Playing a Control Deck as Usual

Gregory Orange

Gregory Orange

Introduction

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.

Greg Orange

Image Copyright : Wizards of the Coast

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.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

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.

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 managed to go 7-3 in the constructed portion of the PT which was good enough for 33rd place.

Sideboard Guide

Boros Aggro/Mono White Aggro

Dauntless BodyguardHistory of BenaliaLegion's Landing

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.

Deafening ClarionAdanto VanguardSeal Away

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.

Against Boros/Mono White Aggro

Out

Chemister's Insight Chemister's Insight Sinister Sabotage Search for Azcanta
Expansion // Explosion Niv-Mizzet, Parun Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

In

Invoke the Divine Invoke the Divine Seal Away Disdainful Stroke
Lyra Dawnbringer Lyra Dawnbringer Cleansing Nova

《Invoke the Divine》

Invoke the Divine

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.

《Disdainful Stroke》

Disdainful Stroke

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.

《Cleansing Nova》

Cleansing Nova

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.

Golgari Midrange

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.

Merfolk BranchwalkerVivien ReidCarnage Tyrant

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.

Against Golgari Midrange

Out

Niv-Mizzet, Parun Seal Away Seal Away Blink of an Eye

In

Star of Extinction Cleansing Nova Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke

《Seal Away》

Seal Away

It’s not great in this matchup but it does line up nicely against 《Wildgrowth Walker》. It can easily be swapped out for a 《Negate》 or 《Expansion // Explosion》 especially on the play.

《Expansion // Explosion》

Expansion // Explosion

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

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

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.

Niv-Mizzet, Parun

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.

Against 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 Mirror

Out

Settle the Wreckage Seal Away Seal Away Seal Away
Deafening Clarion Deafening Clarion Deafening Clarion Deafening Clarion

In

Negate Negate Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke
Expansion // Explosion Nezahal, Primal Tide Legion Warboss Legion Warboss

《Invoke the Divine》

Invoke the Divine

If they have things to disenchant like 《Treasure Map》 or 《Azor's Gateway》, you probably want to bring these in. Just cut a 《Essence Scatter》 and a 《Crackling Drake》.

《Legion Warboss》

Legion Warboss

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.

《Nezahal, Primal Tide》

Nezahal, Primal Tide

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.

UR Drakes

Arclight PhoenixCrackling DrakeNiv-Mizzet, Parun

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.

In Bolas's Clutches

I played against the deck once at the PT and I lost game three to 《In Bolas's Clutches》 on my 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》. 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 is just hard to beat.

Against UR Drakes

Out

Deafening Clarion Deafening Clarion Deafening Clarion Deafening Clarion
Blink of an Eye

In

Lyra Dawnbringer Lyra Dawnbringer Negate Negate
Seal Away

GP Milwaukee 2018

For 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.

Niv-Mizzet, ParunTreasure MapExpansion // Explosion

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.

Going Forward

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.

Greg Orange

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Gregory Orange

Gregory Orange Gregory Orange is a pro player from United States. As a member of HotSauceGames.com, he is another one of America’s powerhouses that have been battling for a long time as a Gold Level Pro. He has put up respectable and consistent finishes at various Pro Tours as well as winning Grand Prix San Antonio in 2017. He won Pro Tour Magic 25th Anniversary with his teammates Allen Wu and Ben Hull. Seeking growth and victory more, he joined Hareruya Pros in the 2018-2019 season. Read more articles by Gregory Orange