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Control Part One - Imposing Your Will

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A concept that's been popular in competitive collectable games as long as Magic: The Gathering's "Counterspell" has existed is the control deck.

The purpose of a control deck is in the name - to control everything that your opponent does to the greatest extent that you can. An MTG Salvation article notes two flaws that are common to a pure control deck:
  1. In order to reach the point of total control, one needs many resources and access to many cards
  2. Generally, if one's opponent can play more spells and threats than one can respond to, pure Control decks can have difficulty recovering.
The article goes on to list the following two ways that control decks overcome these issues:
  1. Continual card drawing is a major aspect in control decks, as it keeps one's resources consistently available.
  2. The vast majority of cards that are not win conditions or card drawing spells are spells that react to any threat one's opponent can play, so that you can, ideally, respond to everything.
While we don't have anything quite so direct as Counterspell, the structure of Dice Masters enables us to use both of the "solution" strategies within every game, yet decks that include control elements are often limited to blocker control or "bad bargain" cards like Punisher: "McRook." So what can we do to control our opponent?

<h3>Card Drawing - aka, Churn</h3>

We have tons of options to keep our dice fresh and our resources plenty. Don't believe me? Listen to the second episode of our podcast.

The obvious choice to start this off is Beast: "Mutate 666". He's cheap, his dice production skills are well known, and he provides a wonderful means of mitigating Black Widow: "Tsarina". With all the myriad options that are out there for faster dice, I like this one the best for a control deck. You need the resources early and often - Beast gives that to you.

Other possible inclusions are Gambit: "Ace in the Hole" or Green Goblin: "Norman Osborne" (Or Nogg, as we affectionately call him).

Silver Surfer is an intriguing option - he could get you to a five-cost character faster, but a lot has to go right to make that happen.

<h3>Response to threat - Globals, Assassins, and Storm</h3>

Globals! The globals keep your opponent in check - this means you want to have Magneto to reroll the villains, Mr. Fantastic or Phoenix to force an attack, and Distraction to pull back an attacker. The caveat is that the globals are available to everyone, but if you play correctly, you'll be set up to use them when you need them.

Assassins push characters off of the board for you. This is known. While it gives your opponent the chance to reroll them a turn later, it gets them out of your way for now. These are people like Hawkeye: "Longbow", Punisher: "McRook", and of course our trope namer, Deadpool: "Assassin." We need to pick these with an eye towards synergy for the rest of the squad, so let's return to this one in a moment.

Storm is obvious, but lets rule out two of them right away - I want no part of "Ro" or "Goddess" for this one because the rerolled dice go to the prep area. Our assassin is already doing that. I'd much rather go with "Priestess" or "Wind Rider", because it puts the dice in used. "Wind Rider" also has the chance to do some damage - certainly insult to injury.

<h3>Win Conditions</h3>

A control squad doesn't need a bruising win condition. It probably can't afford them anyway. No, this squad doesn't want a punch-out, just the ability to annoy someone to death.

Storm helps by doing damage for each die that she moves to the used pile, but that's not all.

With all of these characters that we might want who have "when fielded" activations - Storm, Gambit, Hawkeye - I like Human Torch as a win condition here. Constant damage. Storm now has the potential to do a max of five - one for fielding with Torch, two per opponent's rerolled die. Hawkeye now knocks out a character and pings your opponent. And the beat goes on. I like "Johnny Storm" over "Flame On" because I can use the character damage from "Johnny" in many ways - including, say, to kill Hawkeye or Storm so that I can trigger them again next turn when I field them.

