Standard 2022 Orzhov Control Deck Guide

Kaya, the Inexorable Variant Art by Dopaprime
Kaya, the Inexorable Variant Art by Dopaprime

Hello fellow gamers, today I am going talk about a deck that has not gotten much attention in the new Standard 2022 meta, but has propelled me to #32 the Constructed Mythic rankings. The deck is Orzhov Control though I feel like it deserves a cooler name then that, perhaps Blood on the Snow.

It feels very much like Golgari decks did early in the Ravinca block (think value generating creatures, a bevy of planeswalkers and a clutch of efficient removal). Some folks might label this mid-range, because after all how good of a control deck can it be without any counter spells at its disposal? The answer is, still very good actually:

Now you may be like me and absolutely love the refreshing new Standard 2022 (Hurrah Eldraine is gone, hurrah Emergent Ultimatum is dead). You also may be like me in the fact that you are exclusively a Best of 3 player. Well, the best substitute for a missing sideboard is to Learn a few Lessons, if you know what I mean. This deck features 7 ways to access those lessons, with the help of Eyewitch and the Professor of Symbology. Without further ado here is the list:

Orzhov 22 List 

Planeswalkers (5)
2
Kaya the Inexorable
2
Lolth, Spider Queen
1
Professor Onyx
Creatures (14)
3
Eyetwitch
3
Shambling Ghast
4
Professor of Symbology
4
Skullport Merchant
Spells (17)
3
Deadly Dispute
2
Flunk
4
Vanishing Verse
2
Soul Shatter
2
Doomskar
4
Blood on the Snow
Lands (24)
1
Cave of the Frost Dragon
3
Faceless Haven
1
Hive of the Eye Tyrant
4
Shineshadow Snarl
4
Snow-Covered Plains
7
Snow-Covered Swamp
4
Snowfield Sinkhole
Cards (60)
Sideboard (7)
1
Confront the Past
2
Environmental Sciences
1
Pest Summoning
1
Reduce to Memory
2
Mascot Exhibition

Card Choices

Vanishing Verse Art by Chris Seaman
Vanishing Verse Art by Chris Seaman

Planeswalker Suite

Kaya, the Inexorable – May be my favorite planeswalker in this deck. Rarely the plus 1 is irrelevant, but when you manage to get a few creatures in front of Kaya she becomes very hard to dethrone.

Especially with friends like these, notice, every creature in this deck has an ETB effect. So, you are very happy to chump them to gain a 1/1 flyer only to recast them later and regain whatever value they bring to the table.

Kaya’s ability to exile things that Vanishing Verse cannot is super vital in this format. There are several must-remove targets that you will see on a regular basis including Koma, Cosmos Serpent, Immersturm Predator, and Skeletal Swarming. Oh, and by the by if you ever manage to use her ultimate… well let’s just say I have not lost a game when that happens.

Lolth, Spider Queen – she is mainly here to make spider babies. I will point out one super fun interaction with her and Skullport Merchant, the merchant will gladly take those babies off her hands and give this greedy planeswalker some loyalty; it is a virtuous circle of card drawing and value generation. 

Reach is a highly relevant keyword in this format, what with all the angels, dragons and crow tokens flying around. Lolth’s ultimate is not relevant for this deck and its almost always better to keep making spider babies if you somehow end up with a surplus of loyalty.  

Lastly is Professor Onyx, Liliana in disguise. She may be the least synergistic of the three planewalkers here, hence why she is a one-of. However, remember while the deck only has 18 instants/sorceries mainboard, it has access to additional 7 lessons in the sideboard, so plenty of ways to trigger her passive. 

One other fun part about the Prof is her ability to fill up the graveyard for Blood on the Snow. Of course, if you get a chance to use her ultimate, go for it, as that usually ends the game too. Her minus 3 is also useful at times for creatures like Koma, Cosmos Serpent, Iymrith, Desert Doom and Goldspan Dragon (as to not give them a token).

These ladies are vital to this deck’s plan of using Blood on the Snow. Its fairly backbreaking to simultaneously clear an enemy’s board and reanimate any one of them.

