Core 2020 Standard – Jeskai Control Deck Tech

Hello and welcome back to Strictly Standard!  I hope you enjoyed my rundown of the Top 20 cards in Core Set 2020.  This week, I would like to take a stroll through the first deck I built for the Core Set 2020 Standard Season.  This is a Jeskai Control list featuring a few new cards from the newest set to hit Magic’s Standard format, namely Chandra, Awakened Inferno.  If you haven’t already read the aforementioned Top 20 list, I will pause here and wait for you to go read my review of the new 6-mana powerhouse.  This deck’s strengths line up to challenge many of the top tier decks, and preys on their weaknesses.  I even used it to cruise through Platinum and make Diamond Tier on MtG Arena!  So without further ado, let’s dive in!

The Deck

Creatures (3)
Elite Guardmage

Instant (11)
Dovin’s Veto
Expansion // Explosion
Ionize
Lighting Strike
Settle the Wreckage
Spell Pierce
Syncopate

Sorcery (6)
Cleansing Nova
Deafening Clarion
Drawn from Dreams
Time Wipe

Enchantment (1)
Search for Azcanta

Planeswalkers (14)
Chandra, Awakened Inferno
Narset, Parter of Veils
Sarkhan the Masterless
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Teferi, Time Raveler
Lands (25)
Clifftop Retreat
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Memorial to Genius
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Triumph

Sideboard (15)
Apostle of Purifying Light
Rekindling Phoenix
Lyra Dawnbringer
Absorb
Divine Arrow
Fry
Narset’s Reversal
Settle the Wreckage
Role Reversal
Time Wipe
Grafdigger’s Cage
Sentinel Totem
Sorcerous Spyglass

The Basic Strategy of the Deck

Advertisements

This Jeskai Control list wants to establish an early handle on the boardstate by controlling which permanents are allowed to stick on the battlefield, and leveraging the static abilities of the 3-mana Planeswalkers.  Once a reasonable control of the game has been locked in, it’s up to the heavy hitters in the 5- and 6-mana Planeswalker spells to clean up any loose ends and secure the suffocating inevitability that big control strategies are so very good at manufacturing.

Your opening hand will definitely dictate whether you are on the midrange or hard lockdown controlling end of the spectrum.  If you have 4 lands, a Planeswalker, and a Dovin’s Veto you will want to plan on being more controlling, using the Veto to keep impactful non-creature spells like opposing Planeswalkers or Enchantments off the board until you can draw into the action you need to turn the tides.  Alternatively if you are land-light (with only 2 on the draw or 3 lands) you will want to aggressively deploy your Teferi, Time Raveler and Search for Azcanta to be able to draw yourself into better action to stabilize.

The Main Deck

Creatures

Elite Guardmage

Elite Guardmage is a generally good creature that replaces itself by drawing a card and gains you 3 life to help extend the game another turn or two.

Instant

Dovin’s Veto

Dovin’s Veto is one of the most important counterspells in current Standard.  The fact that this can counter just about any impactful spell and cannot be countered itself is the backbone of why decks like Esper Control have been so powerful.  Including it here is a nod to the Esper Control decks and the need to counter an early Planeswalker play.

Expansion // Explosion

The one of inclusion of Expansion // Explosion here is purely a versatility play.  I like this spell because it can be used in the early turns to copy a Thought Erasure or Negate or if drawn late it acts as removal plus a way to refill your hand.

Ionize

I chose to go with main deck Ionize because the mana base slants heavier toward the double-red spells on the top end.  Having access to a ubiquitous counter comes in handy for turns 5 or 6 when opposing decks start to deploy their heavy hitters.

Lightning Strike

I like to have an early way to deal with troublesome creatures or Planeswalkers, and Lightning Strike is exactly that.  Whether you’re picking off a Llanowar Elves or dealing 3 to Narset, Parter of Veils, the key is to keep them off their gameplan long enough to swing things in your favor.

Settle the Wreckage

With aggro creature decks leaning toward the hyper fast end of the spectrum to get in under the bigger Esper and Grixis Control lists, a 4-mana wrath is mandatory.  Settle the Wreckage comes in especially useful against the Mono-White and WB Vampires archetypes because Jeskai has few tools to be able to deal with Adanto Vanguard or Gideon Blackblade.

Spell Pierce

Having access to an early Spell Pierce to stop Thought Erasure from ripping apart your hand feels great.  It can also come in handy against a turn 3 Teferi, Time Raveler allowing you to continue playing the reactionary style control game that you want to be doing early.

