06/20/2012 BoaB: "Solving the Control Conundrum"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Building on a Budget, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Then it hit me! The control deck needs to end the game before it loses to the aggressive deck's inevitability.


If the aggressive deck is the one with inevitability, then what the hell does "control" even represent?
Heh.

Still, I think there's a good point in that sentence. It's quite possible that as the nature of design changes, the traditional understandings of archetypes may become invalid.
Indeed. What a world we live in, where aggro decks have inevitability and the control deck wants to end things as quickly as possible. Tongue Out

This looks fun, though. And it makes me anticipate the release of things like Liliana of the Dark Realms in M13.
Cool list!  
The only thing I would change, though, is cutting a Swamp for another spell.  The reason (or my reasoning) being that in your deck, it doesn't really look like you want to be drawing lands.  Between the 4 Spheres, Talismans, and Solemns, you don't have any mana issues, and any time that you could have drawn a swamp is a time you could've drawn a spell.  Especially since one of your engines (Mycosynth Wellspring) tutors up lands for you.  Personally, I would switch out that extra land for another Distress, since that gets rid of the widest range of problem cards.
This has to be said: Best BoaB article from Jacob to date.

The Black Sun's aren't really budget but with cards like Geist of St Traft you just can't get around it.
Deck looks solid, all cards are well thought out and seem to work. Good job.
I'm not convinced that this should be called a control deck.  It seems more like a combo deck than anything else.  Only eight cards in the main deck are answers; the rest of the deck is devoted to finding and casting Sorin Markov + Sorin's Vengeance.
This has to be said: Best BoaB article from Jacob to date.

The Black Sun's aren't really budget but with cards like Geist of St Traft you just can't get around it.
Deck looks solid, all cards are well thought out and seem to work. Good job.


Can a few BSZ be replaced with Barters to be more budget-oriented?
Really nice deck!
Im a little worried about the price though, but the idea of using Sorin's Vengeance is insane and cool. 

This has to be said: Best BoaB article from Jacob to date.

The Black Sun's aren't really budget but with cards like Geist of St Traft you just can't get around it.
Deck looks solid, all cards are well thought out and seem to work. Good job.


Well i still think the best deck was: Rareless and Careless.
www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...

Anyway, this deck is more combo than control, but who cares... 
rareless and careless was a good deck, but i think this one is just as good. i do agree that a land for a distress is a good thing to do as well.
I actually played a Grixis version, (not so budget though) because snapping back a vengeance is just so mean to pass up.. And looting will get you either the lands you need, or gets rid of cards you do not need, and gets you faster to the kill spells..

win:
4x Sorin's Vengeance
4x Devil's play

Stall:
3x despise
3x BSZ
3x Whipflare

Ramp:
4x Solemn Simulacrum
4x Pristine Talisman

recursion:
3x Snapcaster Mage

Searchers:
4x Faithless looting
3x Think Twice

Fun:
1x Sorin

4x dragonskull summit
4x drowned catacomb
4x sulfur falls
5x swamp
2x island
5x mountain

But to keep it on budget terms, here is my current WBR version:

Win condition:
4x Sorin's Vengeance
4x Devil's play
1x Sorin Markov

Stall:
4x despise
4x Day of Judgement
2x Oblivion Ring
4x lingering souls

Ramp:
4x Solemn Simulacrum
4x Pristine Talisman

Searchers:
4x Faithless looting

lands:
4x dragonskull summit
4x Clifftop Retreat
4x Isolated Chapel
5x swamp
5x plains
3x mountain
This deck does look like it rocks. When I get killed by Sorin's Vengeance on MTGO I rarely see it coming. Tempted to get it myself, only hesitate because so many of the cards are going to rotate.
This has to be said: Best BoaB article from Jacob to date.

The Black Sun's aren't really budget but with cards like Geist of St Traft you just can't get around it.
Deck looks solid, all cards are well thought out and seem to work. Good job.



Black Sun's Zenith is only 1.5$ on MTGOTraders.com, which is pretty good if you ask me. I bought the whole deck this morning and it was only about 30$ for every card. 
I do think this qualifies as a control deck. The only difference is this wants to prolong the game long enough to kill nearly instantly. and a question: could elesh norn (i know it isn't budget) be a possible way for control to beat delver?
I added the missing pieces on MTGO this morning.  Got 4 of Sorin Markov (who I think I sold my one for 9 tix not too long ago) for 13 tix and picked up a couple of Solemn Simulacrum for less than 2.  Those were going for 3-4 each not too long ago.  I'm guessing this is because of pre-rotation dumping. 

Lost 2-1 to Zombies in my one match.  While Liliana of the Veil is not budget friendly, I think that is what this deck needs since she can really slow down the tempo decks.  I'm going to try replacing Distress with Liliana, and maybe cut one Black Sun's Zenith in favor of her as well since  I already have 2 of her in my collection. 
I still feel like this deck would do better with green. Maybe something like this:

Lands-24
4 Woodland Cemetery
4 Forest
16 Swamp

Creatures-8
4 Viridian Emissary
4 Solemn Simulacrum

Misc. Spells-28
4 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Curse of Death's Hold
4 Sphere of the Suns
4 Pristine Talisman
3 Despise
2 Go for the Throat
4 Sorin's Vengeance
4 Sorin Markov
2 Noxious Revival

Sideboard-15
1 Barter in Blood
1 Curse of Death's Hold
2 Distress
2 Doom Blade
2 Bramblecrush
1 Noxious Revival
3 Surgical Extraction
2 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Fog

I don't much care for Ichor Wellspring or Mycosynth Wellspring. You have a good strategy for them, but ultimately I think playing a creature does a better job for you. Blockers/removal/land? Yes, please! Also why does everyone think that they need to play Distress to beat Delver? The strength of the deck comes from the creatures not the counters. Despise is a much better choice because not only does it get rid of Delver, Snapcaster, Geist of Saint Traft; but it also does stuff against EVERY other deck in the meta. Alternately you could splash red and play Bonfire of the Damned.
Can someone help me out? I like the deck, but I'm confused about some sideboard options, namely Batman/Bloodline Keeper.
I dropped this deck in TCGplayer, and it came to just over $60.  I guess that's not terrible for a standard deck, but the fact that stuff is rotating out soon makes me wary of trying to put this together.  Anyone have ideas for alternatives to Simulacrum and Black Sun's?  The Sorins are key to the deck so I don't mind picking them up.
Can someone help me out? I like the deck, but I'm confused about some sideboard options, namely Batman/Bloodline Keeper.

I'm guessing that this is to fill in if you run up against a deck that is relatively devoid of creatures which can be pretty problematic when running monoblack control with no good substitutes in the sideboard.  There are 7 cards in the main deck that are only good against creatures, and the sideboard has more of the same.  You could probably sub another creature here, but Bloodline Keeper seems to fit the bill pretty well and is pretty cheap now.  Geralf's Messenger and Phyrexian Obliterator are less budget friendly options that could probably fill the same role.




  
Then it hit me! The control deck needs to end the game before it loses to the aggressive deck's inevitability.


If the aggressive deck is the one with inevitability, then what the hell does "control" even represent?



Control has inevitability when you go out of budget. The Esper deck has an end game of Sun Titan + Phantasmal Images and Elesh Norn. Both shut off delver pretty well and both are way out of budget.
Is it just me, or did his opponent do basically nothing except GosT for SIX TURNS in that last game he discusses? I'm thinking someone didn't know how to mulligan, because there's no way a Delver deck should be that slow. I don't think that game can reasonably count toward assessing the deck.
Sweet deck; one of the better BoaB articles.
Is it just me, or did his opponent do basically nothing except GosT for SIX TURNS in that last game he discusses? I'm thinking someone didn't know how to mulligan, because there's no way a Delver deck should be that slow. I don't think that game can reasonably count toward assessing the deck.

Thus far, my trials with this deck indicate that it is too slow.  I'm 1-3 over four matches with the one win being a real squeaker. To be fair, I really flaked while sideboarding on one of those because I took a phone call and might well have won if I had sideboarded as I planned.  Still, it seems like the best this deck can do in the early going is usually a turn 3 Pristine Talisman.  Also, I had to take too many mulligans due to multiple 6 and 7 cmcs in the opening hand with only one land.  

The trouble with monoblack control is that it is very reactive.  You've got to let opponents deploy their threats and hope to eliminate them before they can do too much damage.  Undying is a big problem.  You've got to get to 6 mana before you can counter a planeswalker.

I'm kind of in agreement with the person who said this needed green in the mix.  You've got to have ramp to make this work, but you can't really afford to just let them go unchecked in the meanwhile.  Getting a couple of bodies in play to absorb some of the early damage would be really helpful.   

