This week is exciting for me as I begin a new series called Owen’s Pick of the Week. Each week I’ll showcase the Standard deck that I play if I had a Standard tournament tomorrow. This week, I’d play Gerard Fabiano Control. You could call this Sultai Control, but I prefer to call it GFabs Control because it doesn’t look like any other Sultai deck, and it’s clearly just a mix of cards that Gerard likes a lot for the format.
One thing you’ll notice about successful control decks is that they usually play a mix of win conditions and almost never play 4 of one card and hope it works. You can see the Garruk, Apex Predator, Tasigur, and Silumgar mix he has. Playing different cards offers more options on what to do or how to tackle a board state in a longer game. If he had decided to go with 4 Kiora, he can only ever have Kiora in any situation, but when you have a mix of threats you can decide which one is best for a given spot and play to that out. I’ve always admired Gerard’s ability to build decks in that way.
It’s extremely rare to see a green control deck in Standard and to also see ZERO copies of either Sylvan Caryatid or Courser of Kruphix, but here it is, and to be honest I think it’s correct. Sylvan Caryatid combos very poorly with Crux of Fate and it matches up just as poorly against opponents who play with Crux of Fate or End Hostilities.
Courser of Kruphix is less cut-and-dried. It’s less obvious why it shouldn’t be included, but I think I know why: red/white aggro has been one of the most popular and successful decks in Standard for weeks now and it features four copies of Chained to the Rocks, and this deck completely obsoletes Chained to the Rocks. That’s a great edge to have against one of the more played decks and it has done so in a way that isn’t immediately obvious, so in a tournament match you could play someone who has that card in their deck and doesn’t sideboard it out for the second game of the match expecting you to have Coursers.
The big standout here is FOUR copies of Dig Through Time. I’m no stranger to Dig Through Time, and I played four in my blue/black control deck at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir and I loved it. I thought it was the second coming of Sphinx’s Revelation. I don’t think I was that far off since as long as it has been legal it’s been the “finisher” of choice for blue control decks. It’s a great card and I fully expect it to only get better as time goes on.
Lastly I want to talk about Disdainful Stroke. Any card that’s sole purpose is to trade for a card with a higher casting cost is a great weapon. One example is a similarly-templated card: Spell Snare. It’s obscene how good that card is—it literally exists to gain a mana advantage. The best way to win a fast game of Magic is to play more spells than your opponent, and making it so that your 2-mana cards trade straight-up with their 4-mana cards is a dream come true. I also like the small splash of countermagic in this build that otherwise plays none, it’s only a few slots but it makes the deck very hard to play against.
That’s it for this weeks edition of Owen’s Pick of the Week. I expect to see GFabs control tearing up Standard Grand Prix in no time!
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