[Primer] Esper Draw-Go Control

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BloodyRabbit
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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

Simply having another counter that can also draw in a pinch is great, but dealing with 1 CMC permanents is surprisingly relevant in some of the deck's harder matchups
True, but it's quite the opposite: Charm is an istant draw spell that ALSO does additional things.

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Post by MashedPotato » 2 years ago

Had an absolutely abysmal night last night. Seemed all the phoenix decks in my meta have switched to mono red prowess decks and faced 3 of them last night.

With that said, trying to pick what removal or counterspells to play, what is your thought on process on selecting appropriate one at the time? Assuming you have one of each in hand and are hitting land drops each turn.
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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

I went 3-1 at FNM, good for 4th place. Matches were 2-1 MonoU Narset, 2-0 Budget MonoR Prowess, 0-2 Tron, 2-0 Grixis Control. I'll post a list later.

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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

MashedPotato wrote:
2 years ago
Had an absolutely abysmal night last night. Seemed all the phoenix decks in my meta have switched to mono red prowess decks and faced 3 of them last night.

With that said, trying to pick what removal or counterspells to play, what is your thought on process on selecting appropriate one at the time? Assuming you have one of each in hand and are hitting land drops each turn.
Always play the one that is most conditional first, barring anything weird. For example, let's say you can play either Path or Push -- if you know they play creatures that Push can't target (5+ CMC) or recursive ones that you would prefer exiled, play Push as soon as it has a good target and hold the Path. Otherwise, play the one that gives them least advantage (e.g. against Burn you want to Push first because Path and Push both hit all of their creatures, but Path ramps them). For boardwipes, my philosophy is to cast the wrath as soon as you think your opponent will not play any more into it. Your Jund opponent sitting on a Goyf a Bloodbraid will probably never cast another creature into that board, so just bite the bullet and fire off the Verdict when it's your most mana efficient play.

For counters, save the counters that are less conditional and use the more specific ones first. For example, cast the Veto/Force of Negation on your opponent's Manamorphose and hold a Knot for later use against Bedlam Reveler -- you know that your Veto will never be able to counter a creature but your Knot can, so you wait for a better target on the Knot. This actually applies to when to and not to counter something as well. Is your opponent going to cast a better target for the counter? If no, then just counter it. If yes, ask yourself if you can afford to wait.

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Post by jfuite » 2 years ago

A player, Zardlink, recently 5-0ed a MTGO tournament with a build similar to a majority of other successful Esper control builds of late. But, his side board did contain a Teferi, Time Raveler. Please could someone explain what this card can do for us? Is it played mostly for its static ability (opponent only sorceries)? Or, do we expect to prioritize the -3 ability (bounce & draw)? How can we typically use the -1 ability (play sorceries as instants) when we have so few sorceries? This card occasionally appears main deck in control lists, so, which kinds of decks is Terri, Time Raveler good or bad against? I am confused and doubtful; please help enlighten me.

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Post by MashedPotato » 2 years ago

TheAnnihilator wrote:
2 years ago
if you know they play creatures that Push can't target (5+ CMC) or recursive ones that you would prefer exiled, play Push as soon as it has a good target and hold the Path. Otherwise, play the one that gives them least advantage
Thanks for that. Exactly my thoughts on threat assesment also. Wasn't sure if there was someone else out there who played control in a slightly different manner.
TheAnnihilator wrote:
2 years ago


For counters, save the counters that are less conditional and use the more specific ones first. For example, cast the Veto/Force of Negation on your opponent's Manamorphose and hold a Knot for later use against Bedlam Reveler -- you know that your Veto will never be able to counter a creature but your Knot can, so you wait for a better target on the Knot. This actually applies to when to and not to counter something as well. Is your opponent going to cast a better target for the counter? If no, then just counter it. If yes, ask yourself if you can afford to wait.
In addition, exactly my process also, thanks for confirming that someone else out there is in the same boat as me.

