Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bant Prophet Control Primer

Bant Prophet Control

This is my first Primer, so any tips/tricks/editing/whatever would be appreciated!

I’ve been asked to do this by several people at my LGS and from some people I’ve used this deck against online, but today I’m going to talk about a deck that I’ve brewed with myself, and I absolutely love this deck.  I just won an FNM at my LGS last night with it, and last weekend I won 3 separate Game Days with the deck.  While I understand that these aren’t exactly the most proud of accolades, the deck has shown some incredible promise online and I would love to take it to more competitive events as soon as I can.  I call the deck Bant Prophet Control.  Without further ado, here is the list!

The Deck

3 Angel of Serenity
3 Prophet of Kruphix
4 Sylvan Caryatid
3 Detention Sphere
2 Sphinx's Revelation
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
3 Archangel of Thune
3 Dissolve
4 Azorius Charm
2 Supreme Verdict
1 AEtherling
3 Prognostic Sphinx
4 Breeding Pool
2 Forest
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Island
5 Plains
4 Temple Garden
4 Temple of Mystery
SB: 1 Pithing Needle
SB: 2 Blind Obedience
SB: 1 Negate
SB: 1 Dispel
SB: 1 Jace, Memory Adept
SB: 2 Selesnya Charm
SB: 2 Cyclonic Rift
SB: 1 Gainsay
SB: 2 Rapid Hybridization
SB: 2 Banisher Priest

At first glance, you don’t see very many 4-ofs in this deck, and that’s because it aims more to be versatile across the board rather than consistent because sometimes consistency is overrated and being able to have many answers is just strictly better, especially in a world of doom-blade.dec.

The Numbers

Playing this deck is very similar to playing other U/W/x control decks, but instead of running only 2-3 win conditions, this deck has a full 6 win conditions, all useful for various situations.  I’ve been playing this deck for weeks now, and am tweaking the list constantly, so I’ll explain the numbers.

The Lifegain Package

3 Archangel of Thune
2 Sphinx’s Revelation

First, there are the 3 Archangel of Thune’s, the first of the must-answer threats and a complete house against any sort of aggressive deck.  There are several ways to gain life in the deck, and it’s still a formidable monster on its own as a ¾ flier that gets bigger every time it lands a hit.  In addition to these 3 fliers, we have access to several U/W/x lifegain cards, but I chose to keep my options for the rest of the 75 open and didn’t want to dedicate too many slots to anti-aggro cards. So I chose 2 Centaur Healers, a long forgotten relic from the Junk Reanimator Era of Innistrad-Block Standard, simply because the deck has very little early action to deal with agro, and it’s a 3/3 body that gains 3 life, effectively gaining 6 life on simply casting it and using it to block or drawing a removal spell.  It also has some cute interactions with Archangel of Thune, becoming a 4/4 and growing the Archangel and your other creatures by simply casting it.  Sure, there is probably a better slot instead of Healers in the 3CMC slot, but there’s a rather large hole there in the curve, and I cannot think of anything that does what I need it to do as much as Centaur Healers do.  Finally, a fringe part of the Lifegain Package is Sphinx’s Revelation, which has some awesome synergy with Archangel of Thune, but I’ll cover that card more in the Control section.

EDIT
I decided to cut the centaur healers for 1 more detention sphere and 1 more dissolve, as the metagame starts shifting more towards midrange rather than aggro. It was cute, but these options allow for more consistency.

The Control Package

3 Prognostic Sphinx
3 Detention Sphere
4 Azorius Charm
3 Dissolve
2 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Supreme Verdict

