You CAN Play Type I #28: The Control Player’s Bible, Part XII – The Emeralds

“The Deck” doesn’t really use five colors. It uses a primary, a secondary, and two tertiary colors, and a couple of cards in the last color. Green just happens to be that off-color.

The Control Player’s Bible, Table of Contents:

Part I: Overview

Part II: History, 1994-1996

Part III: History, 1996-2000

Part IV: History, 2000-2002

Part V: A sample control mirror match

Part VI: Playing the core cards: Counters and tutors

Part VII: Playing the core cards: Card drawing and removal

Part VIII: Playing the Sapphires

Part IX: Playing the Jets

Part X: Playing the Pearls

Part XI: Playing the Rubies

Part XII: Playing the Emeralds

(WARNING: This column was written a few hours after the University of the Philippines, College of Law Legal Philosophy midterm exam. Or, a few hours and six cocktails later. Hey, I’m sure Ferrett edited for coherence, and Hemingway had to start somewhere…)

News Flash!

Before anything else, let me congratulate 13-year old Steven Sadin for winning the recent $250 tournament in Neutral Ground in New York. See, you CAN play Type I!

Goblin Beatings, Steven Sadin, Champion, Neutral Ground $250, January 26, 2002

1 GOBLIN TRENCHES (lucky 61st card slipped in!)

Blue (19)

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Merchant Scroll

4 Mana Drain

1 Counterspell

4 Force of Will

1 Misdirection

1 Stroke of Genius

1 Braingeyser

1 Fact or Fiction

2 Morphling

Black (5)

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Mind Twist

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Diabolic Edict

1 The Abyss

White (4)

1 Balance

1 Swords to Plowshares

1 Dismantling Blow

1 Circle of Protection: Red

Red (2)

1 Gorilla Shaman

1 Fire/Ice

Green (2)

1 Sylvan Library

1 Regrowth

Mana (28)

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Emerald

1 Sol Ring

1 Strip Mine

3 Wasteland

1 Library of Alexandria

4 City of Brass

1 Undiscovered Paradise

4 Underground Sea

4 Tundra

3 Volcanic Island

Sideboard (15):

1 Teferi’s Moat

1 Circle of Protection: Red

1 Ensnaring Bridge

2 Powder Keg

1 Aura Fracture

3 Duress

3 Red Elemental Blast

1 Zuran Orb

1 Pyroclasm

1 Swords to Plowshares

Steve actually got paired against some guy named Edward Paltzik and his hate deck with four maindeck Dwarven Miners in Round 1, but he trounced him and never looked back. (The same hate deck lost to Mikey Pustilnik and another”The Deck” player in later rounds, which pleasantly proves that control is about skill and not random hate.)

The Emeralds: The”forgotten fifth color”

Last week, I mentioned that”The Deck” doesn’t really use five colors. It uses a primary, a secondary, and two tertiary colors, and a couple of cards in the last color.

Green just happens to be that usual off-color.

The joke goes that there are only four colors in Magic, and green’s strengths just don’t show themselves in Type I. In fact, the green cards that make the cut for”The Deck” are those accused of being blue cards that got lost (like the Revised Serendib Efreet).

Anyway, you’ll have only five sources (four Cities of Brass, Mox Emerald, plus a possible Undiscovered Paradise) for the off color, so you’re limited to running the handful of cards that are strong enough midgame to justify themselves in the off color.

Note that it’s rarely a good idea to confuse your mana base by using one or two dual lands for the off-color. I’d rather shore up the main colors, or use another color smoother like Undiscovered Paradise.




Beta uncommon

Return target card from your graveyard to your hand.

Regrowth is a no-brainer for the midgame. At worst, it trades for the best card in your graveyard, and can reuse key removal with no card advantage loss. At best, you go Ancestral/Regrowth/Ancestral. (You can also Regrow something during Yawgmoth’s Will for your Time Walk turn, tempt the sacrifice of an opposing Tormod’s Crypt, and a lot of other little tricks.)

Don’t overestimate the card, though. Recursion cards have the inherent problem of being useless until something good enters the graveyard. Some people cut Regrowth to fit something else in – though they do so for very good reasons.