jfuite wrote:
2 years ago
But, his side board did contain a Teferi, Time Raveler. Please could someone explain what this card can do for us? Is it played mostly for its static ability (opponent only sorceries)
Teferi is much more useful in mirror matches I find in the first place. It basically allows us to play the game at the speed even more so and being able to counter almost unconditionally in combat phase or our turn. The bounce is nice also. but being able to drop a boardwipe on combat phase on an opponent is nice. But I personally think T3feri isn't fully utlised as well as it could be for modern in the current meta as it is in standard, where the game is played more on opposing turns (from my milage). This is why I only run one T3feri in my deck.
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Post by A Cute Bunny » 2 years ago

For mono-red prowess and burn I have 2 Guile and 2 Kaya main. This does a few things, it makes it harder for them to actually kill you with a stable source of life gain, it makes it hard for them to get any Phoenixs on board because of grave hate and it makes it hard for them to get in with attackers (Edict and Kaya Minus). It also gives us an inevitable win condition with Kaya's ult that happens rather fast if you get a Guile with her or gives you a huge swing in life if not. Along side that I main 2 Push which is a great card against most of the field. Games 2 and 3 I bring in a 3rd Push and 2 Purges since they are likely to bring in Moon. I also bring in an additional Guile and 2 surgical. Basically we just want to not lose to Blood Moon, Phoenix or a Finale of Promise later. Most of the rest of the deck can trade 2 for 1 aside from the single Knot and Leak I run main so those come out. I also main 3 Thoughtseize which come out since the life loss really hurts in that match. They are likely to start off fast but turn 3 is usually where the game turns in our favor. Even sooner if we see some Pushes early.

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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

jfuite wrote:
2 years ago
A player, Zardlink, recently 5-0ed a MTGO tournament with a build similar to a majority of other successful Esper control builds of late. But, his side board did contain a Teferi, Time Raveler. Please could someone explain what this card can do for us? Is it played mostly for its static ability (opponent only sorceries)? Or, do we expect to prioritize the -3 ability (bounce & draw)? How can we typically use the -1 ability (play sorceries as instants) when we have so few sorceries? This card occasionally appears main deck in control lists, so, which kinds of decks is Terri, Time Raveler good or bad against? I am confused and doubtful; please help enlighten me.
T3feri is used mainly for his static ability, in my opinion. This does a lot of subtle things and a lot of overt things. First the overt thing: it obviously completely flips the Control matchups on their head, since everything you do is uncounterable and everything they do is a sorcery. This is ever more backbreaking when you consider that cards like Zenith, Big Teferi, and sometimes and overloaded Kaya's Guile can pretty much win on the spot, given that your opponent is unable to efficiently respond (and not just in control matchups).

More subtly for Esper specifically, T3feri stops your opponent from responding in odd phases -- for example, you no longer have to fear that your opponent has any instants when you Esper Charm in the draw step to make them discard their last 2 cards because they can't respond anyways. In a similar fashion, it means you can attack with Tar Pits and Colonnades or flash in and block with Snap, Clique, or Queller without fear of removal. You can also bounce Snapcaster with Cryptic (or T3feri himself) in any phase without getting blown out by a removal spell.

As for the bounce ability, it's good in mainly 2 cases: against opponents playing cards like Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void with few creatures, and against decks playing many 2+ CMC creatures (BGx and GW decks on Finks and the like). The card draw can also be relevant, as you can bounce with no targets.

As for the +1, yeah, it's mainly just to up the loyalty counters and doesn't really do much else. Sometimes you can make sweet plays with Verdict, Timely, Collective Brutality, and the like. Honestly, you usually just plus so you can get T3feri out of burn range and so you can get multiple bounces out of him.

I find that he does just barely enough to warrant mainboard consideration, but I frequently side him out against any aggro deck, BGx (don't want to tap out for him and let a planeswalker resolve on their side), and similar. He's amazing against cascade decks like Living End and As Foretold, Control matchups, combo matchups like Ad Naus and probably Storm (not sure on Storm), and the red prison decks. Basically, side him out when it's a fast matchup.