The control package here is what you see in a lot of U/W/x control decks, with one notable exception: Prognostic Sphinx, but we’ll get to that little gem in a moment.  These cards are all about early interaction with the majority of decks in the field, until we get to that 6 or 7 mana point for Aetherling and Angel of Serenity to come down and take over the game.  Sometimes, it feels bad playing a Verdict when you’re playing Caryatids, but there’s really nothing you can do about it because Verdict is completely necessary for this deck since you have such little interaction early on.  Now, on to Prognostic Sphinx: Prognostic Sphinx is a curious creature, it’s a $.50 rare from Theros (now $.75 yay!) that I believe is criminally underappreciated.  It’s a 5 mana 3/5 that has a Scry 3 on attack trigger.  Anyone who’s played with the scry lands understands that they are incredible at filtering draws, so how about a big flying butt-ed creature that scrys 3 every time it attacks? It’s been incredible for me and has essentially drawn me 4-5 extra cards into my deck, from the scrying ability.  It also has another sneaky little ability, you may discard a card at any time to make it hexproof and tap it. This ability is the exact reason why he’s insane against control, because, short of a supreme verdict, it’s almost impossible to stop you from scrying 3 cards every turn.  This card seriously needs to see some more play, because it completely hoses doom-blade.dec like nothing else I have ever seen.

The Haymakers

4 Angel of Serenity
1 Aetherling

These are the win conditions of the deck, and the reason the deck is so resilient and successful.  Aetherling is the control deck finisher that every U/W/x runs, and it’s does exactly the same thing it does in those decks.  And then we come to my favorite card in MTG, Angel of Serenity, which saw it’s hayday in the old Junk Reanimator of last standard, but no one wants to play a 7 mana card in Standard nowadays, which is makes me very sad because this card still does what it used to do, and can end games or swing things in your favor out of literal nowhere.

The Prophet

3 Prophet of Kruphix

This card. This card makes the deck into what it is. Without it, it is a fairly average midrange/control deck. With it, it becomes something entirely different and it can do some truly disgusting things. It’s absolutely insane at what it does.  Let me give you a quick rundown. Looking at the card, you see a 3GU casting cost. Okay, fine, a five drop, better be good, what does it do? It’s a 2/3. Okay, that seems horrible and it dies to everything, why would I play this card? Then you read the ability. “Untap all creatures and lands you control during each other players’ untap step. You may cast creature cards as though they had flash.” WHAT. It’s a better version of Seedborn Muse, and it breaks this deck wide open.  A typical sequence of events in the deck go very similar to this. Turn 1- Scry land, go. Turn 2 Caryatid, turn 3 Dissolve/Det Sphere/Jace, turn 5 Prophet of Kruphix, untap on your opponents turn, flash in an Archangel of Thune or Prognostic Sphinx, and take over the game from there.  Sometimes, the Prophet isn’t that great, because it does die to a lot of removal and you are playing a 5 mana creature that is very easy to kill, so sometimes it’s difficult to play properly, but the deck does require a lot of practice to play properly, and this is the crux of the deck.  It also allows you to do some awesome things with the number of instants you play, and, by far my favorite thing to do, flashing in an Angel of Serenity to ambush and exile your opponent’s Obzedat is just too much fun.

Playing the Deck

This deck is incredibly difficult to play at times, especially considering the amount of removal cards that are currently in Standard.  You mostly play like a control deck, never tapping out unless it’s come to turn 4 or 5 and you have a Caryatid out, using the control suite of spells to interact with your opponent until you can start swinging the game in your favor. There are several things you need to watch out for, however:
Never play a Centaur Healer on turn 3 unless you’re playing against a fast aggro deck., they’re in the deck to allow interaction between Archangel of Thune, and, as mentioned before, as a defense against aggro. Secondly, if you are able to play a Sylvan Caryatid on turn 2, DO SO. If your opponent devour fleshes you, you’ve still ripped a removal spell away from their hand, and it also blanks a lot of aggressive cards in the format.  Thirdly, never play a Prophet of Kruphix unless you have other ways to gain value from your hand. That way, even if they do kill your Prophet, you have other threats in your hand, and are not just dead to their board afterwards.  Angel of Serenity is an insane card and will almost always win you the game the moment one hits the board, and do not hesitate to play an AoS to simply buy back your own creatures for value, as I find myself doing that much more often than killing my opponents creatures with it, and allows you to potentially start bouncing Angels for some insane value.  Always consider your outs when playing while behind and never forget that your top decks are better than almost every other deck’s top decks.

