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 [card name="X"]X[/card]: Playing the Pearls
Part XI: Playing the Rubies
Part XII: Playing the Emeralds
Part XIII: The Sol Rings: Rounding out”The Deck”
Interlude: Wacky Type I decks you might want to try
If anyone ever wanted to play with the entire restricted list in one deck, try this little gem former Invitationalist Pat Chapin sent me while he was using Eric“Danger” Taylor’s computer and I was writing this:
R Wheel of Fortune
4 Dark Ritual
R Mana Vault
R Black Lotus
R Mox Sapphire
R Mox Jet
R Mox Ruby
R Mox Pearl
R Mox Emerald
R Sol Ring
R Lotus Petal
R Mana Crypt
R Lion’s Eye Diamond
R Library of Alexandria
4 City of Brass
1 Gemstone Mine
4 Underground Sea
1 Underground River
I said a well-timed counter disrupts the pile despite the six Forces of Will, while he insists this deck leads to a lot of Turn 1 wins. It was a fun debate, really.
Unfortunately for me, the debate ended with both of us turning on Apprentice.
I told him aggro-control should win over control in Type I, and he typed in his Type I Miracle Gro instead of his combo. I lost the hour-long marathon game despite a first-turn Abyss courtesy of Black Lotus. A counter war that nailed his Ancestral Recall left me with only three land in hand, and topdecks that spelled out”m-a-n-a f-l-o-o-d” letter by letter.
Over a dozen turns later, I’d accumulated some strong cards but just one counter, and he Forced Timetwister. Soon, he played two Ophidians and a 5/5 Quirion Dryad (mistakenly Apprenticed as Quirion Druid) in one turn, and I untapped and played out threats ending with Yawgmoth’s Will-Tutor-Balance.
I’d topdecked a bit too much land again, though, and four unplayable land clogged the Balance. He played two Quirion Dryads and, with the search he kept in hand, found the last two ‘Phids as Abyss buffers. By the next turn, the 1/1 Quirion Dryad turned into a 9/9, and two extra creatures gave it enough time to serve. When the second Dryad went in, I had four land in hand, and he had four pitch counters.
I suppose it’s about time I test Gro as an alternative to more intuitive monoblue aggro-control (Matt D’Avanzo was toying with it, too, and it’s pretty streamlined). Still, stressfully bored as I am with my final exams, I think I’ll clown around with his wacky all-restricted combo deck first, and lose a few till I get a refreshingly broken Turn 1 win…
Rounding out”The Deck”
Whenever you see beginners (to Type I, that is) post decklists based on the 1996″The Deck” list on Beyond Dominia or the Meridian Magic e-group, you remember the first time you saw the archetype yourself.
Sure, you know – now – that cards like Vindicate and Lobotomy just don’t fit in, but remember how enthusiastic you were when you discovered an archetype you could stuff just about any card ever printed into? That temptation is so strong I hear certain Neutral Ground players are now running 61st cards in their decks as good luck charms.
Some of the more subtle decisions on what you can’t put in, though, deal with the artifacts and lands that you can always stuff in.
The Sol Rings: The artifacts
Ice Age uncommon
Sacrifice a land: You gain 2 life. (Restricted from November 1995 to October 1997. Banned in Type I.5 until April 1999. Banned in Extended since the creation of that format.)
Zuran Orb was the most powerful, and guess why it’s still banned in Extended?
To be sure, it doesn’t belong in every deck. What it does is buy a little time for a control deck, which might just be enough for”The Deck” to sweep the board.
It doesn’t take a lot of creativity to use as long as you know which lands to sacrifice first. Tutor for it only when it will save you; it protects you against a Sligh deck’s last burn spells, but not against two Jackal Pups beating down. Remember all the other tricks with it, like Balance and Sylvan Library.
And, supposedly one of the most obvious notes, don’t drop it till you need it since it might just get Monkeyed or Disenchanted (the exception is against Hymns to Tourach, of course). Even against a control deck that won’t touch your life total, you may as well bluff an extra card.
