Getting To Dublin With Drownyard

Find out why Nebraska State Champion Roberto Gonzales thinks that his version of Esper Control would be a good choice for your next PTQ or Grand Prix Miami!

What a weekend! In case you’ve been living under a rock or are just waking from a coma, Grand Prix Las Vegas has come and gone, and it was a blast. At this point, I’m sure you’ve seen pictures and video from the event, but nothing can prepare you for what 4,500 Magic players in a room (even a room larger than a Home Depot) feels like.

The Grand Prix itself rain smoothly considering how many people were in the event. I registered a decent pool that was full of removal and Rebels, which is normally where I want to be, but I had zero Bound in Silence so I didn’t go with the Rebel plan (turns out that was not optimal). After my two byes, I was promptly greeted with a loss, and I rebuilt my deck for games 2 and 3 in the same sleeves. My opponents, including Bob Maher, were surprised to see a very solid B/W Rebel deck after game 1!

Puzzle 1

I only lost one game with this version of the deck, but that was only good enough for a 7-2 record going into day 2. I knew that it being 4,500-person tournament meant that X-3 for the weekend was pretty much dead for cash and/or Pro Points (which happened to Luis Scott-Vargas), so my back was up against the wall going into day 2.

There was a ton of electricity in the air (at least that’s what I thought was in the air) the morning of day 2, and I was happy to draft a solid B/R deck that featured too many (five) Dreamspoiler Witches. I ended up light on mana and instants in my first match of the day and actually died to an army of 1/1 Kithkin! With three losses, I dropped and got lost in the side events. I had a great time, but there’s no need to reminisce anymore. Let’s talk about what to play this weekend to get you a ticket to join me in Dublin for Pro Tour Theros!

I have been playing Standard non-stop on Magic Online since returning from Las Vegas and want to share with you what I have been winning with.

If you aren’t into the kind of decks that play the grindy mid to long game, then this deck probably isn’t where you want to be. The entire point of our deck is to sit there and do nothing during our turn except cast Supreme Verdict, Terminus, or Augur of Bolas. When we don’t have spells to cast during their turn, we Drownyard them. Being able to lean on Drownyard in our matchups is the major reason to play a deck like this because ultimately many decks don’t have much defense for it.

My current fascination with this deck is mostly because I’ve discovered that PTQs and day 1 of Grand Prix are filled with aggressive creature decks. I’ve found that this particular version of control rarely loses to the aggro strategies in the current Standard format. We are packing six mass removal effects (four Terminuses and two Supreme Verdict), four Azorius Charms to give us time until we find one, and six maindeck counterspells. When I say that the deck rarely loses, usually losses are due to too many Burning Tree Emissarys on turn 2 and not finding one of those six mass removal effects. However, I can live with because it just doesn’t happen that often.

Another card that has been doing a lot of work for me is Augur of Bolas. Early game against the aggro decks it is decent blocker or speed bump, and any time it draws a card we’re feeling very good about our life. Thankfully, 25 spells give us a fair chance to not whiff. You do have some interesting decisions in the beginning of the game where you have to decide whether to block a one- or two-power creature with your Augur and give your opponent the chance to kill it with Pillar of Flame, Ghor-Clan Rampager, or Selesnya Charm.

I think most people say that if they have it, they have it, but in situations like this where I have a Restoration Angel to cast the next turn and a chance to blink my Augur, I will eat the damage and give myself the chance at the extra card. I understand you are sacrificing one or two life at the chance to draw a single card, but that extra card is very important for a deck like this.

The hardest decision I usually have to make against aggro decks is the above situation and whether to Supreme Verdict on turn 4 or Restoration Angel during combat and blink Augur of Bolas. The issue here is that bringing it in during combat and blocking puts us right back in the same spot of getting blown out by Ghor-Clan Rampager or Selesnya Charm. Restoration Angel is our only real way to kill our opponent with damage, so we have to be very careful to not put ourselves in situations where it dies for nothing.

Again, we may block with Augur, and if they play some pump spell or burn, we can blink it out with Angel. Take your time with your decisions at the beginning of the game because this is the time where you are more likely to lose. As the game goes longer, you can make up time because the decision tree is much simpler when you have a ton of mana and your opponent doesn’t have many creatures.

The biggest reason I have stayed with this deck is that the matchup against Junk Reanimator has been extremely favorable. The reason there are four Terminuses and only two Supreme Verdicts is in response to Voice of Resurgence and Unburial Rites. Voice is a serious problem for a deck that wants to be casting most of its spells during its opponent’s turn. Fortunately, many decks are moving away from playing it maindeck, but we still play more Terminus than Supreme Verdict since it’s just better card right now.

The other reason I have been doing well against Junk Reanimator is there has been a move to not play Cavern of Souls at all and to shift Acidic Slime to the board. Those two cards are the reason that you lose when you play Junk Reanimator. First of all, Cavern of Souls is just a huge beating because it takes away our ability to deal with Thragtusk and Angel of Serenity profitably. Since we are a mill deck, a resolved Angel of Serenity in game 1 normally is going to get another one plus extras. Cavern on Angel means that we are in the terrible spot of not being able to counter either of their Angels, which will usually result in a rather uphill battle.

As for the sideboard, it is a work in progress because I seem to be very much up in the air as to what is necessary for a big tournament as opposed to eight-man queues. I have been very happy with Appetite for Brains against Junk Reanimator as a way to deal with Acidic Slime and the gluttony of other spells that they have. Unfortunately, it has been dead in my hand far too often due to the light number of black sources in the deck. If I continue to go this route, I feel like one or two Watery Graves will become necessary. We also get Rest in Peace against them, which gives us good answers to the reanimation plan as well as turns off a large part of Voice of Resurgence. I normally sideboard like this:

-2 Renounce the Guilds
-4 Azorius Charm
-1 Think Twice
+4 Rest in Peace
+2 Appetite for Brains
+1 Dissipate

Against control:

-2 Renounce the Guilds (We keep these in if we think they’ll side in Geist of Saint Traft.)
-2 Azorius Charm
-4 Terminus
+2 Appetite for Brains
+3 Negate
+1 Dissipate
+1 Dispel
+1 Notion Thief

Against aggro:

-2 Renounce the Guilds
+1 Supreme Verdict
+1 Dissipate

Against Junk Aristocrats:

-4 Think Twice
-2 Dissipate
+4 Rest in Peace
+2 Renounce the Guilds

I won’t be able to attend Grand Prix Miami, but if I were going this is the exact list I would play. I feel like you don’t have any atrocious matchups and the deck is a very solid choice. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have and give advice on how we can make the deck better. Until then, good luck getting that invite to Dublin!



RobG on Magic Online

@robertjgonzales on Twitter