I have been trying to get an Esper deck to work and I started with Paradoxical Mentor which is OK in today's meta but leaves me wanting to go either more combo or more control.

I am curious if there is a descent Esper deck that can play control without red in this meta, I'm not seeing it. I can see a combo deck with Silence like effects to slow down opponents and/or prevent them from disrupting a go off.

That strategy only seems good against heavy control decks and fails against Oath and strong aggro decks.

If I go with more discard then I loose to dredge and combo decks. Is there a balance for Esper or is the color mix just too weak right now?

The key weakness appears to be the balance of beating decks with 10 to 12 counterspells like LandStill and Jeskai and still being good against Workshop decks and Humans tribal decks.

If I get a deck that is good against one then I seem to loose to the other. Dredge is really just about how well you sideboard, game one is a toss up and I'm ok with that.

I'll post a list a bit later, I did go 3-2 in the league but cannot seem to get better than that.

I'm trying to get a handle on your question. You're talking strictly about Esper Outcome decks, but a more controlling or more aggressive version of them.

You're not talking about switching to a non-combo Esper Control deck entirely, right? There are probably pretty different suggestions for each 🙂

On some of the cards you mentioned specifically, I've never liked Silence effects outside of the one use case of a storm mirror (which practically speaking is pretty rare). You mention extra discard effects as being weak against Dredge and Combo, but I think discard is very effective against combo decks - possibly better than counterspells, depending on their list. Against a Pitch Dredge deck, discard is no slouch either.

It's possible that there's no way to build the deck to beat EVERYTHING (that's the sign of a balanced meta, really), but maybe there's room for improvement. Maybe tell us what your general plans are against the decks you're worried about. What plans have worked against Workshops and what plans have worked against Landstill/Jeskai, and about how many deck slots have those plans taken up?

I've been thinking about Esper decks myself recently and this question interests me 🙂

I have 3 versions of the deck that I have been testing.

The first I call combo - it is the usual list of but no Mental Misstep and no Flusterstorm just the 4 Force of Will.

I played some draw sevens and go for a very fast win. This version loses to artifact hate but races most decks. I had some weird loses to Humans and Workshops that got into cost enhancers but I was able to race and recover against most control decks.

The second version I will call the counterspell version which plays some number of Mental Misstep and Flusterstorm either 4 to 6 depending one what you want to cut. This is similar to what you see on the league list.

It plays more of a tempo game and builds up a number of artifact to PO or just goes for Time Vault lock or a quick Blight Steel if you can protect it (I switched to Steel Wind).

It is OK and has a descent match up but control match ups get very tedious especially when they resolve a Jace or Dack and you have to very careful against BUG.

The third version I will call the discard version I added 2 Duress at first then played around with other spells like Collective Brutality and Thoughtseize. I cut the Mental Misstep and just play 3 Flusterstorm. It has a very good control match but struggles against aggro.

So Iike to try and figure out a different ideal list against different top decks, (it seems like you've already done this). From there, I figure out how many cards I would need to be able to switch between those lists after sideboarding.

Basically, look at how many unique cards there are between all 3 of your lists (including sideboard), if it's only a little higher than 75, (85ish?) then you can probably figure out a way to make some cuts and compromises and find flexible cards to work your way down to a list you're happy with.

If it's a LOT higher than 75, then that's a good sign that maybe the archetype can't handle having good matchups across the field. That doesn't mean the deck is bad, it just means it's specialized for a certain metagame, and things might have to break your way to win over a long event.

So, I went 3-2 again in the league but I made a big play mistake and I probably should have been 4-1 against the mirror.

My Shop match ups are better with 14 land (3 basics) and I am doing OK against Xerox. My control match ups are really not fun. I added Blue Elemental Blast to the board for Xerox, which actually works better than one would think.

I have so Ideas on how to improve the side board. I'm really not sure if this deck is tier 1. Without discard or so way to control the flow of the game you are mostly at the whim of your opponent if they are playing control, you have to exhaust them to beat them.

Against, aggro you mostly racing them. The mirror is whoever resolves Ancestral Recall first wins most of the time, but being honest that is Vintage in a nutshell.

last edited by Brass Man

At Eternal Weekend 2016 I played Esper Paradox, and while my results were subpar, it was also a much different environment with Gush/Probe/Mentor/Thorn being legal 4-ofs.

If I were to play the deck today, here's what it would look like.

1 Polluted Delta
2 Flooded Strand
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Misty Rainforest
3 Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Tundra
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Vault
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Opal
1 Black Lotus
1 Trinket Mage
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Monastery Mentor
4 Paradoxical Outcome
3 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Time Vault
1 Voltaic Key
1 Time Walk
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Brainstorm
2 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Hurkyl's Recall
4 Force of Will
3 Flusterstorm
2 Mana Drain
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Dig Through Time
2 Preordain
1 Toxic Deluge
SB: 2 Swords to Plowshares
SB: 1 Dismember
SB: 1 Containment Priest
SB: 2 Tormod's Crypt
SB: 1 Grafdigger's Cage
SB: 3 Fragmentize
SB: 1 Disenchant
SB: 2 Mindbreak Trap
SB: 1 Yixlid Jailer
SB: 1 Pithing Needle

I highly dislike:
Tinker (With or Without a Robot) - This card is just not what I want to do. I feel you 'steal' a game or two with it, but drawing the Robot is awful and Tinker itself is situational - I really want to maximize my draws.

Gush sucks in this deck. I never want to return two lands ever.

Treasure Cruise gets cut but Dig stays, because I feel I can successfully Delve once and best 2 of 7 is better than random 3.

Merchant Scroll gets the axe - the card is just not very good. I don't like spending two mana for recall ever (even before Misstep was everywhere) and while getting Paradox is fine, the format is full of ways to punsish you for using Scroll via tax effects or such.

@13nova I see your point on the Robot, but Dack Fayden is a real card. I have tried the Robot but I cannot play him against Grixis or Jeskai so I go with finishers I can Tinker turn one that go all the way.

Your list is more counter than combo which is the conflict I feel with the deck. Trying it online, the counter version was always just not as sharp against other control decks. You just cannot beat them at their game when they have Pyroblast.

I think the more combo oriented one fits the meta way better given what the Tier 1 decks are now. You can disagree but I was not never able to win a counter fight and be in a good position after that.

If I play it in combo mode then my strategy is to wait until I can either exhaust them and push them past their limit and win of force but you have to finish the game quickly at that point.

This is why LandStill and BUG are harder to beat in combo vs Grixis and Jeskai.

The Oath match is also something that the counterspells just don't help enough with. Oath wins faster than you if you cannot just win with a Mentor or Robot or Time Vault.

The Force/Flusterstorm/Drain package makes it controlling, but trust me it's still a combo deck. Tinker/Robot, regardless of the robot is just trash when the format can either race it easily (Oath/Dredge) or just win through it (Workshops). I wouldn't even bother with tinker.

I do disagree with your statement that you can win a counter fight and be in a good position - if that's the case, your opponents are fighting over the wrong spells. But I haven't played against you, so I can only make an assumption there. When I played my Jeskai Mentor deck, I was constantly dumptrucking Paradox decks in all shapes and sizes with my counter package.

@13nova I can see how your deck may perform better in the mirror but I do not see how it performs better against control decks.

The issue I am having with the deck is that I do not like the control versus control match. They are boring to me right now.

I am trying to play a combo deck with enough protection to win the game through counter spells. Don't get me wrong, I used to play control decks. I played Landstill for a while and played a Gush control deck for a bit.

I am just tired of control versus control match ups in general. I am going for a combo deck, especially a combo that wins through control.

I may have to play the Grixis version of this deck. I just like the Esper package more.

@moorebrother1 Sequencing your spells correctly and playing 3 flusterstorms is all I ever needed when I played the deck to break through control.

You keep calling my deck control and your deck combo, but the whole aspect of playing a deck like this makes it Combo-Control similar to Gifts in 2006: Control the game in the first 2 to 3 turns then explode.

I think you need to re-evaluate the deck and add more opals/grim monoliths/Memory Jar/Timetwister to your deck if you want to play actual combo.

@13nova I'm not specifically calling your deck control. I'm trying to figure out if the version of this deck with more counter spells is more effective in this meta-game or a version that plays a very small set.

Looking at the league results I see that some versions with only 4 Force or Will are winning, and some versions with 4 FOW + 2 or 3 Flusterstorm are winning.

Based on my play style, I was looking for a something in the middle and when I test the deck does well but in the league I am having some issues with Xerox style decks.

These are just observations, my goal is to play a fun deck and that really comes down to style of play. I may be better off just playing a more combo oriented package, but the guts of the deck do remain the same.

@moorebrother1 If that's your goal, I would recommend Memory Jar highly over any of the TinkerBots.

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