Chris Flaaten, a.k.a. CF, who plays green over red as a tertiary color, shared that his rule of thumb is to use absolutely no more than three recursion cards in”The Deck.” (Note: Regrowth and Yawgmoth’s Will are tough contenders for the first two already.)

Nostalgic Dreams



Torment rare

As an additional cost to play Nostalgic Dreams, discard X cards from your hand. Return X target cards from your graveyard to your hand. Remove Nostalgic Dreams from the game.

“Seton dreams of life renewed.”




Legends rare

Discard X cards from your hand, then return a card from your graveyard to your hand for each card discarded this way. Remove Recall from the game. (Restricted in August 1994)

Well, here’s a sneak preview of my Torment review.

At first glance, Nostalgic Dreams looks really strong, something on the level of a second Yawgmoth’s Broken Will.

But it’s card disadvantage, which should send alarms ringing in your head. The double green also means you can’t run this as an off-color card. The mana requirement plus the discard means you can’t use this until midgame or later, which makes the two-mana cost far less relevant. Finally, if it gets countered, you end up Mind Twisting yourself.

A couple of weeks ago, Suzan Attaway e-mailed me my first good question about Torment:”Hello, Mr. Tan. I was wondering if you thought about using Nostalgic Dreams instead of Regrowth.”

Both cost the same, though only Regrowth can be used in an off-color. But Regrowth has no card disadvantage, and Nostalgic Dreams earns its keep when you recycle maybe three or more cards. If you can hold back that many, you’re probably winning anyway, so I’d say the more efficient Regrowth is still it.

Now, the second good question is, would you use Nostalgic Dreams in addition to Regrowth and Yawgmoth’s Win?

Let’s note that Recall is strictly better in”The Deck” because it only needs one colored mana, it pitches to Force of Will, and you don’t discard the cards if Recall is countered. Remember, the casting cost is less relevant because it’s clearly a midgame card, anyway.

Now, I didn’t even list Recall with the other Sapphires because I had to put it back in the binder to make room for newer, more streamlined cards a long time ago. That implies Nostalgic Dreams won’t be there, either, since a card disadvantage card with conditions just falls short in”The Deck.”

Sylvan Library



Legends uncommon

At the beginning of your draw step, you may draw two cards. If you do, choose two cards in your hand drawn this turn. For each of those cards, pay 4 life or put the card on top of your library.

This is Matt D’Avanzo’s signature card on Beyond Dominia, and he IMed me to say,”If you don’t run this card, you are a big wuss and probably play no Cities of Brass in your type II deck despite the fact there is no Rishadan Port anymore.”

It’s very difficult to understand how good Sylvan is on paper, so let me share three anecdotes.

First, I won my fastest game ever using Sylvan. In a mirror match, I got a second-turn Sylvan and Misdirected my opponent’s Ancestral Recall at the end of the turn, and he conceded right there.

Second, I had one of my most hilarious games ever with Sylvan. A guy named Darren Roberts, alias DarrenR, was flooding #apprentice that he’d only lost two Type I games all day. Annoyed, I took him up on his challenge.

I wasn’t happy when my first play was to Force of Will his turn 1 Dwarven Miner, and I figured he was an amateur Sligh player maindecking hate against random online players. A few turns later, it was clear he was playing a subpar Ponza deck (it had things like Orcish Settlers and Nevinyrral’s Disk over removal). Unfortunately for me, I was getting poor mana topdecks of off-color Moxen and Wastelands, and landkill left me with a lone City of Brass.

Gorilla Shaman had killed his Mox Ruby and Wasteland had killed Rishadan Port, but I needed to do something fast. With just a Mana Drain in hand, I topdecked and played Sylvan off City. The following turn, I grabbed Mystical Tutor. He smugly played Mishra’s Factory and Pillage on my City, and I tutored for Balance.

I had no land and just Mana Drain in hand, and played Balance off a Mox Pearl. I could hear his jaw drop when he lost his hand and all his mana. The following turn, I paid eight to Sylvan, played a land, and Ancestral Recall. Now I was the guy laughing from behind a full hand.

Somewhere there, he disconnected, then accused me of cheating on the channel, then picked a fight with channel op Sleipodin, which really entertained the other lurkers. I never saw him again.

And, third, well, Brian Weissman e-mailed me that he is playing with Fireball again because an opponent getting a Sylvan Library on him is one of his worst nightmares.