Syncopate

Syncopate is a nice release valve to combat against decks that rely on recursive mechanics like Command the Dreadhorde or to stop a Nexus of Fate from shuffling back in.  It can be comfortably cut after game 1 if you don’t feel the exile is necessary to stopping the opponent’s gameplan.

Sorcery

Cleansing Nova

Getting into the 5-mana slot, it is important to have a diverse array of answers.  Cleansing Nova gives us versatility in a board-wipe that can also be used to clean up some pesky enchantments and artifacts in a pinch.

Deafening Clarion

Deafening Clarion is one of the more powerful early board re-sets that we have available to us.  Getting one late is also useful to give your Dragon tokens (or even Dragon Planeswalkers!) lifelink to gain you back some life and give you a few extra turns to get a lock on the game.

Drawn from Dreams

Drawn from Dreams is the kind of card selection that a control deck needs to run smoothly.  For 4 measly mana you get to look at at 14% of your deck (that’s if you cast it on turn 4, on the draw, and have not drawn any extra cards yet…in reality you will be casting this on turn 8-10 and seeing more like 17% of the deck), then you get to select the BEST 2 cards for the situation.  Need a board wipe?  Need a haymaker?  No matter what it is you want, you will probably be finding it.

Time Wipe

Time Wipe is an underrated sweeper, and I don’t know why Esper Control decks aren’t playing it more.  Getting to reset the board while picking back up your Elite Guardmage that has two very real enters the battlefield abilities means that you get access to more cards and more life-gain.  Both things that your deck wants in order to gain that decided advantage.

Enchantment

Search for Azcanta

Search for Azcanta is an all-star card advantage engine that no control deck should be without.  It pulls double-duty providing card selection early, or turning into a way to churn through your deck looking for answers in the late game.

Planeswalkers

Chandra, Awakened Inferno

The newest tool in the current Standard Superfriends meta is 6-mana Chandra, Awakened Inferno.  She provides a consistent, endless, and unavoidable source of damage.  Her +1 ability gives the opponent an emblem that deals 1 damage to them on their upkeep. And you can stack the emblems turn after turn to give them 2, 3, or more damage per turn for the rest of the game.  I have been able to win against a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria exile emblem thanks to this.  Chandra also acts as a release valve by dealing 3 damage to all non-Elemental creatures to wipe the board and give you time to establish your lock, or dealing “X” direct damage to a single target.  And the direct damage causes things to be exiled which is nice against things like Rekindling Phoenix and Command the Dreadhorde.

Narset, Parter of Veils

Narset, Parter of Veils is an amazing Magic card.  Being able to access extra cards while shutting off your opponent’s ability to draw extra cards in the early game can mean the difference between falling behind on resources vs. taking a commanding control of the game.

Sarkhan the Masterless

Sarkhan the Masterless fits right in with the other Jeskai Superfriends in this list providing either a 4/4 flying blocker the first turn he comes down, or turning your 2 or 3 other ‘Walkers that are just sitting there into some serious flying threats.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a subtle key to this archetype.  Not only is he a source of card advantage, but he can be used as spot removal if you’re in a bind.  Then there’s his ultimate which is a win-con all its own.

Teferi, Time Raveler

The “new” kid on the block from War of the Spark, 3-mana Teferi, Time Raveler is one of the most frustrating cards to play against in all of Magic.  On turn 3 he represents an answer to problematic creatures, and at all stages of the game he breaks the timing element.  If he lives past the first turn, you can use his +1 to cast your sorcery speed sweepers on your opponent’s turn, and he also prevents your opponents from doing ANYTHING at instant speed.  This means they pretty much have to tap-out to answer him, which leaves you free to deploy your next threat.

The Sideboard

Apostle of Purifying Light

Apostle of Purifying Light is a great way to combat Black based aggro and control decks.  He can block Zombies all day, he can’t be removed by Nicol Bolas, and he can’t be blocked by him either!  The activated exile cards ability is especially good right now with the Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord Vampires deck, Grixis Control, and Command the Dreadhorde decks all relying on recurring cards from their graveyard.

Rekindling Phoenix

Rekindling Phoenix is a great sticky creature that can help buy you a few extra turns.  Being “wrath proof” helps against Esper Control and the 4 power is especially key for stopping attacks from some of the beefier things that Gruul can be doing.

