Deck Tech: White-Black Control with Paul Rietzl

Posted in Event Coverage on November 1, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

It’s not often you hear a hall of fame member like third-ranked Paul Rietzl describe their deck as being full of “not very powerful cards.” It’s even less often you hear them describe it that way when they’re deep into Day 2 of a Grand Prix with the deck.

But that’s exactly how Rietzl described the White-Black Control deck he’s found success with at Grand Prix Indianapolis.

“It’s a very low-power deck, but they work well together,” he explained. “You need a good reason to not play Jace and Dig Through Time in your control deck, but there is a benefit to not playing fetch lands.”

Read the Bones is foremost among those advantages. With the life loss from the mana base minimized, Rietzl is able to take full advantage of the powerful but painful draw spell. There’s also another, less obvious benefit to eschewing the popular blue cards.

“I picked up two draws at the Pro Tour playing that, so that kind of scarred me,” Rietzl said. “So I didn’t want to play Jeskai or Esper at this event because a draw usually the same as a loss if you’re trying to win the tournament.

“I tested a lot of two-color combinations, and none of them had great matchups everywhere, but this one is good against Jeskai and the red decks. You still get to play a lot of the cards that make Esper good without running any risk of drawing. And being able to play four Read the Bones with four Seeker of the Way is a huge appeal that Sam Black came up with during Pro Tour testing.”


Third-ranked Paul Rietzl has found success at Grand Prix Indianapolis by going off the beaten path, navigating White-Black Control deep into Day 2.

Without fetch lands in his deck, Rietzl was also able to squeeze in a few underutilized lands outside of Battle for Zendikar draft: Blighted Steppe and Blighted Fen.

“I saw Blighted Fen in a grinder decklist for Grand Prix Quebec City last week, and it wins you a lot of races against the aggressive decks,” he said. “And against the controlling decks with six discard spells and four Read the Bones you can really tear apart their hand while also going wide to make their removal bad.”

While the power of a given card in Rietzl’s list may not be sky-high, they combine very well to mix threats and answers that match up well against the top decks in the room, and the shell of the deck is customizable to what’s needed.

“That’s the best part of the deck,” he explained. “It’s a midrange deck so you’re playing a true 75 rather than 60-card deck. If you’re against an aggressive deck you can bring in Arashin Cleric, and if everyone is playing Languish you can board out your creatures or not start the Seekers. You can bring in Monastery Mentor when you want it. It very much can be made to fit what you need, and I think it’s good in this metagame.”

White-Black Control — Paul Rietzl 

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