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Alright, I am back! It has been a rough past couple of months. Here is a fast recap:
- I graduated College.
- I accepted a job in Columbus, Ohio, at a statewide law firm as a hearings/appeals specialist while the government does my background investigation for a national security position that I can’t talk about.
- I applied and was accepted to Graduate School at Penn State University pursuing my Master’s in Homeland/National Security and started a few weeks ago.
I have finally caught up on all my work and have been playing a lot of Magic again. I’m going to tell you about a new deck that I brewed up recently and piloted to a second place finish at a local Legacy tournament. I’m not going to review the tournament, but I want to provide a primer for the deck that I developed. Most of you know me for the deck “Athens Blue” from many tournaments, interviews and articles. Since I’ve moved to Columbus, this deck will instead be called Columbus Control:
Columbus Control by John Sava
Rhyme and Reason
It looks pretty dumb and I’m sure the first thing you notice is the fact that it runs zero, yes ZERO Force of Will. I thought I was crazy at first too! The thing is, this deck is more of a permanent-based control deck. It is okay with you dropping permanents on the board because this deck has an answer to pretty much everything that hits the board. In a meta where there is not a lot of combo, this deck thrives. Even in combo match ups we have Counterbalance/Sensei’s Divining Top to guide the way for us.
Columbus Control operates in a similar fashion to Athens Blue. It runs the Energy Field/CounterTop combo which is pretty much unbeatable (I know this because I have played this deck for 3 years and have found this to be amazing). It also runs the same Trinket Mage package with Pithing Needle and Engineered Explosives, et al. Vedalken Shackles is still the bonkers in pretty much every game, and most of the time you end up just winning with Shackles. Shackles is amazing because it is a creature in your deck and makes them have to play multiple creatures to get past Shackles. Even then, blocking and letting a creature die and stealing another one is oppressive.
Columbus Control is for the most part an Enlightened Tutor deck. I do think that E-Tutor is not that great of a card–it screams card disadvantage since your opponent won’t counter e-tutor, you will get the card you want, and then they will counter the card you tutored for. This card is very powerful in this deck, though. Everything you play on the board, your opponent wants/needs to counter or else you are going to get ahead of them quickly. Some games, I will E-tutor at the end of turn when they tapped out to play something and I will grab a Back to Basics and just blow them out. Other games, I will grab an Energy Field/Worship to stay alive, or a piece of CounterTop to control the game. Over all, E-tutor has proven to be amazing.
I added a new card to go along the side of Energy Field to help me stay in and win games: Worship. Yes, I am playing the 3 colorless, 1 white enchantment that reads “as long as you control a creature, damage that would reduce your life below 1 reduces it to 1 instead.” This card has actually been absolutely bonkers for me. I have pretty much only 6 creatures plus a Batterskull, but I also have Shackles and can steal their creatures. The other big thing is the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo that produces creatures for me as well. I won a lot of games by just grabbing a Worship, playing it and my opponents actually not being able to do anything about the creatures and the enchantment.
This deck, as with Athens Blue, also does not run Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Although Jace 2.0 is one of my favorite cards, he is just straight up bad with Energy Field. Jace was replaced with a main deck Pithing Needle that can be Trinket Maged for and used for Jace, other Planeswalkers, Qasali Pridemage, and anything else that will give you a problem during the game. As for the sideboard, it should be constantly changing for what the meta is and where you are. I use this sideboard because it really hits a lot of decks across the spectrum.
I have taken this little concoction to a few local legacy tournaments here in Columbus, and have not done any worse than third. For starters, Columbus Control has a great match up against one of the most played decks if the field, RUG Delver. They need to counter almost every spell you play. I will run out cards in Game 1 like Counterbalance and Thopter Foundry to draw out counters. Then I can Swords their Delvers and Goyfs and Explosives their Mongoose. Eventually you drop an Energy Field and game one is yours. It gets a little bit more tricky in game two when you want your Counterbalance to stick.
This deck does really well against aggro/creature based decks in the format. Your most difficult matches are UW Miracles, Omni-Tell and decks packing Abrupt Decay. I’m looking to add in Misdirection specifically to address Abrupt Decay (and hitting a Hymn to Tourach never hurts either). Against BUG, Back to Basics is a game winner and we want that to stay on board. Against Omni-Tell, we basically have no game one route to victory once they stick Omniscience or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. In the sideboard, I am packing two Gilded Drake, one Detention Sphere, and an Ensnaring Bridge for Omni-Tell. From testing, it seems that having those cards in my board help tremendously after Game 1. It is not an un-winnable match, but it is definitely one of the more difficult. The plan with Miracles is to Pithing Needle their Jacey baby, assemble Thopter-Foundry combo and overwhelm them with flying tokens. Sometimes you get the CounterTop lock and win with Clique, but most of the time it’s with the Thopter-combo.
Recently I have also added a single copy of Stoneforge Mystic. I started testing this because I wanted another creature that was able to do something for me when it comes into play. It turns out that Mystic grabs the other half of the Thopter-combo as well as grabs me a Batterskull. I found that if I play it in the early game, I can just grab Batterskull and go on the fast Skull beatdown train. Later in the game, I can search up Sword of the Meek without using an Enlightened Tutor or Snapcastering one back. Stoneforge has also been good because it is a shuffle effect that, unlike fetchlands, will not break your Energy Field. Mystic also serves as another Worship body, while also grabbing the Skull and making a germ token for further Worship protection.
The shop in Columbus, Comic Town, where I play Legacy has an event every Sunday. I’ve played in three tournaments so far with Columbus Control, averaging between 20 and 25 players. The metagame is as serious as the players: Kurt Crane always shows up with RUG delver, and Riley Curran always plays either Elves, Maverick, or a StoneBlade variant. Other decks that show up every weekend are U/W Miracles, Affinity, Tendrils Combo, Goblins, Merfolk, and other rogue decks that people are testing. This is a good representation of what a larger tournament will bring to the table. These are mostly Tier 1 decks that you will sit across from, piloted by top players.
Columbus Control has a favorable matchup against any of the Tier 1 creature-based decks such as Elves, Merfolk, Goblins and Maverick. Game 1, they really can’t beat Energy Field, Worship, Vedalken Shackles, and Pithing Needle naming their only answer. Games two and three aren’t much harder. The control decks of the format such as Miracles and RUG Delver are tougher. On a scale of easy to hard, they are a medium, requiring more interaction and thought-intensive plays.
The hardest matches are the combo decks. Since all our permission is in the sideboard, we lose a lot of game ones against Omniscience, Reanimator, and other Show and Tell variants. Luckily, packed into the sideboard are all the cards that we need to help defeat these decks post-board. It is a trade-off between permission cards and cards that are permanents that do what we need them to do to give us the advantage in-game.
Field in Peace
This deck has been played in a few SCG Opens, but hasn’t done very well yet. The potential is there, however, to use Energy Field not simply to stop creatures but as part of a game strategy that kills your opponent with Helm of Obedience. If you’re not familiar with the combo, the Helm will mill an opponent until a creature hits the graveyard. Since Rest in Peace exiles everything, the Helm never sees a creature and will mill out the entire deck.
For now, I recommend trying Columbus Control. It is super fun to play, it wins, and it’s not too expensive to put together. If you’re interested in advice on the deck, find me on Facebook and you can ask me questions about Athens Blue, Columbus Control, or whatever questions about Magic and life in general that you have. I love meeting new people. Keep supporting Medina and LegitMTG!
— John Sava
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