With Verity Circle, the key is to combine it with effects that tap your opponent’s creatures.
When I realized this interaction, the first thing that came to my mind was “Mono-Blue Prison is back on the menu!” The last time we saw that archetype, about two-and-a-half years ago, it was gaining life with Prism Ring, casting copious amounts of card draw spells, buying more time with Engulf the Shore, and eventually winning via Part the Waterveil. Since it revolved around making opposing cards ineffectual, it was more of a prison deck than a control deck. But it was a powerful strategy for sure.
In Ravnica Allegiance Standard, Time of Ice and Sleep can take the role of Engulf the Shore, while Verity Circle acts as the accompanying card draw engine. Once you get the engine going, you should be able to tap all of your opponent’s creatures each turn. The win condition doesn’t really matter, but a single Nezahal or Chromium could work.
How to Beat Creatureless Control Strategies?
I started brewing. I added Diamond Mare to take the role of Prism Ring. I added Emergency Powers because together with Time of Ice and Sleep, it would force my opponent to shuffle away all of their creatures, just like Engulf the Shore and Day’s Undoing. I added Icy Manipulator to keep the engine going. I discovered that, unfortunately, Kinjali’s Sunwing’s ability does not count as “becoming tapped.”
But the further I got into the brewing process, the more difficulties I encountered. The first one was that the entire strategy seemed horrendous against creatureless control strategies. If the opponent doesn’t have creatures to tap down, then all of your cards are completely useless.
Fortunately, this problem was solvable.
With either of these cards, the game plan would still be live even against a creatureless control deck.
What if You Don’t Draw Verity Circle?
The second problem was that the entire strategy revolved around a single card, and if you didn’t draw Verity Circle, then all you had were a bunch of Sleeps, Time of Ices, and Merfolk Tricksters that didn’t get you anywhere.
Ultimately, this problem proved harder to solve. The original Mono-Blue Prison deck had Jace’s Sanctum for consistency, but the current Standard has nothing that comes close in power level. Sure, you could use a mix of Opt, Chart a Course, and Mastermind’s Acquisition, but you still wouldn’t always find Verity Circle in time. Moreover, the strategy remains weak to Mortify, Vivien Reid, Ixalan’s Binding, and other enchantment removal.
Eventually, I settled on slotting the Verity Circle package into an aggressive deck. This meant I moved away from the Mono-Blue Prison strategy that originally inspired me, but at least it gave Sleep a use for the games where I didn’t draw the key enchantment—Sleep could now be exploited by clearing the way for my attackers.
Below you can find two rough builds, one for each way to create creatures for the opponent. The first uses Awaken the Erstwhile along with Death Baron to break the symmetry. The second uses Dowsing Dagger along with Mist-Cloaked Herald to easily transform it.
U/B Zombie Circle
U/G Merfolk Circle
While none of these decks are going to break into the top tier of the competitive format, they do something unique. If your idea of having fun is to take wacky engines for a spin at FNM and/or if your name is Saffron Olive, then be sure to try them out or to share your own brew in the comments!