Home Forums Highlander Decklists Control (Archived) UBR Control – “Kess Pile”

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  • #733
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    PRIMER: KESS PILE

    2017 saw the best control deck in the format rise and quash a number of contenders. The list experienced analogous evolution all over the country, and speaking from the SA perspective Adelaide Eternal brewed Sarv’s Value Train, which had 17 maindeck cards generating pure unadulterated VALUE. (a whopping HALF of its spells). Historically, Grixis Control was the primary reason that the former Clamp-State of SA experienced a significant decline in Aggro and Midrange archetypes. In the other states, builds evolved to better deal with combo heavy metas, using DITS and Hymn in the main, Mind Twist and other delicious options.

    One thing they all have in common: Kess. Hence Kess Pile. Here is a deck tech:

    Sarv has continued tweaking this archetype over multiple Top 8’s in SA and a Top 16 at Eternal Weekend 2018, coming to this refined list, including a Sideboarding Guide for anyone picking up the deck for the first time. His version prioritises mana efficiency both in the SB (critical mass of 1-mana interaction so you don’t lose to hyper fast combo or Burn) and in the maindeck with 3cmc finishers like Ashiok, Dire Fleet Daredevil and Liliana Last Hope, the latter of which is a mirror-breaker for Control as it can be neither Pyro nor Hydroblasted.

    SARV’S VALUE TRAIN circa mid-2018
    MAIN
    DRAW/FIXING (7)
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    1 Dack Fayden
    1 Fact or Fiction
    1 Dig through Time **
    1 Ancestral Visions

    REMOVAL (9)
    1 Lightning Bolt
    1 Chain Lightning
    1 Diabolic Edict
    1 Dreadbore
    1 Fire // Ice
    1 Baleful Strix
    1 Kolaghan’s Command
    1 Toxic Deluge
    1 Electrolyze

    DISRUPTION (11)
    1 Force of Will *
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Spell Snare
    1 Mind Twist *
    1 Hymn to Tourach
    1 Mana Leak
    1 Remand
    1 Counterspell
    1 Mana Drain *
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Mystic Confluence

    WIN CONS (10)
    1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
    1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
    1 Snapcaster Mage *
    1 Dire Fleet Daredevil
    1 Vendilion Clique
    1 Liliana, the Last Hope
    1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver (Spellseeker has since been tested in this slot)
    1 Kess, Dissident Mage
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor *
    1 Torrential Gearhulk

    LAND (23)
    1 Creeping Tar Pit
    1 Wandering Fumarole
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Badlands
    1 Steam Vents
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Flooded Strand
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Bloodstained Mire
    1 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Marsh Flats
    1 Wooded Foothills
    1 Arid Mesa
    3 Island
    2 Swamp
    1 Mountain
    1 Field of Ruin

    SIDEBOARD
    vs. Aggro/Midrange (& Moons)
    1 Anger of the Gods
    1 Abrade
    1 Fiery Confluence
    1 Hydroblast
    1 Blue Elemental Blast
    vs. Control (& some Combo)
    1 Thoughtseize
    1 Inquisition of Kozilek
    1 Pyroblast
    1 Red Elemental Blast
    1 Flusterstorm
    vs. Combo (Reanimtr, MUD, Lands)
    1 Null Rod
    1 Blood Moon
    1 Nihil Spellbomb
    1 Relic of Progenitus
    1 Faerie Macabre

    SARV’S SIDEBOARDING GUIDE:
    Vs Red Aggro
    +2 BEB
    + Anger
    + Abrade
    + Fiery Confluence
    + Inquisition
    (Neeman: +2 Relic/Faerie)
    (WanChin: +2 REB)
    – Dack
    – A.Vision
    – Twist
    – Remand
    – JtMS
    – Gearhulk
    (Neeman: – Hymn/Mystic)
    (WanChin: – Cryptic/Mystic)

    Vs Midrange G
    + Anger
    + Fiery
    + Abrade
    (+ Nihil /Moon)
    – Daredevil
    – Remand
    – Edict
    (- Clique)

    Vs Control
    +2 REB
    +2 DITS
    + Flusterstorm
    + Hydroblast
    + Nihil
    (no TNN: + Relic/BEB)
    – Cryptic
    – Strix
    – Leak
    – Fire//Ice
    – Chain
    – Snare
    – Mystic / Electro
    (no TNN: – Deluge)

    Vs MUD
    +2 BEB
    +2 DITS
    + Null Rod
    + Abrade
    + Fiery
    – A.Vision
    – Gearhulk
    – Cryptic
    – Strix
    – Chain
    – Fire//Ice
    – Electro

    As a further text-based primer, everyone’s favorite Ladybug, the Golden variety had this to add to the primer:

    It seems like the thing to do nowadays, and I do very much like an opportunity to ruminate on playing Control in Highlander.

    When I was first introduced to this format the advice I was given was that if I wasn’t doing something busted, I was probably making a mistake. In a format as varied, exploratory and difficult to master as 7 Point Highlander, it is substantially easier to ask Questions than attempt to Answer them.

    …but being a contrary sort and possessing a truly unscratchable itch to cast Cruel Ultimatum I ignored that advice. Lets talk about Grixis Control.

    While the earlier drafts of this deck (before any of those fantastic, format appropriate spells got printed in commander products, or Standard brought us the most efficient way to get someone off a Zeppelin) were a lot more ambitious than the now rather common Control archetype, probably appearing in a Highlander league near you, they did share the same DNA. This deck has always been about the most efficient and broadly applicable ways to interact with an opponent; cheap and versatile removal spells, the best countermagic a singleton format had to offer and the smallest number of win conditions I could manage. It was a grindy, attrition based style of play that aimed to simply trade card for card and eventually, glacially, pull ahead.

    Nice.

    Here is the list that I am currently working with:

    Here is Paul Mitchell’s list, though he is forever tweaking it.

    Draw (7)
    Ancestral Vision
    Brainstorm
    Preordain
    Ponder
    Thought Scour
    Mental Note
    Treasure Cruise **

    Creatures (8)
    Snapcaster Mage *
    Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
    True-Name Nemesis *
    Vendilion Clique
    Glen Elendra Archmage
    Kess, Dissident Mage
    Tasigur, the Golden Fang
    Gurmag Angler

    Planeswalkers (3)
    Dack Fayden
    Liliana of the Veil
    Jace, the Mind Sculptor *

    Removal/Discard (10)
    Fatal Push
    Lightning Bolt
    Abrade
    Dreadbore
    Toxic Deluge
    Fire / Ice
    Inquisition of Kozilek
    Thoughtseize
    Hymn to Tourach
    Kolaghan’s Command

    Counterspells (9)
    Mental Misstep
    Spell Snare
    Remand
    Counterspell
    Mana Drain *
    Mana Leak
    Cryptic Command
    Force of Will *
    Mystic Confluence

    Lands (23)
    Creeping Tar Pit
    Wandering Fumarole
    Badlands
    Underground Sea
    Volcanic Island
    Blood Crypt
    Steam Vents
    Watery Grave
    Fetid Pools
    Arid Mesa
    Bloodstained Mire
    Flooded Strand
    Marsh Flats
    Misty Rainforest
    Polluted Delta
    Scalding Tarn
    Wooded Foothills
    Verdant Catacombs
    Drowned Catacomb
    Island
    Snow-Covered Island
    Snow-Covered Swamp
    Swamp

    SB: Shadow of Doubt
    SB: Hydroblast
    SB: Grim Lavamancer
    SB: Pyroclasm
    SB: Anger of the Gods
    SB: Pyroblast
    SB: Red Elemental Blast
    SB: Blood Moon
    SB: Magus of the Moon
    SB: Flusterstorm
    SB: Arcane Laboratory
    SB: Mindbreak Trap
    SB: Duress
    SB: Energy Flux
    SB: Null Rod

    Sideboard, at exactly this moment
    -My favourite land is Island, and I’m cool just hanging out, you know?
    Keranos, God of Storms
    Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
    Negate
    Dispel
    Flusterstorm
    Pyroblast
    Red Elemental Blast
    -Can I interest you in a pamphlet on our lord and saviour Craterhoof Behemoth?
    Engineered Explosives
    Izzet Staticaster
    Magma Spray
    Perish
    -I think Mishra had some good points…
    Energy Flux
    Dack Fayden
    -The card type Planeswalker
    Dreadbore
    -Nonsense(TM)
    Extract

    And various combinations thereof

    Now, I’m sure you’ve seen variations of this deck around the place, as I alluded to before. This is not a particularly revolutionary deck right now; its just a bunch of rock solid removal spells, adequate countermagic and efficient ways to win the game. A lot of people have arrived at very similar 60-75s, because it has proven itself to be a very respectable thing to do in highlander that doesn’t require many disastrously expensive or niche spells. You probably have most of this floating around in binders, modern/legacy decks or precarious piles on your desk (or is that last one just me?). So lets talk about some card choices, to justify having written all this.

    “Surely Sensei’s Divining Top isn’t worth a point over Mana Drain, True Name Nemesis or Mind Twist?”

    Yeah, it probably isn’t. I can’t in good conscience tell you to play SDT over those cards, especially since Fry would get cross with me, but its a card I enjoy playing with. It should almost certainly be replaced with one of the above.

    “What’s with your counterspell selection?”

    The oddballs here are Counterflux, Countersquall and Evasive Action – usually those slots would contain Mana Drain, Miscalculation, Censor and/or Remand.

    Countersquall definitely should be a Mana Drain, but I don’t own one and borrowing the one card I don’t have for every Highlander event is a hassle. But usually, if something is scary enough to need countering, its a noncreature spell anyway. The omition of both Miscalculation and Censor is purposeful, for the same reason I’ve completely eschewed targeted Discard spells – they’re completely garbage when you draw them late, and by the very nature of the deck, you draw a lot of spells late. Its true that you can always cycle them when they’re bad, but on a basic game plan level, I envision the Grixis control deck as winning games where it is able to line up each of its spells with one of the opponent’s threats (sometimes more than once). The cycling counters are bad enough, at enough stages of the game, that I’d rather employ some more reliable countermagic.

    Not to say that Evasive Action and its less punishing cousin Mana Leak are the most reliable pieces of countermagic, but there’s been far fewer slam dunk counterspells than there has been efficient creatures. We make do. Remand is probably better, and will likely cycle back in after I disappoint myself one too many times with the domain counterspell.

    On Counterflux, I play in Canberra, so sitting across from JP is a constant and pressing concern. Having a way to REALLY say no is appealing, as well as getting an edge in blue mirrors.

    “No Dack Fayden main?”

    Workshop decks have fallen out of favour of late, and I don’t think he’s strong enough to be included purely as a loot engine. Getting his emblem is very charming, I will admit, but there’s only so many spells that I can point at things that don’t make the things go away.

    “No edicts at all?”

    I am flagrantly disrespecting True Name Nemesis, and the sheer embarrassment of holding one in the face of mana dorks or lingering souls has put me off this type of effect for now. As time goes on, I shall likely reconsider my stance.

    “Augur of Bolas? That’s weird”

    This one is a trial for now, as is Search for Azcanta (which I simply haven’t been able to cast enough times to feel confident saying Yes or No on), but its one that I’m liking. I’m thinking of it in a very similar way to Baleful Strix, a cheap body that draws a card and trades for SOMETHING. Doesn’t have to be a good something, but it does block mana dorks and most grounded tokens like a champ. It adds a tiny bit of extra power to a Riptide Laboratory, which is always nice. I’ll keep you posted.

    “Reflectin-”

    In this list, it should be literally any other land, most likely an 8th Fetchland (I’ve also had good experiences with Mishra’s Factory recently. It blocks very well). Its here as a relic of times when the mana costs of my spells were a tad more demanding. By which I mean I’ve written Cruel Ultimatum on a number of decklists.

    If I hadn’t decided to accurately transcribe the contents of my deckbox, we wouldn’t be revealing these terrible but also well-known secrets about me.

    That said, it remains a great third land, and I would definitely recommend you at least try it if you’re playing a deck with three (and especially more) colours, and a number of double coloured costs. The failstate is REALLY BAD, but it usually makes the manabase quite smooth indeed. Good against Choke, too.

    SO WHY SHOULD I PLAY GRIXIS CONTROL?

    I have never once been scared of the combination of Noble Hierarch and Skullclamp when piloting this deck. I think the matchup is strongly positive, because despite the incredibly high power level of Skullclamp, it necessitates filling your deck with x/1s. Grixis can extract really favourable trades with its plethora of instant speed interaction, and if you make sure to fight battles over things that actually matter (the five mana 10/6, planeswalkers) you can easily pull ahead in the lategame – they draw way more cards, but you can beat ’em all if you play smart. Ashiok is unreal in this matchup, because these midrange decks are full of great hits that are a lot better when you cast them for 0.

    Workshop decks have fallen out of favour, but this is a deck that handily trounces them even just in the maindeck. Right now, I have two Shatters and a Shatterstorm in my 60 that just happen to be absolutely fantastic cards in their own right. Along with counterspells, you get to fight the big Artifact decks on two very favourable angles – even though you’ll lose to a Sundering Titan or a lightning fast Blood Moon sometimes, the matchup is definitely yours to lose.

    Grixis can put up a good fight against engine based combo, and a great fight if that engine has a creature somewhere in it. Storm decks are scary, but they’re beatable.

    In theory, I think that Elves is a great matchup for this deck, but Lachland Ward-Smith always seems to get me in the matches that matter. Think that might have more to do with him than the deck, though.

    Lastly, this deck has so many draws against small creature aggro (Zoo, Monowhite, etc) that simply stonewall them that I believe the matchup has to be at least slightly positive.

    WELL HOW DO I BEAT IT?

    I have nightmares about any Elspeth being resolved against me. Token generation, especially recurrent token generation, is tough to beat. For the same reason, Lingering Souls, Kitchen Finks and cards like them are specific hurdles that can be hard to overcome, or at least demand a sizeable investment of cards. They’re not going to win the game on their own, but these are the sorts of cards you want to be including if you want to beat Grixis decks (Also, they’re usually just good on their own merits).

    In general, Planeswalkers are a bit of a hassle to overcome. Mainboarding Dreadbore, and even Hero’s Downfall, makes this a lot more manageable, but I don’t currently feel the need.

    Craddie Jund, and the more focused Lands decks, have a massive advantage against Grixis. Its almost impossible to beat Strip Lock at any stage of the game with so few threats (and most of them being so fragile), and when their win conditions and card advantage are so easily recurred its almost impossible to run them out of resources. These decks would require some serious sideboarding, or very good luck, to consistently beat.

    Hyper Aggro (BR Necropotence, UR(W) Burn, etc) also presents a problem. There just isn’t a way to realistically pull out of range of a burn spell or two after cleaning up the early onset of these extremely low to the ground aggressive decks. Grixis is exactly the sort of deck that these suicide aggro decks are aiming for.

    Blue Moon is not the worst matchup, but it makes a lot of your spells dead and can conditionally freeroll the game by tapping three mana. It gets the same good tools in the matchup, and its bad removal spells go upstairs. In my estimation, these decks aren’t hugely favoured, but still favoured.

    In closing, Grixis Control is a very real deck that is a respectable choice in the current 7 Point Highlander metagame. Its powerful, its… moderately cheap (or at least has a lot of overlap with other eternal and non-rotating formats – there’s very few cards for this deck that you won’t be able to find other uses for, something you can’t always say for a Highlander deck) and even if none of the positive matchups are a blowout in your favour, you’ll always have some game against just about anything you’re likely to sit down across from.

