The Good-stuff Control Archetype in Highlander

Welcome to the Good-stuff Control deck archetype for 7 Point Highlander! On this page you will find all the content related to this play style.

A Summary of the Good-stuff Control Archetype

Good-stuff Control decks plan to control the game via spells that are fundamentally good on their own (as opposed to the Synergy Control Archetype). When behind, these Control decks can leverage incremental advantage via continual two-for-one exchanges and slowly grind their way into a position of power. Whilst Blue counterspells (like Mana Leak) and card selection (like Preordain) fit within any Control shell, the Good-stuff Control archetype seeks to run spells that are particularly good at digging you out of boards when you are behind, such as Toxic Deluge. However the iconic cards are flexible spells that can be leveraged from a variety of board states, and Kolaghan’s Command is an iconic card in this archetype. This is why most Good-stuff Control decks tend to be Blue, Black, and Red (aka ‘Grixis’ colours), but it is not unheard of to splash Green to gain access to more ‘good-stuff’ in the form of Wrenn and Six or Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Whilst these greedier 4-colour Control decks look to border on the Value Midrange archetype, they are actually fundamentally different in their play-style, most notable being their reactive nature and access to a full counterspell suite making for a much better matchup against Combo decks.  

Good-stuff Control Deck Lists and Variations

The most iconic deck in the Good-stuff Control archetype is Blue, Black, and Red (aka ‘Grixis’ colours). Grixis Control pairs powerful cards like Kess, Dissident Mage and Kolaghan’s Command with a reliable suite of interactive spells, such as Counterspell, Hymn to Tourach, and Cryptic Command. The Grixis colours offer removal for almost every type of permanent, including Dreadbore for opposing Planeswalkers, Fiery Confluence for artifacts, and Toxic Deluge to resolve an untenable board state. Grixis Control can filter through its deck with blue card draw like Dig through Time and Fact or Fiction to find the right answer for the current situation, all the while generating card advantage as they creep ahead in 2-for-1 exchanges. With access to Red cards, Grixis Control is also able to turn on a dime and aim damage-based removal spells at the opponent’s life total, finishing the game with a Vendilion Clique or other creatures left over from positive card advantage exchanges, such as Snapcaster Mage. This also provides the deck with a powerful tool to combat Lands archetypes and 4-colour decks via the punisher effect of Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon out of the Sideboard.

Deck ListGrixis Control

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Grixis Control playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

The Grixis Control variant sometimes opts to forgo the Blood Moon sideboard strategy and instead invest in the power level of adding a fourth colour. These 4-colour Control decks (Blue-Black-Red-Green) are typically built very similarly to their Grixis counterparts, with green providing an upgrade on the conditionality of their removal spells (e.g., Assassin’s Trophy and Abrupt Decay). The addition of Green also provides even more diversity in threats, many of which generate card advantage in the process such as Wrenn and Six, Oko Thief of Crowns, Leovold Emissary of Trest, and Uro Titan of Nature’s Wrath. While this may parallel decks of the same colours in the Value Midrange archetype, the control shell in 4-colour Control means that matches often play out very differently because of a far more reactive game plan that the Counterspell suite lends. Regardless, due to the inherent power level of individual cards in the Good-stuff Control archetype, you will find that these variants will always be closer to the Midrange spectrum than other Control decks.

Deck List4-colour Control

As a collection of good cards, decks in this archetype will always have the ability to win against a variety of opposing play styles. However, in some metagames the Good-stuff Control archetype’s strong spells and almost ‘Midrange’ approach to deck building can lead to a loss of focus, and therefore a vulnerability to certain linear strategies like Tempo. One variant of Grixis Control fights fire with fire by giving up a degree of ‘value’ in order to leverage a lower curve and a Tempo sub-theme. This hybrid strategy borrows principles from the ‘Cantrip Control’ variant and is the closest representative of a Control deck that straddles the line between Good-stuff Control and the Synergy Control Archetype. A hybrid Grixis Tempo-Control can still play a value-oriented game with conventional Good-stuff Control cards like Kolaghan’s Command and Liliana, the Last Hope. However by foregoing a few of its late-game spells like Mystic Confluence, Grixis Tempo-Control can engineer scenarios where it can win via a leftover Young Pyromancer token, push damage with the Royal Scions, or protect a powerful threat like Gurmag Angler, a flipped Thing in the Ice, or a surprise Shark Typhoon token.

Deck List – Grixis Tempo-Control

Highlander Good-stuff Control Video Content

Compiled below are links to some excellent YouTube resources that can help you see versions of the Good-stuff Control deck archetype in action.

Watch this video to see Grixis Control in action:

Watch this video to see 4-colour Control in action:

Here is another great performance by Grixis Control:


Where to next?

Did Good-stuff Control fit the kind of deck archetype you’re looking for? Want to know more about other Control decks? Visit the Control hub here.

Although predominantly a Control deck, Good-stuff Control archetypes sometimes involve a midrange sub-theme. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Midrange decks or those with a Midrange element to them, visit the Midrange hub here.

Although predominantly a Control deck, Good-stuff Control variants sometimes involve a tempo sub-theme like the Grixis Tempo-Control option. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Tempo decks or those with a Tempo element to them, visit the Tempo hub here.

Dr Sarven McLinton

Sarven has been playing Magic the Gathering since Stronghold (1998) and is on The Highlander Points Committee. He is well-versed in a wide variety of deck archetypes but remains an avid student of the game. Sarven is a passionate writer and seeks to apply his extensive experience in research and statistics to gaming. By day, 'Dr McLinton' works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX) managing various projects investigating psychosocial factors at work, as well as lecturing Psychology Honours and supervising PhD candidates. By night, 'McLinton Sensei' teaches traditional Japanese Karate in South Australia's premiere sporting centre, the ARC Campbelltown. He holds a 4th-degree black belt and is a gold medalist, competing both nationally and internationally in Karate and Open-style contact tournaments.