[Primer] Esper Draw-Go Control

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BloodyRabbit
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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

Thats what i meant
He meant you can't bin Think Twice with Force and then flashback it.

- - - - -

Had another good run, this time with Esper. I decided I wanted those Hero's Downfall to win the mirror and make Jund easier:



2-1 vs Izzet Phoenix, 2-0 vs BG Rock, 1-2 vs Mono Red Phoenix, 2-1 vs Eldrazi Tron, 2-1 vs Mono Red Phoenix (another guy). Satisfied by Downfall and sb Seizes, not sure if I also want another wincon or the fifth sweeper in the sideboard (maybe Lingering Souls can have some merit again, in this field full of walkers).

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SanityLost
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Post by SanityLost » 2 years ago

I like your list, BloodyRabbit! Ithink Downfall is a necessary evil since UW/Esper traditionally struggles with Walkers. Playing more copies of FoN is also good here.

With regard to Absorb: I think its applications are too narrow and the mana cost is awkward, just like Esper Charm. I think the main go to cards here for lifegain are Kaya's Guile and Brutality, both serving other great purposes. I do not want generic counters in the side.
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TheAnnihilator
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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

Found Wafo-Tapa's list for the MC on Wizard's website. (Edited to reflect sideboard card numbers.)

Last edited by TheAnnihilator 2 years ago, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by SanityLost » 2 years ago

You know it's Wafo-Tapa when you see four Drowned Catacombs :cool: Missing Think Twice though.

I partially dislike his approach, too many cryptics, charms and guiles for my taste. And I think you want at least a couple of pushes.
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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

Obviously punished in the mirror, little Teferi before and Narset then. He is way too conservative with his decklists (no D-Sphere, Force, Hero's Downfall... the mirror can be a bloodbath).

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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

Went 3-0-1 (intentional draw last round) at FNM today with the list below. I made some last minute changes for a meta with a lot of ETron presence, then promptly never played any of the guys on ETron (of course). I decided to cut the 2 T3eferi for 2 DSpheres, since there were no control players there other than myself, and swapped the 3rd Surg in the board for a 2nd Blessed Alliance. It was 2-1 RG Ponza (I got a little lucky, kept a pretty bad 7 in game two and he drew a slow hand that I was able to capitalize on), 2-0 BG Rock -- EASY games!, 2-1 MonoR Prison. I also, once again, forgot to switch a land out for the 2nd Plains. It didn't hurt me as much this time, as Tar Pit did a lot of work, but it was still annoying. If I'd ever gotten Fielded or if my mana denial opponents had targeted my basic Plains with Pillage or Molten Rain, things would've gone poorly for me. I'm switching a Delta out right now as I write this.

I must say, Creeping Tar Pit has been quite impressive. It's definitely the truth for this meta, so I'm very glad I'm playing it. DSphere was also actually really good too, but it could be the matchups. I've been one to play mainboard DSpheres in the past, and I still think there's merit. Again, Think Twice has been very good as well.

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Post by Hesperos » 2 years ago

There's another Esper control list of MC IV (Sergio Garcia Gonzalez), which looks like more of hybrid between control and a Mentor deck. Very interesting list, and, similar to Wafo-Tapa, as the pushes in the side.


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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

Interesting to see a Mentor list. I did brew one, but I didn't touch it in a month. My 75 is:


Decklist
Approximate Total Cost:

Decklist
Approximate Total Cost:



When playing Mentor, I focus on spot removals more than sweepers (hence, the 4-4-4 split between Path-Push-Snap) and Cryptic is a superstar in creatures matchups thanks to the 'tap opponent team, swing, win'. I started with discard maindeck, but then I decided to put them back in the sideboard because in the long game we have very few ways to capitalize on dead draws without Liliana (the only ones are Jace's flashback and using them as B: trigger Mentor). Force of Negation has been very good with Mentor, I was tempted to run the full set, but then decided for the third Knot (which is still fine at protecting it),

The main draw of the deck is being proactive whenever the time calls (all the big mana and graveyard decks, basically) and you can easily outrace most opponents. The worse part of it is being softer against very interactive decks (obviously).

I'm very skeptical on the Terminus take from Sergio Gonzalez. I would play directly UW at this point.

