Feb
23

Esper Control in Dark Ascension

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As the Standard decks continue to evolve in the metagame, its normal that we look on a few archetypes before Dark Ascension entered the format. One in particular is the Esper Control archetype. I remembered that this was one of the favorite decks last Worlds championships and from Iloilo Champs 2011 & I think that this still has potential and needs a little tweaking.

Here is a reference list from Andrés Cordero Rubio which got 1st in the Liga Madrileña de Standard last January 21, 2012.

Maindeck
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
3 Snapcaster Mage

1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
2 White Sun’s Zenith
3 Dissipate
4 Doom Blade
4 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Mana Leak
4 Think Twice
3 Day of Judgment
1 Curse of Death’s Hold
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Gideon Jura

2 Darkslick Shores
2 Isolated Chapel
3 Drowned Catacomb
3 Ghost Quarter
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Island
4 Plains
4 Seachrome Coast
1 Swamp

Sideboard
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Mental Misstep
2 Ratchet Bomb
1 Negate
2 Celestial Purge
1 Phantasmal Image
3 Timely Reinforcements
1 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Curse of Death’s Hold

The list seemed balance enough with the card drawers, Counterspells and removals. The next thing we consider is the popular decks in the current meta. We start with:

Wolf Run Ramp – the deck is suited well with the seven Counterspells, Day of Judgement and Ghost Quarters for the Nexuses. Its main issue is with Thrun, which only answered by a singleton Phantasmal Image in the sideboard.

Esper Spirits – I think it’s slightly in favor with the control since the new versions of Spirits tend to tap out a lot, so the Counterspells and DOJs come in handy. Post sideboard can be a mess but Ratchet Bomb might help a bit in the early turns.

Haunted Humans – the deck this control is very favored with. Early aggro can be adequately held off with Counterspells and Doom Blades. Post sideboard Timely Reinforcements also is an additional headache.

Monoblack Zombies – matchup depends on the version. If it’s the discarder one, it can be difficult if the relevant spells are not countered, such as Liliana of the Veil, Geralf Messenger, Sword of War and Peace, etc. Good thing the sideboard has two Celestial Purges and Surgical Extraction to mess up the undying recursions.

Blue Black Control – boredom activated in 3, 2, 1. Seriously though, this is a complex type of matchup in which you’ll setup a good hand through card drawers while forcing your relevant spells to counter wars. Surgical Extractions, Negate and a lone Jace, Memory Adept is your best sideboard for this matchup.

Though I am not that keen on the playing style of control decks (and being an aggro player myself), I came up with an updated and a suggested list for Esper Control post-DKA. Here it is:

Esper Control by Mark Ian Alloso

Maindeck
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
3 Snapcaster Mage

1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
2 White Sun’s Zenith
2 Dissipate
1 Doom Blade
3 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Go for the Throat
4 Mana Leak
4 Think Twice
3 Day of Judgment
2 Curse of Death’s Hold
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Gideon Jura
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Tribute to Hunger

2 Darkslick Shores
3 Isolated Chapel
3 Drowned Catacomb
2 Ghost Quarter
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Island
4 Plains
4 Seachrome Coast
1 Swamp

I’ve divided the options on the spot removals by adding Go for the Throat and Tribute to Hunger. Zombies are getting popular, and Tempered Steel I think is on the decline. Tribute to Hunger gives you access to kill Geist of St Traft, Thrun and one half of the Drogskol hexproof lock, and option for Mr. Chow (Snapcaster Mage).

Adding a second Curse of Death’s Hold maindeck is necessary to seal your matchup with Sprit tokens. Plus it helps kill those who survive Elesh Norn.

White Sun’s Zenith is still your main win condition so it is best to setup your game play for that.

My initial sideboard would look like this one:

1 Celestial Purge
1 Flashfreeze
1 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Ratchet Bomb
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Negate
1 Nephalia Downyard
2 Phantasmal Image
2 Timely Reinforcements

I prefer to be of a generic plan of sideboarding for popular decks so yeah, that’s the list. Your comments and suggestions are very most welcome. Just hit it up below.

Thanks for reading and until next post.

Categories : Magic The Gathering