- 2 Syncopate
- 2 Quicken
- 4 Divination
- 1 Elixir of Immortality
- 1 Ratchet Bomb
- 4 Azorius Charm
- 4 Supreme Verdict
- 4 Detention Sphere
- 4 Sphinx's Revelation
- 4 Dissolve
No win conditions?
Oh boy . . . let’s just jump right in.
As I mentioned numerous times in the videos, I was not very happy with the Elixir of Immortality / no win conditions approach to the deck. One of the biggest reasons is simply the most pragmatic:
Time. Time. Time.
While having to verbalize my thoughts and provide commentary certainly slowed my pace of play, the simple fact is that we probably could have won that first match. Having to play the last game with only three minutes left was an issue, and while real life doesn’t have the Magic Online chess clock, it does have the physical limitations of having to shuffle and actually handle cards. I haven’t watched William Jensen play very much, but I am going to assume he is naturally a fast player. For anyone not comfortable playing at a quick pace and maybe even those who are, planning to win with an infinite deck due to Elixir of Immortality is a somewhat daunting task if you are required to win three difficult games.
There is also simply the fact that Elixir doesn’t actually do anything to help you take control of the game beyond gaining a few life, whereas something like Aetherling or especially Elspeth, Sun’s Champion can.
Incidental Win Conditions
Interestingly enough, I am very in favor of not playing strict “win condition” type cards in my control decks. Cards like Assemble the Legion; Aurelia, the Warleader; or even Aetherling don’t excite me because they don’t do much if we aren’t in the phase of actually winning the game.
I would much rather have win conditions that are actually just part of my deck’s overall control plan anyway. Restoration Angel was the ideal version of this concept; it served as a fantastic blocker, a card-advantage generator (when combined with Auger of Bolas, Snapcaster Mage, or Thragtusk), and then a reasonable way to win the game later on when you had things under control. Sun Titan and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion are also excellent because they help take control of the game and then also win it when it’s time.
While it seems like Elixir of Immortality would allow you to play a bunch of answers and not waste slots on a win condition, it actually has more in common with something like Assemble the Legion than anything else.
While I don’t necessarily want to try to proactively win the game with my Sphinx’s Revelation control decks, I do want to have the option to use the cards I’ve been controlling the game with to win eventually.
I also just really hate Ratchet Bomb. The card creates so much tension, both with not being sure what to click it up to and with your own Detention Spheres and Jace, Architect of Thoughts. If you want to be killing things that cost zero or one mana, I like the card a lot, but as an all-purpose answer, I think it’s very suspect.
While I think counterspells are very well positioned right now, there is also some tension with having so many because of the sorcery-speed nature of many of the cards in the deck. Both over this set of games and the last there were a few where I was under pressure early and proceeded to draw a Dissolve or two and died or where I had to tap out to cast a Detention Sphere or Supreme Verdict only to have them resolve another threat when I still had a few counters in hand. Unlike the Flash decks of last format, it can be hard to leave up the mana sometimes, and it’s definitely a minor issue.
Overall, if I do play the deck, I will likely be jamming a number of Elspeth, Sun’s Champions and will have to make the big call of the week—Last Breath main or not?