Adam Plays Magic: Esper Control Alt Delete!

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This week on Adam Plays Magic, we're diving into Standard with Esper Control. With Standard having a relatively small card pool, the goal for this build is simply to "play the good cards". No fancy aristocrat synergies, tribal mechanics, or frills here. Just pure, unadulterated rate on rares and mythics.

"Esper" might also be a bit of a misnomer, considering the core of the deck is very WB. In fact, the only blue spell in your main deck is Kaito Shizuki and the only blue card in your sideboard is a single Disdainful Stroke. Thanks to the Pathways and Slowlands, it's extremely easy to afford a splash color without hampering your ability to cast your other spells.

Under the Hood

Esper's primary game plan is to resolve The Wandering Emperor, Lolth, Spider Queen, other planeswalkers to ride their card advantage to victory. It is supported by various wrath effects and spot removal like Doomskar and March of Otherworldly Light to keep its planeswalkers alive and well.

The objective is fairly straight forward, although control strategies like this are only as good as they are well-prepared. For example, this build is tuned with the mirror in mind, which is why there are multiple copies of Duress in the main deck. If I end up playing against mostly creature decks, that call will backfire. Similarly, I have multiple Portable Holes in the main deck, which line up poorly against decks playing Abrade and Prismari Command, but are phenomenal against Mono-White Aggro.

I don't believe the build I played was well-positioned against the five random decks we played against on the Arena Ladder, but that may not be representative of a tournament setting. My recommendation is not to play this exact 75. Instead, look at the playable spells you have access to and the decks seeing upticks in play at the time of your event, then modify your mainboard and sideboard accordingly.

What I'd Change

As mentioned above, I'd reconsider the number of Holes and Duresses. I'm also not sold on Reckoner Bankbuster in the main deck, or at least not at 3 copies. Standard is full of card advantage spells like Memory Deluge and Behold the Multiverse. If the goal is to keep something lower on the curve, Siphon Insight slots in well too. These may be better options for the main deck while reserving some sideboard space for Bankbuster.

Speaking of the sideboard, I think I'd prefer cards that are more targeted for specific matchups, rather than doubling down on general-use cards from the main deck. More counterspells like Negate or additional copies of Disdainful Stroke may be helpful in control and midrange matchups. Check for Traps may be pricier, but does cast a wider net than Duress. [card[Fracture[/card] can pinpoint the Runes deck and planeswalker-heavy strategies. If I'm concerned about opposing Wandering Emperors, Graveyard Tresspasser lines up very well and ward punishes opponents for looking at it crooked.

Another direction the deck can go is with a slight red splash to allow for Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. These cards are flexible and hit well above their weight class. We could also double down on the heavy black game plan for Invoke Despair. These high-powered haymakers grant the ability stabilize and turn the corner in ways the base-Esper deck struggles to.

The Deck

Esper Control

End Step

And just like that, we've wrapped up another week! If you have any questions, comments, or deck suggestions, feel free to leave a comment here or tweet me at @AdamECohen. Don't forget to like the video and subscribe to the YouTube channel. As always, thanks for watching!

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