Esper Control by xkafka on MtGO

Creatures (4)
1 Kefnet the Mindful
3 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (31)
2 Fumigate
2 Torment of Hailfire
4 Censor
4 Disallow
1 Essence Scatter
2 Fatal Push
1 Glimmer of Genius
2 Hieroglyphic Illumination
1 Hour of Glory
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Settle the Wreckage
2 Spell Swindle
2 Vraska’s Contempt
3 Cast Out
1 Ixalan’s Binding
1 Search for Azcanta

Lands (25)
4 Aether Hub
4 Drowned Catacomb
1 Evolving Wilds
4 Fetid Pools
1 Field of Ruin
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Irrigated Farmland
2 Island
1 Plains
2 Swamp

Sideboard (15)
1 Torrential Gearhulk
2 Fatal Push
1 Torment of Hailfire
1 Bontu’s Last Reckoning
2 Duress
2 Gifted Aetherborn
1 Harsh Scrutiny
3 Negate
1 Sunscourge Champion
1 The Scarab God


Ixalan Standard is shaping up nicely going into Pro Tour Ixalan which is right around the corner. The two versions that have proven themselves to be viable, U/W Approach and U/B Control, both have their individual pros and cons. Each color offers something different, and choosing which version to play is a tough decision for most players. But what if you didn’t have to choose? The deck we’re featuring today takes the best of both decks and combines them into one more powerful control deck, Esper Control.

This iteration of Standard control relies fairly heavily on counter spells, as many spells opponents cast have an immediate impact when they hit the board or resolve. Censor, Disallow, and Essence Scatter all coexist in most of these control decks due to their efficiency (Censor and Essence Scatter) and their consistency (Disallow). However, Spell Swindle is certainly unexpected. 5 mana for a counter spell usually trades even or down on mana, but the mana it puts on the board for you makes it feel like the Standard version of Mana Drain most of the time. I would expect to see it in more and more control decks moving forward.

As for sweepers, Fumigate is a fairly obvious choice. In the day and age where we don’t really get 4 mana sweepers in Standard, a 5 mana sweeper with significant upside against aggro decks is incredibly valuable, and Fumigate provides just that. Settle the Wreckage has similarly proven its value in white control decks in Standard. The more unexpected “sweeper” in this deck is Torment of Hailfire, which takes advantage of the copious amounts of mana this deck finds itself with to control the opponent’s board, limit their cards in hand, and finally kill them. While it’s generally quite poor in the early game due to the opponent’s willingness to discard or sacrifice a useless land, it’s nigh unbeatable in the late game.

Torrential Gearhulk is arguably one of the most powerful control creatures printed in the last few years, and it has great applications in this deck, despite “turning on” the opponent’s removal spells. Fatal Push, Hour of Glory, and Vraska’s Contempt are the instant-speed removal spells in this deck, while Cast Out and Ixalan’s Binding offer enchantment-based removal to deal with some of the more troublesome threats the opponent lands.

Here are the changes I would make going forward:


-1 Hour of Glory

-1 Torment of Hailfire

-1 Spell Swindle

-1 Ixalan’s Binding

+2 Glimmer of Genius

+2 Search for Azcanta


-1 Torrential Gearhulk

-1 Harsh Scrutiny

+1 The Scarab God

+1 Sunscourge Champion

This is day 290 of’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 289 here, where we featured a unique Standard deck that looks to take advantage of token makers and a particularly powerful yet underutilized planeswalker.

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