A New Kind of Control (Mono-Red Daretti, Scrap Savant Control Deck Tech) – A Commander for Everyone
My life has recently been very hectic with university deadlines rolling on one after another but now I’ve got a day or so to take a breather I can get back to doing what I love. Playing and writing about Magic: The Gathering. In between university work, the League of Legends pre-season patch and updating Steam for the fifth time this week I found some spare time to write this deck tech. During this crazy torrent of work I’ve had small pockets of time to breathe, which luckily lined up with when I would normally be playing commander including a special Commander FNM on the release of the latest set. I knew that there would be a lot of my local game store’s more competitive EDH players at this event so I built a much more spikey deck than usual.
[card]Daretti, Scrap Savant[/card]
This guy is brilliant. He opens up what is my favourite part of the colour pie to experiment with decks that aren’t just goblin tribal or other generic aggro decks. [card]Daretti, Scrap Savant[/card] allows you to play a deck archetype that people normally associate with Esper, Sultai or Jeskai decks thanks to their access to blue. Mono-Red control forfeits the counter spells and amazing card advantage that blue has for a much more frustrating method of controlling the board, Stax.
What’s stax? I hear you asking (or maybe not). Stax is the denial of your opponents resources so that they cannot play their spells. This is most commonly done through the use of land destrouction with cards like [card]Tsabo’s Web[/card] and [card]Winter Orb[/card] to prevent the land that’s left from untapping. For a more indepth look at Stax click here. Combine this with the removal the red has access to and you have yourself a potent control deck. To close out the victory:
The Game Plan
The game plan for this deck is pretty straightforward as control decks go. You play as many mana generating artifacts as possible so that you have a consistent source. [card]Sol Ring[/card], [card]Thran Dynamo[/card] and [card]Pyromancer’s Goggles[/card] are the best of these. The next step is to play one of your win conditions,the majority of these are planeswalkers. [card]Koth of the Hammer[/card], [card]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/card] and [card]Daretti, Scrap Savant[/card] are the best for grinding out victories.
The last step is to destroy as much of your opponent’s land as possible to restrict their resources locking them into a state where they can’t play the spells in their hand. This is probably one of the grindiest decks I’ve ever built or played with most of the win conditions deal very small amounts of damage ([card]Staff of Nin[/card], [card]Ghirapur Aether Grid[/card] and [card]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/card]).
Koth of the Hammer
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Staff of Nin[/draft]
The Land Destruction
Here we are, the main form of control in this deck and the source of many evil glares and people scooping. Land destruction is considered one of the most degenerate mechanics in Magic since it prevents other players from having any kind of input. Thanks to the nature of commander you are able to pick and choose the best and most versatile cards, this is the same for land destruction. Land destrction ranges in versatility from [card]Ruination[/card] which only destroys nonbasic lands, there is also [card]Wildfire[/card]. Personally this is my favourite land destruction spell as it also functions as a board wipe that can remove indestructible lands, if combined with [card]Pyromancer’s Goggles[/card] you get a powerful board wipe that forces each player to sacrifice 8 lands. Next is [card]Jokulhaups[/card], a board wipe that destroys all artifacts, creatures and lands. In conjunction with [card]Daretti, Scrap Savant[/card]’s emblem you can can get a huge advantage over your opponents.
The last land board wipe is [card]Decree of Annihilation[/card]. This can either be used as a board wipe that exiles all artifacts, creatures, lands, graveyards and hands, something that can win a game by itself. The other option is to use the cycling mechanic. This turns [card]Decree of Annihilation[/card] into an instant speed uncounterable board-wide land destruction spell that also draws you a card.
Decree of Annihilation[/draft]
Grinding Out A Win
Like I mentioned earlier this doesnt win through silly combos or through commander damage, it grinds it’s way to a victory incredibly slowly using cards like [card]Staff of Nin[/card] and if you are lucky enough [card]Koth of the Hammer[/card]’s emblem to hit your opponents for single points of damage until you can kill them. As you can probably tell this deck does not have a very good matchup against any of the life gain decks like [card]Oloro, Ageless Ascetic[/card] or [card]Eight-and-a-Half-Tails[/card]. This is where your secondary win-con comes in, hoping your opponents scoop. This may not seem like a reliable method of winning (and well it’s not). One way of doing this is to be brutal in the mid and late game, if you have the opportunity to get hold of Daretti’s emblem you can easily lock down the board with [card]Oblivion Stone[/card] or [card]Nevinyrral’s Disk[/card].
[draft]Staff of Nin
Koth of the Hammer
Other Methods of Restricting Resources
Land destruction isn’t the only way to restrict your opponents land and resources. This section relates alot to the idea of stax. The ways this deck restricts resources is through preventing your opponents permanents from untapping to begin with. The first of these is [card]Tsabo’s Web[/card], this card works similarly to [card]Winter Orb[/card] but only for specific land, this makes it a considerably less degenerate card are it doesn’t lock players out from all of their resources only a select few. This deck also runs the artifact [card]Cursed Totem[/card], this card is a cheap [card]Linvala, Keeper of Silence[/card], with the benefit of stopping even mana abilities slowing down the elf decks and the other decks with high volumes of mana dorks hugely.
Here is a copy of the decklist:
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Instants and Sorceries
Anger of the Gods
All is Dust
Decree of Annihilation
[deck]Sensei’s Divining Top
Sphere of the Suns
Aligned Hedron Network
Staff of Nin
Spine of Ish Sah
[deck]Ghirapur Aether Grid
[deck]Daretti, Scrap Savant
Koth of the Hammer
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/deck]
Temple of the False God
Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Future Additions to the Deck
This is a very strong decklist with all of the elements needed to be semi-competitive however there are always improvements that can be made to any decklist. The first of these is [card]Manic Vandal[/card], this is a direct replacement for [card]Tuktuk Scrapper[/card]. For one mana less this creature is artifact removal (just like the scrapper) and it has the same 2/2 body, the only difference is that it doesn’t do the damage based on how many allies you have, in the case of this deck the scrapper only ever does one damage. On top of this is the stronger resource restriction.
This deck already has [card]Tsabo’s Web[/card] but it should also include a copy of [card]Winter Orb[/card] to properly stop your opponents from being able to use their land. Another option to restrict your opponents resources is [card]Arena of the Ancients[/card], due to the format this card is incredibly powerful as it will almost always permanently tap your opponent’s commander (unless it is one of the Commander 2014 set walkers). This card beats voltron decks by itself. There are also extra board wipes that this deck can utilis. One of these is [card]Coercive Portal[/card], an artifact that can destroy all nonland permanents which like [card]Oblivion Stone[/card] and [card]Nevinyrral’s Disk[/card] can lock down the board in combination with Daretti’s emblem. The other is [card]Rolling Earthquake[/card] a board wipe that can prevent the board from becoming overwhelmed by creatures.
Arena of the Ancients
Why Play This Deck Over Other Control Decks
I suppose the only thing left is to tak about why I play this deck over other, arguably better, control deck. You only need to look at the kinds of cards you can use with generals like [card]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/card], [card]Grand Arbiter Augustin IV[/card] or [card]Narset, Enlightened Master[/card]. The reason I personally enjoy this deck is mainly becuase it’s different to your conventional control deck. When you play a blue-based control deck you’re likely going to casting counter spells from the second turn, something that often frustrates other players. In this deck your frustrating cards are not played until the sixth turn ([card]Jokulhaups[/card] & [card]Wildfire[/card]) and once you cast then most people will concede (I can say this from my experience playtesting this deck). The other reason is the reason why I play most Commander decks that I do, for enjoyment. Red is my favourite colour in Magic since I have begun playing and being able to open up this colour to be able to play decks that aren’t just aggro decks. I feel like this is one of the most important part of commander, playing what you enjoy but also stretching the limits of what people expect from those colours. Play a mono-blue aggro deck with [card]Lorthos, the Tidemaker[/card] instead of an Azami control deck or a mono-black voltron deck with [card]Phage the Untouchable[/card] instead of more typical Mardu or Boros voltron decks.
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Thanks for reading