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Building Control in Oathbreaker with Aminatou


I had a really interesting conversation after my Monday night playgroup decided to pack it in this week. I have a friend who plays one Commander deck. She's been tuning it for years. It's very, very strong, filled with a clear gameplan and plenty of solutions to any problem which comes up. In fact, when she's playing, she's in charge of the game most of the time: she almost doesn't need solutions, she is creating all the problems.

She asked me if I'd ever written about her commander, and I joked (although this is a paraphrase), "no, I don't write about jerk commanders."

That led us to a rather lengthy discussion about whether I meant it, did I think her deck was too oppressive, and the like.

(If you're interested, I think her deck is strong, but I don't think it's oppressive. I am, however, grateful we have a big enough group for multiple pods, because I don't want to play against it every game I play! I said all this to her at the time.)

The big takeaway for our purposes, however, is we all like to play this game differently. I pack at least eight decks for every Commander night, despite knowing I'll likely play one game, and maybe two if I'm lucky. I have various budgets, power levels, and goals.

That's me. I like options, and I don't really care about winning. I like to play, and I like to play lots of different ways.

Others have different feelings. Some like to lock up the board. Others like to attack with huge Creatures. Some people have one or two decks they keep and lovingly tend, while others build tons. Some have one precon and are just there for the friendship. It takes all types.

Which means, as I set out down a path to explore Oathbreaker, I wanted to touch on a number of different deck styles. Last week, we covered Aggro with Samut, the Tested, and this week I wanted to cover Control. However, as I contemplated how one could build control in a multiplayer format (where one-for-one trades like counterspells and kill spells are far less good than in heads up) while being budget conscious (so trying a new format doesn't cost a fortune) and thinking about stuff Commander players might have kicking around already, I was led to a very specific place with a very specific goal. I decided, "what the heck? Let's do Turbofog."

Aminatou, the Fateshifter
Holy Day

Just in case you don't know what Turbofog is, it's a deck style which aims to mill out your opponent by forcing them (and everyone else) to draw a ton of cards, all the while casting Fog effects to keep from dying to combat damage. It doesn't really matter if they play out a massive board, because you'll just Fog and not care. Then they'll draw a bunch of cards and eventually run out.

Aminatou is a solid choice for this. We're in the colors of Fog (White), draw (Blue), and kill stuff (Black), though that last one ends up not being so terribly important. Let's talk through it.

We want to build up our mana every turn, but we don't want to waste too many spots on ramp, so we're running 26 Lands. That may seem high to some of you, but seriously, 60 card Control decks often run at least that much. We want to hit those drops every turn until everyone is milled out. We have mostly White and Blue in our deck, so much of our Land leans those colors, with Black showing up attached to several of our duals. It's possible the deck wants fewer Black sources, actually, so if you play that, be ready to do some swapping.

Draw in Turbofog is specific. We really want everyone to draw. So, we've got Howling Mine. We've got Font of Mythos. We've got Temple Bell. We have a pair of lands which can be activated to make everyone loot. We also have Trophy Mage to go get Temple Bell, which is the best one of the bunch because we can activate it at the end step of our last opponent's turn, meaning we get to use the extra card first. Tribute Mage is here to get Howling Mine, too. Kami of the Cresent Moon and Jace Beleren both draw everyone some extras, and Dictate of Kruphix Flashes in so we draw first. We also have Aminatou's +1 ability, which at least allows us to see one more. It's actually slightly relevant that she doesn't draw us outright, because we don't want to get ahead of our opponents and find ourselves with fewer cards than they have.

Our Signature Spell is Holy Day, which is probably the single best answer we have. The most common way we'll deal with problems is by ignoring the damage they cause. Let people play their big stuff! Use Holy Day last, because we want to keep its cost as low as possible for as long as possible. That means using Angelsong and Pollen Lullaby if you've got 'em. Also, feel free to do some politicking. "If you don't attack me, I won't have to Fog!" We also have a couple of counterspells in the event we need them, and a few Wrath effects just in case that makes more sense or we don't have enough Fogs to survive. Fog Bank and Guard Gomazoa are classic Control blockers.

One fun little interaction is Stonehorn Dignitary. The original idea behind this deck was a Flicker deck, because of Aminatou's -1 ability. The Dignitary is the last remaining bit of that, but it's worth it. We can play that dude and prevent someone from hurting us for a whole turn, then we can flicker him and do it all again. Another great opportunity for a deal: offer to let them off the leash if they promise not to attack you!

The basic idea is to draw everyone out so they're stuck with no Library and a draw step. That works great, but not everyone gets with the program, so we have a few answers. Campfire and Elixir of Immortality both will shuffle our 'yard back into our Library, thereby making sure we have more cards than everyone else and won't mill ourselves out. I also opted for Thassa's Oracle as a straight-up win condition, because it's highly likely we'll be able to just win with it. Feel free to drop that for another Fog or another counterspell (Forbid would be good here, thanks to Buyback) if that's not your thing.

We can also gum up the board with Ghostly Prison and Norn's Annex, allowing us to hold our Fogs a little longer. Thought Vessel is here to be a second Spellbook; we'll be better off if we're not having to discard down to seven every turn like the rest of the table! (We have Reliquary Tower for the same reason.)

This one rings in at just over $100, which isn't cheap, but neither is Control. It gets a lot cheaper if you drop the Thassa's Oracle (Lab Man is like $10 cheaper), and Font of Mythos is rather pricey due to its single printing. I'm pretty sure the deck will function fine without it, and more counterspells wouldn't be bad. Batwing Brume and Disallow are also not super cheap, nor is Inkshield, but you can run literally any card in color that says "prevent all combat damage" and it'll be fine. (Inkshield will definitely be a problem for people, though.) Selfless Squire could be fun. Supreme Verdict is likely in a binder somewhere, but if it isn't, pretty much any board wipe will also do just fine here: if you've been wondering where to put that copy of Bontu's Last Reckoning, this wouldn't be a bad spot! It's not a draw spell, but Fractured Sanity could have a big impact on the board.

I think this deck would be a blast. Oathbreaker seems like a great format for Turbofog. Everyone has a 58 (or 56, if they're running partners) card deck, and if we can get everyone drawing about five cards a turn plus assuming a little card draw of their own, we can shut this thing down before we run out of Fogs. What do you think? Would you give it a try? Let me know on socials!

Next time: Creature-Type Matters.

Thanks for reading.

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