[Developing] B/U Specter Control

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Since Gatecrash dropped, B/U control is an idea that I've been trying to make work. Nightveil Specter really struck me as a cool card, and I'd like to see how good this deck can become. In my testing so far, however, I've had some problems dealing with hyper-aggressive decks, and I think the early game for this deck is really lacking. I'd like to see if the idea can be salvaged, however. Two quick notes; I don't run into CoS very often, so the counterspells aren't completely dead. Also, I'd like to try and keep this a budget-ish deck, so Planeswalkers are, unfourtunately, not an option.

Please keep in mind that this is still a really rough list. I will be updating as this goes along.
[2/17/13] 

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Replace Bloodline Keeper with Augur of Bolas.

Need Dimir Charm.

Generally need more control.

Try to get watery grave.
I would have killed, literally ended someones life, to NOT have Arrogant Bloodlord riding a giant ant... Good times:
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but where DID the other fork come from?
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Lord_Zed: I was at my friends house when this happened. He's married and his wife was an excellent baker. She had baked a homemade apple pie the night before. I was hungry, and my friend convinced me to try those low carb monster drinks. Before this day, I had never triend energy drinks before. Boy was I in for a treat. When I tried that first monster, I really enjoyed the flavor, but the taste that it left in my mouth wasn't so good. What was my solution? Drink another! before I could finish drinking that 2nd monster, I felt it already kicking in(these drinks were not very far apart, we're talking minutes here) my friend decided that it was a good idea to whip out that fresh pie his wife made the night before. I didn't know what to do, since I felt incredibly invigorated, and at the same time, freaked out by the rush I was feeling, but I was also hungry, and my friend have me an entire plate with a fork and said "help yourself." He extended his saucer to me, and I cut him a piece of the pie and handed it to him, then I looked at the pie, noticed that the pie was in an aluminum holder, and dumped the entire pie onto my plate and started eating it with 2 forks. I don't know where I found that other fork, it probably came from my friend. Anyhow, his wife wasn't happy, and I was already in magical christmas land. 2 days later, I was in my friends bed and I slept for 14 hours. His wife outlawed my from having any of her baked goods for a while(which sucked because I could just show up at there house, steal some sweets, and leave) and said I couldn't have any energy drinks at her house, unless under close watch. My friend, on the other hand, had to take me out to a steak dinner, because apparently I won a bet where I climbed a tree and didn't die.
The great land debate:
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97563441 wrote:
Zendikar had fetchlands, and Worldwake had manlands. What are the new Scars duals called?
61325265 wrote:
Explosive Peanut Lightning lands. Well, that's just what I call them.
61325265 wrote:
58232598 wrote:
i'm just trying to figure out what the point of saying this is. it's just really random.
And so the pot met the kettle.
Bloodline Keeper, Runechanter's Pike and Murder stick out as immediate duds. Lacks of Watery Graves and CA generation create a situation of suboptimal build from the get-go, so before trying to build further you definitely need to fix the framework.
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Taking out The Keeper for an Augur seems like a good idea. However, with both the Keeper and the Pike gone, I'm a little worried as to how I'm actually going to win. 
Any thoughts on better kill spells and CA?

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Think Twice would make good draw here. Also Victim of Night seems good as well.
100th post on 5/29/12 500th post on 8/20/12
3 TT, 3 Victim?

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

I also like nightveil specter, cool card. I would look into running thespian's stage so that way you can copy an opponent's land if necessary to cast their spells that you exile. In case you don't get one of their lands right away.
Nah, I like Prophetic Prism better, due to it being a cantrip.

What would be the reasoning behind cutting Pike? Too few Instants/Sorceries? 

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Does illusionist's bracers copy nightveil specter's exile effect?  

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind seems like a good pairing, with all your counterspells and destruction.
I don't believe so; the bracers work on activated abilities only, and the specter's ability is a static effect. I'd consider Lazav, but I'm concerned how reliable he'd be. Seems cool, though.

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

What about using 2x Lord of the Void as a big finisher? Seems to be pretty cheap. He also would fit your theme of exiling your opponents deck then using it against them.

