t stick around long, and your hand is never without action. Be warned though, you may lose some friends.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for a general for me to write about, or a topic, please let me know in the comments below. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

 

The Many Flavors of Goblins in Modern

krenkos command art

Hi all,

Everyone goes gaga over tribes, and Goblins are no exception. They’re cheap to buy and cheap to cast, and droves of them often swing for lethal by the critical turn four. Still, they aren’t producing results. Perhaps it is because we are giving them the wrong role. Consider where they are most powerful in Legacy: a slew of them mix with [c]Rishadan Port[/c] and [c]Wasteland[/c] for a control deck. Again, in Vintage, where many decks win with a few cards, the go-to game plan is [c]Goblin Lackey[/c] on turn one into [c]Goblin Warchief[/c] and [c]Earwig Squad[/c] on turn two. This is a very controlling strategy.

In Modern, we have been focused on one thing: attacking quickly, and reaching with [c]Goblin Guide[/c]. The most recent exciting thing for many Goblins enthusiasts has been [c]Howl of the Horde[/c]. A turn four triple [c]Goblin Grenade[/c] still doesn’t launch our green friends to success, though.

Instead of the aggressive strategy, then, let’s try and take Goblins through the other two modes of play: Control and Combo.

Control Goblins

What exactly are we trying to control with a red-based deck, and how do Goblins contribute to it?

Looking at Modern as a whole, we want to have favorable percentages, or at least plans, against Twin, Abzan, Affinity, Infect, Burn, and Amulet Bloom.

vs. Twin – First of all, we can assert the aggressor role and race. Traditional Goblins decks have been blown out by [c]Electrolyze[/c] in the match-up, but we can do better than a horde of x/1 creatures. Sideboard [c]Combust[/c] and [c]Rending Volley[/c] keep them off their combo plan, and other pieces of burn removal ensure that we can get there.

vs. Abzan – This is a nightmare matchup for Goblins. If they develop their mana, we will throw fodder into massive rhinos and lhurgoyfs until finally succumbing to the stampede. Goblins do not have to allow them to develop their mana, though. We have two of the most powerful effects against Abzan available: [c]Magus of the Moon[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c]. We can bolt their birds or target them with [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c].

vs. Affinity – It is strictly a race, but we can play cards that give us the edge in the race: [c]Tin Street Hooligan[/c] seems limited in scope, but a beater for two that grows is efficient enough. [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] keeps [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c] shenanigans at bay, and our sideboard has the most powerful effects available to beat Affinity.

vs. Infect – Infect folds to sufficient removal. [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] and [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], coupled with a nice clock should eliminate their [c]Blighted Agent[/c] and [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] so that we can keep blocking and establishing a clock.

vs. Burn – Like Affinity, we are out to race Burn, but [c]Aether Vial[/c] keeps us from just losing whenever they have an [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] and are ahead, and [c]Dragon’s Claw[/c] post side will give us a lot of life since we are casting red spells as well.

vs. Amulet Bloom – We have the only relevant cards against the [c]Primeval Titan[/c] plan and the [c]Hive Mind[/c] plan: [c]Magus of the Moon[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c].

So why choose Goblins for a control deck, anyway? Well, [c]Goblin Rabblemaster[/c] has shown himself to be a capable card even in Jund Midrange, so if those same wheels get turning in Goblins, the train will be hard to stop.

Now that we know what we need to have a plan against archetypes, let’s see if we can build a deck with consistency and pressure.

[d title=”Control Goblins (Modern)”]
Lands
4 Copperline Gorge
8 Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills

Creatures
4 Ember Hauler
1 Goblin King
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Magus of the Moon
1 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Simian Spirit Guide
3 Tin Street Hooligan
4 Warren Instigator

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
3 Blood Moon
4 Lightning Bolt

Sideboard
1 Blood Moon
4 Dragon’s Claw
4 Rending Volley
4 Searing Blaze
1 Shattering Spree
1 Tin Street Hooligan [/d]

If we’re being honest, this is really a deck that is looking for free wins with turn 2, [c]Simian Spirit Guide[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c] or [c]Magus of the Moon[/c]. Of course, while this works against a massive portion of the format, we have to place it in a shell that can still win otherwise.

