As in every pure control deck, we start the game losing hard and our goal is just one: not to die to spells and creatures relentlessly thrown to us, hold the game just to not lose. If we manage to survive, soon there will be a moment in game where we can start thinking about winning, while the strength, resources and hopes of our opponents are slowly fading away.
To achieve this beautiful and glorious challenge in every control game versus ugly and disgusting aggresive enemy decks, we must include in our deck some different elements. This time we will talk about: Lands, Removal, Stabilizers, Value and Win Condition.
This list I’m playing is, in my humble opinion, one of the purest control decks being posible to build in Old School 7p Singleton. We pack a total of 0 creatures in our 60 cards…beautiful, huh? This will transform a lot of enemy cards in useless draws, such as removals or any creature-hate card.
We are going to travel through the different categories present in our list, notice that some cards can belong to more than one group at the same time, but every card has its own and important role in this 60 card list.
LANDS: We are packing 26 lands + Fellwar Stone, a high count because we NEED to make our first 4-5 landrops with ease. There is nothing special here, basic lands for each color, City of Brass…Mishra’s Factory and Desert are very important in our most aggressive matchups. Strip Mine’s job is usually to destroy enemy Factory.
REMOVAL: Give it to me, baby. Swords to Plowshares, Spirit Link, Disenchant, Divine Offering, Balance, Dust to Dust, Wrath of God, Crumble, Drop of Honey, Chaos, Aeolipile. We need these cards to eliminate dirty creatures, evil artifacts and some annoying enchantments that will try to disrupt our humble and glorious path to victory. Drop of Honey does some big work in early game, being re-usable in later stages of the game for bigger guys. Crumble and Divine Offering will be used many times to gain some life, at the cost of destroying our own brownies.
STABILIZERS: Transition from loss to win. Some of them will lock our enemy, destroying their dreams of winning and pulling them into the depths of despair. Circle of Protection: Red, Greater Realm of Preservation, Moat, The Abyss, Nova Pentacle, Icy Manipulator, Disrupting Scepter. We also have some ways of life gain, keeping us as far as possible from the terrible number 0: Fountain of Youth, Ivory Tower, Alabaster Potion. Fountain of Youth looks like a weak card, but it can give us 10+ life in a single matchup. Alabaster Potion is the weakest slot in our deck, but it is here because of the latest inclusion of Greed. Both Circle of Protection and Greater Realm are necessary in our gameplan, this deck plays long term games, and we can’t allow our enemy, rich in mana, to eliminate us with a single 10+ dmg gigantic spell (fireball, Desintegrate, etc). Nova Pentacle is slow (second weakest slot in the list), but messes with creatures, and if there are some of those in play, he will prevent us from spell damage to our beautiful faces. Moat and Abyss are our strongest bets, white and black together once, just to humiliate our enemies. Disrupting Scepter will shine in slower matchups, but probably G2 or G3 it will lose some potential, since opponents will discard all of their useless removal.
VALUE: Look, find and refill. Greed, Regrowth, Sylvan Library, Skull of Orn, Jalum Tome, Jayemdae Tome. These are the engine of our deck, very important for us to keep with our opponents. Greed and Sylvan Library give us cards if we can manage to keep a healthy life total. We are packing lots of enchantments, making our Skull of Ornn a treasure in later stages of the game. Jalum Tome will swap some useless Circles and extra lands into (hopefully) some decent fuel.
WIN CONDITION: Very few, 0 creatures. Our main win condition is (no joke) our opponents conceding the game in tears, otherwise…we need to finish them. Animate Dead (corner cases, opponent will now use his removal), Hurricane (we need more HP than them), Rod of Ruin (20 turns?), Rocket Launcher (extremely slow), The Hive (sorry for some creatures), and our main weapon: Mirror Universe. Our life total will often be very low: naturally versus aggresive decks, drawing like crazy with our Greed or Sylvan Library or simply burning out our mana before exchanging our tiny HP for the bigger and healthier from our opponent. It DOES work. Our remote wincons look way better if, instead of 18, we only need to take 2 lives from them.
POINTS SELECTED: The Abyss (2), Moat (2), Balance (1), Regrowth (1) and Sylvan Library (1).
MULLIGAN: We always want a decent number of lands, at least 2 on the draw and 3 on the play. We must avoid high costed cards in our starting hand, we are packing some slow stuff, useless at the beginning of the game. It is also dangerous to keep win conditions in hand from the start, because our opponent can discard them, making it even more difficult for us to “actually win” the game. Remember we have no shuffle effect in our 60, so if we mulligan, we won’t see the bottom card of our deck. We want low costed cards and lands. Special care with Ivory Tower, as the only card affected by our hand size.
GAMEPLAY: Hold, hold, hold, survive. We must play our turns VERY fast or we won’t finish in time, even use shortcuts for end of turn activations (don’t waste your time tapping mana). We must use the opponent turn to think (classic control gaming approach). Extract maximum value of every card or effect. Playing this absolutelyreactive deck means our life total is another resource, the only goal is not to lose. We don’t mind about winning, our extremely limited wincons only touch the table to close the game or in life/death emergencies. There will be plenty of situations where we won’t even need to use them, because our opponent will concede facing our lockdowns or looking at our stupid accumulated life total.
CARDS THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT: Titania’s Song, Arboria, Forcefield, Triskelion + Tawnos Coffin, Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale + Living Plane + Karakas, Maze of Ith…they can be also viable, but point distribution in this list is very tight, difficult to swap selected cards (probably Alabaster Potion, Rocket Launcher, Rod of Ruin or Disruptive Scepter are the main candidates).
TLDR: Play lands, slow down the opponent, think in their turn, hold and don’t do any aggressive move. Victory time will come with turns passing by. Very fast choices and plays or we won’t finish the round in time. Mulligan for lands and cheap cards.
It is always a pleasure to bore, annoy and wear our opponents…try it with your (until next game) friends. Forget about smoking between rounds.
Lucas Marín – TMT – LMOS