Control Galore

Ever since I saw Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, I’ve been trying to figure out the best shell to play it in. It’s certainly a control card, which begs the questions: what’s the best way to make use of it?

Let’s start with an Approach shell first.

Seal Away
There’s certainly a lot going on in this deck list. One of the benefits to playing a {U}{W} Approach deck in the past has been its ability to sidestep all main deck removal. Vraska’s Contempt will likely continue to be the best removal spell available in Standard and it does a great job at dealing with Teferi. However, I think the power level is high enough on the card that we can either work to protect it a tiny bit or we can go ahead and just let it happen since we have an “I win” button in our deck. As long as we’re managing the board, we’re going to be in a great spot. Teferi on its own is not enough to make this deck better. No, instead I think that honor actually goes to Seal Away. This 2-mana Enchantment plays perfectly with everything the deck is trying to do. It’s an early removal spell that is mostly unconditional. Worried about the opponent playing something post combat you’d like to counter?

Seal Away is there for you.

Worried about the opponent getting around Settle the Wreckage by intelligently not attacking all their creatures into it?

Seal Away is there for you.

Want something to protect your Teferi?

Well, you get the idea.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
I’ve tried to maximize the amount we can work with Teferi’s untap ability for lands. Essence Scatter, Seal Away, and even Negate all play nicely on turn five with Teferi and the later we can jam Teferi into play the more mana we will have access to. I can envision a lot of scenarios where we can play Seal Away and then untap all our mana, having access to everything. Sometimes mana is tight, especially in a deck with a reasonably high curve, so it’s going to be hard to protect yourself when you can’t make use out of your mana. Having Seal Away also helps with this since it’s a cheap and efficient play can help steal back some of the tempo we will be losing.

The more interesting aspect of how I’ve built this deck is the loss of Censor. Censor has long been one of the keys of the deck, providing a cheap answer to early plays and a way to cycle late game. However, in some ways we get to upgrade a bit with Syncopate. On turn two it’s going to be very similar to Censor with an upside of being able to counter more spells in the late game. Exiling a spell is quite relevant especially when you consider how popular cards like Scrapheap Scrounger, Torrential Gearhulk, and The Scarab God are. In light of this, Syncopate becomes an ideal spell to have in your deck. While you do lose a bit of consistency, it does allow for more interaction. A common play line would be for an opponent to play a 2-drop with three mana to make Censor bad and force use of a better spell. Syncopate let’s you work into that.

Sideboard we get the immensely powerful Lyra Dawnbringer. While it has the drawback of being Legendary which means we can’t have multiple copies in play, I think this card is powerful against almost every deck. The ground gets gummed up and Lyra passes a ton of tests including the ever important Glorybringer Exert Test. Because you have First Strike, it’s going to be a double up with a burn spell to get through. While Baneslayer Angel had pro Dragons and Demons and Lyra doesn’t I still think it will make a larger impact than Regal Caracal. Having lots of bodies is great, but Regal Caracal died way too often for too cheap and didn’t put you in a great spot. Lyra, on the other hand, attacking for five is a massive swing and the fact that it effectively blocks every creature except Hazoret means, more likely than not, your opponent will be at a standstill.

One of the new tools control got was Cast Down. Cast Down is a removal spell that lines up well against most of the format. While Fatal Push was used, there were certain cards it fell flat against. What’s nice about Cast Down is that it also pairs really well with Teferi. Let’s take a look at what my preliminary Esper list looks like.

Cast Down
In general, one of the major problems with control has been trying to figure out what to play. I like having access to the Wrath effects of White, but think The Scarab God, Vraska’s Contempt, and Duress are pristine and a great reason to play Black. Is it worth the stretch of mana to play the double White spells? I’m really unsure. Switching over to a third color means we might be a little slower and lose a lot of tempo in exchange for a lot of powerful cards. However, the addition of cheap and efficient removal likely means that taking a turn off here and there won’t be that poor. Being able to save Vraska’s Contempt for more ideal targets also means that you’re likely to survive until the late game. I’m also a big fan of being able to use Arguel’s Blood Fast post board and then untap those lands during the end step with Teferi. One of the downsides of playing {U}{B}is your answers to permanents are few and far between. While Teferi isn’t a real answer it, does give another method of dealing with something for a moment until we can find a more permanent solution.

While I’m not certain the best path for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, I am sure that the card will make major waves in Standard. There could be some neat Bant decks we could also build with Teferi. Llanowar Elves lets us do a lot of work. It’s unfortunate that the two untapped lands might not matter very much like it could in a control deck, but being able to draw a ton of cards in a midrange Green strategy ALWAYS feels good.

I’ve already ordered my set and I hope you do soon as well.

Dominaria is Now Available for Preorder!