This is replaced by the more powerful Circle of Protection: Red when you expect more red in your metagame.
(Incidentally:”Zuran Orb was originally banned for several reasons: a) it could (and often did) go into any deck, b) it was severely undercosted for the effect, c) its interactions with other cards (primarily Balance and Channel) led to ‘uninteresting’ games, and most importantly d) it prolonged games.
“Clearly, reason c) does not apply to Extended as Channel and Balance are not in the format. However, reasons a), b), and especially d) still apply. Further, while we do not lightly ban a card, we also do not lightly un-ban a card”-Henry Stern, www.magicthegathering.com)
No, this isn’t a substitute – even if it turns your Sylvan Library into Necropotence. With a well-timed Wasteland, the colors are tough on you. And because it costs three more, you’ll have to tap out for a turn when you want to buy time against a fast deck.
Urza’s Destiny rare
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may discard a card from your hand. If you don’t, sacrifice Masticore. 2: Masticore deals 1 damage to target creature. 2: Regenerate Masticore.
Yes, it’s yet another reason the Urza block was the most broken ever.
It’s a hard-to-kill creature that isn’t affected by Abyss, and makes up for its brutal upkeep by clearing away weenies. Some players would advocate”The Deck” using this as a Moat that attacks.
I’m not one of them.
As good as he is against aggro, the upkeep is too brutal against creatureless decks. Matt D’Avanzo calls him the”Lightning Blast spellshaper” and if you read Part V, I couldn’t even drop it with a full hand and twice the mana my opponent had without getting questioned by John Ormerod.
Put another way, if he deals twelve to sixteen damage and then gets killed by your opponent, didn’t you just give him a Sylvan Library, albeit in reverse?
Incidentally, Masti also got weaker after Fact or Fiction got restricted, since you can no longer just Fact into four extra land to feed him.
If you really like him (like Beyond Dominia’s Mako Satou and a handful of others), just train yourself to remember to pay the upkeep, even if you have to park it on top of your library.
Urza’s Destiny rare
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a fuse counter on Powder Keg. Tap, Sacrifice Powder Keg: Destroy each artifact and creature with converted mana cost equal to the number of fuse counters on Powder Keg.
This has taken over every slot that Nevinyrral’s Disk used to own in just about every control archetype. It’s even more powerful in Type I because the most efficient cards are all legal, so almost all aggro decks have creatures with the same casting costs. Decks that don’t have them still have creatures with close enough costs, so you can just leave it at the lower cost then add another counter when the more expensive creature drops.
Against Sligh and Stompy, you destroy everything at one mana, which includes Cursed Scroll. Against White Weenie, you blow it at two, leaving only Savannah Lions. Against black decks, you get a creature kill spell that isn’t affected by discard, and you usually wait at two to nail Hypnotic Specter and Phyrexian Negator. You get the idea.
While it’s dead against a number of other decks – killing mana artifacts isn’t as good when you have your own – it’s so good at clearing out the first weenie wave that it’s one of the most flexible sideboard cards available.
Urza’s Destiny rare
3, Tap: Choose a number greater than 0 and a color. Target opponent reveals his or her hand. If that opponent reveals exactly the chosen number of cards of the chosen color, you draw a card.
Yes… Another rare from Urza’s Destiny. (Doesn’t it make second expansions like Planeshift and Torment look strange?)
The”something else” is the point of debate.
Another suggestion was Rootwater Thief, along the lines of the venerable Jester’s Cap. Though it was vulnerable because you had to tap mana on your turn, it could strip the Morphlings out of a mono blue deck or combo components in just a few turns. The flip side, though, was that it was vulnerable in the mirror to Red Elemental Blasts. It also couldn’t strip out all the win options from decks with more threats, and could lead to you losing control while you tried to.
Glass was one of the most flexible options. Basically, it breaks stalemates against most slower decks and it’s easier to slip past counters – unlike its ancestor, the Jayemdae Tome (though, beware of Shamans, unlike with Tome). Nothing flashy, but it gets the job done.
