I’m Greg Orange and I’ve been known to play some control decks. I love to play them when they are good but sometimes I also play them even when they are not so good.
Preparation For the Pro Tour
Luckily right now is one of the good times. 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 has been making things easier than ever. It’s just a great card that smoothes out a lot of the issues a UW control deck often has. It is both a proactive win condition and a versatile answer to problematic permanents.
I knew with near 100% certainty that I would register 4 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 for Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica. So that made deck selection pretty easy. After some light theorycrafting and a few leagues on Magic Online I submitted the following deck list.
4 《Sacred Foundry》
4 《Steam Vents》
4 《Clifftop Retreat》
4 《Glacial Fortress》
4 《Sulfur Falls》
-Land (25)- 4 《Crackling Drake》
1 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》
1 《Blink of an Eye》
1 《Disdainful Stroke》
1 《Essence Scatter》
4 《Deafening Clarion》
3 《Sinister Sabotage》
2 《Chemister's Insight》
1 《Settle the Wreckage》
1 《Expansion // Explosion》
3 《Seal Away》
2 《Search for Azcanta》
4 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》
In between GP Atlanta and the PT I stayed in an Airbnb with my teammate, Ben Hull and 2 other Canadians, Mani and Jon. My preparation for the PT was pretty relaxed. I spent a lot of time watching Family Feud and watching Mani play Turbo Fog on Magic Online. I had already settled on a Jeskai control decklist that I liked. I played my deck in a League on Magic Online and my deck was posted online the next day.
I wasn’t too worried since generally I have a pretty relaxed attitude about my deck list secrecy and I had already tweeted that my deck would contain 4 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》. I assumed anyone who knew me would probably be able to guess what I was playing anyway.
I've registered 4 Teferi for #PTGRN— Greg Orange (@orange_greg) November 8, 2018
So keep that in mind I suppose
I managed to go 7-3 in the constructed portion of the PT which was good enough for 33rd place.
Boros Aggro/Mono White Aggro
I was 1-1 against this deck at the PT which felt about right. I thought Boros Aggro would be reasonably popular at the PT. It seems like a lot of PT players like aggro these days. The deck was popping up a lot on Magic Online, and a lot of my friends were talking about it or playing it.
I think this was a pretty reasonable match up for my Jeskai deck. Boros Aggro is not that great against 《Deafening Clarion》. 《Adanto Vanguard》 can be troublesome, which is the main reason I registered 《Seal Away》 as the spot removal spell of choice.
You haven’t lived until you have cast an 《Invoke the Divine》 in combat to ambush one of their creatures with your 《Crackling Drake》 or 《Lyra Dawnbringer》. Also it is an answer to 《Experimental Frenzy》 and gaining 4 life is quite nice.
It is a cheap spell that counters a lot of the most worrisome cards such as 《Venerated Loxodon》, 《Experimental Frenzy》 and 《Conclave Tribunal》. This is the last card to come in and it could easily be replaced.
If you play against Mono Red Aggro, you should basically do everything the same way but don’t bring in 《Cleansing Nova》. Just leave in a card that your fond of.
I was 3-1 against this deck at the PT but it felt close and easily could have gone the other way. I may have underestimated this deck slightly in hindsight. I thought this deck would be a popular at the PT. To me it just seemed like the safest deck to choose.
The basic strategy in this match up is to use 《Deafening Clarion》 to clear away the “Explore” creatures, counter their Planeswalkers, and try to have an answer for 《Carnage Tyrant》 if they have it. They usually don’t have too many answers to 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 so sticking one is the easiest way to run away with the game. Try not to let your creatures get munched by 《Vivien Reid》 if you can.
I’m a bit down on this card because I feel that the game is often decided by the time this card is good. I think you mostly lose games to Planeswalkers and 《Carnage Tyrant》 and 《Expansion // Explosion》 isn’t particularly helpful against either. Though it does help prevent getting ground out in the late game which is nice.
《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 Mirror
I think I overestimated how many 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 decks there would be. I played against just one other 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 deck at the PT and there were on Esper Control. I did win but I had some pretty good draws in the post board games.
The control Mirror is not as fun as it was before Guilds of Ravnica came out since games now rarely come down to decking. Also there is a lot of uncounterable spells. So games often come down to who draws the business. I built this deck before Adrian Sullivan won the GP Milwaukee with 4 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》 in the main. So the strategy would likely have to change a lot.
It matched up very well against 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 and can get through opposing countermagic. However, it also has some weak points. It is very narrow and can get outmatched by opposing threats like 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》. I’m not sure I would recommend it going forward but it is a nice card to keep in mind.
It is basically unbeatable but narrow and expensive. If your opponent doesn’t have a lot going on and you slam the Dinosaur you basically win. Even 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 can not answer it.
Honestly I did not expect this deck to do so well. It just seemed like a lot of effort to put a 《Arclight Phoenix》 into play. I also felt that 《Crackling Drake》 was pretty good played fair and you didn’t need that much effort to make the phoenix good.
《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》 is the scariest card out of the deck. Hopefully you can get a 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 going before they cast 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》. They often don’t have counterspells in game one. So let’s do just jam 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 if you get the chance. My deck was reasonably soft to 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》 and I felt most of the answers were too narrow or low power level to justify playing.
GP Milwaukee 2018For GP Milwaukee the week after the PT the only change I made to the deck was adding a 《Niv-Mizzet, Parun》 to the sideboard over the 《Expansion // Explosion》. I did not put a lot of thought into changing my deck since I like how it played in the PT.
I only managed a medium 10-5 record at the GP. I had geared my deck to be good against aggressive decks like Mono White and Mono Red. I didn’t see many of those decks at the GP.
Instead I played a lot of the mirror and Golgari Midrange. I imagine a Jeskai deck list with more grindy cards and big haymakers which would have served me better. And I don’t really have to stretch my imagination much because that is exactly the sort of deck Adrian Sullivan used to win the GP.
There are a lot of powerful Jeskai cards and there is a fair amount of flexibility in deckbuilding. Sometimes it feels like a bit of a struggle to find the right answers to the various problems of a format. Right now it feels like all the answers are at my fingertips and the only question is which ones happen to fit best as decks continue to adapt and change.