Control decks are often difficult to build on a budget. With the need for powerful, late-game threats, expensive mythic rares often take the lead. However, it is possible to build a workable control deck without breaking the bank. To prove it, I turned to a less common color combination.
- Creatures (3)
- 3 Consuming Aberration
- Planeswalkers (3)
- 3 Jace, Memory Adept
- Spells (29)
- 3 Bile Blight
- 3 Devour Flesh
- 3 Dimir Charm
- 4 Dissolve
- 4 Grisly Spectacle
- 4 Psychic Strike
- 4 Ultimate Price
- 4 Pilfered Plans
The Win Conditions
Jace, Memory Adept is the primary win condition, milling the top ten cards of your opponent's library every turn. With incidental mill throughout the deck, it shouldn't take long to get rid of everything.
Consuming Aberration is bound to be gigantic in this deck, not to mention the fact that it grows larger every time you cast a spell. As the only creature in the deck, your opponent will be hard-pressed to decide whether to take his removal out in sideboarding or leave it in, and you can often protect the Aberration in Game 1 using your counterspells.
Dissolve is the go-to counterspell these days, giving you a bit of value over Cancel by letting your scry 1. Scry has proved to be more powerful than most players thought, with Temples being played solely for that ability.
Psychic Strike may be even better than Dissolve here. It mills two cards, which is relevant only occasionally, but the main draw is that it's much easier to cast, requiring one of each color rather than 2 blue mana.
Pilfered Plans is another upgrade to a standard card—in this case Divination. By paying a black mana in the cost, you gain the added bonus of milling two cards. It’s a minor ability to be sure, but a few cards here and there can really start to add up.
Grisly Spectacle is another card that happens to dump your opponent's library into his graveyard. Although it costs more to cast than Hero's Downfall, it costs much less to buy, and with large threats like Desecration Demon around, it can mill quite a few cards.
Ultimate Price can only kill mono-colored creatures, but it just so happens that there are a lot of those running around right now. Nightveil Specter is one notable exception, but fortunately, every other piece of removal in the deck can take care of that.
Bile Blight was only just released, but it's already proven to be among the better cards in the set. Although it doesn't have the sheer creature-killing power that Grasp of Darkness did, it can kill multiple creature if you are lucky. It's also a great tool for dealing with Pack Rat, provided you deal with it before there are more than three Rats on the board.
Dimir Charm is another great way to kill small creatures. With W/U control decks often playing several copies of Last Breath, it's obvious that there are enough powerful 2-power creatures in the format to make this kind of card worth it. In addition, Dimir Charm has two other modes that may be of use, letting you counter a sorcery spell or arrange the top of someone's library.
Whatever the rest of the removal in the deck misses, Devour Flesh can clean up. Although it only gets rid of your opponent's weakest creature, later in the game, there's often only one creature to choose. With the bevy or removal and counterspells in the deck, Devour Flesh will often get rid of exactly what you want it to.
Mono-Black Devotion – Game 1
Islands, Dimir Guildgate, Dissolve, Devour Flesh, and Jace, Memory Adept. My opponent played a Swamp and passed, and I drew Dissolve. I played my Guildgate and passed the turn.
Mutavault, cast Nightveil Specter, and passed the turn. I drew Dimir Charm and used Jace's +1 to draw a card, grabbing Grisly Spectacle. I ended my turn.
My opponent cast Nightveil Specter, which I allowed to resolve. He activated Mutavault and attacked Jace with both creatures. I cast Devour Flesh, and he sacrificed the new Nightveil Specter. I then cast Dimir Charm on Mutavault. Jace dropped to 1 counter, and my opponent ended his turn. I drew Dimir Guildgate and cast Devour Flesh, killing Nightveil Specter. I used Jace's 0 ability to mill ten cards, and I then passed the turn.
My opponent cast Hero's Downfall on Jace, but I countered it with Psychic Strike. He ended his turn. I drew Pilfered Plans and cast it, drawing Dissolve and an Island. I played the land, dropped my opponent to eleven cards with Jace, and passed the turn.
My opponent drew his card and conceded.
Dimir Guildgate, an Island, Ultimate Price, two Psychic Strike, and Jace, Memory Adept. My opponent led with a Temple of Silence, and I drew another Ultimate Price. I played a Guildgate and ended my turn.
My opponent drew a card with Underworld Connections and then cast Nightveil Specter. I countered it with Psychic Strike, and he ended his turn. I drew a Swamp, played it, and cast Jace, Memory Adept. I milled ten cards and ended my turn.
My opponent drew a card with Underworld Connections and attacked Jace with Mutavault. He played a second Mutavault and passed the turn. I drew Pilfered Plans and milled another ten cards with Jace. I cast Pilfered Plans, drawing Dissolve and a Swamp, played the Swamp, and ended my turn.
Mutavaults and passed. I drew Ultimate Price and passed the turn.
He cast Underworld Connections, but I countered it with Dissolve. He attacked with both Mutavaults, and I cast Devour Flesh to kill one, dropping to 6 life. He passed the turn. I drew Dimir Charm and ended my turn.
My opponent cast Desecration Demon, and I countered it with Psychic Strike, leaving him with one card left in his library. He passed the turn. I drew a land and passed back, and he conceded after drawing his final card.
This deck deals with traditionally-difficult threats such as Mutavault better than most, and Jace can usually end the game in about four turns if left alone. The mill from Grisly Spectacle, Psychic Strike, and Pilfered Plans can really add up, letting you eke out a victory if Jace is dealt with. If you're looking for a control deck that wins on a different axis, or if you just enjoy playing mill decks, give this one a try.