January 21, 2009
Many times people will ask me what deck I like to play.
even broader, what deck type. I don't usually have a
good answer other than, "Something that allies my
creatures to die honorably at 90 degree angles." In
reality though, I simply prefer decks that are
interesting or the ones that have really fun cards. I
still like to be competitive though. That causes some
problems when deck building.
Most control decks are booooooorriiiiiiing. They don't
do anything. They kinda just sit there and wait for the
opponent to do something until they draw their big
finisher. That's fine for some players. I'm not going
to cover that type of deck today. I am going to cover
the most fun control deck I've ever played: Lords of
That's the best name I've heard given to the deck and
it's definitely fitting. Let's start with a decklist.
Lords of the Rings
2 Chameleon C olossus
4 Kitchen Finks
2 Naya Charm
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Wrath of God
4 Mind Stone
3 Rings of Brighthearth
2 Chandra Nalaar
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Ajani Vengeant
1 Sarkhan Vol
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Reflecting Pool
4 Jungle Shrine
2 Treetop Village
3 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Wooded Bastion
4 Battlefield Forge
2 Karplusan Forest
2 Guttural Response
4 Vexing Shusher
2 Lash Out
Yes, it’s 61 cards. I’ve got a habit of doing that. It
could simply be the power of prime. ; You can pick and
choose what to pull if you like. I prefer the deck just
how it is. If I was forced to make a recommendation for
removal, I guess I would say Sarkhan Vol. But I like
having him there as an option. It’s your call though.
The deck seems fine at 61.
Originally, the deck got my attention solely because of
two cards. It plays a full set of Ajani Vengeant. And
it plays with Rings of Brighthearth. This got me really
interesting in the deck. I started piecing it together
and doing a ton of testing.
I discovered that the Lords of the Rings are quite
potent as a group and have a pretty solid game against
several decks. I’m probably getting ahead of myself
though. Let’s break it down into a more basic nuts and
There aren’t a lot of creatures, but the ones that are
played are hard to kill. You’ve got to love that. The
Kitchen Finks are life gain and come back for a second
round of fighting. Chameleon Colossus is hard to deal
with. I was surprised that some lists didn’t play this
guy, because he’s been the key to winning many games
You never feel
completely out of the fight. Chandra, Ajani, and
Elspeth and each be critical topdecks on their own.
This doesn’t even take into account the individual power
of some cards like Wrath of God still lingering.
The mana is very smooth, so you rarely get stuck wanting
a color. This is a very good feeling. This also adds a
significant level of consistency.
The spells in this deck, especially the planeswalkers,
are very versatile. Having flexibility is a good thing.
It’s not a cheap deck to build. The Planeswalkers are
expensive. Wrath of God and Reflecting Pool are both
above the $10 USD mark in most places. This could put
it out of the realm of possibility for some players to
even try to scrape together.
You have very few early plays. Unless you draw
up a Mind Stone in the first few turns, you aren’t going
to be doing a whole lot. You’ve got to sit patiently
and game plan. That scares some people.
Partly due to the above statement; it’s a tough deck to
play. There are a lot of decisions to be made.
Sometimes there are five or six possible directions to
head down on a single turn. It’s one of those times
where having a lot of choices can sometimes lead to
overthinking and some bad plays: “Think long, think
You can’t allow yourself to get discouraged with your
first few runs. It’s very likely that you are going to
make a lot of mistakes. You might even lose some games
that you feel you should obviously be winning. It’s
almost like a mirage or some bad illusion. As you get
better, you will start to see the better plays and where
your other mistakes were originating. This is
definitely not a deck I would throw someone into a
tournament with without at least ten to twelve games of
The deck has a ton of interesting interactions. Just
the Rings of Brighthearth themselves are strong in this
pile of constructed goodness. The things you can do
with the planeswalkers is just complete silliness:
Chandra can blast multiple creatures on her first
appearance to the game.
Garruk can makes two beasts a turn. Later, he can
Ajani can take you from losing to winning with a quick
12 point swing in life totals.
Sarkhan Vol can steal two creatures for the price of
one, making for a surprise victory.
Elspeth can make a supersized flier.
The rings don’t just stop there. Remember, earlier when
I mentioned winning on the broad shoulders of the
Chameleon Colossus? You can double up his ability with
the Rings as well. That makes for some fun stuff. I’ve
even used the Rings late game to sift for a winner, but
using it to double up the draw effect on Mind Stone.