So, to recap, why is Sylvan good?

First, it protects your hand from discard by keeping the good stuff safe on top of the library, and helps you recover from landkill.

Second, it’s a second Ancestral Recall against control, and it can’t be Misdirected or Red Elemental Blasted. Played off a Mox against control turn 1, it trades for a Force of Will and another blue card, or might win right there.

Sure, it’s four life a card, but your life just sits there against a control or combo deck (remember what that old Necrodeck did with idle life?). Even if you see marginal cards like more land, you just pay life to get to the good stuff. Just don’t dip too low or you won’t be able to use your own Forces of Will and Cities of Brass, and you might lose randomly to Fire/Ice or a single attack. Zuran Orb also gets you a few more cards later in the game.

Third, it shows you the best of your next three cards, and this saved me in a few games where I would’ve lost if I drew a certain card one or two turns later.

This is strong, though, because you get a new selection with every shuffle. I used Thawing Glaciers in casual Erhnam decks during Ice Age, and”The Deck” has its tutors to do the same thing. With Sylvan, remember to hold tutors if you can, and remember that draw cards like Ancestral Recall and Fact or Fiction also reset Sylvan.

With all these subtle advantages in one card, Sylvan isn’t a staple solely because it’s unforgivably green. You might justify cutting it if green is your off-color. Me, I use Undiscovered Paradise and do get a few good early Sylvans against control and discard.

Rules Note: You can peek at and draw up to three cards a turn off Sylvan. A second Sylvan, though, just lets you peek at the same two cards you put back, unless you paid life to the first.

Holistic Wisdom



Odyssey rare

2, Remove a card in your hand from the game: Return target card from your graveyard to your hand if it shares a type with the card removed this way. (The card types are artifact, creature, enchantment, instant, land and sorcery.)

In my Odyssey review, I opined that this is unplayable. I think I was justified; John Ormerod e-mailed:”Wisdom always seems like too much of a late game thing to me [in Extended].” But this is Type I, which has a bit more brokenness than Extended, so let’s go over my critique again.

First and foremost, it needs double green mana.

I’m not cutting a tertiary color for green just for this.

JP”Polluted” Meyer and Chris Flaaten, a.k.a. CF on Beyond Dominia, made workable builds with green, though, so it’s not as insurmountable as I thought.

My second criticism was that it doesn’t draw cards on its own. Sure, it can swap Mystical Tutor for Ancestral Recall or City of Brass for Strip Mine in a snap, but you need to have a few cards in hand before you can use this. It’s a slow card; it helps you pull away to an insurmountable lead, but it won’t kick in fast enough to save you from a couple of weenies beating down.

I thought that Holistic Wisdom would be best in a deck specifically based around it, but JP and CF actually tried this in”The Deck.” JP went from the”ideal” selection of spells to one with a good ratio of instants and sorceries. With a few cards in hand, this lets him recur and recur Ancestral Recall, Time Walk and Strip Mine, and his deck is now something like Turboland (part control and part combo).

I honestly haven’t tested Holistic Wisdom extensively enough to say your second Morphling wins games for you in the same way anyway, but it’s a card to seriously consider with enough green, since the double green was my biggest criticism. It’s certainly colorful, and I laughed when CF told me how he played Holistic, then Stroke in the Nordic Open, drawing a crowd.

If you do try it, be patient because it’s simply not an explosive card. You can break a stalemate with a quickly-recycled Ancestral Recall, but you usually have to just stabilize first, hold on to counters and play land before you get back to Holistic.

By the way, while I was typing this, Matt D’Avanzo IMed to say he was suggesting Intuition to set up the combo kill. He added,”If Holistic Wisdom is as good as it looks, I’d consider adding more green.”

Oath of Druids



Exodus rare

At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, if that player controls fewer creatures than any of his or her opponents, the player may reveal cards from the top of his or her library until he or she reveals a creature card. The player puts that card into play and all other cards revealed this way into his or her graveyard.

Oath of Druids defined the brief period when both Weatherlight (Gaea’s Blessing) and Exodus were Type II legal, then went on to become a fixture in Extended. It suddenly reappeared in the last season to give Grow a black eye in Grand Prix Lisbon.

