aka: Mentor, Jeskai, Pyromancer Control, Xerox
Monastery Mentor is one of the most versatile threats in vintage history. It's removal resistant, it can build up a team of Monks to act as blockers or get around your opponent's defenses. The same cards that synergize with the restricted Monastery Mentor can support a variety of other vintage-quality threats, making the deck tough and consistent, with or without a Mentor in play.
Mentor Control decks focus on efficiency, with cheap spells that make the most of your mana. They run a mix of the most cost-effective threats, draw spells, counters, and removal that their manabase has to offer.
Why play Mentor Control?
A Mentor Control deck effortlessly switch roles in a matchup. An early threat could let you play a tempo game, countering or removing one card a turn while your clock gets faster and faster. A cantrip and removal-heavy hand could let you build up resources into the late game, and play them in one big Mentor-growing flurry.
With a high cantrip count and low mana curve, Mentor Control is one of the most consistent decks in the format.
Why WOULDN'T you play Mentor Control?
Mentor is capable of some strong starts, but on average it has a much less threatening turn one than combo or Mishra's Workshop-based decks. There's just less raw power.
Most threats in a Mentor Control deck are creature-based, with summoning sickness. Without a Time Walk, a Monastery Mentor deck can't win in a one turn window. Usually that's not a huge problem, but in some matchups (Outcome, Dredge, Oath) that one turn delay can be problematic.
Almost all Mentor Control lists start with:
Cheap card filtering and draw spells are the backbone of the deck. Preordains don't inherently net card advantage, but they help you find your powerful, cheap draw spells and resolve them before your opponent resolves theirs. Combined with cheap counters and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy or Snapcaster Mage to replay a restricted draw spell or two, a Mentor Control deck can often outdraw lists that run more raw card advantage spells, like Thirst for Knowledge.
Jeskai Mentor lists get to run Dack Fayen, which not only filters cards, it rapidly enables Dig through Time and Treasure Cruise. Using a Gush to return lands to your hand and discard them to Dack can take a player from behind on cards to ahead, very quickly.
In addition to the restricted Monastery Mentor, some Mentor Control decks will run some number of Young Pyromancer to act as smaller, redundant versions of the namesake card. If a list runs more kill cards beyond that, they're usually something with some additional utility. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Snapcaster Mage are all common sights in Mentor lists, which can operate as backup win conditions if Monastery Mentor is somehow disabled.
Force of Will and Mental Misstep are must-haves. Not only are they generally strong cards, the ability to counter a spell the turn you tap out for a Monastery Mentor or Young Pyromancer is a powerful tempo swing.
From there, Mentor Control lists include a mix of the most efficient counters and removal they can support. Cheap answers like Pyroblast, Flusterstorm, Swords to Plowshares and Fragmentize are common. The exact mix of these cards tends to be metagame dependent, each shines against different decks.
Some lists opt to run specialized hate cards like Stony Silence, which a Mentor Control deck can play around more easily than their opponent.
Mentor Control decks run 20-23 mana sources. Black Lotus and any on-color Moxes are always used. From there, some lists will run Sol Ring and/or Mana Crypt, some will run the remaining off-color Moxes, some will run more lands. These are small tradeoffs in consistency and the ability to play Monastery Mentor or Jace, Vryn's Prodigy as soon as possible.
The lands are a mix of dual lands, fetchlands, and Basics, the exact count varying by the color makeup of the list. Often Mentor Control will run 2 or 3 lands that don't tap for blue mana, often some combination of Library of Alexandria, Strip Mine and Wasteland, or a non-Island basic or two.
Most Mentor Control decks are three colors, but two and four color variants aren't unheard of.
Jeskai Mentor: The most common list at this time. Leverages Young Pyromancer, Dack Fayden, Pyroblast, and red anti-artifact spells.
Esper Mentor: Similar in makeup to Jeskai Mentor, takes advantage of Night's Whisper and Demonic Tutor to churn through its deck more easily.
Sylvan Mentor: Splashes green, and sometimes a forth color. Runs Sylvan Library and often plays more expensive, endgame-focused spells.
RUG Pyromancer: Related deck that skips the Mentor altogether and takes advantage of red and green cards like Ancient Grudge
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