September 23 2016 Friday at 01:31 PM

Updating Superfriends and Control lists with Kaladesh cards

For my last article, I talked about the EMN decks that I still play with when I am feeling like a spikey spike. Today I want to talk about the cards for Kaladesh that I am considering for these decks. If you missed the first post, check it out!

First deck on the list, and likely still at the top of everyone’s hit list, Superfriends.

One of the good things, or bad things depending on your viewpoint, is that Superfriends keeps getting new friends with every expansion. Let’s meet the Gatewatch’s new crop of candidates.

Superfriends decks typically have a green base for mana fixing. While the days of Sylvan Ranger are over, Oath of Nissa is so freakin’ good for these decks that not running Green seems silly. Sylvan Advocate and Tireless Tracker are good reasons to stick around, and now Nissa, Vital Force is here. She is a planeswalker killer by herself, sending a 5/5 hasty land right at Liliana’s head! Getting to ultimate after one turn is bananas, while the Regrowth -3 guarantees that Nissa will always be relevant in any matchup. This one makes the list as long as Forest also makes the list.

This card is Awesome, capital A intended. My deck was always sliding towards R/G, so pushing the mana a little harder for Chandra is not a high price. Oath of Chandra and a Chandra +1 for damage kills Gideon, Arlinn, Liliana, and Zendikar’s Nissa. Her -2 eliminates most things. Her +1 ramps out your Sorin. Good times await.

This is an interesting card, but she isn’t enough for me to splash blue. Her +1 is too low impact for this deck, but I am sure she will have another home.

Two new walkers, and plenty of other cards to consider.

Aether Hub and Harnessed Lightning. Can this combination stabilize or destabilize the mana base?

Cataclysmic Gearhulk. A sweeper on a stick, is it worth finding WW?

Arborback Stomper. I may be a fool for liking this card, but I don’t find it far off from Thragtusk. You get 2 more toughness and trample, you lose the 3/3 beast. If aggro is a thing, this card may get some action.

Decklist please!

I want to see how the mana works out. Dual lands may just be better than Hub and Lightning. It is possible that you want Radiant Flames instead of Oath of Liliana in a world with playable one-drops, and Declaration of Stone may actually get worse because of vehicles and the artifact-matters cards that folks will be playing (Toolcraft Exemplar says “thanks for the Clue buddy”). Speaking of vehicles, they are being heralded as the great planeswalker killers. Has the death of the Gatewatch been greatly exaggerated, or will vehicles change the world of Duels as we know it? Regardless of truth, the hype is real, so I want all three Reclamation Sages and a Bellower on top of that.

So what do control mages have to get excited about in the new set? Let’s look at the two control standout wedges and see what fits where.

Esper Control

Fragmentize is a big step up from Felidar Cub for this type of deck, so we will take that card with glee. Four copies? The meta may demand it, but I think I can start with three and feel fine about it.

Skywhaler’s Shot is an interesting option when we already have access to Murder. This may be easier on the mana, but if we still run Grasp we already plan to get double black ASAP anyway. I think the choice of this and/or Murder will depend on the construction of the rest of our deck.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk - It feels weird, but I am not very excited about this in Esper. It isn’t Tragic Arrogance, they get to pick what to keep. If what they keep is bigger than a Hulk you haven’t achieved that much. I don’t feel like this card is right for this spot. Our goal starting turn one is a clear battlefield. I see Cata-hulk as a midrange board-stall breaker, not a control staple. The card is definitely best alongside other well-sized creatures, as you can keep Hulk as your artifact.

Torrential Gearhulk - Now that is our boy! I don’t think I need to explain too much here, but one small thing is that if vehicles matter, our opponents will be casting creatures before combat, using mana that could have been used on a removal spell, and your Hulk can eat their vehicle and flashback a removal spell to kill their new creature.

Noxious Gearhulk - It is hard to turn down a 5/4 Nekrataal with life gain in a control deck. I think you play this card, even though you tap out for it. You’ll want an answer to your opponent’s Gearhulk after all.

Essence Extraction - Same cost as Murder, same slot as Anguished Unmaking and Shot, but with it’s own niche to fill. Maybe the meta will make it necessary if things are happening too fast.

Cloudblazer - The ultimate mulldrifter, can we really run this card? I promise you this, I will try. I may fail, but I will try.

Contraband Kingpin - A 1/4 Lifelink for two might be good enough, but I don’t know if I can play this card without artifacts because it would seem unflavorful. Damn that third ability! This may be your guy if the format is too fast for Murder, Shot or Unmaking.

Aetherhub - We don’t have any energy going on, so I don’t want to be overboard on this. I think one copy is the right idea.


Staying on the control theme, what do you Tutelage disciples get from the new set?

Fragmentize and Skywhaler’s Shot are cards I have already discussed.

Do we have enough instants for Snap-Hulk?

Chandra, Torch of Defiance should get cozy because this is her home for sure!

Fateful Showdown - This is tough. Obviously the curve of playing this right after a Tutelage is dreamy, but what if you don’t want to toss your hand? I am not convinced by this card yet.

Cloudblazer - I want this card even more with Tutelage around, and I want it more because of the next card.

Saheeli Rai - This + Cloudblazer or Snap-Hulk makes my heart beat quicken.

The major issue for this deck isn’t want it gains, but what other decks gain. If most decks run enchantment hate, Tutelage becomes a waste of three mana instead of a game-ender. The right path may be to let Tutelage go and become a planeswalker deck. I know some mill advocates just spit Mt. Dew on their iPads when they read that, so for now I’ll keep the engine in one piece.


This turned out to be a tough deck to edit, as the core is already very focused. In the end I couldn’t mess with it much so the new ideas like Cloudblazer and Snap-Hulk didn’t make the cut. Chandra and Lightning-Hub are the biggest changes at this point.

I want very much to look at the decks that control means to control. Aggro has gained so much from Kaladesh that I don’t think we would be doing it justice to update the current lists. Instead, I will be brewing all new aggro decks when Duels Diaries returns.

<3 CGB

The End Credits -
Bookmark -
Twitch -
Magic Duels Wiki -
About Duels Diaries -
CGB’s Deckbox -