If Kai Budde used this as a wrecking ball against Grow, I think you can try it against all manner of Type I aggro-control as well.

Abyss and Moat are very powerful – but at four mana, you sometimes can’t force them through fast enough against aggro-control weenies backed by a few counters. Oath, at two mana, turns the first weenie into your Morphling and stops their offense cold.

Well, why not play it over Abyss or Moat, then?

First, obviously, because Oath is green. A second and less obvious reason, though, is that Oath demands more slots. The”full” strategy demands four slots for two Gaea’s Blessings to keep recycling the graveyard and a Spike Weaver and a Feeder to keep saccing.

So far, I’ve seen Chris Flaaten, a.k.a. CF, run a good compromise by using only Morphling and a single Gaea’s Blessing. Unlike a dedicated Oath deck, all you want is to play Morphling for two mana, and you don’t need to recycle the graveyard every turn. Of course, this is slower and shakier, and you deck yourself if Gaea’s Blessing gets to your hand. CF is actually testing a weaker Brainstorm in his deck to put Blessing (and possibly Morphling) back on top of the library and to take advantage of reshuffles.

Though Oath is wonderful against weenies, it gives your deck quite a few dead cards against control and combo. And remember that if you play your Morphling, your opponent can just use your Oath during his turn and bring out his own.

You can use Oath against a control opponent by timing it very carefully and playing it after a disruptive creature like Gorilla Shaman or Dwarven Miner – the”Oath Trap” – then making sure his creature stays on the board so he can’t Oath up his Morphling. Mono blue also has no good answer to an Oath on the board, and it gets worse now that it has to lean on Ophidian again. Otherwise, though, it’s an uphill battle against non-creature decks.

Note, then, that using Oath means you remove your own disruptive creatures like Gorilla Shaman, which can change a part of your strategy.

Rules note: Oath of Druids can’t trigger if the right number of creatures isn’t there at the very beginning of upkeep. Gaea’s Blessing only triggers after Oath finishes dumping cards into the graveyard (which is all of them if there are no creatures), so you don’t recycle the graveyard in the middle of using Oath. Finally, the Blessing trigger uses the stack now, so an opponent can use Tormod’s Crypt in response to remove your graveyard, and you end up reshuffling an empty graveyard back in.

The decklist in this series is the one I use for general play, and I might try green and Oath if I had to metagame for a lot of weenies and weenie-based aggro control. I might try red and green as the tertiary colors, to keep my Red Elemental Blasts. I could also try more conventional solutions like more spot removal or Mishra’s Factory, though, because Oath is less flexible than the usual Abyss.

If you toy with Oath yourself, don’t forget that Spike Feeder and Weaver and a few others from Extended are always options. A funny side was Cloudchaser Eagle, a Darren Di Battista jank response to Back to Basics last year.

Gaea’s Blessing



Weatherlight uncommon

Target player shuffles up to three target cards from his or her graveyard into his or her library. Draw a card. When Gaea’s Blessing is put into your graveyard from your library, shuffle your graveyard into your library.

Nowadays, Gaea’s Blessing is known as Oath of Druids’ sidekick. Before, it was a popular recursion card in Beyond Dominia. The idea was to keep reshuffling key cards like Ancestral Recall and counters back in. Two Blessings also let the second reshuffle the first back in, letting you win by decking your opponent.

Heck, Darren Di Battista even had fun with a late-game infinite turn kill in one version. He’d cast Time Walk, Bless it back in, find it with Soothsaying, then repeat the process.

Today, everyone has given up the slower Blessing strategy for the explosive Yawgmoth’s Will. It has to be clarified, though, that Blessing and Yawgmoth’s Will don’t exclude each other. If you use Blessing in an Oath deck, for example, you can cast Blessings on things Will does not use – like counters and more expensive cards. Ancestral Recall and a few friends can be left for Will.

Rules notes: You fail to draw a card from Gaea’s Blessing only if it misses all its targets. Remember, you can use it against an opponent’s graveyard against miscellaneous things like reanimation targets.




Urza’s Destiny uncommon

Whenever a black card is put into an opponent’s graveyard, you may draw a card.

