Esper Control Deck Tech Video (Top Eight Finish)

October 3, 2013 | Posted by Dee

This past weekend was the very first one with Theros legal for Standard. There were two high-profile tournaments, SCG Worcester and TCGplayer 5K in Waco.

Esper Control had the best results with three top 16 finishes and four top 8 finishes.

Jared Boettcher’s build is interesting because he was the only one that played Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver in the main deck. He made the planeswalker a central part of his deck by playing three main deck copies.

Check out his deck tech video and decklist below. I also wrote a deck analysis.

Esper Control
Planeswalkers (9)
Spells (25)
Lands (26)
Sideboard (15)

Click the links below to buy cards from this deck on eBay.

Deck Analysis

[Buy Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver on eBay]

Jared’s deck looks solid. There weren’t that many Dreadbores and Hero’s Downfalls in the two tournaments so going the Super Friends route with nine planeswalkers as your win conditions seems like a strong strategy.

Esper has great cheap removal cards to protect Ashiok so you can win with your opponent’s creatures. In the deck tech video, Jared talks about ramping to a turn four Elspeth by getting a Burning-Tree Emissary with the blue/black planeswalker.

Going up to five loyalty right away for a three mana planeswalker is pretty high so early in the game, Ashiok is often hard to kill by attacking.

Jace, Architect of Thought is one of the best cards in the whole format because he’s good against the three main deck types: aggro, midrange, and control.

The format just lost Hellrider, Thundermaw Hellkite, Restoration Angel, Strangleroot Gieist, Flinthoof Boar, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben so it’s a lot easier these days to protect Jace. Also, Jace is great in a slower environment and that’s what were seeing because of the scry lands from Theros.

The 1 Blind Obedience is an interesting choice. Out of the top Esper Control decks, Jared’s list was the only one that played the enchantment.

It protects your planeswalkers from the haste of Stormbreath Dragon, Ash Zealot, and Obzedat, Ghost Council. These three creatures are currently top 50 main deck cards. I also like Blind Obedience because it has extort. The life gain buys you time against aggro and the life drain is a win condition in long games against midrange and control.

That said, I wouldn’t play more than one copy. The card is slow and situational. There just aren’t that many haste creatures as before in the previous Standard season. There may easily be a better card for Blind Obedience’s spot. For example, I’ve found Far // Away to be pretty good because of its versatility.

I like the five counterspells (3 Syncopate and 2 Dissolve). Without Cavern of Souls in Standard, countering things is a much stronger strategy.

[Buy Watery Grave on eBay]

I would change the mana base. Here is the current configuration.

Blue Sources: 16
Blue Mana Symbols: 36

Black Sources: 15
Black Mana Symbols: 10

White Sources: 14
White Mana Symbols: 23

The black and white sources don’t match up well with their mana symbols so I would cut the 1 Swamp for another Plains. You really want at least 15 white mana sources to consistently cast Supreme Verdict on turn four.

You could even talk me into cutting a Temple of Deceit and adding an Azorius Guildgate. That would make the configuration 16 white sources and 13 black sources, which seems fine because there are over twice as many white symbols as black ones.

I’m hesitant to make this change because scry lands are better than guildgates. But it might be worth it to have an extra white source.

As a three color combination, Esper has an edge over Grixis or Blue/White/Red because it has access to two different scry lands. Those lands are useful for making your draws more consistent.

The Return to Ravnica block control decks played 27 lands but with scry lands and the scry from Dissolve, I think it’s okay to cut a land.

The 3 Yoked Ox in the sideboard is pretty cool tech against certain aggro decks. It seems weird to have an Ox protecting your planeswalkers and life total but it does a good job with its high toughness for only one mana.

The 2 Essence Scatter seems like a good card to bring in against decks with black creatures that cost three or more. Doom Blade is very good but it can’t deal with creatures like Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Desecration Demon, and Obzedat, Ghost Council. Countering any of those cards for only two mana is a huge tempo boost.

3 Responses to “Esper Control Deck Tech Video (Top Eight Finish)”

  1. Ego on October 4th, 2013 11:06 am

    Hi Dee,

    Can you spare some tips on side boarding with the current meta? I made some changes after seeing the decks from the current events.

    Main Deck:
    4 Jace, Architect of Thought
    1 elspeth
    1 aetherling

    4 Azorius Charm
    3 Detention Sphere
    2 Dissolve
    2 Doom Blade
    2 Far // Away
    2 Hero’s Downfall
    3 Sphinx’s Revelation
    4 Supreme Verdict
    3 Syncopate

    1 Azorius Guildgate
    4 Godless Shrine
    4 Hallowed Fountain
    4 Island
    2 Plains
    1 Swamp
    3 Temple of Deceit
    3 Temple of Silence
    4 Watery Grave

    Sideboard:
    1 Solemn Offering
    3 Sensory Deprivation
    3 Glare of Heresy
    2 Last Breath
    3 Thoughtseize
    1 Obzedat
    2 Sin Collector

  2. Dee on October 4th, 2013 1:54 pm

    I think I cut Aetherling and the Dissolves against fast aggro. Also, cut somes Syncopates to make room for your sideboard cards against fast aggro.

    Doom Blade is an easy cut against a heavy black deck.

    Against control, you can cut removal (except Detention Sphere) for your anti-control cards. I would start with Doom Blade and Supreme Verdict. If you still need more room, then cut Azorius Charm.

    Midrange is tough to sideboard against because there are so many varieties of the deck. In game one, try to get a sense if they are more aggro or more controlling and sideboard accordingly.

    Against midrange, it sometimes just takes experience and really evaluating your sideboard decisions afterwards to figure out how to sideboard against them. At least, that’s been my experience.

  3. Ego on October 4th, 2013 6:36 pm

    Thanks bro! I’m a huge fan of your articles.