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Mtg Archetypes: Control

I've been playing Magic: The Gathering for some time, and today I want to share my tricks.

Control decks, as the name implies, aim for total control of the state of the game and the achievement of the inevitable victory that results. No one can beat them in the long run.

If we compare Aggro decks to a 100-meter run and Combo decks to a relay race, Control decks match the Marathon. No one can beat them in the long run.

The strengths of control decks are many:
- They can interfere with the opponent's plans by removing the centrepieces for their strategy (or even not letting them come into play!)
- They can gain immense card advantage while other decks "Go Off"
- They can take advantage of the best cards regardless of their converted mana cost
- They can use all the mana they can produce more efficiently

But let's go in order ...

Magic: The Gathering like other games like chess is a game that is based on the choices the player makes and can lead to extremely complex decisions. It is said that in chess the winner is the one who manages to make the best choices and who can predict and anticipate the opponent's moves. The same goes for control decks.

Control decks play a wide variety of early game cards to inhibit the opponent's strategy and extend the length of the contest until their victory becomes inevitable.

There are generally two methods of control decks: Tapout and Draw-GO.

Tapout is the strategy that tends to use its mana on its turn for sorceries, enchantments and planeswalkers. Typically this type does not have access to the colour Blue (such as Black / White decks). They usually resort to having the opponent discard cards or make him sacrifice his creatures as a way to undermine his game plan.

Draw-Go is the strategy that tends to use its mana on the opponent's turn mainly through instants or flash spells. Usually, this type has access to the Blue colour (such as Blue / White, Blue / Black, etc.). They usually resort to spells such as counterspells as a way to weaken the opponent's play.

The Draw-Go type is generally the best known but in certain meta, it is also possible to find the Tapout version.



Use the best cards on his turn, especially to remove permanents in play (usually creatures)


Use the best cards on your opponent's turn, especially to counter spells or prevent your opponent's play.

It is still possible to play some "slow" cards in a Draw-Go deck (such as wrath of god-like card) or a "fast" card in a Tapout deck (such as an instant card) but this should not lead to too much hybridization. That is because it can become counterintuitive and damage the functioning of the deck (such as: play a Planeswalker or stay open for a counter?)

The choice between the two types is often made depending on how the metagame evolves, the Tapout is often a better option at the beginning of the new meta to counteract the abundance of aggro decks while Draw-Go is better in a metagame more structured to interact better against other control decks and combos.

A control deck has several ways to achieve inevitability and this can vary depending on its opponent as control decks adapt to the opponent's play. For example, it can "win" by eliminating the entire battlefield with a single spell and leaving the opponent on the top deck or it can destroy or counter an important piece for a combo.
Or he simply manages to stay one step ahead of his opponents and interact with them by spending fewer resources than them.

An extremely important method of winning when playing a Control deck is the advantage that can be obtained with cards that are called "2 for 1" (when there are those occasions where a single card can cancel as many as 2 cards of the opponent).

For example, the underlying card can be considered as a 2 for 1 (but also a 3 for 1 or even better depending on the mana used) because at the same time it recovered life points and filled the hand again. Imagine what it means for an Aggro player to be faced with a card like this ...

Some players still have nightmares about seeing this card ...

Some players still have nightmares about seeing this card ...

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What are all these cards in hand for?

Possibility to choose.

Control decks live on having more paths to choose from than their opponents.

In Magic, choices are fundamental and being able to choose and knowing how to choose is the key to winning.
When you have no cards in hand or the game forces you to make a choice that you don't want to have to make, this can lead you to lose.

Increasing your options can increase your chances of winning.
For this reason, control decks love cards that allow them more options like Planeswalkers or cards like mana sinks.

Mana Sinks are those cards that can use excess mana for an additional effect without costing cards.
A classic example is those lands with additional effects such as those that can be animated or that have other types of utilities.

Control decks usually play a lot of lands to make sure you don't suffer mana screw so anything that can use excess mana (like mana sinks or X-cost spells) are welcome.

On the subject that the controls love Planeswalkers, I don't say anything, I just put an image below ...

... or this other one ...

... or this other one ...

Ok ok, maybe this is a bit too much but it explains exactly how Planeswalkers can be used to accumulate small advantages, provide different options to adapt to the game and if undisturbed they can act as a finisher.

Speaking of possible finishers, control decks are spoiled for choice so much that they can put different options.

An example can be those creatures that are printed from time to time with special protections (hexproof, colour protection, flicker, etc.) and which are moreover evasive (flying, unblockable, etc.) to facilitate them in their task of inflicting damage. necessary for victory.

Or they can include combos within them, even extremely slow ones (if they are in control of the game they can do what they want ...) or they can win simply by causing their opponent to run out of cards in their deck.

Anyway, the most powerful Control card of all time for me is always the one below:

... or certainly with this one!

... or certainly with this one!


Control decks are decks for more experienced players and require a lot of dexterity to play properly.

Building a good control deck requires an excellent knowledge of the metagame and the threats that can be commonly played by opponents.

At the same time, they are extremely rewarding and competitive for the people who manage to tame them.

© 2020 Christian Allasia

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