You really want to trade or buy some Watery Graves as well.
I agree that I want the Watery Graves; I'm just not going to buy them just yet. For the sake of discussion, I guess, assume that this deck has them. Or whatever.
I'm wondering if 2x Desecration Demon would be more effective than LotV. He's much, much cheaper, and removes their creatures. Thoughts?
 

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Here's a (less rough) list- it's mostly made up of spells that are fairly easy to get your hands on these days and only one major player in standard is pulling for Watery Grave, so you shouldn't have too much distress getting one. The deck is based around it's 4-drop slot, so you might hurt yourself with premature Specters, but Barter in Blood and cheaper removal makes it difficult for your opponent to maintain a board presence. I considered Downsize as an option for whenever a Fog becomes necessary. Also, don't get giddy with Shimian Specter- it's effect is powerful, but often tragically overvalued- it's here because it helps stack up value with your other Specters and like Hands of Binding, helps to oppress a boardstate where you need to turn a meter into a kilometer.



Sideboard
[deck]
3x Hands of Binding
1x Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
2x Rakdos Charm
1x Army of the Damned
2x Nephalia Drownyard
1x Pithing Needle
3x Negate
2x Dispel
 [/deck]
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Despite being 'easy to get my hands on', the cards I don't have from this list would still cost me around $153, which effectively makes the chances of my being able to play it, well, zero. I suppose I could trade for some of it, but given my current life situation, chances are a bit slim. Whatever. 

Do you think that SiB, at least, is a good fit for my current build? It kind of forces me too keep my fliers off the field until turn five, at the earliest. At the same time, it is pretty much an automatic two-for-one, unless I dropped an Augur...
I dunno.

The deck's dead.
Frown  

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Despite being 'easy to get my hands on', the cards I don't have from this list would still cost me around $153, which effectively makes the chances of my being able to play it, well, zero. I suppose I could trade for some of it, but given my current life situation, chances are a bit slim. Whatever. 

Do you think that SiB, at least, is a good fit for my current build? It kind of forces me too keep my fliers off the field until turn five, at the earliest. At the same time, it is pretty much an automatic two-for-one, unless I dropped an Augur...
I dunno.

The deck's dead.
  


I don't want to be a jerk about saying this, but if you're trying to play standard by starting with suboptimal builds you're wasting your time. Standard is a competitive format,  and often the components for the decks are held in high monetary regard until they rotate or enough of the product is drafted to satiate the demand held for them. You can't expect to want to make a standard deck and not have some level of investment.
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I'm not going to argue, it's just that $150 is a ton of money for me right now. I suppose it helps that many of the cards you suggested are things I've been trying to pick up anyways, but it's still an uphill battle any way you slice it.
 

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

well, the deck was guaranteed to be suboptimal in the current standard as soon as he decided to include Blue.  that said, going two-color and then saying you want a very tight budget deck is kind of nails on a chalkboard to competitive deck designers; a lazy 2-color manabase starts at $90.

i'd suggest considering going monochrome.  it might not end up being good, but it will be more interesting than building a budget crippled version of a deck. 
*Sigh* 
MBC time?
EDIT: I would like to clarify that this is not, by any means, my 'break out into standard deck'. I already have that, lands and everything (that was where my investment went). This deck was just something I was messing around with, trying to see if I could make it work. You know. 

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Ok, I took a stab at converting the original list over to monoblack. It's still pretty rough, and I'm not all that sure I like it as much, but what the hey.

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

I also like nightveil specter, cool card. I would look into running thespian's stage so that way you can copy an opponent's land if necessary to cast their spells that you exile. In case you don't get one of their lands right away.

I have a conceptual build for Nightveil Specter and I use Deathrite Shaman for this purpose. All you need is a land in your opponent's graveyard.

Two general comments about this thread:

1. On "$150 is a ton of money for me right now": Magic is an expensive hobby, for good or for worse. My advice is that if you are on a budget, specify upfront that you are designing a budget deck list (and read the excellent Woo Brews – Dirt Cheap Dirty Red article, regardless of the color of your budget deck). Alternatively, work on designing the best deck, regardless of budget, and let that be somethign to work towards.

