Being Right About Five-Color Control

Posted on July 14, 2011


by Patrick Chapin

Cruel Ultimatum


Survival of the Fittest

Cryptic Command

Mental Misstep

Bloodbraid Elf





The Titans

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Let’s face it, I am right… A LOT.

Today’s newest way I Am Right:

Five-Color Control by Patrick Chapin
2 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Wurmcoil Engine

1 Consecrated Sphinx

1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

1 Venser, the Sojourner

1 Garruk, Primal Hunter

1 Jace, Memory Adept

1 Karn Liberated

4 Preordain

1 Spreading Seas
1 Mana Leak

1 Stoic Rebuttal
1 Cancel

2 Inquisition of Kozilek

1 Duress

1 Go for the Throat

1 Doomblade

1 Dismember

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Burst Lightning
1 Cultivate

1 Beast Within

1 Oblivion Ring

1 Day of Judgment

1 Mindslaver

1 Ichor Wellspring

1 Mycosynth Wellspring

1 Sphere of the Suns

1 Prophetic Prism

1 Mox Opal
3 Terramorphic Expanse

2 Evolving Wild

3 Creeping Tarpit
3 Raging Ravine

1 Celestial Colonnade

1 Halimar Depths

1 Khalni Garden

1 Phyrexia’s Core

1 Darkslick Shores

3 Island

3 Forest

2 Plains

1 Swamp

1 Mountain

1 Spell Pierce

1 Mental Misstep

1 Flashfreeze

1 Volition Reins

1 Black Sun’s Zenith

1 Memoricide

1 Leyline of the Void

1 Nature’s Claim

1 Grim Lavamancer

1 Celestial Purge

1 Kor Firewalker

1 Leyline of Sanctity

1 Baneslayer Angel

1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

1 Tectonic Edge

To understand why Five-Color Control might dominate the possible future metagame to come, we should take a page out of the Next Level Magic (available at playbook and begin by examining the card choices, then the match-ups and sideboard (because sideboarding is important and when it comes to sideboards, fifteen is better than zero).

Five-Color control decks get their name from the number of colors they use, which is usually five.  Sometimes people use four, but Magic has five colors, so five can let you have more.  Control is kind of a way of referring to the general strategy of the deck (Combo and Ponza are other examples).

Building control decks in new formats forces us to ask ourselves a variety of questions?

-What threats do we need to deal with?

-How can we get the best value from our card advantage?

-Where in the metagame do we imagine a possible opening to be able to emerge?

-Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

-Why not play all five colors?

This build, which takes advantage of a number of hot new M12 cards, doesn’t need many creatures, since the ones it uses produce so much value.  Solemn Simulacrum should pretty much go without saying, but it ramps us into our fatties, fixes our mana with value, and and gives us card advantage.  The split in fatties is because of diminishing returns.  For instance, in some situations sometimes it is better to have one of them, whereas in other situations other times, it is better to have the other.  If we are going to use Planeswalkers, why do we use fatties at all?  Have you heard of my good friend, Brian Kibler?  You just aren’t cool if you haven’t heard his rendition of Ice Ice Baby or if you don’t like the fatties.
The mix of Planeswalkers probably deserves a little explanation.  To begin with, Tezzeret is a four-cost blue Planeswalker that combines with our artifacts to gain even more card advantage.  Now that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is banned, Tezzeret is the new Jace!

Jace, the Mind Sculptor better than all!
Venser is a five-cost blue Planeswalker that combines with all of our enters the battlefield triggers to gain even more card advantage.  Venser gets the nod over Gideon because it is better right now.  Now that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is banned, Venser is the new Jace!

Garruk is a five-cost green Planeswalker that combines with himself to gain even more card advantage.  We have so much fixing, his casting cost is basically a free-roll.  Now that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is banned, Garruk is the new Jace!

Jace, Memory Adept is a five-cost blue Planeswalker that doesn’t even need any mondo-combos to gain even more card advantage.  We’re all Wizards here, and Jace is the Wizards era Michael Jordan of Magic; and if you have an opportunity to play one, you do, if only to tell your kids about it someday.  He can’t fill Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s shoes, but really, who can?

