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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
Apr 10 2018 12:00pm
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When Wizards of the Coast announced the new Challenger Decks, I was excited. I am the perfect target for them: I only have a casual interest in Standard, and can't be bothered building a new deck all the time to take to FNM. This product would great for both myself and my kids as a way to get us back playing the format without having to do a ton of work.

This series of four articles will put all of the Challenger Decks through their paces in a friendly Standard league on Magic Online, the closest thing I can think of to what a normal FNM would be like. I'm going to play the decks as they are, before offering some budget-friendly upgrade ideas. I'll run you through how the matches play out and give my overall thoughts on the deck.

Previously, I have covered both Hazoret Aggro and Vehicle Rush, and you can see those by clicking the links. This week: Second Sun Control.

 

Second Sun Control
Challenger Deck, 32 tix

Creatures (1)
1 Kefnet the Mindful

Spells (33)
4 Censor
1 Farm // Market
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Opt
1 Renewed Faith
1 Settle the Wreckage
4 Supreme Will
3 Approach of the Second Sun
3 Fumigate
4 Aether Meltdown
4 Cast Out

Land (26)
2 Field of Ruin
2 Ipnu Rivulet
4 Irrigated Farmland
10 Island
8 Plains
 
 

 

The whole purpose of this deck is to win by casting Approach of the Second Sun twice. The rest of the deck is geared around surviving until you can do this, or hastening the process by allowing you to draw extra cards. It is also the cheapest of all of the Challenger Decks to buy on Magic Online; this could be an indication of its power level compared to the other decks.

Match 1

This match was against an opponent who was on blue/black control. I chose to play first, and played a few lands over the course of the first few turns. My opponent, on the other hand, played out a Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Champion of Wits and got to work on reducing my life total. I was able to use Aether Meltdown to neutralise some damage, and then drew and cast Approach of the Second Sun, buffing my life total back up. At this point, I had Ipnu Rivulet and Supreme Will in hand and was able to draw and then cast Approach two turns later, winning me the game.

Game two started in a very similar way to game one, with a Siphoner from my opponent and not much from me. I drew and cast Kefnet, but was not able to get to a point where he could attack or block. My opponent was able to hit me down to 8 life before I drew and cast Approach; the only problem was, they had a Field of Ruin in play, which forces you to search and shuffle your library. The Scarab God from my opponent was met with a Cast Out from me, but they followed up with a second one. I was able to Fumigate their creatures away for a short time, but it wasn't enough and they were able to kill me.

Things got off to a much slower start in game three, with both of us doing nothing but play lands for the first few turns. I played some card draw, while my opponent played Arguel's Blood Fast to do the same. Neither of us did much until my opponent played two copies of Champion of Wits, both of which I used Aether Meltdown on before the trigger resolved so they didn't get to draw cards. They put themselves down to 7 life with Blood Fast, while I cast Approach of the Second Sun - while having a second copy in my hand. I was pretty confident I had this, even though my opponent had played The Scarab God; what I didn't anticipate (because I hadn't seen any yet) was my opponent having counter magic. The race was now on; I had drawn three copies of Fumigate so I could stay in the game, but when my opponent countered the first one, they had enough power on the board to kill me and I went down.

A 1-2 result in this round, but the deck felt good. The games were actually close, and I enjoyed them.

Match 2

I won the dice roll and chose to play in game one. My opponent was on white/blue auras and started with a Skymarch Aspirant and Adourned Pouncer, which I neutralised with an Aether Meltdown. Unfortunately I got stuck on three lands, and while I managed to counter a couple of threats, I couldn't keep that pace up. My opponent managed to get a Cartouche of Solidarity on their Aspirant and also play a Legion's Landing, which they are then able to get to transform. I had drawn a fourth land by this stage but can't find anything to deal with all the creatures and died soon after.

I chose to be on the play again for game two. My opponent played a first turn Legion's Landing, but I countered their second turn Adourned Pouncer, then played Aether Meltdown on their Vampire token when they played Cartouche of Knowledge on it. They then followed up with an Adanto Vanguard, but I had a Cast Out in hand to deal with that. My opponent emptied their hand on their turn five, playing out some more creatures, which cost them dearly as I had Fumigate in hand. At this point my opponent had no cards in hand to my four, and my life total was a healthy 22. I was pretty confident I could win from here, but I needed to find Approach; this ended up taking a while. My opponent ended up playing draw-go, and I could only assume they were drawing auras; for my part, my hand looked like this:

I eventually found Approach on turn 12 and promptly cast it; by this stage I had an Ipnu Rivulet in play and a Kefnet as well, and was able to redraw and recast it a couple of turns later for the win.

Game three started with a Legion's Landing, Sram, Senior Edificer and Cartouche of Solidarity from my opponent. I had no early answers and had to use Opt and Supreme Will to dig for land, as I had Fumigate in my hand. I managed to draw Cast Out to take care of Sram, but I was down to 6 life; thankfully my opponent had once again dumped their hand, and I was able to Fumigate to get back up to 11 life. The only problem was, they had transformed their Legion's Landing so could produce a steady stream of Vampires. I got lucky and drew another Cast Out the turn after they played an Adanto Vanguard, then drew another Fumigate to clear out the Vampires they had created. I eventually managed to get to seven lands to cast Approach, and luckily drew another Fumigate to deal with their board (which included an embalmed Adourned Pouncer). From there I was able to use Glimmer of Genius to dig for the Approach and win on turn 12.

