Building Mentor based Control



  • I'm fairly new to Vintage and after beating around the bush with other decks I'm dipping my toes into control decks with Mentor as a primary win condition. Since the recent restruction, how has everyone been building it?

    As for individual card choices, are things like Supreme Verdict and Sudden Shock still good? As for Counter choices, Draw spell selection and other Threats (i.e. Chandra, Tendrils etc.), what causes you to play those specific ones?



  • My favorite resource for the answers to your questions is MTGGoldfish, which aggregates WotC's data almost in a way that makes sense and allows you to see trends. Vintage can be found here: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/metagame/vintage

    Beyond that, my advice is don't take deck titles for their word. Just because something is called Nahiri Control or Mystic Mentor doesn't necessarily mean is doesn't or does have Monastery Mentor in the deck, respectively. Data aggregators aren't perfect, especially for a format that doesn't have much data to aggregate.



  • mtgtop8 is vastly superior if you want data about the vintage metagame and decklists. They have more tourneys, a longer history, a better ability to sort, a much better layout in my opinion (absent the pretty pretty pictures), and gives you better ways to cross reference data - giving breakdowns on deck type, and card usage within various formats, as well as how long ago the deck was played.

    Mtggoldfish is much more useful in my opinion, if you are into the trading side of the game. It aggregates a lot of data about card price histories. You can put your entire collection in there and watch the "stocks" rise and fall. They also run strategy articles such as vintage101 by our very own @Islandswamp , so both have their place.


  • Administrators

    Here's my list at the moment:

    I'm still changing a slot or two around each event, but it doesn't deviate much from this.

    There are certainly other approaches to Mentor+Control now, the biggest questions being where you land on the tempo<->controlling scale, and which colors you run.

    I like to keep my curve fairly low, but not to the point of becoming an aggro deck.

    For colors, I wasn't worried about running a 3 color manabase, but wasn't comfortable with four. Between Swords to Plowshares and Fragmentize, Red or Green aren't strictly necessary for the shops matchup in the way they once were.

    Ultimately I value Pyroblast, Dack Fayden, and By Force higher than Demonic Tutor and Painful Truths (and possibly Tasigur + Deathrite Shaman, but that's a stretch).

    For a hot second I considered a Tarmogoyf build but thought better of it before I put it together. I'm just not impressed at all by Sylvan Library, but I'm sure someone in this thread will have an impassioned counterargument to that

    To address your specific questions:

    Are Supreme Verdict and Sudden Shock still good?

    My pre-restriction list had Sudden Shocks, which I no longer run — mostly because Mentor is less popular now.

    I suspect it's also worse in the matchup than it used to be, as the deck is less likely to have (and less reliant on) explosive Mentor draws that force you to kill it immediately or lose.

    I expect Mentor to get more popular over the next few months, so some sort of more dedicated mirror card might become more important soon.

    Counter Choices

    My valuation of Pyroblast has gone up a little. Pyroblast vs Gush and Gitaxian Probe was a little lackluster, but it's strong against a lot of the cards you see replacing it.

    I haven't moved to Mana Drains, which some people predicted would start showing up. I've tried them in a few blue lists and really don't think they're very strong right now.

    Draw spell selection

    So far I've been getting the impression that filtering for your good restricted spells (with Preordain, mostly) seems to outdraw decks trying to capitalize on unrestricted draw engines like Thirst for Knowledge.

    The card that obviously stands out in my list is Compulsive Research. While I think cantrips are, in general, better than unrestricted draw, they hit diminishing returns eventually, and I felt like I could use one more "pull ahead" card to cantrip into.

    After plotting out the deck, I found myself looking for 1 or 2 extra cards that 1) generated actual card advantage, 2) didn't cost 4 or more mana, and 3) didn't require me to change cards I was happy with to support them. Compulsive Research was simply the best card that fit all three of those criteria. It's not an all-star but it has yet to disappoint me

    If you were already running the cards necessary to support Painful Truths or Thirst for Knowledge, those are likely better choices. For me they don't seem worth the cost to the rest of the deck.

    Other Threats

    I've just been sticking to Mentors and Jaces. Personally I think the 5+CMC threats just don't work without supporting them with a bigger manabase, and perhaps some Mana Drains (both of which I think are a mistake in Mentor), and even then they lead to some consistency issues.

    Tendrils just needs too much support from cards I'm not running (mostly Moxes). Obviously the Storm+Mentor decks are an entirely different animal.

    Various utility creatures (Snapcaster Mage; Vendilion Clique; Containment Priest; Kataki, War's Wage) seem okay to me, but I usually end up cutting them.



  • Great write up Andy!

    Some things I have noticed while further developing and testing the deck:

    • Red is the favorite third color mainly for Pyroblast. Its ability to counter/remove Planeswalkers, Leovold, Standstill ... beside countering the whole rest of the blue spells is too unique and needed. No other color offers this with such a flexibility and for such a cheap cost. Dack has lost a lot of its value with the restriction of Gush and Shops playing lots of Ravagers and Ballistas. I play just one. And By Force is nice but not mandatory. Even just with white Shops is a beatable matchup. The strengthened manabase with more basic bands and more lands overall helps a lot.