Looking back at the list, I like our chances here against the format. The only deck that gives me a lot of pause is Zoo, and that is why the 4 [c]Searing Blaze[/c] are in the sideboard.

Combo Goblins

Modern does not have anything remotely close to [c]Food Chain[/c] in terms of power level, but when we fail to port a list from Legacy or Vintage into Modern, we know our next step: old Extended.

There is a long-forgotten piece of equipment that combined nicely with Goblins and Shamans there: [c]Thornbite Staff[/c]. Together with [c]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/c], a number of infinite combinations are present. The easiest two are [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] and [c]Lightning Crafter[/c], winning on the spot. [c]Ember Hauler[/c] may or may not win immediately, but he will certainly get you close. Aside from those, we can likely easily clear the board with [c]Siege-Gang Commander[/c] or [c]Lightning Crafter[/c].

[d title=”Combo Goblins (Modern)”]
Land
20 Mountain

Creatures
4 Ember Hauler
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Krenko, Mob Boss
4 Lightning Crafter
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Mogg War Marshall
1 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Warren Instigator

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
4 Thornbite Staff

Sideboard
4 Blood Moon
4 Dragon’s Claw
4 Rending Volley
3 Shattering Spree[/d]

Finally, since so many want to do stuff like this …

[d title=”Aggro Goblins (Modern)”]
Land
20 Mountain

Creatures
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Goblin Buswhacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Legion Loyalist
4 Mogg War Marshall

Other Spells
4 Dragon Fodder
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Krenko’s Command
4 Obelisk of Urd
4 Shared Animosity[/d]

If it isn’t [c]Foundry Street Denizen[/c] into [c]Krenko’s Command[/c] (attack for 3) into [c]Hordeling Outburst[/c] AND [c]Obelisk of Urd[/c], then my friend, it isn’t curving out.

So will any green men rise to the top besides Elves, aided now by [c]Collected Company[/c]? I think if we shift gears away from Aggro, Goblins can do it!

-drinkard

Faithless Looting #15: Izzet Over Yet?

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

I’ll make my call now and then shut up about it. My prediction is the TC gets banned, but not until January, and that it is banned in at least Pauper and Modern; I don’t follow other formats well enough to know if it is breaking them. That said, our weekend Daily results were mixed. One of the dailies had very little Cruise, and the next had plenty. Zero of the 4-0 lists on November 7 were packing Cruise; three out of four were on November 8.

If you can’t beat ’em …

If and until TC gets banned, I recommend picking up the damn card and playing it. You like drawing three, don’t you son? Well, there you go.

The list I like the most is this Kiln Fiend control deck, exemplified by Zakurero22 here:

[d title=”Kiln Control by Zakurero22 (Pauper)”]
Land
4 Evolving Wilds
2 Great Furnace
5 Island
4 Izzet Boilerworks
5 Mountain
2 Seat of the Synod

Creatures
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Kiln Fiend
1 Mulldrifter
4 Nivix Cyclops

Spells
2 Deep Analysis
3 Faithless Looting
4 Firebolt
3 Flame Slash
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Preordain
2 Serum Visions
3 Treasure Cruise

Sideboard
1 Deep Analysis
3 Electrickery
2 Electrostatic Bolt
1 Flaring Pain
4 Hydroblast
4 Pyroblast [/d]

Use burn to control your opponent’s board, then hit them for 4-7 with a Kiln Fiend. Use TC to refill (obvs), and you’ll be saying GG before you know it. This deck is great right now because it has both a strong aggro plan and a strong control plan; few decks can switch so capably between a quick goldfish and a grindy game of card advantage.

… stomp ’em.

If playing TC isn’t your thing, now is a good time to go green. Stompy is putting up results and it’s always a strong deck; just tune it slightly for the meta and it can 4-0, no problem. Of course, if you really love green, you might consider giving Elves a shot instead. Here is the list that Garruk17 went 4-0 with this past weekend.

