Video Deck Tech - RW Control (Standard)

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
4/4/2011 9:27:00 AM
submit to reddit » Print «

So for some time now I've been wanting to try and put a bunch of strong red and white cards together in a kind of controlling brew. I've always loved red and white together, since when they work, they really seem to work. For example Boat Brew, which played things like Figure of Destiny, Siege-Gang Commander, Ranger of Eos, etc. Now that deck was of course a very powerful aggro deck, but it really just managed to run some of the best cards at their respective costs and colors.

For some reason red and white cards have always had both really cool and really strong effects. Specifically, cards like the aforementioned Figure of Destiny, Lightning Helix, Goblin Legionnaire, and Ajani Vengeant were all very powerful and extensively played when they were legal. While there aren't any red and white gold cards in standard currently I think the cards in those individual colors do seem to work very well together at controlling the board.

Joshua N. (@JoshuaGD on Twitter), a fairly active member of the Tampa magic community, brewed up the following list and posted it on Twitter asking for criticisms:

RW Control by Joshua N.
Main Deck
1 Baneslayer Angel
2 Inferno Titan
2 Kuldotha Phoenix
4 Squadron Hawk
4 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Sun Titan
1 Sunblast Angel
Creatures [15]
1 Ajani Goldmane
2 Gideon Jura
2 Koth of the Hammer
Planeswalkers [5]
1 Basilisk Collar
2 Elixir of Immortality
2 Journey to Nowhere
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Slagstorm
1 Sword of Body and Mind
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
Spells [16]
4 Arid Mesa
7 Mountain (152)
7 Plains (146)
4 Tectonic Edge
2 Terramorphic Expanse
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]

3 Celestial Purge
3 Combust
4 Cunning Sparkmage
2 Day of Judgment
1 Elspeth Tirel
2 Gideon Jura
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

Well, at first I saw several glaring problems, but I knew this was just a start. I gave him the following advice:

“Okay, first, I like the idea. I was thinking about something like this earlier tonight actually. My criticisms: First, 24 lands. You're running 8 fetches and most of your cards cost 4 or more, with 6 five drops and 3 six drops. Second, you seem to have a ton of one-ofs. A lot of them are cute cards that I myself have always wanted to play, but having one of ten different cards is never optimum unless you have a way to get them when you need them. Next, you have five artifacts, two of which require sacrifices. This means it's very unlikely you will be bringing back Kuldotha Phoenix with any kind of consistency.”

I could have went on, but I was already breaking the rule of 140 characters on Twitter and didn't really have time for an entire deck analysis in the Tweetdeck window. I went on with my night but kept thinking back to red and white. I kept thinking things like, “Koth is really strong. Why doesn't he have a home?” and, “boy, if you had a way to tap things you could sure get a lot of value out of Sunblast Angel and Gideon Jura.”

Well if I wasn't mistaken, we do have a way to tap things. In fact it was one of the best answers currently in Standard for a number of problems. This actually brought me to one (or several) of the main reasons I felt like this deck could thrive in these colors.

Spot removal? Check.
Mass removal and sweepers? Check.
Bonkers planeswalkers? Check.
Ways to get rid of planeswalkers? Check.
Hawks, Mystics and Swords package? Check.
Reach? Check. (You know, like being able to kill them at low life. Not, like, being able to block fliers. Ya dig?)

Finally, I ended up putting something together the night before FNM and this is what I came up with:

RW Control by Frank Lepore
Main Deck
4 Squadron Hawk
3 Stoneforge Mystic
2 Sunblast Angel
Creatures [9]
3 Gideon Jura
4 Koth of the Hammer
Planeswalkers [7]
2 Contagion Clasp
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Red Sun's Zenith
3 Slagstorm
4 Sphere of the Suns
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
3 Tumble Magnet
Spells [19]
4 Arid Mesa
10 Mountain (152)
7 Plains (146)
2 Tectonic Edge
2 Terramorphic Expanse
Lands [25]
Deck Total [60]

2 Burst Lightning
1 Condemn
3 Day of Judgment
2 Divine Offering
3 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Luminarch Ascension
1 Manic Vandal
1 Sword of Body and Mind
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

I toyed around with naming the deck something cute like “Of Hawks and Koths,” or “Boros (Mirran?) Legion,” or something like that, but I'll leave that up to someone else.

