4 Control Decks To Get You to Mythic for the November 2020 Ranked Season
Hello, planeswalkers from across the globe! Standard is in a weird spot right now. Many people claim that it’s one of the best formats they have played in years, based on how many playable and competitive decks we have at our disposal, and that even though some matchups are easier or harder that others, virtually any deck can win against the metagame. On the contrary, others are starting to feel that there is nothing else there to be discovered, that the established tier 1 decks of the format are here to stay and cannot be beaten with new ideas. I strongly disagree.
Personally I have been enjoying this Zendikar Rising Standard season a lot, and have found many archetypes and variations to be viable for ranked play. Aggressive decks, midrange, and even a very diverse spectrum of control strategies have been rising this last few weeks, which is the topic we are going to focus on today!
The thing is that, undeniably, “Control has Changed” (meant to be read with Solid Snake’s voice). Every control enthusiast has been forced to adapt to a new era, leaving the creature-less “draw go” decks of the past, to start thinking about late game strategies in another way. More tap-out archetypes have been played in recent times (partially because threats became more efficient and faster than counterspells), and creatures with relevant enter the battlefield triggers were adopted as the go to tools for slowing down the game, with the all stars Yorion, Sky’s Nomad and Skyclave Apparition being the premier choices so far.
Doesn’t matter the style of control deck you are looking to rank up the ladder with, if you are one of those late game fans, we got you covered, as we are going to take a look at five different lists you can use to get to Mythic this season. Without further ado, let’s begin:
Streamer TheAsianAvenger took this Dimir Control list to a first place finish in the last F2K streamer showdown, that gathered many fantastic players. This deck has such a high diversity in its answers, that it should be able to handle anything the opponent can through at it, assuming we get the right cards for each situation. All sorts of spot removal and wrath effects that destroy or exile, creatures and planeswalkers that can remove any nonland permanent from the other side of the board, a mix of counter magic in the maindeck and sideboard, and a couple of different options for card draw in the form of Mazemind Tome and even a Midnight Clock. All this flexibility covered in an old fashioned 60 card deck (as it appears that 80 is the tradition for slow decks nowadays!).
Now, such high power comes with a cost, as a deck like this is going to require us to know what we are doing in each matchup, since we will have to find the right tools for each specific situation. Having so many one-ofs and two-ofs means that the deck will see each spells with less consistency, indicating that we will have not only to pay very close attention to which cards we might need for every specific game, but also mulligan decisions will be of higher importance too since we might be forced to adapt and find different solutions with the cards we get.
The other aspect that will make this particular deck hard to master, is the combination of both sorcery and instant spells, that will test us to know when is the time to tap-out for an answer, and when we should be passing with open mana. Of course, the huge diversity of instant speed interaction will make your opponents life difficult too, since they will have to play around all sorts of different things you could be representing. Let’s take a look at some of the key cards from the list:
The uncounterable flash shark is still a strong inclusion to any blue deck, as it provides an easy two-for-one, that can be cycled early on if you need to hit your land drops, while being a potential win condition later in the game as a gigantic flying beater. Hard-casting this will also be the way to go in many matchups, assuming we have the time to do so. Against aggressive decks, you might want to side them out, as it is not a proactive and relevant card in the early stages of the game, but against any other type of strategy, it will almost always be fantastic.
Two copies in the main deck of this card is a strong metagame call that can pay off extremely well if you happen to play against creature decks. This is especially true in ladder since players won’t be playing around something like this at all (Extinction Event being the most common wrath effect of choice). The fact that it exiles is also relevant, meaning it wont be filling the opponents graveyard to Escape cards or bring creatures back with things like Elspeth Conquers Death, while also removing the ones that were already dead which is a great bonus.
This is my personal decklist that I managed to take up to top 100 Mythic on ladder, and to a 4-2 record during the same F2K tournament. We are sticking to a single color for maximum consistency, and to be able to exploit utility lands and MDFCs to its fullest. As any traditional slow Mono Black deck would function, we are trying to destroy our opponents resources, whether that is the creatures they play or the cards in their hand. With twelve different ways in the maindeck to attack our opponents hand (going up to 16 post board in the right matchups) we have the ability to force our opponent to skip turns without a play, breaking their curve, and removing any key card that might give us trouble.
Trading one for one as fast and efficiently as possible, we then get ahead in card advantage with Mazemind Tome, Castle Locthwain, Treacherous Blessing and even Cling to Dust. To close out the game, we have the only card that goes way over anything else in the Standard card pool, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. However, the actual best win condition of this list is the full playset of Crawling Barrens. You will be surprised by how efficient they are at finishing opponents off and how hard it is to deal with them if you have never experienced it.
The fact that the decks manages to play a total of 29 lands, while getting so much value out of them means you virtually don’t have any possibility of flooding out. 8 of our lands can also act as spells, 4 are creatures, and 3 will draw us cards.