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Post by SanityLost » 2 years ago

A similar list recently 5-0ed online: https://www.tcdecks.net/deck.php?id=31207&iddeck=267027

I am gonna give it a run at next week's FNM. I was sceptical at first, too. The list borrows a lot from its Legacy counterpart. I am curious how it runs out. I think Terminus is very well positioned right now and it gets greatly enabled by both Opt and Serum. Also consider that the new mulligan allows us to get rid of them. I think the main challenge will be to know when to deploy Mentor savely.
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BloodyRabbit
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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

That's what I was saying, just run straight UW if you're interested in this kind of approach. I do value sb discard spells in conjunction with Mentor, and also believe that more spot removals are better in this shell.

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Post by Hesperos » 2 years ago

I like the look of the mentor decks. Why no unearth though? Unearth, Mentor and Snap do disgusting things together. Is it just too much at that point?

I'm currently back on a more 'traditional' control list with counters, removal and some walkers, and trying out 2 Tasigur in the main as both card advantage, and a threat I can deploy pretty quickly. So far, I'm really happy with the list, and Tasigur can handily stall the game, allowing me to dig deeper and win the game. Alternatively, he present a pretty speedy clock, and can be powered out pretty early on.

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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

No Unearth cause the deck is a Control at its core. Esper Mentor - as the deck is usually classified - is a Midrange that uses multiple discards to deploy a Mentor and tries to keep it alive, or unearth it. Here, you play the Control game until you have a Mentor and few spells to chain in hand to make either blockers or to outrace the opponent thanks to a Cryptic Command. The two decks work quite differently (and I played A LOT of Esper Mentor, back in the days it was popular).

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Post by SanityLost » 2 years ago

Right, one should not confuse Esper Mentor with Esper control, which is an unique deck on its own. Since I tried out Esper Mentor, a control shell rocking mentor as one wincon is more appealing to me.
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Post by MashedPotato » 2 years ago

Had a few casual games at my LGS yesterday with a Winds of Abandon in the main, took out a Wrath of God to replace it.
Found it a much better switch, for the flexibility. Two mana for one creature removal is a bit costly over what we already have in the deck for, however, the overload cost more than Wrath of God, but being able to do either off one card I found was much more useful. Along with having the extra cards in exile for a Kaya ult, should that be the path you want to take does help.

I did drop Winds into my EDH deck and turned the tide against the go-wide decks that the others were playing.
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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

I play two copies of Winds in my UW list (4 Path, 1 Oust, 2 Winds, 2 Verdict). But the main reason to stay in Esper is Push, which is faster and more efficient with Snap.

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Post by A Cute Bunny » 2 years ago

Gods_Shadow played an interesting take on Esper. I haven't tried the Vryn's or Prohibits but the rest of it is stuff I've played and liked so far. Looks pretty interesting.


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Post by Amalek0 » 2 years ago

Personally, I think there's a few relationships that people should consider.

1. If you want to play mainboard thoughtseize or inquisition of kozilek, you should probably be doing so in a shell with mainboard teferi, time raveler.

2. The choice between duress, inquisition of kozilek, and thoughtseize as a sideboard card should be entirely based on your sideboard plan for burn. If you have more cards to cut in the burn matchup than other sideboard cards to bring in, you can consider duress or inquisition over thoughtseize. Otherwise, play thoughtseize.

3. There is a balance between sweepers and spot removal. One of the strengths of esper is the ability to cleanly balance how much you play of each; we see the wafo MC build with sideboarded pushes and mainboarded kaya's guile, and one of the most common changes I see is people switching those. Don't do it blindly. If you find yourself putting in a lot of extra spot removal, you should probably actually just play more sweepers instead. The density of spot removal is there in order to interact with specific decks against which sweepers aren't actually usable answers, not to up your ability to answer a lot of creatures. Red Prowess, infect and GW mana-dork combo all specifically demand a density of spot removal. Burn, midrange decks, and eldrazi tron do not.