<h3>And the squad is...</h3>

[u][*]Beast "Mutate 666" - Cost 2 - Justification: Churn, Tsarina fodder[*]Gambit "Ace in the Hole" - Cost 3 - Justification: Churn, "when fielded" trigger[*]Storm "Wind Rider" - Cost 5 - Justification: Dice control, "when fielded" trigger, direct damage[*]Human Torch "Johnny Storm" - Cost 4 - Justification: Win condition - all the "when fieldeds" trigger him, super annoying.[*]Hawkeye "Longbow" - Cost 4 - Justification: Assassin, "when fielded" trigger[*]Mr. Fantastic "Brilliant Scientist" - Cost 3 - Justification: Global forces attack, costs one mask. (Changed from Phoenix, unless you like Phoenix. She's still a possibility)[*]Magneto (UC or rare) - Cost 6 - Justification: Global forces villain die reroll[*]OPEN SLOT. Possibilities include Loki "Gem Keeper", Silver Surfer (any), Professor X (any), all for various reasons. I'm going to try several of these, but I'm partial to Silver Surfer - that may well get you an early Storm.[/list]Basic Actions

[u][*]Distraction - Cost 4 - Justification: Global forces return of an attacker[*]OPEN SLOT - Choose carefully here; this may be a "dump" slot and you don't want something that could accidentally benefit your opponent.[/list]This is all based upon the reasoning above and a fairly formulaic adherence to the wants and needs of a control deck. I don't think that it's new, nor do I think that I'm the first one to conclude this, but more on that in a second.

Phoenix/Mr. Fantastic and Magneto are only going to get one die apiece - you have them purely for their globals. If you use Silver Surfer, I'd recommend the same. The focus here has to remain on your control elements. Having access to the globals is all you need for those three; otherwise, you need your character dice from the other slots to win.

Most of your cards are doing their thing as a result of being fielded rather than attacking, which means that your opponent can't use the globals against you. Conversely, with the means to get dice a little faster (Beast, possibly Silver Surfer) and cycle through them a little faster (Gambit), you should have the energy that you need when you need it. True, (s)he can force you to attack with someone, but you can pull them back easily - but if your opponent is spending energy on that rather than establishing their field zone, then you likely have them where you want them.

<h3>Does It Work?</h3>

I don't know; this is part one and I haven't played it yet. In conversation, poking and prodding the various elements that could make this up, it seems that it would be effective. This is in my queue to try, and I'll post the squad that I use afterward as well as my dice distribution. In researching for this article, it seems that others have independently found themselves drawn towards a similar structure, so I'm certainly not alone in my examination and justification.

What intrigues me is that we're doing this without a single super rare, and that it has answers for the super rares that are in circulation. I also think that effective variations of this deck could be made using uncommons and commons almost exclusively.

We'll continue to examine this in part two, where we'll narrow down to a deck and look at some of the synergies that you can take advantage of with this deck.
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  1. Sterling Johnson imported's Avatar
    I've been doing a lot of work trying to find the right control style deck. Of all the things Ive tried the core of the deck always seems to be Beast(Mutate #666), Mr Fantastic (Brilliant Scientist), and Storm(Wind-Rider). These three carry the work load of the deck. Here's the current version of the deck Ive been running.

    4x Beast (Mutate #666)
    3x Mr. Fantastic (Brilliant Scientist)
    3x Gambit (Ace in the Hole)
    4x Storm (Wind-Rider)
    2x Loki (Gem-Keeper)
    2x Professor X (CFX)
    1x Colossus (Piotr Rasputin)
    1x Dr. Strange (Master of the Mystic Arts)
    BA -Distraction/Gearing Up

    I have a couple games where the deck stumbles early due to not getting Masks but its capable of bouncing back fairly well. Once past the early stages I really love having LOTS of masks available. Keeping their field clear while also keeping your guys around is important. I've had this deck win 3 different ways. 1)Swarm. If you can keep their board fairly clear you can get to a point where all your little guys actually add up to a lot of damage. This is where its important to have those mask to make good use of Distraction to keep your guys in the field. 2) Storm. Shes won games all by her self. The opponent will play differently with her in your bag. Its forces them to either re-roll sidekicks for energy or to make bad attacks with them so Storm doesnt send them off the next turn. She typically will get in some damage on the attack as well because the opponent wont want to see her come back the next turn. 3) Colossus. I don't make it my goal to go for Colossus but if Ive already got a decent board presence and the dice have given me the energy I like having the option.

  2. Dave imported's Avatar
    I'm right with you on Beast, Storm, and Gambit. I don't know that I want more than one die for Mr. Fantastic - for me, he's just a global.

    Loki is definitely an option here.

