State of the Meta—Durdling as a Win Condition

Assemble-the-Legion-Art-by-Eric-Deschamps

I swear I’m not a sadist. Honestly, I like to win my matches fast then get a little coffee, relax, and maybe get a bit of trading in. I’m a durdle magus by duty not by choice. I play the cards that fit into what I think is the best strategy for the format. Hold out for a while, make multiple good trades for card advantage, and win in a way that your opponent has the most trouble dealing with.

It’s all about cards and turns for me. Supreme Verdict and Terminus are perfect fits for my preferred strategy. My opponent plays a bunch of dudes while I stall  for a few turns,  probably playing Tamiyo to force him to over commit, then I drop the hammer. This is the point of the game where I ask, “Cards in hand?” The answer is likely between one and three. With my five or six cards in hand, it’s my turn to take the initiative, and the second part of the plan takes shape.  A win condition hits the board (Jace Memory Adept, Nephalia Drownyard, Drogskul Reaver) and I begin to force an end to the game.

Seems simple right?

Wrong! There’s always one last hurrah from my opponent. Another planeswalker, some removal spell, an Oblivion Ring (if you’re not into that whole brevity thing), and my opponent gets a second wind.

Eventually I’m on the ropes. Things look bleak, but I have to Sphinx’s Revelation for the killing blow, plus one life to stay alive. Desperately digging for answers (I know they’re in there), I find something close. I buy another turn for significantly less than a vowel. (Vanna White has gotten greedy in her old age…like 12 lands in your Legacy deck greedy.) Card economy pays off once more as I topdeck and play another win condition. This one will take me all the way home but my opponent needs time to let it soak in. Against all odds (happy birthday, Phil Collins!), I’ve done it again. This is game two, my opponent wasted our time in the first game by soundly beating me to death in about ten minutes. Boarding then took five or six minutes and this game was 22 minutes. There are 13 minutes left in the round so I remind my opponent that neither of us wants to go to time. We shuffle vigorously and present. I have ten minutes to win this match… Here goes nothing!

I love control. It’s not because I’m some “place for everything” kind of person, but because I love the drama of a good blowout. Set the pieces up and watch your opponent fall for your feints. Wham-o! (Hipsters of the Coast is not affiliated with Slip n’ Slide, Balzac or Skip-it) The game is yours.

But I’ll stop telling you what you already know. You’ve been on both aides of the table. Whether or not you play control, you have to respect (or fear) it as an archetype. Every aggro player fears that turn four wrath effect and every midrange player hates the catch-up spell (Sphinx’s Revelation being its current flavor). Even other control players hate the dreaded “mirror.”

After combo (not a real archetype), control is the scourge of all formats. Just based on that attitude you have the upper-hand going in. You’re like Jason in “Friday the 13th,” slow but inevitable. No one wants to fight Jason—they just hope that they get paired up against something else (the Leprechaun or Bane).

With that said, Gatecrash offers two important cards to help control players.

The first: Gideon, Champion of Justice.

I know everyone says he sucks. But let’s think about him in a deck. Gideon plus Tamiyo plus Jace, AoT? That seems good to me. Oh, and Feeling of Dread, obviously a wrath. Look, he’s not Gideon Jura, but look a bit closer. Your opponent may have three or four creatures in play, putting Gideon at around eight. Your opponent has to deal with him but can’t because Jace and Tamiyo are holding his creatures down. Who does he attack? You, Jace, Gideon, or Tamiyo? If Gideon gets ignored, you plus him next turn, wrath, and attack for  12. If they attack him, you don’t die, you wrath, and Gideon is still alive just waiting to crack back. Your opponents creatures are an effective -1/0 to attack him thanks to the loyalty counters from his plus ability. With Jace, Beauty School Drop-out that’s, it becomes an effective -2/0. Late game, Gideon is a 5/5 that gets around your own wraths. Maybe you play Unsummon to stop the creature that will attacking him. I know there is a lot more to this card than people are seeing. Trust me—he’s good. He is going see play and a lot of people are gonna wish they hadn’t traded him when he started to dip.

