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Thread: Esper Mentor

  1. #1
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    Esper Mentor




    Since Monastery Mentor was spoiled I have been trying to find the right build of an mentor deck, because mentor is a broken card. I tried UWr in a stoneblade shell but also in a shell with top/CB/terminus (similar to Claudios GP winning list) but black seemed like the more appealing splash. I tried all kinds of configurations esper, testing delvers, linger souls, stoneforge, cavern of souls, deathrites, 2-4 planewalkers, and CB/top/terminus. Through my various iterations of the deck I initially started out with 2-3 mentors and 2 therapies, but quickly realized that therapy and mentor where the best part of the deck since every time I drew either card my deck got to be broken. After upping both to 4ofs everything seemed to come together. Ultimately this is what I have come to:

    4 Flooded Strand
    4 Polluted Delta
    2 Marsh Flats
    2 Island
    1 Plains
    3 Tundra
    3 Underground Sea

    2 Baleful Strix
    4 Monastery Mentor
    2 Snapcaster Mage

    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    4 Brainstorm
    4 Ponder
    4 Gitaxian Probe
    3 Dig Through Time

    4 Cabal Therapy
    1 Inquisition of Kozilek

    2 Counterspell
    2 Daze
    4 Force of Will

    4 Swords to Plowshares

    Sideboard:
    4 Meddling Mage
    2 Disenchant
    2 Flusterstorm
    2 Surgical Extraction
    2 Zealous Persecution
    1 Null Rod
    1 Timely Reinforcements
    1 Toxic Deluge

    The list I settled on is similar to what Kotter alluded to in this article: http://www.starcitygames.com/article...-Top-Tier.html
    It is essentially grixis control with white instead of red. Grixis control at this point is a very proven archtype, and this gives up some of red's strengths for some very good benefits of white.

    Grixis:
    - Cheaper main threat (pyromancer)
    - Bolts (reach)
    - Blasts, this is probably the biggest boon
    - Access to blood moon and better artifact hate
    Esper:
    - Meddling mage/cannonist are amazing right now with Omnitell and storm being the combo decks to beat.
    - Mentor being objectively more powerful than pyromancer and kills much faster. All tokens demand quick anwsers.
    - Way better late game. Mentor is a much better threat than pyro and if cabal therapy is drawn late in the game, it's not dead, it's an overrun.*
    - Not having any difficulty with goyf, angler, etc
    - Better sweepers (Zealous Persecution) goes a long way in helping vs elves, mentor, or mother of runes decks.
    - Access to life gain, enchantment hate, and versatile removal cards like council's judgment or vindicate.

    *this is a big deal. Untapping with mentor and 2-3 tokens is almost always game over.


    The list I have above is probably far from perfect. The 2/2 daze/counterspell split, the MD IoK, the SB deluge and timely reinforcements and the 4 MM, 0 Cannonists are all things that are likely not correct.


    I have not played in any large events with the deck yet, but it has been very good in testing so far and I plan on attending an SCG IQ with this deck soon.

    Is anyone else playing anything like this? Does anyone have any suggestions, especially with the bolded things above?

  2. #2

    Re: Esper Mentor

    The thing is..., people who made Legacy Podcast have attempted this while back:
    http://www.thebrainstormshow.com/pod...rainstorm-boys
    That was on June of 2015.

    Now, the concept has been modified over time, but the most proven list I have seen is still this one:
    http://sales.starcitygames.com//deck...p?DeckID=89171

  3. #3
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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Have you thought about just adding black to the Mentor Miracles build? Someone was doing that at our last FNM, and while I didn't get to watch any of his games, people seemed to really like the deck. The interaction between Top and Mentor is pretty insane, and Counterbalance is probably a lot better at keeping your Mentor around than a few extra counters. You're also really light on removal, and while Mentor is busted, he doesn't really come online quick. On paper at least it looks like dedicated aggro would have an absolute field day with this. Not that it's really a big player in the meta anymore, but I think you'd also have a reasonably hard time against the Delver variants. Maybe testing has shown otherwise?

    If you're interested, I can try to track down that Grixis Miracles list for you.
    I think the biggest thing is the deep seeded emotional understanding that the right play is the right play regardless of outcomes. The ability to make a decision 5 straight times, lose 5 times because of it, and still make it the 6th time if it's the right play. - Jon Finkel

    "Notions of chance and fate are the preoccupation of men engaged in rash undertakings."