[d title=”Elves by Garruk17 (Pauper)”]
Land
12 Forest
1 Island

Creatures
4 Birchlore Rangers
3 Elvish Mystic
2 Fyndhorn Elves
3 Llanowar Elves
4 Lys Alana Huntmaster
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Priest of Titania
4 Quirion Ranger
3 Sylvan Ranger
4 Timberwatch Elf
4 Wellwisher

Spells
4 Distant Melody
3 Viridian Longbow
1 Spidersilk Armor

Sideboard
2 Spidersilk Armor
3 Fog
4 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Scattershot Archer
2 Thermokarst [/d]

The 4x Wellwisher in the main make it so that all the other aggro decks have a really hard time racing you. 3x Viridian Longbow and 1x Spidersilk Armor give Delver a tough run, too.

Sign up for our League!

It’s not too late to sign up for Community League #3, but it’s getting close. The format is Standard Pauper, the goal is to have fun and meet people, and there are nearly 30 people signed up so far. Join the fun! Sign up in the comments over here. You’ve only got a couple days left before registration ends. Week One match-ups will be posted here on the site on Friday, November 14.

That’s all for this week. Don’t forget to check out our Extra Life page, and give if you can!

Extra Life

Do it for the children.

Until next time, keep the faith!

/bava

Exhume and Crush: A Primer

by David Shaffer (Shaffawaffa5)

Editor’s Note: David wrote this some time ago for MTGOStrat but it was never published. Since David is such an excellent deck-builder, author, and Magic player, once we got permission to do so we jumped at the chance to publish it. Keep in mind that some parts of the article may be out of date.

[d title=”Exhume Control (Pauper)”]

Lands

3 Bojuka Bog

4 Dimir Aqueduct

9 Island

2 Swamp

4 Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures

4 Mulldrifter

3 Ulamog’s Crusher

Spells

2 Agony Warp

4 Compulsive Research

2 Counterspell

2 Diabolic Edict

1 Doom Blade

4 Exhume

2 Innocent Blood

1 Nihil Spellbomb

4 Preordain

2 Probe

4 Prohibit

2 Serrated Arrows

1 Tragic Slip

Sideboard

2 Doom Blade

2 Duress

2 Evincar’s Justice

3 Hydroblast

2 Piracy Charm

1 Probe

1 Ulamog’s Crusher

1 Wail of the Nim

1 Walker of the Grove

[/d]

This deck originated as a whacky idea I had to transform the historically all-in Reanimator deck into a more controllish list. That’s right we usually cast [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c] to win the game. About once every other game, however, we are Exhuming at least one [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c] into play. But [c]Exhume[/c] does more in this list than in your traditional Reanimator deck. You’re also able to exhume back a [c]Mulldrifter[/c].

Historically, the all-in Reanimator decks try to win before the opponent can establish a board presence. The all-in Reanimator pilot avoids Exhume’s symmetrical nature by winning before their opponent can get a creature in the graveyard. But this plan is inconsistent and easily disruptable. In Exhume Control we approach the problem in a different way. We bypass Exhume’s symmetrical nature in one of three ways.

First we can avoid removing our opponent’s creatures and Exhume as quickly as possible. This is akin to the traditional reanimator route. Second, we use [c]Bojuka Bog[/c] or [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c] to remove our opponent’s graveyard. Third, we Exhume back a [c]Mulldrifter[/c]. A resolved Mulldrifter is a three for one. So if we cast [c]Exhume[/c] and our opponent returns a creature like [c]Myr Enforcer[/c] or [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c] then we’re actually up a card in the exchange. This is the least preferred route of bypassing Exhume’s symmetrical nature, but sometimes the small bit of card advantage or the 2/2 flier is all you need to lock up the game.

The rest of the deck is a pretty standard control shell. But I’ll highlight a few cards.

[c]Probe[/c] has been good in any match-up you’re not getting steamrolled in, but it has been an absolute all-star in any control match-up. The ability to pitch your unwanted Crushers for more valuable cards, and make your opponent discard their last few cards is very powerful.

[c]Tragic Slip[/c], a recommendation by KimS has been a great addition. You’re able to trigger morbid off [c]Mulldrifter[/c] Evokes, and your other removal. Having an early answer to [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] and a cheap answer that allows you to play around [c]Spellstutter Sprite[/c] is very nice. The card’s flexibility has had me thinking that I might add more.

