As with any Blue and White based control strategy we find a stock shell with this deck sporting a trio of Jace, Architect of Thought for draw and protection from creature swarms, a set of Sphinx’s Revelation to restock your hand with options and incidental lifegain to boot, a set of Supreme Verdict to deal with Aggro creature swarms, and a set of Detention Sphere which is able to answer most every other problem the deck may face. The meat of the deck comes from its planeswalkers, where we find the duo of the light and darkness alongside a pair of Jace options. First looking at the light we have Elspeth, Sun’s Champion as a primary win condition spitting out soldiers three at a time, while also able to sweep the board of all creatures with power greater then four and should she go ultimate will pump those soldiers of hers into veritable jet planes. Next plunging into darkness we find Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver who is especially powerful against creature decks to steal away their threats by milling away the top of the library and given enough support then dropping them into play. Then we have the two Jace, Architect of Thought integral to the deck surviving creature rush Aggro and grinding out card advantage, but also a singleton Memory Adept to work against Control strategies and mill them down to no library while you sit back playing a defensive role. The potatos of the deck come from a variety of Control staples of permission, removal and draw. The permission package is two-fold using the potent Thoughtseize to strip away their threats before they can play them while also providing you with very valuable information about what their plan is, and also a pair of Dissolve as the deck only real denial with a bonus Scry tacked on to help dig through your deck for more answers. As for removal this deck is chock full of including Supreme Verdict and Detention Sphere already mentioned, but also some spot removal with a trio of Devour Flesh to abolish that huge threat when the enemy doesn’t have a swarm present and a Doom Blade able to destroy anything in RG Monsters in a pinch. As for draw power the main tool lies in Revelation and Architect, but the deck also leans heavily on the eleven Temples for Scry to help filter draws into what is absolutely needed. We wrap up with the utility player Azorius Charm which can gain a few points of life with Soldiers if desperate, filters itself into a new draw when needed, and even bounces an attacking or blocking creature to the top of its owners library to set them back and save some life.
While it’s true we are on the verge of a new Standard format in a few weeks it is certain that UW Control will be a strategy to continue going forward. Normally I would also say that with the summer here and Magic in its dog days that it isn’t important what to play, but remember that the World Magic Cup Qualifers are coming up. If you like oppressive Control strategies then I would definitely recommend this deck for you but be sure to clue into the current meta as this is always a deck that needs to be tweeked and tuned for what’s current. And good luck chasing down that glory.
18th Place at Grand Prix Richmond on 3/9/2014
GP Vancouver Champion
Other Spells (25)
Local Montreal hero and perennial golden boy Alex ‘Insayne’ Hayne went on to win yet another Grand Prix tournament in what is turning into an illustrious and formidable young career. As you may have already heard that makes three such victories in the past six months. If he keeps this up there’s no telling where he and his team ManaDeprived will soar to this year. And to mention his team Alex had to battle fellow teammate and Montrealer Jon Stern, who has also been making waves on the Pro circuit, in the semifinal in a tough battle spotlighting the talent emerging from ManaDeprived and Montreal alike.
Esper Human – Esper Midrange
2nd place at GP Shizuoka 2013 Top 8
Other Spells (11)
This deck got a lot of heads turning at Grand Prix Shizuoka on Dec. 22nd. Esper Midrandge or Humans piloted by Shota Takao, so named for its interactions between its humans paired up with Xathrid Necromancer. It is based on the more recent Orzhov Midrange strategy that evolved out of Paul Rietzl Orzhov Midrange at Pro Tour Theros. Takao was running into problems against Pack Rat so he added blue for Detention Sphere which also give him access to Lyev Skyknight. Adding the third color did not make the mana worse by taking full advantage of all the duals in Hallowed Fountain, Watery Grave, Godless Shrine, Temple of Deceit and Temple of Silence.
Esper Midrange has a strong match up against the three major decks in the format: Mono-Blue Devotion, Mono-Black Devotion, and Blue-White Control. The interaction between Whip of Erebos with Obzedat, Ghost Council is very important in these matches. You use the Whip to bring Obzedat back into play from the graveyard, then by stacking the triggers properly you can exile Obzedat to his trigger and return him back into play on your next turn.
As two-drops Takao opted to make a metagame call with a singleton Cartel Aristocrat which is strong against Domestication used mostly in Mono-Blue Devotion, Imposing Sovereign to slow down aggro decks and Daring Skyjek to speed up the clock especially when paired up with Lyev Skyknight, Desecration Demon or even Mutavault to activate Battalion. Adding a set of Detention Sphere allows him to drop the Hero’s Downfall that can get awkward to cast on the double black. Accompanied with a singleton of these removal spells Doom Blade, Ultimate Price and Far // Away again a metagame call.
Blood Baron of Vizkopa can be devastating against white and black based decks like this one, but Takao has answers like a Far // Away and two Supreme Verdicts in the main as well as access to Thoughtseize and another Far // Away and Supreme Verdict in the sideboard. Imposing Sovereign is also interesting as it stops Blood Baron but only for the turn it was summoned.
Overall Shato Takao got a lot of attention with this deck as it kept winning him round after round giving him a 14-1 record going into Quarterfinals, but finally losing in the finals to the GP Shizuoka champion Ryo Nakada piloting Orzhov Human.