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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

Against Jund he's amazing, especially after they started playing four Bloodbraid Elf.

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Post by jfuite » 2 years ago

@TheAnnihilator et al.
Thanks for your informative, substantial reply. I will reread it carefully. I played Esper control this afternoon (to a modest 2-2 record (always more a comment on me than the deck!)) and noticed the card was very good against me. Anyway, it's posts like yours (and others) which motivate frequents returns to this thread. Thanks again.

P.S. - I noticed above Amalek0 made some conjectures regarding the analogous roles of Esper Charm and Archmage's Charm, and received supporting testimony that Archmage's Charm was good and underplayed in the meta. Similarly, Amalek0 made similar connections with Kaya's Guile and Generous Gift, but to no feedback. What do you think? Does Generous Gift deserve a spot in any kind of control deck, or is it eclipsed by other cards?

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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

jfuite wrote:
2 years ago
Similarly, Amalek0 made similar connections with Kaya's Guile and Generous Gift, but to no feedback. What do you think? Does Generous Gift deserve a spot in any kind of control deck, or is it eclipsed by other cards?
I see the reason why you might play Gift in a UW control shell, but I'm still not convinced it's good. At this point, I'd rather just play Detention Sphere. For example, sure, Gift can kill a Lili of the Veil. But that's after you've both already discarded (their discard likely being an extra land or dead removal spell) and you now have to also deal with a 3/3. Similarly, you hit a planeswalker against Tron and you still can easily die to the Wurmcoil+Ballista+Thragtusk+gift tokens plan when you likely side out some of your removal. The most underlooked thing is that you can hit your own lands to make an attacking force. If I wanted more-or-less unconditional removal I'd play Sphere. If I wanted a clock, I'd honestly just play Clique.

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Post by Amalek0 » 2 years ago

TheAnnihilator wrote:
2 years ago
jfuite wrote:
2 years ago
Similarly, Amalek0 made similar connections with Kaya's Guile and Generous Gift, but to no feedback. What do you think? Does Generous Gift deserve a spot in any kind of control deck, or is it eclipsed by other cards?
I see the reason why you might play Gift in a UW control shell, but I'm still not convinced it's good. At this point, I'd rather just play Detention Sphere. For example, sure, Gift can kill a Lili of the Veil. But that's after you've both already discarded (their discard likely being an extra land or dead removal spell) and you now have to also deal with a 3/3. Similarly, you hit a planeswalker against Tron and you still can easily die to the Wurmcoil+Ballista+Thragtusk+gift tokens plan when you likely side out some of your removal. The most underlooked thing is that you can hit your own lands to make an attacking force. If I wanted more-or-less unconditional removal I'd play Sphere. If I wanted a clock, I'd honestly just play Clique.
It's not really the jund walkers you want to be killing; it's for walkers in the control mirrors and tron, etc. I actually board out gift against jund, because BGx always has been and always will be about 2:1'ing your opponent into the dirt and winning with what's left.

In my opinion, what makes generous gift good is that it allows you to answer game 1 karns, ugins, narsets, t3feri, and chandra ToD cleanly; in those matchups, your creature removal was mostly dead, your opponents lock pieces and creature removal are mostly dead, and all that matters is answering the thing they were going to use to close the game out, because you win if the game goes longer. At the same time, you're not jamming a bunch of detention spheres or hero's downfalls in your deck that give you an auto-loss against combo; they instead convert to a rapid clock to close out those games.

Whether or not that eventually becomes worthwhile postboard is pretty much irrelevant; control decks should be able to win anything postboard if you chose to prepare for the matchup; I'm more interested in winning those marginal G1's, because that really swings how many matchups play out (avoiding the "lose on the draw because my RIP is too slow" matches).

