This week I intended to write about Mono-White because of Heliod, Sun Crowded, but after playing with various versions of Mono-White I did not find a version of the deck that I particularly liked. What I did find this week was an Esper Control deck that looks to make control a real option in Standard during Theros Beyond Death season.

When Dominaria rotated out of standard last fall, Esper/Azorius Control lost superstar Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. This left the deck without a true finisher. Making control a difficult play in standard over Throne of Eldraine season. Theros brings two important creatures and a new planeswalker to the deck that give it card advantage and a true finisher.

Mogwai showcased the deck on YouTube here and here. He got the idea for the deck from Andrea Mengucci and made a few minor adjustments that give the deck the power needed to take down any opponent. What this version of the deck does not use are counter spells, rather it relies on sweepers and board wipes to control your opponent’s play.

Esper Control: Mogwai

CREATURES: (5)
Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths
Dream Trawler

PLANESWALKERS: (10)
Teferi, Time Raveler
Narset, Parter of Veils
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse

INSTANTS: (3)
Tyrant’s Scorn
Mortify
Despark

SORCERIES: (9)
Kaya’s Wrath
Agonizing Remorse
Erebos’s Intervention
Thought Erasure

ENCHANTMENTS: (7)
Oath of Kaya
Omen of the Sea

LANDS: (26) (26)
Watery Grave
Swamp
Island
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Silence
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain

SIDEBOARD (15)
Noxious Grasp
Dovin’s Veto
Despark
Devout Decree
Disfigure
Duress
Kaya’s Wrath
Whirlwind Denial

The core of the deck is from the Esper Control deck that was popular during War of the Spark season. What Theros Beyond Death brings to the deck are two new creatures and a planeswalker that take the deck up a level.

Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths adds a key creature to the deck that brings card advantage with evasion. Atris is a 3/2 creature with menace. His ability is “When Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths enters the battlefield, target opponent looks at the top three cards of your library and separates them into a face-down pile and a face-up pile. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.”

This ability typically leads to you getting at least one good card and possibly two cards. The deck has a bunch of cards that scry, so it’s possibly to know what at least two of the three cards are that your opponent will choose from before they decide about how they separate the cards. This makes it easier to decision which card or cards to choose. Also, because of his menace ability he can provide a good attacker to get in needed damage.

The deck’s new finisher is Dream Trawler. This 3/5 sphinx has several great abilities that make it difficult to get off the battlefield once it hits the field. First, it has flying and lifelink. This makes Dream Trawler evasive and can bring you back from the brink of defeat by stabilizing your life total. What makes Dream Trawler a bomb in the deck is its other abilities. Here is the card’s text:

Whenever you draw a card, Dream Trawler gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
Whenever Dream Trawler attacks, draw a card.
Discard a card: Dream Trawler gains hexproof until end of turn. Tap it.

Each turn that Dream Trawler attacks, it will be at least a 5/5 because of the card draw making it difficult to kill in combat. Dream Trawler’s last ability is the most important because it prevents your opponent from successfully targeting it with removal. Typically, your opponent will only have three or four turns after the one that Dream Trawler enters play to get it off the battlefield before you will win the hand.

The final key addition to the deck is Ashiok, Nightmare Muse. While Ashiok is not Teferi, Hero of Dominaria it provides the deck with a planeswalker that can help finish off an opponent. Its abilities are listed below:

+1: Create a 2/3 blue and black Nightmare creature token with “Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, each opponent exiles the top two cards of their library.”
−3: Return target nonland permanent to its owner’s hand, then that player exiles a card from their hand.
−7: You may cast up to three face-up cards your opponents own from exile without paying their mana costs.
Loyalty: 5

Ashiok’s plus ability provides you with a creature for your board that will mill your opponent when the token attacks or blocks. It’s minus three ability bounces a non-land permanent back to its owner’s hand and requires your opponent to exile a card. This is particularly powerful when your opponent does not have any cards in hand. The final ability will not be used often, but in long games can give you the ability to cast additional threats. The cards that the token exiles when it attacks or blocks are available to cast with the minus seven ability, so as long as you attack or block with the token(s) then you should have something to cast that should lead to game ending attacks. Overall, Ashiok is a powerful planeswalker that fits well into the Esper shell.

In Mogwai’s play you will see the power of Dream Trawler as a finisher and the importance of Artis and Ashiok to the deck. In my play testing, all three cards played important roles in the deck. While my record in my play testing was only about 50/50, I found the deck very playable with a lot of potential. Personally, I do not play control much because I do not like the feel of control decks, but Esper Control is a strong control deck that has a place in the metagame. Expect to see players using on Friday nights and in tournaments.

Until next time, good luck finding your win condition!