I have recently listened to the Eternal Glory podcast and they do an excellent breakdown of the various control decks in the legacy format. https://www.theeternalglorypodcast.com/ep-47-dissecting-control/

This breakdown has me thinking about how Vintage has shifted over the last 3 years. Xerox was the premier control deck and I do not think that is the case anymore. The primary control deck would be the Vintage Super friends deck that did well at champs over the last 2yrs.

Based on the breakdown of the meta at the moment, the Bant creature deck is a top contender for the best control deck at this time. Dredge also occupied the control deck slot for a little bit about 2 years ago.

I do not consider BUG to be a control deck, it is a tempo deck and there could be discussion about that but it plays like a tempo deck at the moment.

The control arch-type in Vintage feels really shallow right now. Why do we have fewer control options right now? The control arch-type in Legacy and Modern is starting to grow. Do we need more control in Vintage to balance out the the format?

People tend to think of Combo in Vintage or extremely efficient artifact decks. Have Breach and Doomsday gotten too streamlined for control? These decks almost look like control decks but they are just very good combo decks.

Dredge has been struggling as a pillar of Vintage lately. If there were more control decks to battle BUG and Shops would Dredge be more viable?

The Leaving a legacy podcast had a point that highlights a related issue, the challenges attract pretty much the same people. Could the MTGO results be giving us a skewed look at Vintage? Are there more control decks in the format, and we just do not see them in the challenges?

last edited by moorebrother1

Dredge has to some degree been supplanted by rainbow one decks which A) I believe are control lists and B) if not counter will make dredge look underplayed.

last edited by Botvinik

I think Grafdiggers Cage and (maybe) Sylvan Library play a large hand in this.

What I’ve found is that true control decks are inferior.

In old school era, control is extremely good because Swords to Plowshares and Counterspell are often so much more efficient than the threats available to play.

However for modern times, the “answers” aren’t better than the “threats”, so there is not much motivation to play true control

@lienielsen I'm not sure that is true. Legacy has strong control decks and Vintage has Control Combo hybrids. Are the combo finishes essential to win the game now?

If the answers are that good, then I would expect to see more of them in the format. I do not see Delver of Secrets and I rarely see Uro or Oko in Vintage. The Vintage meta appears to be mostly about low curve efficiency.

Could a "fish" style deck like the old Noble Fish compete in today's meta? Brian Kelly did really well in a league with Standstill. Are the Vintage Challenges and Showcase events attracting enough players?

I do think that there have not been enough answers printed to deal with questions from 2019 - 2020. But, I'm not sure if that is what is keeping people from playing more control decks.

last edited by moorebrother1

Here is an Esper list posted on Discord for Sedgemoor Witch looks like a path forward for Control to me. The general idea of the deck is not new, it is like the Mentor decks from 2016-2018 before it was restricted.

3 Sedgemoor Witch
1 Monastary Mentor
2 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

1 Narset, Parter of Veils

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Peek
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dig Through Time
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Gush
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Ponder
1 Time Walk
1 Treasure Cruise

4 Preordain
2 Night's Whisper
2 Elimate

4 Flusterstorm
2 Force of Negation
1 Daze
1 Mental Misstep
4 Force of Will

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring

2 Flooded Strand
2 Polluted Delta
2 Scalding Tarn
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Island
1 Mystic Sanctuary
1 Tundra
4 Underground Sea

Sideboard
2 Steel Sabotage
2 Fatal Push
3 Energy Flux
4 Leyline of the Void
4 Grafdigger's Cage

I took the Esper deck that I posted above for a spin this weekend and I like the way the deck plays and has a lot of what I think is missing from the Vintage meta.

The issue with the deck is that the deck does not do a good job at attacking any particular arch-type or strategy in the format. The current strategies in Vintage are tempo/prison and A+B combo. There are still graveyard decks but the to be successful the deck needs to actually be good against either tempo/prison or A+B combo.

The larger issue here is that Vintage is dominated by deck specialists. I have been reading the discord and looking at various tournament results, and I do think that Vintage needs more control options.

There are control deck specialists, I can read their names on mtg goldfish but what feels like it is missing is the evolution of the control deck to meet the current meta.

When I look at the Vintage Champs decks I see control deck masters like Kevin Cron and Brian Coval and some others pop up. I do see players coming in and out of Vintage and doing well with these decks but I cannot pick up their decks and do well without becoming a master.

This kind of leads into a bigger discussion with the format in general about fun and mastery that is not what this thread is about. Coming back to the point of this thread is there a control deck to meet the meta where it is now.

I know there are super friends lists and some cantrip control lists (otherwise known as Xerox) that win but those look like decks piloted by deck specialists deck not meta game oriented control decks. And I know that does not read well on a thread but think about it.

If I just built a gauntlet of the top 10 decks in Vintage, which I actually do, and played them against each other - how would I know which deck was a control outside of looking at the wincons?

Could I pick up a control and play the control role without being a specialist and do well? This may not matter to most of you but it matters that there needs to be "modern" school of magic for control.

last edited by moorebrother1

As a friend of mine once said "there are no wrong threats, only wrong answers." Control needs to be so dense with answers (counter/removal) and have the right piece at the right time that it runs so few threats itself. They are also usually "hard to answer" threats, but those also need to be played in the exact window where you've controlled enough and still have enough control to stop a recovery AND protect your win long enough to close the game. Control has a smaller margin for error because of this. Aggro is redundant enough to try to just overrun you. Aggro/lock is the same as every lock piece is basically a tempo-time-walk for them. Combo can be dogged all game and just "oops I win" once you draw the wrong control piece or open a window when you cast your threat. Control is probably the hardest archetype to play - though it can be smotheringly dominant when played well. But as new sets come out and cheaper/stronger/tougher-to-remove options get printed, aggro is gaining an edge I feel.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69
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