[c]Innocent Blood[/c] has been right on the edge for me. Sometimes you need the cheap removal. Taking out a turn one Delver is really important, and having a removal spell with counter backup on turn three is also pretty nice. Plus it has been beneficial that it is a sorcery so it can get around [c]Dispel[/c] in the Delver-Fiend match-up. At the same time [c]Innocent Blood[/c] has been a little awkward. Sometimes you’ve got a Crusher or Drifter out, but you need some removal to take out potentially lethal attackers. [c]Innocent Blood[/c] is miserable here. If you wanted to cut it, I would respect your decision.

The last card I want to highlight is [c]Prohibit[/c]. I think it is also just good enough. It has some relevant target in every deck. Even against MonoB, who casts infinite three drops, [c]Prohibit[/c] allows you to [c]Exhume[/c] a Crusher and keep up countermagic against their 2-mana removal. Or you can counter an early [c]Sign in Blood[/c]. The other deck that you sort of lack targets against is Tron. Tron is already a great match-up, so I tend to just fire off [c]Prohibit[/c]s on their mana fixing. In all other match-ups, I’ve found [c]Prohibit[/c] is about as good as a [c]Counterspell[/c].

Positives and Negatives of the Deck

Positives

This deck plays out as the control deck of control decks. With recent rises in UR Control, Teachings, Tron, and MonoU control, this deck out controls them all. We’re seldom the beat down because we have more card advantage and a very powerful end game that makes it difficult for our opponents to interact with us.

Most aggressive decks that don’t have the ability to interact with our game play will fall victim to our removal suite. We have a lot of one for one removal spells. But we also have [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c] and [c]Serrated Arrows[/c] to mow down strategies that build outward quickly.

Lastly, we always have the combo kill. A lot of control decks in the current meta have some match-ups that they just can’t win. From my understanding, UR control basically can’t beat green decks, Tron has a hard time with Familiars, etc. These decks aren’t great for us either. We are even more controllish than them. But against all these problem decks Exhume Control can miss a turn 3-4 Crusher and hope that gets there. While this option is not always ideal, at least an option to go combo exists.

Negatives

Exhume Control can be tempoed out by decks that can hinder our game plan. Delver of course is the staple tempo-er and is a challenging opponent. MonoB control can win games off the back of a steady stream of 2/2s for 3, hand/creature disruption and a well-timed Gray Merchant. U/R control or MonoU control can tempo us out as well with a counter magic backed Delver.

The deck also can get unlucky and draw the wrong parts of its deck. Because it is a combo oriented control deck, it has awkward draws slightly more often than your traditional control deck. In addition to times when you can get mana screwed or draw no draw spells, sometimes with Exhume Control you get all your Exhumes but no creatures or no way to remove your opponent’s threat laden graveyard. Sometimes you get all the creatures and no Exhumes. This additional element of variance doesn’t happen all that often, but it is certainly a knock against the deck because it forces you to play even better to mitigate the additional variance.

Match-Ups

Delver

Sideboard: -4 [c]Exhume[/c], -1 [c]Crusher[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -1 [c]Probe[/c]: + 2 [c]Dispel[/c], +2 [c]Piracy Charm[/c], +1 [c]Wail of Nim[/c], +2 [c]Doomblade[/c]

The match-up everyone cares the most about is also slightly unfavorable. [c]Exhume[/c] is pretty bad here since if they Spellstutter it, and if you counter the Stutter or kill a faerie in response the Exhume, the [c]Exhume[/c]’s resolution will give them their guy back. [c]Ninja of the Deep Hours[/c] is the biggest issue they bring main deck, as he can get them more threats than you can deal with. Post-board you need to counter every Stormbound Geist you see, as he makes your edicts and arrows terrible. If they can reset him via Ninja or [c]Snap[/c], then you’ve probably lost.

Having said all of that, the match-up is not unwinnable. I feel tweaks exist to make this match-up better. I’ve been content with my build because lately I feel like Delver is down in popularity. When it ticks up you’ll see more Delver hate out of me.

