Esper Control in Alchemy: the most fun control deck you’ll play on arena!

Explore the fun Esper Control deck in MTG Arena's Alchemy format. Learn key strategies, cards, and tips to dominate your matches!

As a preface of this article I would like to say that among the different types of strategies available on MTG control decks have always been my least favorites. When I started to play MTG Arena the first two decks I crafted were Mono-Blue and Mono-Red aggro. Overall I prefer to play aggro or midrange decks. Then why am I talking about a control deck today? First of all Esper Control in Alchemy is FUN to play. Having access to the Power Nine is just something else. While your opponent is playing good cards you are overtaking him playing some of the strongest cards ever printed in MTG history. Luckily that’s not the only reason. I hate losing and this deck wins so many games. The highest winrate I recorded this season with the deck was 86% while now I’m sitting at 83% on over fifty games played in the best-of-three ranked queue. Last season the deck granted me a place in the top 250 at the end of the month playing a total of just 24 hours in the whole month. But now, numbers apart let’s talk about the deck!

Total Cards:

Card Choices

The counterspells

  • Key Cards:

Magic the Gathering Card - Reprieve - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - No More Lies - MTG Circle

[In a context such as Alchemy the power level of countermagic is at the highest level ever. Over the past few months the format has been heavily influenced by tempo plays and Reprieve is the perfect answer in such a context. Reprieve turns into a card draw effect for the player who casts it and into a tempo loss for the opponent. While Reprieve itself doesn’t provide a real countermagic effect, the impact on the games is so meaningful that we can incorporate it among the counterspells packet. Moreover with the recent introduction of the Heist mechanics Reprieve represents one of the strongest spell in the whole format. In fact reprieving spells heisted from our opponent would basically lead us to a situation where the opponent gets to cast 0 spells while we get back one of our cards and on top of that we get to draw as well]

On the other hand No More Lies is one of the most important cards to slow down the opponent’s early game making it just the perfect fit for the format and for the deck. While Reprieve can be good in the late game as well, it is better to cast No More Lies in the early stages of the game as it will be harder to pay the 3 additional mana requested from the spell.

  • One last mention:

Magic the Gathering Card - Three Steps Ahead - MTG Circle

The power level of Three Steps Ahead as a counterspell in the format is probably second only to Reprieve. It is an amazing late-game resource as it turns into a card draw effect while supplying the option of copying Midnight Clock or Oracle of the Alpha, then why not play it? After trying it for a few games I realized that we get to use two out of the three effects rarely because of the state of the format. I truly believe that the card is still an option to evaluate for the deck and I’m convinced it will find his spot in a slightly different environment in the future.

The Card Draw

  • Key Cards:

Magic the Gathering Card - Sauron's Ransom - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - A-The One Ring - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Lórien Revealed - MTG Circle

Sauron's Ransom is always at least a draw 2 with 2 upsides: we get the ring to tempt us and we get to choose among the piles made by the opponent. There are situation where the deck needs to play one specific card in the upcoming turns and having the chance to see one of the piles is crucial.

The One Ring is just the greatest draw engine for the late game in the format while also giving us the chance of surviving for one more turn. It has to be used carefully but I don’t think there is much more to say. Despite being nerfed in Alchemy, The One Ring is still one of the strongest card in the format. Personally I would not run less than 2 as sometimes we might need to refresh it to avoid dying from its effect.

Lórien Revealed represents 1 more island for us while also providing the chance of drawing three cards in the late stages of the game.

  • Other mentions:

Magic the Gathering Card - Case of the Lost Witness - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Jace Reawakened - MTG Circle

Case of the Lost Witness and Jace Reawakened are probably the two least important cards of the deck. You might want to cut them and I’ve considered doing it multiple times. Despite representing huge value, these two cards might be too slow in many cases. If you want to cut them I would suggest to add some combination of removals/late game threat.

The Creatures

  • Key Cards:

Magic the Gathering Card - Sheoldred, the Apocalypse - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Rusko, Clockmaker - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Oracle of the Alpha - MTG Circle

When I created the decklist I was not completely sure to include only one copy of Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and doubt still pervades me. We all know the power of the card but alchemy is a format full of answers for her and I don’t want to spend four mana to see her removed by spells like Porcine Portent. One copy is still needed but most likely it’s enough.

Oracle of the Alpha gives us access to the Power Nine, should I say more? Jokes aside the Power Nine is just the icing on the cake for the deck.

Rusko, Clockmaker is the real king of the deck. The cards does everything: it ramps, it draws, it heals and it does damage, what do you want more? Midnight Clock represents a good amount of Rusko’s power. Having access to an extra mana for free is stronger than you might think. On top of that the Clock will reach the twelfth counter more often than you think making Rusko a late game draw spell that we cast on turn 4. Rusko’s drain effect synergizes perfectly with all the Moxes conjured by the Oracle and all the cheap counterspells we have access to.

The Removals

  • Key cards:

Magic the Gathering Card - Porcine Portent // Lend a Ham - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Sunfall - MTG Circle

Porcine Portent is a must have whenever you have access to white and black mana. Good exile removals are both hard to find and extremely important in the format. On top of that Porcine Portent is also an amazing late game answer for artifact or enchantment spells while also providing a body on the battlefield.

Talking about good exile effects Sunfall is definitely the best sweeper in the format.

Last considerations

With the recent introducation of Alchemy: Thunder Junction the meta changed completely. Heist decks are now incredibly popular. I believe the matchup is not great right now for esper but at the same time I think there are still option to explore in these colors.

 I know what you are thinking now: should I play this deck?

My answer is: it depends. Does it cost you too many wildcards to craft it? Then i would say no considering the upcoming rotation of the format in July. If you have access to the majority of the cards I would give it a shot. As I said at the beginning of the article the deck is fun while also being powerful.

See it in action

I started playing MTG when the open beta of MTGA was released . I took part to the Arena National League in 2019 reaching the final and placing second.