    P.S. Please do not cast aspersions on my character because of the time I posted this.

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

    #734
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    Two great instances of Kess Pile in action.

    Whilst the deck’s weakest matchups are nasty recursion packages like Loam, the matchup is winnable with the right sideboard:

    Also, against decks with more raw explosive power like Built from Scrap, the deck just takes a different tack, like burning face with the Kess race:

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

    #860
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    Three Grixis Control lists Top 8’ed the 2018 National Highlander Championships. The core is still fundamentally the same, with slight variations according to personal preference, expected meta, and play style. Here they are:

    A version with maindeck JVP + Hand disruption, and Thought Scour to fuel delve:

    Tom Clift
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Counterspell
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Dig Through Time**
    1 Force of Will*
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor*
    1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
    1 Mana Drain*
    1 Mana Leak
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Mental Note
    1 Miscalculation
    1 Mystic Confluence
    1 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    1 Remand
    1 Snapcaster Mage*
    1 Spell Snare
    1 Thought Scour
    1 Treasure Cruise*
    1 Vendilion Clique
    1 Collective Brutality
    1 Fatal Push
    1 Hymn to Tourach
    1 Inquisition of Kozilek
    1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
    1 Thoughtseize
    1 Toxic Deluge
    1 Abrade
    1 Fiery Confluence
    1 Lightning Bolt
    1 Countersquall
    1 Dack Fayden
    1 Dreadbore
    1 Kess, Dissident Mage
    1 Kolaghan’s Command
    1 Fire // Ice
    1 Arid Mesa
    1 Badlands
    1 Blood Crypt
    1 Bloodstained Mire
    1 Creeping Tar Pit
    1 Dust Bowl
    1 Fetid Pools
    1 Flooded Strand
    3 Island
    1 Marsh Flats
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Steam Vents
    1 Swamp
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Wandering Fumarole
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Wooded Foothills

    Sideboard
    1 Anger of the Gods
    1 Arcane Laboratory
    1 Damnation
    1 Dismember
    1 Duress
    1 Energy Flux
    1 Flusterstorm
    1 Magma Spray
    1 Nihil Spellbomb
    1 Notion Thief
    1 Null Rod
    1 Pyroblast
    1 Pyroclasm
    1 Red Elemental Blast
    1 Relic of Progenitus

    Similar to above but with the further delving support like Gitaxian Probe and Mental Note:

    Paul Mitchell
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Counterspell
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Dig Through Time**
    1 Force of Will*
    1 Gitaxian Probe
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor*
    1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
    1 Mana Drain*
    1 Mana Leak
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Mental Note
    1 Miscalculation
    1 Mystic Confluence
    1 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    1 Remand
    1 Snapcaster Mage*
    1 Spell Snare
    1 Thought Scour
    1 Treasure Cruise*
    1 Vendilion Clique
    1 Collective Brutality
    1 Fatal Push
    1 Hymn to Tourach
    1 Inquisition of Kozilek
    1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
    1 Thoughtseize
    1 Toxic Deluge
    1 Abrade
    1 Fiery Confluence
    1 Lightning Bolt
    1 Dack Fayden
    1 Kess, Dissident Mage
    1 Kolaghan’s Command
    1 Terminate
    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Arid Mesa
    1 Badlands
    1 Blood Crypt
    1 Bloodstained Mire
    1 Creeping Tar Pit
    1 Drowned Catacomb
    1 Flooded Strand
    3 Island
    1 Marsh Flats
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Steam Vents
    2 Swamp
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Wandering Fumarole
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Wooded Foothills

    Sideboard

    1 Arcane Laboratory
    1 Damnation
    1 Duress
    1 Flusterstorm
    1 Hydroblast
    1 Magma Spray
    1 Mindbreak Trap
    1 Nihil Spellbomb
    1 Notion Thief
    1 Null Rod
    1 Pyroblast
    1 Pyroclasm
    1 Red Elemental Blast
    1 Relic of Progenitus
    1 Submerge