Lyra Dawnbringer

Lyra Dawnbringer is an all-star in the Mono-Red matchup.  Even though that deck isn’t being played much right now, you can’t sleep on a card that pretty much auto-wins the matchup for you while providing some usefulness in other matchups like Mono-Blue Flash and Grixis Control.

Absorb

Absorb is in the board as a second copy of a ubiquitous counterspell.  Bringing it in for matchups where you can reliably play instants (a.k.a. NOT vs Teferi, Time Raveler) is a good idea, and gaining the 3 life feels especially good when countering a Lightning Strike for a 6-life point swing.

Divine Arrow

Divine Arrow provides the deck an answer to early aggro creatures and things with 4 toughness. This could also be a copy of Lava Coil and be just fine.

Fry

Fry is a fantastic answer to many of the more powerful things that are going on in current Standard. Whether getting rid of one of the Teferi’s, Bolas’s, or a Lyra Dawnbringer, Fry is a versatile answer.

Narset’s Reversal

Narset’s Reversal is one of my favorite “gotcha” cards from WAR Standard. You can steal your opponents early Thought Erasure play, or blow them out on their big Command the Dreadhorde play.

Settle the Wreckage

A second copy of Settle the Wreckage is very necessary to help clean up the early onslaught of aggro creatures, and it also helps in corner cases of indestructible creatures or cards that won’t stay dead.

Role Reversal

Role Reversal is my newest pretty blowout card. Stealing a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria then bouncing your’ Walker back to your library feels REAL good. I also like stealing my Esper opponents transformed Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin and leaving them with a near useless Clifftop Retreat.

Time Wipe

Having access to more sweepers is crucial when a potential field of aggro decks faces you. I like a second Time Wipe as you can get back your Elite Guardmage for some added card draw and life gain, or even return an animated Planeswalker for a second loyalty activation (although you have to be ok with losing your other walkers).

Grafdigger’s Cage

This Modern format all-star level sideboard card has been largely overlooked for Standard, but with any amount of Command the Dreadhorde running around, I think this is a necessity. There bonus upside of hitting things like Bolas’s Citadel, Experimental Frenzy, and Vivien’s Arkbow.

Sentinel Totem

A catch-all graveyard hoser that gives you card selection is an understated piece of your sideboard arsenal. Sentinel Totem keeps Command the Dreadhorde and Bolas recursion strategies in check.

Sorcerous Spyglass

Sorcerous Spyglass is a Pithing Needle effect with the added benefit of letting you look at the opponent’s hand so you’re not guessing as to what you need to shut down. It’s particularly good at preventing Teferi, Time Raveler from bouncing your permanents as you work out a way to get him off the board so you can get back to playing at instant speed.

Sideboarding Strategy

Versus Hyper Aggro Decks

Even though this deck is a control deck reliant on it’s big 5- and 6-Mana hitters to close out the game (especially in game 1), there’s enough early interaction to give you a fighting chance against the hyper aggro decks of the format. I have updated the list from it’s original incarnation to include Settle the Wreckage as a nod to needing more cheap interaction. And boy was a turn 2 Adanto Vanguard impossible to beat before.

Sideboarding against aggro is pretty straight forward. We’re bringing in all the extra sweepers and removal for sure. I’m also bringing in a few extra creatures to help slow things down by acting as speed bumps if nothing else.

Versus mono red:
+1 Divine Arrow
+1 Absorb
+1 Lyra Dawnbringer
+2 Rekindling Phoenix
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+1 Time Wipe
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage
-4 Narset, Parter of Veils
-2 Spell Pierce
-1 Syncopate
-1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Versus mono white:
+1 Divine Arrow
+1 Absorb
+1 Lyra Dawnbringer
+2 Rekindling Phoenix
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+1 Time Wipe
+1 Fry
-4 Narset, Parter of Veils
-2 Spell Pierce
-1 Syncopate
-1 Dovin’s Veto

Versus Mono Blue Flash:
+1 Divine Arrow
+1 Absorb
+1 Lyra Dawnbringer
+2 Rekindling Phoenix
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+1 Time Wipe
+1 Fry
-1 Sarkhan the Masterless
-2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
-1 Syncopate
-2 Narset, Parter of Veils
-1 Expansion // Explosion
-1 Drawn from Dreams

Versus WB Vampires:
+2 Apostle of Purifying Light
+1 Divine Arrow
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+1 Time Wipe
+1 Absorb
+2 Rekindling Phoenix
-2 Spell Pierce
-1 Syncopate
-2 Dovin’s Veto
-3 Narset, Parter of Veils

Versus Midrange Decks

Midrange matchups are generally one-sided for us, and in either direction.  If they snowball the board state and we dont find a sweeper, its pretty much game over.  But if we are able to one-for-one them in the early game and keep them from getting too far ahead, our top-end is going to be enough to overpower them and we run away with inevitability.  Our big Planeswalkers, specifically Chandra, Awakened Inferno and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria are the keys to winning this matchup.