The version I took to FNM had one less Red Sun's Zenith and one more Tumble Magnet. I'm not sure which I like better, but I do like the versatility and potential explosiveness of the Zenith in conjunction with Koth as I mentioned below. The only other card I was 50/50 on (but has indeed pulled its weight) was Sunblast Angel. I'm not certain the deck wouldn't simply be better served with Inferno Titan (believe me, I have considered it). The problem is that I simply haven't had any real problem with Sunblast Angel yet and she can get you out of jams.

Anyway, I ended up going 4-0-1 before splitting in the finals of FNM without losing a match. I also came home and put the deck together on MTGO (needing to sell a Jace to do so. Geez, one Jace nets you four Koths and then some. Talk about planeswalker envy. How long can I make this parenthetical?). I ran the deck through a number of queues and only lost one match to Monogreen Eldrazi since he managed to stick an Emrakul with an Eye of Ugin in play where my Day of Judgment in hand just wouldn't have been effective. Despite beating another Monogreen Eldrazi deck, it might actually be the deck's worst match up since you don't have much pressure early and unlike blue control decks, their spells are actually allowed to resolve. Either way, both red and white have efficient ways to fight that archetype if it becomes more popular - Journey to Nowhere, more Tectonic Edges, Goblin Ruinblaster, etc. - but I don't really see that happening.

RW Control Vs. Vampires, Match 1, Game 1

RW Control Vs. Vampires, Match 1, Game 2

RW Control Vs. Vampires, Match 1, Game 3

STD RW Control Vs. UWr Trap, Match 1, Game 1

STD RW Control Vs. UWr Trap, Match 1, Game 2

Again, I apologize that the second set of games isn't necessarily top tier, but the videos should give you a good idea of what the deck can do and how it plays. The deck has a lot of sick interactions as well. Most are probably obvious, but I'll go over some of the more notable ones:

-Adding a ton of mana with Koth and firing off a Red Sun's Zenith.

-Making a 4/4 mountain or making Gideon a 6/6 and equipping a Sword. You should have by now realized that Koth is like the Squadron Hawk of planeswalkers, in that if he goes uncontested he can make an almost endless stream of threats that can carry Swords.

-Clearly tapping their guys down with Tumble Magnet, then killing them with Gideon or Sunblast Angel, or having all their guys attack Gideon, then killing them all with Sunblast Angel is too obvious to mention.

-Using Contagion Clasp to proliferate on Magnets, Spheres and Planeswalkers is also really good. Anything that allows you to ultimate Koth sooner is sick since once that happens it's very hard to lose.

As you can see, your sideboard is really versatile as well. You have cards that deal with artifacts, Valakut, control decks, and aggro decks The reason for the 2/1 split on Divine Offering and Manic Vandal is that sometimes you want instant speed removal and life gain, but it's also nice to change it up and have another body that can carry a Sword or avoid a Spell Pierce.

Ive been really, really pleased with the deck so far. Like seriously. I've beaten Caw-Blade a few times and the match-up feels really solid considering all of your removal is red or white, the two colors they can't gain protection from. You also have a lot of spot removal to play in response to equips as well as burn to deal with troublesome planeswalkers. Your cards are just very, very powerful and well suited to attack the current metagame, I feel.

If you can get a hold of the mythics and rares for this deck, try it out. The only thing keeping it from being a real contender in this metagame I honestly feel is going to be simply a lack of exposure. Otherwise I definitely think it has what it takes to last considering you're playing some of the best cards in the format with some really sick synergies.

That's all I have for this week. Again, thanks for reading and check out our podcast over at We're up to episode four now, but you can find all the previous episodes along with show notes right on the site!

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter

submit to reddit » Print «