Hey! I promised
that I was going to write about the update of the 5-Color Control deck I ran at Pro Tour Amsterdam. First, let’s have another look at the version I played in the Netherlands:
That version was built under the assumption that Faeries would be one of the two or three most popular decks. However, this wrong assumption led me to many bad conclusions about the cards I should run. For instance, while Mystical Teachings may be really slow against Fae, it’s decent against other archetypes.
In the same way, Damnation is clearly better than Volcanic Fallout in an Extended without Faeries. I passed over Wall of Omens when I added white only a few days before the Pro Tour and just didn’t feel like I needed it.
Then there are cards I simply hadn’t tried, like Preordain, but the card — even though it’s pretty good — obviously has a pretty bad synergy with Vivid lands and early countermagic.
I also wanted to run one Grave Titan in order to win faster, but I couldn’t really find a slot, and the deck, no matter how slow it is, should be able to win anyway.
Here is the new list:
Now concerning some of the changes:
-1 Grove of the Burnwillows
-1 Punishing Fire
his isn’t a change I like a lot, but it’s needed. The combo may be the deck’s kill, but three of each are enough to make it a regular win condition. Also, the combo’s best matchup, Faeries, isn’t so popular anymore, and Doran has zero targets for it. Also, as you cut a Grove, you gain a slot for the excellent Dreadship Reef.
-3 Volcanic Fallout
+1 Consume the Meek
White Weenie has Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender, Doran plays no two-toughness guys, and Faeries isn’t popular anymore â€” so a more global mass removal spell will be more efficient. Even though Consume the Meek can be countered by Mana Tithe more easily, the card can be tutored by Mystical Teachings and kills Treetop Village.
+3 Wall of Omens
+1 Mystical Teachings
-1 Esper Charm
-1 Relic of Progenitus
Wall of Omens is never amazing, but it’s good in almost every matchup, and it’s very precious against Scapeshift as it stops the early beating. It’s good to play a pair of Teachings — in order to fetch the second one as you play the first — and it would be good to have a few singletons (like Extirpate and Teferi), but I just couldn’t find enough space. Maybe it would be possible to cut one of the two Careful Considerations, but I like the card a lot.
I wouldn’t cut all Relics, but the card was there not only because it’s good against decks using their graveyards, but it can also be recycled. However, now that the deck has Wall of Omens, the second effect is less useful. Then the question is whether you want two Relics and one Teachings, or two Teachings and one Extirpate. I went with the first, but the second is definitely an option. If you go for the second option, then Teferi has to go back into the maindeck as well.
Let’s talk about the sideboard:
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Relic of Progenitus
With two Teachings, a second Extirpate seems to make more sense. However, Extirpate is card disadvantage, and the most popular combo deck, Scapeshift, can have pretty aggressive draws against which Relic is simply better (for their Tarmogoyf, Kitchen Finks, and of course Punishing Fire).
3 Great Sable Stag
Decent against Doran and excellent against Faeries â€” which, even though it’s not Tier 1 at the moment, is still a deck to be considered.
Matchup analysis and sideboard plans
The matchup is globally good. Their plan usually is to empty both players’ hands (Treefolk Harbinger, Duress, Thoughtseize) as fast as possible and to get Doran, the Siege Tower into play before you get an answer. However, even if they can get rid of your mass removal and counterspells this way, you still have a lot of card drawing spells in order to find an answer to the 0/5.
Your problem is that the first one or two waves of attacks before you get an answer often puts you low on life, and you’d better have an answer to Treetop Village by then.
This sideboard plan is the best if you have plenty of time ahead of you. You kill with only one Punishing Fire â€” but you don’t really want more, as the card is pretty bad against them aside from being a win condition, and everything else is pretty good so you don’t really want to cut anything. Besides, you can easily get to a point when they’ll concede even if you can’t kill them for quite a while.
However, if you’re concerned you may not have enough time, you should make room for two or three Great Sable Stags.
Probably the deck’s best matchup, as long as you play around the few cards that really affect you. Play your removal at sorcery speed to play around Brave the Elements. Always bear in mind that Mana Tithe can counter your mass removal spells and Cruel Ultimatums â€” so try to wait for the extra mana for as long as you can before you cast those. If you feel like you can’t afford to wait, try to lure your opponent to counter something else by casting spells you don’t necessarily need to resolve.
The last annoying thing is that they have two cards which can turn the tables after a mass removal: Ranger of Eos (which you should keep mana open to Leak or Cryptic Command it) and either Honor of the Pure or Spectral Procession (if the other one has been cast shortly beforehand). The good news is, Negate handles both of them.
There are two questions you should ask yourself when sideboarding in this configuration: what counters do I want? And do I want Teferi?
Teferi’s pretty expensive, but it has a Nekrataal aspect that can be interesting â€” and more importantly, it can make Cruel Ultimatum land faster when you don’t have to play around Mana Tithe anymore.