Creatures

Each of these creature generates value, they act as chump blockers early and gain card advantage late. I experimented with running 4 Eyetwitch and 4 Shambling Ghast, but ultimately removed one of each in favor of adding 2x Flunk as Flunk is a little more impactful late game. 

My favorite of the bunch is definitely Skullport Merchant. It ramps, it draws cards, it plays defense. You may be tempted to tweak this list and go to three, but that would be mistake.

Sorceries

I had Doomskar as a one-of, but then went up to two. This card is so absolutely backbreaking against the most prevalent deck I faced, which is the white weenie aggro. It dodges Elite Spellbinder and gets a cost reduction against Reidane, God of the Worthy. I faced the aggro white deck 23 times and am 14-9 versus it, and I can tell you this was the card that made the difference.

Blood on the Snow is the whole reason to play this deck, this is the heart and soul of the engine. Ideally, it brings back one of the three planewalkers but don’t be afraid to use it in a pinch to bring back a Skullport or Professor of Symbology.

Instants

Vanishing Verse is the best removal in the meta at the moment. Granted there are a few things it cannot target as mentioned in the Kaya section, but it’s a great feeling to take out an Old-Growth Troll and give them no value, or target a Esika's Chariot or any of the various class cards (Ranger/ Paladin).

Flunk is an ok card. Its nice that it can target Faceless Haven whereas Vanishing Verse cannot.

Soul Shatter is nice against all kinds of things but mainly slower decks like Dimir Control and Simic Ramp. I was running three but ultimately cut one to make room for another Doomskar as aggro decks are more prevalent in this meta.

Deadly Dispute is a great form of card advantage. I was running 4x, but after cutting an Eyetwitch and Ghast, I went down to three of these. The only knock on this card is it occasionally will be dead when you have no treasure or creatures to target with it.

Land base

I initially went with Pathways over the Snarls, but this deck runs enough Plains/Swamps (Remember you can reveal a Snowfield Sinkhole to keep Snarl untapped). I was having trouble with casting an Early Doomskar, but the Snarls seemed to have fixed this issue. I also went from 4 to 3 Faceless Haven and put a Cave of the Frost Dragon in place of it, I haven’t looked back since.

All of this is a tricky balance you want to make sure you have the colors to cast your spells but also having enough snow lands to turn on Blood on the Snow. Faceless Havens often are your key to victory against control decks, as it comes down to a war of attrition.

Lessons

Pretty standard selection of Lessons. Two call outs here, Environmental Sciences is usually my first go to lesson unless I am absolutely flooded as this deck is mana hungry. Secondly, Reduce to Memory over Necrotic Fumes is something I feel very strongly about. I am not a huge fan of Necrotic Fumes and while it might make more sense in a Golgari deck where token creatures are more plentiful, you really don’t want to exile your creature cards in this deck as your graveyard is just a holding place for Blood on the Snow. Furthermore, giving them a 3/2 in a deck with plenty of blockers and board wipes is usually not a huge deal.

Matchups

Doomskar Art by Piotr Dura
Doomskar Art by Piotr Dura

Since there is no sideboard to speak of, I cannot help you there, but I can give you some strategies to help you win with this deck.

Dimir Control

I am 9-1 and versus this deck which may be surprising because on paper it looks like this match favors Dimir. They have Saw it Coming after all. You are the aggressor in this matchup. Play your creatures early and often, get in as much damage as you can. If they tap out hit them with Faceless Haven and remove their threat immediately. Eventually, they must tap out to play a planeswalker or Iymrith, Desert Doom so this is where your instant speed removal comes in handy. Also, it’s nice that Blood on the Snow takes out planeswalkers. They only have a slight edge of on you when it comes to card advantage, but you have more removal than they have threats which gives you plenty of time to grind them out.

Mono Green Stompy

I am 11-7 versus this deck making it one of the harder matchups. Your creatures are quickly outclassed by theirs. You want to save your Vanishing Verse for Esika's Chariot and Ranger Class, but Old-Growth Troll is also a great target too.

Basically, you will wish you had 8 of this card. The idea is to board wipe them and leave them with very little way to recover such as a leftover Ranger Class or Esika’s Chariot. Be aware of haste creatures such as Froghemoth and Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, so in short, don’t feel its safe to attack them willy-nilly if their board is currently empty. Generally, you play on your backfoot the whole game until you can gain control and out card advantage them.

Mono-White Aggro

As mentioned above it’s all about surviving until board wiping them. After the first board wipe you are pretty sure to win this. Focus removal on flyers as your ground creatures can keep theirs locked down for a while.

Simic Ramp

This is a weird matchup it feels like both decks have trouble interacting with each other. The Quandrix Cultivator is an issue as it dodges Vanishing Verse. Finding a Reduce to Memory is important for their Koma, Cosmos Serpent. The only way they win is by chaining Alrund's Epiphany so the best way to not die to this is attempting to keep the board clear so that they are only hitting you with a few crow tokens until you can board wipe.

Izzet Dragons

All of your removal is in play versus this deck. When they have 5 mana make sure you do not tap out so that you can remove the Goldspan Dragon before it gains any value. Again, the way you lose to this deck is that they chain Alrund's Epiphany together so if you sense that is their plan, try to leave mana up for removal.

Like Dimir control you want to be the early aggressor here and get in as much damage as you can before their more powerful cards come online. If you have a planewalker online leave up an Eyetwitch as a chump blocker, even against an empty board.

Rakdos Treasures

Similar to Izzet dragons you want to leave open mana when they are at 5 mana to remove Goldspan Dragon before value is gained. The Immersturm Predator and Valki, God of Lies can be an issue if you don’t draw into Soul Shatter or Kaya, the Inexorable, but remember Flunk can also take out indestructible creatures and Reduce to Memory in your board is also key. Your plan is to grind them out, so play defensively, you usually have inevitability.

Closing Thoughts

Generally, you are going to outlast aggro decks and attempt to rush out control decks so know your role based on the matchup

Don’t forget Kaya can target your man-lands with her plus 1.

I am not afraid to keep a two-land hand if I have some of my creatures in my hand that can help me get more lands or ramp. (Which is all of them.)

When Standard 2022 becomes B03, cards like Check for Traps and additional Doomskar will definitely be going into my sideboard.

I hope you enjoy this deck and good luck!

Josh

Josh has been playing Magic: the Gathering since Ice Age (that came out in 1996 for you whippersnappers out there). He was a MODO grinder and early beta tester for MTGA where his handle is Parabolian. He is no stranger to Mythic ladder and has frequently finished in the top 1200. Josh loves to brew decks but he loves to win too. Sometimes those two interests align and sometimes he goes on epic losing streaks.

28 Responses

  1. MrJamesT says:

    Oh, no, this deck hasn’t got much attention at all has it?
    https://youtu.be/SAoRj4W5jWQ

    • DoggertQBones says:

      In fairness, that is the creator of the deck. I interpreted it as it hasn’t gotten much attention beyond it’s inception. I don’t know how accurate that is regardless but doesn’t seem that unreasonable.

    • Josh says:

      MrJamesT my point was that this deck wasn’t listed in top tier decks yet I managed a 70 percent win rate with it. I definitely have see this deck out there. Of course I saw it less than most since I think the matchmaker avoids the mirror match.

      • MrJamesT says:

        My bad, I was in an ornery mood that day. That video does have 80k views and anything he puts out is usually immediately played by a lot of people. I’ve run into this deck quite a bit lately. Also, CF just released Standard 2022 Power Rankings. This deck is #1, so between this article and that one, I think this deck will be getting even more attention now.

      • MrJamesT says:

        Thank you for the guide. It was very well written and I hope to see more from you.

  2. Kalessin#33378 says:

    I’m with MrJamesT here. Orzhov control has been in Std22 since day 1. Damn, I grinded as much as I could with a modified version of your (Doggert) goblins’ and the algorithm insisted on pairing me against an orzhov control every three games (the 33% were monogreen with an assortment at the last third). I finally got tired of it and I’m trying something else now (and, blissfully, there’s much less o.c. in my way now).

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Fair enough! I could be reading into it too much and thought it more like “how is this deck not everywhere?” as I personally rarely run into it so I was kinda with that sentiment. Could be wrong though, not sure what the author’s intent was ofc.

