Orzhov Control

Posted in Feature on December 13, 2013

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

Mono-Black Control (dubbed Excalibur by Paul Rietzl) took down Grand Prix Albuquerque in the hands of Owen Turtenwald, with Paul Rietzl, Joseph Nix, and Todd Anderson also making Top 8, but it failed to repeat its performance at Grand Prix Vienna. Instead, Andreas Ganz made Top 16 with an interesting take on Mono-Black, now with less mono and more white cards.

Blood Baron of Vizkopa

Andreas kept the core of Thoughtseize, Underworld Connections, and Pack Rat, which are the most important parts of the Mono-Black shell, which necessitates keeping the white splash to a minimum. In fact, Desecration Demon also made it into his list, along with much of the same removal. One might even begin to suspect that this is a Mono-Black list in disguise...

Where the white splash comes in is the powerful Blood Baron of Vizkopa. I've been a fan of this card ever since we played it at Pro Tour Dragon's Maze, and I've never even looked at Obzedat, Ghost Council since Blood Baron has begun his rule. When Baron is good, he's reallygood, and now is one of those times. Besides Blood Baron, a lone copy of Sin Collector and a pair of Last Breaths make up all the white in the main deck, with only a single Wear & Tear in the sideboard (and the deck can't even cast Wear).

Between Temple of Silence and Godless Shrine, most of the mana requirements are covered, and Andreas only played one Plains to supplement them. He even kept all the Mutavaults, which are a big selling point of being monocolored to begin with, so if the deck is able to function with them, that's a huge point in its favor.

When a deck is extremely popular, even a slight modification can pay huge dividends. Andreas identified a powerful card (Baron) that only requires a small cost in consistency, and by keeping most of the important parts of the proven Mono-Black deck, he gets to play the card in a very strong shell.

Andreas Ganz's Orzhov Control

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