  4. #4

    Re: Esper Mentor

    I like your list a lot. I've played a ton with Grixis Pyro. If you want to max on Mentor and not go the miracles route, I think this is the way to go. I'm not sure about the dazes in your build, I've never liked them in decks that aren't lower to the ground. Maybe fluster or pierce main? I run pyroblast main in Grixis and its narrower than fluster. I also think you should max out dig through time.

  5. #5
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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Quote Originally Posted by twndomn View Post
    The thing is..., people who made Legacy Podcast have attempted this while back:
    http://www.thebrainstormshow.com/pod...rainstorm-boys
    That was on June of 2015.

    Now, the concept has been modified over time, but the most proven list I have seen is still this one:
    http://sales.starcitygames.com//deck...p?DeckID=89171
    Thanks, I saw both of these things. The deck in the podcast is very different, being a delver deck. I did like a lot of his SB ideas but I think esper makes an even worse delver shell than UWR does.

    The other list is very similar to my initial list I played around, but just focusing on the mentor and being more aggressive seemed better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cheese View Post
    Have you thought about just adding black to the Mentor Miracles build? Someone was doing that at our last FNM, and while I didn't get to watch any of his games, people seemed to really like the deck. The interaction between Top and Mentor is pretty insane, and Counterbalance is probably a lot better at keeping your Mentor around than a few extra counters. You're also really light on removal, and while Mentor is busted, he doesn't really come online quick. On paper at least it looks like dedicated aggro would have an absolute field day with this. Not that it's really a big player in the meta anymore, but I think you'd also have a reasonably hard time against the Delver variants. Maybe testing has shown otherwise?

    If you're interested, I can try to track down that Grixis Miracles list for you.
    I think mentor miracles is also a fine deck but this list has less clunky cards and is far more explosive. Dedicated aggro? I have not encounted goblins, merfolk or zoo. However, a 3 drop that makes wild nactals every time you cast a spell probably chumps anything they are doing, snap+swords are also great against decks like that. Maverick or D&T are easy. Jitte is basically the only scary card. Burn is pretty much the hardest matchup. This is fixable with SB cards, but probably not worth it. So far in testing, its been doing fair against delver, 50/50. Daze actually helps alot in the matchup in letting you keep tempo against them.

    Grixis miracles sounds interesting. Like UWR miracles splash black for therapy? In the esper mentor miracles I made it was tough finding room for miracles cards, probe, therapy AND mentor, I ended up cutting ponders, which is bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Webb View Post
    I like your list a lot. I've played a ton with Grixis Pyro. If you want to max on Mentor and not go the miracles route, I think this is the way to go. I'm not sure about the dazes in your build, I've never liked them in decks that aren't lower to the ground. Maybe fluster or pierce main? I run pyroblast main in Grixis and its narrower than fluster. I also think you should max out dig through time.
    I am also unsure about daze. Like I said it has been great vs delver decks. Its pretty meh vs everything else, but it never feels too dead because making a 1/1 prowess guy late game isn't too bad. The cost of returning a land has not felt too bad since the deck usually isnt actually rushing to drop a mentor turn 3. Its equally potent, but easier to protect, turn 4-5 when you have more mana up.

    The deck could easily support 4 dig but one issue I already have with the deck is cantriping into cantrips that find more cantrips. Like, if I need a counterspell/threat/removal and I brainstorm/dig and I just see half cantrips, half lands, thats not doing me any good. At some point there is such thing as too much cantrips. But maybe I am not at the point yet.

  6. #6

    Re: Esper Mentor

    Have you tried including Lingering Souls in your build and testing it out? I haven't played with Lingering Souls with Mentor, but I have with Pyromancer and it's insane with Pyromancer. Mentor and Souls is the same color and it provides another attacker, which your deck looks like it's light on. Maybe trim Inquisition and a Ponder for two copies and go from there? You did mention you don't like cantrip into cantrip into another cantrip.

