While many people have written off Feln control with the Withering Witch nerf, Graduation has piloted Feln control to around #15 on ladder during the March season. (He ended the season at #5 because he played Armory, which is more busted as a deck.)
Graduation used Calimdir’s list, took some influence from Elunex, and made some minor tweaks of his own. What makes this list different is that it uses the value engine of Vara, Fate-Touched as a finisher. Games often end by stabilizing against aggressive strategies and winning with damage in the air (Champion of Cunning + Black Sky Harbinger), with Vara bringing back the wincons as well as Withering Witch for additional board clears. Some key differences with other Feln control lists:
- 2 copies of Vara, Fate-Touched (the Scion, not the Favor).
- 3 copies of Withering Witch.
- 4 copies of Black-Sky Harbinger. Gotta stomp on those aggro decks.
- 4 copies of Steward of the Past.
- 1 copy of Thunderstrike Dragon.
- Zero copies of Feln Stranger or Scouting Party.
If you enjoy control strategies, you should give Feln Control a whirl.
Why is this even good?
I’m not even sure. I would say that aggro has been repeatedly nerfed to the point where this deck can handle that matchup just fine. Stonescar Burn not playing all of the 5-cost flyers certainly helps as Feln has always been weak against flying units.
The aggro decks have slowed down to the point where you can run 4X Wisdom of the Elders to draw more power so that you can drop Black Sky Harbinger… letting you run 4 Harbingers. Wisdom of the Elders is like a version of Seek the Way that doesn’t suck… it costs 3 power instead of 2+2 and the power isn’t depleted. On the mulligan, a hand that can cast Wisdom of the Elders is generally a good hand because it will almost always draw power (to play expensive answers) or answers.
Withering Witch technically did get nerfed, but the extra toughness doesn’t really matter in practice.
Current Deck list (as of April 1)
4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
2 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
3 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Feln Bloodcaster (Set1 #386)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
3 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Steward of the Past (Set1 #287)
3 Champion of Cunning (Set1 #371)
1 Staff of Stories (Set1 #234)
3 Withering Witch (Set1 #368)
4 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
1 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
1 Thunderstrike Dragon (Set1 #243)
1 Azindel’s Gift (Set1 #306)
2 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)
7 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
9 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
1 Cobalt Monument (Set1 #418)
4 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
You have your standard package of removal. Depending on the meta, removal spells can be swapped for one another. With more go-wide strategies currently in the meta, the 4th Lightning Storm may be warranted (swap for something that’s not as good against go-wide like Annihilate or Deathstrike).
The deck runs 4 Feln Bloodcasters because they are great for early defense and can generate card advantage in control mirrors. Steward of the Past is another good defensive unit. His void hate creates additional utility, especially against decks that run Vara Fate-Touched as a finisher. In rare cases, beating people down with 1 or 2 of these early units is a good line of play if the opponent has a very weak board. 3 damage per turn from Steward will add up.
Champion of Cunning is a finisher. You usually want to grab primal Sigils so that Champion gains aegis and flying, making him resilient and able to put a 5-turn clock on opponents. It can take a while before you fully power up Champion’s influence requirements.
Staff of Stories is a card advantage engine against control decks and durdle-ey defensive decks. You often want to setup a good defensive board position before dropping Staff. Against Stonescar burn, the card is bad and will often do nothing but gain you 4 life.
Black Sky Harbinger is an amazing defensive card. The life gain is very strong against aggro decks. Because the deck is packed with defensive cards, the game often drags on long enough that you hit 6 power. BSH will drag on the game even longer so you will eventually have 8 power for Vara.
Thunderstrike Dragon is an ok threat and answer. It’s very power-intensive so there is only 1 copy. Also note that Vara, Fate-Touched cannot recur it.
Celestial Omen lets you find the best card for a given matchup. If you have the power, you can go for cards that are key in a matchup:
- Withering Witch against Combrei if you need to clear their board (or Vara to recur Withering Witch)
- Azindel’s Gift against durdle decks and Combrei if you aren’t under pressure
- Black-Sky Harbinger against aggro
- etc. etc.
Withering Witch interactions
Withering Witch is a weird card with some weird interactions that you should keep in mind.
Lightning Storm: Play Storm first, and then Witch. The health reduction is based on the unit’s health if there was no damage on the unit. The combo will clear the opponent’s board. If you can’t do anything great with Lightning Storm without Witch in hand, hold onto it in case you draw Witch.
Combat damage: Like Lightning Storm, damage will stick to the unit and units will die after playing Witch. So, you can kamikaze attack your units into your opponent. If they block, any blockers will die after you play Witch.
Vara, Fate-Touched: Now this is obvious, but Witch can’t be brought back unless she is in the void. So it’s not a terrible idea to get your Witch killed (by attacking or blocking with her) so that you can bring it back. In a pinch you can Vara’s Favor your own Witch so that Vara can bring her back (flavour win?).
Interaction with buffs like Obelisk and Wump, Party Starter: If you play Witch and then later get rid of the buff effect, their units will die. Play Witch first before getting rid of the buff effect.
Armory: You don’t want to face Armory. There are only a few ways to win:
- The opponent is power flooded or screwed badly.
- You get to Vara, Fate-Touched and grind them out by bringing back Champion of Cunning. Champ needs aegis so that your board doesn’t get wiped versus Harsh Rule.
- You flood the board with units and beat them down… hopefully they don’t have enough relic weapons and removal (e.g. a single Harsh Rule) to deal with it.
Stonescar Burn (Big Burn, Burn Queen, etc.): This is actually a decent matchup. Black-Sky Harbinger is really hard for burn decks to deal with… it will usually be your Celestial Omen target (unless you can Omen for Vara to bring back BSH).
Clear their board before playing your own units… it’s usually more important to keep your health high than it is to use your power efficiently. If you play a unit, it might die to removal and the opponent will get damage in that they otherwise would not be able to land.
Rakano aggro/warcry: It is often a good idea to keep their board clear. Without any units, their combat tricks + equipment cards will be dead cards that sit in their hand doing nothing. While this is sort of like card advantage, you actually want to do this because the matchup is tempo-oriented. The Rakano gameplan is to try to win before you can get setup and grind them out with card/value advantage.
Combrei: This will often be a grindfest and turn into a longer game. Boardstalls can be favorable for you as you will eventually assemble some form of Withering Witch combo… if you have a massive board and clear theirs, you will probably be winning.
One line of play is to drop Champion of Cunning with aegis on it. If they Harsh Rule, Champion will survive and the opponent will be in big trouble. So if you have Champion on your board, you can somewhat safely drop other defensive units like Steward of the Past. However, you must account for silence effects (or Combrei Healer), which can pop aegis. Desert Marshal costs 2 power and will result in a pause at the end of your turn. Valkyrie Enforcer and Combrei Healer don’t have pauses and cost 3 power- the opponent needs at least 8 power to pop 1 aegis and Harsh Rule on the same turn.
If you enjoy control, this deck is absolutely viable on ladder. It takes some time to learn and to master this deck. It’s not always obvious as to when you should play Azindel’s Gift instead of developing your board position, since gift leaves you vulnerable to a counterattack. The deck’s power level is high and you generally get to play interesting games.
Now it’s not the absolute best deck out there. Armory, which I don’t think is a deck that’s fun to play against, is higher in terms of ladder performance. (This may have to do with the skill of the Armory pilot… I see people use Rise to the Challenge to find weird stuff with Armory.) But Feln Control is fairly competitive in terms of power level and you may find it more fun to play. If you like card advantage… this deck is for you.