April 06, 2015

James Buckingham's Esper Control


As I write this, I am on an airplane flying to Brussels for a 20-day stay in Europe. The purpose of my trip is obviously Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir.

Pro Tour Fate Reforged was Modern, so it has actually been six months since we've had a top-level tournament in Standard. I'm arriving early to join the testing group and am very interested to see what decks await me. I can only hope that by the time this article is posted, I have decided on my deck and can sleep at ease.

This week I would like to take a look at some Standard decks which may be a hint to what the new format will look like; especially decks including new cards from Dragons of Tarkir.

I will start with James Buckingham's Esper control from the StarCityGames Invitational. This control deck makes use of several spells from Dragons of Tarkir that say "if you have a Dragon."

The backbone of the deck are Anticipate, the cheap draw spell all blue mages have been waiting for, and Dragonlord Ojutai. Ojutai has gone through a 1000-year workout and can now use Anticipate himself.

He can be summoned with five mana and is a reliable blocker/finisher with hexproof. Unlike similar cards in the past, the cards from Dragons of Tarkir also trigger when you have a Dragon on the battlefield. Therefore, there's no need to hesitate playing him. The fact that he survives Crux of Fate also supports this, and attacking with Ojutai after resetting the board while keeping Silumgar's Scorn in your hand sounds like a fine plan.

Anyway, I'm sure we are going to see a lot more of this "look at the top three cards of your library and choose one" effect.

Esper Control—James Buckingham

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