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Post by FlayJay » 2 years ago

I am looking for Versions of the deck for after the potential Hogaak (PLEASE) from today.
Has anybody been thinking about that yet?

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Post by SanityLost » 2 years ago

FlayJay wrote:
2 years ago
I am looking for Versions of the deck for after the potential Hogaak (PLEASE) from today.
Has anybody been thinking about that yet?
I think you can just go on playing the current Esper and UW lists as they are, cutting down on gravehate in the SB. IMO nothing in the current lists is 100% dedicated to Hoogak.
Unban Mental Misstep.

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Post by MashedPotato » 2 years ago

SanityLost wrote:
2 years ago
I think you can just go on playing the current Esper and UW lists as they are, cutting down on gravehate in the SB. IMO nothing in the current lists is 100% dedicated to Hoogak.
Exactly this, haven't seen or heard much of Esper Control against Hoogak though. Given all the tools available to us, we shouldn't need to change anything. There is enough mainboard and slight sideboard graveyard hate and exile tools to restrict recurrsion
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Post by Hesperos » 2 years ago

Aye, I'm not planning to change my lists much if Hogaak eats a ban. I didn't run a whole lot of GY hate to begin with, relying more on incidental GY hate (Kaya, Kaya's Guile) and exile effects to keep Hogaak in check. It wasn't perfect, but I feel control decks are too slow to handle the really fast Hogaak hands anyway. Better to cut your losses and just move on.

I see a lot of people wondering what they're going to with all the deck space freed up after today, but I don't think there will (should) be any. Modern is still going to be GY-centric format. Between Dredge, Phoenix, W6, Urza, and even decks like affinity/scales or UWx control you'll need GY hate. Decks might reduce GY hate a little, but I think it's a mistake to go down too much.

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Post by Amalek0 » 2 years ago

Welp. I was careful to couch every statement I made about post-hogaak-banning things with some kind of "if they ban looting, everything I said is bunk".

WOTC went and banned looting, so now we have to do some serious thinking.

My instinct is that the value of Kaya's Guile goes down by a lot since WOTC clearly and intentionally is pushing the format away from graveyard-centricity.

I think it's very likely in the short term that we revert to a combination of extraction-like effects or Rest in Peaces. On the whole, I think this is good for UWx draw-go.

Remember that the speed-check on the format is probably going to revert to Burn and Infect; infect can still turn-2 you if you sequence tap lands, and burn is still going to kill you on turn 4 every game if you don't interact.

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Post by Arkmer » 2 years ago

I would think Kaya's Guile would increase in value if yard decks start to fall off. Sac + Gain 4 is very good; the yard hate was always just a nice tack on that happened to be overly relevant at the time of it's printing. I think you'll see that it retains quite a bit of value as an aggro deterrent going forward.

If you're looking at Burn and Infect as the speedy lists in the format, then a Sac effect is pretty good in most infect situations and 4 life is 4 life against burn. The card has game against both and forces them to counter play.

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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

Arkmer wrote:
2 years ago
I would think Kaya's Guile would increase in value if yard decks start to fall off. Sac + Gain 4 is very good; the yard hate was always just a nice tack on that happened to be overly relevant at the time of it's printing. I think you'll see that it retains quite a bit of value as an aggro deterrent going forward.

If you're looking at Burn and Infect as the speedy lists in the format, then a Sac effect is pretty good in most infect situations and 4 life is 4 life against burn. The card has game against both and forces them to counter play.
With the graveyard decks gone, I'm not sure that Guile is actually better than Blessed Alliance at this point. I used to play main board Alliances for a while. The only downside imo is that you can't use Alliance very effectively in the mirror.

As you said, there's generally a specific effect you're looking for, so why not pay one less to get just that effect? Alliance actually hits attackers as well, so you don't get hosed by a Birds of Paradise.