2. On "if you're trying to play standard by starting with suboptimal builds you're wasting your time": Every build starts out as subobtimal. The point of posting deck lists in this forum to make the deck reach its highest possible potential. But if the constraint is budget, then see no. 1 above.
1) I agree, I should have made my budget restrictions a bit clearer at the beginning. I mentioned it in passing, but I should have been more specific. Also, I'm sorry for griping about budget in the first place. Between saving up, trading up, and generally being smart with my money, I should be able to gradually get some more higher-end cards. I'm not averse to spending money on Magic, but I'd like to be careful about it.  

2) I actually have that article bookmarked.
One of the reasons this deck idea interested me was that I thought it could operate without any chase rares or mythics. 

3) For the sake of further discussion, I'd like to see if we can tune the budget version to it's fullest potential, and then discuss upgrades. 

So, if I were to go B/U, would Shocklands be a necessity, or could I theoretically get along okay with just the M10 Duals? (I do have a goal of getting sets of as many Shocklands as I can, including Watery Grave, but progress is slow.) Or should I focus on making the Mono-Black version better? (I'd rather prefer fixing the U/B list, personally.)

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

What is this deck trying to do? What is its goal?
Control the board state with removal and/or counterspells, using Specter as a way to gain card advantage, and outlast the opponent to the point where I can win with my fliers. (Does this sount untenable, or do you think we could make it work?)

In retrospect, I should probably add somthing bomb-y as a finisher.
Also, I'm thinking Mutilate over Barter in Blood.

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

No, at least you have a defined goal to work towards. So you need this to be a U/B control deck first and foremost, where the Specter provides some support. The problem with this type of deck would be the budget because you'll need a nice supply of Planeswalkers and sweepers in a deck like this.

I think you could play mill as an alternate wincon since you're playing Dimir. Also, you could try to play something like Gilded Lotus, both to play some bombs in your own deck and to enable you to cast your opponent's cards more reliably. Dimir Charm would let you control which card you get to steal, as well as having other uses besides.
Well, I can afford the sweepers for sure, but the planeswalkers are a tad iffy. I know that Lili of the Veil is pretty much out. It looks like Jace 4.0 and Tamiyo are a bit cheaper now, though, so I may actually be able to pick one or two up, perhaps. My personal preference would be for Tamiyo. Any objections?
And I'm not at all inclined towards adding mill elements at this time, beyond (possibly) Drownyard.

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

I think if you want to run Mutilate, then Lili of the Dark Realms would be great to fetch swamps and thin the deck out; she's awesome. And if your deck had any 'X' spells (like Mind Grind), her ultimate would break them completely!
She is cheaper, and she would fit a deck with Mutilate, but I have a feeling that Tamiyo would be a better investment in the long term. I guess. 
Thoughts?
 

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

Personally, I'd run both because they occupy different spots on the curve. 3 Lili and 2 Tamiyo, or perhaps 2 of each.
I don't think I could afford five 'walkers, at least not quite yet. And I'd only feel safe investing in Innistrad Block/M13 Walkers if I know I'll be able to play them in multiple formats later on. 
That being said, I could try and trade for a Tamiyo or two, and if push comes to shove, I suppose I could afford to buy one. I'd like to be sure first, though. Does anyone have any advice on this?

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

I don't think it's necessary to play several PWs, since all you really need is means of drilling for value, something Specter does fairly well, and Specter, nor most planeswalkers are uniquely gifted. There are a number of permanents which supply excesses of marginal advantage over time that add up to value powerhouses, since that's just part of Magic. What's more important about building the list is how the player intends to defend themself and their value-generation from a diverse field of haymaker threats  and game slogging value spells- and how that coheses with value-drilling.
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So, countermagic and removal? What, specifically, would you recommend? The list you recommended didn't have much countermagic, and seemed to favor sacrifice effects for removal. 
I'm liking the idea of Dimir Charm quite a bit; it seems like it could do a good bit of work in the deck. 