I’m truly a bit upset that I couldn’t settle on any
quality side board card that could use the Rings.
While we’re on the topic, I don’t want you to let the
name of the deck fool you. This deck can (and many
times does) win without the power of the Rings of
Brighthearth. Personally, I thought the deck was going
to be a one trick pony and lose if I couldn’t get the
Rings on the table. Boy was I wrong. When you land a
set, it makes the game a lot easier and takes out some
of the guesswork, that’s for sure. You in no way need
them to secure a victory though. Each card is so strong
that they can stand their ground independently of the
How does it stack up against other big decks? I
personally hate giving percentages. I think percentages
are hard to justify unless you have a n extremely large
sample size of matches. Player skill and specific deck
make-up can have a lot to do with the determi nation the
outcome. I will give you notes based on my experiences
playing the deck though.
Vs. Blightning Aggro/RDW/Other heavy burn decks
This can be a tough matchup. If you can make it to turn
three with a Mind Stone or to turn four, you are
probably OK. Well more specifically, make it there with
a decent life total. Something 11 or above is what
you’re looking for. An early Blightning can really make
you uncomfortable. Wrath of God is also a huge help in
this fight. Strangely, you would assume that the burn
would be the death of you with your planeswalkers. This
isn’t the case. You opponent actually has to decide
when to hit you and when to destroy a planeswalker. And
he’s going to have to two-for-one them usually.
Most of the other decks I played recently had really
good game against the Fae. I must admit, that the Lords
struggle a bit game one against the winged menace. Post
sideboard, be aware of the Faerie version you are
playing against. If it’s not spell counter heavy, leave
the Vexing Shushers and Guttural Responses in the
sideboard. Bring in Cloudthreshers, Firespouts, and
Lash Outs. You’re simply trying to keep the game close
until you stabilize. Once you ever get stable, it’s
very unlikely you w ill ever relinquish the advantage.
It can be a lot of work to get to that point though.
This match is exactly as it seems. Keep killing and
board sweeping as fast as you can. You’re usually going
to want to get rid of the fliers soon as possible.
Those are the biggest problem for the Lords. You have
lots of removal, but don’t get frivolous with it. Don’t
fear the Forge-Tender either. You’ve got quite a few
things to deal with it. And if you don’t have it in
hand, force your opponent to blow it up and them move
This was a match that I expected to be terrible. Oddly,
it’s only terrible when they draw large quantities of
the token makes early. If they only get one or two, the
game is definitely still in a manageable position. One
problem you run into here though is the “legendary
planeswalker rule”, so keep that in mind when planning
your turns. That being said though, it can sometimes
hurt your opponent more. Be aware that either Ajani
being in play kills both of them.
Vs. Five Color Control
This match is actually pretty easy. Most of what their
deck is geared to beat doesn’t appear in the mix here.
We have very few creatures, so they get left with lots
of dead cards. They also have almost no way to deal
with planeswalkers outside of Oblivion Ring in a lot of
cases. Also, when Ajani goes boom, it pretty much seals
the deal. Vexing Shushers and Guttural Responses are
huge in this matchup.
And finally, I’m going to leave you with some Do’s and
DO be extremely patient when playing this deck.
Sometimes it takes a few turns for your setup to
DO take advantage of all the planeswalkers. They’ve each
got a purpose with a time to shine.
DO get aggressive. If you don’t, there is a chance you
can run into a few draws.
DON’T try to add Ajani Goldmane. I had him in here
initially and as it turns out, he’s not that important.
DON’T be afraid to win by attacking. There are many
times you’re just going to simply turn guys sideways to
DON’T try to get too fancy. The power is there.
Sometimes you j ust to let the cards speak simply.
Enjoy the deck. It’s a blast to play. It’s definitely
something different. It captures so many interesting
aspects of deck design. It’s almost a surprise that
more people aren’t playing it. The real drawbacks
though are cost and difficulty. If you decide to take
the plunge, be sure to get some practice games in.
Have fun. Reap the rewards. The Lords of the Rings
wield great power.
PowrDragn at pojo d ot com
DeQuan Watson is a game store owner and tournament
organizer from Waco, TX. He's been a Pojo writer since
2001. Feel free to chat about this article or whatever
else at his store's website at