December season's ladder review and a guide to YControl [Under Construction V1.1]


This season saw me playing a version of YControl from rank 10 to godrank with very little digression. I wanted to make a small chronicle of how the deck performs, its matchups and its strengths and weaknesses, not only because I feel it’s one of the best decks on the ladder right now, but incredibly fun to play as well.

##Performance and matchups
I chose this list because it’s one of the most well rounded on the ladder. Its good matchups include most forms of rush (the heavier, the worse for you: this means YR < RR; not enough games vs GR played to decide), MIdrange G, Reaver B, GY Sacrifice, Midrange Red, Burn Red, pretty much the entire ladder right now.

Tentative winrate percentages vs most common archetypes:
vs YRush: 70%
vs RRush: 55%
vs ReaverB: 65%
vs GYSac: 90%
vs MidG: 55 %

What have I left out, then?
Well, it loses out to some of the very heavy control decks, like RB Archon, various 3 wish builds, which it is not fast enough to stop sometimes etc. This is the main reason I queued out of this deck for a couple of games at around rank 1, and switched to YRush. However, I switched back to YControl for the last 3 games to godrank, more out of preference than anything else.

I also faced other decks. From the janky to the incredibly streamlined, the ladder is full of experimental decks, especially close to godranks. Unfortunately, the small sample size of games means I cannot provide accurate statistics.


Somebody had an argument with me over why I call this Control. In truth, it is not. It is a Control-Aggro list (in MtG terms), which we nowadays call Midrange (not Tempo!, which is what most of the things called Midrange are, but that’s a rant for a different time), known for playing Aggro against Control and Control against Aggro. I choose to call it Control though, for two reasons.

  1. Y has no list better suited to the name.
  2. Most of the times you play Control with this list. Which is to say, it’s as heavy as it can be for Y.


  • 2x Outland Ranger
  • 2x Flash Wind
  • 2x Oradrim Fanatic
  • 2x Air Elemental
  • 3x Soul Drain
  • 3x Wind Soldier
  • 3x Deathwish Ghoul
  • 3x Winstorm Charger
  • 1x Doomsday
  • 1x Khalim
  • 3x Windborne Champion
  • 2x Shaytan Vampire
  • 3x Last Nightmare

The slots I fiddled around with the most are the first 6. In truth, they form what I like to call a package. Ask yourselves:

How do I fit 4 cheap events, 4 cheap movement tricks, and 4 early game collectors into 6 slots?

This is how. You could try with Syland Horsemaster, but this brings me to my second point:

These six cards all have synergy with our strongest early game creature: Windstorm Charger, as well as with Air Elemental, another strong and mobile early gatherer. Together, these 11 cards make up your utility and early game

The Deathwish Ghouls + Doomsday make another package. DG is a strong creature in itself, but dropping 2 of them, casting Doomsday, +1 and them Khalim is a game winning play. This has actually occurred in game, and it can be devastating.

In truth, it is becoming harder and harder to get your money’s worth with Doomsday. In fact, I seem to be the only player on ladder not currently playing around it all the time. Gone are the first days of the season when entire boards of green creatures could be wiped with impunity, and the concrete knowledge that the opponent would never be able to rebuild that advantage. I am seriously considering cutting this package, for all its strength, since sometimes it just does not deliver. See General tips and tricks for how to get the most out of this card and the Why no? section for possible substitutions for the 4 card package.

To the previous package we add your removal which is self explanatory and a staple: 3x Wind Soldier, Soul Drain, Last Nightmare.

Khalim fills a great spot in this deck. It is the ultimate factotum, augmenting your early game, late game, gathering as well as forcing your opponent into poor plays due to the need to play around movement tricks.

The late game consists of 3x Windborne Champion as well as 2x Shaytan Vampire.
While the merits of the first are unquestionable and have been enumerated countless times in the past, the second is a relatively new addition to the control staples. It’s so good, I have repeatedly gone back and forth between the third SV and an the third DG.
The point is, SV is a strong body which can be played turn 2, as well as having the tremendous power to shut down Rush or Burn decks single-handedly. I have considered replacing a flash wind by a desert twister to enhance his potential, even though I knew the price of drawing Desert Twister early.
All in all, one of the stars of the deck, and I would certainly run 3 if the meta were more Rush heavy.

##Why no?
Ultimately the answer to lots of the questions in this section is “Because there are only 30 slots”. Some of these cards I would have loved to include, others have been cut for more than just one reason. I will go in a rough order of relevance.

Desert Twister: I mentioned somewhere why this is not included instead of another movement trick. While it is cost efficient and high utility, when drawn early it gimps your ability to play (especially against rush). There are games where you just cannot make 5 deserts. And its effect is nowhere near the power of Winsborne Champion to justify a 33% increase in the amount of dead draws. See Mulligans.

Choking Sands: If you cut doomsday, you HAVE to include this. It takes down some of the most annoying cards in the game: Water elemental, King’s/Queen’s Guards, Grim Guard, Khalim, Shedim Brute, Earth Elemental, Living Willow, Snowstorm lancer, Windstorm Charger, Blood Singer, etc, etc, etc. Would I run more than 1? Probably not, but only testing can tell. Currently it doesn’t exist because my Creature to Event balance is rather critical (2:1 is the limit more or less, and I already have 12 Events including Wind soldier, not to mention some of my other creatures are quite squishy: Ranger, Fanatic, Ghoul), and all the Events I have I consider rather essential. Doomsday is a huge power spike over this card, even with its inherent detriments and as a Control deck you are looking for the most value, the most unfair trades.

