One trend we've noticed is the application of terms from Magic: The Gathering to Destiny. We see these key terms being used a lot and it's easy to understand that many of these are relevant to the game directly. Whilst we all know these terms and use them when discussing decks and the meta, often times players can find themselves using terms even if they don't know what they really mean.
One key example is the misuse of "Control" and the overuse of it when talking deck construction in Destiny.
Since card games first existed people have loved playing control decks. The intoxicating feeling of showing yourself as the better player through the old mantra of control being the "harder, skilled approach" and "lol aggro is easy" is a longstanding myth within the card game scene and has taken a strong root within the scene when discussing Destiny, with many people looking to build what they like to call control decks.
Lets look at this for example, a SWDestinyDB Hall of Fame deck labelled Vader Jabba Control.
What exactly defines the controlling element about this deck?
Is it ever going to lock down the game and make it impossible for you opponent to progress their board state?
Is it going to remove their threats efficiently so you steadily gain an advantage?
No. This deck is going to slowly fall behind while doing a little damage, as your opponent adds upgrades to the board and removes your Crime Lord dice after you put so much effort in to get them out. It's an easy mistake to believe that decks that want to play slow and a longer game fall under control, but attrition and slow play does not mean this deck is in control of anything.
This is the question we need to consider; where are all of the control cards?
True control cards
By the strict definition of control, these are the only two usable, quality control cards in the game. Both cards permanently answer an opponent's threat and establish a form of control of the board state. Within the current meta they are both rarely played and when they are played played, they are not enough to let you take control of the game because you still aren't a control deck - because there aren't enough control cards to be one.
I don't mean to bash this deck in particular or the designer for naming it such, but any of these types of deck (Jabba/Dooku control for example) all boil down to the same thing; they try to play a longer game while being in "control", often just falling behind to the opponent's deck over time as they progress their board and you don't. You watch your opponent create upgrades and you don't do anything to deter/control it.
For us Destiny players this is where the term control is often used and really becomes relevant. I think most of us call card like Electroshock a dice control card, as they remove an opponents dice from the pool and therefore affect the board state.
Whilst widely used, this is not really control in classical terms. This form of interaction is one of the game's defining features; interacting with the other player's dice and making the game as awesome as it is. In effect this mechanic when understood properly is most akin to gaining tempo on your opponent, rather than a form of pure control.
For the purposes of our game it's fine to call these control cards but seeing a deck being called a control deck because it has a high number of dice control cards is slightly misleading. I think this began as a nod however to the meta we saw early on in the tournament scene, with the early dominance of the 14 upgrade decks. These decks that worked vigorously to get dice on the board are finding that the playstyle just does not cut it anymore. As I talked about in my Training Day deck update blog post, tournaments being "best of one" changes the meta. More and more players are finding they need to have a way to affect the opponent's dice if they want to win. Most decks seeing consistent success are now dropping to 12 upgrades or lower and having a way to interact with 10 or more dice control cards.
This widespread play has become the norm and defining these decks as control simply doesn't work.
Will there ever be control decks?
All of these issues aside, I think there already is a space for control decks but the key example also happens to be a combo deck. Hyperloop does genuinely take control of the game and stop your opponent from doing anything while you chip away at them to victory. I think this is the truest form of a control deck we have seen and I would happily accept that label for it, but its also a miserable combo deck so...
Moving on from here and looking to the future I would like to see some more strategies appear within the scene that don't rely on straight-up damage, but with the initial spoilers from Spirit of the Rebellion looking pretty damage focused these hopes may go unanswered. With more damage sides than we have have ever seen I am not hopeful yet, however we have only seen a handful of cards and I am sure we have a lot of interesting cards on the horizon to play with very soon.
If you're in the UK feel free to come along to our next Destiny Event and blow my decks out of the water! Tickets are on sale now and you can get them here.
Thanks for reading,