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Raff and Tura Token Control

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When people think of me and my favorite kinds of Magic decks I know what they tend to think. The thought is that I'm all in on more aggressive creature focused decks. In general, I think it's safe to say they're right. Of the various ways to play the game, I tend to love decks that go hard, fast, and for as much damage as possible. It's fun, gets me through games quickly, and often gets me to my next game right away or gives me more time to spend with friends at events.

I think this largely comes from my grinder mentality and the way I tended to play competitive Magic. A lot of people get an extremely varied skill set of play styles playing various paper events or tournaments in general. For me, I'd spend less time playing tournaments and more time focusing on things like Magic Online leagues or the MTG Arena ladder. In both cases, the more you grind, the better you do. Without needing to worry about time in the round or anything, it's best to just play match after match as quickly as you can to maximize value. Rather than spending multiple hours with grindy decks, I'd rather spend just an hour or two with a fast-paced deck.

That's not always my style, however. Sometimes I really enjoy a grind-fest. Slowly building incremental value to build up to a big finish - that's the control way. In competitive Magic it's not always my thing, although I've been known to dabble in it from time to time all the same. In a format like Commander, I'm far more into that playstyle than some may think. It's no secret that my favorite Commander deck of all time is Sharuum, the Hegemon - a combo-control deck that's meant to slowly build up while controlling the board to ultimately lead up to a monstrous combo finish.

As it happens, Dominaria United has provided two legendary creatures that I feel fit the control Commander style quite well: Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart and Tura Kennerud, Skyknight.

Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart
Tura Kennerud, Skyknight

It's unfortunate that you can't put the two legends together as a partner pair or anything as they both work in tandem with one another excellently. Tura makes a ton of tokens just for casting spells - the kinds you'll normally be utilizing to control the board anyways. Meanwhile, Raff can use those tokens to draw more cards as you cast the spells to make even more tokens. Once you have enough of a board and enough cards, you can use his mass pump effect to strike for massive damage - something that should be simple for a control strategy.

Let's see what a list might look like!

Raff and Tura Control | Commander | Paige Smith

Card Display


When building this deck, I tried taking inspiration from a lot of different control strategies I'd become familiar with over the years. I wanted to do something that was a lot closer to something like traditional control as opposed to a lot of the ways I've played the strategy in Commander before. Sharuum's artifact-centric combo-control, the sacrificial control in Ertai, the Corrupted and Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, and the various Mono-Black Control strategies are all so different from traditional Blue-White draw-go countermagic style control.

The first thing I went after were token makers. While they're far from the thing that control decks want or need at all times, it's what the two commanders in question demanded. What's more, more tokens means better ways to prevent attacks from getting through to you or to the many planeswalkers in this deck. Many of the planeswalkers are the very thing creating these tokens, with the likes of Elspeth, Knight-Errant; Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; and Elspeth, Sun's Champion continually filling up the board. Much like Tura, there's a number of cards that spit out tokens for casting spells, such as Metallurgic Summonings, Murmuring Mystic, and everyone's favorite bulk rare Talrand, Sky Summoner.

Metallurgic Summonings
Recruit the Worthy
Forbid

While there're tons of permanents making tokens, there's tons of spells that do the trick as well. Secure the Wastes, Grand Crescendo, and Martial Coup are all very much armies in a can. Martial Coup even blows away opposing armies if you cast it for enough mana! Call the Coppercoats relies on your opponents having lots of creatures, but you can get a ridiculous amount of creatures fast depending on how many your opponents have. If you want to take a slower and steadier pace, Recruit the Worthy is great because with buyback, you can keep using it over and over. That's especially great when you have token generating permanents on the battlefield!

When it comes to actually controlling the board, though, and getting the most out of your tokens, there's a number of ways to go about it. The most obvious is countermagic. Name me a more iconic pair than control decks and counterspells. Go on, I'll wait! This deck's running a pretty strong suite of spells to help there. Counterspell, Dovin's Veto, Disallow, Forbid, and more give you tons of great ways to foil your opponents' plans. Even Mana Drain is here, having become somewhat more affordable as the years have gone on. I excluded some higher level spells like Force of Will and Force of Negation, but if you have them, you can easily find some options to swap out.

There's also a ton of removal in the deck as well. The usual suspects of Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares are here, obviously. So is Generous Gift and Return to Dust to blow away some pesky non-creature nonsense. If you need a wider touch there's always board wipes such as Supreme Verdict and Wrath of God to get the job done for you. That can blow your stuff up, though, which is a bit problematic, so if you want to take out your opponents' boards instead, you can put Winds of Abandon and Cyclonic Rift to good use.

If you want to stop your opponents, but don't necessarily want to block up the entire board, there's some ways to help there as well. The most notable are the likes of Ghostly Prison, Propaganda, and Sphere of Safety. With each of these, you can easily prevent your opponents from even trying to attack in the first place. Jace, Architect of Thought makes opposing creatures smaller as well, allowing your tokens to stand up to them more easily. Not only that, but he provides a great card advantage engine if he gets enough loyalty on him. Get him high enough and you can even steal your opponents' best cards out of their decks!

Supreme Verdict
Ghostly Prison
Jace, Architect of Thought

Some other controlling all-stars I included would be the very familiar Teferis in Hero of Dominaria and Time Raveler. If you've played Standard at all in the last couple of years, you likely know them all too well. If you're a little older, you might also know of Sphinx's Revelation and Elixir of Immortality, which paired nicely with the aforementioned Jace, Architect of Thought in the old Return to Ravnica Standard. Or you could take the way of Pauper and utilize a little flicker engine with Ephemerate and either Archaeomancer or Mnemonic Wall for ridiculous amounts of value.

Regardless of how you go about it, though, using Raff and Tura is sure to really scratch that itch for all your deep-down control desires. I'm far from the usual demographic for your typical draw-go style of control like this, but even I admit a fondness for this sort of thing now and then. Playing a deck like this reminds me of the times drafting control lists in a Cube or something like that, and in all the right ways. It's an acquired taste, and something I'm not big on all the time, but every now and then I just need a good bit of control in my life. If you feel the same way, give this a try at your next Commander night, and try it out with both Raff and Tura at the helm. Just don't be surprised if you may lose a few friends along the way.

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal

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