Standard Orzhov Control Deck Guide: The 5th Pillar of Standard
Hello Planeswalkers! I am The MTG Hero. Orzhov Control has been the constant “5th Pillar” of Standard. Always putting up fantastic results, but not getting the recognition that the other big four decks (Mono White, Mono Green, Izzet Dragons, and Izzet Control) have gotten. Therefore, it is time we rectify this mistake and bring Orzhov Control into the limelight.
First let me say, that I cannot take credit for this deck at all. The original popular list, as far as I can tell, came from ManaFox who took down the Crokeyz Crimson Vow Tournament with the original build. I have just updated it a bit to my playstyle and how I like the deck.
Here is the original list:
I played a lot of the Mono Black Snow Control deck popularized by Urlich. The deck was just fantastic at grinding opponents into submission and running away with the game with a consistent chain of 2-for-1s. It was hard for a lot of decks to keep up with as the value the deck generated was backbreaking.
If Mono Black wasn’t your style, green was the best splash available as you gained access to Esika's Chariot and Wrenn and Seven, which are common main stays of the meta that no one would fault you for if you jammed into your deck. This generated free Treefolk tokens that would end the game shockingly fast and if you opted for mana dorks accelerated your lock. The only downside was having fewer interactive cards, but with power like that, it is worth the trade for some players.
So Why Add White?
Enter Edgar, Charmed Groom.
Now this is an upgrade! Edgar is a powerhouse even on his own. A 4/4 for 4 is a great rate. But when he “dies,” his true power shows. We gain a powerful artifact that grows our board for free. Given these are just 1/1s but having lifelink is huge for keeping us in the game and at a healthy life total. When Edgar flips back is when the fun begins! Having an army of 2/2s with lifelink is fantastic. You really live the dream when you have an Edgar in play with his coffin and start chain flipping them together, always making 2/2s. This is a lot for any deck to keep up with and hard to interact with.
Edgar also works great with Blood on the Snow, since if we cast it while he is on the field, he just flips over and we start building a board, or we can return Edgar back to the field as a 4/4 since he goes to the grave first before he flips meaning if we layer our triggers correctly, he returns before he can flip. My favorite play is letting an Edgar flip and then return another copy, setting up the dream of chain flips!
Adding white also gives you access to Vanishing Verse, which is basically the best removal spell in standard. This is because it can remove anything from Chariot to problematic creatures, and even planeswalkers. It is just so incredibly diverse in what it does with no real downside.
Professor of Symbology is a fine blocker and attacker that lets your grab whatever lesson is needed in any situation, this basically gives you a free draw to replace itself. While it isn’t particularly impressive early on, late game playing this, grabbing Confront the Past to bring back a Lolth, Spider Queen or a Necrotic Fumes to remove a scary threat is amazing. It can even be exiled to the Fumes to make it an immediate play.
Anyways, this is my take on ManaFox’s Orzhov Control!
Cards Not Included
I trimmed one copy of The Meathook Massacre for a 4th copy of Blood on the Snow. This is because while both cards are key to the deck’s success in many situations, the latter is far more impactful when cast. I would rather draw my first copy of Blood on the Snow than my first copy of The Meathook Massacre even though the latter is better early.
I also trimmed an Edgar. While Edgar is insane, you can flood on him. You only really want two in any situation. The 3rd is often dead, even though it is nice to have for a backup and the 4th is useless. I understand wanting to draw him ASAP and always having a copy, but he is a tool for our deck, not the main card. In place of the 4th Edgar, I run a 2nd Infernal Grasp, as instant speed removal is never bad.
Playing the Deck
With this deck, we want to generate card advantage and our deck has plenty of tools to do that. Lines like sacrificing a Shambling Ghast to a Deadly Dispute, drawing two cards to replace the two we lost, then generating two Treasure tokens, allowing for a turn three Lolth, Spider Queen. Yes, that is a real play. Sacrificing a Eyetwitch to a dispute isn’t as powerful, but allows us to grab a lesson card, draw two cards, which is basically drawing three cards.