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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Quote Originally Posted by TheArchitect View Post
    The deck could easily support 4 dig but one issue I already have with the deck is cantriping into cantrips that find more cantrips. Like, if I need a counterspell/threat/removal and I brainstorm/dig and I just see half cantrips, half lands, thats not doing me any good. At some point there is such thing as too much cantrips. But maybe I am not at the point yet.
    This is actually my biggest issue with Grixis Control. In both of my Legacy Champs losses I just spent way too much time cantripping into cantrips when I needed interactive cards. That being said, you often want unconditional cards like cantrips with Mentor, especially since the cantrips don't cost you a card in hand.

    I actually like the look of the IoK, but might Thoughtseize just be better if you aren't looking to improve your Burn matchup? Being able to take Force, Delve spells, Omniscience, and Jace seems better than 2 life against Delver.

  8. #8
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    Re: Esper Mentor

    I got my GP Lille byes and went day 2 on GP lille itself with esper mentor. The build is on the website at the day 2 archetypes. If you can't find it let me know and i'll search for it when I get home.

    It's a really strong deck but has trouble against omnitell imo. It's really hard to keep up with that deck.

  9. #9
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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Quote Originally Posted by btm10 View Post
    This is actually my biggest issue with Grixis Control. In both of my Legacy Champs losses I just spent way too much time cantripping into cantrips when I needed interactive cards. That being said, you often want unconditional cards like cantrips with Mentor, especially since the cantrips don't cost you a card in hand.

    I actually like the look of the IoK, but might Thoughtseize just be better if you aren't looking to improve your Burn matchup? Being able to take Force, Delve spells, Omniscience, and Jace seems better than 2 life against Delver.

    I tried thoughtseize as well as a 1 and 2 of. What I found was that the life was often relevant, but since Iok is often followed up with therapy the 3cmc part did not matter much. I like the iok because it's like half probe, half therapy. It makes my therapy better, but also is interaction in it's own. If the meta shifts to include more things like jace or sneak attack, more GBx, less URx, I would go back to TS.

    I'll look into that Waikiki, thanks for mentioning that. I'm glad you had success with it.

  10. #10
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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Quote Originally Posted by TheArchitect View Post
    I think mentor miracles is also a fine deck but this list has less clunky cards and is far more explosive. Dedicated aggro? I have not encounted goblins, merfolk or zoo. However, a 3 drop that makes wild nactals every time you cast a spell probably chumps anything they are doing, snap+swords are also great against decks like that. Maverick or D&T are easy. Jitte is basically the only scary card. Burn is pretty much the hardest matchup. This is fixable with SB cards, but probably not worth it. So far in testing, its been doing fair against delver, 50/50. Daze actually helps alot in the matchup in letting you keep tempo against them.

    Grixis miracles sounds interesting. Like UWR miracles splash black for therapy? In the esper mentor miracles I made it was tough finding room for miracles cards, probe, therapy AND mentor, I ended up cutting ponders, which is bad.
    Right, not that it's really a huge concern because nobody plays Zoo anymore, but you're making the same assumption that a lot of people made with Pyromancer in UR Delver...that he just beats aggro because you make a million chump blockers. But against something with 12+ 1cmc spot removal, you'll be lucky to ever get more than 1 token. But nobody plays Zoo anymore, RUG doesn't have nearly the threat or removal density, and I don't think Jund or Junk are really big presences anymore either. 4c Loam could be slightly problematic just because they've got Punishing Fire and a bunch of sweeper options out of the board.

    Yeah I think it was basically Mentor Miracles with Therapies instead of blasts. I'm really not sure though because my games kept going really long that night. I'll try to track him down online and see if I'm anywhere close.
    I think the biggest thing is the deep seeded emotional understanding that the right play is the right play regardless of outcomes. The ability to make a decision 5 straight times, lose 5 times because of it, and still make it the 6th time if it's the right play. - Jon Finkel

    "Notions of chance and fate are the preoccupation of men engaged in rash undertakings."

  11. #11
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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Problems I found with esper mentor are the miracles matchup and dig through time decks with pyro/reb. Your dig will get reb'd/pyroblasted and theirs likely resolve because therapies arent just good enough against blue decks with top/brainstorm/ponder. Esper mentor with counterbalance lock sounds saucy and something I would like to test.

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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Quote Originally Posted by dsck View Post
    Problems I found with esper mentor are the miracles matchup and dig through time decks with pyro/reb. Your dig will get reb'd/pyroblasted and theirs likely resolve because therapies arent just good enough against blue decks with top/brainstorm/ponder. Esper mentor with counterbalance lock sounds saucy and something I would like to test.
    This has been one major interaction that has given me trouble. However, if you leverage your therapies right, they will do more work for then an opposing red blast can do.