About the counters: on the play, Mana Leak is simply better, but you often reach a point when there are spells it can’t counter anymore. On the other hand, Negate doesn’t counter as many spells, but it does stop the very annoying Honor of the Pure and Spectral Procession. The best situation is probably to have a pair of each on the draw (they’ll rarely play Honor on turn 2, so you should be able to counter it on turn 3 or 4) and to have three Leaks and a Negate or four and none.
Post sideboard, you have so many Wrath effects that the matchup turns clearly in your favor. It might be tempting to reinforce that aspect of the deck by boarding in a second Mystical Teachings, but that will only cause your deck to be slower. You should win long games pretty much all the time now that you have extra mass removal spells â€” so don’t neglect the early game, which is the actual moment when they have a chance.
In the maindeck, the strategy is pretty clear: stop the early beating with removal, Wall of Omens, and Relic of Progenitus, then counter their first Scapeshift. After that, try to resolve a Cruel Ultimatum to empty their hand.
The question of “who to target with Esper Charm” and “whether you should counter Harmonize or not” mostly depends on their hand size. Indeed, if you tap out to play the Ultimatum and leave them with one card in hand, you’ll most likely die on the following turn.
This matchup is clearly the most difficult to sideboard for. Sometimes they go more aggro, sometimes they stick to combo — you can’t know for sure. As there are many versions of the deck, it’s quite hard to predict. But there are cards you must absolutely bring in â€” namely, Relic of Progenitus (to reduce the impact of their Punishing Fires, Tarmogoyfs, and Kitchen Finks), Teferi (for Bloodbraid Elf and possibly Search for Tomorrow), and the two Negates. You’ll also need the second Mystical Teachings and Extirpate.
…seems obvious, and so does:
+1 Relic of Progenitus
+1 Extirpate (don’t worry too much about the lack of synergy between those last two cards — it usually takes them quite a while to get a Scapeshift into their graveyard)
+1 Mystical Teachings
+1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
With those cards, stopping the combo should be fine â€” but you need a little more space, and you don’t really want to cut any more anti-aggro cards if you don’t want to die from an assault of Tarmogoyf and pals.
That’s when you find yourself with a problem, since you can’t have a sideboard plan that covers his guys and his combo perfectly. What are the last two cards to take out? As you’ve already removed many anti-aggro cards, every other removal spell should stay â€” and if you start taking out counters or draw spells, you’ll sap the very core of the deck.
I guess you
still cut a card drawer in order to fit all those cards, and Esper Charm is better as far as mana curve and flexibility are concerned, so I’d cut one Consideration. Therefore, the plan should be something like:
Globally, I think you’re a little behind in this matchup, as their variable sideboard strategies leave you open to misboarding. You’re too dependent on what they’ll bring in (and what they’ll draw) to control the match in the way that you need to.
5 Color Control/Grixis
Both matchups are pretty similar: you have Relic of Progenitus, they have more Teachings and Extirpate. Otherwise, all those control decks do pretty much the same thing, and my two pieces of advice against those two decks are the following: don’t sacrifice Relic unless it’s necessary, and try to play fast ’cause it’s pretty hard to complete three games when these two archetypes face each other.
Also important is the fact Extirpate doesn’t necessarily kill you, as you can return your Fire with Grove in response, as the ability is triggered by a mana source. As long as they haven’t fetched it, don’t bother playing around it (you’d lose way too many points) â€” but when they do, simply wait for a second Grove to give them life again.
+1 Mystical Teachings
+1 Pact of Negation
+1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
+1 Relic of Progenitus
-1 Lightning Bolt
-1 Punishing Fire
-1 Cruel Ultimatum
-3 Wall of Omens
As I said earlier, my biggest mistake while preparing for Amsterdam was to overestimate the proportion of Faeries. It meant the deck needed adjustment â€” but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should just forget about winning the matchup.
The best way to beat Faeries is still the Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows combo, which is really hard for them to stop. Just make sure to not return the burn spell when you’re tapped out if you don’t want a Vendilion Clique to remove it. If they have one Bitterblossom, you should aim at Punishing Fire at the tokens, but you can aim straight for the dome if they have two, as you won’t be able to stop their beatings anyway.
Basically, the maindeck matchup is about how fast you can get your combo. Globally, you’re behind â€” but if you can assemble the two pieces fast enough, you have a pretty good chance.
Post sideboarding, the MVP of the matchup is now on your side. Your game plan is now simple: resist until you find Stag, cast it, and attack as many times as it takes. This is actually the only configuration in which this deck can win within five or six minutes. More generally, if you need to win super-fast against pretty much any deck, you can also consider bringing them in.
Other Options for the Deck
The optimal version of the deck depends mostly on the metagame in which it’s played. In a perfect world, I’d really like to add the following to the deck:
I’m aware that Extended will soon rotate and you won’t have much time to play the deck I’m presenting to you today â€” but I don’t often have as much fun playing a deck as I did with this one! And I simply wanted you to have as much fun as I did.