May 1, 2013

Standard Esper Planeswalkers (Superfriends) And Dragon's Maze Additions


Last week, I finished 1st in our local shop's FNM after tweaking my Esper control list into an Esper Planeswalkers deck - or what others know as - Esper Superfriends. Last week was the last FNM before the release of Dragon's Maze so I would like to talk about cards that I think can be helpful in further improving the deck.

First of all, why move to Esper Superfriends? That decision in my part has a lot to do with the current meta game. If you want to win, the traditional Esper Control would take a very long time to win the game and while you are milling your opponent with only one Nephalia Drownyard (yes this happens a lot of times), your opponent can eventually regain board advantage, and you will be trying to control the board again. I'm not saying this is not a winnable situation, but when games end up in draw because of the lack of time per round, a draw can sometimes be equal to a loss especially if you are trying to be in the top 2 or 3 for the tournament.

Too much aggressive decks in the format right now. The cards that I added are very good in dealing with aggro decks in the early to mid game just enough to give you support after casting Supreme Verdict.  Lingering Souls for example is very good in slowing the game for you as it can serve as a chump blocker that can help you delay the game for a while and in waiting to draw your removals. In the later part of the game, these spirits can serve as attackers and they are very deadly especially when you already have Sorin's Emblems in play. I will try to briefly discuss the roles of each Planeswalker in this deck.

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Sorin is probably one of the best Planeswalkers for this deck. He works well with Supreme Verdict as you can always make a token after casting Supreme Verdict to give you a 1/1 lifelink blocker ready to defend Sorin. Sorin's lifelink tokens is also very useful in a format filled with aggro. Once you start making emblems, the lifelink will become very insane and can get you back out of the range for burn and small aggro creatures.
Playing with Sorin involves a lot of patience. It may also be one of the Planewalkers that is more challenging (if not the most) to use since you should be able to think carefully when to create tokens for blockers and when to create Emblems to set you up for your Spirit tokens attack via Lingering Souls. For me, if you want to play a deck with Lingering Souls, you should play Sorin in your deck. They just "complete" each other. Period.

Liliana of the Veil
Many would probably argue that this may not be a place for Liliana. But Liliana is a very strong card and I would like point to out that in my experience of using Liliana, it can definitely be used now, in this metagame with a lot of Aggro decks. Liliana is a powerhouse as you can see in Modern. But in standard, I'm actually a bit sad that she's not being used because of the super aggressive metagame of standard right now. But for me, the best time to cast Liliana of the Veil in a deck like Esper is after casting Supreme Verdict or Terminus. Her +1 ability is very good late game as cards like Think Twice and Lingering Souls or other flashback cards that you may opt to add in the deck are very good with Liliana's +1 ability. Liliana usually draws out the burn spells and removals in your opponent's hand, it is better to have those burn spells thrown to Liliana than to your face. Lastly, if you are still waiting to draw your removals, don't hesitate to drop Liliana and use her -2 ability. By doing so, you remove one of your opponent's creatures and you will have a virtual fog next turn since your opponent will surely attack Liliana in the following turn.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Tamiyo is there only to stop... Thragtusk! Just kidding, but it may also be true. :) Late in the game, Tamiyo can be very useful. In scenarios like you have Nephalia Drownyards to mill the game for you, Tamiyo can tap the bigger creatures your opponents control. Tamiyo can also lock down creatures that your oppenents cast after you cast a board sweep. If you are lucky enough to have a Tamiyo emblem, it may already be an automatic win especially in a deck like Esper since you can cast your spells, draw cards, and remove threats in the board repeatedly. But of course, in times where your opponent has a lot of creatures in play and you need to draw a Supreme Verdict or Terminus, Tamiyo's -2 ability is the perfect effect in this situation since you can draw multiple cards and can eventually get you the removal spells that you need.

Jace, Memory Adept
Jace is the alternative win condition in the deck. For me, Jace is the quickest mill engine out there and can win you the game in a few turns if left unanswered. What's good in milling is that when you can put the best cards or the cards that your opponent needs into his or her graveyard, and then, he or she won't have answers anymore and this may somehow affect his or her mind state while playing the rest of the game. I usually (only) use Jace's 0 ability to mill out my opponent. But in times that I (or you) desperately need to draw a card, Jace's +1 ability can also give you that draw.

Esper Superfriends April 2013
4 Watery Grave
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Godless Shrine
2 Drowned Catacomb
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Isolated Chapel
3 Nephalia Drownyard
1 Island
1 Plains

2 Snapcaster Mage

3 Lingering Souls
4 Supreme Verdict
1 Terminus

3 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Jace, Memory Adept

1 Detention Sphere


3 Azorius Charm
1 Dimir Charm
3 Think twice
2 Dissipate
1 Syncopate
2 Devour Flesh
1 Ultimate Price
3 Sphinx's Revelation
3 Negate
1 Curse of Death's Hold
1 Jace, memory Adept
1 Terminus
3 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Purify the Grave
1 Rest in Peace
1 Witchbane Orb
1 Detention Sphere
1 Victim of the Night

Round 1: vs Primespeaker Bant (Win 2-1) : 1-0
Round 2: vs UW Humans (Win 2-0) : 2-0
Round 3: vs WUR Reckoner (Draw 1-1) : 2-0-1
Round 4: vs Reanimator (Win 2-0) : 3-0-1

Possible Dragon's Maze Additions:

The uncommon Esper-colored Split cards can be very helpful and are sources of good utilities. I think I can easily swap my Devour Fleshes for Far//Away since my current list can use the bounce ability of far and the Away part is basically the same as Devour Flesh but is more expensive to cast but minus the life gain. I can see Profit//Loss in decks that use Lingering Souls and Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. The increase in damage for your part and the reduction in your opponent's part can come very handy in finishing the game or in extending your life in combats. I also like the Loss part since this can help you deal with those pesky mana dorks (especially Avacyn Pilgrim and Arbor Elf) in green ramp decks.

I really like Warped Physique because for me, it can become a better Ultimate Price but with the drawback of depending on your current cards in hand. I can see this being one of the usable removals for black-blue for standard. But I think it is perfect for Esper because cards like Think Twice, Azorius Charm and Sphinx's Revelation ensure you will always have cards in your hand. Also, this can give the deck a direct answer to Boros Reckoner. Lastly, Aetherling. I am currently playtesting Aetherling as a one-of in the deck. I believe the card is very strong individually and it can be the perfect finisher for any control deck. With an ability to dodge removals and board sweeps and the ability to become unblockable, Aetherling can be the one-of creature that will suite your needs. Attack, defend, finish!

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