    And then this option switches out the sheer raw value of Kess herself with the slower but more resilient Keranos finisher:

    Aidan Frisch

    1 Augur of Bolas
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Counterspell
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Dig Through Time**
    1 Force of Will*
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor*
    1 Mana Drain*
    1 Mana Leak
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Mystic Confluence
    1 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    1 Remand
    1 Snapcaster Mage*
    1 Spell Snare
    1 Torrential Gearhulk
    1 Treasure Cruise*
    1 Diabolic Edict
    1 Fatal Push
    1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
    1 Toxic Deluge
    1 Abrade
    1 Fiery Confluence
    1 Lightning Bolt
    1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
    1 Baleful Strix
    1 Counterflux
    1 Deathrite Shaman
    1 Electrolyze
    1 Keranos, God of Storms
    1 Kolaghan’s Command
    1 Terminate
    1 Fire // Ice
    1 Badlands
    1 Blood Crypt
    1 Bloodstained Mire
    1 Creeping Tar Pit
    1 Darkslick Shores
    1 Flooded Strand
    3 Island
    1 Mishra’s Factory
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Mountain
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Riptide Laboratory
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Steam Vents
    1 Sulfur Falls
    1 Swamp
    1 Tropical Island
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Wooded Foothills

    Sideboard
    1 Anger of the Gods
    1 Blood Sun
    1 Boldwyr Intimidator
    1 Dreadbore
    1 Extract
    1 Faerie Macabre
    1 Flusterstorm
    1 Jace, Architect of Thought
    1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
    1 Negate
    1 Nihil Spellbomb
    1 Perish
    1 Pyroblast
    1 Red Elemental Blast
    1 Thoughtseize

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

    #874
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    Sadly, to clarify, my Top 8 list didn’t switch out Kess so much as supplement her with Keranos. The above list is only 58 cards, missing Kess, Dissident Mage and Vendilion Clique.

    #883
    Sarven McLinton
    Sarven McLinton
    Keymaster

    Thanks for clarifying, probably a transcription error in the deck lists we received. On the upside, it shows everyone KESS IS AWESOME. Totally integral to the deck.

    I manage Adelaide Eternal, a group running monthly tournaments in SA for Vintage, Highlander, and Legacy. We also commentate feature matches which are uploaded to our YouTube channel every month. Visit: www.youtube.com/adelaideeternal

    #1277
    Avatar
    gridgm
    Keymaster

    Varient from Adelaide Eternal Weekend playing karakas over force of will placing 6th

    //Lands
    1 Badlands
    1 Bloodstained Mire
    1 Creeping Tar Pit
    1 Drowned Catacomb
    1 Field of Ruin
    1 Flooded Strand
    3 Island
    1 Karakas *
    1 Marsh Flats
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Steam Vents
    1 Sulfur Falls
    2 Swamp
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Wandering Fumarole
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Wooded Foothills

    //Enchantments
    1 Search for Azcanta

    //Instants
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Counterspell
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Dig Through Time **
    1 Electrolyze
    1 Fatal Push
    1 Kolaghan’s Command
    1 Lightning Bolt
    1 Mana Drain *
    1 Mana Leak
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Spell Snare
    1 Terminate

    //Sorceries
    1 Ancestral Vision
    1 Dreadbore
    1 Hymn to Tourach
    1 Inquisition of Kozilek
    1 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    1 Subterranean Tremors
    1 Thoughtseize
    1 Toxic Deluge

    //Planeswalkers
    1 Dack Fayden
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor *
    1 Liliana of the Veil
    1 Liliana, the Last Hope

    //Creatures
    1 Baleful Strix
    1 Gurmag Angler
    1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
    1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
    1 Kess, Dissident Mage
    1 Snapcaster Mage *
    1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
    1 True-Name Nemesis *
    1 Vendilion Clique

