Sift Through Sands - Tivit and Lady Evangela

Wes Stuckey • May 23, 2023

(Tivit, Seller of Secrets|Art by Chris Rahn & Lady Evangela|Art by Mark Poole)

Much to Consider

Hello all, long time no see! This is Sift Through Sands, a deckbuilding series where we look at how different decks play similar card packages to better understand how using synergistic cards improves a deck. In this installment, we'll be looking at how control decks influence the speed of the game by leveraging decision-making.

Many control decks function most effectively when they are able to influence an opponent's ability to take actions. Cards like Suppression Field and Aura of Silence don't outright prevent actions from taking place, but effectively tax them out of the game. However, the power of the choice to pay additional mana to play the game is an integral part of control decks, and a space Wizards of the Coast is exploring with mechanics like ward.

Today, we'll be looking at two subtle Esper control decks helmed by Tivit, Seller of Secrets and Lady Evangela.

Our Picks

Tivit and Lady Evangela share little more than color identity, at first glance. Our Sphinx Rogue is a fairly costed body, with a lot of value attached, while our Lady is more defensive. Both of these cards interact with our opponents (in Evangela's case, any creature), meaning they have an impactful board presence whether or not they are deemed threats.

Our Tivit deck is based on cards that have our opponents make decisions. Let's take a look at the list!

Tantalizing Tidvits

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Commander (1)
Artifact (8)
Creature (19)
Enchantment (6)
Instant (10)
Sorcery (20)
Land (35)

Playing Tivit

Tivit starts the game small, with creatures like Dakra Mystic and Academy Loremaster establishing the give-and-take interactions the deck is built upon. More innocuous creatures, like Vectis Dominator and Oracle en-Vec, begin saddling our opponents with low-impact but easily frustrating choices as we work towards controlling the board. Our odd choices in card advantage, like Phyrexian Portal, also present our opponent with options and decisions on how the game proceeds.

The bulk of our deck interacts with voting mechanics, as does our commander. Coercive Portal, Magister of Worth, and Plea for Power all provide strong advantages when well played, and Tivit skewing the odds further in our favor. More often that not, cards like these, Covenant of Minds, Intellectual Offering, and Null Chamber often have our opponents forced to make a varying degree of choice, which maintains our leverage on influencing the game.

Having this influence over the game allows us to steadily work towards our win conditions. While one-off cards, like Choice of Damnations and Monumental Corruption, can skew progress in our favor easily, reliable generation of artifacts with Tivit helps us to a great degree. Nettlecyst remains powerful, as does the steady Approach of the Second Sun. In the meantime, securing control with countermagic and removal keeps us headed towards victory.

Lady Evangela offers a more complex look at this strategy, one where opponents are minorly taxed, but usually of their own will. Let's see the list!

Lady Rainbows

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Playing Lady Evangela

Lady Evangela begins the game intending to build up defenses and begin encouraging combat while maintaining a hold on what is capable of dealing damage. Getting cards like Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer, Wall of Denial, and Magnetic Web begin to put us in a favorable position. Silent Arbiter is one of the strongest pieces in the deck, making Lady Evangela a huge threat to combat.

As we begin to restrict combat, some of our more esoteric cards begin to restrict what is played. Cards like Unifying Theory, Brainwash, and Well of Knowledge encourage our opponents to spend mana for their benefit, slowing the rate at which new cards enter the game. Void Mirror and Confounding Conundrum make it harder for our opponents to get around paying for spells, which we use to grind the game to a halt with Dream Tides and the like.

Once we've established control of the board, we begin dropping our threats to close the game out. Medomai the Ageless, Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis, and Sublime Archangel (among others) stand as effective creatures with the defensive powers of Lady Evangela and the deck behind them. Angelic Arbiter and Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts provide control on good bodies, and with this influence we can consistently protect our pieces and win.

Thoughts Concluded

Control decks are a hard place to play from in many groups. Often, they are regarded with disdain due to their effectiveness at making the game more difficult to play. When building a control deck, it's important to remember that the scrutiny of other players is a powerful factor in how well your deck can perform, as making many enemies makes winning more difficult.

The Tivit and Lady Evangela lists we looked at today are built on the idea that a more subtle touch in a control deck has a great influence on the progress of a game, especially as they are able to maintain a good position due to a lack of oppressive effects. These decks are unassuming, and the effects they run often individually middling. Despite this, Norritt can make quite a difference in a game with the right support.

When able to both influence the game but stave off becoming a target, a control deck shines. It's a fun way to approach the archetype. Have you had any success with oddball control decks? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for checking out Sift Through Sands!

The untenable Wes Stuckey is the jankiest Magic player to roam the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (their first brewed deck was Blind Seer "old cards"). You can find them slinging spells, running campaigns, and listening to music with friends and the cat.