Alternatively, red would give you access to Pillar of Flame for those pesky Stangleroot Geists and Geralf's Messengers plus Whipflare for GoST or tokens.   

   

    
Well done JvL, well done.  I like it.

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From Mark Rosewater's Tumblr: the0uroboros asked: How in the same set can we have a hexproof, unsacrificable(not a word) creature AND a land that makes it uncounterable. How does this lead to interactive play? I believe I’m able to play my creature and you have to deal with it is much more interactive than you counter my creature.

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Post #777

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MaRo: One of the classic R&D stories happened during a Scars of Mirrodin draft. Erik Lauer was sitting to my right (meaning that he passed to me in the first and third packs). At the end of the draft, Erik was upset because I was in his colors (black-green). He said, "Didn't you see the signals? I went into black-green in pack one." I replied, "Didn't you see my signals? I started drafting infect six drafts ago."

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MaRo: I redesigned him while the effect was on the stack.

I've wondered about the Wellspring engine set (8-16 cards) and how effective it could be. I had not thought of the  two card combo-win for using the Wellspring engine. 

4 cards that draw a card: <strong>Ichor Wellspring
4 cards that fetch a basic land (almost a rampant growth as an artifact) <strong>Mycosynth Wells</strong>pring
4 cards to double the duty of 8 other cards and gain up to 8 life. Phyrexia's Core
alternate to 4 swamps: 4 cards to recover the 8 cards after they graveyard.  buried ruin

With these cards and desire to punch through with Sorin I wonder if
mimic vat isn't a good idea.  It allows you to make great use of destroyed or sacrificed solemns and use your opponent's creatures as chump blockers and beat sticks.   

Alternately, the use of Life's Finale has always been beneficial to me.  Yanking three of their threats that could harm you from their deck while getting a good preview of their entire deck for games 2 and 3 is very helpfl.
This deck idea is good, really its pretty cool, but I've been playtesting for the last couple of hours online, and I find that with ALL of the different mana tutors and the fact that you're trying to stall untill you draw 2 out of eight cards means this deck does a lot of durdling around with too much mana untill it can find it's win condition. Since it's such a cool idea though, it can work, you may not be on budget anymore but this deck, even still being mono-black, can be sick with the right adjustments.

Cool list!  
The only thing I would change, though, is cutting a Swamp for another spell.  The reason (or my reasoning) being that in your deck, it doesn't really look like you want to be drawing lands.  Between the 4 Spheres, Talismans, and Solemns, you don't have any mana issues, and any time that you could have drawn a swamp is a time you could've drawn a spell.  Especially since one of your engines (Mycosynth Wellspring) tutors up lands for you.  Personally, I would switch out that extra land for another Distress, since that gets rid of the widest range of problem cards.



First, I think this is a great article. Very creative design. I would think the deck would need a hair more control, though. My thinking would be to cut a Swamp as mentioned above, and also swap out a Ichor Wellspring for two more Distress. Not sure if it would really improve the deck too much, though. A 7-1 win ratio is very good.

I like how the deck can take out 20 life out of almost  nowhere. Players have a habit of making mistakes when they think they have a very strong position. This is also a budget deck that fits the olden day's requirements. 


I've wondered about the Wellspring engine set (8-16 cards) and how effective it could be. I had not thought of the  two card combo-win for using the Wellspring engine. 

4 cards that draw a card: <strong>Ichor Wellspring
4 cards that fetch a basic land (almost a rampant growth as an artifact) <strong>Mycosynth Wells</strong>pring
4 cards to double the duty of 8 other cards and gain up to 8 life. Phyrexia's Core
alternate to 4 swamps: 4 cards to recover the 8 cards after they graveyard.  buried ruin

With these cards and desire to punch through with Sorin I wonder if
mimic vat isn't a good idea.  It allows you to make great use of destroyed or sacrificed solemns and use your opponent's creatures as chump blockers and beat sticks.   

Alternately, the use of Life's Finale has always been beneficial to me.  Yanking three of their threats that could harm you from their deck while getting a good preview of their entire deck for games 2 and 3 is very helpfl.



I really like Mimic Vat for the Undying matchups. As long as you exile each one when they die, you permenantly get rid of them. Plus, it gives you an alternate win. Life's Finale is interesting. If the deck wasn't running so many high costing cards, I'd say use it. 


