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Queen Marchesa


Having played through a half-dozen leagues and a giant stack of matches in the Tournament Practice Room, I feel like I've gotten a decent grasp of the Magic Online 1v1 Commander Format. The format is still in its infancy, having recently gone through the twin bannings of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time.

Queen Marchesa Control ? 1v1 Commander| April King

Despite the recent bans, the format feels vaguely solved and you'll end up facing the same handful of matchups continuously. This isn't abnormal for a format such as Standard, but it feels vaguely disappointing with the huge card pool that typically provides the bounty of diversity that we see in regular Commander. The primary boogeyman of the format is the dual threat of Vial Smasher the Fierce and Kraum, Ludevic's Opus:

I sure hope you enjoy having your vial face smashed repeatedly

Aside from its outsized metagame share — over half my personal matchups, with piles of published 5-0s — playing against Vial Smasher control isn't actually that bad. At least it puts you out of your misery with relative swiftness.

When you combine Vial Smasher the Fierce with the stupefying durdliness of Baral, Chief of Compliance, the paralyzing tediousness of Breya, Etherium Shaper, and the staggering dullness of Tasigur, the Golden Fang, you'll come to a quick conclusion:

Zzz . . . 

That conclusion?

You need to murder their “so-called” Commanders, repeatedly, again and again. And nobody's better at sticking a dagger in the middle of a poor control commander's back than our favorite Queen of Hearts, Marchesa d'Amati.

When I first designed Queen Marchesa, I built her as a traditional control deck. Some targeted discard, a decent stack of removal spells, every draw spell I could stuff into my 99, and a handful of quick and expensive finishers. But the control decks simply countered her majesty and outdrew me into an easy win. At that point, I realized that I need to move my curve lower. No, lower. No, even lower than that. Peeeeerrrrrfect! Err . . .  wait, what was I talked about?

Right! I had to slip it under their counterspells. I realized I had to win not via traditional card advantage, but my grinding them out with infinite 1-for-1s until their resources were exhausted and they hated playing Magic. Just as The Queen — please don't assassinate me, I'm very loyal — would prefer.

The first step was to load the deck to the brim with essentially every decent 1-2 mana discard spell that can target a noncreature spell. A full tenth of the deck is devoted to this purpose, a percentage that has historically served well to cause control decks to stumble. The purpose of the discard is strip their hand of anything that can prevent Queen Marchesa from being cast early.

Who's a good widdle Counterspell? You are! Yes, you are!

Once you've baited out their counters with an early threat like Young Pyromancer or Bitterblossom and a discard spell or two, you should be able to resolve Queen Marchesa on turn four or so. What happens after that?

What do you mean, what happens after that? You win. At this point, your sole goal is to trade 1-for-1 with them. Terminate their commander. Diabolic Edict their commander. Lightning Bolt their commander. Craving a little variety? Take another card from their hand. Just don't forget to follow it up by casting Swords to Plowshares on their commander.

When you're outdrawing them 2-for-1 for six, seven, twenty turns, it's simply impossible for them to win. Eventually their hand will be exhausted of spells and their commander will cost a dozen mana to cast. At that point, simply drop an Elspeth, Knight-Errant or Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and end the game at your leisure.

Don't worry, these final turns will seem as interminable as the early ones.

If you really enjoy playing slow, grindy decks, Queen Marchesa might be just the deck you're looking for. My current record is 18-12, or 60%, and at least a quarter of my victories have come as a result of my Blue mage opponent timing out. That's the exactly the kind of justice that Marchesa d'Amati, the Black Rose, spymaster of Fiora, Queen of Palaino and First of her Name simply lives for.


If this article wasn't stomach curdling enough, thanks to Magic the Amateuring, I've recorded myself playing for through a 1v1 Commander League. It's a slightly earlier version of the deck, but nevertheless you can still sense the agony of my opponents. Enjoy!

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