Campfire: This has great synergy with our early game (boosting 2 health guys out of small removal range as well as pairing well with WC), but I cannot think of running this before filling out on Outland Rangers. The 3/2 body is relevant and you collect well enough with this deck to afford the extra 3 faeria.

Iona, Beloved by All: except myself. In theory this is a good card; if it collects even once, only Falcon Dive trades 1-1 with it, as well as having the ability to block creatures. When Gnat was a thing, this would never have been an option, as every deck ran at least some granular damage, but now, when there is a slight (very slight) decrease in the amount of Falcon dives being used, this could be a reasonable choice. Then again, this deck collects as well if not better than anything else, which is why she loses in appeal.

Windstorm Colossus: if I could fit this guy in I’d have put a Vampire instead. Otherwise he is worth considering. Also a budget replacement for Vampire.

Altar of Souls: nobody really runs this but it is worth considering, because against some decks a 6/1 is as good as a 6/6. Maybe not your first or second one, but your third, fourth etc. I feel the opportunity cost of running it is really high, as it kills you faster, and is only relevant against about 30% of the meta.

The Rush Cards: Drake, Follower, Monk, Templar, Prayer etc. You can hybridize this with Rush if you want, but that’s a different cup of tea in the end. Just know that more aggressive versions exist, with or without haste creatures, but we are not playing one of them.

King’s/Queen’s Guards [to do]

[more to be added]

You can never really go wrong with this deck. In a nutshell, you want:

Khalim, Ranger, Charger, Elemental. If you have Khalim, keep a movement trick. If you have Charger, and something else on the list, you can keep Flash wind or Soul Drain. If you have 2 cards on this list, you can keep a Soul Drain.

Against Rush, if your hand looks bad you can keep Vampire, Deathwish Ghoul, or Fanatic, in this order. It’s crucial to have a creature down turn 2.

Against Mid Green, if you already have 2 cards on the list, you can keep a Last nightmare (this is really debatable!). Mid green is a matchup about how your removal aligns with his threats and whether you can get value out of Doomsday. At some point he will have to commit, in which case you either have adequate removal, in which case you probably win, or you don’t, and you are on a very short clock.

Never keep Windborne Champion, Wind Soldier, Doomsday.

##Land placement
[add photo of land designations]
To establish some notation: Lands are designated as in chess, by letters running from a to g for columns and each column starting at 1 and going to its maximum length. For example a1 and a2 are the spaces between the wells on the left side of the board. The center of the board is d3, the spot directly in front of your orb is d1.

When playing a land on a space I will designate it by m, l, d, f, p for your opponent playing a mountain, lake, desert, forest or prairie. Your designations are M, L, D, F, P, respectively. I will use > for the indication to move a creature, and x for a creature attacking another creature.
So a game would unfold as:

d5:l + Triton diver
e2:D +Khalim
e5:p , f4:p, Triton diver > b4

Now that this is out of the way, let’s get to your strategy with land placement. The general rule of thumb is:

You play deserts to the sides of your board as a midrange deck would. This means you usually start d1:D, and aim to achieve either b2:D, f2:D or b2:D, f1:D if you are being pushed back for some reason. b2 and f2 are prime spots for double collecting with Windstorm Charger, Wind soldier, WIndborne Champion. b1 and f1 are just as good except for Windstorm Charger, but you have to take these spots when facing rush. The only other time when you have to take b1 is when you went to the same side as your opponent and he dropped a creature on b4 that contests you b2. Then you need to take b1 to keep parity.

That being said, there are exceptions. The most notable is when starting with Outland Ranger, you can play d1:P, e2:P +OR, aiming for f2:D. Take care, as this will prohibit you from playing a Yellow creature next turn. However, against d5:p, d4:p (and maybe even d3:explore) one likes this opening, aiming for c2:D instead next turn. Blocking rush is far more important than collecting.

[to be continued]

[To do]

#Tips and tricks
Air elemental: this is one of your best cards against rush, as the land generation is essential, and the body doesn’t hurt either. I feel, however, that while it can sometimes trade into Dune drake, its body is inherently weak to Soul Drain and Seifer’s Wrath, which by coincidence belong to the colours with the best rush archetypes in the game. See the Land placement section for how to use him in the early game.

Last nightmare: It’s a sad fact of life, that not having this in hand when needed accounts for most of the losses with this deck. The way I see it, there are 4 types of uses for this card.

The good: Your opponent played Baeru and it’s going to wipe out your deserts, or Kodama and it’s going to slam 5 of your creatures.

The bad: You just last nightmared you opponent’s earth elemental even though you could have killed it with Windborne Champion, only to push 5 damage to the face and have no followup.

The clinch: It’s terrible value but you risk losing the game if you don’t. For example, your opponent played a small creature next to your orb, and you have no good way to remove it, but are afraid it will be buffed next turn.

The tempo: Tempo Last Nightmare is the hardest one to play correctly, as it requires knowledge of your opponent’s lineup as well as a huge risk on your part. Using LN on a small creature like Living Willow is terrible value, but if it lets you set up an unstoppable attack it may be worth it. It’s worth noting you can’t really call it a tempo play if you are already outcollecting your opponent by far. Then it’s either a good LN or a bad one, depending on what else you might need it for in his deck.


I’m going to try this. Thanks for sharing :slight_smile: