Strixhaven has been a desert thus far for cards that enhance control’s chances of success in Standard. I tune in daily, looking for a white removal spell, cheap planeswalker, or some late-game interaction that produces intense battlefield advantage. I am always looking for new sets to fill the areas of weakness that keep control out of the winner’s circle, which makes me a harsh critic of effects that we already have under control.
Doomskar is a phenomenal card from the last set and has revolutionized the way we build control decks in Standard. It was clear that Shatter the Sky was good enough to carry water for the sweeper category, making this upgrade not rock the metagame as much as I hoped. I wish the masses incorporated Doomskar like I did and achieved success with it, but that didn’t happen in practice. Control still has some systemic issues in Standard, and a new sweeper is not going to solve them.
Card draw is another category that my favorite archetype has under control. There are many powerful options between Frantic Search, Omen of the Sea, and Behold the Multiverse, making any new spell a slight upgrade at best. Sublime Rehearsal has a large upside on the traditional two-mana draw spell; however, it requires dipping into a color that does not yield enough reward for cost just yet.
Another draw spell floating around is Curate, which is mediocre compared to the draw spells I mentioned earlier. Omen of the Sea is a more powerful card and pairs well with Yorion, Sky Nomad. For a card-draw fan like myself, the tools at our disposal in Standard are satisfactory as is.
The removal conversation is tricky. If you are playing a black-based removal control deck, life is good. Players who wield the power of Heartless Act and Eliminate do not have a care in the world, slaying creatures from Turn 1 to Turn 15 with ease. A card like Faceless Haven spooks me when it hits the battlefield normally unless I have Dimir on my side. The black removal spells in Standard have made threats without enters-the-battlefield triggers easy to handle, but the same cannot be said for white.
White-based control is where I want to be in Standard for many reasons, but not due to its removal strength. Having just Glass Casket in the early-game makes life very difficult, so I am constantly searching for a white removal spell that has been missing in Standard for a very long time. Settle the Wreckage and Seal Away being legal was the last time I felt like white had its act together on the opponent’s turn, and even though that effect may not be coming back, I am shocked that a card like Condemn has not returned. Strixhaven has nothing to solve this inherent problem with white-based control in Standard just yet; however, we have a few more cards to get previewed before hitting the panic button.
The last pieces of the control puzzle are the payoff cards, which include big spells and permanents. These are usually in the form of planeswalkers, with the occasional strong creature from time to time. Dream Trawler has been the iconic inclusion these days, for obvious reasons. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon commands the late-game in the planeswalker department, while cheaper options float around in various numbers that depend on the control deck and specific metagame.
This is another category that could use a little boost, and so far, I have not seen anything that automatically joins the team. All I am seeing is sorcery after sorcery, cards that would be very strong additions to control if they were instants at a higher cost. That all changed when I ran across a sorcery which has a little from each column listed above.
Multiple Choice excited me the moment I read the last line of text. This sorcery has four different modes, with a cost to get them all of only five mana. I know a five-mana sorcery may be a bit expensive for some of you out there, but that cost adds it directly to my wheelhouse. The fact that each of these modes can be deployed depending on the situation or mana availability makes this card my favorite one in the set by a mile thus far.
The first mode is two mana total, giving the popular scry 1 before drawing a card. This is a wonderful first mode, as it gives control players the out they desperately need on Turn 2. Card draw, like this spell, provides an opportunity to hit a land drop, making it vital in the gameplan of control. Missing a land drop in the early-game is a death sentence for most decks, but even more so for control. Multiple Choice removes the risk of having a clunky, expensive sorcery in hand and that elevates it past a traditional card-draw spell.
The second mode is only one more mana, Unsummoning a creature of the opponent’s choice. This is the only disappointing wording of the card at first glance. Whenever the opponent gets to decide their creature’s fate, a card loses a chunk of power. It’s why Diabolic Edict effects historically have been less popular than targeted removal.
There will be many situations where there is a non-threatening creature and one that will clean your clock, making Multiple Choice not the out you require. Even with this drawback, the Unsummon is likely universally strong on Turn 3. Even if it is rare to need an Unsummon on Turn 3, the option is there.
The third mode produces a 4/4 blue and red Elemental creature token, which is awesome. There will be times where a player just needs a 4/4 that turn and can’t wait.
Multiple Choice derives its power from flexibility, giving the player four different options for survival. I always wanted to kick my Into the Roil to draw that card, but sometimes it was not possible. Multiple Choice will play out the same way, providing clutch survival lifelines when the ultimate ability is out of reach. That is how similar cards typically work, but few of them have as many possible effects at every stage.
The ultimate mode, which costs five mana, is why Multiple Choice is getting its own article today. Scrying before drawing, returning a threat, and making a creature all at once will be a game-changer for control fans. I can see this card getting used the most on Turn 2, but those are not the games we’ll remember.
This card has the floor and the ceiling covered, especially while blue decks are out of favor. I love Mystical Dispute, but I said it would be used more against us than for us a while back. Disruption like that is how blue decks with aggressive elements punish the control folk, but luckily, we do not see much of that in Standard. Blue-based decks at the top tables are tough to find outside of Dimir Rogues and other control decks.
Multiple Choice will be poor against the decks with flash elements and medium against the control mirror. Where it will soar is against traditional control and aggro decks, both of which use creatures to achieve victory these days. I am fine with this card being a one- or two-of in my control decks, with that number increasing if the format continues to shy away from creatures that enter the battlefield at the end of my turn.
Multiple Choice enhances the chances of white-based control decks, adding modes to a card draw spell that can remove creatures from the battlefield and produce a blocker at the same time. I do not see this helping Dimir-based control decks as much since they have the creature-control category on lockdown. This card is exciting enough that I could be wrong here and it serves both control decks equally.
At this point, I am preparing Azorius Control for a comeback with the release of Strixhaven. With any luck, a white removal spell will join the fray and we will be off to the races!