Affinity

Sideboard: -2 [c]Agony Warp[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -2 [c]Serrated Arrows[/c], -1 [c]Prohibit[/c]: +2 [c]Doomblade[/c] +3 [c]Hydroblast[/c] +1 Crusher

The analysis here is kind of tricky. In my opinion the match-up depends on the caliber of the Affinity player. If they are good, you’re going to be closer to 50/50 against them – in fact, it’s probably die roll + variance dependent. But if they are your average run of the mill Affinity player, then I like my chances. The goal is to Crush quickly. They have a hard time dealing with an early Crusher. Use your Prohibits on Atogs and Carapace Forgers if you can.

U/R Control

Sideboard: -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -2 [c]Innocent Blood[/c], -2 [c]Island[/c], -1 [c]Dimir Aquaduct[/c], -1 [c]Prohibit[/c]: +3 [c]Hydroblast[/c], +1 [c]Crusher[/c], +2 [c]Dispel[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c]

Exhume Control was built to take advantage of decks playing [c]Exclude[/c]. Exhume allows you to circumvent that particular counter spell and fight your battles solely against [c]Counterspell[/c]. If Crusher enters the battlefield their only real answer is to double [c]Flameslash[/c] it. While I’ve only played this match-up a handful of times, I like my odds. It has felt good every time, except when I played against the guy who invented the U/R deck. He just outplayed me.

The U/R pilot needs to be the aggressor so try to keep hands that has access to a way to kill a turn one Delver. If you stay above 16, and out of Firebolt range, your life is a lot better.

Tron

Sideboard: -2 [c]Agony Warp[/c], -2 [c]Prohibit[/c], -2 [c]Serrated Arrows[/c]: +2 [c]Doomblade[/c], +2 [c]Hydroblast[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c], +1 Crusher

Tron is a very good match-up. I’ve been turn three troned multiple times and I don’t really care. Use [c]Counterspell[/c] on their [c]Mulldrifter[/c]s and removal on [c]Fangren Maurader[/c]s. Once you get out a Crusher, the game usually ends in short order. This is the match-up I am most happy to see.

[c]Bojuka Bog[/c] does pretty good work in this match-up. Allowing you to control [c]Haunted Fengraf[/c] targets and to remove [c]Firebolt[/c]s and [c]Deep Analysis[/c] is a lot of value out of a land.

MonoB

Sideboard: -1 [c]Doomblade[/c], -1 Crusher, -2 [c]Prohibit[/c]: +1 [c]Probe[/c], +1 [c]Walker of the Grove[/c], +2 [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c]

MonoB is a weird match-up, and it is slightly unfavorable. If they can start chaining 2/2s into each other you have a tough time. They usually win via a tempo game. Try to keep them off their guys, and try to Probe their hand away. The match-up isn’t unwinnable by any stretch. In fact it always feels like I barely lose. If they don’t get their normal draw you probably win, because they won’t be able to eek out the last few points. It feels like if they don’t play a turn 3 dude you’re over 50% to win.

Again I think this match-up is tuneable. If you feel like you’re going to see a lot of monoB then maybe you want to switch counterspell packages. Go with [c]Exclude[/c]s and some X counter spell like [c]Powersink[/c] or [c]Condescend[/c]. A lot of the problem is that [c]Prohibit[/c] and [c]Doomblade[/c] are bad main deck inclusions here.

MonoU Control

Sideboard: -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -1 [c]Island[/c], -1 [c]Dimir Aqueduct[/c], -2 [c]Prohibit[/c]: +2 [c]Doomblade[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c], +2 [c]Dispel[/c]

This is another good match-up. It is possibly just as good as Tron. Here, [c]Bojuka Bog[/c] is a silent all-star. It takes out their draw engine in [c]Think Twice[/c], [c]Accumulated Knowledge[/c], and [c]Oona’s Grace[/c]. You have so many must counters that eventually they run out of them. Then you [c]Probe[/c] them and the game is over.

