[TOP 5] MTG Arena Best Control Decks

MTGA, MTGA Historic, MTGA Standard, Control decks
Silence! Anything you say will be used against you.

Bashing your opponent with creatures is one of the more appealing ways to play MTG. You deploy your creatures, pump them with some spells, and swing for lethal. Most people, though, get more satisfaction in winning the games with card advantage. Countering spells, removing threats, and annoying opponents are the main points of attack for control decks. With the current meta, both in Standard and Historic, relying heavily on creatures, the control archetype is once again being left in the dust with only a few players willing to grind and play the long game.

This list provides players with different options of playing control, all suited to cater to the current metagame. And with how things are shaping, especially in Historic, it will just be a matter of time before control decks will rise in the ranks and be a huge part of the meta again. 

5. UB Control - Standard

We rise from the dead to once again take control.

Dimir is the guild that is most notable for its harsh control schemes. You can take a trip down memory lane with this traditional, yet very powerful, control deck in Standard. This deck does not lack any element of control so it can deal with almost any type of opponent as it can slug it out with both aggressive and midrange matchups. 

What’s good about this deck

  • Built around aggressive decks - Control decks often find it difficult to deal with aggressive matchups. This deck, however, is built with small creatures in mind with its cheap removal and Essence Scatters.
  • More traditional control - Most of the builds in this list put a different twist in control while this uses a lot of counterspells to hold out the enemy’s offensive. 
  • Massive card advantage - This deck boasts massive card draw as it utilizes Opt to help smooth out the draw while Enter the God-Eternals and Commence the Endgame provide extra fuel during the late game. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • Get as much card advantage you can in the early game. This will translate well in the mid- to late-game stages.

    • Use early card draw with Opt to ensure that you don’t miss a land drop. You can also look for counterspells if you are already good with lands.
    • You can use your counterspells more loosely in this deck since you run a lot of them. Removal can be tricky so it is always better if your opponent’s threats don’t reach the board.
  • Aside from an early Shark, this deck does not have any early threats so it will be crucial to hold out until you can deploy your big spells.
    • Use Shark Typhoon to put pressure on your opponent or use it to block their early assault.

Decklist

  • 3 Disfigure
  • 2 Cling to Dust
  • 4 Opt
  • 2 Negate
  • 4 Sinister Sabotage
  • 3 Essence Scatter
  • 2 Heartless Act
  • 2 Eliminate
  • 2 Narset, Parter of Veils
  • 2 God-Eternal Kefnet
  • 3 Enter the God-Eternals
  • 1 Commence the Endgame
  • 4 Shark Typhoon
  • 4 Temple of Deceit
  • 4 Watery Grave
  • 2 Castle Vantress
  • 1 Castle Locthwain
  • 2 Blast Zone
  • 4 Fabled Passage
  • 5 Island
  • 4 Swamp

4. Second Sun Control - Historic

When the sun rises, and the morning comes, we will be victorious.

Approach of the Second Sun makes another huge comeback. UW Control, in Historic, is very powerful with the addition of cards from the Amonkhet Remastered series. As long as you still have Approach of the Second Sun in your deck, the game is still very much winnable. 

What’s good about this deck

  • Very unique primary win condition - Approach of the Second Sun is very powerful as it does not need to resolve to win the game. Just casting it for the second time will already get you the W.
  • Access to other win conditions - Fae of Wishes is really a staple in most control decks as it gives you access to more win conditions without the risk of getting removed by the opponent.
  • Card advantage will help get your win con immediately - Having a flipped Azcanta on the board will help you filter out your cards to get to your second Approach quickly. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • The goal is to filter your deck on the early game to ensure that you have a copy of Approach of the Second Sun to cast.

    • Try to get Search for Azcanta on the curve to help you go through your deck early.
    • Narset, Parter of Veils is also a great card to search for your win condition but it may only survive a turn against most decks.
  • Damage is not a problem when playing this deck since you can keep on casting removals and board wipes to reset the opponent’s board state.
    • Taking damage is also alright since you will gain life with your first Approach and you probably only need to survive for a few more turns before you get your second Approach.

Decklist

  • 4 The Birth of Meletis
  • 2 Seal Away
  • 2 Search for Azcanta
  • 3 Fae of Wishes
  • 4 Opt
  • 4 Censor
  • 1 Settle the Wreckage
  • 4 Wrath of God
  • 1 Shatter the Sky
  • 2 Drawn from Dreams
  • 2 Commit // Memory
  • 2 Approach of the Second Sun
  • 2 Narset, Parter of Veils
  • 2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
  • 4 Hallowed Fountain
  • 4 Temple of Enlightenment
  • 4 Glacial Fortress
  • 2 Field of Ruin
  • 1 Castle Ardenvale
  • 2 Castle Vantress
  • 4 Island
  • 4 Plains

Sideboard

  • 1 Settle the Wreckage
  • 1 Heliod’s Intervention
  • 1 Shatter the Sky
  • 2 Approach of the Second Sun
  • 1 Aether Gust
  • 2 Mystical Dispute
  • 1 Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 1 Tormod’s Crypt
  • 1 Time Wipe
  • 1 Meteor Golem
  • 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
  • 1 Platinum Angel
  • 1 Thassa’s Intervention

3. Jeskai Control - Standard

Martial artist, mage, and the newest poster girl for control decks, Narset can relly do everything.

 

Since Teferi, Time Raveler got banned in Standard, most control decks took a huge blow as it is one of the staples in control. Luckily, there are still a lot of great cards that can fill in the void left by the ban. This deck puts a huge twist to the common control deck with its ability to effectively throw in burn spells at the enemy.

What’s good about this deck

  • A very handy wish board -  If you have not yet caught on with the trend, Fae of Wishes is a huge game-changer as it will help you get more cards in your deck without disrupting the curve.
  • It can answer almost any threat on the board - This deck runs a variety of removal cards that can take out any threat that your opponents may produce. 
  • This is the Standard version of Burn control - Even without any form of counterspells, this is a very strong control deck. You just need to hold out long enough until your enemy is in range of your burn spells and your planeswalker’s burn abilities. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • Utilize your early card removal and board wipe to establish an early edge against your opponent.

    • A huge chunk of the meta is creature-based and this deck is finely tuned to deal with those threats. Deafening Clarion and Bonecrusher can deal with smaller creatures while Elspeth Conquers Death can remove their larger threats.
    • Your planeswalkers can also dish out damage to remove threats on the board so even if your opponent resolves a lot of creatures, you can still deal with them in the late game.
  • Use your Fae of Wishes to close out the game if you are in a tight spot. 
    • Playing this deck will mean you having to deal with a lot of threats and at times, these threats may be too overwhelming. Fae of Wishes will help you get out of tight squeezes or even outright win the game depending on what you get.
    • This card is also a great mirror breaker against other control matchups. The additional 15 cards is already a huge card advantage that the opponent can’t deal with.

Decklist

  • 3 Fae of Wishes
  • 2 The Birth of Meletis
  • 4 Bonecrusher Giant
  • 4 Narset, Parter of Veils
  • 4 Deafening Clarion
  • 4 Narset of the Ancient Way
  • 4 Shark Typhoon
  • 4 Elspeth Conquers Death
  • 2 Chandra, Awakened Inferno
  • 2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
  • 4 Raugrin Triome
  • 4 Interplanar Beacon
  • 4 Hallowed Fountain
  • 4 Steam Vents
  • 4 Sacred Foundry
  • 3 Temple of Epiphany
  • 2 Plains
  • 1 Island
  • 1 Mountain

Sideboard

  • 1 Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 1 Tormod’s Crypt
  • 2 Aether Gust
  • 1 Inspired Ultimatum
  • 1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
  • 2 Time Wipe
  • 1 Heliod’s Intervention
  • 1 FInale of Revelation
  • 1 Meteor Golem
  • 2 Dovin’s Veto
  • 2 Light of Hope

2. Bolas Discard - Historic

The Lord Bolas descends to decide who is worthy to be spared from its wrath

You can never have too many Bolas’s and that is greatly shown here in this hand disruption deck. Running with 8 Nicol Bolas’s it brings complete hate to your opponent’s hand, allowing you to attack their game plan before it even materializes. 

