A Bit of Background
So, why in the world am I - the biggest proponent of running Control Slaver sans the Intuition/Accumulated Knowledge draw engine - writing an article about using Intuition in the deck? A little while ago, while discussing the merits of the Intuition/AK engine with some members of Meandeck, I told them that I would test Intuition in Control Slaver.
Therefore, this article is a result of my effort to see just how good I could get Control Slaver to be, while also including three copies of Intuition. I believe that the result of my work is an interesting decklist, and a decklist which you may wish to test. I'm not convinced that this build is stronger than a regular Control Slaver build; however, I do believe that it is more promising than the current Control Slaver decks that are using Intuition. At any rate, I have been getting far better results with this build of Intuition Slaver than I have with any build of Goth Slaver that I tried.
My first realization when I began to test the deck was that I hated Accumulated Knowledge. This of course is reflected in my previous article in which I express my concerns with the Intuition/AK draw engine in Control Slaver. However, I also found that there are times when there is virtue in Intuition itself, not as a draw outlet, but rather as a tutor for an unrestricted card, to set up a Yawgmoth's Will, to end the game under a Mindslaver, or to make my Welders do broken things.
The problem that I encountered was that I wouldn't feel comfortable dedicating three slots in my deck to Intuition unless I had a decent default Intuition target; what would I wish for when none of the above situations arose, but I still can resolve the spell? I'd like to be able to get something powerful and useful with Intuition, while at the same time avoid clogging up my deck with a card like AK which is only good when found through Intuition.
The best card I could find for this role is Deep Analysis. If there are no better options, you can find a couple Deep Analyses with Intuition, and net yourself some considerable card advantage. At the same time, while greedy Accumulated Knowledge demands that you spend four deck slots on it, Deep Analysis only asks for two. However, the most important way in which Deep Analysis is better than Accumulated Knowledge is that unlike Accumulated Knowledge, Deep Analysis is a perfectly strong card on its own, without help from Intuition.
I have done some testing with this build of Control Slaver, and have been very happy thus far. Recently, I took the deck to a Type One tournament at Your Move Games in Providence, a fun and well-run event. I finished in the finals out of thirty-one people, facing some strong decks and strong players throughout the day. The next weekend, I took the deck to Doomhed's tournament in Rhode Island, where I won the event.
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Black Lotus
2 Deep Analysis
1 Demonic Tutor
4 Force of Will
1 Lava Dart
1 Mana Crypt
4 Mana Drain
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
4 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Time Walk
1 Yawgmoth's Will
Explaining the List
So, how does this list differ from my regular Control Slaver build?
- 2 Skeletal Scrying
- 1 Mana Source
- 1 Fact or Fiction
- 1 Sundering Titan
- 1 Mystical Tutor
+ 3 Intuition
+ 2 Deep Analysis
+ 1 Lava Dart
First, let me explain the cards I added into the deck. Intuition, of course, is needed because my entire goal is to create a Control Slaver list using Intuitions. Three Intuitions means that you're likely to see one in the early to mid game, but at the same time will see two copies of the card less often than if you ran four. Two is sufficient for enabling Intuition. I oftentimes get two Deep Analyses and a Mindslaver. If both Deep Analyses go to your graveyard, then they are both easy to flashback. If the Mindslaver goes to your graveyard, then any Goblin Welder you draw becomes a threat.
As for DA, I have already mentioned that using it as the default Intuition target takes up less room than Accumulated Knowledge. Beyond the issue of space, DAs is a fine card on its own. Against another control deck, this card presents a double threat; either you walk away with more cards in your hand than when you started, or the opponent expends the resources to prevent two separate spells from resolving.
One disadvantage of Deep Analysis is its sorcery speed. However, in my playtesting of the AK version of Control Slaver, I often found myself casting Accumulated Knowledge on my main phase anyway because of Mana Drain. Deep Analysis is a great Mana Drain sink. The reverse of this is that Deep Analysis cast from the hand is somewhat expensive without Mana Drain mana and can be a great Mana Drain target; however, flashing back a Deep Analysis generates the same net card advantage as casting Ancestral Recall. Add in the fact that Deep Analysis doesn't mind being discarded to Thirst for Knowledge, and you're left with a very solid draw spell which happens to have excellent synergy with Intuition.
The next question is, what have I cut from the deck? We can't really judge how adding new cards to a deck improves the deck without also considering what it gives up. And while not nearly as bulky as the Intuition/AK engine, adding Intuition and Deep Analysis into the deck does demand that some difficult cuts be made. The first and most obvious cuts that I made were Fact of Fiction and a pair of Skeletal Scryings. Control Slaver simply cannot support all of the mid-to-high casting cost draw spells that would be in the deck if Intuitions were added and these cards were left in. Further, Intuition can act as a card-drawing spell on its own; and these spells are less efficient than Thirst for Knowledge already. Further, I often find myself boarding out these three spells against faster decks. So, they seem like obvious cuts.
The next cuts became more difficult. Why a mana source, a Mystical Tutor, and a Sundering Titan? These are some of the "trading up" cards of which Smmenen spoke in his recent article. In other words, they're nice cards, but not really essential to the deck. Mystical helps you find Tinker against aggro decks, but gets boarded out against decks using Mana Drain. One extra mana source is nice against Wastelands, but I always board out a land against decks without Wasteland regardless. Finally, while good at times, the Titan is not nearly as vital to the deck as, for example, Pentavus.
How in theory is this better than Goth Slaver?
Now, we get to the real question. How is this decklist better than the more established Goth Slaver lists that have been seeing play? These lists, while similar to Control Slaver, all make room for both Intuition and Accumulated Knowledge. To sum up my feelings regarding Intuition/AK in Control Slaver, that combo eats too much maindeck space for what little it does.
The main difference between my Intuition Control Slaver build and Goth Slaver is that I don't run Accumulated Knowledge. This means that I have more space in my maindeck, and at the same time don't find myself drawing AKs, which are bad in the early game without help from Intuition. However, using Deep Analysis, Intuition Control Slaver still has a solid default card-drawing route. And as I mentioned above, Deep Analysis is a fine card on its own.
My Real-World results thus far
I have so far entered two tournaments of attendance around thirty with Intuition Control Slaver, and have made the finals in both of them. What strikes me about this build is that Intuition itself is a very flexible card, and is useful in a wide range of situations. At different points in those tournaments, it has gotten me three Moxes to enable my Tinker. It has found three broken cards to make my Yawgmoth's Will end the game. It got me three Mana-producing artifacts to strengthen my Yawgmoth's Will in another game. One game it got me three Volcanic Islands; another game it got me two Underground Seas and a Mox Jet. In yet another game, it found me three Goblin Welders. It ended more than one game by resolving while an opponent was being Mindslavered. And in more than a few games, it filled my graveyard with Large Artifacts. In other words, if found itself many ways to be a contributing member of Control Slaver throughout the tournaments.
Actual testing results
To better understand how this list plays against regular Control Slaver, I asked my friend and fellow Control Slaver player Eric Dupuis to test a few games against me. Eric is playing his build of Control Slaver which he has tuned for months against the list which I posted above. Eric is one of the finest Control Slaver players around, and so I have confidence in our testing. The result of ten games played was my winning seven of them. I will summarize each of the ten games below. Eric played first in the odd-numbered games, and I went first in the even-numbered games.
Game 1: I win. Intuition set me up for a victory by putting Mindslaver into my graveyard while I had an active Goblin Welder in play. I run two Mindslavers instead of Goth Slaver's usual single copy just because having two Mindslavers allows me to Intuition for both and be assured of getting one in the graveyard.