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

So, countermagic and removal? What, specifically, would you recommend? The list you recommended didn't have much countermagic, and seemed to favor sacrifice effects for removal. 
I'm liking the idea of Dimir Charm quite a bit; it seems like it could do a good bit of work in the deck. 



Well, the reason I put Dimir Charm, Negate and Dispel in that list is because they all push other control and midrange decks into a zone of discomfort. But right now, Psychic Strike, Rewind,  and Dissipate (all respectable hard counters) don't get mileage against many of the Cavern decks and aggressive strategies and unless your deck is good at not missing land drops, Syncopate is bad on the draw.

Also, a rule of thumb with Countermagic is that "less is more", 4 or 5 counters at a time, even without counterhosing is really where you want to be, because hands bogged down with counters have to jump and react to everything, pushing the player into a no-win situation.
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I think building even a two color deck around the specter is going to be hard no matter what money you put into it. I may be wrong, and usually am, but you will need the correct mana to cast the exiled spells if that is what you are going for. I love the idea, and want you to succeed, but the mana will not be there to cast their spells. If you are just doing it for a mill type effect, then please ignore me, and if I am wrong about the mana for the specter exiled spells, please correct me.
No, I'm not trying to mill them out. I use Prophetic Prism to allow me to play their spells.

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

I've been playing Nightveil Specter in a BUG deck for awhile now...was playing Deathrite Shaman which gave me the any colored mana bonus, but it's not necessary. Problem cards for Specter are Searing Spear and Azorius Charm, so make sure you have a way to deal with both. Preemptive Duress' are a good start. In the case of Azorus Charm, you will have countermagic available, but Spear is a different story. Besides these cards, Specter is usually granted the opportunity to run wild, and wild he does. One aspect I really liked about him was his pairing with Liliana of the Veil. You could play lands off the Specter and pitch your lands to Liliana freely (to preserve counterspells or what not).

I had another idea: Ramping Specter out. With Arbor Elf, you have 8 available Shocklands to achieve such a feat. You can also play a turn 2 Liliana a la the Jund decks.  Here would be the start to a BUG deck (technically could be UG or BG but you might as well incorporate the third color!):

4 Arbor Elf
4 Nightveil Specter

4 Breeding Pool
4 Overgrown Tomb

There are many different directions you could take this shell, like adding Farseek to give you turn 3 Specter + protection (Duress, Ranger's Guile, Mizzium Skin, etc) to compliment your main plan. Farseek also lets you splash the other two colors to help cast spells off Specter. I understand this might take the deck in a less controlling direction, but not by much, since removal and counterspells are what make the this sort of deck great!
One aspect I really liked about him was his pairing with Liliana of the Veil. You could play lands off the Specter and pitch your lands to Liliana freely (to preserve counterspells or what not).



That synergy is awesome.  Thanks for sharing!
I've been playing Nightveil Specter in a BUG deck for awhile now...was playing Deathrite Shaman which gave me the any colored mana bonus, but it's not necessary. Problem cards for Specter are Searing Spear and Azorius Charm, so make sure you have a way to deal with both. Preemptive Duress' are a good start. In the case of Azorus Charm, you will have countermagic available, but Spear is a different story. Besides these cards, Specter is usually granted the opportunity to run wild, and wild he does. One aspect I really liked about him was his pairing with Liliana of the Veil. You could play lands off the Specter and pitch your lands to Liliana freely (to preserve counterspells or what not).

I had another idea: Ramping Specter out. With Arbor Elf, you have 8 available Shocklands to achieve such a feat. You can also play a turn 2 Liliana a la the Jund decks.  Here would be the start to a BUG deck (technically could be UG or BG but you might as well incorporate the third color!):

4 Arbor Elf
4 Nightveil Specter

4 Breeding Pool
4 Overgrown Tomb

There are many different directions you could take this shell, like adding Farseek to give you turn 3 Specter + protection (Duress, Ranger's Guile, Mizzium Skin, etc) to compliment your main plan. Farseek also lets you splash the other two colors to help cast spells off Specter. I understand this might take the deck in a less controlling direction, but not by much, since removal and counterspells are what make the this sort of deck great!