    //Sideboard
    1 Anger of the Gods
    1 Blood Moon
    1 Blue Elemental Blast
    1 Damnation
    1 Dire Fleet Daredevil
    1 Duress
    1 Dystopia
    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Flusterstorm
    1 Hydroblast
    1 Nihil Spellbomb
    1 Pyroblast
    1 Red Elemental Blast
    1 Submerge
    1 Young Pyromancer

    #1553
    Shane
    Shane
    Keymaster

    UBR Control has a rich history across highlander. Aidan Frisch won the 2015 Australian National Highlander Championship with his yearling Grixis list and many players had been experimenting with the colour trio since the advent of Blue Moon. The birth of the present day Kess Pile lists came about sometime around December 2016. Richard Owen posted on his wordpress blog an ill-received article about the pros and cons of a Grixis style control deck in the Melbourne Meta of the day. With the release of Kess in August of 2017 the deck suddenly seemed like it belonged and became wildly popular among Melbourne players almost immediately. Kess Pile is the 4th most successful highlander deck of all time, trailing Dark Bant, Blue Moon, and the One True Tolaria. Kess Pile is the 2nd most consistently placing deck across a variety of pilots.

    Experiend Pilots include (Discord names): Paul Jackson (PJMizzle), Tom Clift (Tom Clift), Tom Jancik (Jack Miton)
    Noteworthy Finishes: 1st (/33+) Australian Nation Highlander Championship 2015, 1st (/) Eternal Masters Highlander 2017, 1st (/30) Adelaide Eternal Challenge 2018, 1st, 3rd, 5th, & 7th (/98) GP Side Event 2018, 2nd & 7th (/?) Australian National Highlander Championship 2019

    Lands (23)
    Badlands
    Underground Sea
    Volcanic Island
    Blood Crypt
    Steam Vents
    Watery Grave
    Creeping Tar Pit
    Wandering Fumarole
    Drowned Catacomb
    Fetid Pools
    Field of Ruin
    Sulfur Falls
    Bloodstained Mire
    Flooded Strand
    Marsh Flats
    Misty Rainforest
    Polluted Delta
    Scalding Tarn
    Verdant Catacombs
    Island
    Snow-Covered Island
    Snow-Covered Swamp
    Swamp

    Instants (16)
    Mental Misstep
    Brainstorm
    Fatal Push
    Lightning Bolt
    Spell Snare
    Counterspell
    Mana Drain+
    Mana Leak
    Remand
    Electrolyze
    Kolaghan’s Command
    Fire / Ice
    Spell Pierce
    Mystic Confluence
    Dig Through Time++

    Creatures (8)
    Baleful Strix
    Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
    Snapcaster Mage+
    True-Name Nemesis++
    Vendilion Clique
    Kess, Dissident Mage
    Tasigur, the Golden Fang
    Gurmag Angler

    Sorceries (9)
    Ancestral Vision
    Inquisition of Kozilek
    Ponder
    Preordain
    Thoughtseize
    Angrath’s Rampage
    Dreadbore
    Hymn to Tourach
    Toxic Deluge

    Planeswalkers (4)
    Dack Fayden
    Liliana, the Last Hope
    Narset, Parter of Veils
    Jace, the Mind Sculptor+

    Enchantment (1)
    Search for Azcanta

    Hydroblast
    Pyroblast
    Red Elemental Blast
    Duress
    Flusterstorm
    Blood Moon
    Magus of the Moon
    Submerge
    Dystopia
    Subterranean Tremors
    Anger of the Gods
    Young Pyromancer
    Bitterblossom
    Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
    Engineered Explosives

    Substitutions

    – Dack Fayden
    – Fire / Ice
    + Thoughtscour
    + Mental Note

    Other cards that have or do see play:

    Terminate
    Fiery Confluence

    SB: Ashiok, Dream Render
    SB: Nihil Spellbomb

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