• Unlucky Frog Gaming

Magic Tactica: Esper Control and 4 Colour Gates

By Josh Hartley

Magic: The Gathering copyright Wizards Of The Coast

Alright, alright. I’ve been threatening to do this for some time on the podcast now and this is me finally getting around to writing an article about Magic: The Gathering.

The truth be told I haven’t got around to writing this article because I’ve been too busy actually playing the damn game. Weird, I know.

Specifically I have been really enjoying the current Standard format (for those uninitiated Standard is the format of magic which uses card from the past approximately two years of releases). It’s a really diverse meta game right now so if there is a strategy that you enjoy odds are there’s a deck for you.

I better say right now, I am by no means an expert on Magic: The Gathering. If I’m being honest it would probably be a bit of a stretch to describe me as a good player! So rather than sit here claiming to know all the answers I’m going to share my thoughts on a couple of the decks I’ve been playing. I am likely wrong on a couple of these things so please get in touch and point out how I’ve been an idiot.

So what have I been playing? Well the two decks I’ve been having the most fun with is Esper Control and Four Colour Gates!

Esper Control

Artwork: Teferi, The Hero of Dominaria


4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

1 Cast Down

2 Moment of Craving

2 Negate

3 Thought Erasure

4 Absorb

2 Cry of the Carnarium

3 Mortify

2 Chemister's Insight

3 Kaya's Wrath

3 Vraska's Contempt

2 Precognitive Perception

1 Warrant // Warden

2 Search for Azcanta


1 Plains

1 Swamp

4 Drowned Catacomb

4 Glacial Fortress

4 Godless Shrine

4 Hallowed Fountain

4 Isolated Chapel

4 Watery Grave


4 Thief of Sanity

3 Duress

4 Basilica Bell-Haunt

2 Hostage Taker

1 Kaya's Wrath

1 The Eldest Reborn

Those who have been playing Magic for any particular length of time will be well aware of what a control deck is; one where you shut down your opponent by playing cards to kill their creatures and counter their spells all the while drawing cards like a madman until you are ready to whap out your unbeatable win condition on the table and run away with the game.

This deck falls comfortably into this category. 20 of the main deck cards are there to answer your opponents threats while 26 lands should stop you from getting stuck for casting spells most of the time. Where this deck excels is Teferi – not only does he win you the game but he draws you an extra card each turn along the way. What a lad.

I’m a sucker for a good control deck so it’s safe to say I’ve been really enjoying playing this on Arena. I particularly like the 4 Theif of Sanity in the sideboard to bring in once your opponent has removed all of their removal spells so you can start a good old fashioned game of “stop hitting yourself”.

In terms of changes I think the weakest card in the 75 is Precognitive Perception – 5 mana is a lot and I find more often than not that I would just rather this was more copies of Chemister’s Insight.

While I’ve been loving this deck it does feel like a lot of previous ones from yesteryear (Sphinx’s Revelation control from Return to Ravnica block comes to mind). Sometimes I want to play something that feels a bit more unique.

Four Colour Gates

Artwork: Gatebreaker Ram


4 Hydroid Krasis

3 Gatebreaker Ram

3 Archway Angel

3 Gate Colossus


4 Gates Ablaze

4 Circuitous Route

2 Mass Manipulation

2 Expansion // Explosion

4 Growth Spiral

4 Guild Summit


1 Mountain

1 Island

3 Forest

4 Plaza of Harmony

1 Breeding Pool

3 Azorius Guildgate

3 Gruul Guildgate

4 Izzet Guildgate

2 Selesnya Guildgate

4 Simic Guildgate

1 Gateway Plaza


1 Gate Colossus

1 Mass Manipulation

2 Cindervines

3 Deafening Clarion

1 Banefire

3 Negate

2 Crushing Canopy

1 Gatebreaker Ram

1 Archway Angel

Enter 4 Colour Gates! What this deck is trying to do is ramp ahead of the opponent to play ridiculously big spells like Mass Manipulation or Gate Colosus while taking advantage of some of the “gates matter” cards like Gates Ablaze or Guild Summit to gain advantages over the other player.

Also, one of the win conditions of this deck is Gatebreaker Ram. If beating your opponent to death with a sheep appeals to you then this is the deck for you.

At a cursory glance I have to admit I thought the deck would be some fun nonsense to try out. To my surprise however this deck seems to be actually kind of good! There are number of mid-range decks in the format right now which this deck just destroys and between the Gates Ablaze and Archway Angel it has enough game against aggro decks to stand half a chance.

I would say the match up that feels bad is against the aforementioned control deck – on the whole this deck is pretty weak to counter-spells so that can feel pretty tough.

That said you would struggle to find a Standard deck that performs as well for this price (and most of that is in the 4 Hydroid Krasis). If you’re looking to try something a little different I would highly recommend.

Anyway, that pretty much wraps up what I’ve been up to cardboard crack wise. What decks have you guys been playing lately? As I said at the beginning I’m really loving this Standard format and it would be great to hear what you all think. Drop me an email at unluckyfroggaming@gmail.com to let me know!

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