      • Kalessin#33378 says:

        I’ve been thinking a lot about the matching algorithm used by MtgA, I’m no mathematician, but it’s pretty clear that matching is… odd, to say the least. Same goes for land flooding and such.

  3. nanojaz says:

    I was impatient to read a guide for this deck because i met it frequently in the ladder and it was one of the most difficult match for the weenie white i used last month (6 – 6 inclunding a defeat against the author one week ago!)
    What’s more, i will concentrate on Red, White and Black in MTGA for economics reasons this year (crafting all colors is expensive). So, this This Orzhov seems a reliable way to play a “Control” archetype.

    Don’t hesitate to make an update when the rotation went out (with the new set and BO3). It will be very interesting.

  4. VonKopf says:

    Thanks for sharing this guide!

    What do you think of including Draugr Necromancer? The synergy with Blood on the Snow is obvious, and I find it pretty good for those grindy matchup…

    I’me wondering what’s possible to cut in your list to put 2 copies of Draugr Necromancer, perhaps Eyetwitch?

    • Josh says:

      I actually think that is not a half bad idea worth experimenting with. My only worry is that Draugr will be a vanilla 4/4 body versus decks like Dimir Control. I think out of the sideboard versus decks like Mono Green that would be super fun to steal their Old Growth Troll and deny them then death effect. In a matchup like that I might side out something like a Liliana. Eye witches are really important against the aggro decks.

  5. Bloodchief says:

    Just want to mention that you said Doomskar gets a cost reduction vs Reidane which is not true. It still cost 5 to cast from foretell zone. Good guide otherwise, look forward to trying it out!

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I interpreted that as the Foretell let’s you circumvent the tax effect in a sense. Could be clearer though.

      • Josh says:

        Its funny because my original copy before edits was that “It gets underneath Redaine” but maybe they thought that phrasing had unintentional innuendo. But what I mean was yeah you can foretell to get the 2 mana discount, which makes a huge difference versus that deck, because you wont live to cast an 8 mana Blood on the Snow.

  6. Rory_the_Reaper says:

    I’ve been floating just under Mythic with this deck for a few days, except I have 4x Elite Spellbinder and 2-3 Warlock classes with less removal. Just Verses, Blood, and Flunk. The ladies, Warlock class, and skullport put other control decks on a timer a lot of the time and the tools to defeat the aggros decks are still there. My question is this, am I overvaluing the effects of the card because I like or it or is the class a viable inclusion to this archetypd.

    • Rory_the_Reaper says:

      Sheeesh, sorry for the typos in that….

      • Josh says:

        I think Elite Spellbinder is a fine inclusion but I do not think Warlock Class makes the cut for me, because often I win just by grinding out the other person through card advantage, and Warlock level 3 does not seem to jive with that game plan.

  7. Damian Cohen says:

    What about Elite Spellbinder in this deck as popularized by CGB?
    Maybe it’s better in a potential sideboard?

    • Josh says:

      Yeah I think Elite is an awesome card but it does not jive with this decks playstyle– which is to slowly grind the opponent to dust, Elite is a tempo card since it only delays the spell. And this deck is like an anti-tempo deck you are not killing people fast enough to make that 2 mana penalty significant. However, I do think something like Check for Traps out the sideboard versus some control decks would be good when B03 comes online.

  8. Bloodchief says:

    just wanted to say thank you again, I have been hovering around the same rank for a while, but am 9-0 so far with this deck, and it’s been a blast, and really strong. Sacrificing a Eyetwitch with a ghostform counter on it with merchant, making a spirt drawing a card, and learning is so good, and like you mentioned the ability to exile nearly anything with Kaya, and Vanishing verse is strong at keeping problematic cards off the table.

  9. Cyn1x says:

    Hey Josh, thanks for the guide first of all. After reading your guide I know you are playing bo3 only. I am still enjoying another verison of the deck in BO1. I hope it is not unpolite to ask if you think this decks needs any adjustments to be played in BO1 or fine playing without any?

  10. ck says:

    This tier is way out of date by now.
    Wonder when they be changing this crap.