4. Planeswalkers are great. They generate a huge advantage over time on the board. Planeswalkers also have a downside: They're basically overcosted sorceries until you untap with them a few times. Be very intentional with which ones you play and why. I watched an incredibly skilled local player jam a grixis control shell to an undefeated performance at an event this weekend, mostly on the back of building around sideboarded blood moons because he identified that blood moon was an incredibly important sideboard tool in our local metagame. He had a very interesting comment after the top 8: "I made a big mistake with my list this week, I didn't put any planeswalkers in my deck. They're good cards, I probably should have played one or two." I asked him why he didn't start with them in his list, and his answer was "they don't do anything on their own". If you think about it, that gets to the heart of the problem really quickly--they might be powerful but most of them can't actually dig you out of a hole on their own, and they don't immediately put you very far ahead of your opponents in resources. The Fact or Fictions and Archmage's Charm and Kolaghan's Commands? Those cards are solid 2 for 1's that generate a firm resource advantage. Jace the mind sculptor? Brainstorm, make an opponent discard a card, and gain 3 life at sorcery speed for 4 mana isn't a modern playable card. I'm seeing people in other platforms posting modern esper lists with nine or ten planeswalkers. Seriously, if that's your thing, register tron or go play superfriends in EDH. It's not good deckbuilding for a modern control.

5. People are overcommitting their sideboards to beating flavor of the month decks. Hogaak might be really good. It might also be 30% of your metagame if you're a MODO player. Playing two surgicals mainboard and playing 3-4 RIP/Leyline in the sideboard is nonsense. Don't put those cards together in your 75. It's lazy and it's costing you matches against the other 70% of the format. Ponza, mill, and the bant ETB triggers deck might be bad decks, and they might not be good against most of the classic Modern metagame, but they're still decks. If you take out all of the sideboard cards that cover your general bases so you can play a nonbo combination of 6 yard-hate spells, don't %$#% about losing to jank or similar bad decks. You did it to yourself. Shoutout to the player who registered Esper for a comp REL event in my area this weekend with two nihil spellbomb, two surgical extraction main and four leyline of the void in his sideboard: you didn't lose to dredge because hogaak is busted, you lost because you have no actual plan and haven't bothered to try and understand how your own deck works. /rant

6. Night of Souls' Betrayal is a real magic card. It shuts down nonsense spirits, thopters, most of the dudes in hogaak, the entire stupid bant ETB triggers deck, and several other decks that see a lot of play in a post modern horizons world. Part of playing this archetype instead of the more usual UW or Jeskai control builds is that it gives you access to an incredible range of niche UB, BW, and mono black cards that have few to no other homes in modern but a lot of situational power to tailor to your metagame. Fire up scryfall and start studying.

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Post by chaos021 » 2 years ago

Whew. Coming from the shadows with some fire!

Well I have a question about the metagame: How many of you still build your deck with Hogaak in mind and how many of you just build as if it's just another deck?

Even though I'm seeing a lot of Hogaak still running around online, I'm also seeing a lot of other decks that seem to just be ignoring it or at least are playing as if it's just another deck in the many that make modern. I didn't realize this, but I think I have also been doing the same thing, which is bad since I need to be testing for an MCQ where I'm sure Hogaak will be present.

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Post by MashedPotato » 2 years ago

chaos021 wrote:
2 years ago
Well I have a question about the metagame: How many of you still build your deck with Hogaak in mind and how many of you just build as if it's just another deck?
Given the tools available to Esper, I find Nihil Spellbomb and Kaya's Guile as examples, there is enough tools available to handle it as it is. It is like running against Phoenix based decks, which are more prevelant in my meta.

edit: Usually having Kaya's Guile in the mainboard I have found has been super useful across many scenarios, anything that gives options I tend to try and keep at least a copy in the mainboard, if not two depending on how i feel on the day
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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

chaos021 wrote:
2 years ago
Whew. Coming from the shadows with some fire!

Well I have a question about the metagame: How many of you still build your deck with Hogaak in mind and how many of you just build as if it's just another deck?

Even though I'm seeing a lot of Hogaak still running around online, I'm also seeing a lot of other decks that seem to just be ignoring it or at least are playing as if it's just another deck in the many that make modern. I didn't realize this, but I think I have also been doing the same thing, which is bad since I need to be testing for an MCQ where I'm sure Hogaak will be present.
I absolutely build with the overall meta and specifically Hogaak in mind. In fact, it's a trait that's always been to my detriment, because I have trouble metagaming for the room and end up with dead cards in the board because "What if I face deck X?" As for Hogaak specifically, please explain to me why I consider sleeving up RiP and mainboard Spellbombs specifically for a deck I have literally never played against in paper -- nobody is degenerate enough at my LGS's to play Hogaak (sometimes because they already have everything for normal Dredge, they know Gaak will be banned, or simply would never play a deck like that just because it's tier 0).

