Mentor Control


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    Mentor Control

    aka: Mentor

    Overview

    Monastery Mentor has proven itself to be 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. Many decks use Mentor as an additional threat, but Mentor Control is built to take full advantage of the card. The name 'Mentor' can refer to any deck featuring Monastery Mentor, but it usually means this one. Mentor Control decks are all Blue and White, but often splash an extra color.

    Mentor Control decks focus on efficiency, with cheap spells that make the most of your mana. Most lists run a mix of the most cost-effective, 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 Mentor 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 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.

    Notable Cards

    Draw Spells

    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 other builds, you might see Night's Whisper or Sylvan Library used to pull ahead. A Jace, the Mind Sculpter or two is not an uncommon site, either.

    Threats

    All Mentor Control lists run 3-4 Monastery Mentor. 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.

    Disruption

    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 is a powerful tempo swing.

    From there, Mentor 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.

    Mana

    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.

    Variants

    Jeskai Mentor: The most common list at this time. Leverages 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.

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    This post is deleted!

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    Posting here to get the conversation started. Note that in the top-level post I tried to keep things as un-opinionated as possible - sticking to the well known information about the deck and matchups, and avoiding making any subjective claims that a subset of experienced players might object to.

    For this post, on the other hand, I'm just laying out what I've seen in my own games

    Here's the list I'm playing now.

    I'm not running anything too atypical, but I don't know that I would consider this the stock list. I run a few more lands and fewer Moxes than what I usually see, as well as a bit more removal. I suspect this is why I'm happy with my Workshop matchup, despite hearing a lot of other players say they think the Workshop deck is supposed to win.

    The Mystical Tutor is a late addition that I'm playing with, but haven't decided on yet. It's been alright so far.

    Supreme Verdict is primarily for Mentor mirrors and nothing else. I don't love it but I haven't found anything I like more.

    The Stony Silence are there for Outcome decks and Outcome decks alone. It's been solid, but I'd like to look into less specialized options. I'm curious about an Engineered Explosives plan, but that has pretty deep repercussions to the way I build the rest of the deck, and I haven't explored that yet.



  • I like that you can get away with building that list with almost 5 proxies if your really tried.
    One question, why is Force of Will in with the mana?



  • For those looking for more variants, there are Planeswalker heavy builds a la Joe Brennan's version from 2016 NA Champs, which verges on Superfriends in terms of play style: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/502539#paper

    And there's Remora Mentor a la Kevin Cron (Cronestary Mentor): https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/315283#paper

    As well as Paradoxical Mentor builds like this one: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/576761#paper


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    I've been wondering about a Mentor variant that utilizes Baral to help position itself better within the metagame. Some Paradoxical Mentor lists have already adopted the tech, but is there a place for Baral in a more tempo oriented (Dack/Delve) build?


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    @john-cox said in Mentor Control:

    One question, why is Force of Will in with the mana?

    Oh, it's free and it counters spells they payed mana for so it's a tempo swing ....

    (my mistake ... I fixed it :D )


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    @desolutionist said in Mentor Control:

    I've been wondering about a Mentor variant that utilizes Baral to help position itself better within the metagame. Some Paradoxical Mentor lists have already adopted the tech, but is there a place for Baral in a more tempo oriented (Dack/Delve) build?

    So I'm definitely not sure, I haven't tried it. My suspicion is that I don't want it. I have VERY few spells (4 total? 2 of which don't really count because they have Delve?) that have colorless in the cost, so it's not a cost reducer as much as it is a counter to Sphere of Resistance. Given that, I'd actually rather just have a removal spell ... another Fragmentize could kill Sphere, or kill a threat, and largely against shops lately I've been attacking their threats over their spheres. Baral is very cool, but I think the value proposition is different for this deck. .... not sure though!



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  • @brass-man How have you been liking By Force in the board? I feel like it's a bit too costly with spheres out, and I didn't see many copies in the top 8 at NYSE (just two total IIRC).


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    @vintage_rage
    By Force has been great for me. I don't know yet whether I prefer 2 or 3 copies in the sideboard, but I'm very happy with the card ... but my approach to Shops seems to be a little different than some.

    I wouldn't want to run By Force unless I was totally sure I had:

    • a rock-solid manabase
    • enough cheap removal to survive long enough to develop my manabase

    Postboard I'm running 19 lands (+5 artifacts) and 7 one-drop removal spells, which has been good for me. Typically I'm able to play a one-for-one By Force early, and get bigger value out of it in the late game.

    I think if I were not already in a position to do that, I would run more lands or more 1-drop removal instead of By Force.


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