    Punishing fire is really good against this deck. Surgical out of the board helps vs punishing fire. At least vs lands (not jund of 4c Loam) meddling mage beats pfire.

    Here is the list Waikiki mentioned:
    Planeswalker (2)
    1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    Creature (7)
    3 Monastery Mentor
    2 Baleful Strix
    2 Snapcaster Mage
    Sorcery (14)
    2 Lingering Souls
    4 Ponder
    4 Gitaxian Probe
    4 Cabal Therapy
    Instant (18)
    4 Force of Will
    2 Counterspell
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Dig Through Time
    4 Swords to Plowshares
    Land (19)
    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Flooded Strand
    2 Marsh Flats
    3 Underground Sea
    3 Tundra
    2 Island
    1 Plains
    60 Cards
    Sideboard (15)
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
    2 Surgical Extraction
    2 Meddling Mage
    2 Flusterstorm
    1 Pithing Needle
    1 Null Rod
    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Disenchant
    2 Zealous Persecution
    1 Containment Priest


    I like a lot of things about his list, but I can see why omnitell gave him trouble. I would not have less than 4 mages/cannonists in addition to the other counters/discard. I dont think Containment priest is worth playing these days, its only worth bringing in vs Reanimator and Elves in the current meta. I have tried elspeth in this deck, but not Sorin, who seems very good here.

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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Quote Originally Posted by TheArchitect View Post
    This has been one major interaction that has given me trouble. However, if you leverage your therapies right, they will do more work for then an opposing red blast can do.

    Punishing fire is really good against this deck. Surgical out of the board helps vs punishing fire. At least vs lands (not jund of 4c Loam) meddling mage beats pfire.

    Here is the list Waikiki mentioned:
    Planeswalker (2)
    1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    Creature (7)
    3 Monastery Mentor
    2 Baleful Strix
    2 Snapcaster Mage
    Sorcery (14)
    2 Lingering Souls
    4 Ponder
    4 Gitaxian Probe
    4 Cabal Therapy
    Instant (18)
    4 Force of Will
    2 Counterspell
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Dig Through Time
    4 Swords to Plowshares
    Land (19)
    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Flooded Strand
    2 Marsh Flats
    3 Underground Sea
    3 Tundra
    2 Island
    1 Plains
    60 Cards
    Sideboard (15)
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
    2 Surgical Extraction
    2 Meddling Mage
    2 Flusterstorm
    1 Pithing Needle
    1 Null Rod
    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Disenchant
    2 Zealous Persecution
    1 Containment Priest


    I like a lot of things about his list, but I can see why omnitell gave him trouble. I would not have less than 4 mages/cannonists in addition to the other counters/discard. I dont think Containment priest is worth playing these days, its only worth bringing in vs Reanimator and Elves in the current meta. I have tried elspeth in this deck, but not Sorin, who seems very good here.
    I'll give this list a try. I am testing the following lately, taking it for a spin tomorrow :
    3 Mentor
    1 Snapcaster
    2 Flip Jace

    4 Force
    2 Counterspell
    1 Spell Pierce
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Ponder
    3 Thoughtseize
    3 DTT
    3 Liliana of the Veil
    1 Explosives
    4 StoP
    3 Lingering Souls
    2 Sensei's Divining Top
    21 Lands

    Notable sideboard cards are 3 Counterbalance and 1 additional top. In testing the deck felt good, haven't played against Omnishow so far. Will report after tourney though.

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    Re: Esper Mentor

    For anyone curious, this is the esper CB/top/miracles list I tried out very briefly (but might be better than without):

    4 Flooded Strand
    4 Polluted Delta
    2 Marsh Flats
    2 Island
    1 Plains
    3 Tundra
    3 Underground Sea

    4 Monastery Mentor
    2 Snapcaster Mage

    4 Brainstorm
    4 Gitaxian Probe
    3 Dig Through Time

    4 Cabal Therapy

    1 Counterspell
    4 Force of Will

    4 Sensei's Divining Top
    3 Counterbalance
    3 Terminus
    3 Swords to Plowshares

    Its tricky fitting everything in, it slows down the deck alot, and adds more clunky cards. Note that there are now no ponders or jaces. I think if we are not playing 4 probes+therapy, we might as well just play UWR. That's probably just better, but I don't think UWR mentor miracles is necessarily better than Esper Mentor without CB/Top.