Game 2: Eric wins. Eric has an early Welder Drained by me, but soon gets Boseiju into play. He uses this spell to push two Thirst for Knowledge past my handful of counters, and then uses it to make sure his Yawgmoth's Will resolves. If you haven't tested Boseiju in the mirror match yet, I suggest doing so. Props to Jeff Anand for the idea.
Game 3: I win. Eric again gets an early Boseiju, but I have an early Library of Alexandria. We both get out active Goblin Welders, too. A few turns in, on Eric's endstep, I cast Intuition. Knowing that its resolution would end the game as it did in Game 1, Eric uses his Force of Will on the Intuition. He therefore does not have that Force of Will to counter the Mindslaver I soon resolve and use to end the game.
Game 4: I win. Eric resolves an early Fact or Fiction, despite my failed attempt to Force of Will it. However, I get out a pair of Goblin Welders and Thirst a Mindslaver into my graveyard. Although Eric's Tinkered-out Triskelion removes my Welders, I still get a single Mindslaver activation, which sets Eric far enough back that I am able to resolve a Yawgmoth's Will. That I resolved an Intuition under my next Mindslaver activation is probably an example of a win-more card.
Game 5: Eric wins. Eric opens with a Library of Alexandria, and so do I. However, unlike Eric, I fail to play any card that produces Blue mana. I'm drawing and discarding, while Eric is casting loads of card-drawing spells. This one gets ugly quickly for me.
Game 6: I win. I play a first turn Sol Ring, followed by a second turn Deep Analysis. See, the card really is good on its own, unlike some other card draw spells. Eric finds Library of Alexandria this game, but my Boseiju forces out Tinker, and I Mindslaver Eric. I resolve Intuition under that Mindslaver, and Eric "decides" to give me Yawgmoth's Will, as Time Walk and Black Lotus hit my graveyard.
Game 7: I win. I start by mulliganning. Eric then Force of Wills my turn one Thirst for Knowledge. Then Eric resolves Ancestral Recall. My second Thirst for Knowledge actually resolves, and we both go into draw-go mode for a few turns, until I use Mana Drain to force through a hardcast Mindslaver. The game is over from that Mindslaving.
Game 8: I win. Eric uses Lava Dart to kill my early Goblin Welder, and uses Mana Drain on my Brainstorm to get the third mana he needs to cast a Tinker, which fetches him a Triskelion. Eric Force of Wills my Intuition, and although stuck at two land, is putting pressure on me with this Triskelion. However, in the process of being beaten by the trashcan, I draw and cast two Deep Analyses. These two draw spells eventually give me the card advantage I need to win with Yawgmoth's Will a turn before Eric finishes me with the Triskelion.
Game 9. Eric wins. I mulligan. Eric gets out both Boseiju and Library of Alexandria, but doesn't hit a colored mana until the third or fourth turn. Eric uses Force of Will to stop my Intuition from getting me a Mind Slaver, and Eric ends up using Goblin Welder to recur his own Mindslaver.
Game 10. I win. For the third time in this series, I mulligan. And, Eric gets out a first turn Library. However, I resolve Intuition on my first turn, putting a Deep Analysis into my hand, along with a Deep Analysis and a Mindslaver into my graveyard. I draw a total of six cards from that Intuition, and on the third or fourth turn I resolve a Goblin Welder and Time Walk. The Welder returns the Mindslaver, and I win from there. Intuition raced Library of Alexandria.
I find this build of Control Slaver to be stronger than the Goth Slaver builds that are currently being played. It is able to take advantage of Intuition's synergy with the rest of the deck, but unlike Goth Slaver it is not bogged down with sub-par Blue cantrips. Even so, like Goth Slaver, this build has a very solid default Intuition option. It has so far gotten me into the finals of the two tournaments in which I have played the deck. It seems quite promising, and is a deck you may wish to consider testing.
Thanks for reading. Props to Eric for testing with me. Props to my teammates for helping to edit this, and especially to Andy Lambe.
The Atog Lord