All the Things—Topdecking TNM With American Control

After a loooong plane ride and then train trip then a subway ride I thought I’d crash when I got home from Lisbon. Not a chance! I was wired, sleep deprived and eager to see my buds at 20ss. As soon as I touched down in EWR I contacted Paul to see if he was coming out tonight. He confirmed and asked if I had a few cards. I grabbed Knight of Infamies and some Vampire Nighthawks for him and then worked on my American Control deck. Like Li and Matt I’ve been having a sort of spiritual crisis involving deck choices for this Standard season. I think I was rash to dismiss American Control after my initial 0-2-2 at the start of the Season. Honestly, I was playing a slapdash version of the deck and drawing vs two of the store’s better (and more experienced) control players had to say something about the deck. I lost to two White Weenie Decks. I would stand to argue that the deck had to shore up the gaps vs the more resilient Aggro decks. Honestly, that was why the deck was so good in the pro circuit, it beat zombies, sided well vs control and crushed the Jund Deck that was popping up from time to time. I took another shot! This time with a little sideboard tech that I picked up from my experience in GP Lisbon. Here’s the list:

American Control
75 cards, 15 sideboard

2 Desolate Lighthouse
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Steam Vents
4 Clifftop Retreat
1 Island
4 Hallowed Fountain
1 Plains
24 lands
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 creatures
1 Rewind
1 Counterflux
2 Syncopate
1 Izzet Charm
4 Supreme Verdict
1 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Devil’s Play
4 Entreat the Angels
2 Think Twice
2 Terminus
2 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Pillar of Flame
3 Azorius Charm
1 Dissipate
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
3 Detention Sphere
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
34 other spells

Sideboard
2 Dissipate
1 Runechanter’s Pike
2 Talrand, Sky Summoner
2 Rolling Temblor
1 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Rest in Peace
3 Restoration Angel
2 Geist of Saint Traft
15 sideboard cards

Round 1 Paul Cox RB Aggro

Ha Classic! Paul and I had just honed his deck to a sharp pointy thing of death, and then we played a few games… We traded back and forth, then the pairings went up. We laughed. Why, not? We’ve never actually played each other in Standard since we both came back to the game (except that time in Jersey where I scooped to him so he could go 3-1 and he still didn’t get prize packs). I’ve got vengeance on my mind.

Game one was a total blowout. Paul houses me and I eat it, missing land drops and just generally blowing it. I waste a rewind on his Ash Zealot that I could have Supreme Verdicted with whatever else he cast the next turn. i noted to not play so loose, Paul’s getting dangerous with his aggro decks.

Game two I sided into American Mid-Range (which Paul knew about). I went down to 15 (two of that was land damage), there was a board wipe followed by an Entreat for 3… he didn’t stand a chance in that game. I burned and wiped every threat that hit the board and countered his burn. It was a classic Aggro vs Control 101. I didn’t see much of the ten cards I sided in.

Game three I realized how amazing Entreats are and put them back in the deck and used the Geist and Restos for chump blockers. It was a battle of attrition. Eventually, I just drew more cards and Paul ran out of threats. After our match finished the pairing for the next round went right up.

Round 2 Matt Jones Naya Mid Range

Matt’s looking like a pig in shit. Seriously, he’s playing Naya this week and he looks like he’s having a blast doing it. We roll for first I get a 4 on 2d6 Matt rolls a 3 and I decide with a laugh to play.

So game one goes on forever… I wipe and wipe and Tamiyo and wipe and finally after digging really deep I find an Entreat, get all excited and almost lose to not ticking up Tamiyo on one of his creatures… Luckily I have my very favorite Charm in my hand and gang block Ms Resto Angel with 6 4/4 Angels of my own then Lifelink. I get that game.

Game Two I side in like ten cards. Transforming my deck from control to midrange. Matt smashes with Smiters and Thundermaws… I get him low but not low enough.

Game three I was worried about I re-sided back to control… Those beats are too good for my beats to out race. Eventually, Matt has me pinned down like a rat in a trap. I have a few outs but I’m not known to draw the cards I need when I… ENTREAT THE ANGELS. Well that was nice, thanks America! Matt shakes visibly then extends the hand, “You’re lucky it’s you!” he says with a big Matt Jones smile. Dude does not like control. Again we’re the last ones to finish and pairings go right up.

Round 3 Tony Loman – Jund

I had put Tony on Bant Control. He’s a ridiculously tight player and Bant is a deck that rewards that sort of thing. I recall him playing it at States and doing well with it so I was preparing for a world of counter hurt.

