Deckbuilding 104 - Control
Control decks are in it for the long haul. Traditionally, they play a patient, defensive game, identifying and removing their opponents' biggest threats, before playing a difficult to remove threat of their own and riding it to victory. There are several variations of the theme, but they normally play a passive or reactive game, that is threat sparse and "answer" dense. The aggro, or midrange, deck asks the questions, and the control deck has to have the answers.
Throw that thinking away. That is not how control works in Mythgard. This is why people struggle so much at building control decks in this game. The dynamic is completely reversed. Instead the control deck is the one asking the questions:
Where are you going to place your minion safely?
How are you going to attack me?
How are you going to kill me?
It wasn't until I started thinking about control decks differently that I had some success. And it wasn't until I started putting it to words that I realized how completely the script had been flipped.
Mythgard control decks are far more proactive than their counter parts in other games. Of course they have their share of reactive cards, like spot removal, and sweepers, but they are tools, instead of the focus. Trying to continuously trade removal for threats in Mythgard is a losing proposition, you will just find yourself getting farther and farther behind.
Decks are also better at recovering from sweepers, so you may find yourself in the exact same spot, or worse, the next turn.
Why doesn't the traditional approach work?
The attacker has an advantage, it requires the defender to have at least three minions in order to cover all of the lanes. Traditional control decks play very few minions.
Aggro decks take longer to run out of gas, and their threats tend to be more efficient than the removal.
There is very few opportunities to play on your opponent's turn. Creature buffs and rush minions are incredibly effective as the control player often doesn't have time to interact with them until they have already done their damage.
There is rarely a time to take a turn off to draw cards. Control decks often require extra cards, both to ensure they have enough resources and the right removal for the job.
Just some obstacles to get through
What do all these cards have in common? They can be very difficult to attack through, and at the very least can force awkward turns from the opponent. Their effect on the game might not be totally obvious at first. So think of this, how much easier would it be to defend in Mythgard if there were only four lanes, and all the other rules were the same?
Control the game by controlling the board
In Mythgard, control succeeds by shrinking the board. This is done by playing obstacles in important lanes, thus limiting the opponent's choices. If they want to continue playing with the whole board they have to waste resources going through the obstacle, otherwise they are forced to play in a reduced area. Divide and Conquer.
Building a Control Deck – The important questions
What does our deck do?
How do we limit our opponents space?
How do we generate value? Do we rely on our Path & Power? Can we play draw spells?
How do we recover if we get behind?
How does our deck win?
Do we still use the traditional control finisher?
Do we have inevitability?
Do we have a combo finish?
Mythgard control decks often don't have time to play draw spells, so they benefit most from the Paths that directly give extra resources, Rainbow's End, Fires of Creation, and Turn of Seasons. For Powers, Reanimate is often paired with Rainbow's End or Fires of Creation as the Cobblejack synergizes well with the artifacts and enchantments. Impel allows defensive minions to cover more of the board, or to shift from enchantment to enchantment.
So, what does a control deck look like?
name: Budget Control
path: rainbow's end
2 singing stone
3 demolition speedway
4 einherjar thane
2 root of the world
3 tailroot wurm
2 giant's stairway
4 maze of iyatiku
3 beimeni falls
2 meso libre
3 serpent den
1 goliath's web
2 ollama ring
This deck could undoubtedly be improved with a few mythics, but is very powerful in its current form. Control decks don't have to be chalked full of mythics to succeed.
Thane, Yahui, and Serpent Den shrink the board. Singing Stone and Ollama ring make even your snakes hard to kill, and eventually downright threatening. Thunderclap and Misanthropia can punish your opponent for trying to pressure through your defenses. Beimeni falls is excellent for keeping your life total safe, and can make minions like Yahui almost unkillable.
Aside from the incessant snakes, card advantage is also gained through Rainbow's End, Maze of Iyatiku, and Root of the World.
Sometimes this deck wins like a glacier, slow and unstoppable, other times it's like a wurm riding a motorbike down the freeway. And most decks can't handle a big Earthslide.
Control in Mythgard may look different than in other games, but is still a completely viable archetype. It succeeds by being proactive and dictating where and how the opponent can play.
In the next article we'll look at Combo. It's not currently a stand alone archetype, but that doesn't mean there aren't some sweet and competitive combos!
Interested in other Control decks? Check these out.
BYO Root Loop
The Mythgard discord is friendly, and a great source for decklists.