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Post by chaos021 » 2 years ago

TheAnnihilator wrote:
2 years ago
As you said, there's generally a specific effect you're looking for, so why not pay one less to get just that effect? Alliance actually hits attackers as well, so you don't get hosed by a Birds of Paradise.
In my case, I generally want at least two effects. Otherwise, there are better spells for either thing (life gain or sacrifice effects) to play in that slot. Kaya's Guile gets me at least 2 for a slightly cheaper rate. Not to mention, it really sucks when the "attacking creature" part of Blessed Alliance is relevant in a negative way. This part in particular doesn't sway me one way or the other as much as the prior reason, but it has been something that has come up.

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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

In most matchups, I find one mode of Kaya's Guile to be good, one mode to be useful, one mode to be mediocre, and one mode to be completely irrelevant.

For example, against Burn I'd say that the good mode is gain 4 (not usually a maindeckable effect), the useful one is sac (we have other cheaper removal spells), the mediocre one is make a 1/1, and the irrelevant one is the grave hate.

Against non-R Control: good mode is graveyard hate to pressure Knots/Azcantas, useful/mediocre one is make a flyer/sac a creature (both are occasionally useful, but only to an extent), and the irrelevant one is lifegain.

Against ETron: good mode is sac, useful is gain 4 (to prevent Smasher blowouts), mediocre is 1/1 flyer (to pressure KarnGC), and irrelevant is grave hate.

All I'm trying to say is that if the grave hate is no longer relevant, and the 1/1 flyer mode is oftentimes the mediocre one (and it oftentimes is in my experience), then you can always play Alliance to have the good effect for one mana less with the option of escalating into the useful one if able. I will say, though, that entwining a Guile feels like it's extremely unfair because you just get it all. It's just hard to tell if it's winmore.

Does anyone else have the same feelings towards Guile?

Edit: I want to add that I'm actually leaning towards playing Guile rather than Alliance purely because I don't expect all graveyard strats to completely disappear, but rather tone down a bit. If the graveyard decks literally disappear off of the face of the planet, then I might reconsider that.

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Post by Arkmer » 2 years ago

I could see experimenting with a split between them of some kind, I do think Guile will eventually win out. Probably at most as a 3 of. They're both great cards with similar uses.

Alliance looks pretty good against Infect until they drop T3feri, which is becoming a thing apparently. Though, that's probably a problem no matter what we are playing.

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Post by jfuite » 2 years ago

I think it has happened at least twice in the last month or so: an otherwise typical Esper control deck claims a (5-0) MTGO Modern League result, except, the player drops a planeswalker for a Torrential Gearhulk. What does everyone think about this maneuver right now? Please help me understand the pros and cons of this change.

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Post by chaos021 » 2 years ago

jfuite wrote:
2 years ago
I think it has happened at least twice in the last month or so: an otherwise typical Esper control deck claims a (5-0) MTGO Modern League result, except, the player drops a planeswalker for a Torrential Gearhulk. What does everyone think about this maneuver right now? Please help me understand the pros and cons of this change.
I think it's fun, but if I wouldn't have it in my deck for competitive play.

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Post by Kalladdin » 2 years ago

jfuite wrote:
2 years ago
I think it has happened at least twice in the last month or so: an otherwise typical Esper control deck claims a (5-0) MTGO Modern League result, except, the player drops a planeswalker for a Torrential Gearhulk. What does everyone think about this maneuver right now? Please help me understand the pros and cons of this change.
To quote myself from a month ago:
Gearhulk is interesting here. It's a huge body at instant speed, great for sneaky blocks or flashing it in end step to take out a walker, also getting a free card from the yard can be pretty relevant. The downside is that it's 6 mana, which means it doesn't help you stabilize at all until the late game, and also I feel like there's better things that we can be doing with 6 mana, (either Teferi+holding up interaction etc). Gearhulk definitely gets better the more powerful your instants are, and the better stocked your graveyard is, so I could see a version playing FoF and Gearhulks, (in place of some walkers probably) could be effective? My only worry is that it may struggle a little in the early game, also Gearhulk dies to a lot more removal than our other finishers.

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