From there we want to set up our main threats. Generally, a Lolth, Spider Queen or an Edgar, Charmed Groom. These cards can easily take over a game on their own, but we have tons of cards that support them. Lolth plus The Meathook Massacre is a tried-and-true combo that can take over games in just a turn or two if left unchecked.
To aid with consistency, we have Deadly Dispute, which we already covered and Fell Stinger. Fell Stinger is basically copies 5 and 6 of Deadly Dispute, but we don’t get the Treasures. Being a moderate sized deathtouch creature is also very relevant, making attacking and blocking difficult for the opponent.
In the late game, we want to destroy any force our opponent had built up with Blood on the Snow. Ideally, when it resolves, we should have a Lolth or Edgar in play on an empty board. This is generally enough to beat most decks in standard. From there, just look to cut off any advantages our opponent looks to get on us and keep the pressure on with tokens.
Even if you can’t bring back a large threat with Blood on the Snow, bringing back a Fell Stinger, for example, to sacrifice to itself to draw more cards is valuable and burying the opponent in card advantage. I have won a ton of games off bringing back a Professor of Symbology and grabbing Mascot Exhibition or Confront the Past to bring back a Lolth and just take over from there.
Choosing Your Lessons
One thing I love about the Llsson cards is that there is one for almost any situation. Here I will cover my choices and when you should be looking at them.
I have been bailed out of missing my 3rd land drop so many times by Environmental Sciences. It is perfectly on curve to be cast on turn three with a turn two Professor of Symbology and Eyetwitch into Deadly Dispute. Your can almost never go wrong picking it. But I will generally look elsewhere if I have access to 6+ mana including Treasures.
Pest Summoning is fantastic as it buys you an extra turn or two with blockers and a bit of extra life. It gets even better if you have The Meathook Massacre in play or a Lolth and supports that line well.
Necrotic Fumes is basically your get out jail free card. Exiling a token to rid yourself of a troublesome creature or planeswalker is great. I will always grab one early if I know I will need it, you can also grab it early to make your opponent hold up a counterspell.
I really like this card over Introduction to Annihilation, while giving your opponent a free draw for taking away a threat is powerful and generally worth it, I am looking to grind my opponent out. So trading 1-for-0 is a net loss and something I do not want to do.
Mascot Exhibition is an alternative win condition. You can easily build up an impressive board by casting Blood on the Snow, bring back a Professor of Symbology, then grab Exhibition, then cast it the following turn to have 11 power in play after a sweeper.
Confront the Past is a free way to bring back a Lolth when you don’t have access to Blood on the Snow or are looking to build up a board another way, like with Edgar for example, but still want to bring her back. It can also be used to remove opposing Planeswalkers, which I have done.
Well, Sideboarding is easy with this deck…
Midrange / Control / Mirror
|+3 Duress||-4 Blood on the Snow|
|+3 Go Blank||-2 The Meathook Massacre|
|+2 Hero's Downfall||-2 Infernal Grasp|
Don’t panic that some spells are off-color. Our deck generates more than enough Treasure tokens to make these spells castable.
Tips and Tricks
- You can destroy an Edgar with Infernal Grasp to save him from getting exiled and you will still get his flip side.
- Edgar can attack the turn he flips back over.
- You can return Edgar to the field face up after a Blood on the Snow by choosing to bring him back.
- Faceless Haven counts as a vampire.
- You can exploit a Fell Stinger to itself.
This deck is easily the 5th pillar of the meta game. The card advantage it generates is just next level compared to the field, add in the ability to apply pressure and you have a recipe for success. This deck has easily made it onto my favorites list and will be one of the decks I play throughout the season.
I hope you enjoyed the article and check out my video for gameplay of the deck. Don’t forget to subscribe on Youtube for more decks and follow me on Twitch to know when I go live. You can also follow me on social media for memes and updates. I will list those below for you to check out. Until next time planeswalkers, Hero out!