Their best line is to tempo you out. They are the aggressor. So try to keep a hand that doesn’t get blown out by Delver + counter magic. If they give you time, remember you’re in no rush to Crush. They are playing into our hands.

Burn

Sideboard: -2 [c]Serrated Arrows[/c], -1 [c]Tragic Slip[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -1 [c]Doomblade[/c], -2 [c]Innocent Blood[/c]: +2 [c]Dispel[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c], +1 [c]Crusher[/c], +3 [c]Hydroblast[/c]

This is actually a harder match-up than you’d think, but I think it is 50/50. You are trying to crush quickly, because you cut them off of mana. Since most of their spells do about the same amount of damage counter them whenever you can. Spend your turns where you don’t have counter magic drawing into more counter magic or combo pieces. You often don’t want to counter [c]Keldon Mauraders[/c], because it is usually the only card you can get some value out of with your removal.

Stompy

Sideboard: -1 [c]Exhume[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -1 [c]Probe[/c], -1 [c]Crusher[/c]: +2 [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c], +2 [c]Doomblade[/c]

The resilient threats are annoying, but I’ve won most of my matches against them. I don’t feel I’ve played them enough to say whether the match-up is good or not. My advice is to try to one for one them as much as possible and keep rancor off of their guys. Try to crush as soon as possible. Bringing in the sweepers post board usually puts game 2 and 3 in our favor. Don’t be surprised if you lose game one.

Hexproof Auras

Sideboard: -2 [c]Serrated Arrows[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -2 [c]Agony Warp[/c]: +1 [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c], +2 [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c], +1 [c]Wail of Nim[/c]

I’ve won both of my competitive matches against Hexproof Auras, but I’ve done a bit of testing since. I think this match-up is pretty poor with the current build. We only really have 4 edicts, and Prohibit is a bit weak to a turn 3-4 Armadillo Cloak or Mask. They can also just build up guys so big that Crusher looks like chump change. If you find yourself going against them frequently, look to add more edicts to the 75. I think this match-up can be made good if it is something you’re concerned about.

Familiars

Sideboard: -2 [c]Innocent Blood[/c], -2 [c]Diabolic Edict[/c], -1 [c]Compulsive Research[/c]: +2 [c]Doomblade[/c], +2 [c]Piracy Charm[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c], +1 [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c].

This one is a battle, but it’s a fun fight. Currently, I’ve only played against them a few times and I’m roughly 50/50. Most of my matches have been extremely close, going to epic game 3s where either I, or my opponent, made a costly mistake. Their only real way for them to handle Crusher is to [c]Snap[/c] or [c]Capsize[/c] it. Our goal is to Crush ASAP, but we also need some counter magic up to prevent bouncing. We should win if we can keep them off familiars early and turn 4 or 5 a Crusher with counter backup.

[c]Bojuka Bog[/c] and [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c] are also good in this match-up since they hinder [c]Mnemonic Wall[/c] and makes [c]Reap the Graves[/c] a dead card. Reap is usually the card they use to beat control decks and our land makes it awful. Ding!

Teachings Control

This fringe deck has made a few appearances lately, mostly at the hands of someoldguy. The deck uses a lot of graveyard shenanigans to reach its goal. Fortunately we come main deck equipped to deal with strategies like these. [c]Bojuka Bog[/c] knocks out unspent [c]Mystical Teachings[/c], [c]Grim Harvest[/c], any lingering [c]Ghostly Flicker[/c]s, and removes any extra creatures that Harvest or [c]Soul Manipulation[/c] could target.

We also are Exhuming instead of casting creatures, so we shut off Manipulation and [c]Exclude[/c] targets. As such, we are really the deck with more counter magic available so when we cast a kicked Probe we’ll usually win the counter battle over its resolution. And once we win that, they’ll usually scoop.

Delver-Fiend

This match-up is in our favor. They are quick, but we have tons of removal. We also have ways to back up our removal with countermagic so they can’t resolve [c]Apostle’s Blessing[/c]. The goal is to kill their guys as quickly as possible. If you do this, then later you can [c]Probe[/c] them out of the game. In game 1 try to kill their Delvers and [c]Kiln Fiends[/c] with your [c]Agony Warp[/c]s and save your Edicts and [c]Doomblade[/c] for [c]Nivix Cyclops[/c]. If you don’t use your removal on the right guy, then you’ll end up unable to kill the guy you need to.