That now gives me a 1-1 record, and 3-3 in games. I must say, I'm not normally much of a control player, but I am so far enjoying this deck.

Match 3

My opponent chose to play first for this match. They were on blue/red spells, as evidenced by the multiple copies of Shock they played on me, and the Enigma Drake they played soon after. For my part, I cycled a couple of Censors and eventually drew two copies of Approach of the Second Sun; now I just needed to find land. I used Aether Meltdown on the Drake to slow down my loss of life, while using Glimmer of Genius and Supreme Will to look for lands. I soon found them (and also drew the third Approach). My opponent had no counter spells and I was able to win the game.

I sideboarded out the Fumigates and some copies of Aether Meltdown to bring in Negates and Spell Pierce, as well as a Glyph Keeper. In game two, my opponent played an early Riddleform but didn't seem to have too many instant and sorceries; instead, they used their mana to scry. They were able to hit me a couple of times and revealed that they had sideboarded in Negates when I attempted to Cast Out their Riddleform. I drew my first Approach on turn 5 and had plenty of land in my hand, but had to be careful of counter spells now. My opponent was able to hit me down to 9 life by the time I got to seven land, but I decided to play Glyph Keeper instead of Approach in case of counters. I proceeded to block their Riddleform and attempted to use Aether Meltdown to save my creature, but my opponent tapped out to play Dive Down. This gave me the opportunity to cast Approach safely. This left me on 16 life and with two copies of Supreme Will, an Opt and a Spell Pierce in hand, I felt I could do what I needed to find it quickly and get past any counter spells. At the end of my opponent's next turn, I cycled Cast Out and then attempted to cast Supreme Will; this resulted in a counter war with my opponent, which I managed to win:

My opponent was now tapped out, I drew Approach, and won the match.

2-1 now, and 5-3 in games.

Match 4

My opponent was on the play and was on some sort of green/white ramp deck. They began with Renegade Map, two copies of Thaumatic Compass and a Treasure Map, while I cycled away some cards and played some card draw (leading my opponent to quip: "exciting game..."). They tried to play a Sifter Wurm, which I countered, and then followed up with Approach. My opponent then played Sandwurm Convergence which I used Cast Out on, then drew a second Approach and won the game.

Game two went in a similar manner, though I started with two copies of Approach in my hand, and my opponent cast an early Regal Caracal. I held them off long enough to cast the two copies of Approach to take the match.

That now gives me a 3-1 record, and 7-3 in games.

Match 5

On to the final match. I lost the die roll again and my opponent chose to play first. They were on blue/black control though, unlike my first opponent, they did not have the creatures. Much like the last match, not much happened for the early turns of the game; we both played some card draw and cycled some cards. The first significant play come at the end of my turn 6, when I attempted to cast Supreme Will; my opponent played Disallow, which I countered, and they countered again. However, this opened up the door for me to untap and cast Approach as my opponent had tapped out. For whatever reason, my opponent then conceded.

I bought in the Glyph Keepers, Negates and Spell Pierces for game two. This would prove to be significant; the first few turns played out as game one, but my opponent left the door open for me to cast a Glyph Keeper with mana up for Spell Pierce; if I could stick the Keeper I was pretty sure I could ride it to victory. Sure enough, this is exactly what happened; my opponent had no removal spells and I cruised to a victory a few turns later.

That left me with a 4-1 (9-3 in games) record. This deck was super fun to play and despite me thinking it might be weak, it played out really well. I'm not a massive control fan but I really enjoyed this deck.

Upgrades

This deck is the cheapest on Magic Online of all the Challenger Decks when buying as singles, so it gives us the most room for upgrading it to a 100 tix deck. So, where do we start?

I'm going to start with the mana base. Although I never had any mana problems, it can certainly be improved. I'm going to remove 3 Islands and 1 Plains to add 4 copies of Glacial Fortress. There is a lot of double white mana spells in the deck, so adding some more white sources certainly won't hurt.

The counter spell package is okay, but again this can be improved. Adding four copies of Disallow will improve things greatly; to do this, I'm going to removing 1 Opt, 1 Censor and 2 Aether Meltdown.

Next up, I wasn't a massive fan of Kefnet. I never really felt it was useful at all. The same can be said of Renewed Faith. I want to remove both of these, and I want to replace them with three copies of Torrential Gearhulk (removing a Cast Out as well). This gives the deck another way to win and reuse some of the spells. 

Finally, for the main deck, I'm going to remove the final two copies of Aether Meltdown and another Opt to add an additional Farm / Market and two copies of Search for Azcanta. This gives the deck another way to dig for Approach of the Second Sun.

As for the sideboard, it felt pretty weak to me. I never felt the need for the Regal Caracals, so I want to remove them, replacing them with another copy of Settle the Wreckage and three copies of Authority of the Consuls, which is important against aggro decks. I also want to remove Kefnet and the Renewed Faiths for three copies of Essence Scatter. That leaves us with this:

Second Sun Control Budget Upgrade
by The_Wolf, 90 tix

Creatures (3)
3 Torrential Gearhulk

Spells (31)
3 Censor
4 Disallow
2 Farm // Market
4 Glimmer of Genius
2 Opt
1 Settle the Wreckage
4 Supreme Will
3 Approach of the Second Sun
3 Fumigate
3 Cast Out
2 Search for Azcanta

Land (26)
2 Field of Ruin
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Ipnu Rivulet
4 Irrigated Farmland
7 Island
7 Plains
 
 

 

Next week, join me for the fourth and final Challenger Deck play through: Counter Surge.