Compost is the only card that can attack the discard component of mono black decks. The usual deck will use just four Duress and four Hymn to Tourach, and cards that attack just these slots are too narrow. Compost is effective because it also attacks against the rest of the deck, especially Sinkholes.

The only caveat is that it has to hit the board very early, which means having enough green mana and two or three copies in the sideboard. If your deck can’t use Compost early, don’t bother. Attack another part of the deck, usually the creature element that comes after the disruption.

Otherwise, I’ve discovered firsthand that a Compost on the board frustrates a black player, and two makes him cry.

Rules notes: The draw is optional, so don’t forget to do it. Also, even Dark Ritual triggers Compost.

Call of the Herd



Odyssey rare

Flashback 3G. Put a 3/3 green Elephant creature token into play.

Green, unappreciated color it is, just doesn’t have a lot of strays from blue, so there aren’t a lot of tricks to list. I have to clarify something from Kai Budde Lisbon deck, though.

The transformational sideboard has always been there in Magic, and you could, for example, put four Phyrexian Negators into your sideboard for control. Thing is, it stops working once people get wise to it, and you only have so many sideboard slots. Kai could use the seemingly out-of-place calls because the metagame was so narrow that he had room in the board.

You might not, so always stick to the most reliable solutions before anything fancy.

Pernicious Deed



Apocalypse rare

X, Sacrifice Pernicious Deed: Destroy each artifact, creature, and enchantment with converted mana cost X or less.

Deed is an excellent budget card, because decks without power have no Moxen to worry about.

Basically, Deed is a board sweeper that can be used immediately unlike Nevinyrral’s Disk, and can be used selectively to save permanents like The Abyss and Morphling.

It also sweeps the board against decks that use a number of permanents, like Parfait and Enchantress. Remember, you can sacrifice it in response to their disenchant effects.

Reader’s War twist

Well, that’s it for the strategy. I still have to cover a few miscellaneous artifacts and lands, but I think that can wait. I’m not feeling dizzy from six cocktails, but I am getting sleepy…

I hope you don’t mind if I finish by featuring a letter addressed to me this week:

—– Original Message —–

From:”Brian Weissman”

To: <[email protected]>

Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2002 8:23 AM

Subject: My much-belated reponse

I greatly appreciate the support you show me on various forums, and for keeping me updated on all these issues. I know I don’t respond very much, but I do follow Type I somewhat and it still interests me.

As a matter of fact, I attended Pro Tour San Diego a few weeks back, and spent literally 95% of my time there playing Type I against Pat Chapin and Mike Pustilnik. Over that time, I adjusted some of my deck to suit the current environment. Here goes with the list:

“The Deck”….NOT The Keeper 😛

Non-Mana Producers


4 Mana Drain

4 Force of Will

1 Misdirection*

1 Zuran Orb

1 Red Elemental Blast

2 Swords to Plowshares

1 Fireball

1 Jayemdae Tome

1 Disenchant

1 Morphling

1 Merchant Scroll*

2 Gorilla Shaman

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Mind Twist

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Fact or Fiction

1 Regrowth

1 Balance

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Braingeyser*

1 Stroke of Genius

1 Time Walk

1 Ancestral Recall

Mana Producers


4 Tundra

4 Volcanic Island

3 Underground Sea

4 City of Brass

4 Wasteland

1 Strip Mine

1 Library of Alexandria

5 Moxes

1 Sol Ring

1 Black Lotus



2 COP: Red

2 Swords to Plowshares

1 Moat

1 Mana Short

3 Red Elemental Blast

1 Disenchant

2 Dwarven Miner

2 Gorilla Shamn

1 Mirror Universe

Okay, obviously this list has changed to reflect the restriction of Fact

or Fiction.  Both Pat and Mike used Misdirection against me in our games – and needless to say, I was amazed by the power of the card in so many situations.

The best example I can think of was the”turn 1 kill” that Chapin got against me playing his Type 1 MiracleGro design.  I started first and played a Tundra, he followed with an island, and on my second turn I played a Volcanic Island. On his upkeep, I cast Ancestral Recall on myself, to which he responded with Misdirection to him. I smiled and tapped the

Volcanic to Red Blast, and he tapped his lone Island to Disrupt my Red Blast 😛  I scooped on the spot! 