What’s good about this deck

  • You get to remove early threats before they even cast it - Thoughtseize-Kroxa combination on Turns 1 and 2 can completely derail the opponent’s strategy. Hand disruption will give you a different type of card advantage in-game.
  • This deck does not run short of removal - This deck is removal-centric whether it is by removing threats in the opponent’s hand, or dealing with threats on the board, this deck can do it all.
  • Basically, a Superfriends deck - This deck runs three different Nicol Bolas plus two more supporting planeswalkers. All of these planeswalkers synergize well with each other as they all have a grudge against your opponent’s hand. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • A Turn One Thoughtseize is the ideal start but even if you don’t have one, it won’t really be a problem. Most of the opponent’s early threats can be easily dealt with.

    • Your opponent will not have much of a window to establish their board so aim to get a Waste Not on board to extract value from your discard strategy.
    • You can easily reset the opponent’s board with your board wipes so even if they get to establish their board, you shouldn’t worry too much as long as you are also establishing your side of the board.
  • As much as possible, don’t use Davriel’s ability since you have an abundance of discarders.
    • As the game progresses, having a Davriel on board will help you deal damage while tearing through your opponent’s hand so it would be better if it still has all of its loyalty points to make it harder for the opponent to remove it.

Decklist

  • 2 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger
  • 4 Waste Not
  • 4 Thoughtseize
  • 2 Tyrant’s Scorn
  • 1 Murderous Rider
  • 3 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
  • 2 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage
  • 3 Nicol Bolas, Dragon God
  • 2 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
  • 2 Angrath, the Flame-Chained
  • 2 Bedevil
  • 2 Extinction Event
  • 2 Vraska’s Contempt
  • 1 The Eldest Reborn
  • 2 Ritual of Soot
  • 1 Storm’s Wrath
  • 4 Dragonskull Summit
  • 4 Drowned Catacomb
  • 4 Blood Crypt
  • 3 Steam Vents
  • 4 Watery Grave
  • 2 Field of Ruin
  • 1 Island
  • 1 Mountain
  • 2 Swamp

1. Locust God Counterburn - Historic

The Locust God is back with his army of insects flying around for the kill.

Amonkhet Remastered brought in a lot of very scary cards that benefitted the control game. The Locust God is among those cards that can be utilized in these types of decks. Drawing cards no longer just gives you card advantage, it also helps you swarm your opponent with insects. 

What’s good about this deck

  • A huge variety of win conditions - You can either completely wreck your opponent with counter and burn spells, or you can use your swarm of insects to swing for lethal. 
  • Spell-heavy deck diverts from the norm - Current Historic meta utilizes a very creature-heavy style of play. Decks, therefore, bring in a lot of creature removal but with this deck, you won’t have to worry about any of those.
  • Plenty of card draw engines - The Locust God brings in a lot of value especially in this deck as it has a bunch of ways to draw cards. You get great card advantage while, at the same time, you build up a huge army of hasty insects. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • Just like any control deck, leaving your mana open creates a world of doubt for your opponent. Having open mana is very crucial in this deck as it has more spells that are useful in the opponent’s turn than in your main phase.

    • In the ideal matchup, the only time you are going to cast anything in your main phase is if you are going to clear the board or bring in a permanent into the battlefield.
  • Getting Search for Azcanta to resolve will be very ideal in this deck. 
    • One of your main win conditions, The Locust God, is a six-mana creature. Getting land drops every turn is crucial as you want to cast this as early as possible to start generating tokens.
    • Having this in play will also help you go through your deck easily to find the answers to your opponent’s threats. Of course, you don’t want to draw into a Shock if you are facing a huge creature so it is really important that you get your Search for Azcanta to resolve. 

Decklist

  • 4 Shock
  • 2 Pact of Negation
  • 1 Negate
  • 3 Search for Azcanta
  • 4 Anger of the Gods
  • 3 Soul Sear
  • 4 Ionize
  • 3 Chemister’s Insight
  • 2 Chandra, Pyromancer
  • 1 Storm’s Wrath
  • 3 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
  • 2 The Locust God
  • 2 Thassa’s Intervention
  • 4 Steam Vents
  • 4 Sulfur Falls
  • 2 Temple of Epiphany
  • 7 Mountains
  • 7 Island
  • 2 Field of Ruin

Control decks are complex but they possess really strong late-game power. This characteristic of control decks makes them very appealing especially to players that want to get in a different play style. Decks like these require a very high skill level to maximize their potential but more than skill, patience is also a very important thing to have if you want to be a control player. Remember that control focuses on getting card advantage and defending the board so if you are tired of playing with, or against, aggressive decks, you may want to give control a try. 

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