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Controlling Without Colors in Historic


This past week, I had a long-time stream viewer, indomitus86, message me about a deck donation. It turned out that the day in question was the two-year anniversary of another deck donation I did for him in Modern: Colorless Control.

He was hoping I'd be interested in updating the list with whatever new cards may have been printed in the past couple years, and I suggested that, with Historic being a fairly popular and accessible format, that maybe I try the deck there.

I knew I had already seen a Colorless Control deck in Historic before, so I wanted to put my version together first, before I took a look at the other one, so as not to be too heavily influenced by it. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the decks actually had quite a few of the same cards in them. One thing about this Colorless Control deck is that there are only so many good cards for it available, and a lot of them are pretty obvious.

This was the final list that we played, which we ended up going 5-2 with, with our only two losses being in the Best of One format, which I feel pretty okay with. We'll go over the choices below, and you can see the deck's creation and matches below.

In my mind there are three key cards in the deck that trump most everything else.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon - This is a card that gets you back into games you have no business winning. Ugin can be a dominant force in every format he's legal in, and this one is no exception. Even when Ugin isn't wiping all of your opponent's permanents away - an ability all of our cards are immune to - he's still nugging them in the face for three damage a turn, or picking off singular problems. Having a planeswalkers that goes up to nine loyalty the turn you cast him is pretty wild.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger - This is the other big daddy. Like Ugin, even if you can remove him as a threat, once he's cast the damage is basically done already. Being able to remove any two permanents while also presented a 10/10 indestructible creature is big game, and neither threat is that difficult to cast in our deck. Especially with the following card...

Forsaken Monument - This is the card that basically made Colorless Control a playable archetype in Historic. It, kind of does it all. It makes all the creatures you create larger, from Ugin, the Ineffable tokens to Crawling Barrens. It makes every mana source in your deck produce about double the mana (except Hedron Archive, which only produces 50% more). And it gains you a ridiculous amount of life, very quickly.

One thing you might be concerned with in a control deck without access to any cards of color is making sure you're able to consistently draw cards and get through your deck. This was surprising for me, because the deck is actually extremely good at this. You have things like Mind Stone, Hedron Archive, Mazemind Tome, Karn, Scion of Urza, and Ugin, the Ineffable. To be fair, we also have two lands in the form of Arch of Orazca and Bonders' Enclave, but we never had a chance to activate those unfortunately. I do think they would shine against a more control-based deck, but this also speaks to the versatility of our mana base as well.

Without having Wastes in the format, we opted to add a few basics. We originally chose Swamps, but then I was curious about adding a copy or two of Tezzeret, Artifice Master to the deck, so we changed them to Islands. (I'm still not sure if this is worth it, but it's still fun to try, and could be done with any singular colored card you might want to try.) The basic point was to avoid getting set back by something like Field of Ruin, and basic lands don't hurt your deck in any real way. The best part of being completely colorless is that you can basically play any colorless land you want without consequence. This gives us access to all of the following:

That's six utility lands that we have access to, and this number will only go up as time goes on and more sets are released. You're more than welcome to tweak all of these land numbers as desired. Maybe having one more Blast Zone and one less Bonders' Enclave is correct. Who knows? Having access to all of them felt really nice though and gave us plenty of options at any given point.

I was ultimately really happy with the deck and how it performed, which you can see in all its glory here:

There were only two cards I wasn't entirely sure about: Guardian Idol and Crystalline Giant. The former was a necessary evil, and the latter could be really good or just really okay. If Guardian Idol came into play untapped, I think I would like it a lot more. There are actually a good number of times you'll have something like 5 mana, and you're able to play a two-mana mana rock and a four-drop...if the mana rock comes into play untapped. Which Guardian Idol does not. I would run six Mind Stones if I could. Until then, I just kind of hope we'll get a better two-mana rock in Historic soon.

As for the Giant, this guy can be fine, and we don't have much to really clog up the ground early, so depending on what abilities you "roll," he could be a house. Getting hexproof is pretty crazy. Having a 4/4 for three mana is also pretty good. First strike, vigilance, also not bad. Three toughness isn't the best, however, especially when Nissa, Who Shakes the World makes a 3/3 every turn. Maybe something like Filigree Familiar or Scrap Trawler would better fill this slot? I also like the idea of trying Myriad Construct, despite the fact that our 4-drop slot is pretty stacked already. Like I said, I definitely didn't hate it, but it for sure felt kind of like a placeholder.

The sideboard is mostly comprised of silver bullet cards for Karn, the Great Creator, so we don't actually have a ton of room for a genuine sideboard, but we also didn't really need one. Speaking of Karns, I liked Karn, Scion of Urza a lot better than Karn, the Great Creator. Making a permanent construct, often with sizable power and toughness, is usually much better than making one of your artifacts susceptible to removal for a turn. In addition, being able to plus in order to draw cards every turn, as opposed to minusing to tutor was also preferred. Though I can definitely see the merits of the Great Creator, don't get me wrong.

Well, that's about it! I really hope you guys give this deck a try or have given it a try, as it's a pretty fierce example of Colorless Control, which is kind of awesome to see. Having a viable deck with all colorless cards is seriously cool. Let me know what you think in the comments, and if I missed any gems when building. Thanks to indomitus86 for the support as well!

Thanks so much for reading, have a happy Thanksgiving, please don't travel, stay safe, I love you guys, and I'll catch you guys next week! Whew, what a mouthful!

Frank Lepore

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