Anyway, the card is so flexible and dangerous that it’s superior to Force of Will in most cases, and it definitely deserves a place in my deck. I may even include a second one in the future, though my quantity of blue spells is dangerously low.

I’ve finally put Merchant Scroll into my deck, after toying with the idea of including it for a long time. Chapin and I played a series of about fourteen games with an exact mirror, and we kept track of how closely a successful casting of Ancestral Recall was related to winning. In our fourteen games, we were amused to find that there was a 100% positive correlation between resolving Ancestral and winning in the mirror matchup, and that fact alone justifies another Ancestral-related Tutor.  One is a good number, though, since multiple Scrolls are pretty slack.

I am pretty sure that I’m never going to include Diabolic Edict in my deck, simply because it is too narrow to suit my needs.  My deck has always been and will always be about maximum flexiblity, and Swords is strictly better for that purpose.  Keep in mind also that my deck is”tuned” right down the middle against everything that you’re likely to encounter in Type I, and that while Edict is more biased against control decks, the card is inferior to Swords against other things.

If my opponent has something really evil like an Infiltrator or a Specter, I sure don’t want to have to deal with a Gorilla Shaman or Jackal Pup before I can kill the real threat. I’m also pretty sure that I’ll lose nearly 100% of the games where an opposing Morphling resolves, regardless of whether I have an Edict in my deck or not – but having that Edict in my deck over a Swords will probably cost me games against other designs.

You might explain this to the people in your forum as being similar to what you do in Blackjack when faced with the worst-case scenario: A 16 against a dealer 10 or Ace. Basic strategy says that you’ll lose slightly less often by hitting, so that is what you do every time unless you are counting. 

My guess is that if I played in fifty random Type I tournaments, I would lose slightly less using a second Swords over a single Edict, so that’s what I go with. If your metagame is 70% control or more, you’re probably better off with Edict.

Keep in mind that my deck has always been configured to have the best chance against a completely diverse field, and that really dictates the balance of anti-control vs. anti-aggression elements. I need to cater to the kid playing at his cardshop against random white weenie and mono red decks, while at the same time making the hardcore Neutral Ground NY player happy. 

It’s a tough road to walk.

As for the inclusion of Fireball, I again prefer it because of the magical word: Flexiblity. A majority of the creatures in Type I have tiny toughness, so dispatching them with a Fireball isn’t much harder than taking them out with Swords. However, one of my deck’s biggest phobias is a Sylvan Library played by an opposing control deck, and having a Fireball keeps them honest. 

They can’t merrily”Necro” down to four without having tons of permission on hand right away, and I can always win out of nowhere if they go too low. The Fireball in my deck outright won me one of the seven games I played against Mike Pustilnik, and it likely would have won me a second had he not conceeded. 

The card is also great against a random field, where you might be facing two Jackal Pups and a Savannah Lion on turn three. Try Edicting your way out of that situation!

And finally, while Mirror Universe is the most superflous card in my sideboard, it’s in there as another”out” against a hyper-aggressive deck that just throws its hand at your head and tries to keep you under control with Shamans, red blasts, and Anarchy.  Against mono red, I remove most of my blue elements (including Force of Will), and win the game with weenie creatures, creature control, white enchantments, and artifacts. 

Having the mirror in my Deck gives me access to a huge life swing, and it can win games that are totally unwinnable in any other case. It’s also incredibly expensive, which makes it a source of life gain totally immune to Shamans, unlike Zuran Orb and Ivory Tower.

If you play against a metagame of heavy control, take out the mirror and replace it with a Pyroblast

I hope that my email here answers most of the recent discussion on the forums, and gives you some ammunition for argument.  I don’t know who this Matt D’Avanzo guy is, but any time he wants to play at a Pro event I am game 🙂 

Thanks as always for your correspondence and time Oscar, and take care!


Brian Weissman

P.S. I actually don’t”Play” Diablo 2 per se, and haven’t for nearly a year. Selling items for the game is my full time job, and it is incredibly


P.P.S I’m going to send you another Morphling, this time via registered

mail, so I need your emailing address.  Let’s hope third time’s a charm!

Midterm exam: When the student critiques the teacher

Congratulations to Brian, who now has more time for life in general after graduating!

Now, before we go on to our beginner’s card-by-card heads up, we’re going to make you work a bit. From Brian’s 2002 decklist, you can see that he and I agree on a lot of points, but disagree on others. Now, I was reading Brian’s featured posts on The Dojo when I was just learning the game, so disagreeing with him is a tall order.

Do you agree with everything Brian said? You already saw both sides of the Land Destruction Option last column, for example. Now, let’s see how much you truly understand The Control Player’s Bible.


My take on it is that Brian and I are playing the same deck, but have different assumptions about metagames and the power of certain cards. I’ll take a few of his points:

#1: Diabolic Edict or Swords to Plowshares?

Which core removal card really deserves the slot?

You’ve seen the Pros and Cons in Part VII, so you know Brian and I are actually both right.

Brian implies that he’s only concerned with Morphling against”The Deck.” It only has 1-2 copies and only plays it after it takes control, at which point it can counter anything you do anyway.

Thing is, the successors to Britney Spears’ Boobs pack four Morphlings, and they can be far more aggressive about playing Morphs than”The Deck.” You can find yourself in control except for a midgame Morphling, and that’s why I consider a single Edict a staple.

In addition, the new monoblue control replaces Fact or Fiction with Ophidian, and Edict isn’t dead removal because it also hits Morphling. On a side note, it also hits Argothian Enchantress, the main engine of green/white Enchantress decks. In most of these situations, Balance just isn’t the answer you want.

So my answer is mono blue. I’m using the same formula, but I think Edict is better against Jackal Pup and friends than Swords is against Ophidian and friends.

Maybe Brian and I are both playing blackjack, but I guess I have jokers in my deck.

(Note the fun of Type I, though. I also use a Swords, so we’re debating one slot here.)

#2: Fireball?

I said in Part XI that I really hated seeing this in my opening hand.

Against aggro, if I had six mana to take out three 2/1s with this, I could cast a Wall of Morphling. More importantly, I should’ve been able to set up Balance, go for Abyss, or start countering creatures.

Or maybe I should’ve found Fire, which is four mana cheaper.

Using Fireball against control and Sylvan Library is more interesting, but Morph just does a bunch of other things. For example, you can play and protect it against a combo deck with a depleted hand, and you can’t set up Fireball there.

And again, Fire can also catch reckless Sylvan players.

So, I guess I have a card that does what Fireball does for Brian, and it cycles to boot.

#3: Mirror Universe?

While I adore the Foglio art on my copy, I still can’t see a six-mana card coming in fast enough to save you. Mirror can only be used in your next upkeep, so an aggro player still has one turn to kill you. Those Jackal Pup decks, moreover, don’t have anything you can reliably Mana Drain into a quick Mirror Universe, except maybe Ball Lightning.

If Gorilla Shaman is the argument, I don’t see how another Circle of Protection: Red provides the same”out.”

In fact, while I’m on this point, I also don’t see where The Abyss went against extreme aggro. Sure, it’s narrow and dead against control, but so is Swords to Plowshares.

You might have other issues, but I think this covers a good deal of them.

The lesson?

You’ve read the Control Player’s Bible, so you know how”The Deck” works. Now I’m telling you it’s still not enough.

You have to understand how each and every card in your build works. Brian and I can both give you a lot of convincing arguments on why we built our decks this or that way, but at the end of the day, it’s what goes into yours that counts.

Next week: Torment (unless I fail to pay Madness for these cocktails, of course)

Oscar Tan

[email protected]

rakso on #BDChat on Newnet

Manila, Philippines

Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.bdominia.com/discus/messages/9/9.shtml)

Featured writer, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/archive.php?Article=Oscar Tan)

Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance (http://www.casualplayers.org)

P.S. – Thanks to Brian Weissman, John Ormerod, Darren di Battista, JP”Polluted” Meyer, Matt D’Avanzo and Adam Duke, a.k.a. Meridian for being tough critics of the drafts of this series.

Thanks to Giles Reid from the Star City list and Nate Heiss of The Magic Word (www.mtgword.com) for sending me the original Dojo files, and to Amy English for being my”guinea pig” reader.

And, thanks to Alex Shvartsman, Kai Budde, Zvi Mowshowitz, Gary Wise, Chris Pikula, Noah Boeken and Ben Rubin for invaluable insights into the Magic Invitational and Invitational playtesting.