Deck Tech: Solar Flare with David Thomas
David Thomas with Solar Flare!
If you’ve followed the Standard Opens over the last few weeks, you may have noticed that Esper Control decks have ticked up in popularity every week, culminating in Beaux Bruggman’s Standard Open victory in Sacramento.
What may not be as obvious is the extreme disparity between each player’s lists and the resulting difference in the way each individual deck plays based on its contents. For example, since U/B Control’s sudden uprising at last month’s Grand Prix Baltimore, many players started to move to planeswalker-heavy builds to exploit the soft spot in U/B Control’s defenses. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Liliana of the Veil present U/B Control with threats that it does not manage well, just as Jace, Memory Adept out of the U/W Delver sideboards can go right over the top of the control deck. To that end, players have moved toward Esper shells to incorporate a bigger suite of planeswalkers while maintaining the favored tools of Mana Leak, Think Twice and Forbidden Alchemy.
The aforementioned Sorin, Lord of Innistrad led the way for Bruggman, tag-teaming with Liliana of the Veil and Gideon Jura as well as a sideboarded Karn Liberated to take the trophy. Looking a little lower in the same tournament, semifinalist Will Tian used a slightly different configuration of planeswalkers and found room for an Elspeth Tirel. It’s really anyone’s guess as to what each version could contain, and it’s up to the player to determine the best configuration for their game plans and play styles.
With that bit of history in the bag, players like Texas native David Thomas have moved back toward a Solar Flare setup, including Sun Titan, Phantasmal Image and the game-breaking Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite to punish players’ reliance on planeswalkers. David still gets to keep the Mana Leak, Think Twice and Forbidden Alchemy package that draw people toward the U/B base in the first place, and he finds room for all that by cutting way down on the planeswalker plan, registering just two Liliana of the Veil in his list.
“I’ve always liked Solar Flare, and now it’s good again since people have to be ready for such a diverse metagame that they have to cut down on cards that are good against it,” he explained.
He is absolutely correct in describing the metagame as diverse. There are so many viable decks that finding a “hand grenade” that beats everything should be impossible, forcing players to play less things that would be good against Solar Flare types of decks like graveyard hate. That lets the Sun Titan into Phantasmal Image plan do a lot of heavy lifting and lets his Lingering Souls reach their full potential, whether it’s attacking planeswalkers, trading with early creatures, or flying over for the kill.
Of course, David had to find room for some innovations to keep opponents honest, and he’s included three copies of Dead Weight as a way to manage the early game as well as provide non-sweeping removal that he can reuse with Sun Titan. Bringing back a Dead Weight with Sun Titan even allows the aura to get around hexproof and shroud, so he can pick off troublesome Invisible Stalkers and Geist of Saint Trafts. He also went all the way up to 27 lands to ensure his land drops, and what better way to make use of all those extra lands than to include one of U/B Control’s best weapons: Nephalia Drownyard. The milling land gives him an extra win condition and a way to stock his graveyard to set up an Unburial Rites or create some flying spirits while Sun Titan lets him keep it around.
If you like powerful control decks that crush aggro and can grind out opposing control decks, give David’s deck a try and let us know what you think!