My big issue with this deck is that it seems too slow. It has no alternate win or something to do with the excess mana you ramp into. 

MaRo: One of the classic R&D stories happened during a Scars of Mirrodin draft. Erik Lauer was sitting to my right (meaning that he passed to me in the first and third packs). At the end of the draft, Erik was upset because I was in his colors (black-green).

He said, "Didn't you see the signals? I went into black-green in pack one."

I replied, "Didn't you see my signals? I started drafting infect six drafts ago." ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************MaRo: During a playtest, I played a Reaper from the Abyss. I attacked each turn, while my opponent would chump block (he had a lot of fliers), and then I killed a second creature. This happened until he had only one creature left. I attack, he blocked, and then the following dialogue occurred:

Him: Kill your demon. Me: What? Him: My guy died so you have to kill a creature.

Me: Yeah, but why would a demon kill himself?

Him: I don't know. He's depressed there's no one left to kill.

Me: That doesn't make any sense. Him: I don't care. It's what the card says. I then take out my pen, and wrote "non-Demon" on it.

Him: You can't do that.

Me: I redesigned him while the effect was on the stack.



I really like Mimic Vat for the Undying matchups. As long as you exile each one when they die, you permenantly get rid of them. Plus, it gives you an alternate win. Life's Finale is interesting. If the deck wasn't running so many high costing cards, I'd say use it. 
 



If I recall my stack rules correctly, this WILL work, but only on your opponent's turn. If it's your turn, the Undying trigger would go on the stack second and so resolve before Mimic Vat could let you exile the creature. Anyone want to confirm or deny that?
That's right; effects go Active player, then Non Active Player, so on the opponents turn you can nab the undying creature since your vat will resolve first. If it's your turn you won't be able to get their creature since undying would pop first.
Is it just me, or did his opponent do basically nothing except GosT for SIX TURNS in that last game he discusses? I'm thinking someone didn't know how to mulligan, because there's no way a Delver deck should be that slow. I don't think that game can reasonably count toward assessing the deck.

Thus far, my trials with this deck indicate that it is too slow.  I'm 1-3 over four matches with the one win being a real squeaker. To be fair, I really flaked while sideboarding on one of those because I took a phone call and might well have won if I had sideboarded as I planned.  Still, it seems like the best this deck can do in the early going is usually a turn 3 Pristine Talisman.  Also, I had to take too many mulligans due to multiple 6 and 7 cmcs in the opening hand with only one land.  

The trouble with monoblack control is that it is very reactive.  You've got to let opponents deploy their threats and hope to eliminate them before they can do too much damage.  Undying is a big problem.  You've got to get to 6 mana before you can counter a planeswalker.

I'm kind of in agreement with the person who said this needed green in the mix.  You've got to have ramp to make this work, but you can't really afford to just let them go unchecked in the meanwhile.  Getting a couple of bodies in play to absorb some of the early damage would be really helpful.   

Alternatively, red would give you access to Pillar of Flame for those pesky Stangleroot Geists and Geralf's Messengers plus Whipflare for GoST or tokens.   

   

    

Red seems to work pretty well as a complement.  I took out the Buried Ruins in favor of mountains.  Put two Whipflares in place of Black Sun's Zenith (leaving two) and pulled the Sphere of the Suns in favor of four Pillar of Flames.  Also added two Ancient Grudge to the sideboard.  Now, I put in 4 Blackcleave Cliffs and 4 Dragonskull Summits.  So, I didn't really need the Spheres.  Even without those, you could probably just put in a couple of mountains in place of swamps with all the fetch land from Mycosynth Wellspring.  This version has gone 3-1 with the only loss being to someone with Witchbane Orbs in the sideboard.
I do think this qualifies as a control deck. The only difference is this wants to prolong the game long enough to kill nearly instantly. and a question: could elesh norn (i know it isn't budget) be a possible way for control to beat delver?



Using this (www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...) information to define control, aggro, and combo (although it doesn't mention inevitability here), this deck would be classified as combo. This deck just wants to stay alive until it can resolve a Sorin, and then a Sorin's Vengeance. It doesn't care about stabilization or anything like that, it just needs those two cards and then it automatically wins (unless there's life-gain involved...).

I'm not sure about Elesh Norn against Delver - it seems a bit expensive - but if it sticks you're in good shape, of course. It's worth a try.

My big issue with this deck is that it seems too slow. It has no alternate win or something to do with the excess mana you ramp into. 


