Athalamund Mangod, The Iron FistI got thinking about what Steven said about Arcane Research not being necessary, and what Sam said about mid-range decks in Open Constructed, and decided to have another look at non-Arcane mid-range control decks.  I also wasn’t really happy with the Conscientious Control deck I gave as an example of Banker/Warlord Control in my Map, so this is an update of that deck too.  (Itself an update of Ghostfires.)
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I figure there are certain advantages to not playing Arcane Research.  Firstly, you don’t have to warp your mulligan around it, so you can start the game with a little more chance of having a consistent opening hand.  Also, you don’t have the risk of drawing useless cards later in the game, so the overall quality of your card draws should improve.  The biggest advantage is that you get your first turn back.  With the results from GenCon showing a lot of very fast Mono-Warlord SiN decks doing well, being able to play relevant cards on your first turn is more important than ever.
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I really liked the Conscientious Objectors in the first version of this deck, but I don’t think they were good enough.  They don’t help you in the early game when you need to stop aggressive swarms, and later in the game when you’ve got control of the board his efficient cost to size ratio doesn’t mean as much.  So I got rid of him, along with some of the locations, to make the deck more reliable.  That brings me to this:
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Mangod Control
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2 Greed (starting)
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The deck’s typical opening play is a first-turn Ministry of Other Smaller Ministries, preferably backed up by an Erotic Assassin to guard it.  That should hold off the really fast aggro openings (ie, second turn kills), at least for a turn.  Other strong first turns for this deck include Crest, Mangod and Crest, Gideon, Adriel.  If you’re going second and your opponent has a character, you can play Violence/Crest, Surplus Soldier, Noble Sacrifice, then another Soldier or a Department of Rejections with the resource the dead Soldier became.
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Torrential BleederThe core of this deck is the board controlling fatties, Athalamund Mangod and Torrential Bleeder.  Athalamund is a brute; there’s not much in the game that he can’t punch and kill if he wants to.  I’ve gone with 4 copies of him, even though he’s Unique, because he often works like a 4-cost removal tactic, killing something big then dying to the backswing.  Obviously he’s best killing small and medium sized dudes though, so that he can keep punching guys every turn.
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The Bleeder is simple enough; he wipes out all the little guys.  Apart from the Surplus Soldiers, which are there to die as soon as possible and accelerate you, and the Plunging Shriever, all the characters in the deck have at least 3 life.  That means you can comfortably have two Torrential Bleeders in play together, wiping out everything smaller than 3 life.  That will hopefully blank a lot of the cards in your opponent’s deck.  The Bleeders work in much the same way as Watchtowers, except that they work well in multiples and bash hard on their own.
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The mid-range fat comes from Erotic Assassin, Gideon and Adriel.  Although all three of those are very aggressively costed, they also work well as efficient blockers.  (In this deck I see Gideon and Adriel as Assassins 5 through 10.)  Being able to turn them sideways when the coast is clear is a huge bonus of this style of control deck.  Because the key board control elements are themselves large characters, and most of the defensive wall is also made of large characters, whenever the opponent falters in their attack you are able to slam home significant amounts of damage.  It also means you’re well placed to take the aggressive position if you’re playing against another control deck.
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Crest of RageThe singleton characters are there to be fetched with Crest of Rage triggers when they’re needed.  Dragon Archer is usually outgunned by Athalamund, but if you want to kill a 3/3/x character without losing the Iron Fist, the Archer is perfect for the job.  The Plunging Shriever is there to take care of any items that bother you, and then fly away immediately.  If it sticks around to fight, it won’t last long with Bleeders and Shriever Attacks damaging everything, so it’s probably best to turn it into a resource until you need to kill another item.
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Elzibeth gets back any dead guys, as per normal.  The deck doesn’t have any direct sources of card advantage (like Mau Party etc) so being able to recur threats can be vital as the game draws on.  The last singleton, Framptle, is there to save you if everything goes pear shaped and your opponent gets out a huge army.  If you get both Framptle and Elzibeth, you can theoretically hold off attacks forever.  Add in Limited Liability and Dark Awakening to protect them, and that becomes a viable backup option.
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If your local metagame is less aggressive, you probably don’t need Framptle.  I’d consider replacing him with more removal (probably Crushing Usury, because it has flip up) or Ceremonious Groomer as an extra Surplus Soldier.  If there are lots of locations in your metagame, (Gilded Yurt?) you could add a Trebuchet Officer instead.
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A Blazing ZeroI really like Surplus Soldier.  He’s not designed to stick around, and with Noble Sacrifices, Torrential Bleeders and Shriever Attacks he won’t last long, but he’s the best acceleration available in Warlord / Banker.  Kill him early and often.  Try and plan around him dying so that you have ways to spend the extra resource he gives you straight away.  When you’ve used up all your resources and the opponent thinks they’ve got free reign to play tactics, you can flip up a Noble Sacrifice to kill something and turn a Surplus Soldier into a resource, then use the new resource to Blazing Zero the opponent’s tactic.
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Against control and combo decks, you want to get some early threats out to put pressure on your opponent while you use A Blazing Zero and Tactician Vacation to disrupt their plans.  Without having tested the matchup, I think this deck will do fairly well against Arcane-based control decks.  If the Arcane player goes second, as they’re likely to do, you can ABZ their Arcane.  You can even play Department of Rejections first with ABZ backup to stop their Arcane and also mess with their ability to find answers as the game progresses.
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Ending this one with a prediction: when Seed 3 comes out, this deck will probably morph into some sort of ‘Sword of Great Justice Control’ deck.  :)  We’ve already seen the art for one of the new Swords of Great Justice (Iohane the Convex) and I heard there were also going to be 3 others in the set.  I figure they’ll probably be less aggressive than the Swords we’ve seen so far, which should fit this deck perfectly.  Looking forward to it!
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F0r gr347 ju571c3!
Neil.
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