Karn Liberated is a seven-cost colorless Planeswalker that gains any kind of card advantage you want and can even start the game over (with a HUGE advantage to us!)  He costs more than the other Planeswalkers in our list, but he does give us more value.  Now that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is banned, Karn is the new Jace!
Preordain is an auto-four-of because we are not terrible at Magic.  What is this a joke?  Getting Magic advise people that don’t play Preordains in their Standard Control decks is like getting basketball advice from someone that advocates all-granny shots all the time.  Can it work?  Sure, but it looks as dumb as it is.

I like Spreading Seas because it turns a land into an Island and draws a card, and for only two mana!  Every serious tournament player should already be well read on Michael J. Flores’s theories on this card, as well as Who’s the Beatdown and Stock Mana.

The mix of counter magic should be a familiar tactic to long-time readers.  When you play a variety of reactive cards, you gain value from opponents being unable to play around them all.
We use twice as many Inquisition of Kozileks as Duresses because Inquisition of Kozilek is better than Duress in this format.  This is because it is generally a little better to make people discard spells that cost three or less than discard non-creature spells.  As for the black removal, we again gain value from playing a mixture.  Since we have Preordain, we can find whatever the best removal spell is whenever we need it.  Go for the Throat is better against black creature than Doomblade.  On the flipside, Doomblade is better against artifact creatures than Go for the Throat.

Lightning Bolt gives us even more removal.  What it lacks in ability to kill creatures with a toughness more than three, it makes up for in its ability to deal three damage to a player (which can be redirected to Planeswalkers for value).  Burst Lightning is better some of the time, and worse some of the time (usually depending on how much damage you need to do for how much mana).

Cultivate is good value and much needed card advantage (plus it helps ensure we have our colors when we need them).  Even though Cultivate doesn’t draw any cards, it is a form of card advantage because it gives you two land (which are cards).  Beast Within is a universal problem solver, since it can kill just about anything you want.  It does have the drawback of making a Beast, but usually you can just block with the Beast your opponent gave you when he used his.

Oblivion Ring and Day of Judgment are more good cards that can help when the situation is right.

Mindslaver is the ultimate end-game, plus we can find it with Tezzeret.  The safest way to set up a “Still Had All Deez” play is to slaver them first, so you know you are safe.  The mixture of two-cost value artifacts helps make it impossible for opponents to play around the ones you draw.  Mox Opal is at its best when you have metalcraft and gives you even more mana fixing.

The manabase is fairly self-explanatory, though I realize I am in the minority by trimming Celestial Colonnades.  Let’s be realistic, we can’t just play all enters the battlefield tapped lands!  Halimar Depths gives us more library manipulation for free.  Phyrexia’s Core lets us sacrifice our Wellsprings for added value.  Darkslick Shores gives us more ways to Inquisition on turn one.

The sideboard is fifteen different cards because I am friends with Hall of Famer, Gabriel Nassif.  Nassif (or Yellow Hat, as he is affectionately referred) collaborated with myself and Hall of Fame hopeful Mark Herberholz to invent the Dragonstorm archetype and take multiple spots in the top eight of the World Championships.  He is also addicted to mising and I can’t say I blame him!  Getting value from this technique is detailed in the ultimate Magic: the Gathering strategy guide, Next Level Magic.

Match-up guide:

Valakut-       50%

Twin-           85%

Ascension-    85%

RDW-           90%

U/B Control-  55%

U/W Control- 60%

Pod-             65%

Mono-G-        90%

Puresteel-      75%

Temp Steel-   75%

Mono-B-         55%

Misc-             70%

Thank you to everyone for joining me this week and thanks again to!  Be sure to check out this track from Tha Gatherin, the self-titled debut Magic Hip-Hop album but Bill Boulden and myself.  M12 is finally here, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Is Five-Color Control the new Caw-Blade?  Let me know what you think in the forums!

Patrick Chapin

“The Innovator”

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