BUG sounds like an interesting direction to take the deck in, for sure. It looks like this could end up as more of is midrange deck, which I'm fine with. The cost would be a bit more prohibitive, though, so it would take me a while to actually acquire the deck. For that reason, I'd prefer to keep this a two-color deck for now. I'm curious how the main decked Duress would work out. I think that it's a definite four-of in the sideboard, at the very least, but I'm a bit worried about it whiffing. 
I'm also trying to decide between Lili and Tamiyo. Lili seems like the more 'aggressive' of the two, and I'm intrigued by the interaction you pointed out. But Tamiyo is a source of card advantage, and would be a bit easier to acquire. What do you guys think?

"I will diminish, and go into the west, and there remain SgtPepperjack. Y'know, you really ought to come along with me."

www.nogoblinsallowed.com

does anyone have a non-budget version to post?  also, from the first page, murder if run as a 1-of or so isn't necessarily that bad.  it kills everything, regardless of the creature.  given how diverse several creatures are and how specific some black removal can be, murder isn't bad to have in a pinch.

with regards to countermagic, this deck probably doesn't want to maindeck more than 6 counterspells, and even that is probably too many.  essence scatter is a very reasonable counterspell to maindeck with this very creature heavy meta game.  it can always be sided out against control for negates/duress/etc.

there may be merits in trying to pull this isn't a 3rd color, since 3 colors are king right.  grixis seems legit, and would give you some good removal options and other disruption spells like rakdos's return.  olivia is also a good option against all these creature decks.

a green splash seems not that worth it though, white could be an option, but i guess i'd like grixis before any others.       

Blue is the best color ever. How do you deal?  ------------------------------  Team GFG - "gulf, foxtrot, gulf" 

 

 

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Best Pauper Deck in the format, not close:

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Duress isn't the best maindeck card ever, but when you're commited to a 2/3 creature, it's one of the best options available to make sure it lives before tapping out for it.

Liliana of the Veil creates a game state that fits Nightveil Specter perfectly. She limits everyone's resources (think Smallpox), making cheaper spells a lot better. Instead of your opponent getting to freely drop lands and Sphinx's Revelation for 4 in the mid-game, they'll be forced to discard at least 2 of those lands, weakening their overall game plan, while you are gaining a constanct source of card advantage from your cheaper spells, including Nightveil Specter. She also empties an opponent's hand to make the Specter have a fighting chance in the first place. Consider the following:

You have 3 lands, and play a fresh Liliana of the Veil, +1ing it. Your hand is Nightveil Specter and 4 lands. Your opponent has 2-3 lands in play, an Azorius Charm, a Sphinx's Revelation, and 4 lands. While you actually don't even need any more lands in play to function, your opponent is put to a decision immiediately as to whether to try and create a large Sphinx's Revelation or not. If they hold removal, their refill option becomes very unlikely, and if they hold lands and Revelation, your turn 4 Specter is allowed to roam wild. Win-win.

Tamiyo is a great card, one that I'm currently employing in my own deck. The only issue I have with it is that it costs 5, and doesn't do a lot immediately. It also doesn't help against hyper-aggro or Sphinx's Revelation control decks, the two archetypes any midrange deck must be prepared for in equal parts. I haven't tried Tamiyo with Specter myself, but if you have a good gameplan in mind for the two cards, you should certainly put it to the test.

tamiyo is probably fine as a 1-of.  anything beyond that might be pushing it.  otherwise, jace, memory adept should likely be the go-to 5 drop walker.

this deck intrigues me because i was already looking to make some sort of grixis deck, and this is close enough to work with.  having discovered essence scatter again, i think something can be made to work. 

Blue is the best color ever. How do you deal?  ------------------------------  Team GFG - "gulf, foxtrot, gulf" 

 

 

I produce Dubstep and House beats:

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Best Pauper Deck in the format, not close:

http://community.wizards.com/content/forum-topic/2974646#comment-49713276

 

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