    • Playing 18 lands and two big Jaces slows the deck down for a good degree. Especially in the faster matchups you often get punished for playing too many non disruptive lands and midgame bricks (for what I support playing three Mentors as well and not four). I still like three little Jaces and just one big one. On that way I can play a little more tempo orientated mana base (full set of Moxen, 17 lands with Strip and one Wasteland, and another Wasteland coming out of the board).

    • I would recommend to play a least one Snapcaster Mage. With all the digging it is not too difficult to find him. And the ability to directly play one card out of your graveyard is a very valuable strategic option.

    • As much as I hate Mystical Tutor in the control matchups: It offers a flexibility non black decks often need. It can be so crucial to get your hand on Time Walk and Balance (beside Ancestral/Treasure Cruise/Dig/Removal). You don't even have to resolve them, it can be enough to have them in the graveyard.

    • Some words on Balance: I play it in the maindeck as well and it has proven its value many times. You find yourself in situations where you want to clear the board or otherwise lose. This is one part of the deck which makes it a real control one. For that reason I play Supreme Verdict in the board as well. It helps especially in the Delver, Mentor and the BUG Fish matchups.

    • Why do you play just one Stony Silence? I have found it the clearly best card you want to see against decks with Paradoxical Outcome (and together with the Wastelands it helps against Shops and other Big Blue variants as well). The nice little Enchantment stops their whole deck. Playing lots of Counters can be enough but it is hard to totally hinder them from playing a game changing Outcome.

    I still really like the deck. It has lost a bit in the blue matchups (which makes these games more interesting), but on the other hand gained something against the rest. I might still be the best blue deck but I don't think it will again dominate as other options (especially the quicker blue combo decks, Oath and Landstill) have become reasonably choices as well.


  • Administrators

    @Tom-Bombadil said in Building Mentor based Control:

    Why do you play just one Stony Silence? I have found it the clearly best card you want to see against decks with Paradoxical Outcome (and together with the Wastelands it helps against Shops and other Big Blue variants as well).

    I agree that the card is very good against Paradoxical Outcome decks, but honestly I'm just not that worried about them. If I was prioritizing the matchup I might want 2, but I'm more concerned with the mirror, Shops, Eldrazi, Oath, Landstill, BUG, and Dredge matchups than I am Outcome. I've considered cutting Stony entirely, but I keep running into random Tezzeret or Painter decks.

    Incidentally I do not like the card against stock Ravager Workshop decks, and I don't board it in there. Obviously that changes my valuation of how many to run.



  • @Brass-Man I have relatively little experience playing Null effects against Ravager Shops. I had been assuming that they were very good against that deck, as well as against Outcome and against 2 Card Monte (Ben Perry), all three of which make up a sizable slice of my metagame pie. Can you walk me through exactly why they aren't strong against Ravager Shops? I'm assuming you favor targeted removal like the By Force, Disenchant, Path, Swords and Fragmentize that I see in your board... true?


  • Administrators

    The short answer is that Stony Silence doesn't stop them from attacking.

    Null Rod does hurt a lot of the cards in their deck, but in my experience (and @ZebraUnicorn's, who built the pre-restriction list I've worked from), the matchup is very tempo-centric, and Stony/Rod can be a giant tempo sink. Since Ballista was printed, as a shops pilot I've won more games against resolved Null Rod/Stony than I've lost ... and I'm not sure how many games I won where they were unable to cast it.

    Stony Silence turn 1 on the play can be a huge blowout, but a lot of the time you're spending 3 or 4 mana, (which amounts to your whole turn) and not getting ahead on board against whatever threats they have.

    Even if you have Wastelands, they're mana denial deck and you aren't. They're just better at that game than you are (this is one of the reasons I've been backing down from 3 strip effects to 1). I've seen a lot of games where the Null Rod player will shut off one of their own moxes, and two moxes and a Ravager on the other side of the board .... and STILL end up way behind, because that mana and that turn was way more important for them than the moxes on the other side of the table, and the ability for the now 3/3 Ravager.

    On it's own, Stony Silence doesn't solve any problems - it's only really exciting when you combine it with something like a now-Ravager-proof Dack Fayden ... but Swords to Plowshares also makes your Dack Fayden Ravager-Proof ... and it also protects Jaces and doesn't turn off your own artifacts and costs one less.

    It's not the worst card in the list - I'd rather have a Stony Silence against shops than a Mental Misstep ... but I dislike it enough to run an extra dedicated shops-hate card in the sideboard instead of boarding it in. If other matchups became more important, I might consider boarding it in to free up the sideboard space


  • TMD Supporter

    @Topical_Island said in Building Mentor based Control:

    @Brass-Man I have relatively little experience playing Null effects against Ravager Shops. I had been assuming that they were very good against that deck, as well as against Outcome and against 2 Card Monte (Ben Perry), all three of which make up a sizable slice of my metagame pie. Can you walk me through exactly why they aren't strong against Ravager Shops? I'm assuming you favor targeted removal like the By Force, Disenchant, Path, Swords and Fragmentize that I see in your board... true?

    As a shops player, the Stony Silence definitely makes it more annoying for me to do Ravager tricks and Ballista hits, but it still doesn't stop me from attacking. You might also be stunting your own development (moxes, lotus, Sensei, etc) while I'll keep rolling along and unless you deal with the creatures, you'll still die, albeit a turn or two later.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to The Mana Drain was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.