Deck Help (Spell queller midrange control)

I almost never start threads on the mana drain as I don't feel like I've earned the right since I never get a chance to play in tournaments. On the other hand, I follow vintage quite closely and play whenever possible. Most of the time, rather than finding to people to play with, I find time to read content on the mandrain and work on deck brewing ideas. I'm often drawn to midrange control and control decks, and I've been recently thinking about spell queller as it nicely helps to get around cavern of souls, which seems to show up everywhere these days. The starting point for the deck I've been working on is Kevin Crohn's Esper Tamiyo list from his recent Team Serious event (link here). When I first saw the list, there were a lot of elements I really liked about this list such as more creatures, which nicely mitigate thorn of amethyst and a way around cavern of souls. When I looked at the deck directly, I noticed that black was really only there for notion thief, demonic tutor, and abrupt decay. I was curious about what would happen if black were replaced by red. The deck already has cantrips and Gush, so the addition of Dack Fayden, creates a strong draw engine a la mentor decks. After a lot of brewing, I came up with the following list

5c Midrange Control (61 cards)

1 x Black Lotus
1 x Sol Ring
1 x Mox Sapphire
1 x Mox Pearl
1 x Mox Emerald
1 x Mox Jet
1 x Mox Ruby
3 x Flooded Strand
4 x Scalding Tarn
1 x Underground Sea
2 x Tropical Island
3 x Tundra
1 x Island
1 x Plains
2 x volcanic Island

2 x Deathrite Shaman
1 x Snapcaster
3 x Spell Queller
1 x Thalia, Heretic of Cathar
1 x Emrakul, the aeons torn
1 x Jace, Vryn’s prodigy

1 x Moat
1 x Tamiyo, Field Researcher
1 x Nahiri the harbinger
2 x Dack Fayden
3 x Gush
2 x Preordain
1 x Gitaxian Probe
1 x Ponder
1 x Ancestral Recall
1 x Time Walk
1 x Dig Through Time
1 x Brainstorm
2 x Swords to Plowshares
4 x Force of Will
3 x Mental Misstep
1 x Flusterstorm
1 x Engineered Explosives
1 x Fire/Ice

1 x Swords to Plowshares
1 x Ancient grudge
1 x Wear/Tear
2 x Containment Priest
3 x Rest in Peace
1 x Flusterstorm
1 x Moat
1 x Supreme Verdict
2 x meddling mage
1 x Pithing needle
1 x Notion Thief

The deck is rough containing 61 cards (Fire/Ice is the 61st card but is interesting in its own right and can feed Nahiri's minus ability and Dack's ultimate in rare circumstances). There's a lot about this list that I like in the current metagame. It has the counter spell suite and draw engine of a pure control deck with strong silver bullets in the form of moat and Nahiri for example. A lot of the card choices were made with eldrazi and workshops in mind, given their success in the current meta, although there is still strong consideration of other decks such as mentor, oath, dredge, etc.

I'd like to explain a couple of card choices unique to this deck compared to Kevin's Esper Tamayo list, so that those reading can understand my thoughts. Then, I would love if anyone would like to contribute ideas to the discussion that might help me improve this deck with respect to the more played decks in the metagame.

Overall, the deck is a midrange control deck (maybe even a moat deck) looking to provide strong board control through moat, thalia 2.0, Tamiyo, and Nahiri while providing just enough pressure to force a win in a reasonable timeframe. The amount of board control often slows the pace of the game significantly, which really allows the planeswalkers to shine allowing for so many interesting interactions that are harder to capitalize on in more faster paced games.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher

This card is surprisingly good with a few creatures in your deck to take advantage of his plus ability to draw. It's also a great deterrent to other creatures from attacking. Her minus ability directly protects against creatures. This was one of the new cards that made me want to try this deck to begin with.

Nahiri, the Harbinger

This card probably is in direct contention with big Jace. I put it in the deck for a few reasons. Given the strong draw engine provided by gush and Dack, I valued his ability to destroy permanents significantly over Jace's ability to bounce creatures (an increasingly bad proposition with cards like TKS and reality smasher around). I was interested in the synergy with Tamiyo's creature tap ability (also supported by Thalia in this list to allow this to easily find targets to destroy when needed). Finally, he can provide a rapid win condition two turns after he's played in the form of Emrakul who happens to fly over moats perfectly. I also felt better about playing baby Jace without being worried that flipping him would trap big Jace in my hand.


Can be played off of Nahiri or Tamiyo's ultimate and flies over moat. Occasionally, it protects against painter's servant or shuffles good cards back into your library when discarded to Dack Fayden.

Baby Jace

His plus ability is better at creature protection than bouncing creatures with big Jace, and I like one in any deck that has a gush draw engine as replaying gush for the alternate casting cost while allowing reuse of swords or other key instants/sorceries is a really valuable effect at 1B.

In the sideboard, meddling mage is the only interesting choice, but it really does a great job when naming reality smasher or Thought-Knot-Seer in a way that StP just underperforms given the discard effects on these eldrazi and the fact that they are often played via cavern of souls. They can also help name cards that can't be targeted with spell queller such as triskelion, dark petition, tendrils of agony, etc.

For anyone that actually read to this sentence, thanks! Any advice would be really appreciated.


last edited by Brass Man

Emrakul is trash. Quite honestly, just look at Kevin Chron's decks (@CHA1N5) from the Team Serious Invitational and TEam Serious Open's over the summer.

Hi Marc, thanks for the post!

If there's one issue that jumps out with this list, it's that it's a little unfocused/all over the place. Every card in this deck is solid, but you want more than just 60 cards that are good on their own, you want cards that are good together. The 61st card is a dead giveaway that you're having trouble making cuts.

Thalia, Heretic Cathar seems like an easy cut to me. It's awful with Moat, and you're not really a tempo deck. With 0 other ways to attack a manabase, running a 1-of mana-disruption card isn't going to do much for you.

Snapcaster+Moat isn't as bad as Thalia, but you could consider running a second JVP instead.

2 Deathrite Shaman is a tricky call. I don't think 2 is the right number. I think you could cut them altogether, and that means you're not stuck with an Underground Sea in your deck, or you could go up to 3 or 4. Just running 2 seems like it might not be worth the investment. Keep in mind that a lot of Deathrite decks also run Wastelands to fill up the yard, but I'm not sure this list can support them. I do like Deathrite's synergy with Moat and Tamiyo, though.

1 Nahiri, 1 Emrakul I don't necessarily have a problem with Nahiri->Emrakul, but I do think running these numbers is asking for a lot to go well. With 1 of each, you're exactly as likely to draw Emrakul as you are Nahiri, which might not be worth the space. I'm more interested in a list that can consistently set that play up, which could mean running more Nahiri and/or more defensive cards

Treasure Cruise where is it? 😄

Honestly I think you might be trying to build 2 decks at the same time? One Tamiyo/Deathrite deck and one Nahiri/Moat deck. I think both of those decks could have game on their own, but trying to shove them together might be more trouble than it's worth. I would pick one of those two strategies and focus on them.

Came to the thread looking for a deck that really embraced Spell Queller. I think this decklist is looking to play too many sorcery speed spells to effectively leave open mana for Spell Queller. If you do leave there mana up, and your opponent does nothing, what is your game plan?

In addituon to what @Brass-Man said, @CHA1N5 deck is able to drop a Spell Queller followed by a Tamiyo to draw two cards, and have a force for backup on the tapped out turn.

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