I guess you expect some explanation for this. So take a deep breath, stay awhile, and listen.
I’ll start with my impression about the set. I think the format is slower than people give it credit for. The rares of the set tend to be slower and better in control decks. There are many sweepers and eternalize creatures at rare, and these are usually better in control decks. Pascal Maynard wrote in one of his articles that he thinks sweepers are vastly overrated. I think sweepers are the best cards you can open in the format.
Then, there are many removal spells. While these are fine in aggro, you never want your only creature to die and be stranded with a handful of removal and combat tricks when you try to beat down.
The best aggressive common 2-drop of the set is Rhonas’s Stalwart. It’s comparable with Gustwalker, but not as strong. Besides Frilled Sandwalla, Hope Tender, and Feral Prowler, which are all fine but not exactly what you call aggressive all-stars, these are your options for your turn 2 in green. White has slightly better options here, most of which can be blanked by a single God-Pharaoh’s Faithful (one of the most underrated cards, in my option).
The format is slow. And it offers good mana fixing at common with Traveler’s Amulet and Manalith. Therefore, you often want to splash. With those artifacts, you often want to run something like 20 mana sources (2 Amulets, 1 Manalith and 17 lands). In order not to flood, you need cycling lands. And since you’re 3-4 colors, you easily get those in the form of Deserts.
- It smoothly handles eternalize creatures, before and after biting the dust. Ambuscade and especially Open Fire don’t do that.
- It gives you a nice answer to 2-drops on the draw. You don’t even need the Desert for that to be great. Open Fire and especially Ambuscade don’t do that.
- It handles most bombs, no matter how huge they are, at the rate of 2 mana. What more can you expect from a common?!
- Blue is a great color in control. Well, red and green are as well, to be fair…
- It’s an enchantment. You can find it with Benefaction of Rhonas. (OK, fine, this one does not count.)
But hey, what about the numerous untap effects of the format? Ever played against Dauntless Aven? Yes, there are in fact some cards that are very good against Unquenchable Thirst. Most of them trade 1-for-1, or give you a good block followed by an extra attack. Dauntless Aven is nasty, but blue offers quite a few flyers to deal with a 2/1 in the air. And you know, there are also cards that are good against Ambuscade. Ever played against Unsummon? Or Djeru’s Resolve against Open Fire?
And what if I don’t have a Desert? Well, that’s not a huge problem if you’re the control player. Yes, they get in for 2 or 3 extra damage. But they would too if you had Ambuscade or Open Fire instead. And if they don’t attack, congrats—they have a blocker against control.
Enough theory for today. Let’s hop into a queue and draft some durdly control deck:
I didn’t record the rounds. But it’s all for your own good. I tend to play sloppily on Magic Online, and talking through my decisions in a foreign language doesn’t really improve that. Still, the games were interesting, so I’ll cover those with some screenshots.
Round 1 started against Glory-Bound Initiate, some nice creatures, and Gideon. It’s not exactly what you want to play against with control. I was able to set up a nice attack—what could possibly go wrong?
Well, it turned out his last card was Ambuscade. Ugh. My opponent attacked with Gideon and I had the chance to finish it off by drawing into Resilient Khenra. The game went on and I was able to grind him out.
Game 2 started bad for me.
Pride Sovereign is definitely not the card you want to see with a Bant deck without Thirsts. I tried to take an aggressive role in the game, and it worked out since I baited my opponent into a block with his kitty daddy.
Things settled nicely for me—I started to gain control over the game with my Markets in the graveyard and the scrying pyramid.
I had to trade my Bitterbow Sharpshooters early in the game for his swarm of tokens in order to stay alive against Tah-Crop Elite. In order to push some damage through, I suicide attacked my team against his freshly drawn fatties, but I didn’t get there in time before I died from drawing my whole deck.
I brought in Open into Wonder for game 3. My opponent had a slow start with some mana problems.
Tempo gained off an Unsummon, as well as my sideboarded card, finished him off quickly. Phew, lucky me—I dodged a round 1 loss there.
I won my die roll for game 2 and started fast with Rhonas’s Last Stand.
He needed to start double blocking the Snakes soon, but my Farms blew him out there.
We both started slowly for game 2. Oketra made an appearance but at first glance, she didn’t seem too dangerous.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to establish a good attack force, and the game became a stall.
And what happens when you stall against a God? Feel free to post your response to this riddle in the comments section.
Well, game 3 felt similar. Except that I had Essence Scatter in my starting hand. I was able to leave 2 mana untapped for the whole game. No Oketra for you this time, my friend.
Some blocking and trading later, the board looked quite good for me.
Pyramid, Seeker, and Farm // Market made sure nothing went wrong, and slowly but steadily my deck delivered what I had ordered.
On to the finals. Game 1 felt pretty easy against my mana scrying opponent.
Game 2 was far more interesting. My opponent had a fast start, but I had blockers that forced him to exert. 2-drops that get in for 1.5 points of damage per turn are fine, but are not a fast clock at all.
I was able to stabilize the board, but the exert creatures from my opponent still attacked well against my board.
Bitterbow Sharpshooters came down to save the day once again, and since my opponent had no way to deal with it, he shortly fell to the vigilant Jackal.
So what did we learn here? That Unquenchable Thirst is the best common in the set *cough, cough*!
Well, I guess I rather learned how good durdly decks, even without spoiler rares, are in the format, and how Bitterbow Sharpshooters is probably the best common creature in the set. And that if you’re a slower deck, be sure to have a way to deal with mana flood.
I hope you enjoyed the article and as always, thanks for reading and posting your questions in the comment section.