And yes, I know I'm lucky that my FNM scene across both stores is rare -- I frequently see various flavors of Fae, monoU Narset, tenderly tuned BGx, delver decks on occasion, etc. My LGS's have an unwritten rule that you should play what you enjoy. And oftentimes, these decks do well. The only downside is that lots of people enjoy monored prowess and other Pheonix style decks.
But that's way better than 50% Gaak.

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Post by Amalek0 » 2 years ago

chaos021 wrote:
2 years ago
Whew. Coming from the shadows with some fire!

Well I have a question about the metagame: How many of you still build your deck with Hogaak in mind and how many of you just build as if it's just another deck?

Even though I'm seeing a lot of Hogaak still running around online, I'm also seeing a lot of other decks that seem to just be ignoring it or at least are playing as if it's just another deck in the many that make modern. I didn't realize this, but I think I have also been doing the same thing, which is bad since I need to be testing for an MCQ where I'm sure Hogaak will be present.
I exist. I just have a job where I sometimes spend a few weeks at a time in a foreign country working 12-16 hours/day in a SCIF, so I tend to disappear for long stretches. Also, I've been playing UW when I play control for the last few months, because archmage's charm is incredible and generous gift patches a humongous hole that UW's gameplan has had for a number of years. I don't expect to continue that nonsense after hogaak is banned because I expect the number of stupid 3 mana PW's people play to drop, which will make my build less of an auto-win in the mirror.

Esper players are absolutely warping for the metagame; the 3-4 kaya's guile mainboards will go away once hogaak is gone and other decks can fight the mono red prowess deck. I personally refuse to warp that hard, and so I've stayed away from esper; to me, one of the biggest strengths of Esper is the ability to play extraction effects in the board alongside discard for the combo and control matchups, and hogaak meta demands rest in peaces or leylines which super non-bo with the rest of what esper wants to do in the sideboard.

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Post by TheAnnihilator » 2 years ago

Amalek0 wrote:
2 years ago
Also, I've been playing UW when I play control for the last few months, because archmage's charm is incredible and generous gift patches a humongous hole that UW's gameplan has had for a number of years.
Not to be rude or anything, but I don't really consider either of those cards to be playable, so I'm curious how you're using them in UW. I actually moved AWAY from UW to Esper for the last few weeks because of Hogaak (Guile and Nihil Spellbomb) and the pile of 3 mana planeswalkers in the UW maindeck (sorry, Narset is good, but just not my style).
Esper players are absolutely warping for the metagame; the 3-4 kaya's guile mainboards will go away once hogaak is gone and other decks can fight the mono red prowess deck. I personally refuse to warp that hard, and so I've stayed away from esper; to me, one of the biggest strengths of Esper is the ability to play extraction effects in the board alongside discard for the combo and control matchups, and hogaak meta demands rest in peaces or leylines which super non-bo with the rest of what esper wants to do in the sideboard.
I can't say I've ever felt the need for discard in the board, ironically. Esper Charm and plenty of 2-mana counters have all been good enough for me in the combo/control matchups.

I'm also playing Kaya's Guile because it's actually a reasonable card, not for Hogaak specifically. I will admit that Guile is not really a "good" card per se, but it's also playable in most every matchup. As a friend of mine put it, it's not a 9/10 card, but it is a 6/10 card in every matchup. I definitely wouldn't play more than 2 main, and it strikes me as insane that Wafo played 4 main. In fact, I'm only playing 2 because I pretty much never draw it as a 1-of and I'd like to see it often enough to fully evaluate it. Edit: That said, it feels completely insane to entwine a Guile. That's really something that only happens when you're already winning, but oftentimes it just completely shuts the door if you can entwine.

The most I've "warped" for the drag-race meta is playing multiple Spellbombs main, and it was alright. Though I must say I've thought about playing 2-3 RiP in the board when I knew there was a lot of Dredge present, but that's because your Snapcasters and Logic Knots simply do not matter at all in that matchup, you pretty much just have to find a RiP and keep it in play.