  16. #16
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    Re: Esper Mentor

    I got to play vs miracles 3 times with the mentor deck and I haven't lost so far. Lingering souls / walkers are really strong in that matchup. That in combination with shutting down their top.

    Omni-tell is indeed very hard due to them getting just enough time to assemble their combo with a dig through time. Against other dig through time decks I have less trouble cause the cards they are getting are not as powerfull as the omnitell cards. It's just a battle of tempo.

    The 1 off containment priest has been an allstart. It's so good against random decks and reanimator, elves, dredge, anything with vial, sneak and show etc. It has won me too many games to be cut.

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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Quote Originally Posted by Snief View Post
    I'll give this list a try. I am testing the following lately, taking it for a spin tomorrow :
    3 Mentor
    1 Snapcaster
    2 Flip Jace

    4 Force
    2 Counterspell
    1 Spell Pierce
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Ponder
    3 Thoughtseize
    3 DTT
    3 Liliana of the Veil
    1 Explosives
    4 StoP
    3 Lingering Souls
    2 Sensei's Divining Top
    21 Lands

    Notable sideboard cards are 3 Counterbalance and 1 additional top. In testing the deck felt good, haven't played against Omnishow so far. Will report after tourney though.
    Played the deck yesterday to a 3-2 finish. Conclusions :
    - Mentor is a sick card (duh!)
    - wins: RUG Deliver, Miracles, Merfolk
    - losses: 4c Loam (really bad match up), Ur Deliver (could have won, Blood Moon slowed me down enough so he could burn me out)
    - Flip Jace is a strong card, he ate removal all day long so Mentor could swing the game; when he flipped he was great defense vs delver or just a strong card advantage engine; he doesn't replace SCM though. I'll test a 2/2 or 2/3 split I think. 2 Jace is the right number if you play any.
    - Counterbalance was ok-ish, but I think Meddling mage, Canonist and Containment Priest are better in these slots because they double as a clock and you want ways to close the game, not prolong it. Against Miracles it was obviously nice, but the match up is good anyway with discard, counter plus tokens.
    - I recommend at least 1 Jitte in your 75
    - Lingering Souls was really good as a 3 of, synergy with Liliana and I was always happy to draw it.

    I really like the core of the deck, it requires further testing though. The list I would play next tournament :

    3 Mentor
    2 Flip Jace
    2 SCM
    4 Brainstorm
    3 Ponder
    2 SDT
    3 Lingering Souls
    3 Liliana
    4 Force
    2 Counterspell
    3 Thoughtseize
    2 Spell Pierce
    3 DTT
    4 Swords to Plowshares
    20 Lands (4 basics, 9 fetch, 7 duals)

    Sb:
    2 Meddling Mage
    1 Ethersworn Canonist
    1 Containment Priest
    2 Flusterstorm
    2 Surgical Extraction
    1 EE
    1 Jitte
    1 zealous persecution
    XxxX

  18. #18
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    Re: Esper Mentor

    Quote Originally Posted by dsck View Post
    Problems I found with esper mentor are the miracles matchup and dig through time decks with pyro/reb. Your dig will get reb'd/pyroblasted and theirs likely resolve because therapies arent just good enough against blue decks with top/brainstorm/ponder. Esper mentor with counterbalance lock sounds saucy and something I would like to test.
    It's funny, the 9th place deck reminded me a lot of what you ran:

    http://sales.starcitygames.com//deck...p?DeckID=90591

  19. #19

    Re: Esper Mentor

    That was me in 9th this weekend. Definitely should have top 8d, but after starting 6-0 I punted game 3 in round 7, then drew very poorly in round 8. I hadn't seen this thread before, but it's cool to see others coming to a lot of the same conclusions as myself. I'll be posting a quick little report sometime later.
    You can't pull out the RUG from under me, CUZ I AM THE RUG!

  20. #20

    Re: Esper Mentor

    @chinEsE girl I think we sat next to each other in round 3 at that 72 person FNM a few weeks ago while you were playing my cuz Kyle. Anyways, on topic how have Tasigur and new Jace treated you? This is a deck I'm pumped about.

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