Deck Tech: Panda Control with Christian Calcano
You may remember Christian Calcano from such feats as Grand Prix Minneapolis, where he made #ThreeSulfurFalls a meme and hashtag en route to winning the entire tournament with a rogue U/R Delver list. Today he’s rogue once more—but with a very different deck.
Christian Calcano and Mariah Pagliocco worked together to bring his Panda Control list up to snuff.
“I didn’t want to play the U/R deck again,” Calcano admitted. “The Ramp matchup is so bad—I played against Ramp twice last week, and it was just miserable! I was very lucky that I didn’t play against it the entire Grand Prix.” Afraid that Titans would rear their head in Worcester, Calcano was open to trying something new.
The “something new” was delivered by a friend: Mariah Pagliocco. “She was just like, ‘Oh, you have to play this deck, it’s called Panda Control.’” Calcano explained—he was immediately interested. “She told me what was in it—just the general cards, like Restoration Angel, Blade Splicer, Lingering Souls—and I told her I would tune it to the way I like it.” Of course, the way Calcano likes things can lead to some interesting configurations. Panda Control would be no exception—though he did include four Isolated Chapel.
“I like to play one-ofs—a lot—so I just made it!” Calcano’s deck features double-digits singletons and a sideboard filled with bullets, making it one of the stranger decklists in the room. The core, however, is one of the more potent combinations seeing play in Standard, with Restoration Angel and Blade Splicer flanked by Lingering Souls to generate massive board presence. Those cards are the ones Calcano won’t mind seeing game after game.
His singletons keep the games fresh—that said, a lot of the bullets overlap in similar roles. “The removal’s all diverse, and all the silver bullet creatures are pretty good with Restoration Angel.” Some of them, however, are better than others! “I still want to live the dream of Rune-Scarred for Restoration Angel, attack, and then Restoration Angel to Rune-Scarred for another Angel,” he said with a laugh. One bullet in particular duplicates this effect: Increasing Ambition. “That card is awesome! I wanted to play a second one, but couldn’t find room for it.”
Most of the best cards on the day have actually come out of Calcano’s sideboard. “Bloodgift Demon was good out of the sideboard. Sorin’s Vengeance has been sweet—I’ve cast that card three times already!” He’s even got Sorin Markov available to set up the one-two punch. “I’m a little upset I haven’t been able to play Exclusion Ritual yet,” he admitted. “My plan was to Exclusion Ritual Sword of War and Peace, but it kind of depends.” Another spot the ritual shines is against Sun Titan decks like Solar Flare.
Panda Control is one of the format’s slow decks, but it’s got enough aggression to win its fair share of race. If you’re interested in more homes for Restoration Angel—or just a little spice for Friday Night Magic—you should consider sleeving up Calcano’s list. That is, if you can find all the cards!