While the Peek isn’t the main reason for using Glass, remember it can lead to you forcing a key spell like Mind Twist much earlier. Darren di Battista, a.k.a. Azhrei, put it best: Look at it like a Yawgmoth’s Will that cantripped.
Remember that you only choose a number and color only when the ability resolves, so your opponent can’t confuse you with instants. Try to get it right the first time by making an educated guess based on the ratio of spell colors in his deck. Against”The Deck,” take the easy way out and latch onto an off-color spell like Yawgmoth’s Will or Red Elemental Blast.
As a final note, don’t maindeck this, unlike the more generic forms of card drawing like Jayemdae Tome, since it’s unusable against aggro. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to board something else, since the decklist used in this article is what I’d use for a very broad metagame (like, whoever are in #bdchat on Newnet at any given time).
Creatures with power greater than the number of cards in your hand can’t attack.
This is another D’Avanzo-inspired sideboard, and I think it’s attributed to his friend Vinny Pau.
Basically, he was looking for a better way to beat black, much like I was looking for a card as good as Compost but easier on the mana base. Circle of Protection: Black works, but some Neutral Ground decks metagamed with artifact creatures… And so Matt managed to find a card that was good against discard followed by Phyrexian Negator. All you have to do is control your hand size carefully, and you buy enough time to bring more permanent solutions into play.
I’m testing this over COP, and Bridge works against other fat as well. Christian Flaaten, a.k.a. CF on Beyond Dominia, for example, had a few choice words on the last time Matt played it in response to his Phyrexian Dreadnought–Illusionary Mask combo.
Target player chooses and discards a card from his or her hand. Play this ability only during your turn.
I loved this classic card, but the history portions of this series outlined why it’s become ineffective. To recap, it’s dead against every fast deck out there, and is now too slow against the control decks it’s supposed to help against.
This used to neuter certain decks, but it’s just chaff nowadays. It’s useless against every fast deck out there, and it’s a four-mana card to force against the control and combo decks. Even if it drops, you might not be able to remove all possible victory conditions. For example, some”The Deck” builds have two Morphlings, two Mishra’s Factories and two Gorilla Shamans, plus one Braingeyser and one Stroke of Genius.
Tap, Sacrifice Mirror Universe: Exchange life totals with target opponent. Play this ability only during your upkeep. (Restricted from August 1994 to October 1999.)
This used to be the crowning glory of control decks. Back when you only lost with zero life at the end of a phase, you could kill someone with Mirror and a City of Brass.
With the”new” rules, this is way too slow.
I have a Beta Scepter, four Ice Age Caps, and an English Mirror Universe and they’re all not in my deck. As much as I’d want them to, they don’t add anything. The only good reason to play Mirror these days is if you want to clown around with a Mirror + Fireball/Urza’s Rage kill just to show off the Foglio art.
You might have seen this in old restricted lists or as a”win condition” in old, old Stasis decks.
Just to be sure, this is a weak card. You don’t actually draw anything, so you don’t really”get back” anything. And it’s not a substitute for Timetwister, because Timetwister is more important for fighting discard than for recursion.
This is one of those”one-in-every-deck” artifacts for some people, so try to be more critical of what you’re stuffing into every deck.
There are a number of other”possible” artifacts in the sense that everything is possible. You can use a Grindstone if you really want to, for example (just pack a Cap to get rid of Gaea’s Blessings in decks like Oath). You can clown around with things like Legacy Weapon and Grinning Totem. Just remember that there are just a handful that make the cut since artifacts are supposed to be inherently weaker.
Sorry for a relatively narrow article this week since I have a mountain of stuff to go through before exams. Check back next week, unless I call in sick… (Maybe I’ll get a guest columnist… if it works for Buehler…)
rakso on #BDChat on Newnet
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 a.k.a. Azhrei, JP”Polluted” Meyer, Matt D’Avanzo and Adam Duke a.k.a. Meridian for being tough critics of the drafts of this series.