Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Drafting White Control?

I tried to draft a white control deck this past Saturday at the release party. It was a ZWW draft, so I'm never really going to see a reason to do this again anytime soon. Needless to say, I didn't like my deck at all. But I think if I had been valuing cards differently, something better could have come of it.

I disassembled the deck, but it had, from memory, the following cards:

3 Perimeter Captain
1 Guardian Zendikon (possible in the sideboard)
1 Vapor Snare
2 Iona's Judgment
1 Apex Hawks
1 Battle Hurda (and another in the sideboard)
1 Day of Judgment
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Nimbus Wings
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Enclave Elite
1 Kabira Crossroads
1 Quicksand
2 Refraction Trap
1 Fledgling Griffin
1 Wind Zendikon
1 Archon of Redemption

And some other stuff. There were really bad synergies in this deck.

A) Basilisk Collar and 0-power guys... no
B) Refraction Trap and 0-power blockers... eh
C) Day of Judgment and Walls... bleh

There were strong spells in the deck; they just didn't work well together. And they didn't really work all the time. Having 3 Perimeter Captains was definitely overboard in all respects - they just aren't effective answers. They're very efficient answers; but not effective ones. What do I do against fliers? Surrakar Marauders? Deathtouch? Tappers like Permafrost Trap or Tideforce Elemental? Goblin Shortcutter or Smoldering Spires? There are all kinds of ways to get around Perimeter Captain or ignore it completely.

It's really good, no doubt and nice to have one or two. But three was just too many.

I should've picked more blue cards -- I thought I was going mono-white, but my white wasn't especially good. If I want a good answer to creatures, I'd rather have Tideforce Elementals. Even Paralyzing Grasp seems more useful.

It is dangerous to overload a deck with blockers like Calcite Snapper, Guardian Zendikon, Perimeter Captain, or Kraken Hatchling. Because then you'll just die to the next deck with fliers. You'd rather have Tideforce Elemental, Paralyzing Grasp, Kor Skyfisher, Lightkeeper of Emeria, Surrakar Banisher, Into the Roil, etc.

Also having one or two Quicksands is pretty imperative to avoid dying to a land-walker.

Pilgrim's Eye is also a decent blocker; not terrific, but it can trade with a few things: like Horizon Drake, Welkin Tern, Surrakar Marauder, any one-toughness creature. It can get the job done.

The problem with my deck above is that it was trying to do too many things. It was trying to be tempo, control, and aggro all at once. It could achieve a few aggressive starts, but if it did, it would have a hard time finishing off the opponent once s/he stabilized because the deck wasn't packing a high volume of threats. It could control a number of ground attackers, but would never fully control a deck that had tricks of its own - like fliers, intimidate creatures, or aggressive tappers. It didn't have many hard removal spells either.

Controlling the opponent seems better in blue or black than white. White is a very aggressive, tempo-based color. It can block if it needs to, but it isn't great at holding off a true army. It has very few good removal spells, and they're all pretty highly sought after.

On the other hand, black has tons of removal at common - namely Disfigure, Hideous End, and Tomb Hex. As well as Heartstabber Mosquito. Giant Scorpion is good at blocking ground guys. At uncommon, it has more powerful removal spells like Gatekeeper, Urge to Feed, and Smother. Black is still very deep with Worldwake; so if you want to draft control, you will find cards you need while your neighbors can find black cards they need for their more aggressive decks without much overlap.

Blue is very good for control in Worldwake, particularly Mysteries of the Deep, which is really powerful card draw. Treasure Hunt is a lot more underwhelming, however. I see a lot of people using it, but without heavy library manipulation, it often just cycles. If you have better cards to run, I would run them over Treasure Hunt. I feel it's worse than running Ponder in your Limited deck. Unless you are running 19-20 lands, several of which are manlands or Quicksands.

As always, however, I think the main motivation to go control is opening a bomb - or having several bombs. At which point, you can try to stall out until you draw/drop said bomb. Forcing control without already having a few cards that win you the game by themselves doesn't seem like a good idea in ZZW. Another incentive might be trying to force a mill strategy, but that's even sketchier. If you want to go mill, it seems organically, you're going to at least start by drafting an aggressive deck that just happens to have an alternative milling condition. Rather than forcing mill, and then grabbing controlling cards to go with it. After all, the milling Ally in the third pack goes best with other Allies, which are generally aggressive.