In Magic, there are a few macro-archetypes and they can be roughly divided into: big mana, combo, aggro, midrange, and – control. In this article, we will be focusing on control which is a major pillar of every format’s metagame.
As most things in Magic, there is no set-in-stone definition, but we can describe control using a few main characteristics.
- It’s intrinsically reactive and often passive.
- It uses various means of interaction such as counterspells, discard, and removal.
- Its strategy is to impede the opponent’s plan.
- It does not care about its board presence but rather card advantage.
- It uses life total as its resource.
- The deck mainly consists of answers with very few threats.
- It has inevitability – the longer the game lasts, the better position control is in.
For a lot of people, control decks are very tricky to play against. It boils down to numerous reasons. First, it’s unusual to play against a deck which…does nothing. People are used to attacking into creatures, blocking creatures, destroying them, but here none of it is possible. Most control decks do not affect the board in any way and so they operate on a different axis than your usual game of Magic. So, if they’re doing nothing, what should you do? And most people find it particularly tricky.
In addition, often there is an illusion that they always have everything. The illusion that whatever you do, whatever you play, and however you do it they will have the perfect answer. It is indeed only an illusion. You ought not to get discouraged. In practice, control decks very frequently run into the problem of having the wrong answer to the presented threat.
Lastly, there is one purely psychological effect which lowers your chances to win and it’s the fact that counterspells are frustrating to play against. When your spells get countered, they don’t even hit the battlefield – it’s annoying. At this point, your morale plummets and it, in turn, sabotages your focus and will to compete.
In the next part of the article, I will show you how to cope with the aforementioned problems and will present many more other ways to combat do-nothing decks
Tips, tricks, mindset, approach
There are no tips which will work unconditionally. In addition, it’s all meta-dependant and it’s possible your deck just has a hard time dealing with control. However, in this section I will give you a plethora of tricks and approaches to undertake in order to give yourself a much better chance against them. Combining them will prove especially useful as you will be able to adjust and abuse control’s weaknesses which you might not have been aware of. I’ve divided them into two categories – deckbuilding and gameplay with 8 key points in each.