Cook’s Kitchen – A Forgotten Format (Pt. II)
Last week we began discussing the forgotten format of Teams Legacy and the aggro decks that could be viable. This week we’re going to continue the three part series by talking a bit about the Control and Prison arch-types.
Control decks have a lot of cards that interact with both of the aggro and combo decks of the format between counter spells and mass removal. Where Control needs to change from regular Legacy is that they need to lose their spot removal such as Swords to Plowshares. Back when Teams Legacy was first around there wasn’t any other options but Swords to Plowshares, today we have Terminus.
The reason Terminus is better than Swords is the ability to affect the game state in a broader sense. That seems to be a running theme, no? In order to support Terminus it would only make sense that the control deck plays some number of Sensei’s Divining Top! That makes me to want to play Counterbalance!
Two control decks both packing Counterbalance and Sensei’s Diving Top? Have fun never casting spells again combo deck. Seriously. Locking it down in multiplayer is Counterbalance effectively acting as a Chalice of the Void and a Trinisphere for cards that cost between Zero through Three when the deck is built properly. Besides counter spells and removal, the card draw for these control decks will most likely be either Standstill or Accumulated Knowledge!
Both have their benefits and are highly playable in this format but players really need to evaluate which card is better for their deck. For multicolor control decks I would tend to lean toward Accumulated Knowledge since it’s a standalone card that doesn’t need any support. Standstill is a card that needs other synergistic cards in order to be able to make the card playable. Such as Mishra’s Factory or Creeping Tar Pit. A BUG deck has enough manabase stability where playing Mishra’s Factory wouldn’t hurt the deck, partially due to Life from the Loam, where a UW Miracle deck might opt to play Accumulated Knowledge because its lands aren’t as promising.
Another thing to look at is the metagame! If there are a lot of other people playing Accumulated Knowledge you may want to play Standstill. The reason being is that you don’t want to make your opponents cards better! It’s a simple concept. You play yours as a cycle and then an opponent casts one and is now plus one, this chain will continue. It’s often very difficult to control the game state when players are continuously drawing four to six cards every other turn. Even more in drastic circumstances, I mean, with both teams playing Accumulated Knowledge, that last one is drawing sixteen!
These cards don’t do enough in multiplayer. They just don’t. They’re definitely designed for single player matches and their effects won’t be effective enough when it comes to winning a game. Jace removing one player’s Library just isn’t enough. Elspeth would’ve had to live for ages to kill two players.
Jace does provide card advantage but also has two players trying to kill it, through attacking or through something else. The point being that none of these Planeswalkers will live a very long time in this format. Which brings me to my next point: There is a lack of good win conditions in this format for control decks, but let’s see what I came up with!
Reusable win conditions. It was a big deal for me when brainstorming this deck, you don’t mind when you cast Terminus. The natural primary win condition to me was certainly Entreat the Angels. It’s a fast clock once presented, can be played at instant speed and doesn’t die to removal easily. Thopter Foundry felt like the obvious secondary win condition, while it’s a bit slower than Entreat the Angels, it’s certainly possible to swarm people while gaining life. The big bonus to the Thopter Sword combo is that it’s 100% searchable by Enlightened Tutors – win conditions when you need them!
The Englightened Tutor package contains Seat of the Synod, Engineered Explosives, Counterbalance, Standstill, Moat, Grafdigger’s Cage, Oblivion Ring, Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek, and Sensei’s Divining Top. The Seat was simply to find a land if the deck needed one, if it’s unnecessary just sacrifice it to make a Thopter token! Explosives inclusion was due to being a searchable removal spell that could also be reused thanks to Academy Ruins. Moat! This card is fantastic and possible of shutting down entire strategies. Remember all of those aggro decks from the previous article? Yeah. It’s huge benefit is that it’s symmetrical all the way around, which is an added bonus because the deck’s win condition’s fly. Grafdigger’s Cage is going to steal wins in this format between Renaimate, flashback, and Green Sun Zenith. This deck doesn’t play anything with those effects, it only make sense to add a searchable hoser to shut down those strategies.
Win conditions without being Planeswalkers was a difficult thing to find for a BUG Control deck. Seriously, I had no idea the win conditions in these colors was so weak. Worm Harvest was pretty much the only playable thing I could find that would work in a deck such as this. In a deck like BUG where it’s constantly dredging due to Life From the Loam, there will be plenty of lands in the Graveyard and hand for Worm’s effect. The bright side is that like Thopter Sword it’s recur-able and puts a massive amount of 1/1’s into play. The only downside to this is it makes Night of Soul’s Betrayal not an option.
Holy crap as good as Pernicious Deed is, it’s even better in multiplayer. It’s a real game changer that dictates the board state the entire time. Being able to play it early and have people hold spells longer gives the control deck such a huge advantage. If it’s destroyed there’s still three more and a possible four more in your teammate’s deck! Innocent Blood has Teams Legacy written all over it. One mana killing two creatures, there’s an expression about this but it involves birds. Value.
Well there’s pretty much only one Prison deck in the format and that’s MUD. It’s similar to the control decks in that it hopes to practically lock the opponents out of the game while it’s winning the game. Incredibly fun, right? Well in teams this strategy becomes incredibly effective, for a couple of reasons. There’s more of the same effect due to having a teammate also laying down Chalice, Revokers, and Golems. It’s incredibly synergistic, one teammate drops a turn two Lodestone Golem and then the other teammate drops one of their own. Making all of your opponents spells cost too much mana to keep up with these artifacts.
Well we already have heard about how the greatness of Lodestone Golem, let’s share the love with the other creatures in the deck. To begin, Steel Hellkite, seems decent in multiplayer. My biggest issue is that it doesn’t hit all players, another issue I have in Commander. I just wish this metal dragon was slightly better! Next up is Phyrexian Metamorph. The reason being? Lodestone Golem. Who was I kidding? This is the Lodestone Golem show! The card is too good paired with other Lodestone Golemn. Running eight Lodestone Golem in one deck is too good. Especially when your teammate is doing the same thing. It’s actually why Trinisphere is only in the sideboard. Golem is too effective on its own, the deck doesn’t need the sphere because it will happen while attacking the opponents.
Speaking of Phyrexian, Revoker! Last week I went over how good Pithing Needle was in this format, same deal. However, it has legs and attacks in this deck for extra value. Wurmcoil Engine and Platinum Emperion are just big guys with bigger results, however, they’re a bit costly so their numbers have been shaved.
The next section of cards down the list is the mana. You’ve got to be able to power out those expensive Karns, Wurms, and Emperions somehow! Voltaic Key is essentially an untap effect to generate even more mana with Dynamo or Monolith, but it can untap a Wurmcoil to block and gain some life too. It really pains me to see Metalworker without a single Staff of Domination anywhere, but that combo is really just win-more most of the time.
Limited Resources: I remember there being decks based around this card back in Teams Legacy. But for the life of me I can’t remember what they did or how they worked. This could be a very strong concept, if you have any ideas, feel free to leave or post a comment!
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week where I’ll be discussing the Combo arch-types of Teams Legacy! Until then, keep storming!
Bryant Cook on MTG the Source