Control Magic – Finding the Right Control Deck

Hello, my name is Matthew Shaffer. Many of you know me in both Phoenix and the Tucson area as being a strictly Legacy player and for some of you, you know me as the guy who simply loves to play control deck. I just can’t get enough of them. I’m always on the lookout for the next big control deck in Legacy. However, since the banning of Mental Misstep there really hasn’t been any control decks in the format at all. At first, I thought that Snapcaster Mage might actually help bring back control, since it lets you re-buy value spells like Brainstorm and Swords To Plowshares, to name a few. However, my blue friend hasn’t lived up to my expectations and I can’t really say it’s really a surprise.

For months now, Legacy has been a constantly changing format with new decks coming out of nowhere to win tournaments left and right. With all this instability it’s been hard to find a stable way to approach the format from a control angle as control decks do best when we know how to prepare. Fortunately, things are really starting to shape up now and its becoming clear that aggro/control decks are beginning to take hold of the format. Decks like UW Stoneblade, RUG Tempo, Reanimator, and Maverick are all putting up good numbers. Now that the format is honing in on the top decks, it’s looking like now is a time for control to make a comeback.  One of my favorite control decks seems to be a really good place to start. I’m talking about Deedstill or BUG Visions, however you want to refer to it as. Here is the list that I have been playing and why I feel this deck is a good deck to consider playing right now in the format.

Spells (36)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana of the Veil
Force of Will
Spell snare
Maelstrom Pulse
Pernicious Deed
Ancestral Vision
Life from the Loam

Lands (24)
Mishra’s Factory
Polluted Delta
Verdant Catacombs
Misty Rainforest
Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Sideboard (15)
Spell Pierce
Diabolic Edict
Blue Elemental Blast
Krosan Grip
Life from the Loam

What makes this deck good against the format right now? Well, for starters, Pernicious Deed is extremely powerful right now in the format since most of the creatures in Legacy are all 3 casting cost or less and Deed kills them all. It can kill problematic creatures without targeting like Mother of Runes and also isn’t dependent on power and toughness, like Lightning Bolt or Dismember. It’s also very good at killing the format’s number one creature right now, Delver of Secrets, as it’s easy to activate for one and kills the Insectile Aberration at zero as well as germs attached to Batterskull.  The deck carries great all-around removal with spells like Maelstrom Pulse. More and more decks are choosing to run less creature variety and more of the same creatures to gain consistency in the early turns of the game. Because of this, cards like Maelstrom Pulse are powerful, and it can even be used to kill Elspeth who is becoming a real Legacy contender as a means to put games to bed quickly.

This is also a deck that loves counter spells like Force of Will as a solid four of in the deck as it play a heavy draw go strategy and can afford to hard cast force in the later turns of the game and runs plenty of blue cards to fuel it throughout the game. Spell Snare is strong in general in the format and backs up all its counter spells with Counterspell itself. It also packs more counters in the side board with access to Spell Pierce and Blue Elemental Blast as red has become a very popular color in the format as of late.

So how does this deck stack up against the 4 major decks in the format?

UW Stoneblade

Let’s start with U/W Stoneblade. First off, they are packing more removal then us; Mishra’s Factory is the closest thing we have to a creature.  We gain ground in the fact that if we never actually use Factory as a creature we put them on 4 dead cards (Swords to Plowshares) in there deck right off the bat. We’re also packing stronger counter spells main board and Thoughtseize to disrupt any of their early turn game plans. Now this match up does require careful game play as they also pack counter spells but if played right is very winnable, with only losing some ground to version that are running creatures like Spellstutter Sprite and Vendilion Clique as they can flash in creatures after a deed activation and lose no ground.


This is a very easy match up as their lack of counter spells comes back to haunt them every time you drop Pernicious Deed on board and threaten to clear off their board. Even the lists packing Punishing Fire are really no problem either as Loam and Wasteland quickly take them off Groves and red sources and while you might be making their Knights of the Reliquary huge this way, Smother and Deed keep them from ever being a problem. The only thing to watch out for in this matchup is Qasali Pridemage as tapping out and not having an answer to stop him can make for a short life span on a Pernicious Deed, so don’t be fooled by a Green Sun’s Zenith for more than 2.

RUG Tempo

RUG Tempo is a little rougher of a match up than the other two as it has the speed to get the job done before you can stabilize. Its access to cheap burn spells can make your life quickly disappear. You are in a uphill battle in game one but with all the tools you have for games two and three in spells like Blue elemental blast, Extirpate, and Spell Pierce, you can turn a game one loss in to just that and win the next two. Don’t undervalue Pernicious Deed in this match up but you also don’t want to expect it to get you there on its own.  Use Extirpates wisely as it can be used to take your opponent off color with Wastelands. I would recommend taking them off red first as it will make your factories not die to burn spells.


Reanimator is another rough match up in game one but not unwinnable. With access to Liliana of the Veil, Jace the Mind Sculptor, and Thoughtseize, you can get rid of their creatures or reanimation spells easily. Playing counter spells wisely helps too in game one. After sideboard the match up gets much better as we don’t need damage to win and can let Jace do the work for us.  Keep them off reanimate spells and Show and Tells with Spell Pierce, Extirpate, and Diabolic Edicts.

This deck is amazing and has a lot of answers for many of the archetypes in the format right now. I however will be the first to admit right now that this deck has a really weak game to Mono Red Burn. With burn winning back to back Star City Opens it might become more popular then you want. But I wouldn’t just give up on this deck as burn strategies have always been easy to hate out in the Legacy format. I wouldn’t be surprised if this deck picks up steam in the next few months if red starts to draw more hate towards itself.