Matchups and Sideboarding

So let’s get to the relevant part of the deck, actually playing it.  Here are some popular matchups and how to play against them:

Mono-Black Control:

Blech.  This matchup is one of the grindiest I have ever played, and game 1 is very difficult to come from behind a barrage of removal and card advantage and a rain of 4 mana 6/6’s.  The disruption mono-black has is incredible and as with any other U/W/x deck, the matchup is very difficult, but much easier after boarding.  Here’s how I usually sideboard in this matchup:
-2 Centaur Healer
-3 Prophet of Kruphix
-2 Archangel of Thune
+1 Pithing Needle
+1 Negate
+1 Dispel
+1 Jace, Memory Adept,
+2 Cyclonic Rift
+2 Banisher Priest

Okay, post board, you get rid of Prophet of Kruphix (unless you’re playing against the WB with Obzedat) because it’s never around to do anything and you need to be using your mana efficiently in order to keep up. You board in Pithing Needle to deal with a multitude of things, such as Underworld Connections (naming the land, of course) Erebos or his whip, and Pack Rat, all of which are difficult to deal with since black decks tend to just grind you out with card advantage and swarming you with Rats or idiotic 6/6’s.  You board in Negate and Dispel to deal with their removal and disruption that tends to hate on your plan, and Jace, Memory Adept is another resilient win condition that allows you to kill them very very quickly.  Banisher Priest is a weapon to deal with Gary’s, Demons, and Lifebane Zombies, but beware the amount of removal in the deck at all times. Cyclonic rift is incredible, especially when overloaded, and can just win you the game on the spot.

Mono-U Devotion

This matchup is actually hysterically easy to win, since your creatures and disruption are a nightmare for a weenie aggro deck such as this one.  I usually board like so:
-2 Centaur Healer
-4 Azorius Charm
-3 Archangel of Thune
+1 Pithing Needle
+2 Banisher Priest
+2 Cyclonic Rift
+1 Gainsay
+1 Dispel
+1 Negate
+1 Jace, Memory Adept

I board like this to hedge against the most obvious sideboarding plan for Mono-Blue vs control, as they tend to board in a bunch of counterspells and Aetherlings of their own.  You board in your own win condition in big Jace and just attempt to stabilize and play your own game while not caring too much about their creatures as you’re able to easily beat them in a creature matchup. I’m still working on my sideboarding in this matchup, because Archangel of Thune might deserve a spot if you find yourself in a racing situation.

RG Monsters

This matchup is overall the most difficult matchup for the deck, because they have insane mana development and can just easy start “going off” turn four and create a giant beater early on that can’t be dealt with.
-3 Prognostic Sphinx
-2 Centaur Healer
-4 Azorius Charm
-1 Aetherling
-1 Prophet of Kruphix
+1 Pithing Needle
+2 Banisher Priest
+2 Cyclonic Rift
+2 Rapid Hybridization
+2 Selesnya Charm
+2 Blind Obediance
I board like this in order to hedge against Mistcutter Hydra with and Stormbreath dragon, seeing as how those are the most difficult creatures to deal with for this deck, as well as Xenagos creating hasty creatures.

Esper/UW Control

This matchup can be quite hit or miss, but you tend to win matchups via disruption and a horde of Angels over the horizon.
-3 Archangel of Thune
-2 Centaur Healer
-2 Azorius Charm
+1 Pithing Needle
+2 Cyclonic Rift
+1 Dispel
+1 Gainsay
+1 Negate
+1 Jace, Memory Adept
This boarding strategy is pretty self explanatory, getting rid of the lifegain package and putting in more counterspells and big Jace.

Wrap-up


I could go into a lot more detail with the deck, including cards I don’t play that people think I should, such as Prime Speaker Zegana, Bramblecrush, Elspeth, etc, but I’ve tested all of these, and I don’t like them in my 75, so perhaps they’d feel better in someone else’s hands, but not mine.  This is the deck that I’ve been testing for weeks, and piloted to a lot of success for an amateur like myself, and I hope to make it more popular.  I hope you liked the deck! If you have any comments, questions, concerns, suggestions, feel free to contact me at minhoq@gmail.com! Thanks for reading! =D

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