Tapping Out with Esper


Greetings readers, I’m back to walk you through my favourite deck in Standard right now.

It’s an Esper Control deck that has the ability to beat the Four-Colour Dreadhorde deck that has become popular and has game against the rest of the format. This configuration was given to me by a friend, Marshall Arthurs and I’ve been working on it ever since. I’ll walk you through the list and then hook you up with my sideboarding plans so you’re nicely prepared for any upcoming MCQs.

As many of you know, Standard is the premier constructed format on Arena and many of the big payout tournaments only have qualifiers on arena. So even if you’re an eternal fan like me, get used to the new world order and play this deck. It’s even got a Splinter Twin finish.

Without much further ado, here’s the deck!

Let’s jump in:

This deck is described best as Esper Tap-Out. True to the name it looks to spend all of its mana each turn and progress its own board-state instead of being fully reactive like traditional control decks. Its most unusual feature is the full three copies of the The Elderspell in the maindeck to allow you the combo finish of killing your own walkers in conjunction with your opponents for a quick emblem.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or Liliana’s ultimate ability more or less means game over in a lot of matchups and as niche as this interaction seems on the surface, it turns out you can accomplish it with regularity in Standard right now.

Because decks like Dreadhorde, superfriends and Nexus exist, we need the assistance of hand disruption to fight them on a different axis than control decks usually would. If you haven’t been paying close attention to Standard, counter-magic is more or less extinct due to the existence of Teferi, Time Raveler and it’s that defining rule that has lead us down this tap-out path. Thought Erasure and Duress can be exceptionally potent, and I’ve also found that Dovin, Hand of Control is extremely underrated against these spell-reliant strategies and warrants inclusion. Making spells cost more mana is just very punishing in Standard. These disruptive elements are just enough to allow you to take over with your planeswalkers, or assemble a combo kill with The Elderspell.

If you’re anything like me, you dislike losing to Mono-Red “Poopers” or white aggro. Good news, those matchups are favored here. Just cast Oath of Kaya into a Kaya’s Wrath and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

You have a the necessary sweeper effects to make the white matchup play-out exactly how you’d expect it to, and the kind of life gain and stabilizing elements necessary to beat red. That said, you’re going to have to carefully manage Experimental Frenzy if you want to master that matchup.

Frenzy is the most likely way for red to beat you going late and with that in mind you’re going to want to use your Thought Erasures to make sure it never hits the table. Notably, later on in the game you can sandbag those same Erasures to combo with Teferi, Time Raveler’s bounce ability to deal with a problematic Frenzy before it gets out of hand.

Before we get to sideboarding I want to touch on maybe the cutest part of the list. Yeah, you guessed it Fblthp, the Lost. As I mentioned previously, this format is all about planeswalkers. And with that in mind a control deck like this can benefit from the ability to poke away at some of the low loyalty walkers that tend to hang around such as Teferi, Time Raveler. Fblthp allows you to knock off some of these walkers without devoting a full card to them, and that’s a role player we’re definitely looking for in this strategy.

Now that you know how to approach some matchups let’s go over sideboarding notes.

VS Esper Control

IN (3)

OUT (3)

VS Esper Midrange

VS Bant Nexus

VS Jeskai Planeswalkers

I think maybe the most important thing to keep in mind when sideboarding with this archetype is maintaining its proactive nature. Remember, we are intentionally wanting to tap-out and present a threat to our opponent every turn. Don’t go turning into a bad reactive control deck after sideboard.

Abuse the insane card advantage and tempo these cheap planeswalkers offer, stay alive and then ultimate a walker — it’s a simple gameplan. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!