Sideboarding against midrange decks is difficult to boil into a generalized script.  It really depends on which end of the aggro-vs-attrition spectrum the deck slants.  Against aggro bent midrange decks, you would take a more aggro approach to sideboarding and pull some of the slower top-end cards that you might not have time to deploy.  Whereas if the opponent is on the “big overwhelming board state” end of the spectrum and is trying to play a game of resources, then you will need to be playing a bigger top end.

Versus Gruul:
+1 Divine Arrow
+2 Rekindling Phoenix
+1 Lyra Dawnbringer
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+1 Time Wipe
+1 Absorb
-3 Narset, Parter of Veils
-2 Spell Pierce
-2 Dovin’s Veto

Versus Elementals:
+1 Divine Arrow
+2 Rekindling Phoenix
+1 Lyra Dawnbringer
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+1 Time Wipe
+1 Absorb
+1 Fry
-2 Spell pierce
-2 Chandra, Awakened Inferno
-2 Dovin’s Veto
-1 Drawn from Dreams
-1 Narset, Parter of Veils

Versus Sultai Dreadhorde:
+1 Narset’s Reversal
+1 Absorb
+1 Fry
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage
+1 Sentinel Totem
-2 Spell Pierce
-1 Deafening Clarion
-1 Dovin’s Veto
-1 Sarkhan the Masterless
-1 Elite Guardmage

Versus Control Decks

Control matchups are a coin toss.  It pretty much comes down to “who cracks first?” and who can stick a threat that lasts.  While not all control decks are built equal, the ones that skew towards a creature removal package are generally easier for us to steal game 1.  Opponents like Grixis that feature a more versatile hand disruption gameplan are where things are trickier.  Having one of our early permission spells like Spell Pierce of Dovin’s Veto to sit behind and try to stop the Thought Erasure or Narset, Parter of Veils from landing early will go a long way in helping to win this matchup.

Sideboarding for control matchups is a breeze.  We want to bring in our extra permission and we want access to as many two-for-one style effects as possible.  There are a couple of nuances from one opponent to the other, but generally its about having the most resources at the end of the game.

Versus the mirror:
+1 Lyra Dawnbringer
+1 Absorb
+1 Fry
-2 Deafening Clarion
-1 Settle the Wreckage

Versus Esper Control:
+2 Apostle of Purifying LIght
+1 Absorb
+1 Fry
+1 Narset’s Reversal
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage
-1 Settle the Wreckage
-1 Cleansing Nova
-2 Deafening Clarion
-1 Time Wipe
-1 Expansion // Explosion

Versus Grixis Control:
+2 Apostle of Purifying LIght
+1 Absorb
+1 Fry
+1 Narset’s Reversal
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage
+1 Sentinel Totem
-4 Teferi, Time Raveler
-1 Cleansing Nova
-1 Settle the Wreckage
-1 Time Wipe

Versus Ramp/Combo Decks

Ramp and combo decks comes down to whether or not they “have it”.  Whether it’s one of the Simic or Bant flavors of Mass Manipulation, a Flash, Gates or Nexus of Fate deck, or something that is turbo ramping into Nissa, Who Shakes the World, sometimes they just have the all the right pieces at all the right times.  You have to play this matchup from the “make them have it” standpoint.

Sideboarding

Versus Nexus:
+1 Absorb
+1 Narset’s Reversal
+1 Sorcerous Spyglass
-1 Settle the Wreckage
-2 Deafening Clarion

Versus Flash:
+1 Absorb
+1 Divine Arrow
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+2 Rekindling Phoenix
-2 Spell Pierce
-1 Expansion // Explosion
-2 Drawn from Dreams

Versus Gates:
+1 Absorb
+1 Settle the Wreckage
+2 Rekindling Phoenix
-1 Syncopate
-1 Sarkhan the Masterless
-2 Deafening Clarion

Versus Nissa/Mass Manipulation:
+1 Absorb
+1 Narset’s Reversal
+1 Sorcerous Spyglass
-1 Settle the Wreckage
-1 Syncopate
-1 Sarkhan the Masterless

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *