Lights Out – The New TJP Control

I’ll admit it, I have a problem – I can’t stop playing TJP control. I love all of the card draw, the long games, the drawing of cards, playing Siraf, drawing cards…knight-chancellor_siraf

The thing that draws me to TJP is how versatile the early game cards are. Combrei Healer can stall against aggro or buff another unit’s health high enough to block anything on the ground. Siraf is a decent blocker early and can take over the game once you reach 8 power. Wisdom of the Elders is good at any point in the game. Removal spells answer a threat at any point in the game. Since your cheaper cards provide a way to win the game later, you don’t need to play as many expensive win conditions and your deck is a lot less clunky than other control decks like Icaria Blue.

2 Excavate (Set1 #71)
2 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
1 Backlash (Set1 #200)
4 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
1 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
2 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
2 Lightning Strike (Set1 #197)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
3 Combrei Healer (Set1 #333)
4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)
3 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
2 Staff of Stories (Set1 #234)
2 Throne Warden (Set1 #514)
1 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
2 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)
3 Channel the Tempest (Set1 #244)
1 Sword of the Sky King (Set1 #186)
2 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
5 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
1 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)
1 Hooru Banner (Set0 #57)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

This latest version of TJP control was adapted from a list Neon gave me a couple weeks ago, and it is sublime. Channel the Tempest gives the deck an even bigger over-the-top finisher than Siraf. When Channel isn’t going to the face for 6-10 damage, it is a 4-for-1 by killing a unit and drawing 3 cards. Mystic Ascendant is the best snowballing card advantage engine in the game, and even without many other Vanquish targets in the deck he is worth playing for the enormous potential upside.

Sandstorm Titan is conspicuously absent from the deck, and that is because he is popular. Everyone is gunning for Titan right now and playing cards like Annihilate, Vanquish, and Xenan Obelisk so their Titans win the Titan-on-Titan violence, etc. By not playing Titans, you get to sidestep all of that and play the removal and card draw game better. Those removal spells for large time units aren’t completely dead due to Mystic Ascendant, but by the time you develop him the board should be stabilized a bit and will draw at least 1 card anyways. The benefits of playing Ascendant (mainly being very hard to beat for Shimmerpack and closing the game quickly against burn) are worth the cost.staff-of-stories

Besides the obvious expensive cards and Siraf, the other way to win the game is Staff of Stories. Staff is absurdly good if you can land it safely and power up to protect it, and Throne Warden makes that even easier to set up. Sitting behind Staff for a dozen turns while killing everything your opponent throws at you works really well against everything besides Stonescar Burn, and is particularly brutal against slower decks like Big Combrei variants and Feln Control. Eventually you will be able to kill your opponent with whatever you have left after grinding them down to nothing.

This deck packs an absurd amount of late-game value and card draw, so always err on the side of the prolonging the game rather ending it if you have to choose a line. Your opponent will not be able to draw as many cards as as you and will eventually fail to draw action, while you will almost always have stuff to play. Excavate may look a little out of place since it is card disadvantage, but it is generally used as an extra copy of Harsh Rule or Channel the Tempest, so it is better than it looks. In the late-game when your opponent’s hand is empty you can also use Excavate to grab a Siraf or Mystic Ascendant to take over the game.

Matchups

Playing TJP control is an exercise in patience. You often are just barely hanging on until you hit a Harsh Rule or a second Combrei Healer to create a 2/8 blocker, and then are able to make a massive comeback to win the game.

Big Combrei

mystic-ascendant

Slower decks like Big Combrei are pretty good matchups for this version of TJP control. There is enough removal to contain their threats, and the amount of card draw you have access to far outpaces Combrei’s. As long as you save removal or silence for Siraf and Mystic Ascendant, you should have no trouble grinding Big Combrei out of the game. In general you should try to use Scorpion Wasps on Sandstorm Titan (or other units that must attack to do anything, like owls from The Great Parliament), as he doesn’t do anything unless he’s attacking. The other Combrei units can provide value without exposing themselves to Wasp, so a wise opponent won’t swing into a possible Wasp with them. Most often the first Channel the Tempest kills a unit and draws you enough cards to pull ahead, then another Channel to the face ends the game.

It is important to guess the cards in your opponent’s hand in matchups like this. If the opponent hasn’t played any units despite the board being empty, their hand is probably full of Vanquishes and Harsh Rules, so don’t count on your units surviving to block. Big Combrei almost always holds at least 1 power in hand to immediately draw a card off any Mystic Ascendants they draw, so be sure to account for at least one their cards in hand being power in the late game.

Elysian/TJP Midrange

Cirso decks have a much worse late game than Combrei, but are much more threatening early. False Prince and Dawnwalker are both frightening early units, and you can easily be aggro-ed out of the game if you don’t have an early Harsh Rule. Dawnwalker in particular is very difficult to beat with removal, as every 5-strength threat requires you to have two removal spells. As such, you should try to silence Dawnwalker ASAP.

Since your stabilization plan doesn’t involve much blocking, Crystallize isn’t as threatening here, but be aware of it if you get into the single digits of health. In general it is okay to take an extra hit or two to try and extract value from a Harsh Rule or to draw some more cards, because the only reach Elysian has from an empty board is Storm Lynx, and not everyone even plays the cat. Once you clean the board up and get a 4-for-1 with a Channel the Tempest you have turned the corner and should look to close the game out with your units.

Stonescar Burn

Stonescar Burn, as always, is a tough matchup for these durdly control decks. This list is only running a few cards that interact with big burn spells, so you need to kill all of your opponent’s units as fast as possible and then try to attack them with your own units. This is where not having Sandstorm Titan really hurts. That said, you do have Throne Warden, who is difficult for Stonescar to deal with and gains you some armor to survive a little bit longer.

Be wary of Impending Doom, as it doesn’t die to Lightning Strike and can’t be blocked effectively by Combrei Healer or Desert Marshal. Sometimes it’s alright to take an extra hit from an Argenport Instigator or trade with a Champion of Chaos to save your last Scorpion Wasp or Vanquish for a potential Impending Doom, as 5 in the air closes the game out very quickly.

Shimmerpackharsh-rule

Shimmerpack decks usually don’t have any removal besides Permafrost and Scorpion Wasp, so Mystic Ascendant really shines here. Once you’ve got one in play he functions like a Staff of Stories they can’t attack away, and lets you keep up with the absurd 2 power 5/5s and such out of a late-game Shimmerpack deck. It’s fine if he gets Permafrost-ed, and don’t attack into potential Scorpion Wasps with your engine.

Make sure you Harsh Rule before your opponent can kill you with Shimmerpack – even a non-threatening 0/2 can hit you for 4+ out of nowhere once the opponent is on 8 power. In general, you want to hold off on Harsh Rule as long as possible so as not to let your opponent recover with a Scouting Party that draws 3+ cards, but don’t be so greedy with the sweeper that you die in the meantime. Excavate is nice here to get extra effective copies of Harsh Rule and Mystic Ascendant (if you’re forced to Harsh Rule your first one away).

Conclusion

TJP is always a fringe-viable deck, and I think its position now is better than usual. Stonescar is as popular as ever and a very close matchup, but you’re happy to queue into Sandstorm Titan decks of all varieties. Go-wide decks like Shimmerpack and Kalis can be difficult depending on how many pay-off cards they draw, but TJP has the tools and the early game blockers to win any matchup.

Until next time, may you draw a lot of cards!

LightsOutAce

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