Game 1 he plays a Overgrown Tomb and I’m thinking, “Weird I didn’t expect him to play Zombies then a Dragonskull Summit hit the board and I know he’s playing Jund. It’s a different style of Jund to be sure but I at least understand how this deck wins. I’ve played against it enough to know what’s worth getting rid of and what’s ok to have stick around. He tosses out a Wolfir Avenger on my end step and I cringe. That’s gonna be hard to get rid of after two turns I detention Sphere it and he moves on to other threats. Eventually we both get low on cards and I pull a Sphinx’s Revelation during his end step (turn about’s fair play) and he decides to move to the next game. By now I’m pretty confident with the control end of the deck. I side out counter magic and bring in a second Bonfire and some Rolling Temblors. I’m sweating like a mall Santa because I’m not sure what he’s siding in. Death Rite Shaman seems like a great idea and more Wolfir Avenger would be good, not sure. I managed to hold him off til a Tamiyo hit the board. Tony Slaughter Games’d me early taking my Entreats but I decided to play a few different win conditions so lucky for me building a weirdo deck I didn’t shut me down completely. A few turns later, after a top decked Detention Sphere to shut down an Wolfir Avenger, Tony scoops.

We’re done a little early so I take a second to walk the store. Luis informs me that Daniel Black and I are the only 3-0s and we can play each other for the winner of the tourney. We split Daniel gives me the win. Woohoo! I’m still in the running for store points and this gets me to 750 Planeswalker Points! IM IN TWO BYE TERRITORY! Daniel and I play a few games I’m anxious though because I asked the time and some one tells me it’s 1030 (Thanks Paul) eager to not dick around and be late for my date at 11. I keep a pretty loose hand and Daniel punished me for it with a 2x rancor’d Double strike death attack. After this game I look at my phone it’s only 9:30!  Thats when say (To Paul) “You’re a Dick, Paul!”  Daniel blasts in with “What’s a DickPaul?” Matt and Paul crack up.  I agree, well played Mr Black, well played. With plenty of time left.  I can relax a bit. No matter, Daniel’s white weenies prove to be too much to handle.

I haven’t hung out with friends (except Harry) for a couple weeks. Paul invites me for a drink and Daniel comes out too. We have a couple of beers and shoot the shit. We talk about the new competitive trigger announcement rules change and how its pretty ridiculous that players can manipulate the rules to gain an advantage instead of actually just playing the game with a little bit of honor. Paul gets my first and Daniel gets my second I want to get the third round but if I don’t GTFO I’ll be late for my lady friend.

In conclusion, I think aside from a few fumbles I played the deck well. I really like that way playing control makes me feel. It’s awesome to look up and see that you’ve been slowly using card economy to whittle down your opponents hand. Winning off a miracle might seem a little cheesy but I don’t think it’s any worse than blind flipping a Delver or going off with a combo deck. Sure you’re gonna get crapped on from time to time but that’s the deck. I may just play it again next week too. The sideboard tech was not that good though I wasted seven spots for the midrange switch, I’d rather be more prepared against the G/W Humans RDW and Zombie decks. I’m anxious to test this build vs Bant as well. It’s a match up I think I’ll need to learn if I want to bring this to a larger event. Til next TNM.

With a Rebel yell…

Zac Clark

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Comments
5 Responses to “All the Things—Topdecking TNM With American Control”
  1. My R3 opponent attempted to draw a card Game 1 Turn 1 on the play, cast a Supreme Verdict for 1UUW, and successfully Restoration Blinked another Restoration Angel for blocks (which I didn’t even notice because I won that turn anyway).

  2. Chase says:

    I’d like to have a full post/discussion about the trigger rules in competitive play. Honestly, I’m a fan of the new rules–they reward careful play and clear communication, and give a straightforward resolution for any mistakes. You’re going to have misunderstandings with any rule change (miracles hitting your hand, for example). My aggravation is that it’s not extended farther–people are getting caught because it’s not enforced/applicable at all in regular REL events, so the wrong habits are being learned. Just expect people to announce all triggers and back up the game state in regular REL events, and it’ll be a non-issue as soon as people adapt.

    Just think about it as announcing anytime things change–static effects are announced when they’re put in play, and triggers as they happen. There’s no good/bad triggers lapsing anymore in the context of a game, since your opponent can choose if they think the trigger is good/bad in any situation.

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