Genesis Of Odyssey

Control will be everywhere. But there are so many DIFFERENT ways to win with control.

Now isn’t that a title of epic proportions?

As you know, Odyssey was recently released and will become legal in only a few short weeks. And, just like every set rotation, the new Odyssey Block will undoubtedly deliver a diverse field of decks.

For instance, few players will find it difficult to build a competitive control deck. Another viable archetype is – … Is… Um? Surely, the pros can help us out. (Hops over to the Sideboard to check out the Invitational Standard decklists.)

Ahem. Like I said, control will be everywhere! If you look at the Standard decks that the sixteen supposedly best Magic players in the world created, you see two U/G decks, two B/U decks, three B/U/W decks, two B/U/R decks, one R/G/U deck, one G/B/U deck, two G/R/u decks, and two G/R decks. Two of them don’t have blue. Only three others have but a splash of blue. Six decks total had zero counterspells in them.

But – and this is the part that makes me extremely happy – there are so many different ways to win with control! Sure, there may have been at least ten control decks at the Invitational, but there were six different control decks. Blue was paired up with every color – even red and green at once! But, since one decktype can never dominate a field completely, there must be some sort of breakdown of current control decks. And looking at the Invitational control decks helps tremendously in this.

Seven of the control decks had more than two different kinds of creatures, and four of the decks played Opposition to capitalize on and reinforce this. So, it looks like we actually have a healthy field where Aggro-Control is viable. This is a relatively new concept in Standard, considering the last few years.

There have been many articles written about control, so I won’t demean your intelligence by lecturing on what you already know. But, here’s a concept that I thought was an interesting way to look at”traditional” control decks: The number of win conditions. Generally, a deck with one win condition with many ways to get to it is a combo deck. A deck with one or two win conditions with many ways to either protect those win conditions or deny the opponent of his win conditions is a control deck. A deck with multiple win conditions (generally in the form of creatures) is an aggro deck. But, as times change, so must the definition of control.

As I said before, most of the Invitational decks had counterspells of some sort, often in multiple forms. There was also quite a bit of direct removal like Recoil and Vindicate. (Perhaps in response to this control-heavy environment, only two decks played Wrath of God, and one of those decks had the card relegated to the sideboard.) The presence of such an amount of denial cards points to control decks. However, some of the decks packed as many as twenty creatures! How can these be control decks?

I think the answer is simple. Look at some of the creatures in these decks: Meddling Mage, Shadowmage Infiltrator, Thieving Magpie, Mystic Snake. I would call these”control creatures.” Sure they have a power and toughness and they might turn sideways every once in a while… But generally, they’re used to gain control, either through direct denial or card drawing. So now, creatures can be control cards? Yes. Does this change the definition of Aggro decks? I believe so.

Take a look at this hypothetical deck:

4x Thieving Magpie

4x Shadowmage Infiltrator

4x Archivist

4x Temporal Adept

4x Daring Apprentice

4x Counterspell

4x Undermine

4x Fervent Denial

4x Fact or Fiction

24x Land

I have twenty creatures, but this is most certainly a control deck. Three of the creatures get me cards, one bounces permanents, and one counters spells. I also have three counterspells and the ubiquitous Fact or Fiction. So – not an aggro deck here. Now what about:

4x Llanowar Elves

4x Noble Panther

4x Spectral Lynx

4x Call of the Herd

4x Elephant Ambush

4x Giant Growth

4x Wax/Wane

4x Muscle Burst

4x Overrun

24x Land

Twenty creatures (or creature-creating cards) here also… But this is definitely an aggro deck. So, it’s no longer safe to say that a deck with lots of creatures is an aggro beatdown deck. In the current environment, we have much more controllish creatures, which creates a whole new role for creatures in the game. Whereas before, creatures were basically grunts used to win the games, now they have a flair for things controllish, bringing a new air of sophistication around creatures.

So what’s in store for the future? I have to predict a tantalizing hybrid of beatdown and control decks, basically aggro control. Whereas I’m a huge control fan (you couldn’t tell, could you?), I also love the thrill of a sophisticated beatdown deck (see my numerous articles about my G/W BlastoGeddon deck for further reference). Needless to say, I’m looking forward greatly to playing Magic over the next year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, let me show you a fun deck I put together before you go. While looking through the Odyssey spoiler, I was lured into the tantalizing power of Traumatize and Haunting Echoes, though at different times during my revelation of Odyssey. When I contemplated the set as a whole, I realized how truly broken this combo is. Imagine having this deck successfully played against you:

Traumatic Misery v1.0

4x Traumatize

4x Haunting Echoes

4x Diabolic Tutor

4x Fact or Fiction

4x Shadowmage Infiltrator

4x Counterspell

4x Recoil

2x Tsabo’s Decree

4x Millstone

4x Underground River

4x Salt Marsh

9x Island

9x Swamp

Devious, isn’t it? I haven’t tested it yet, but it just looks dastardly. Imagine turn five Traumatize (that would traumatize me!) and turn six Haunting Echoes. Add Millstone for the kill, and there you have it. Any suggestions, of course, are appreciated.

Daniel Crane

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