    The drawback that I see is that you have a lot of the control essentials at 5 and up - Storm, Loki, CFX. I agree that Storm can be good all on her own, but with so many &quot;when fielded&quot; abilities, including hers, you might as well add insult to injury and throw in Johnny Storm. I'd argue that the game can be over before you need to spend six on CFX or Dr. Strange. Still, I like what you're trying here.

    Storm WR especially hurts Gobby decks given how easy it is to do damage with her.
  3. Sterling Johnson imported's Avatar
    I started with just 1 die on Mr.Fantastic but I actually like him when facing Hawkeye-Longbow. The more I play him too the more Im liking him. I could see going down to 2 though if I need the dice in other places. Why are you choosing Phoenix over Mr F? I would think youll end up with more Masks considering the cheap cost of Beast/Gambit. Also you want to be seeing the character side of Johnny and Hawkeye more than energy..

    I completely agree with ProfX and Dr.Strange. Ive never been in a situation where I thought Prof was a good buy. I think Ill give Johnny Storm a shot in that spot. I may also be fitting Magneto in since Dr.Doom and Venom are becoming more and more popular in my area. Im currently the only one running Loki so I expect them to start running Magneto as well.

  4. Dave imported's Avatar
    Yeah, Fantastic is the right play here. You're totally right.

    Magneto stops Loki, Doom, Venom, any of them. It's a wonderful thing.
  5. Vanadio imported's Avatar
    Hey Dave, I run a very similar team,cool! I have &quot;Gobby&quot; but somehow playing with him it's not fun for me. For your open spots, I suggest you to try Invulnerability for its +1/+0, it's very good, and also Silver Surfer for its global as well:



    [ MAIN ]

    4x (2 Mask) Beast / Mutate #666 (Max. 4)
    3x (3 Mask) Gambit / Ace in the Hole (Max. 4)
    3x (4 Bolt) - Hawkeye / Longbow (Max. 3)
    3x (4 Bolt) - Human Torch / Johnny Storm (Max. 5)
    4x (5 Mask) - Storm / Wind-Rider (Max. 5)

    [ GLOBALS ]

    1x (3 Mask) Mr. Fantastic - Brilliant Scientist (Max. 4)
    1x (6 Shield) Silver Surfer - Sentinel (Max. 4)
    1x (6 Mask) Magneto - Holocaust Survivor (Max. 4)

  6. Vanadio imported's Avatar
    Actually, this deck and the Invulnerability global developed around &quot;Gobby&quot; that was oin the Gambit stop. &quot;Gobby&quot; it's a painful treat for your opponent and while he's stumbling upon countering its gameplan, you can suddenly switch him to [bolt] resource provider. The global become now scaring when I have 3 [bolt] unused from one &quot;gobby&quot; and a sideckick. Also, this is the reason why I ran also Phoenix together with Fantastic, just to have an other option to force attack.
  7. Vanadio imported's Avatar
    [EDIT] please remove previous

    Actually, this deck and the Invulnerability global developed around &quot;Gobby&quot; that was in the Gambit spot. &quot;Gobby&quot; it's a painful treat for your opponent and when he stumbles upon its gameplan he's forced to counter him playing with your sidekicks. Now you can suddenly switch Gobby to [bolt] resource provider. The Invulnerability global become now scaring when I have 3 [bolt] unused from one &quot;gobby&quot; and a sideckick. Also, this is the reason why I ran also Phoenix together with Fantastic, just to have an other option to force attack.
  8. Vanadio imported's Avatar
    This is the team I'm referring to:



    [ MAIN ]

    4x (2 Mask) Beast / Mutate #666 (Max. 4)
    4x (3 Bolt) Green Goblin / &quot;Gobby&quot; (Max. 4)
    4x (4 Bolt) - Human Torch / Johnny Storm (Max. 5)
    4x (5 Mask) - Storm / Wind-Rider (Max. 5)

    [ GLOBALS ]

    1x (3 Mask) Mr. Fantastic - Brilliant Scientist (Max. 4)
    1x (7 Bolt) Phoenix - Redd (Max. 3)
    1x (6 Shield) Silver Surfer - Sentinel (Max. 4)
    1x (6 Mask) Magneto - Holocaust Survivor (Max. 4)