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Post by Amalek0 » 2 years ago

[mention]TheAnnihilator[/mention]

I think archmage's charm is to UW control what esper charm is to esper control, and similarly for generous gift and kaya's guile.

UW control for the last two years or so has been kinda chunky and heavily reliant on planeswalkers and "removable" answers to noncreature, nonland permanents. It had a few key problems: inability to answer noncreature, nonland permanents cleanly, inability to efficiently answer threats presented in a "tempo oriented" fashion, and no way to cover those bases without stretching the permission so thin that the archetype didn't just devolve into a midrange deck. What it's very good at is punishing overextended creature boards, repeated unprotected threats, and preventing an opponent from ever turning a game around once they're on the back foot.

Esper, without esper charm, has a powerful and robust suite of answers but had a shocking vulnerability to blood moon, the same card draw problem, and difficulty with decks that attempt to leverage mana efficiency in a single turn to generate substantial advantages.

For UW, archmage's charm fills that hole--it's a clean card drawing spell, which is kind of a fundamental requirement for any sort of weissman style control build. It has the flexibility to protect walkers from aggression by stealing blockers and it has the counterspell mode for matchups where playing to the board is unimportant.

For Esper, esper charm fills those holes--it's again a clean card drawing spell, it provides insurance against blood moon, and it allows the esper deck to pressure decks looking to leverage single-turn actions (like ad nauseam or tron) by taking away their ability to stockpile resources.

Similarly for gift and guile, they fix problems. UW had trouble closing games but also dealing with cards like karn, ensnaring bridge, lattice, etc. Esper had trouble answering graveyard value engines. Those cards fix those problems. The end of turn gift-snap-gift, untap and colonnade activation ->swing for 12 is a real thing. you flash in a clique, you hit once, pass, then execute this sequence when they do nothing, and the game is over.


While I don't think you're wrong to play esper over UW specifically because of hogaak, I think people aren't looking the one level deeper at the metagame: Jund and Urza Thopter-Sword are both powerful archetypes kinda hidden beneath the surface, alongside izzet phoenix and red prowess. I think it's pretty clear that UW has the better matchup against the first two because of Rest in Peace, I think izzet phoenix is such a good matchup for both decks that it may as well be a wash, and I think esper is strongly favored over UW when it comes to red prowess (Hello Kaya's Guile!). For myself, I don't think it's worth trying to salvage the hogaak matchup--you'll play whatever grave hate you play, maybe increase quantity a little bit, and move on with your life. Because of that, I look at the metagame and see signs that tell me I want access to Rest in Peace, not surgicals or kaya's guile--it's just substantially better against Jund and Urza thopter-sword. I also think the tron matchup is slightly favored for esper vs my builds of UW, and significantly favored vs typical builds of UW, but I don't see tron as being a big enough player at the moment to weight heavily in my decisionmaking.

When hogaak goes away, we'll see the metagame settle a bit, and I think it's likely I move back to esper as Jund and Urza come up against more prepared fields.

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Post by BloodyRabbit » 2 years ago

I may step a little bit off topic, but I'm 100% on Archmage's Charm wagon in UW. I do think too many people aren't considering what it does for the deck. My current UW list is:






This has felt like the most powerful iteration of the deck ever played since Modern's inception. It's basically a Legacy deck without Brainstorm and with worse (but still good) cantrips. Charm is so flexible that is truly incredible: between being a counterspell against Burn and Tron, an additional Shadow-proof against the namesake deck and a grindy card in grindy matchups, it shines on its own. I know why people tend to dismiss it in 'classic' us builds: it has requirements similar to Cryptic (even stricter, cause you have to have it online by turn three). But, seriously, it's so good to play.

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Post by Kalladdin » 2 years ago

Agreed the Archmage's Charm is very good in UW. 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, simply having another card that can interact with a resolved Aether Vial and is mainboard playable has felt awesome. When the deck is playing anywhere from 9-12 counterspells in the mainboard, dealing with Aether Vial becomes incredibly important or all of those cards become dead once it resolves, and Archmage's Charm does a better job than cryptic in terms of 1 cmc stuff.

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