Video Deck Tech - BUG Control

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
5/23/2013 11:02:00 AM
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Well, the TCGplayer Spring State Championships are in the books and we've been working hard to get all the decklists up for you guys to peruse. So far it looks like we're missing a mere five states, with every other Top 8 accounted for! So be sure and check them out, because that's a ton of lists.

Speaking of States decklists…

I know I've said it before, but I love the BUG color combination. For those who don't know - which should be no one - “BUG” represents black, blue, and green. I love black and green, I love blue and green, and blue and black is cool too. My fondest BUG creation had to be the BUG Tezzeret list I brewed up when Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas was legal in Standard.

But now we have a brand new format, and a brand new block that encourages us to use cards of the BUG persuasion…or rather multicolored cards in general! The list I'm going to be piloting today came from none other than our own TCGplayer Spring State Championships. Kenny Owen managed to slide into the Top 8 of Oklahoma States with the following BUG Control list:

BUG Control by Kenny Owen
Finished 5th - 8th Place at 2013 Spring States - Oklahoma
Main Deck
1 Griselbrand
3 Snapcaster Mage
4 Thragtusk
Creatures [8]
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
2 Liliana of the Veil
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Planeswalkers [6]
4 Farseek
3 Mutilate
2 Mystic Genesis
2 Plasm Capture
3 Psychic Strike
3 Putrefy
3 Think Twice
Spells [20]
4 Breeding Pool
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Swamp (260)
4 Watery Grave
2 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [26]
Deck Total [60]

3 Abrupt Decay
2 Acidic Slime
2 Curse of Death's Hold
2 Gaze of Granite
1 Griselbrand
2 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Pithing Needle
2 Witchbane Orb
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

I'm still hankering to play with the new Dragon's Maze cards that I haven't gotten the chance to yet. I was basically in the market for a deck running Plasm Capture (not to be confused with “plasma” capture, which is a completely different thing). The fact that the deck also ran such powerful cards as Garruk, Primal Hunter, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, and Snapcaster Mage was an added bonus. The fact that it also had my pet card, Mystic Genesis, and one of my favorite sweepers in the format, Mutilate, didn't hurt either. But enough about the cards I like! Let's get to the games!

BUG Control vs. Esper Control

BUG Control vs. Red Deck Wins

BUG Control vs. Gruul Aggro

BUG Control vs. Gruul Aggro, Match 2

“Geez, can you play against more red decks?!” - Rada

The deck was a blast and, barring you don't stumble on mana, you should have an amazing matchup against aggro. This of course includes not drawing too many since the deck runs a staggering 26 lands, in addition to the four Farseek. That's 30 cards in the deck that have the sole purpose of making mana.

While I love the Counterspells that are included in the deck - including Psychic Strike, which is easier on the manabase than Dissipate - I think Plasm Capture in this deck might be a little too ambitious. Drawing any Swamp deters our casting the card, and we have to have just the right configuration of lands in order to cast it. Nonetheless, when it was good, it was pretty good, allowing me to cast any of the deck's sizeable threats on my turn with the Plasm mana, while still holding up that mana for these aforementioned counterspells. I feel like this is exactly what was intended with the card.

My other concern with the deck is that it has a ton of five drops. It's hard to file this under “concerns” when we went 4-0 with the deck, but nonetheless, the deck can feel a little top heavy at times. Especially if we're boarding out some of our less expensive cards for more five drops like Jace, Memory Adept or Curse of Death's Hold or Acidic Slime or…okay, that's about it for five drops, actually. Like I said though, with 26 lands, the deck rarely stumbled on mana; the far more likely situation was that we drew too many, but when so many of your cards are haymakers, you should often be able to survive long enough to dig your way out.

One card I was really hoping to see was Garruk Relentless. This guy is pretty much one of my favorite Planeswalker, and he's a card that control decks have to deal with while still giving you some great mileage against the aggro decks. Another card that seems like a perfect fit is Jace, Architect of Thought. With our four Farseek, it seems like we would want to maximize our potential to run a turn two Farseek into a turn three four mana Planeswalker. Both of these Planeswalkers are an amazing way to recover after a Mutilate, since they both provide a great way to defend an empty board. One thing I also felt like I was missing was some form of genuine card advantage. At one point in the videos I lament about how I was never drawing my Think Twice, and Jace would be a perfect supplement to that, allowing you to “draw two” a couple times. I would advocate things like Prime Speaker Zegana or Disciple of Bolas, but both of those cards require sizeable creatures, and unfortunately out only “real” creature in the deck is Thragtusk. We don't want to have to depend on having a Thragtusk in order for the Prime Speaker and the Disciple to make an impact.

One of my favorite things about the BUG skeleton is that it has amazing answers in both the form of removal and counterspells. While definitely not one of the best cards in the set, Mystic Genesis is one of my favorite cards from Gatecrash and to see it get some love here is just awesome; what can I say, I love a Mystic Snake. It also happens to pair very well with Plasm Capture, in the sense that you can Plasm Capture, cast a big spell with the mana, then keep even more mana up for Mystic Genesis on the next turn. The other half of the equation is of course the removal, and with cards like Putrefy and Abrupt Decay we're pretty well off. If that wasn't enough, we even have Snapcaster Mage to get back any of the aforementioned good stuff.

 Plasm Capture
Store QTY Price  
OldSchoolGaming 1 $0.11
OldSchoolGaming 2 $0.12
FGames 1 $0.15
Collectors Buffalo 1 $0.15
White Lion Games 3 $0.15
Wizards Video Games 1 $0.17
MaelstromNexus 7 $0.17
STORM CROW 1 $0.19
Tier Zero Gaming 8 $0.19
Bababiff Games 1 $0.20
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Plasm Capture Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

While I was never able to go over the top and slam a Griselbrand into play, I did like the fact that he was in there; getting to eight mana never seemed like an issue for this deck. I do wonder if something like Sphinx of Uthuun might be better in that spot; the one mana discount could definitely make a difference, and sometimes we wouldn't have seven life to immediately draw cards off of Grizy without connecting first. Or Progenitor Mimic. Or AEtherling. Or Lord of the Void. Honestly I think there are a bunch of cool, underused creatures that we could simply dominate a board with. You know who else I really like? Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis!

Speaking of life, despite beating all the aggro decks we faced, the one thing I was concerned with was lifegain. I know that if we didn't draw our Thragtusks we wouldn't have stood a chance, and multiple Tuskies were even better. I could definitely see the deck adding a card like Vampire Nighthawk to offset some of that damage and act as a sort of pseudo-removal, but we do want to be careful of playing too many creatures that are intended to come down before a Mutilate. That's some bad juju there.

The Gaze of Granite in the sideboard were also awesome to try out. Being able to sweep away every three drop and under in the Gruul Aggro and Red Deck matchups was just backbreaking. The worst part was simply sweeping away a Beast Token, but really…who cares? There were times I was getting five-for-ones and still being left with a Thragtusk on board!

A lot of people have been complaining about the Standard format recently, but this highly rogue deck was able to go head to head against some of the pillars of the format right now. I think decks like this are an actual testament to the “play what you want” philosophy in the format. I think you can literally play what you want and still be competitive so long as your deck has ways to both survive and interact, and Kenny's deck definitely did. While it might not be perfect, it was definitely able to clinch a Top 8 at States, and trounce some of the Tier One decks in the format on Magic Online. And that's good enough to get me to have some fun with it. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you on Monday!

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter
FrankLepore on TwitchTV

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