Perhaps one of the most important decks of all time, The Deck, by Brian Weissman was a U/W five colour control deck that pioneered several concepts for control decks that we still follow today. In the cube, The Deck is perhaps one of the strongest decks one can draft, as long as the drafter is up to the task. As this is one of the hardest decks to draft, players should often draft a core of two to three colours, such as grixis or esper, in case the mana base does not come together. Deciding when to draft this deck usually occurs before you sit down at a table, but it also requires that blue is somewhat open.
The Deck aims to have an answer, or silver bullet for every card your opponent could play, and then finish out the game with late game bombs. Designed by Weissman with a U/W core, this revolved around cards like Balance, Moat, Disenchant, permission, and included cards from the other colours such as Gorilla Shaman to deal with other threats. Meanwhile, Weissman would attack opponents hand as well as their board with Mind Twist and Balance, while also filling his hand with draw and tutors. Ultimately, he would lock the opponent out of the game and win with a Serra Angel, which would eventually be replaced by Mophling.
The cube provides drafters with many of these cards, and includes a lot of newer, more powerful options such as planeswalkers (ie – 5 colour planeswalker control!). However, the end goal remains the same: to annihilate your opponent’s board and hand by playing every colour, while constantly building up your own hand size and eventually playing a game ending bomb when your opponent is thoroughly devastated.
Dual lands, – favouring blue/x lands
Mana fixing/ramp – usually in the form of artifacts. Chromatic Lantern is an especially high pick!
Mass Removal – Balance is very strong, as you will be running almost no creatures. Moat is also fantastic as a mass creature stop-gap.
Permission – Mana Drain is the best, and then your pick of 1U or ‘free’ counters.
Card selection, draw, tutors – Top, Sylvan Library, Scroll Rack/Land Tax, etc. Then draw spells and Time Twisters, along with tutors. You will have to dig for your silver bullets. If you are so lucky, Library of Alexandria is an absolute house.
2-3 finishers – Morphling is fantastic in this deck, or any other creature with shroud, a big butt, and flying (a.k.a. Simic Sky Swallower). Consecrated Sphinx is no slouch either. And oh god Bribery or Treachery…
Planeswalkers – The Jaces are fantastic, but if you see Karn or other late game walkers, you will have a late game finisher that cannot be targeted by creature removal. Also, any planeswalker that can act as removal is valuable.
Drafting this deck requires a lot of finesse and a keen eye for resource management. This deck is a blue/white or blue/black deck that is splashing every other colour, which requires a strong mana base. During the draft, fetches will be target number one, followed by duals and shock lands. Meanwhile, mana rocks that produce coloured mana are at a very high premium and demand to be taken. Crucible is also usually a snap draft, along with Wasteland and Stripmine. Following the Key Picks above, the draft will be highly nuanced, balancing removal, permission, card advantage, and utility.
Beyond the obvious MANA, MANA, MANA, players will have to expertly balance out the decks needs. On average, this deck requires 4-5 counterspells, 2-3 tutors, 4+ draw spells/library manipulation cards, 1-2 bombs, and the remaining 10 or so cards divided between answers and powerful spells (you are aiming for 17-18 lands/moxen/mana rocks and 22-23 spells).
Besides these general numbers, breaking down what to pick is going to be very hard for players and will determine the success of the deck. This is because you will need to consider not only drafting 4cc+ sweepers, but also picking up the necessary cheap removal. While cards like Wrath of God are fantastic, do not skimp on early game removal or your deck will be flattened by agro. Because of this, Balance will be the best removal spell you can draft. Keep in mind that this deck is a “silver bullet” deck, so you will not need 7 different wrath variants because you are prioritizing draw, tutors, and spell recursion. Additionally, place a high premium on cards that are reusable, so that you can continue to build on your card advantage (such as planeswalkers, top, maze of ith, regrowth effects, etc).
Thus, while drafting, build up a solid mana base and secure critical mana fixing. Then take a very thorough approach to building up the key components of the deck, drafting permission, removal, and powerful spells. Make sure to have early game answers, and ways to dig up your silver bullets. Lastly, have ways to replay your spells from the graveyard, as these cards will be far more useful than extra copies of removal. And remember, fetches are your top pick.
Aggro. Seriously, Red Deck Wins with a splash of land hate, pox.deck with sinkhole and pox, white/x decks built with Armageddon, and also big-red/x decks with wildfires. These decks will ruin your day, and destroy your path to victory. When combating them, identify the cards to save your permission for, sideboard in extra early game removal (pyroclasm is your friend), and get ready for a tough matchup. Against mid-range and control decks you usually can just go “bigger”, and play far more powerful spells.
The Deck can be drafted in many forms, but ultimately you a playing a blue deck that has collided with a rainbow. Within this strategy exists other three colour control variants, such as grixis and esper. These decks are drafted in a similar manner, but benefit from an easier, more focused draft. Nevertheless, 3-5 colour control decks are some of the strongest decks in the cube, and if drafted expertly and with care, they can compete against any other deck. Just make sure to get your mana base in order quickly, and then branch out to snatch up all the overpowered spells. Your goal is to generate unheard of amounts of card and virtual card advantage, and then end the game at your leisure. Nothing delivers a beating quite like a time-walk/mind-twist/balance, into regrowth, and then yawgmoths will.
Sample Deck Lists: