Galina Control

That’s right; there’s nothing too earth-shattering. It’s blue, right? Blue sucks in multiplayer. No, there’s nothing too powerful – at least, until you play the Galina, shortly followed by the Unnatural Selection next turn, followed by the red burn to destroy anything I don’t like.

What is it about multiplayer deckbuilding that makes it so entertaining? What is it that makes Magic the Gathering so addictive, that makes us coming back for the next fix?

It’s the interaction. It’s the gathering.

My group consists of college students and recent college graduates; we’re all searching for some permanence in life and a plan for life. Magic is an out for us, a time where we can relax and just forget about the cares of the world for a moment. Acquaintances became friends.

And these friends beat the living smack out of each other in our spellslinging.

That’s the essence of Magic, and behind it is the heart and soul of the game. The tournaments, the strategy, the cards, the money… It’s competition. What do we enjoy most? The creature battles, the spell casting, the competition and the thrill of battle. God! Combat! In multiplayer, everyone loves casting a large, game turning spell – or, even more entertainingly, routing one.

With that, I present to you: Galina Control.

2x Suffocating Blast

4x Force of Will

4x Counterspell

2x Rewind

2x Forbid

1x Misdirection

1x Arcanis the Omnipotent

2x Artificial Evolution

4x Unnatural Selection

4x Prophetic Bolt

2x Browbeat

4x Empress Galina

4x Flametongue Kavu

1x Sol Ring

2x Shivan Reef

1x Shivan Gorge

4x Volcanic Island

5x Mountain

11x Island


4x Red Elemental Blast

4x Pyroblast

4x Lightning Bolt

3x Jilt

That’s right; nothing too earth-shattering. Nothing too powerful – at least, until you play the Galina, shortly followed by the Unnatural Selection next turn.

This deck’s weaknesses include large groups – groups where everyone else is playing red burn – and untargetability on a large scale such as Crystalline Sliver, Dense Foliage, or Steely Resolve. The strengths come in small- to mid-sized groups of four or five people, and in creature-heavy environments.

Otherwise, it’s packed with subtle little tricks. Control is not a powerful thing in multiplayer, but it serves two purposes in this deck that makes it viable. Keeping things from killing you, and keeping things from killing Galina: Prophetic Bolt and Flametongue Kavu keep creatures off your back until you can take control of them, and occasionally act as the added points of damage needed to finish an opponent off. Once you have Galina and the Selection on the board, Arcanis and Browbeats provide the cards you need, and even if they choose to take five from the ‘beat, that just keeps people off balance. Suffocating Blast provides great card advantage in any game with creatures worth targeting. Forbid turns extra cards down the line to another counter. Rewind is a beating at times – and I wish I had more, especially when there aren’t other hardcore blue players around.

The ideal scene: Counter your spell, and lookie here! I still have enough mana to take control of one of your creatures.

I’ll be honest: I would stick in four Mana Drains, but I don’t have them. And for reasons I’d explain elsewhere, I have no intention of proxying them.

Now, let me make a slight digression here, and say that I love weird rares: Artificial Evolution is just too much fun here, hacking Galina to deal with tribal decks if you don’t have the Unnatural Selections – or, my favorite trick, hacking Unnatural Selection to read”Whippoorwill” or some other irrelevant creature type instead of Wall. For one mana, you get to keep people from attacking you. Lots of fun. And in the most desperate of situations? Pitch it to Force of Will or Misdirection.

What you have now is an excellent deck for Timmy, Power Gamer-heavy environments. Moreover, you also have a deck that can keep up with anything that isn’t super fast Sligh or white weenie. Even against said decks, all you have to do is survive a few turns. Duplicates of creatures are easily killed off by Unnatural Selection, and Force of Will takes care of major threats early on. Flametongue Kavu also eliminates early creature threats such as tokens created by Call of the Herd. One Kavu is good for one Call. My personal favorite use for Artificial Evolution is altering the creature type”wall” on the selection to anything else (evil-eye is a personal favorite) allows you to”pay 1: target creature cannot attack,” and that’s a great thing early on.

Untargetable creatures will cause headaches for this deck – but of course, not every creature can be untargetable, right? It’s a matter of finding the right chump blocker. All the better if the critter stays around for the duration.

Honestly, the sideboard needs the most work, if you can’t tell. This deck fears nothing of creature decks, enough counterspells handle the rare multiplayer combo decks. Blue control folds to the blasts, and Lightning Bolts kill off non-protection from red weenies.

This deck is immensely fun to play, mainly because it’s so simple to run in the end. Every card with the exception of Artificial Evolution Is straightforward. Prophetic Bolt burns bothersome creatures or players and helps you draw more. Browbeat keeps you in the cards. Galina and Selection… well…

Let’s just say that Terror or Wrath of God is not necessarily the most enjoyable solution to creatures.

People will see this coming a mile away after you play it once, but the key to this deck is the politics of the matter. Remember who helped you, and remember who attacked you, and who’s got the problem deck and creatures.

And remember, when you cast it, don’t forget to declare…

“… You may be powerful indeed, but down here…


John Liu

“Dueling Grounds?”


“Gossamer Chains?”


“Got Disenchants?”


“Got Counterspells?”


“Got Burn?”


“Got Game?”


“Good Game.”


–True Story