Feln Control was originally the baby of SirRhino, but it has since been picked up by several players and put up many strong showings in the Eternal Tournament Series. With the recent patch that wiped collections and changed many cards, I believe Feln Control is well-positioned to make a mark on the ranked ladder.
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
4 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
2 Lightning Strike (Set1 #197)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
2 Cabal Countess (Set1 #506)
1 Eye of Winter (Set1 #210)
4 Feln Bloodcaster (Set1 #386)
1 Feln Cauldron (Set1 #380)
1 Plague (Set1 #274)
4 Scheme (Set1 #213)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
1 Steward of the Past (Set1 #287)
1 Staff of Stories (Set1 #234)
4 Withering Witch (Set1 #368)
4 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
1 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
1 Azindel’s Gift (Set1 #306)
1 The Last Word (Set1 #309)
7 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
7 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
With the nerfing of Secret Pages (it has its place, but that place is no longer in control decks), Combrei-based control takes a huge hit in consistency. Feln control is able to pick up the slack by running a smooth 2-faction power base with plenty of sweepers and life gain. Black-Sky Harbinger in particular is excellent against the anticipated flood in Stonescar aggro and burn decks. Feln also lost nothing from the patch since it plays shadow AND primal and can switch Push Onward for the mostly-better Scheme.
Another side note on the recent patch: since everyone’s collection was wiped, a lot of people are looking for more budget decks to run on ladder right now. Black-Sky Harbinger is an essential four-of to Feln control’s strategy, but the deck needs no other legendaries and only sets of Feln Bloodcaster and Withering Witch are essential rares. Finishers and removal spells can be filled with whatever cards you happen to have – Feeding Time, Suffocate, Annihilate, and Plague are all good replacements for Steward of the Past, Eye of Winter, and Cabal Countess. Vara or any other big finishers are fine placeholders for The Last Word, Celestial Omen, and Azindel’s Gift.
Everything is in flux right now, so take this decklist with a grain of salt. The Feln Cauldron in particular is more of a fun-of than a great card, so feel free to swap that with Whispers in the Void, Plague, Suffocate, or whatever other card you like. The Cauldron is more at home in a PJS control shell that uses it to discard Privilege of Rank to splash Harsh Rule (the VALUE!). The Cabal Countess may seem out of place in a control deck, but they are plenty powerful as extra Lightning Strikes that can also attack and kill relic weapons for value or put on pressure in control mirrors. The good news is that Feln is very adaptable to what you are seeing on ladder. If you are facing a lot of burn and spell-based decks, Eilyn’s Favor and Backlash (or even Sabotage) will do some great work. If the meta slows down, Touch of the Umbren and Rain of Frogs will tip the odds in your favor. If aggressive decks are running rampant, Plague and Cabal Cutthroat can keep you in the game.
One of the most powerful elements of Feln control is the interaction between Withering Witch and effects that damage the opponent’s entire board like Lightning Storm, Plague, and Black-Sky Harbinger. A one-sided board sweep on turn 6 or 7 is usually enough to stabilize the board, and then Black-Sky Harbinger or Staff of Stories get you out of reach of burn effects and put you impossibly far ahead. Feln control often must go to the brink of death, so there is little margin for error.
The Feln board clear is a turn slower than Harsh Rule, so some more early game tools are necessary. Lightning Storm is the best anti-aggro card in the game, while Feln Bloodcaster and Steward of the Past make great early-game blockers. Lightning Strike, Vara’s Favor, Cabal Countess, and Deathstrike round out the spot removal suite. Turn 4 is often the best turn to Scheme or Wisdom of the Elders to search for whatever piece of the Withering Witch/Black-Sky Harbinger combo you are missing.
Since your board sweeper for anything above 2 toughness is a two-card combo, the deck has lots of draw to put the pieces together. In fact, Feln has more deck velocity than any other deck in the game, with full sets of Wisdom of the Elders, Scheme, and Feln Bloodcaster, plus a Celestial Omen and Staff of Stories for good measure! If you are able to drag the game out, you should be able to find whatever you need to shut down your opponent’s plans.
It is also important not to get too caught up in the full board clear combo. Withering Witch is a fine blocker, and is guaranteed to be able to kill or at least trade with any unit that was on the field when you played her. A turn 5 Withering Witch to block is a frequent and good play, even without a follow-up Harbinger or Lightning Storm.
Later in the game, if your opponent has managed to deal with your Black-Sky Harbingers, the game may enter the topdecking phase. In situations like this where neither player is under any pressure, it is often best to hold Feln Bloodcasters until you have 10 power and can activate their Ultimates immediately to dodge removal or silence. Like most decks I suggest, being patient is important – inevitability is a powerful tool. Also, play out all of your power unless you have a good reason not to, like Feln Cauldron. The deck has a lot of card draw, and you could topdeck Wisdom of the Elders into Feln Bloodcaster into Deathstrike and wish you had that 17th power in play. I’ve never actually done it myself, but at 20 power you can play Eilyn’s Favor to give yourself an aegis and then play and Ultimate the Last Word for a protected one-hit KO against an opponent with no units.
It’s hard to create a thorough matchup section when there is no prevailing metagame, but here are the decks that seem good that I’ve heard people talking about.
This encompasses the deck formerly known as Queen Jito, as well as the burn-heavy variants with Obliterate and Flame Blast, as they have somewhat hybridized and are sometimes difficult to tell apart based on the early turns.