Elves

The last match-up I’ll talk about is Elves, since I’m seeing an uptick in the little green men. Game one can be hard. Try to focus on taking out [c]Timberwatch[/c] and [c]Lys Alana Huntmaster[/c] with removal. Try to counter [c]Distant Melody[/c] or kill their blue producing creatures and you should be able to win once you resolve a [c]Serrated Arrows[/c]. Games 2 and 3 are pretty easy because [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c] is [c]Damnation[/c] against them.

Introduction to Pauper part 2

by Chris Weaver

In Part 1, I talked about reasons to join Pauper along with the core deck archetypes. I went into strengths and weaknesses of the pure aggro decks. Today, I will be discussing the pure control choices available to you.

Control:

[d title=”Blue-Red Cloudpost(Finespoo)”]
Lands
4 Cloudpost
4 Glimmerpost
7 Island
3 Izzet Guildgate
6 Mountain

Creatures
2 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Mnemonic Wall
4 Mulldrifter

Spells
1 Condescend
1 Electrickery
1 Electrostatic Bolt
1 Firebolt
3 Flame Slash
1 Lightning Bolt
4 Preordain
1 Harvest Pyre
2 Mana Leak
4 Prophetic Prism
1 Rolling Thunder
1 Capsize
3 Compulsive Research
2 Ghostly Flicker
2 Mystical Teachings
1 Serrated Arrows

Sideboard
1 Firebolt
2 Hydroblast
2 Ancient Grudge
3 Stone Rain
4 Pyroblast
3 Earth Rift [/d]

[d title=”Mono Black Control(sneakattackkid)”]
Lands
4 Barren Moor
2 Polluted Mire
17 Swamp

Creatures
3 Augur of Skulls
3 Ravenous Rats
4 Chittering Rats
3 Crypt Rats
4 Phyrexian Rager
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi

Spells
3 Dead Weight
2 Duress
3 Unearth
2 Echoing Decay
4 Geth’s Verdict
4 Sign in Blood

Sideboard
2 Tendrils of Corruption
2 Rendclaw Trow
1 Victim of Night
1 Snuff Out
2 Corrupt
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
1 Sorin’s Thirst
4 Choking Sands
1 Duress [/d]

[d title=”Blue-Black Trinket Control(Din_Mamma)”]
Lands
1 Barren Moor
1 Bojuka Bog
4 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Island
7 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Vault of Whispers

Creatures
4 Fume Spitter
4 Augur of Skulls
2 Chittering Rats
3 Crypt Rats
3 Trinket Mage
4 Mulldrifter

Spells
2 Executioner’s Capsule
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
3 Tragic Slip
3 Undying Evil
4 Diabolic Edict
2 Grim Harvest
4 Sign in Blood

Sideboard
2 Chittering Rats
1 Crypt Rats
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
1 Nihil Spellbomb
4 Duress
1 Distress
1 Deep Analysis
2 Spinning Darkness
2 Geth’s Verdict [/d]

[d title=”Mono Blue Control(Shyft4)”]
Lands
18 Island
2 Quicksand

Creatures
4 Delver of Secrets
1 Frostburn Weird
4 Spire Golem

Spells
4 Portent
2 Brainstorm
2 Preordain
3 Thought Scour
4 Piracy Charm
4 Counterspell
3 Logic Knot
4 Memory Lapse
1 Exclude
2 Gush
2 Repeal

Sideboard
4 Dispel
4 Hydroblast
3 Coast Watcher
2 Weatherseed Faeries
2 Serrated Arrows [/d]

These decks all actively LIKE playing the long game. They eek out card advantage and board control and eventually win in turns 10 and up. Each deck has pros and cons, so we’ll break these down as before.

