Deck Tech: Esper Control with Eliott Boussaud

Posted in GRAND PRIX RIMINI 2016 on August 14, 2016

By Frank Karsten

At Pro Tour Eldritch Moon in Sydney, Esper decks saw nearly no play. Even Esper aficionado Shaheen Soorani played B/G Delirium! So is the black-white-blue color combination still viable in the current Standard?

Few people are happier playing Esper Planeswalkers than Eliott Boussaud.

According to Silver level pro Eliott Boussaud, it most definitely is. Yesterday, he posted an impressive 8-1 record, and although he has yet to win a match on Sunday at the time of writing, he is pleased with his deck choice.

Eliott Boussaud's Esper Control – Grand Prix Rimini 2016

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Boussaud likes to take be a control mage, having won Grand Prix Prague 2015 with a removal-laden black-red deck. His attempts for the new Standard format started with a Jeskai deck using Summary Dismissal as an answer Eldrazi with cast-triggers, but he quickly realized that red was not as well positioned as black in the current format. "Transgress the Mind in particular is awesome because it's good against every deck. There are almost no aggro decks with low curves. Even against the red-blue deck, you can find targets like Fevered Visions."

So Fiery Impulse and Nahiri, the Harbinger were cut in favor of black planeswalkers, sweepers, and discard spells. But after he arrived at Esper, he wanted to try out an old favorite. "I wanted to know if Esper Dragons with Silumgar's Scorn was still able to win, but I lost to Ishkanah, Grafwidow too many times," Boussaud told me. "If you can't counter it, you lose the game, so Dragonlord Ojutai was not efficient enough."

His solution was an Esper planeswalker deck reminiscent of the one that Seth Manfield piloted to a Top 8 finish at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad. Boussaud replaced instant-speed counterspells for more sorcery-speed discard, and it worked like a charm. "It's better than B/W Control because you don't rely on creatures and because you have better utility spells, sideboard options, and planeswalkers in blue."

"Narset Transcendent is awesome," Boussaid claimed with enthusiasm. "You have only spells, and she has so much loyalty. If you play Liliana, the Last Hope on turn 3 and Narset Transcendent on turn 4, then you can have 12 loyalty points while your opponent has minus 2 power on their creature. That's impossible to attack!"

"Against red-blue, Narset's ultimate is game over, so they have to spend burn spells on your planeswalkers. That gives you a lot of time. Narset's rebound effect is also good with Dark Petition. It's like being the king. You do Dark Petition twice, and then the spells you search twice."

The final piece of the puzzle is the Infinite Obliteration package. It's needed to answer Emrakul, the Promised End, and it's one of the best ways to stop the 13/13 from coming down.

Possible Updates

"The deck is great, and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is doing a great job in the sideboard, but I may have misbuilt it by a few cards." Going forward, he recommends Oath of Liliana to protect the planeswalkers and To the Slaughter against Lumbering Falls. "These could take the slots of Ruinous Path or the third Liliana, the Last Hope, which is not at 100% power in a deck without creatures in the main deck."

"Also, one Peace of Mind in the sideboard could be great against the Fevered Visions deck. I can always find it with Dark Petition." As always, the brewing continues.

Speaking of brews, Boussaud was not the only Esper player in Day 2. Although he was the only one with a heavy planeswalker focus, two other players are battling with alternative Esper builds. Check them out!

Darko Obradovic's Esper Processor – Grand Prix Rimini 2016 Day 2

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Fernando Pensieri's Esper Dragons – Grand Prix Rimini 2016 Day 2

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