In these matchups, staying alive is the name of the game. Feln is quite good at this, since it plays almost all of the best cards against go-wide aggro: Lightning Storm, Plague, 3 mana 2/5 blockers, and Black-Sky Harbinger. Clunky hands with too many draw spells are mainly where you are going to lose, so in the dark always mulligan to hand with interaction on turn 2 or 3. If you are able to weather the initial rush, Black-Sky Harbinger is usually game over. A timely Flame Blast or Obliterate can kill it, but even then it gained you some life and drew fire from your face. If Obliterate is more popular than Bandit Queen, some of your flex slots should become Backlash or Sabotage.
An important way to ensure you don’t die after stabilizing the board behind some blockers is Eilyn’s Favor. If you don’t need the Primal Sigil right away, hold the Favor until you’ve cleared out your opponent’s Argenport Instigators so that the aegis prevents 3 or 6 damage instead of 1. Touch of the Umbren also lets you attack with the stolen unit right away, so it can be used for emergency life gain in a pinch if you’re running it.
Black-Sky Harbinger is by far your most important card, so try to bait your opponent’s Rapid Shots out by blocking with cheaper units every chance you get. If your Bloodcaster dies without dealing damage that’s fine, but Harbinger wants to at least get a 2-for-1 and gain 3 life by dying to Torch after blocking. If you suspect your opponent has Rapid Shot when you tap out for Harbinger, don’t block if you can afford to take the hit. Next turn when you have power available you can re-trick the Rapid Shot with removal and keep your 6 power dragon-bat alive. Alternatively, if you aren’t too low on life or your opponent’s board isn’t too big, you can just race with 3 lifestealing power every turn in the air. It’s surprising how difficult it is to race a Harbinger with any kind of backup.
Combrei is much the same as it’s always been, except it stumbles on power a little more with the change to Secret Pages. Siraf is also vulnerable to stun now that she has to exhaust to use her ability, but with only one Eye of Winter and no Permafrost in this deck that won’t come up very often.
Combrei of all varieties is a solid matchup for Feln. Even the “big Combrei” versions with 4 Mystic Ascendants can’t match Feln’s Last Word and Azindel’s Gift late game. Feln has plenty of removal to handle Mystic Ascendant, Marshall Ironthorn, and Siraf, while the smaller Combrei units get brickwalled by Bloodcaster and Withering Witch. Eventually a board sweeping combo or two should allow you to out-card the Combrei deck enough to end the game with a Black-Sky Harbinger or Cabal Countess. Countess is particularly threatening in that it can attack into Sandstorm Titan, and if the opponent doesn’t have Desert Marshall they risk getting blow out by Deathstrike if the double bock to kill her.
The biggest problem from Combrei decks is Desert Marshall. Always take the Marshall into account when making attacks where your opponent has 2 power! Don’t let yourself get wrecked by Black-Sky Harbinger losing flying and lifesteal, your Last Word attack being blocked, or your Cabal Countess losing quickdraw. Oftentimes it is better to stay passive and draw more cards than to attack and risk the Marshall. Eventually you will draw a one-sided board clear combo and force your opponent to act. In the case of the Last Word, make sure you have enough blockers that it won’t get attacked down if they have a Marshall.
I expect Haunting Scream to see a big uptick in play, as it is a strong budget deck that got some new cards to play with (Feln Cauldron and Cabal Countess).
I haven’t played this matchup much, but it can be rough with few flying blockers and only 6 fast speed removal spells. It might behoove you to leave Black-Sky Harbinger back to block and apply pressure with your other units if the opponent has a Haunting Scream target you can’t handle in their void.
Fortunately, you do have an endgame trump: Steward of the Past. Haunting Scream can’t do anything relevant with a silenced void, so find the radiant ASAP with your Schemes and Celestial Omen. If Haunting Scream becomes popular, adding a couple more Stewards will really put the hurt on them. Steward is also good against any decks with bigger units like Combrei and Rakano.
Rakano Pants was Feln Control’s worst matchup, so the crippling nerf to Gilded Glaive and the removal of Sparring Partner are a welcome change from my perspective. Bigger Rakano Plate versions will survive, but the days of getting hit for 5 on turn two are over.
Vara’s Favor breaks aegis without losing value, so save them for that purpose if you can. Withering Witch is a little too expensive for the job. Deathstrike and Eye of Winter are also often too slow. Fortunately, Feln got some help on this front: Cabal Countess. The card is just so good at everything, and here it serves as a Lightning Strike for non-flying units that goes through Aegis! She’s basically a knock-off Scorpion Wasp. There aren’t many efficient ways to break up Silverwing Familiar + weapons, but with Glaive nerfed that will hopefully be a less common sight. Any ground units can usually be blocked long enough to put together a combination of removal spells.
If Rakano is popular, play Queen. Just kidding, I would never recommend that. Your best bet for dealing with lots of Aegis + weapons is Steward of the Past for the ground units and Annihilate for the flying ones. There are enough ways to break aegis that a couple Annhilates should go a long ways towards making sure you have 2 spells for every flyer + weapon they assemble.
Feln control is a deck with an established pedigree that has made many gains by virtue of new cards, changes to old cards, and (probably) metagame shifts. If you have a desire to play control in Eternal right now, I think Feln control is the best choice.
Until next time, may your Black-Sky Harbingers steal victory.