Diabolic Tutor or Increasing Ambition to find the combo pieces. Perhaps Consume Spirit or Exsanguinate for excess mana. Maybe a really big creature like Rune-Scarred Demon?
I pulled bits from my white/black token list and dropped them in. This deck is slow, but sick. I've beat a bunch of decks with it, but I seem to always have more mana than I need and sometimes it takes a long time to find my win conditions. 
  The early going can be a tedious "draw-go" and hope to find a sweeper in time. But, this does feel inevitable in a way that no other decks in the current meta do.
  I'm thinking about pulling out some of the mana generators and adding in a few more useful pieces. Some of the suggestions here are great- tutors, X-spells, and nasty beasties.
 
JVL,
 Great idea, great article. Thanks! 
I love how you cherry-pick the matches you win. This deck seems awful against real control when they just Dissipate/Mana leak you all day.
mana leak is not a problem with 20 lands xD
and not many good decks play dissipate in the main anyway. Post board we have more discard to fight the counters early.

Do you think this deck could be good with M13? Diabolic Revelation seems like it could improve consistency.       
I picked up my missing pieces and ran this on MTGO last night. Overall it performed pretty darn well.It's kinda fun to see an opponent come out aggressively but then do your hand math and realize that he's going to lose on turn 6, period. Observations:



  • The card I most hated my opponent to have was Pristine Talisman. That meant needing to pull 3 pieces of the game ending combo, including 2 Sorin's Vengeance. It still happened sometimes, but definitely a challenge.

  • There was more than one game where I was digging, digging, digging, cursing the card drawing gods that weren't giving me the Vengeance I needed to end things. In those cases, getting the two cards from Ichor Wellspring was something I really valued, so much so that I added two more Buried Ruins in place of Swamps. That does get me a ridiculous amount of colorless mana sometimes, but so far hasn't proven to be much of a problem.

  • Too much mana and not enough to do with it is definitely a bigger challenge than the reverse. So much so that I'd say Mana Leak doesn't worry this deck overly much. That also made me cut a Mycosinth Wellspring and a Sphere of the Suns for two maindeck Increasing Ambitions. So far that's working out okay for me too. I also like the idea of maindecking a second Distress.

and not many good decks play dissipate in the main anyway. Post board we have more discard to fight the counters early.

Do you think this deck could be good with M13? Diabolic Revelation seems like it could improve consistency.       



Hmm, I'd be willing to try out a Diabolic Revelation over Increasing Ambition but I wouldn't call that a huge upgrade.
After playing with this deck idea for a day, I ended up with a permission strategy to control the game up until Sorin resolves.  With four Lilianas, it is not exactly budget friendly, I admit.  So far, it's proven pretty tough.  The Despise/Distress followed up Surgical Extraction combo can really wreak havoc very early on a gameplan that is heavily reliant on one or two creatures (Sun Titan/Phantasmal Image for Solar Flare and GoST/Blade Splicer/Restoration Angel for current Delver).  I'm only listing main deck since my sideboard is really a bit random, and I haven't found a reason to go into it.  A few copies of Nihil Spellbomb for graveyard hate and Ratchet Bomb for artifacts/planeswalkers seem like musts.  However, the idea of filling it up with creatures for the element of surprise is also appealing in the event that they have good sideboard options.  Ideally, you ferret out all their answers via discard and extraction before you get to Sorin. 


Lands (20)

4 - Phyrexia's Core
16 - Swamp    


Planeswalkers (8)

4 - Sorin Markov
4 - Liliana of the Veil 


Artifacts (8)   

4 - Ichor Wellspring
4 - Mycosynth Wellspring


Other Spells (24)

4 - Depise
4 - Distress 
4 - Black Sun's Zenith
4 - Surgical Extraction
4 - Sorin's Vengeance
4 - Mental Agony


  
 
    
   
  
  
After playing with this deck idea for a day, I ended up with a permission strategy to control the game up until Sorin resolves.    
  
  



Is Mental Agony really better than Mind Rot in a deck that often uses Sorin to make an opponent's life 10?

After playing this deck, I've learned one thing:  Witchbane Orb is a pain in this deck's a**, especially if they TD it so Distress does nothing.  I'm actually using blue now, playing Ponder and Think Twice in the main to dig for the combo a bit and shuffle if it's not coming.  My sideboard has both Negate and bounce which can be used also to slow the opponent down long enough to win. 

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
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