This is a deck that will require practice to get going, as you will have tons of decision making from the first Duress on turn 1, until the last Ugin’s activation at the very end, also meaning tons of room to make mistakes and a single card wrongly discarded could mean losing the game. Let’s take a look at some of the key cards from the list:
Need your land drop for the turn? This can function as that. Have enough lands and need to disrupt the opponent? This also has you covered in that front. As with many other MDFC cards, this will be fantastic in different situations because of its flexibility. Most of the strongest cards being played in Standard right now cost three mana or more (Into the Story, Genesis Ultimatum or Yorion Sky’s Nomad to name a few) meaning this hits relevant spells. Sure, in the late game it might not be that great as a tap land, or as a discard spell if our opponent doesn’t have cards in hand anymore, but its efficiency early on makes up for that.
This type of cards make sure you don’t get mana screwed in some games , while ensuring you have something to play in others, and not that many spells in the history of the game can do that.
As mentioned before, you might be inclined to think this creature land is not a big deal, as 4mana to activate appears to be a lot. That is, until you get hit for 20 with one of this, realizing none of the 5 different removal options in your hand can touch it! The number of highly played interactive spells this dodges is ridiculous, going from Elspeth Conquers Death, Skyclave Apparition or Glass Casket, Extinction Event or even Heartless Act (only removing three counters), Shatter the Sky, Ugin, and the list goes on.
The fact that you can sink mana into it, charging its power level without exposing it, until it is the right time to attack is great. It is not a coincidence that it combines so well with wrath effects of our own, as we can Extinction Event or Ugin away our opponents board and attack with the land in the same turn. Overall a fantastic finisher that many decks will have a hard time dealing with.
This is a Yorion tap-out control deck, even though the serpent doesn’t make it in the title here. This means we still get all the permanents with enter the battlefield triggers, that generate value while leaving a permanent in play that the legend can blink and reuse. Omens, Elspeth Conquers Death and Skyclave Apparition, will make sure we generate advantage while controlling the other side of the board, while being a permanent themselves that can be bounced to regain its abilities. What gives its particular characteristic to this deck are the other cards that can function as win conditions Doom Foretold and Dance of the Manse, which we will get in a second.
This type of control deck should have an excellent time against aggro and creature based midrange strategies, as the amount of removal spells combined with strong and hard to interact with card advantage will always end up going over the top of the opponent, while still having good pieces of interaction to survive the early game and stay alive until the late stages.
Many variations of this archetypes have been played thus far, between straight Orzhov, Abzan, or Mardu, but I strongly believe that adding blue is the way to go here, as Omen of the Sea really is an important piece of the puzzle, smoothing its draws in the beginning, and working exceptionally great with Yorion generating card advantage later on. Let’s take a look at some of the key cards from the list:
This enchantment has already proven itself at this point in the metagame, as an excellent build around spell that may deal with any problematic permanent the opponent presents, as long as is the only one standing. We have access to all sorts of disposable permanents to sacrifice without a real impact, and even Treacherous Blessing as something we actively want to remove from our board.
Of course, even if we end up having to sacrifice something important, it might end up not being a huge deal, since filling the graveyard with artifacts and enchantments goes very well with other particular spell in this list…
Dance of the Manse
A spell so powerful, it will automatically close the game most of the times is being cast. Getting to bring back so many permanents with just one card is borderline absurd, since we will be drawing tons of cards, while getting the chance to remove multiple threats at the same time, of course depending on the options available in the graveyard at the moment. If we manage to have 8+ mana, we do all that while creating an army of 4 power creatures that will end the game in one swing, if all the card advantage generated ends up not being enough. The fact that this can even be played early in the game for “just” a couple of permanents make it absolutely unique, and a real reason to play blue in this type of decks.
Here we have a different style of Yorion control deck, with a list that does not include many permanents to blink, but still operates nicely at 80 cards. The green addition is to accelerate and fix the mana with Cultivate, which is a great tool for a tap-out list like this with so many expensive spells.
While still being a deck full of removal, planeswalkers and all sorts of answers, what stands out here is the Fae of Wishes, with the all singleton sideboard to take maximum advantage from them. Fae of Wishes is a card that has seen decent amount of play outside of Adventure lists and for good reason, and it seems to be especially great here, as we will usually have time and tons of mana to go grab what we are missing.
Now, is it worth adding a third color just for Cultivate and some extra tool in the sideboard? I have found it to be very good, as it does not hurt the mana base that much, and being able to cast turn 4 Ashiok is great in some matchups. Of course, a third color also means we expand our options, making this deck more flexible in comparison with the Dimir one. Let’s take a look at some of the key cards from the list:
A great inclusion to any big mana archetypes, this sorcery is not only ramp but card advantage, as it will transform into two cards (the land in play and the one in hand). Adding speed to a deck with 5 and 8 mana planeswalkers is relevant for games where acting fast is key. The only times where cultivate might not shine is when we are being pressured and desperately need to play an interactive spell instead on turn three, but it will still be a two-for-one later on.
Fae of Wishes
Spending four mana at sorcery speed might be slow in some situations, but we are getting the exact card we need for that moment, and a fifteen singleton sideboard is the perfect structure to ensure it. Some of the best silver bullets from this particular build I find interesting are the Necromentia (having access to an effect like this in game one might caught off guard some slow control decks with few win conditions), and the Drown in the Loch (even though we aren’t milling our opponent, this will turn naturally in the late game into either Terminate or Counterspell, which makes it an ultra flexible card to have).