UR Cloudpost:

Pros: with an array of answers to multiple different situations, UR Post players seem to “have it all.” Their topdecks in late games are far more powerful than other decks, so when they’ve stabilized, they’ve actually usually won. It might take them awhile to get there, of course, but it’s a matter of time before they stick a threat or just straight bludgeon you with a huge Rolling Thunder. UR Post can generate more mana than any other fair deck via the Cloudpost engine, and can remove threats through counterspells or protection just because they have access to more mana and utility spells than opponents.

Cons: This deck can easily lose in the first few turns of the game because they don’t have the mana base ready to deal with a multitude of attackers in the early turns. They often spend the first 3 turns playing tapped lands or fixing their mana before they can take control. Post decks can also suffer against big tempo plays, such as an early Temporal Fissure or even just a simple Boomerang on a Cloudpost. The removal suite for the UR decks also has a major issue dealing with hexproof creatures, outside of Counterspelling them.

Mono Black Control:

Pros: Hand destruction and creature destruction are Black’s specialty throughout Magic’s history. MBC is no exception, attacking the board of opponents and their hand as well. Black has great sideboard options as well, including “free” kill spells like Snuff Out and Spinning Darkness, along with land destruction and more kill and discard spells!

Cons: MBC is incredibly slow, and opponents can fairly easily recover with a few good topdecks. MBC decks can’t provide reasonable clocks on opponents either: The creatures are all small and don’t protect themselves, dying to a simple Firebolt most of the time. If your only threat gets Bolted, you’re relying on topdecks to get you back into the game. Even if you get back into the game, another Bolt puts you back at square 1, relying on topdecks to get you back in. The lack of card draw other than Sign in Blood can also be hugely detrimental, and black has no way to generate lots of extra mana like Cloudpost does. MBC often loses just based on not topdecking well.

UB Trinket Control:

Pros: Trinket Control plays more like a MBC deck with the bonus of utilizing blue for card draw and card advantage. It abuses Mulldrifters and Trinket Mages to stabilize the board and fetch important artifacts. Evoking a Mulldrifter, then casting Undying Evil on it nets you +2 cards and a 3/3 flying body. It has good to favorable matchups against much of the format. It attacks opposing hands and boards just like MBC, and uses Blue to refill your hand.

Cons: Stormpost. Seriously. The deck isn’t fast enough to kill a Stormpost player before they go off, and doesn’t use Counterspells to disrupt the combo. Hand destruction is the only tool you have against Stormpost, and that’s not even very good when they can redraw their hand with a few Compulsive Researches and a Mulldrifter. It has at least a 50/50 matchup against every other deck in the format(except Burn, because once again, no Counterspells). You can play the matchup lottery and hope to not encounter Stormpost decks, but every other deck you have a good matchup against.

Mono Blue Control:

Pros: MUC is an older idea, long before Delver of Secrets got tossed into the Faerie deck to make the more common Mono U deck of the format. MUC is interesting though, and has the bonus of having all of the Counterspells be unconditional. This means you’ll never groan when an opponent plays a 3 mana spell when you have a Spellstutter in hand that’s 1 Faerie short. Your opponent can’t kill the Spellstutter to render the Counterspell trigger useless. Opponents will often sideboard against you assuming that you have Faeries in the deck, making some of their choices rather silly. You also get the bonus of almost never having dead cards in hand, like the Faeries variety often does. Ninja of the Deep Hours isn’t that impressive if opponents remove your creatures before you can Ninjitsu.

You also get premium card selection, since you get to pick and choose which cards you want with 1 mana cantrips, which coincidentally let you blind flip Delvers on turn 2 more often. On top of that, you get to manipulate opponents’ libraries with Portent, Memory Lapse, and Thought Scour. This lets you get rid of troublesome cards or make opponents draw dead.

Cons: It’s harder to deal with early threats like Nettle Sentinel and Mogg Conscripts because Piracy Charm doesn’t kill them. This means you’re relying on Spire Golem and Frostburn Weird defensively, and hoping to live long enough to get Counterspells effective. You can often get swarmed by opponents flooding the board. You also run a serious risk of just running out of Counterspells and not being able to counter critical Mulldrifters in the late game. It’s very easy to lose control quickly too. Opposing Cloudpost decks can resolve a Compulsive Research or Mulldrifter or two, and you just get out-carded by them.

-Chris