The last card fits in with Gideon pretty well: Assemble the Legion. Look at that, a spell that has a cumulative upkeep: make a bro. I can see both control and midrange decks loving this card. Here’s a (relatively) early hoard of blockers that replenish, followed by a bastion of hasty 1/1 bros to get all aggro with. Just five-mana, one-time down payment, no hidden fees. But that’s not all! Cast it again and can double your earnings!

With Gatecrash, American Control gets both a Colonel with Gideon and shock troops through Assemble the Legion. With the added mana fixing of Sacred Foundry, I think this could be a new era for durdling!

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21 Responses to “State of the Meta—Durdling as a Win Condition”
  1. Li Xu says:

    I hate new Gideon. I wouldn’t be surprised if a much better player proves me wrong at the Pro Tour, but I just think the card is awful. Even in the scenarios you lined out he needs other Planeswalkers to have established a foothold on the board already to even be good. You could probably substitute him for a ham sandwich and the scenario would play out the same, except the ham sandwich still wins for being meaty and delicious.

  2. thejlina says:

    I knew not where to talk about this, but I came upon a crazy combo in standard and felt like it was worth sharing! So, you know that Angel of Glory’s Rise self-mill combo deck? There’s a new victory package for it that only takes 4 slots. Burning-Tree Emissary, Cartel Aristocrat, Fiend Hunter, Devil’s Play. You mill out the pieces, reanimate the angel, target it with the fiend hunter, get 2 mana, sacrifice the Emissary and the Fiend Hunter to the Aristocrat, the Angel comes back, reanimating the Emissary and the Fiend Hunter for a total of 4 mana, rinse and repeat for infinite red and green mana, and then flashback the Devil’s Play you’ve milled out.

    Boom! Now the deck doesn’t die to Blind Obedience. Which, you know, otherwise kinda hoses it.

    PS: Also, you should totally be into Blind Obedience. That card is fucking awesome.

  3. Zac i hate to burst your bubble but gideon is no bueno. He’s only good in the control mirror where resolved walkers are kings but thats about it

  4. Tim says:

    As a fellow durdler, I’m going to have to disagree with you. As Li already pointed out, if Jace and Tami are doing there thing, Gideon is pure win-more. Any walker will get it done, even freaking Tibalt. Still, I’ll probably try him as a 1-of in Esper Friends, and that’s mostly as a hedge against Slaughter Games.

    As for Assemble the Legion, it can certainly get out of hand if left unchecked. However, let’s look at how long it takes for this 5-mana enchantment to do its job. Here’s the breakdown on cumulative damage by turns against a completely non-interactive opponent, with t1 being when this bad boy enters the battlefield: t1-0, t2-1, t3-3, t4-6, t5-10, t6-15, t7-21.

    • thejlina says:

      Maybe he would be good with Sorin in an Oros control shell? A Sorin emblem speeds that clock up quite a bit, plus gives you another source of tokens and Oros means access to Lingering Souls as well. Hrm, actually now I kinda want to brew Oros tokens, with some Intangible Virtues.

      t1 tapped land, t2 virtue, t3 lingering souls, t4 Sorin drop emblem, swing for 6 in the air, t5 Assemble make a vamp, swing for six more in the air, t6 make a second emblem, swing for 16… no matter how much lifegain they’re packing, that’s a lot of inevitability there.

      • Tim says:

        Oros? I think the word you’re looking for is Dega 😉

        This is more of an agressive, curve out sort of build, though, rather than control, but I agree that it could be a good home for AtL.. especially since you also have the luxury of being able to play anthems, which you would not want to waste card slots on in control (be careful with those, though; don’t want to be too all-in on enchantments with the hate that people will bring to fight bant hexproof).

      • David McCoy says:

        C’mon, everybody knows that the R/W/B wedge is called ICP–Insane Clown Posse.

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  1. […] formal release, Jess Stirba considered potential new additions to your Commander deck, while Zac Clark durdled his way to a new control deck featuring the much-maligned […]



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